Links 3/6/12

Sorry for the thin links. Your humble blogger is under the weather.

70-year-old equestrian’s Olympic ‘miracle’ Yahoo (hat tip Lambert)

Australia’s Changing View of the Dingo New York Times

The Science and Art of Neandertal Teeth [Slide Show] Scientific American

Shareholders to sue Tepco executives for $67 billion Reuters (hat tip Lambert)

Spain’s sovereign thunderclap and the end of Merkel’s Europe Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

China headed for 3% growth MacroBusiness

China: selling baby rights Financial Times (hat tip Lambert)

Voters Slowly Realizing Santorum Believes Every Deranged Word That Comes Out Of His Mouth Onion (hat top reader Lambert)

The Worst Administration on FOIA Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake (hat tip reader Carol B)

The Growing Impact of “Mini Muni” Bonds Smart Money (hat tip reader May S)

How Many People Can Manhattan Hold? New York Times (hat tip reader May S)

Uneconomic Growth: When Illth Trumps Wealth The Automatic Earth (hat tip reader May S)

Hope Now: Mortgage mods in January down 27% from year ago Housing Wire. Looks like banks are delaying mods so they can be counted in the mortgage settlement.

Fed Study of Student Debt Outlines a Growing Burden New York Times

The Great Debate©: Will Dodd-Frank be Effective? Global Economic Intersection (Elliott Morss, Brad Lewis and Bill Black share concerns about financial system reform.)

Antidote du jour:

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  1. YankeeFrank

    Kudos to Spain for telling the EU technocrats to shove their austerity plans up their collective ass. Perhaps others will finally grow some balls and do the same.

    1. dearieme

      Will we see Tercios marching through the Low Countries again?

      It’s time someone sacked Brussels.

        1. gordon

          And either the German Rhineland or France. Unless they want to reconstitute the Duchy of Burgundy.

    2. Cal

      The operative phrase is

      “Vete ala mierda”

      Remember that Spain suffered under the UN mandated economic sanctions in the 1950s and 1960s. Fuel was scarce, imports were expensive and the country proudly and successfully started making its own cars, steel, ships, wine etc.

      There is a residual memory of this independence that contributes I believe, to the rebellion against the EC.
      When Francisco Franco died in 1975, millions lined up to see his body.

      The are tough and independent, in spirit and geography.
      The Spaniard is a soldier without a uniform.
      The Italian is a uniform without a soldier.
      The Greek is?

      ¡Vete ala mierda!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Greek is either a kouros or a carytid, uniformed or not uniformed.

        He or she will be there always…not going anywhere – think location, location, location – unless the British send another Lord Elgin.

        1. ambrit

          Dear MLTPB;
          How about a hoplite, who were citizen soldiers. Tough boys, they stopped the Persians. They could well stop the Eurocrats too.

      2. aet

        Refresh our memories…why was General Franco’s Spain “subjected to sanctions” by the UN? Never heard that said before…

        And why did those “sanctions” end?

        Here’s Wikipedia:

        “After World War II Spain was politically and economically isolated, and was kept out of the United Nations. This changed in 1955, during the Cold War period, when it became strategically important for the U.S. to establish a military presence on the Iberian peninsula as a counter to any possible move by the U.S.S.R into the Mediterranean basin. In the 1960s, Spain registered an unprecedented rate of economic growth in what became known as the Spanish miracle, which resumed the much interrupted transition towards a modern economy.”


        …but if you want to call being kept out of the UN as being the same as being “subject to UN sanctions”, who am I to argue?

        Anyhow, Wikipedia does not explain precisely why Spain was kept out of the UN until 1955, although it’s clear that the restrictions on Spain ended in 1955 – not in the 1960s.

        As as Spain wasn’t in the UN prior to 1955, how could the UN possibly purport to impose “sanctions” upon her?

