Links 11/17/2012

This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 698 donors have already invested in our efforts to shed light on the dark and seamy corners of finance. Join us and participate via our Tip Jar or WePay in the right column or read about why we’re doing this fundraiser and other ways to donate, such as by check, on our kickoff post or one discussing our current target. –Yves

Cute in boots! Injured hedgehog Bootsie gets his own purple footwear after being found with fractured front feet Daily Mail

How Insects Domesticate Bacteria to Live Symbiotically: Symbiotic Microbes’ Origin Discovered After Man Impales Hand On Branch Science Daily

First stone-tipped spear thrown earlier than thought New Scientist

How Hamas is winning the rocket war Foreign Policy

A Pillar Built on Sand LRB

Social Media Companies Have Absolutely No Idea How to Handle the Gaza Conflict Betabeat

The Hackers of Damascus Businessweek

Jordan protesters intensify call for reform Al Jazeera

Ikea regrets using prison labour FT. (Friday, 7:01PM).

Death By Twinkie: What the Hostess Liquidation Says About Labor and the Economy David Dayen, FDL

In Leaked Docs, Honeywell Cites Obama Ties As Key to Anti-Union Strategy In These Times

Walmart’s Internal Compensation Documents Reveal Systematic Limit On Advancement HuffPo

Wal-Mart files U.S. labor charge against union Reuters

Wal-Mart Workers’ Black Friday Strike Bloomberg

Hurricanes, Capitalism & Democracy Naomi Klein on Bill Moyers

Human Waste Continues to Pour into NY Harbor After Sandy Channel 4, New York

Sandy’s Secret Survivors: Old, Disabled and Invisible in the Rockaways Truth-Out

A vault floods on Wall Street… FT Alphaville

Why Cell Phones Went Dead After Hurricane Sandy Bloomberg. A doozy. Search the page for “First Amendment.”

Occupy Sandy Offers Alternative Hurricane Recovery Effort New School Free Press

The Rebranding of Occupy Wall Street AdWeek

Woe Of Fiscal Cliff ClownCrack

Whose Sacrifice Is It Anyway? The So-Called ‘Grand Bargain’ Would Fleece the Middle Class New York Observer (MT)

I’m betting on Grover James Kwak, Baseline Scenario

Six Facts About A Grand Bargain Third Way. Note especially fact six.

Volcker Asserts US Must Trim Living Standard  Times (Alexa)

End-of-Life Care Should Be Universally Provided and Need-Based Ezekiel Emanuel, Atlantic video. Connect that dot.

Shirtless Agent in Bottomless Scandal New Yorker

Jill and Scott Kelley cultivated politicians as well as generals Tampa Bay Times

Eric Holder Owes America Some Answers Bloomberg. Yeah, who appointed this guy?

Everything You Want to Know About the Tech Nerds Who Won for Obama Has Been Written Atlantic. Creative class round-up.

Former Google lawyer named head of Silicon Valley PTO office Reuters

On managerialist ideology Stumbling and Mumbling

When Congress Busted Milton Friedman (and Libertarianism Was Created By Big Business Lobbyists) NSFWCorp (MA)

Need 3 Quick Credits to Play Ball? Chronicle of Higher Education

Three millennia of motherhood TLS

Maps Before Maps Retronaut (PD)

Antidote du jour (HS):

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. ArkansasAngie

    One of the principle reasons corporations exist is their limited liability.

    In my book … corporations have to give up their limited liability and behave like the rest of us who are liable for our actions if “they” want to assert their “constitutional” rights.

    Geez … moral hazard already.

    Re: Why Cell Phones Went Dead After Hurricane Sandy Bloomberg. A doozy. Search the page for “First Amendment.”


    1. David Lentini

      “Limited liability” means that each share holder is liable for only their pro-rata share of the corporations total liability. In other words, if you own 1%, you’re on the hook for only 1%. In fact, a key point of having corporations was to encourage investors to fund endeavors requiring large capital investment by removing the fear of having to take full responsiblity for the total losses while only having tbe benefits of partial ownership.

      I think a better approach may be to enable the public to force dissolution of a corporation for corporate malfeaseance, and make the management liable to the shareholders for their actions. That would certainly limit the taste for outrageous risks in search of better bonuses while the shareholders sit back and grin.

      We also need to strip corporate personhood.

      1. Ms G

        “I think a better approach may be to enable the public to force dissolution of a corporation for corporate malfeaseance, and make the management liable to the shareholders for their actions. That would certainly limit the taste for outrageous risks in search of better bonuses while the shareholders sit back and grin”

        Quite. And related to this change would be the imposition and strict enforcement of fiduciary duty on all of the individuals entrusted with making Other People’s Money “Work.” Whether they be in corporations or the money management business. (Ha!)

    2. TK21

      I think we should just amend the Constitution to ban corporations.

      “I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations” –Thomas Jefferson

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I can’t find a transcript, unfortunately. But based on the quotes, I’m not encouraged (though I suppose this is better than nothing, and I have been calling my elected representatives). “On the backs of the poor” is a cliche, no matter how well-intentioned. And the deficit is not “important”; Sanders backed himself and his allies and us into the losers corner by adopting Pete Peterson’s frame. Take care of aggregate demand and the deficit takes care of itself. And while we’re at it, having the American people, who are sovereign in their own currency, borrow from the banks is nothing more than a boondoggle and welfare for wealthy people. So their welfare programs are “important” to them, but that doesn’t mean they are important to us….

      1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

        I’d like to see the operators of the discount window obligated to justify their lendings BY LAW, an amendment to the Federal Reserve Act. Then, we could have a good laugh, i suppose.

      2. Ms G

        I agree with everything you say. Still, I posted this in the spirit of “better than nothing” as in, at least someone is screaming about “get your hands off of SSI and Medicare and Medicaid” (or, “not one penny”) and pointing out that workers have been paying taxes and rich people haven’t (something apparently a large majority of our fellow citizens were, odd as it is, not aware of).

        I will be the first to jump for joy when anyone in office or having power over someone in office declares that the deb-based model of economy is officially dead, that there are certain public goods (land, health, food, light, air, heat, education) to which all citizens are categorically entitled to, and that looting as a way of life by anyone in business is a crime punishable by forced labor cleaning latrines.

