Links 12/7/11

Steven Pinker’s ‘Better Angels of our nature’ LA Review of Books (hat tip reader Foppe)

Tennessee family home burns while firefighters watch Sideshow (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Endangered crocodile finds new life at nuclear power plant Sideshow (hat tip reader furzy mouse). No, this is not the plot of a horror movie.

Colossal Nuclear Cleanup Challenges Japan New York Times

Time to legalise cannabis VoxEU

Glenn Greenwald launches his fundraiser today

Need for an Orderly Withdrawal Mechanism from the Euro and the Eurozone Henry Liu (hat tip reader Nathan)

Sarkozy, Merkel call for new E.U. treaty to address debt crisis Washington Post

Zilch again from Merkozy Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Geithner Backs French-German Plan for Tighter EU Bloomberg. What is he supposed to do, say “this plan sucks” and tank the markets?

Buiter: no politically feasible route to sustained growth for many years to come Ed Harrison

China’s capital flight MacroBusiness

Equities and Basel III’s Liquidity Requirements Economics of Contempt (hat tip reader Scott)

For the Families of Some Debtors, Death Offers No Respite Wall Street Journal (hat tip Doug S)

Bank-Run Risk in the Shadows Wall Street Journal (hat tip reader Scott)

Wealthiest New Yorkers face tax rise Financial Times. Can the headline writer read?

Under the new rate structure, the wealthiest earners – those making more than $2m a year – are to be taxed at 8.82 per cent, down from the 8.97 per cent they now pay under a surcharge implemented in 2009.

Wreckage at MF Global continues: “my account is gone” Reuters (hat tip reader Lance N)

Day of Action Against Home Foreclosures: Live Broadcast. Occupy Wall Street

Here’s What’s Happening At New York’s Occupy Our Homes Protest Right Now Clusterstock (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Occupy Anchorage Igloo (hat tip reader Lambert Strether)

Zuccotti Park owners Brookfield Properties owe city $139G in back taxes Daily News


Antidote du jour:

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  1. russell1200

    The fire fighters only helping subscribers is the way that the fire fighting companies originally worked. They would give you a sign/placard to put on the side of your building to show that you had paid.

    I suspect it was to fight citywide congflagrations that the universal service started. Fires don’t always stay put.

  2. Jack

    Why do I get the suspicion that one marijuana is made into purified form by big pharma, and sold to the masses to self-medicate their anxiety, certain sites that advocated legalizing the stuff will then launch additional assaults against big pharma pushing dangerous chemicals and hiding secret research showing the deliterious effects of such substances?
    I don’t know… just a hunch.

    1. Yearning To Learn

      it is true, hypocrisy abounds.

      I hear countless stories about how evil it is to “drug” ourselves, and then the next breath about using this “homeopathic” or “natural” herb. Of course a homeopathic medicine or an herb is just as much of a drug as anything Merck could put out. (just because something is “all natural” doesn’t mean it is “good” for you or safe… Poison Ivy is all natural but I wouldn’t use it as a cream… and Sulfuric acid is all natural too, but I wouldn’t drink it).

      however, on the flip side is the War on Drugs hypocrisy. Once Merck can purify THC then suddenly it’s “ok” and it’s a “medicine” not an illicit drug. Once affluent people take it it’s ok. But an inner city person… oh no, gotta put him in the slammer.

      I’m a doctor, but not beholden to any secret medical society that many laypeople think that all doctors are beholden to.

      I have personally written a letter to all of my state and national legislators to legalize THC, for many of the reasons cited in the above article.

      However, I am under no illusion that THC is “safe” either. I have personally seen many lives destroyed either because of it, or in large part due to it. but I think our world would be a better place with the dangerous drug THC legal than the dangerous drug THC illegal.

      but here’s why I wrote the letter.
      I have a struggling working class family. Mom, dad, 6 kids. They use pot. a lot of it. but they’re making ends meet and they do love their kids and their kids love them. 2 years ago the 6 kids came into my office with a foster family. I come to hear that there was a routine traffic stop… and a small volume of pot was found in the car. Dad was on probation for… wait for it… THC possession, and thus he got some sort of 3 strikes rule… 10 years in prison. Mom also got 1 year of prison.