        1. aet

          More on sanctions, properly so-called (in contrast to the case of Spain after the second world war):

          “In the 20th century [sanctions] were used ever more often, especially by American presidents and lawmakers. Franklin Roosevelt tried sanctions on Japan in 1940. Dwight Eisenhower smacked them on Britain in 1956 to end the Suez venture. Jimmy Carter punished the Soviet Union after its invasion of Afghanistan in 1980 with a wheat embargo and an Olympic boycott. Ronald Reagan imposed them in protest at martial law in Poland. Congress, too, came to see sanctions as an easy, cheap way of expressing ire. In 1996, for example, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Vanuatu and Venezuela were all under American embargo for beastliness to whales or dolphins. In the next five years America imposed 85 new sanctions on foreign states.

          Sanctions may feel better than nothing: they are less feeble than scolding an ambassador and less bloody than sending in the marines. They provide a frisson of moral satisfaction. And sometimes they work—ending Britain’s Suez foray, for example. The threat of penalties by city and state officials in America in 1998 forced a group of Swiss banks to cough up $1.25 billion for some Holocaust survivors. Libya’s return to respectability may have owed something to sanctions. They played a part in ending white rule in South Africa too.”


          Nothiong about sanctions on Spain therein, either.

      3. Cal

        OK, I mispoke, UN mandated, meaning, sanctioned by UN members because they were horror of horrors, neutral toward the Axis.

        It doesn’t matter what the historical reality is. It’s the perception and the national memory of the historical narrative that fuels the anger towards the banker class.

        The memory of Spaniards toward national bankruptcy is long. the Bourbon kings, the post Potosi inflation, the wars with what is now “unified Europe”… all mean that the average Spaniard is going to not give a damn about credit ratings, bond repayment or anything else. The politicians that they elect will reflect that reality.

        ¡Vete ala Mierda!

    3. Jim

      Kudos to Spain.

      It’s too bad that the German political class is not as responsive as its Spanish counterparts. Otherwise, they would have vetoed any ill-fated ECB LTRO operations which is prolonging the misery everywhere, including Spain.

      The best possible outcome for all involved is the dissolution of the Eurozone.

  2. bmeisen

    Re Student Loans

    Valuable stats from the Fed: as many as 3.7 million Americans owe $50k or more, totalling $185 billion or about 21% of the total balance on student loans of $870 billion.

    The NYT article doesn’t give details on interest rates beyond noting that federal loans offer payment caps while private loans tend to have higher rates. Private lender customers can, the article notes, now call the CFPT to register complaints.

    1. bmeisen

      Hey those numbers correspond pretty well with the State of Oregon, which has 3.8 million residents and a GDP of $186 billion.

    2. law school was expensive

      if employment doesn’t pick up soon (in both quantity and quality of jobs), I think that more people are going to walk away from their student debt.

      though most student debt isn’t dischargeable in bankruptcy court, it may get to the point where the rational decision for people is to allow a lifetime of garnishment (which is capped as a percent of income) rather than trying to pay back an unsupportable debt burden.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We have come a long way from Socrates not accepting payment for teaching, Aristophanes notwithstanding.

        1. aet

          Gee, “we” had gotten away from Socrates – as far as payment for lessons are consenred – by the early Middle Ages.

          Bit late on expressing outrage about that, aren’t you?

        2. aletheia33

          yes and no.
          there is still a great deal of teaching of all kinds that gets done without payment exchanging any hands.
          the economy of the heart (as unmeasurable as the skulduggerous “shadow” one.)
          human beings must teach, just as they must make art and make children, etc. they’ll do it even if no one will pay them to do it.
          i think one could even make an argument that the vast majority of teaching on the planet goes unpaid.

    1. craazyman

      it looks to me like it’s somebody else’s foot. and the rest of them is underwater.

      I think we should send a park ranger in to make sure this isn’t a crime scene.

        1. craazyman

          they must have neanderthal teeth over there — eating dogs and cats the way they do. you need neaderthal teeth to eat rabbit stew too.

          but not Spam.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            With Neo-Neanderthalism, hopefully, we don’t have periods of stress from starvation (unless it’s religious/spiritual/therapeutic fasting or aesthetic dieting) and disease.

  3. Jim Haygood

    From Bloomberg:

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave President Barack Obama a Purim Megillah scroll, which tells the story of how Jews prevailed over a plot to kill them in ancient Persia, which is present-day Iran.