        But, as you so often note, merely because this is not likely to occur in the next week or two, it does not therefore follow that the specific agenda of the Cat Food Comission is under real attack!

        1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

          Just make lists of people who give to fundraisers, journalist hacks, congresspeople who voted or spoke unwisely, etc. etc.

          The KGB used to gather intelligence on American movers and shakers (also in Canada). Then check who lauds who and for what reasons, which companies hire which people.
          It’s a big tangled web of influence and quid pro quo favors.
          Say in open source software, it’s a “meritocracy” and those close to open source software development know roughly who did what, and reputation is the social product.

          With establishment figures, there is also so-called reputation via endorsements and citing sources, etc.
          But it’s a very tangled web. Still, mapping the relations is a good start and can be used to ask public officials to justify their actions.
          Martin Luther King (or someone) said there’s power by ?, and power through (large) number of people/followers.

          1. Carol Sterritt

            You say that there is a big and tangled web of favors and quid pro quo. That was indeed part and parcel of the story this week, regarding that woman Kelley and her affair with the general. And then she is able to “befriend” Petraeus and soon becomes the official broker for a big deal to be done with the Korean government. Unfortunately for her, she asked a businessman for some 80 million dollars as her fee for helping him with the deal, and since he thought that anything above eight hundred thousand was way too much, the businessman leaked the story to the press.
            Us slobs who just work for a living find all this grist for the mill.

      3. Ms G

        @ Zygmunt: And I would like to see the Discount Window open up its 0% facility to the rest of the “persons” recognized by the US Constitution, including you and me. As long as we’re still in the era of debt/credit-based “capitalism,” that is.

        Either that, or US Post Office savings accounts at 4.5% guaranteed interest, no fees, no repo, no securitization, etc. — 100% guaranteed by US Gov.

          1. Ms G

            Silly me, of course! And then we can call ourselves Masters and Mistresses of the Universe (or Job Creators) or something.

        1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

          I seem to remember reading (it may be a myth) that Nixon pondered nuking Vietnam, but was disencentivized by the massive numbers of protesters “dangerously” close to the White House.
          I think the labor movement and civil rights movement provide examples to guide resistance and dissent actions.

    2. wbgonne

      I wouldn’t get my hope up. This smells like the Ultimate Kabuki Dance, the one where all the audience members get slaughtered at intermission.

  2. Lloyd C. Bankster

    Please, appoint anyone you want as the new SEC Chairman….Ted Kauffman, Neil Barofsky, Dennis Kelleher… anyone….

    As long as it’s not Eric Schneiderman.

    So please, anyone but him. If it’s Schneiderman, though I should endure what must be borne, ne’er could my woes be ended, save by gloomy death.

    For my heart is ever trembling, not with the fear of death, but the fear that Schneiderman will head the SEC. Should that come to pass, death will be delight. For ’tis a punishment far worse than death to look in Schneiderman’s face, all swollen with rage ‘gainst wretched me, to kiss my foe, to fear his very nod, obedience to whom my smarting grief could not endure.

    With Schneiderman pursuing Jamie Dimon, Bob Rubin and me, trembling fright would force us to take refuge in foreign lands.

    But what hope of safety would there be anywhere on earth with Schneiderman in hot pursuit? Please, god, make it anyone but him.

    My victorious foe Schneiderman would threaten my chamber, blazing with hate of me, demanding the head of my wife.

    Arise thou, my father, from the shades and bring help to me who calls on thee; or else, rending the earth, lay bare the Stygian abyss, that I may plunge thither headlong.

      1. Howard Beale IV

        If that’s the case, then in no uncertian terms should Obama elect Elizabeth Warren to be Treasury Secretary.

  3. David Lentini

    Loved the Friedman story. But I’d add at the end that Larry Summers is among the most dishonest.

    Also, it’s way past time that someone connect the dots and bring Friedman down? I’ve found lots of “footnotes” about Friedman’s dishonesty in various publications from respectuable economists; yet I have yet to read a full take-down of the man. Are economists really _that_ cowardly? Is the field (I won’t ever call it a profession) really that much of a Mafia? I think the first step on the road back to rationality is to start burning the libertarian–neo-classcial Potemkin Village.

      1. David Lentini

        Thanks, but I was thinking of Milton Friedman. But I gave up on Thomas years ago too, and I’m quite happy to see someone turn over his rock.

        1. Ms G

          Oops, sorry David! I was fresh off Taibbi’s latest handling of the T. Friedman (and the hilarious comments) …

          1. Klassy!

            That was a book that was crying out to be written. Have you read the Bernard Henri Levy one in the same series?

    1. Goin' South

      Lest people think that everyone at the University of Chicago genuflects before Friedman’s memory, here’s a link to a nice takedown by Bruce Lincoln of the Divinity School. Lincoln is one of those increasingly rare birds in academia–a person with conscience. Lincoln was fighting against the establishment of a $200 million think-tank at U of C with Friedman’s name on it.

    2. Susan the other

      Mark Ames on Milton Friedman was very interesting. The origins of the Libertarians. The connections of the NAM and the RE lobby; the first astroturf think tank, the FEE. It was 1946. The big push was on to isolate the influence of the USSR because a country that controls its own destiny for the benefit of its own citizens is less likely to go to war. So it all falls into place when you think about the big agenda. And still it took some really fancy footwork, including the assassination of a president, to get into Southeast Asia. I’m puzzled Ames left out the Ur-story of the 1940s and 50s.

        1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

          omg. i knew they would get around to convincing young people to kill us for all the dumb things we did to them!

  4. Ep3

    Yves, will you do a posting about hostess/Twinkie? Because it sounds like hedge funds killed the company and people need to understand. A recent washington post article stated how a labor strike caused the collapse (of course, they didn’t provide evidence or further explanation; just a typical he said/she said).
    We need your expertise to break down the issue and explain exactly what happened to share with our friends. Unless there’s a book out there.