      Thus: now I as a taxpayer have to pay for:
      1) one man in prison for 10 years
      2) one woman in jail for 1 year
      3) 6 kids in foster care.
      4) the entire family’s living expenses for like 18 years. why? because even when mom/dad get out, how are they going to get a job with felony drug possession. Thus, welfare for everybody!
      5) court costs.
      6) mental health care due to removing 6 kids from their parents like this.

      The War on Drugs is also a War on Families, and a War on the poor. (and partly a war on minorities but less obvious)

      Because I do NOT see Lindsey Lohann or Michael Jackson or Rush Limbaugh getting 10 years for this stuff… and they are ALL drug addicts themselves.

      Hypocrisy ABOUNDS.

      1. Sock Puppet

        Thank you for this comment. Big Pharma and the medical profession have already taken over the narcotics part of the recreational drug industry with oxycontin and the like. Fewer people go to jail because these are now “legal”, but there is still plenty of human misery. Your thoughts?

        1. Yearning To Learn

          I’m not even sure where to start. a few thoughts…

          Like all things, the derivation of an issue is not simple. I think that BigHealth and BigPharm had much less to do with making opioids illegal than many people assume.

          I personally think the War on Drugs came more out of the Military and Prison Industrial complex, and also out of Nixon’s desire to crush the Civil Rights and Counterculture movements. Similar to OWS where the mayors state they are acting out of “safety and sanitary” concerns, back in the 1960’s the Govts used a “dirty drug using hippy” argument, and then could arrest protestors on drug charges once LSD et al were illegal. Before the drugs were illegal there were no charges and protesters were exercising their Amendment rights. after criminalization they could be arrested as drug users.

          BigPharm was probably intimately involved in this, but my personal thought (no evidence) was that BigHealth was not.

          moving to today, I would say that BigPharm is probably pro-criminalization but BigHealth is quite possibly equivocal and perhaps pro-legalization of “soft” drugs. the reason: caring for patients with drug issues is a MAJOR money LOSER for BigHealth. Yes, the bills for these patients is very high… but they are also very draining to take care of, very time intensive, and reimbursement is low.

          My practice lost millions of dollars on what we call “drug seekers”. (they call every day asking for drugs tying up our nurses, they walk into pharmacies asking for their drugs which generates a request to the doc that the doc has to take care of, they have many social issues that take hordes of time to deal with, they come in screaming and yelling at us, at least once per few weeks they threaten our staff with physical violence. etc).

          Thus, I KNOW that doctors would love to get the hell out of the recreational pharmaceutical business, and I’d GUESS BigHealth would as well due to losing money.

          Lastly: I will offer only one small defence of BigPharm (I hate bigpharm). many of the prescription drugs of abuse really were invented to REDUCE dependency and withdrawal! the original opiods like Morphine could be horrendously addictive. Thus, BigPharm tried to tinker to keep the pain control high but reduce dependency. Sometimes they had relative success but sometimes the outcome was opposite of what was intended and expected.

          For instance, many of us were excited about OxyContin because it is SLOW RELEASE and SLOW RELEASE meds tend to be abused less often than QUICK release. We really thought Oxycontin would REDUCE drug seeking behavior.

          but soon it became clear that people preferred Oxycontin over other major drugs like Vicodin or Percocet as example. This was not expected by any of my doctor colleagues, and my GUESS is that Purdue Pharma may not have known it as well.

          This doesn’t make Purdue Pharma clean… it took them too long to come out with the new OxyContin preparations that are harder to crush and snort as example.

          1. Sock Puppet

            Thank you. I really appreciate hearing how things look from the doctor’s perspective. I’ve worked (as a software contractor) for many big pharma companies, including a long stint with the global marketing department of one of them in clinical trial management. The medical directors I worked with were good people who genuinely believed in the work they were doing, but the choice of projects was all about $.

            Somewhere the combination of profit motive, ideology, and political pandering to middle class fears has led to a huge mess. Overall I agree that legalization (or at least decriminalization) may be the lesser of two evils.