    Netanyahu gave Obama the gift today during a White House meeting, two days before the Jewish holiday of Purim begins.

    Obama’s position at the private meeting was consistent with a speech the president gave yesterday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, in which he said he’d do what is needed to protect Israel.

    Invoking religion to justify an act of aggression? How hateful and vindictive, on the part of both these monsters.

    Continuing U.S. meddling in the middle east pretty much guarantees its continuing rapid economic decline.

    In his wildest dreams, ol’ Jimmy Madison would never have guessed that a foreign faction could actually hijack his country, drive it into the ditch, and slam it head-on into a two-foot oak tree.

    1. Sufferin' Succotash

      “Invoking religion to justify an act of aggression? How hateful and vindictive, on the part of both these monsters.”

      Especially since the story was the basis for a really awful Italian sword-and-sandal flick starring Joan Collins and Richard Egan.

    2. Cal

      Imagine, if say, the Acadians had taken their religious beliefs and started their own country somewhere in Central America and had then hijacked the American military and the White House to fight their percieved enemies.
      Who would have believed it possible?

      How about the Amish? The Shakers? What is it about the Hebrews that makes them so darn special?

        1. aletheia33

          the muddled thinking and ignorance of the history of the jews in this and maximilien’s comment is astonishing–or would be, if it were not so common. what woodwork is this stuff coming out of?

    3. Maximilien

      @Jim: Your mention of the two monsters reminded me of what US foreign policy once was, long ago, and John Quincy Adams’ famous Independence Day 1821 speech before Congress affirming that policy:

      “[America] has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own.

      “She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. […]

      “Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall
      be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.


      1. aletheia33

        u.s.a. didn’t have to go abroad to grab and plunder right then, our noble founding fathers had it planned out, we had a whole continent to grab and a genocide to wrap up first.

        1. maude

          Oh my, that link got blocked by my employer’s web filter as the category of “Intolerance and Hate”


        2. JTFaraday

          It’s a different flavor, but basically the same problems with “expecting results from ritualistic repetition” exists in most of the Occupy movement, apart from very specific legal, foreclosure, etc strategies aimed toward very specific (and local) ends. Most of which were probably generally going on anyway, but getting near zero media coverage, even in the blogosphere.

          As much of the rest of the Occupy movement derives its ideal of ritualistic repetition more from the Reverend Dr. MLK’s very tightly organized civil rights movement in the South, it is certainly much more TV and middle class friendly.

          There’s no question about that, but in the 2008 primary when HRC was condemned as a “racist” for saying that the success of the CRM depended in part on Johnson’s flogging for legislation in Congress, she wasn’t necessarily wrong. (Or, maybe she really said in *large part* which is what pissed people off).

          We don’t have that flogging today, which is why we’ve been grousing–but I guess there are enough pissed off youngish people out there.

          We have also as citizens been incredibly passive and obeisant, and that’s where the get out and at least protest with and do things with other people part comes in. I still think it’s unlikely that this is going to look the same everywhere, but apparently some people do.

          If anything, there has been a lot more popular protest on the west coast in recent decades, after some incident with the police (Rodney King, Oscar Grant) or the famous “Battle in Seattle,” which, on the surface anyway in the form of the highly stylized “black bloc” looks a bit like Occupy Oakland today.

          So, if people don’t like black bloc tactics and since I don’t think you can tell them to get off the street if the cops can’t manage to do it for you, then it seems to me that you’re perfectly within your rights to disown it/them as part of “your” (TV friendly, middle class) movement.

          Meanwhile, if the rest of Occupy Oakland decides it’s done with the belligerents, it can always vote with its feet and go aspirationally twinkle its fingers in San Francisco with Rebecca Solnit. I’m not going to argue with them if that’s what they want to do. Go for it. If they have nobody to play with, they’ll find something else to do.

          But it still remains that a lot of the time, your TV friendly idea(l) is NOT what popular protest actually looks like, and if we’re really going to continue to have problems in this country–whether the TV viewing audience has figured that out yet or not– at some point you/they are likely going to see something you/they don’t like.