    1. ambrit

      I too read with sadness about the demise of Twinkies. But wait! When I read the FDL piece on it, I see that Hostess Brands has been into bankruptcy once before and bought out of bankruptcy by Ripplewood, a “venture capitalist” hedge fund. Then the usual shennanigans ensued.
      Why couldn’t the Hostess workers, through their union perhaps, simply take over the plants and run them as some sort of co-op, and ignore the financial crimes being committed in the name of Hostess. Something like what the Ford workers did way back when.

    2. cwaltz

      There is a compendium of articles- people are calling this Bainism and suggesting this was Romney’s MO but the irony is that the unions trusted Ripplewood because of its heavy Democratic connections. Ripplewood and Hostess are connected to failed Democratic contender Dick Gephardt.

      It’s yet more evidence that the plutocrats are rigging the game, taking the spoils and then blaming failure on the working class schlubs. That’s from BOTH sides of the political aisle. It’s an abject lesson for activists too. Don’t expect anyone to look out for your interests except for yourself.

  5. LeeAnne

    “Eric Holder Owes America Some Answers Bloomberg. Yeah, who appointed this guy?”

    The same guy who appointed the Rev Al Sharpton to MSNBC

  6. Ep3

    Those 6 facts can burn in H***. In regards to #6, can we go back to some of obamas first campaign promises and look at those? Or when he was running for senate, or what he wrote in his book?
    Those kinds of brochures just piss me off to no end. They are complete lies. “81% of voters were worried about jobs & the debt”. Well, 90% of citizens are worried this morning about where they were going to get their twinkies & the results of the mars curiousity rover.

    1. j.s.nightingale

      Fact #2 oozes disingenuousness as well. While it may be true that the number of retirees will double and the number of workers ‘to support them’ will only increase by 1/3, the productivity gains put in place by those soon-to-be-retirees have more than doubled in the last 3 years and none of the benefits have accrued to them: all of the benefits have accrued to the 1%. If the people who generate productivity gains were to benefit from them pro rata, not only would that fund the expansion of the retired sector, it would also fund a 3 or 4 day week for those supporting them.

      But if you want to lock in the benefits of all past and future productivity gains to ‘the job creating risk-taking ownership’, then of course the rest of us will have to cut back accordingly.

  7. jsmith

    Israel launches hundreds of airstrikes into Gaza.

    At least 39 dead, 7 children.

    Britain’s Chief Rabbi caught admitting on air that he thinks the latest Gaza war is about Iran.

    Interesting is how quickly – when told that they are still on the air – he instantly – and I mean instantly – switches to his compassionate act.


    1. Jim Haygood

      Shlomo Brom, retired brigadier general in the IDF, quoted in the Foreign Policy article linked above:

      Eventually, weapons are getting to Gaza, and because of that I don’t think the solution is to prevent Hamas from holding these kinds of weapons. It’s not possible. The only solution – which is of course is a partial solution – is deterrence.

      What I mean by deterrence is manifesting to Hamas and other armed groups that the costs they will pay much outweigh the benefits that they are deriving from the launch of these rockets. And for that, you need from time to time a Cast Lead Operation.

      Man, that is one cold-blooded Israeli lizard. Cast Lead, of course, was Israel’s three-week attack on Gaza during the last U.S. presidential interregnum, in which about 1,400 Palestinians were killed.

      In early 2006, to the shock of Israel and the US who complacently expected Fatah to remain in power, Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections. So what did these great examplars of democracy do, faced with an election result they didn’t like? Why, they simply nullified the election, declaring that Hamas deputies would not be allowed to serve. Seven years on, this bloody-minded intransigence continues to stoke violence.

      Israel should take a hard look at the experience of another [former] apartheid nation, South Africa. Like Hamas, the African National Congress was regarded as a terrorist organization owing to its history of violent resistance. But after winning a parliamentary majority in the 1994 election which swept Nelson Mandela into the presidency, the ANC was obliged to come out of the bush and assume the responsibility of governing.

      Hamas, were it to assume the elective offices it won, also would have to ‘go legitimate’ to govern. But Israel, unlike South Africa, has no intention of abandoning apartheid. Israel plans to maintain Gaza and the West Bank as bantustans, serving as economic satellites but with no vote in Israeli policy.

      Israel’s reasons are the same as those articulated by Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of apartheid: letting bantus [Palestinians] vote would dilute Israel’s ethnic purity, the raison d’etre of the Israeli apartheid state, created to house the Chosen People.

      1. Tiresas

        What I mean by deterrence is manifesting to Hamas and other armed groups that the costs they will pay much outweigh the benefits that they are deriving from the launch of these rockets.” Shlomo Shlomo Brom, retired brigadier general in the IDF

        “Military theorists and strategists like Sun Tzu have viewed attrition warfare as something to be avoided. In the sense that attrition warfare represents an attempt to grind down an opponent through superior numbers, it represents the opposite of the usual principles of war, where one attempts to achieve decisive victories by using minimal necessary resources and in minimal amount of time, through maneuver, concentration of force, surprise, and the like.

        On the other hand, a side which perceives itself to be at a marked disadvantage in maneuver warfare or unit tactics may deliberately seek out attrition warfare to neutralize its opponent’s advantages. If the sides are nearly evenly matched, the outcome of a war of attrition is likely to be a Pyrrhic victory.” – Wikipedia, “War of Attrition”

        “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Satayana.

  8. CB

    As anyone who knows about it understands, Third Way is a very effective fifth column and has successfully infiltrated and propagandized the Democratic Party.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      And Julia’s voice was lost, except in sighs,
      Until too late for useful conversation;
      The tears were gushing from her gentle eyes,
      I wish, indeed, they had not had occasion;
      But who, alas! can love, and then be wise?
      Not that remorse did not oppose temptation;
      A little still she strove, and much repented,
      And whispering ‘I will ne’er consent’–consented.

          1. CB


            “Don Juan is a satiric poem by Lord Byron, based on the legend of Don Juan, … portraying Juan not as a womanizer but as someone easily seduced by women.”

            It fits. Well played, Lambert.

            If Lord Byron has anything pertinent to say about Mark Begich’s SS proposal, I’d love to hear it.

  9. CB

    OT, David Dayen has an important piece up on Mark Begich’s proposed SS legislation:

    And Begich’s website:

    I an going to write a few words in support to my senators and rep. Anyone who’s interested in the issue should consider doing the same: they don’t know what you think until you tell them.