            One note on the Netherlands (where I lived for 6 years). The main reason the “coffee shops” are closing and becoming clubs is the indoor smoking ban. (There is now a partial exemption for small bars or “pubs”).

          2. petridish

            YTL: It appears that you will need to “yearn” a little harder. Try using “the” Google.

            DANGEROUS THC??? Puhleeez!!! I would say that you have drunk the koolaid, but I think you have really drunk the CLOROX. Please research the origin of this THC hysteria vis-a-vis the bleach/paper industry and William Randolph Hearst.

            Next, please consider the utility of the illegality of a highly-demanded product to the well-connected “capitalists” of the last and current centuries. Your journey should begin at Camelot in Hyannisport (conveniently illegal and “dangerous” alcohol) and continue through Iran-Contra, Wachovia Bank, the DEA drug money laundering “program” and the Prison-Industrial Complex to hit a few high points. One might conclude that said illegality is VITAL to “American interests.”

            Last but not least, your defense of BigPharma’s altruism is as touching as it is STUPEFYING! “…Oxycontin would REDUCE drug seeking behavior”????? WTF hardly seems to do it here. Drug manufacturers have a number of goals but reducing the amount of drugs consumed by the public IS NOT ONE OF THEM. The metric is called compliance–refilling Rx’s–and it is the holy grail of the industry. It is far more likely that the abuse potential of oxycontin was a feature, not a flaw, and was used in some financial statement as a guarantee of future revenue streams and justification for an upgrade to BUY at Goldman Sachs.

            THC does not ruin lives. The sociopathic need for the benefits its illegality provides to some well-connected “capitalists” does.

          3. Jack

            Hey Petridish (a few posts down),
            Dude! Whoa! Oxycontin was supposed to eliminate the spike and then fall in drug concentration in the blood as it was assumed that falling drug levels led to craving and addictive behavior. Thus, a low, steady-state concentration in the blood may help reduce addictive tendencies while providing pain control. Then, the uses learned to crush it to defeat this formulation.
            While you are googling marijuana, how about trying to google Marijuana and Paranoia because, uh, that might be a problem…

      2. Richard Kline

        So Yearning, I agree completely and have for decades, even though I use less in ‘recrational narcotics’ than anybody you know. THC should certainly be decriminalized. And I would add that the rest should be as well. There are costs to their use, but the criminalization of drug use is an unmitigated and unending social cancer. Getting people out of prison is the reason to lift insane prohibitions.

    1. Benedict@Large

      Re: Tennessee family home burns while firefighters watch

      Sorry, but there’s an element of nonsense here. As a long-time resident in a trailer park, I watched two homes very similar to the one pictured here burn, and also spoke to firefighters about them afterwards. These firefighters were stationed about 5 minutes from these fires, and they said that there was virtually no way to save these types of trailers from total loss once a fire got started. They came pretty much to stop the fires from spreading, and they even went in one while it was engulfed because we couldn’t confirm the owner had gotten out (he was away), but save them? No way. (BTW: If you look closely, you’ll see that the aluminum exterior has literally melted. These fires are fast AND HOT!)

      1. Yearning To Learn

        although your claims are valid (although not substantiated for this case), they are immaterial.

        in this case the firefighters themselves confirmed that they did not attempt to help because of the lack of payment. If they agreed with your assertion, they should simply have said “actually, we didn’t help because we couldn’t”.
        but they didn’t say that.

        there are other ways to do the firefighting payment issue.
        you can have a mandatory everybody pay system like in most major metros.

        or you can have an annual voluntary “insurance” payment, like in this story, and if you don’t pay then too bad.

        or you could change it thusly:
        1. every year people can voluntarily pay for fire service. Let’s say $75/year.

        2. if you opt out, and you have a fire, the firefighters will still come and help, but you will be charged the cost of fighting the fire (all wages for each firefighter, truck cost, water cost, etc) multiplied by 10 or something.

        this way people who opt “in” get a way to protect themselves in cost effective manner

        and those who don’t opt in can still be saved, but at huge cost.

        it would incentivize people to opt in, without making the firefighters look like a-holes when they opt out. Hard to build public trust with this type of story.