          It’s up to you and them how you react to that, if/when it happens, but personally I’ll make up my mind about it when it happens rather than prepping the ground in advance for the inevitable demonization of any acting out of popular frustration whatsoever by doing this all the time:

          1. Lambert Strether

            JTF Your HTML is now fixed. I don’t own a TV. TV is a public health hazard.

            For the rest, I think one can point out that a reputation for non-violence is a strategic asset (as I do) without advocating that Occupy be structured like the Civil Rights movement (as I do not).

  4. JTFaraday

    “”So, when he said that Satan was currently attacking the United States, he meant exactly that,” added Banks. “Satan, the devil himself, is attacking the United States. Rick Santorum believes this is a real thing that is actually happening. I…wow. Just wow.””

    Well. But there must some explanation.

  5. spooz

    don’t know why, but when I try to open the Firedoglake FOIA link in google chrome I get a google warning about malware. No such warning using firefox.

    1. LA

      I’m getting the same warning. I tweeted FDL to let them know. It would be nice to know if it’s safe or not to proceed, I frequent FDL a lot.

  6. wb

    How bad could it get? A recent study by MIT projects that without “rapid and massive action” to cut carbon pollution, the Earth’s temperature could soar by nine degrees this century. “There are no analogies in human history for a temperature jump of that size in such a short time period,” says Tony McMichael, an epidemiologist at Australian National University. The few times in human history when temperatures fell by seven degrees, he points out, the sudden shift likely triggered a bubonic plague in Europe, caused the abrupt collapse of the Moche civilization in Peru and reduced the entire human race to as few as 1,000 breeding pairs after a volcanic eruption blocked out the sun some 73,000 years ago. “We think that because we are a technologically sophisticated society, we are less vulnerable to these kinds of dramatic shifts in climate,” McMichael says. “But in some ways, because of the interconnectedness of our world, we are more vulnerable.”

    Read more:

    1. Cal

      Yeah but Rush and his cohort of the Hillbilly Theocracy
      firmly believe that they will be part of the remaining
      breeding pairs…don’t you get it? Christian Dominism and the need to go forth and multiply, without the clutter of
      all of those who are already enjoying what the Pope called
      “the feast of life”.

      1. wb

        Yeah, that ‘feast of life’ thing made me wince, bit like maggots devouring a carcase until only bones remain, and we make this planet resemble Mars…

    2. Jim

      “There are no analogies in human history for a temperature jump of that size”

      I’d like to see the meteorological reports from 10K years ago, when the glaciers covering northern continental USA began to form the Great Lakes.

  7. Paul Tioxon

    Housing Industry reports fewer mortgage mods, indicating banks may be stock piling deals they would have approved anyway for announced mortgage settlement.

    When the kings of sandbagging sales numbers reports 27% LESS mortgage modifications that coincides with a major announced settlement with 49 state AGs and the Feds, (that as of March 6th has yet to be seen in court or public!)there is no other need to look beyond the misdirection. Typically, the retail mortgage industry would hit the monthly number by simply having an EVP come through branch offices and review loan files that underwriting did not approve, and approve just enough. I have personally noticed this prior to a major merger of the company that employed me. For several months before we were bought up by a much larger mortgage banker, the frequency of such executive over rides, that only to serve to pump up production numbers, was contrasted with how quickly they disappeared after the merger.

    The mortgage industry has piles of files that are simply manipulated by controlling the pipeline flow of applications, in this instance, the applications of loans on the books for mods. Same pipeline sandbagging, different goal.

  8. Susan the other

    On the Tepco shareholders suing the executives for 67Bn to be paid into a compensation fund for the recovery effort. I wonder if Tepco execs can even find attorneys who will defend them.

    1. aet

      People suing for compensation must always prove their claimed damages, you know. And they need to show that the damages were actually factually CAUSED by the ones they want to be ordered to pay those claims.

      How does anybody cause a record-braking tsunami?