    1. different clue

      I suppose I will read this Begich material you link to. But for now my instinct remains to tell my officeholders to reject any change or even any mention of SS in any laws in any way. Assuming that this Begich proposal is good the way you say it is good, I promise you that the Catfood Conspirators will hide their Catfood RetroVirus DNA somewhere inside any such Begich Bill. I promise you that the Catfood Conspirators will design their “Begich Bill” to be a Trojan AIDS virus designed to “catfood” the structures of Social Security. In fact, given that basic truth, I don’t think I will even read your Begich material. Why should I bother? We know how the Simpson-Obama Catfood Conspirators would pervert any “Begich bill” they would write.

      1. ohmyheck

        Lambert, RedKitten wrote and Howard Beale high-fived this comment:

        “Between this and his Reddit “NOT BAD!” moment, the man really IS aware of all internet traditions, isn’t he? It delights the hell out of me that he’s tapped into these things in a genuinely interested fashion. Romney either would have stood there like a dummy, or would have tried WAY too hard about the whole thing”

        Ya, I guess we just don’t get psychophantic O-Worship, do we? We aren’t trying hard enough! Come on! Can’t you see that Obama is Teh Coolest, Most Bestest, Awesomest Prezident Everz?!

        Frankly, I don’t want to get it. Howard Beale feels truly bad for us, though. I know he is just trying to get us to see the error of our ways. Cognitive dissonance…try it, you’ll like it.

          1. Howard Beale IV

            Internet memes and reality share perception-namely, “Perception is reality”. ‘Perception is reality’ less frequently becomes “Perception Kills”. The trick is knowing which instance of perception applies. As Election 2012 showed all to well, Obama understood it better than Romney. With the notable exception of Angus King, all of the third party votes were just an exercise in futility and in psychological self-soothing, the outcome would up being the same for all practical purposes.

            Just because you believe that the pic represented a genuine event doesn’t mean the rest of the populace won’t view it as such. And if you don’t recognize or account for that possibility that’s your problem-not mine.

  10. jsmith

    In light of Third Way and how the neoliberal mindset so dominates the world concerning any and all events, here’s a nice essay that really delves into the history of said philosophy.

    Here are some excerpts:

    “The “solutions” proposed by the various neo-liberal schools of thought are based on a combination of enlightened elites and constitutional rules resulting in a limit to democracy. Following the elitism of Schumpeter, the masses could at most choose their rulers, but they should let them rule and not interfere in their decisions. One finds expressions of this fear of the masses dictating their will to the elite in neo-conservative literature too, in Crozier et al. (1975), for instance.30 The egalitarian demands and the active political participation of the poor would imply that “bad” decisions would be taken. In order for “good” decisions to prevail, a large number of decisions should be out of the reach of democratic control and left to experts (Mouffe, 1986). This limit to popular sovereignty is a major theme of neo-liberal thought.

    The role of elites is again at the centre of current preoccupations regarding the “re-foundation” of capitalism: ‘it is the duty of the ruling economic and political elite, to revive with the essence of capitalism, by betting on a collective re-foundation and a new ethic based not on the law of profit maximization but on sustainable growth and innovation’ (Virard, 2008a, p. 1).


    “This theme of social assistance in exchange for something from the individual has been revisited by the so-called “modern left” and led to a critique of the “passive welfare state” as well as an attempt to “justify” a certain degree of inequality in society. The “Third Way” critique of the social democratic conception of welfare policy by the various strands of the “modern left” (Giddens, 1994) is not substantially different from the standard neo-liberal critique and insists on the moral content of the “active” welfare state. According to the neo-liberal view, the intervention of the bureaucratic state is detrimental to the virtue of the civil society. Applied to the welfare state, “assistance” is held to annihilate the poor’s self-esteem, maintain them in a dependent state and ultimately prevent them from escaping from poverty. Rather than trying to “correct” the market mechanisms, one should, of course, always prefer market solutions which are not only economically but also morally superior. By removing the individual’s sense of responsibility, the welfare state discourages welfare recipients from improving their own situation by looking for a job, investing in human capital.”

    Really worth the read.

    1. jsmith

      One more really relevant chunk:

      “The idea that there are no (social) rights without responsibilities is based on an external monitoring of the benefit recipients, with the necessary sanctions, as well as internalized constraints in the form of an ethic of reciprocity between the individual and the state or rather between the individual and the ‘community’ in the Third Way view (Giddens, 1994). At the centre of the representation system that structures this view is the notion of ‘supply-side citizenship’ (Plant, 1998),38 according to which citizenship is an achievement, not a status, and that participation in the labour market is the normal way to qualify as a citizen. The realization of the individual’s abilities can principally be achieved through paid employment; on a slightly more positive side, the labour market is also regarded as the place where individual freedom can express itself.39”

      1. JTFaraday

        Americans abhor rights. This is a deeply punitive society, and most people like it that way.

        We don’t know any better.

  11. wunsacon

    >> How Hamas is winning the rocket war Foreign Policy

    I don’t know how a side with many more casualties can be said to be “winning”.

    “Vietnam”, you say? Arguably, the US still “won”, in cold, calculated Henry Kissinger style.

    1. different clue

      The cold calculated Kissinger style is what C. Wright Mills used to call “crackpot realism”. North Vietnam won the war and we lost the war. North Vietnam won the prize it was fighting to win by fighting the war. We lost the prize we fought to retain by fighting the war. North Vietnam won the war. They WON it, not just “won” it.
      They suffered more casualties? As General Giap (?) said to Colonel Larry Summers on a related subject . . . ” that may be true, but it is also irrelevant.”

      Hamas is trading casualties now for victory later. If anyone wants to say that Israel is “winning”, can anyone show what it is that Israel is “winning”?

      1. wunsacon

        >> North Vietnam won the war. They WON it, not just “won” it.

        US plutocrats won, too. By first setting back the whole southeast Asia region by 30 years, they denied their competitors (e.g., USSR) factories, schools, etc. — the productivity of 1-2 generations for an entire region.

        Just like blowing up Iraq’s infrastructure and impoverishing that nation makes them more dependent on aid and loans to rebuild. You know, makes them easier to exploit.