        1. Dave of Maryland

          How about making the fire department a line item in the city/county budget? Like it is in MOST BIG CITIES. Your property taxes at work.

          The big ugly secret is that cheap, volunteer companies arrive just in time to see the final embers glow. Property insurance is higher with volunteer companies because they’re useless. Or, more precisely, while they arrive too late to save the first building, they are in time to keep the fire from spreading. I personally witnessed a fire gut an large 3 story house on JFK Boulevard in Weehawken in 1985, before the volunteers could get there. I also watched one townhouse ignite its two neighbors in Abingdon, MD, in 2003, before the volunteers could get there. From the time the 911 call is made, until the volunteers arrive, is typically 20 minutes or more.

          Many volunteer departments have web pages, where they proudly display their work. Lots and lots of dramatic photos, flames leaping from windows, eating up roofs. That’s what a minor fire looks like 20 minutes later, by the time they actually get there. The volunteers are completely clueless. Here are photos from my local volunteers, judge for yourself:

          If trailers are firetraps, if they are, in fact, packed full of inflammable materials, then they need proper government regulation.

          1. Sock Puppet

            Don’t even get me started on volunteer fire companies. Volunteer fire houses with $.50 a can beer vending machines. A former neighbor of mine who was on the chief track was drummed out for not being drunk-friendly enough. If you heard a fire truck late at night in my old neighborhood, it was a fireman neighbor being dropped off because he was too drunk to drive home.

          2. abelenkpe

            I thought the county wanted the cost of the fire department paid through property taxes but the citizens voted against that? Is that not the case. Sad story in any event.

          3. Robert Dudek

            Would it be too far off to say that volunteer fire companies are one of those quirky American ideas that no one else gets?

        2. Jesse

          I agree YtL. I think the circumstances surrounding this incredibly tragic story and the one last year have been muddled. The fire department will cover everyone within the city, since their tax money goes toward funding it. They offer this service to people out in the countryside on an “opt-in” basis, meaning they can insure themselves for a $75 fee. What I can’t fathom is that they’re unwilling to put out the fires whenever the victims are offering to pay the full cost of the rescue; this policy is shockingly/disproportionately punitive.

          It’s like one commentator wrote last year, “Mr. Cranick, who has learned an incredibly expensive lesson about risk, wasn’t offering to pay the $75 fee. He was offering to pay whatever it cost to put out the fire. If an uninsured man confronted with the pressing need for a heart transplant offered to pay a year in back-premiums to an insurer to cover the operation, you’d be right to laugh at him. But imagine if that man broke out his check book to pay for the whole shebang, and hospital administrators denied him the procedure to teach him a lesson.”

          1. charles 2

            Well, that commentator is wrong : the problem is that the heart surgeon must invest dozens of years of hard work to know how to perform the procedure and the hospital must invest into big $ investment for the operating theatre and other niceties. It can only be done if there is a reasonable expectation that not only one, but many heart transplant will take place in the future. Insurance companies (or government guaranteed medicine) make sure that demand will be there, and will be solvent. In a system where you don’t “teach the lesson” (not to the person whose heart is failing or house is burning, but rather to the others in the “pour encourager les autres” meaning of the term), you are guaranteed that there won’t be a solvent demand for the service, and therefore, no service at all.
            This being said, a mandatory scheme, whereas savings, insurance or, best, a combination of the two, is likely to be more efficient for rationally limited people (which we all are, at various degrees).

      2. Parvaneh Ferhadi

        You may be right. That’s not the reason they gave, however. From the article:
        «South Fulton Mayor David Crocker defended the fire department, saying that if firefighters responded to non-subscribers, no one would have an incentive to pay the fee. Residents in the city of South Fulton receive the service automatically, but it is not extended to those living in the greater county-wide area.

        “There’s no way to go to every fire and keep up the manpower, the equipment, and just the funding for the fire department,” Crocker said.»

      3. aletheia33

        if everything melts in a structure like that, fires of this kind probably outgas highly toxic substances that pose a serious health risk for anyone in the vicinity who isn’t masked, for as long as it takes for the smoke and fumes to disperse, depending on the weather.