      1. ambrit

        Dear aet;
        Wouldn’t proving criminal negligence do the same thing? There had to be serious and responsible engineers sending anguished e-mails to Tepco headquarters warning of potential disaster from the flawed design of the Dai Ichi complex. The Chernobyl experience had to have shown most of the mistakes made in heavy water reactor design.
        Also, all reports coming out of Fukushima suggest that the show isn’t over there by a long shot. The Russians had to create a gigantic concrete mausoleum to contain their fubar. What are the Japanese planning? They don’t even have it under control yet.

  9. briansays

    allowing someone to sell their right to have a second child is far less immoral/insensitive than the American attitude of entitlement, that you can have as many kids as you want regardless of you ability to raise them, then expect the rest of society to do your job for you by increased taxes and an endlessly expanding social welfare system

    1. Frank

      Don’t forget the per child tax credit that we all subsize.
      Freeloader Rick Sanitorum is pimping off that. Here’s an example of the Welfare Industrial Reparations Complex in action.
      (Marin City is a giant housing project in Sausalito California)

      Gracie Stover said that when she moved into her public housing unit 53 years ago she had a husband and three children. Today, Stover said she lives in the unit by herself.
      “Don’t take our homes away from us,” Stover said. “Let me go out feet first.”
      Conchita Sibbalucca, who has lived in her unit for 50 years, said, “I have nine grandchildren. They come on weekends. I beg you not to make me move into a one-bedroom apartment.”
      Royce McLemore, a long-time public house resident and community activist, said that because there is a limited number of one-bedroom units in Marin City, some seniors may have to be uprooted from the community where they have their family and support systems. Housing Authority Director Dan Nackerman said McLemore lives in a unit with four bedrooms.

      “If you move a senior out of their environment there are devastating effects,” McLemore said.

    2. aet

      Your ‘argument” would be stronger if “society” made access to effective birth control, including abortion, free, cheap and easy to obtain for anybody who wants it – prior to compliaining about social costs brought on by people having children which they cannot afford to keep.

      It would also help parents to afford their children’s keeping, and would also serve to justify your expression of contempt for those you judge to be “bad parents”, if there were jobs available for everyone who wanted one.

  10. wb

    The offshoot of the loose network of hackers, Anonymous, believed to have caused billions of dollars in damage to governments, international banks and corporations, was allegedly led by a shadowy figure has identified as Hector Xavier Monsegur. Working under the Internet alias “Sabu,” the unemployed, 28-year-old father of two allegedly commanded a loosely organized, international team of perhaps thousands of hackers from his nerve center in a public housing project on New York’s Lower East Side. After the FBI unmasked Monsegur last June, he became a cooperating witness, sources told

    Read more:

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Yet another “terrorist” organization being led by the FBI.

      Sure, he got “caught” last July and began working for the FBI . . . he wasn’t a gov. stooge to begin with.

      Anonymous is like Al Qaeda. It doesn’t exist other than as a CIA/FBI front. Government perps set it up to try to attract people to the cause then encourage them to commit low level crimes then the government swings in and arrests them and claims these are really huge crimes and that Al Qaeda or Anonymous is this huge threat.

      It’s all bullshit. There is no threat of hackers. Just like there is no threat from terrorists. The U.S. has created this threats and in fact the biggest threat to world peace is the U.S.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am working on a Zen Yin-Yang koan:

      When the poor are all gone, who do you know you’re rich?

      It’s like, if there are no poor people around, does it actuate anything if a rich person issues a command?

      For the 0.01%, the poor will always be with them…or so they desire.

      1. Max424

        I too am working on a Zen kōan.

        If strategy dines on tactics the way an anteater devours ants, what then happens when a very smart rich-nation, following a comprehensive strategic plan, encounters a very stupid poor-nation, that is far too incompetent to develop even one feeble tactical precept?

        1. ambrit

          I am working on a Zen Yab Yum Koan.
          “When there are no more poor, who will the rich b—-r?”

    2. aet

      “the richest nation the world has ever seen by far”?

      What beautiful arrgance…as if you know – with certainty – not only of what true riches indisputably consists, but also as if you know all about all the circumstances in which all societies, everyone of them which has ever been, which has ever lived, any where, at any time – and are able to comparatively judge them, one against the other.

      “We are the richest that has ever been!!”