        >> can anyone show what it is that Israel is “winning”?

        Israel keeps kicking the can on Palestinian statehood while constricting the blockaded territories economically and expanding settlements. Can you see how that looks like “winning” to some?

        1. different clue

          Yes, to some. It looks like winning to dull-normal sub-average intellects without the cerebrocortical neurons needed to game-out the 20-50-100 year alternative-scenario cascading-event-trees which year-by-year kick-the-can behavior leads to.

          Meanwhile, cerebro-superior analysts either wring their hands in despair over Israel’s ultimate fate or rub their hands in glee over Israel’s ultimate just deserts . . . if Israel remains in the hands of it current leadership mindset.

          But yes . . . North Vietnam won its war then, and Hamas is winning its war now.

          1. different clue

            Though I suppose the most detached and dispassionate analysts neither wring their hands nor rub their hands, but merely wash their hands or otherwise just throw up their hands and walk away.

          2. wunsacon

            The plutocrats’ enemy wasn’t North Vietnam. It was/is either colony independence or communism, the USSR, China, or anyone else who threatens to be “king of the hill”. Flattening a few countries served as a warning to others and stopped some dominoes.

        1. wunsacon

          No one-percenters there, Lambert.

          But, to answer your question, losing millions of people (instead of ~50,000) around your region is “losing” even bigger.

          And, so you/we think they won their independence. How “independent” are small-fry countries (e.g., Vietnam) 40 years on, anyway? Isn’t Vietnam an outsourcing destination, a source of cheap labor to make stuff for those imperialists they “defeated” all those years ago?

          1. different clue

            They get the industry we lose as our Class Enemy Occupation Corporate Fascist Big BizNazi FedRegime co-ordinates the systematic extermination of all possible industries in this country one industry at a time, and the rebuilding of those industries outside this country.

            The ultimate outcome for America will be a population too poor to afford the SinoVietnamese goods in Walmart. The ultimate goal is to turn America into a cornsoycoal banana republic . . . poorer than Haiti, poorer than Honduras. The goal is to make America the biggest loser . . . a bigger loser than anyone thinks Vietnam the maker of cheap things now is.

  12. not an Ikea spokesperson

    >> Ikea regrets using prison labour FT. (Friday, 7:01PM).

    “Our experiment with using expensive prison labor hurt our profitability. Normally, customers pay us to turn our raw material into finished product. … We apologize to our shareholders for this quarter’s results.”

  13. Super-savvy prog

    “OK, now the inauguration’s over, let’s get to work. First of all, these drone attacks are criminal atrocities killing scores of innocent people. We can organize a protest march to–”

    Super-savvy prog: “Hush your mouth! We can’t undermine the president right now. We’ve got to help the Democrats get control of the House in 2014! Or do you want the evil Rethuglicans to keep blocking everything? Wait until after the mid-term elections, then we’ll put the pressure on.”


    “OK, we took back the House in 2014 with a slate of anti-abortion, pro-war, entitlement-slashing, deficit-hawk, Blue Dog Democrats. You said it was the savvy thing to do, the lesser evil to replace the anti-abortion, pro-war, entitlement-slashing, deficit-hawk Republicans. NOW can we go after Obama — for the state terrorism of the drone campaign, the ‘extrajudicial’ murders, the ‘disposition matrix,’ the torture and imprisonment of the truth-teller Bradley Manning, the support of the brutal coup and murderous repression in Honduras, the fracking, the off-shore drilling, the ‘Grand Bargaining’ with Social Security and Medicare, the protection of CIA torturers, the global arms dealing, the growing prison population, the growing economic inequality, the ever-more draconian ‘security apparatus’, the bail-out of the oligarchs and the–”

    Super- savvy prog: “Bite your tongue! We can’t undermine the president right now! It will hurt the chances of his Democratic successor if we make Obama look bad! Or do you want Paul Ryan to be president? What kind of selfish moral purist are you?”

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Tech nerds and getting fooled twice.

    Sold out by tech nerds again.

    Our only hope lies with Luddites.

    The greatest Luddite we will ever see has not yet been written in history. But the Luddite Savior will come as surely as a big boulder will weather down to a little pebble one day.

      1. ambrit

        Dear MLTPB;
        Why, Obama of course! He wants to deconstruct the most effective mechanism yet devised to ‘create’ the “most good for the most people”; Social Security.

      2. different clue

        First we would have to get clear on what a Luddite really is and what Luddism really means. Does it mean a rejection of technology? Or does it mean a rejection of skilled worker-thingmaker displacement by owner-deployed labor-firing machines?

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    US must trim living standard

    It’a a trick of mathematics that you can lower the overall living starndard of the world while increasing the living standard of 99.99%.

    The key is to lower the living standard of the 0.01%.

    It’s a win-win proposition – a win for humanity and a win for nature.

    1. wbgonne

      I get your point but I would put it otherwise. Americans must cut consumption. But amount of consumption — contrary to American myth — is NOT the same as “living standard,” not after a certain level has been attained. After that, consumption becomes greed and gluttony, which is where Americans are, and that indeed must change. Ironically, less consumption and demolishing the myth that ever-increasing consumption is equivalent to ever-rising standard of living will vastly increase Americans’ quality of life, which is the true measure of wealth.

      1. anon y'mouse

        i will surrender my “consumption” when businesses surrender their “planned obsolescence” and when you don’t have to spend $300 to get the same quality of toaster that my grandmother had 30 years ago, which wasn’t made of plastic and served 6 people every day for 15 years or so.

        1. psychohistorian

          I have a still working fine toaster that my uncle gave to my grandparents in 1928.

          The global inherited rich decided that we should have a sick throw away component of our consumption to make them richer.

          1. Maximilien

            I lived in a hotel room many years ago. The owner (who paid for the electricity) was too cheap to heat the room in the winter.

            So I pulled out my secret weapon… old metal toaster with trays that opened and closed on each side of it. I turned down the trays, plugged it in, and voila!—my toaster became a space heater.

            I used it ten hours a day for several months until it finally gave up the ghost. What a workhorse! Lots of BTUs—and it made toast too!

            Who nowadays can say that about their Proctor-Silex plastic junk-box?