  3. Cal

    Re Tennessee,

    What about churches and synagogues that pay no property

    Why should our firemen risk their lives and our money
    fighting fires in them? How about police services?

  4. Cal

    Debt collection beyond the grave.

    I can agree with this in principle as long as it is OK to
    try and collect money from the families that once were major stockholders in bankrupt corporations such as ENRON, Global Crossing, etc.

  5. Cloud

    The Better Angels of Our Nature likewise argues that violence in the United States remains high in socioeconomic “pockets of anarchy” because the poor “are deprived of consistent law enforcement.”

    That sounds like Pinker all right.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Death offers no respite.

    For many small people who believe in getting on with life (not into fighting back), the conclusion is, Don’t Ever Borrow Again!

  7. nemesis

    Thanks for another feelgood text antidote, on Pinker’s book.

    Let’s abduct Bush and ship him to the Hague on a stretcher with a buttplug.

    Obama too, for violating Rome Statute Article 8.2.c.iv for the extrajudicial execution of Osama bin Laden when rendered hors de combat by detention – or the equivalent crime under universal jurisdiction; Rome Statute Article 8.2.a.i for wilful killing of Abdul-Rahman al-Awlaki and 90% of Pakistani casualties – or the equivalent crime under universal jurisdiction; Rome Statute Article 5.1.d for use and threat of force against Pakistan in contravention of UN Charter Articles 48 and 51 – or the equivalent crime under universal jurisdiction; Rome Statute Article 5.1.d for aggression against Libya for overstepping the objectives of UNSCR 1973 (2011) as pretext to interfere with national self-determination in breach of UN Charter Article 2.4 – or the equivalent crime under universal jurisdiction. Russia or long-suffering Lebanon can refer the charges at the Security Council.

  8. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Am I the only one not able to get the Odiego links, nor the feeds to iTunes, to work for the sound files from the main page…?

    This has been going on for some weeks, but I’ve been reluctant to mention it as I know Yves is super-busy.

    But is it just me…? Or is there a problem with the links to the Odiego sound files since the new server upgrades?

    Because I really (really!) want to hear the posts today, esp the one by Pilkington. I have time to *listen* to all of them, but only time to read one of today’s posts.

    Is there a glitch in the system? Is it just me….?
    Thx for any attention to this matter!

  9. Stepph

    Class of Homebuyers Claims BofA Found a New Dirty Trick:

    ” “This is yet another tale of Bank of America cheating its customers,” the complaint states. “In 2005, plaintiffs obtained a residential mortgage loan. Bank of America subsequently bought the servicing rights to the loan. From the time the loan was issued, plaintiffs complied with their obligations under the loan agreement. They made their monthly payments, maintained the required homeowner’s insurance coverage and timely paid their property taxes. Nonetheless, in December 2009, plaintiffs noticed on their monthly mortgage statement that Bank of America paid their property taxes and homeowner’s insurance without the plaintiffs’ knowledge or consent, and even though plaintiffs also paid them. To fund the impound account, and without informing the plaintiffs, Bank of America took money from plaintiffs’ monthly mortgage payment, not leaving enough to cover plaintiffs’ monthly mortgage payment, throwing plaintiffs into default. Once in default, Bank of America, as the loan servicer, was ale to charge additional fees and penalties. Bank of America also falsely reported to credit agencies that plaintiffs were in default on their mortgage.”

  10. PQS

    Re: Firefighters and paying an annual fee….

    Lots of good points here, but it seems to be the simplest solution is to keep the $75 fee, but make the collection of it anonymous, so that neither the FD nor the city knows who has paid and who hasn’t. Everyone in the community KNOWS they will have to pay, but nobody knows if someone hasn’t paid. (What do they do, for example, if someone just can’t afford to pay it? Just let them burn?) Then when there isn’t “enough money” to fund the FD, the city can levy a fee on everyone to cover it.

    We used to calll that sort of thing “The Commons” until the RW in this country started to tell everyone that that is a synonym for “communism/Evil”.

    1. Jim S

      … which would wind up being the same as a tax, since no one (superlatively speaking) would pay. Game theory at work. And instead of the odd pissed off family, a significant chunk of the county would be pissed off (the ones who voted against a tax in the first place). There’s a reason that most students are introduced to the concept of the Commons through the parable of the “Tragedy of the Commons”.