      Yeeeeah, right. Says you, says I. in other words, I don’t buy it.

      There have been richer, there have been happier – those are comparative categories only. The richest? the happiest? Ever? no no no…”x is richer than y”, “x is happier than y” – sure one can say that, after an examination of both x and y: but “a is the richest ever?”, or “a is the happiest ever”?

      Those latter statements sound like the offspring of both ignorance and arrogance.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.


    This one from Pablo Sebastián left me speechless.

    My loose translation:

    “Spain isn’t any old country that will allow itself to be humiliated by the German Chancellor.”

    Is senor Sebastian talking about Picasso’s Guernica masterpiece?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And at other times it requires humility to refrain from performing something.

  12. another

    Sorry you’re not feeling 100%, Yves. Hope you feel better soon. I’d hardly describe the above as ‘thin links’. You regularly give us so much to chew on that it’s hard to keep up!

    Thank you.

      1. Max424

        For some reason, “it” recognizes my post, in whatever guise, and “it” eats it.

        It’s as fascinating as it is frustrating.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Hate to suggest this, but try clearing your cache and cookies. If you’re logged into WP, log out and in again. Sounds like what WP believes about your session and what the browser believes about your session are in conflict.

          1. Max424

            No go.

            The only explanation, “it” knows what I’m saying and “it” doesn’t want it said.

            The last variation of the post bears almost no resemblance to original, that’s how much it has been reworked. And I’ve tried to place everywhere! Giggle.

            But the context is the same. And there’s the rub. Too smart “it!”

            “It” allows dirty, directional (as in; directed at “it”) Haiku, however.


          2. ambrit

            Dear Sir;
            Mr. Strether is more civilized than that. It’s Mr. Holder and Company you want if ‘erasure’ is your desire.

    1. F. Beard

      Don’t be so sure RP’s mission is quixotic. Those in favor of a gold standard would concede anything (ending the drug war, ending US imperialism, etc) to get their shiny metal re-enshrined as money. It’s that important to them. They don’t want government small enough to drown in a bathtub – they want it firmly in their usury loving hands.

      1. Valissa

        Windmills = MSM duopoly establishment… who are firmly ignoring Ron Paul’s honorable attitudes about the drug war, civil liberties, the Fed, anti-imperialism…

          1. Lambert Strether

            Whaddaya mean, “yet”? The litmus test should be criminal prosecution of bank CEOs for accounting control fraud. And across the spectrum, from Warren on the [cough] left, to RP, that’s not in the bounds of acceptable discourse. There is no integrity to be had in any legacy party candidate, and that includes RP.

          2. F. Beard

            Good point! However, though prosecuting the criminals is necessary; it is not sufficient. The whole system is inherently dishonest.

          3. Valissa

            Politics has always been a “dirty” business. It doesn’t take much history reading to realize this. I don’t know why people keep seeking the mythical politician with pure integrity, or who will somehow “change” the establishment and fight for the little guy over the big guy. Animal Farm anyone?

            “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal” –Emma Goldman

            Therefore I might as well vote to amuse myself. I enjoyed voting for Ron Paul today.

  13. kevinearick


    Facebook went so well, so by all means let’s build another football stadium. That will solve Silicon Valley’s problem. Housing fell another 4% nationwide, the trauma is expanding, and we can see what the post traumatic stress syndrome curve is going to look like, so let’s increase autocratic control of housing through the FHA…

    Innocent, responsible homeowners? Who the f*** do you think you are kidding? That’s as big an oxymoron as military intelligence. Barack Obama is one person, the President is another. The difference between the last three presidents is negligible. Only recognition has changed.

    You cannot “fix” PTSS. The hurricane is warping the beams in the structure, which are humans, locked in prisoners dilemma, which is imploding. A productive outlet pathway is required for that energy. Recognition is the key.

    Everything required is in the black/white market, which is impervious to the forces in the global economy, until threshold, because it exists in a different dimension. It’s quantum.

    Once shaken, confidence may be rebuilt, but it will never reach the same threshold, which is why raising children is so important. As difficult as it may be, the best approach is to provide a neutral return. Spoiling them ensures PTSS when the first wind blows. Creating artificial crisis as training creates the false confidence of a bully.