          2. citalopram

            I had a repair man over at my house a year ago fixing our washing machine. It’s an old washing machine from the eighties that we bought from a little old lady. It’s all mechanical and there is not ONE computer chip in it. Works like a dream.

            The repair man told me that the new ones don’t last, and they’re so complicated that you have to spend all day on the phone with the manufacturer to get it fixed.

            My step son has a similar problem with his fancy washer not working very well either.

            This is a subject that really chaps my ass.

  16. wbgonne

    Last night I watched the documentary “Surviving Progress” (based on a “Short History of Progress,” which I’ve just ordered). Fascinating. One thing that caught my attention: throughout history advanced civilizations have periodically canceled debt when accumulated debt becomes too burdensome to the society. That was when most or all debt was owed to the sovereign while, now, our debt is owed to the oligarchs. But so what?! Let’s cancel all debts and start over so everyone gets a fair chance and the country (world) doesn’t strangle its people to keep the Rich in their riches. Occupy the Debt!

    1. TK21

      Sounds good to me.

      The more I read about the economic history of the United States, the more historians I find saying that America’s lenient treatment of debtors was a key ingredient of our nation’s rise. A country where people who finds themselves stuck under a pile of debt can quickly and easily get out of it and try to make something is one with a lot more economic dynamism.

    2. psychohistorian

      If you read “Debt, The First 5000 Years” by David Graeber, he makes this very point about the history of debt jubilees.

      That said, why not end the lock of the rich on inheritance and ongoing accumulation of property? This would change the narratives that guide our world in the right ways, IMO.

  17. Hugh

    The Mearsheimer and Foreign Policy articles on Gaza go well together. Mearsheimer points out that Israeli policy is really about beating the Palestinians into submission in an apartheid state. The Foreign Policy article centers around the musings of an Israeli strategic planner Brom who focuses on the need to deter, i.e. beat the Palestinians into submission. He does not bother, or need to, mention so that the apartheid state can continue.

    Another point Mearsheimer raises is something central to the colonial imperial experience and why it ultimately fails. Resistance to colonialism and imperialism is an evolutionary process. The colonial imperial powers emprison or kill off more moderate and less effective resistance leaders in cycles of repression leaving increasingly more radical and effective leaders in their place. Whether it is the US War on Terror or the Israeli apartheid in the Territories, they are creating their own worst enemies.

    What Brom conveniently fails to understand is that in places like Gaza filled with malnourished children and a stunted economy controlled by Israel, resistance is about the only worthwhile growth industry left.

  18. Herman Sniffles

    “The spears are evidence for the deep accumulation of hunting behaviours in our lineage,”

    Well there you go.
    The anthropologists and cultural geographers who studied hunter-gatherer tribes like the !Kung Bushmen in Africa in the early 1900’s discovered an interesting pattern. The women did most of the “gathering,” and this activity supplied about 80% of the calories utilized by the group. The men did most of the hunting. But they didn’t actually spend that much time hunting. Most of the time they just layed around the campfire telling stories and bragging about their great hunting adventures, developing their stoires with great finess and creative talent as they waited, hoping that the women would fix them something to eat. Their hunting supplied the other 20% of the group’s calories, but in a very sporadic and unreliable fashion. When the men did actually accidently kill something, it was a big occasion, like a Thanksgiving feast. And after the celebration the men layed around the campfire bragging about it for several days, and the women clucked their tongues and shook their heads in wonder and dismay. So this is our heritage. And it’s a damn fine heritage in my opinion.
    In modern day life “gathering” has become “shopping” – as in ‘shop till you drop.’ And women do most of it,about 80% I’m told. But hunting – on the other hand – has become the ultimate pariah of human activities, perceived by many as an unwholesome, disgusting, brutal bloodlust-driven psychopatic persuit. Is this fair? I think not. It’s sexist as hell if you really ponder it. And I have a solution. Everytime the anti-hunting nuts pass a retarded law that stops us men from doing what evolution designed us to do, another law will do the same for women. Close down bear hunting in California? Well, no more Tupperware parites in the Golden State, period. Great white sharks become endangered and protected? All internet jewelery sites shut down immediately.
    It’s only fair.

    1. citalopram

      Modern-day hunting has been replaced by sitting around on the couch yelling at one’s favorite sports team.

  19. kevinearick

    China always jumps in at exactly the wrong time…

    Afrikans vs. niggers

    Sharpton is a nigger, uprooted and highly insecure, perfect fodder for the empire, which is why you see him on the empire TV broadcast. Don’t show me an Americanized af spouting about democracy in a thousand dollar + suit and expect me not to use the phrase nigger traitor, when I’m talking to my partner at work, whether you are walking by or not, at a university or not.

    I say the same thing about George Washington all the time. He was politically expedient just like nearly all of the other a-holes that ended up in the oval office. The critters look at me puzzled when I say it about the latter, but piss their pants when I say it about the former. What does that tell you?

    I’ve watched these w-s operate in person at parties, but I’m just a laborer. Yes Al, the Republicans are idiots, and no one pisses their pants when you say much worse at private parties, but so are you, a kettle calling the pot black. The difference is that you have reason to know better, f-ing limousine liberal.

    Middleton: A myth is a statement about society and man’s place in it and the surrounding universe. Such a statement is, in general, a symbolic one, so that an important anthropological problem becomes one of understanding the reality that the statement is used to symbolize. (setting up the stack and hash)

    Magesa: [T]he Dogen see the present order of the universe as a magnified projection of the original order of creation. As God is and does, so humans must be and do. The point of the myth is once again that it is because of human fault that God is now removed.

    God’s care and concern for humanity are demonstrated particularly when humanity faces such ‘limit’ experiences…Even though human beings may be the ultimate causes of these disasters. When God refuses to do these things, it is always temporary and indicates it is time for humanity to examine itself to see what it has done wrong, and then to correct its behavior and repair the damage.

    Humanity is morally bound to sustain the work of God by which humanity itself is, in turn, sustained. Every creature has been endowed by God with its own force of life, its power to sustain life. Because of the common divine origin of this power, however, all creatures are connected with each other in the sense that each one influences the other.