  11. Cal

    You would have to be insane or at least suicidal to eat any foodstuffs imported from Japan. Oops! Cattle fed rice straw from fields a kilometer from the Nuke meltdowns, the meat is radioactive? Who would have thunk it? Powdered seaweed from the coast in your miso soup? Gives you that warm tingly feeling. All manner of packaged food with labels written in a language that you can’t read, from places that you don’t know about imported by god knows who trying to dump the stuff on some sucker somewhere.

    Boycott all Japanese food. We’ll miss our sushi.

    Radioactive Cesium latches onto your bones. Half life of only 30 years or so.

  12. EH

    I’ve been reading Glenn Greenwald for a long time now, but I’ve pretty much written off Salon after they fundraised on the backs of OWS.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      I’m sorry, but you should consider cutting down on the adverbs. I rarely see compelling writing and rhetoric with as many opinionated “misleadingly” and “ludicrously” bombs dropped in important places.

      You have an opinion. That’s great.

      The violence issue seems rather complex. Pinker’s assertions do not strike me as “ludicrous”, especially when one considers that there is evidence that certain forms of violence have decreased over the last 100 years. What forms of violence we deem more important is a value issue. I think it is beyond reasonable dispute that women and children in the U.S. face less domestic violence than 150 years ago. I’d bet that is quite valuable to people who are currently women and children.

      How we measure violence, what forms of violence we consider important, these are all things upon which we will not all agree.

      One thing I think is certain is that violence will never go away. It is a natural tool in obtaining what one wants. It is not a tool that is just going to be left in the toolbox. Across species, across individuals, there is a great desire for *something*. Violence is one tool with which things can be obtained. At the same time, certain forms of it may be curbed in certain circumstances.

      I find Pinker a good read. I think he is knowledgeable and intelligent, and he has forced me many times to question my assumptions about what I know. I do not agree with all his conclusions. I do not find him dangerous. In fact, I think the opposite. Reality dictates that you are free to hold a contrary opinion. Do not mistake you opinions for a compelling counterargument, however.

      1. Anonymous Jones

        Whoops! “Dangerously” and “your.” Impressive from me! I guess I’m not so compelling when I’m writing in a hurry.

        Oh well, just like everyone else, I know less than I usually think I do.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    No politically feasible route to sustained growth for many years to come – by Buiter.

    Those who are from Mars think we must do something. There must be a solution.

    That’s the Yan way.

    Those who are from Venus feel like we should just talk about the problems.

    That’s the Yin way.

  14. Valissa

    Finland slams majority rule in EU bailout fund

    How will a statement like that effect what will happen at the upcoming summit? Will anything of substance be accomplished? How much sovereignty will various countries be willing to give up for the illusion of more security? How many more times can the “extend and pretend” strategy be applied before some sort of reality intrudes? Stay tuned folks, for the next episode of As Europe Turns!

    European Council/Economic crisis; What to expect at 8-9 December summit

    1. aletheia33

      this looks to me like the kind of rounding up of a small bottom-feeder operation that, yves has taught us, is often publicized so as to make it look as though a prosecutor is being “tough on mortgage crime” while the much, much bigger fish continue to swim around untouched.

      not that schneidermann won’t eventually catch a big one or two, but this does not look to me like one of those.

      now that we have 60 minutes airing whistleblowers on the big banks’ mortgage fraud (sunday), our president busy blowing into his new inflatable big stick, and the democratic “party” presumably summoning its loyal and beholden into the fold, should we brace for a wave of encouraging announcements featuring “prosecution” of “mortgage crime”?

      will we be able to tell how much, and what parts, if any, of these suddenly rough riders’ “justice” will be for real?
      yes because, thank goodness, we’ve got yves.

  15. Hugh

    Echoing Cloud at 10:16 AM, Pinker is an idiot. My favorite line from the book review is this one:

    “Pinker recognizes World Wars I and II as big problems for his thesis that modernity lessens violence.”