    America, due to inelastic rule of law, is no longer capable of raising intelligent children, which are desperately required in times like these. The surplus must come before the deficit, and reduce the next deficit, to equilibrium, unless you have a particular need for out-sized gravity.

    You walk into Fort Bragg, CA, and observe a $75/night Motel 6, a population hopelessly addicted, government vehicles everywhere, and 70% of the children living in poverty. What does that tell you about Silicon Valley, Apple, China, and what is going on in the White House?

    Fashion the required gate for the kids, beyond the empire’s reach.

    1. aet

      As that exercise did not seem to have made you any happier, perhaps you should find some more profitable way to improve your time.

    2. JTFaraday

      Wow, it let you through
      with that?
      Last I knew you
      couldn’t say a******.

      Every time I say eff-ing I hold my breath
      (and I say eff-ing a lot).

  14. skippy

    The 0.01 Per Cent: The Rising Influence of Vested Interests in Australia… Wayne Swan

    The rising influence of vested interests is threatening Australia’s egalitarian social contract.

    A decade ago, as I waited for my order outside a Maroochydore fish and chip shop, a tall, barefoot young man strolled past wearing a T-shirt that read: ‘Greed is good. Trample the weak. Hurdle the dead.’ Those brutal lines seemed to encapsulate what was then a growing sense of unease in Australia. The world of my Queensland childhood, governed by its implicit assumptions of equality and mutual care, was being driven from sight by a combination of ruthless individualism and unquestioning materialism. Looking out for number one was not only tolerated but encouraged by a government whose agenda, particularly in industrial relations, seemed very far from the social contract, based on a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work with a decent social safety net for the vulnerable, that had served our nation so well for so long.

    Today, when a would-be US president, Mitt Romney, is wealthier than 99.9975% of his fellow Americans, and wealthier than the last eight presidents combined, there’s a global conversation raging about the rich, the poor, the gap between them, and the role of vested interests in the significant widening of that gap in advanced economies over the past three decades.

    This is a debate Australia too must be part of. We’ve always prided ourselves on being a nation that’s more equal than most – a place where, if you work hard, you can create a better life for yourself and your family. Our egalitarian spirit is the product of our history and our national character, as well as the institutions and safeguards built up over more than a century. This spirit informed our stimulus response to the global financial crisis, and meant we avoided the kinds of immense social dislocation that occurred elsewhere in the developed world.

    But Australia’s fair go is today under threat from a new source. To be blunt, the rising power of vested interests is undermining our equality and threatening our democracy. We see this most obviously in the ferocious and highly misleading campaigns waged in recent years against resource taxation reforms and the pricing of carbon pollution. The infamous billionaires’ protest against the mining tax would have been laughed out of town in the Australia I grew up in, and yet it received a wide and favourable reception two years ago. A handful of vested interests that have pocketed a disproportionate share of the nation’s economic success now feel they have a right to shape Australia’s future to satisfy their own self-interest.

    So I write this essay to make a simple point: if we don’t grow together economically, our community will grow apart… snip.

    Skippy… from across the pond, we see the result and don’t want a bar of it.

      1. skippy

        What role did The Australian play in the rise and fall of the Prime Ministership of Kevin Rudd?
        Robert Manne:

        That’s a very important, also very complicated question – I’ll just try and answer it simply. In the essay, what I’ve tried to do is take particular issues to exemplify different aspects of the way The Australian runs. The case with Kevin Rudd is strange because the editor, Chris Mitchell, started off as a strong supporter of Kevin Rudd. He was a personal friend, Rudd was the godfather of Chris Mitchell’s son, there probably was an unhealthily close relationship and he thought he’d help make Rudd Prime Minister, had backed him during 2007. At a certain point it’s clear that Rudd disappointed Mitchell, and I think it was mainly because he began to be very critical of what I call neo-liberalism – Rudd blamed the global financial crisis on the greed and excesses and ideological predispositions of the neo-liberals, and the Wall Street brokers and bankers. And I think Mitchell thought that he had been let down by someone he thought was right-wing. So what you get then, from about the beginning of 2009, is an accelerating campaign the paper ran against the government and they partly did this by campaigns over things like home insulation and the Education Revolution Program – they were right to do it over insulation, in my view they gave a very distorted picture of the education building program and the stimulus programs that the Rudd Government put in place. But then something snapped with the Super Profits Mining Tax and the paper went sort of berserk, and it campaigned remorselessly for about two months on the question of that tax. And my view is the paper does play a role in the fall of the Rudd Prime Ministership, because Rudd didn’t lose much public support over that time, what he lost was the support of his caucus, and the inner sanctums of the Labor Party. And I think they were very influenced by the campaign The Australian ran, because you have to remember The Australian is the paper that is the common reading for what I call the political class. The Australian is read by politicians, public servants, business people and very committed citizens in general, much more even than the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age. So the caucus would have I think been influenced by this remorseless campaign that was in part personal and in part political, that was led by The Australian. So the essay gives a slightly revisionist version and says that The Australian should not be under-estimated as having played a role in undermining the Rudd Prime Ministership.

        In a 2006 address, an Opposition frontbencher (Mr Kevin Rudd) presented a case for social democracy as an alternative to what he then called ‘market fundamentalism’ An outline of his argument and comments on it are below – see An Alternative to Market Fundamentalism?

        Then in February 2009, as Australia’s Prime Minister, he authored an essay on The Global Financial Crisis which presented apparently similar arguments and blamed what he then called ‘neo-liberalism’ for a global financial crisis (GFC) which had emerged in 2007 and had resulted in an increasingly severe economic crisis.

        Click here for outline of the introduction to Mr Rudd’s essary

        Though some positive reactions have emerged, many apparently-informed observers drew attention to defects in his arguments.

        The present writer’s impression is that the package of policies Mr Rudd labelled ‘neo-liberalism’ contains defects that have long required review – so starting a debate about this is constructive. Also his suggestions about the end of an era are probably valid (though several eras may be ending, and Mr Rudd’s version of this may be inaccurate).

        Rather than seeking practical solutions to the very complex problems he alluded to Mr Rudd’s 2009 philosophical essay seems more focussed on blaming scapegoats (his political opponents) for economic problems he was apparently unable to foresee in early 2008, and perhaps positioning himself for a close working relationship with what some see to be the inevitably-dominant anti-liberal East Asian states in the face of Western decline.
        Observer’s Reactions

        Observers’ Reactions

        Mr Rudd’s essay soon generated a great deal of comment (see examples outlined below), and observers presented their views on what it meant and why it had been produced.

        Click here for how observer’s interpreted Mr Rudd’s argument and objectives

        Some observer’s were supportive. They referred (for example) to Mr Rudd’s contribution to social democrat’s desire to demonstrate their relevance, and to making a case for government intervention.

        Click here for favourable views of Mr Rudd’s philosophical contribution

        However most observers (only a few of whom were Mr Rudd’s political opponents) were critical. Detractors referred to (for example): the uncertainty about what the ‘neo-liberalism’ Mr Rudd criticised means; errors of fact; the essay’s apparently primarily political goals; the close alignment of Mr Rudd’s proposals with mainstream economic opinion despite his claimed radical ideological difference; blaming the Opposition for neo-liberalism, when most such policies were introduced by the ALP; the reversal of Mr Rudd’s earlier policy stance; and the limited actual influence of ‘neo-liberal’ policies in Australia.

        Skippy… its a sticky wicket out there or not, but, the umpire’s are fouling the game, ya think?

  15. Valissa

    Stanford Convicted of Defrauding Investors

    A token rich guy prosecution for the plebes…

    One Toke Over the Line, Brewer & Shipley Live

    In their intro they mention the Lawrence Welk version of their famous song… here’s that one too!

    “Toking” with Lawrence Welk

  16. Dirk

    Please note that five members of Mitt Romney’s family,
    including his brother, just endorsed Ron Paul.

  17. H Sniffles

    Dumb bear caption contest.

    “Hey look Joe, I was looking for a salmon and I found a foot!

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