    Ibid: Nothing moves in this universe of forces without influencing other forces by its movement. The world of forces is held like a spider’s web of which no single thread can be caused to vibrate without shaking the whole network. (rooted at resonance)

    Young: Adapted to neocolonial realities and interpreted according to traditional sensibilities, they are rich in liberating values.

    Mesaga: They have preserved for the people their identity as Africans through such massive crises as slavery and colonialism. They continue to exert a more important and fundamental influence on African spirituality than many Christian leaders and Westernized academics care or dare to admit.

    Moore: the African is used to adjusting, and needs no more than a generation or two to restructure his society according to necessity.


    Does that sound like an entitlement mentality to you? Is that the Africa you learned about in the media? It’s certainly not what China was expecting, to bail itself and the rest of the empire out, to keep the ponzi going. Africa is another order of magnitude more complex than the middle east to the US voter, who cannot scratch the surface of the latter, but knows an authority that went to Israel and scratched a few lines out of the Bible, out of context.

    Political correctness is a fatal disease inherent to central control, which is the point of free speech. The only thing worse than an insecure inbred idiot making a point to tell you a lie you have already heard 10,000 times is explicit democracy. Everything in a constitution beyond free speech is a crutch for corporations, because they lose every time.

  20. ambrit

    Time to go to work at the DIY Boxxstore. Now, tell me, what’s wrong with this picture?
    (Can someone give me a clue as to where I can get some information about the Metrics System and its’ effects in Retail? Replies will be appreciated and kept confidential, of course.)

  21. different clue

    Before I begin reading the comments, let me just say about the “Volker story” that it appears to be a legacy story reprinted from when he was Chairman of the Federal Reserve. So why is such an ancient legacy story being presented as if it is current? Is there an intent to decieve us about Volker’s current views on things and stuff?
    Or just an effort to remind us of Volker’s legacy viewpoint from back then?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Seond verse, same as the first. The date is quite visible both on the scanned image of the Times and on the page itself. Surely if we had the intent to deceive, we would have gone abotu it in a craftier manner?

      1. different clue

        Well, maybe you were just sloppy then. Running such an old link and then saying “Volker states” instead of “Volker stated” . . . while parking it in among a feast of links which have always been strictly up-to-the-minute till now certainly looked deceptive to ploddingly literal minds like me.

        1. different clue

          Though it is worth knowing what Volker thought then, and if there is evidence he thinks the same now, that evidence is worth presenting.

          If the economy is going to shrink to match the shrinking resource base (and what else can it do?), can the lower class majority figure out how to direct the shrinkage against the upper class minority? Is it possible to shrink-wrap the shrinking economy around the face and head of the upper class to shut off their financial air supply?

  22. wurlitzer breath

    And, right on cue, some Ivy-indoctrinated CFR spokesmodel pops up to tell the Prizm-66 aspiring cognoscenti of the New Yorker’s market how to think. Goodness, you should think, with a hearty chuckle, What a wacky, mixed-up world this is. It’s absurd!! Absurd, absurd, absurd. Because this so clearly is not at all anything like an NCS ratfuck. You don’t want to be like those downscale conspiracy theorists, do you? How shaming that would be! How silly to think that the bit players share the utterly telltale and characteristic personality disorder that NCS screens for in its battery of tests, and that they all use the same kindergarten opsec and tradecraft. That the stories busted out and died down the way they did, that’s just… absurd. Nothing more will come of this at all.

    Amy, bubeleh, you’re new at this. You can stampede the lumpen without insulting the intelligence of people who didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. We certainly hope that your social superiors’ deft and whimsical ratfuck takes out criminal scumbags Holder, Clinton, Biden, and Obama, when it becomes a Cancer On The Presidency. That way, NCS can turn over a new leaf after its atrocity-fest, like they briefly did after they scalped Nixon, when the poor sap obligingly exterminated Indochina for the black world. Let the figureheads roll! Meanwhile shut the fck up and let the pros handle this.

  23. WorldisMorphing

    I’ve been a pretty regular reader of Der Spiegel’s International Edition (in English) in the last few months and I got to have (at least I think)a pretty good feel of the publication’s exposé of the German stance on the Euro crisis, but also on a considerable range of other issues.

    This latest article however seem to mark a sort of …pause, for lack of a better word, in the [necessarily] German-centric perspective of this publication.

    Not that I’ve particularly learned anything new in it, as the post is merely a synthesis of the global financial&economics storyline since the end of Bretton Woods, followed by the inevitable question it raises about the inherent incompatibility of modern financialized capitalism with democracy.

    No there’s nothing groundbreaking in the post (although it’s a good read), but the finally arrived at birds eye view conclusion that the whole global system might be [is] imploding is kind of …a welcomed broadening of the horizon…

    Certainly a change in tone as far as I can tell.
    I wonder when the rest of the world’s “free press” will join in ;)

    From Der Spielgel: Prison of Debt Paralyzes West.

  24. Paul Walker

    For whatever reason, the trend toward the extreme has been much weaker among Democrats – James Kwak

    With democrats like Larry Summers, Robert Ruben and Cas Sunstein defining the “reasonable middle” combined with a pragmatic theology of peace in our time at any cost it’s no wonder extremism, beyond this spectacle of 50 shades of doms and subs doesn’t seem to trend.

    Our currency is on Obama. The fed backed press dominates Gorver’s .. action. We’ll know more with the house leadership vote

  25. Howard Beale IV

    Re: “Why Cell Phones Went Dead After Hurricane Sandy”: Pass the FCC Technician class license and get all those who you need to communciate with to do the same. Odds are that when Sandy took down the network ARRL REACT folks were already mobilized and helping out.

  26. notexactlyhuman

    Re: Leaked Honeywell docs:

    Does this mean that our fake populist president is still a fake populist president? Hrmpf, who knew?

  27. Howard Beale V

    Yippee!! Lesser Evil Obama said Israel has a right to defend itself against the Extermination Camp called Gaza, so I sure hope this means the Israeli soldier who killed at least eight children and a pregnant woman will get extra bonus points for killing that pregnant woman!!!!!!

    1. skippy

      You know if the IDF just gave the Palestinians some precision weapons, well, there would be – no need – for all the collateral damage (murder of the innocent).