    I think that evidence that blows his whole thesis out of the water qualifies as something more than a big problem. A crushing rejection would be more like it. I also note no mention of the violence of kleptocracy, that is the world in which we live in today. Today’s kleptocrats don’t cut people’s heads off or carve their hearts out. They deny them jobs, homes, retirement, education, and healthcare, and just let them, in their millions, die or lead stunted lives. They inflict Dickensian penalties on them for any infraction, real or imagined, while giving themselves total impunity for all their crimes. Indeed today’s kleptocrats not only commit great crimes but they get bailed out with trillions for them. To me Pinker is just another Establishment liberal propagandist whose message is that the hoi polloi must be restrained from their destructive tendencies by enlightened elites, like him. I think destructive tendencies might be found anywhere, but they certainly mark our elites, as the last 35 years of history have shown, far more than they do the 99%.

    1. Flying Kiwi

      I don’t see that the World Wars militate against a proposal that acts of individual violence are reducing. The World and other 20thC wars were acts of institutional violence supported in the main by societal approval – or at least support for those on ‘your side’. Act of individual violence outside that context are far less acceptable than they were two centuries ago. Moreover the violence within the Wars was industrialised and in the vast majority of cases remote for the instigator – merely an impersonal mechanical act of pressing a button or pulling a lever or trigger often with no direct exposure to the consequences, to a great degree divorcing violence from intent to cause it.

      One might as well say that the presence in all of our homes of beautiful pieces of ceramic, glassware or metal-work makes it difficult to argue that individual craftsmanship and skill is declining.

  16. Max424

    I like to smoke pot occasionally when I practice pool. It’s seems that every time I do, I gain some valuable insight.

    The other night I was as high as a -low flying- kite, and I was hittin’ some balls, when a friend of mine came up and asked what I thought he should work on, when he practices.

    He’s a hunter, so I smartly went with the cue as a rifle metaphor: “You gotta level that barrel on the target, dude. Right? And how we do that? The left hand, man; your bridge hand is your gun-sight, and it must work to create that last, perfect angle of ascent or descent, the one where the cue tip/barrel bisects the middle of the middle.”

    “Everything follows a hard workin’ left hand, dude; stance, posture and the all-important backhand. That’s when the stroke just happens — outta-the-blue. No conscious thought. No chokey-choke.”

    “The perfect trigger squeeze is when the gun goes off without awareness, right? The report from the shot should surprise us, right?”

    I held out my left hand and wriggled it, like it was five-fingered octopus; “It’s all about this, man. It’s all about this.”

    He said, “Dude, I can see you are severely touched by the chronic. I ask again later, when you sober up.”

  17. Susan the other

    Henry Liu. Comprehensive analysis that you do not get in other places. Like: the liquidity trap means not that we are too flush with dollars but that if interest rates go up bond holders cannot sell their bonds without taking a hit.

    His analysis of the whole euromess was so good. Merkel’s insistence on treaty reform (fiscal) before any significant purchase of eurobonds by the ECB. And his noting several times that the EU has outlawed short sellng. I thought it had explicitly outlawed CDSs too – but the connection I probably missed (among many) is that a CDS is fairly harmless if it does not trigger massive short selling to cover the extortion. And can thus be ignored.

    Apparently Merkel tossed Timmy a bone by allowing him to lecture a Berlin audience about austerity, and she herself has consistently come in on the side of reform that will take “many years” to achieve because it must be fiscal, a fiscal treaty. Carefully calibrated. That gives the US enough time to cover its awful tracks.

    And because the Germans hate the Brits but the French and Brits still have a certain understanding because of their former imperialist glories, Sarkozy was sent to tell Cameron that the City of London will receive consideration (as the resolution goes forward in the EU) as a continuing financial center (pure grief).

    It appears Merkel is wining the argument that there will be no eurobonds before a fiscal treaty. Friday should be interesting.

    1. Jim

      So what does Henry Liu say about democracy and Germany. If the German voter was promised explicitly that there would be no Eurobonds or Monetization of Debt, does Liu simply believe that the German democracy can be discarded?

      1. Ransome

        Someone sent a letter bomb to a German banker today.