      Skippy… it could be – just – a high ranking official culling affair, on both sides… nawwwww…

      1. skippy

        Personally… methinks… its all Constantinople’s fault.

        Skippy… sometimes there are no solutions, to the acts, of the past… especially when – forgiveness – is off the table… sigh.

  28. skippy

    Little evidence of health benefits from organic foods, Stanford study finds

    A team led by Bravata, a senior affiliate with Stanford’s Center for Health Policy, and Crystal Smith-Spangler, MD, MS, an instructor in the school’s Division of General Medical Disciplines and a physician-investigator at VA Palo Alto Health Care System, did the most comprehensive meta-analysis to date of existing studies comparing organic and conventional foods. They did not find strong evidence that organic foods are more nutritious or carry fewer health risks than conventional alternatives, though consumption of organic foods can reduce the risk of pesticide exposure.

    The popularity of organic products, which are generally grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers or routine use of antibiotics or growth hormones, is skyrocketing in the United States. Between 1997 and 2011, U.S. sales of organic foods increased from $3.6 billion to $24.4 billion, and many consumers are willing to pay a premium for these products. Organic foods are often twice as expensive as their conventionally grown counterparts.


    » Scope blog: Reaction to organic food study
    Although there is a common perception — perhaps based on price alone — that organic foods are better for you than non-organic ones, it remains an open question as to the health benefits. In fact, the Stanford study stemmed from Bravata’s patients asking her again and again about the benefits of organic products. She didn’t know how to advise them.

    So Bravata, who is also chief medical officer at the health-care transparency company Castlight Health, did a literature search, uncovering what she called a “confusing body of studies, including some that were not very rigorous, appearing in trade publications.” There wasn’t a comprehensive synthesis of the evidence that included both benefits and harms, she said.

    “This was a ripe area in which to do a systematic review,” said first author Smith-Spangler, who jumped on board to conduct the meta-analysis with Bravata and other Stanford colleagues.

    For their study, the researchers sifted through thousands of papers and identified 237 of the most relevant to analyze. Those included 17 studies (six of which were randomized clinical trials) of populations consuming organic and conventional diets, and 223 studies that compared either the nutrient levels or the bacterial, fungal or pesticide contamination of various products (fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, milk, poultry, and eggs) grown organically and conventionally. There were no long-term studies of health outcomes of people consuming organic versus conventionally produced food; the duration of the studies involving human subjects ranged from two days to two years.

    After analyzing the data, the researchers found little significant difference in health benefits between organic and conventional foods. No consistent differences were seen in the vitamin content of organic products, and only one nutrient — phosphorus — was significantly higher in organic versus conventionally grown produce (and the researchers note that because few people have phosphorous deficiency, this has little clinical significance). There was also no difference in protein or fat content between organic and conventional milk, though evidence from a limited number of studies suggested that organic milk may contain significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.


    Yesterday’s report out of Stanford that organic foods may not be much healthier or more nutritious than their conventional counterparts has caused quite a stir.

    A deeper investigation into the study reveals a few things that the researchers failed to report.

    While the scientists analyzed vitamins and minerals, food isn’t simply a delivery device for these things alone. We are quickly learning in this industrialized food era that our food can be full of a lot of other things. It has become a delivery device for artificial colors, additives, preservatives, added growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, insecticides and so much more.

    The term “organic” actually refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed and legally details the permitted use (or not) of certain ingredients in these foods.

    The details are that the U.S. Congress adopted the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) in 1990 as part of the 1990 Farm Bill which was then followed with the National Organic Program final rule published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    The standards include a national list of approved synthetic and prohibited non-synthetic substances for organic production, which means that organically produced foods also must be produced without the use of:

    artificial growth hormones
    high fructose corn syrup
    artificial dyes (made from coal tar and petrochemicals)
    artificial sweeteners derived from chemicals
    synthetically created chemical pesticide and fertilizers
    genetically engineered proteins and ingredients
    sewage sludge
    According to the United States Department of Agriculture, these added ingredients are actually what differentiate organic foods from their conventional counterparts. Yet nowhere in that Stanford study, comparing organic food to conventional, are these things measured. There is no measure of the insecticidal toxins produced by a genetically engineered corn plant, no measure of the added growth hormones used in conventional dairy, no measure of the fact that 80 percent of the antibiotics used today are used on the chicken, pork, beef and animals that we eat.

    Skippy… rule braking abounds… everywhere… entropy states… sigh.

    1. different clue

      Every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat.

      If spending dollars 2-5 on organic food helps keep dollar 1 away from the toxicorporate petrochemical food-polluters, than dollars 2-5 are worth spending on organic food just in terms of denying support to the enemy . . . health issues aside.

  29. Syd

    From the James Kwak piece:
    “When it comes to taxes, Democratic majorities at best hold the line against further tax cuts. After their sweep in 2008, President Obama and his congressional allies passed a couple of modest tax increases to pay for Obamacare (and one of those, the excise tax on Cadillac plans, is one that conservative economists profess to like), but also extended the Bush tax cuts and added a few more tax cuts of their own; now Obama wants to make more than 80 percent of the Bush tax cuts permanent, and last summer he offered up his own proposals for entitlement cuts.”
    It frosts me that the Bush tax cuts (more than 80% of them anyway) are now a permanent feature of fiscal landscape, by bipartisan agreement. Meanwhile bipartisan agreement also exists (among the elites) that the social insurance programs need to be cut; all that remains to be seen is if public objection will be strong enough to get the elites to flinch. If not, the “starve the beast” strategy will have worked.

    It is interesting to look back at public opinion about these tax cuts in early 2001. A majority (52%) supported the idea of the tax cuts, but they also ranked tax cuts way down the list in term of priorities.

    It was well understood by objective analysts that the Bush tax cuts would blow a huge hole in the budget, which is why the sunset provision was required to get enough votes to pass them. And yet, they are now entrenched.

    The “Ratchet Effect” section of this paper describes the relationship of Republicans and Democrats in our system to a T:

    1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      Sometimes I get nostalgic and still refer to them as the Temporary Bush Tax Cuts.

      I still say Temporary Payroll Tax Cut too.

  30. zygmuntFRAUDbernier


    547 pages long

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