        Clueless Jamie Dimon think people hate him because he is rich.

        A Texas woman shot herself and her two kids at a welfare office after a dispute about receiving food stamps.

        There is a lot of tension and stress building, the politicians think it is about the deficit.

        As far as Greece, the military probably does not want to miss a paycheck.

  18. mk

    Check out the city council in Los Angeles:

    Los Angeles City Council Calls for End to ‘Corporate Personhood’

    The council resolution includes support for a constitutional amendment that would assert that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights, and that spending money is not a form of free speech.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I am so proud of them!

  19. Lloyd C. Bankster

    Re: MF Global Customer: My entire account is missing

    “An Illinois-based futures fund on Friday said its more than $50 million account with the broker-dealer unit of MF Global Holdings Ltd (MFGLQ.PK) is missing”

    Dear MF Global Customer,

    There’s no need to worry, I’m here to help you. Jon Corzine turned that account over to me and I moved it offshore to Belize for your own security. All you need to do in order to recover those funds is use a Belize Corporation in order to open a bank account in Belize. An anonymous Belize Corporation and bank account will only cost you $2495, payable to “Lloyd C. Bankster Legal Associates, with offices in Belize, Hong Kong, Nevis and Latin America”.

    Once this is done I can transfer the $50 million to your account.

    Your friend,

    Lloyd C. Bankster

  20. Typing Monkey

    From the WaPo story:

    The deficit limits — a “golden rule” of 3 percent of gross domestic product — would be enforced by elected leaders of the European Community acting with a supermajority of 85 percent, according to explanations provided by Sarkozy and Merkel at the news conference.

    WTF? Isn’t this is just a rehash of the original Maastricht criteria (which were broken when France and Germany decided that they didn’t like it, so a “stability and growth” pact was decided upon, because the original “stability” pact just wasn’t good enough…)

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      YVES, forgot the time. Pilkington thread yesterday, for the link from “Tao Jonesing” (please correct error above: not “Tom” but “Tao”).

      Everyone tuned into NC ought to investigate the link:
      “ROTHBARD’S CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM TO THE VOLKER FUND, ‘WHAT IS TO BE DONE?'” by Murray N. Rothbard, DATED July 1961. — Libertarian Papers, Vol 1, Art. No. 3 (2009)

      July, 1961. A conspiracy by any name, come to fruition.

  21. Zwölfkinder

    Re: Stephen Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined”

    “In a book which argues that violence is decreasing all over the world, there is no mention of Srebrenica, the Rwanda genocide, Pinochet in Chile, the Junta in Argentina (or Brazil or Greece), no entry under colonialism, no former Yugoslavia, no Haiti, no Dominican Republic, no Mugabe and only one mention of Mussolini, two of apartheid, and three of Pol Pot. This is a book about violence!

    Pinker even manages to make it sound as if the whole of the Second World War was the fault of one man, and that a delusional Hitler reluctantly dragged the German population into war and genocide:

    “Even in Nazi Germany, where anti-Semitism had been entrenched for centuries, there is no indication that anyone but Hitler and a few fanatical henchmen thought it was a good idea for the Jews to be exterminated. When a genocide is carried out, only a fraction of the population, usually a police force, military unit, or militia actually commits the murders.”

    I am not the first to notice this bizarre passage (a fine article in The New Yorker mentions it as well). It goes contrary to everything I know about The Third Reich….. as Goldhagen has successfully argued, it took a lot of people to carry out the extermination of 6 million Jews. Many thousands or even hundreds of thousands who were directly involved, and hundreds of thousands more who were indirectly involved, and then the vast majority of the population who simply did not care. Ian Kershaw ends his magisterial two-volume biography of Hitler with these words: “The vast majority of Germans had no more than minimal interest in the fate of the Jews.” If this “bystander” effect is not a part of the indictment of our species, I don’t know what is.”

    Why, then, is he garnering so much positive attention? Well, that is a deep question, having to do with the human propensity for denial….”

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Pinker must have had to *perform* for the Harvard Endowment Fund, Alumni Fund, and other sources of bread and butter. I guess no one is exempt from such *duty* in the Ivy League.

      What a disgrace.

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