Links 12/2/12

The Case for Drinking as Much Coffee as You Like Atlantic

Scent of a building FT

In Syrian towns rebels control, demonstrators sometimes target them McClatchy

‘We have a real governance issue’ Montreal Gazette. Corruption.

Here comes another city privatization deal forged behind closed doors Chicago Reader (Butch in Waukegan)

NYC Threatens to Shut Down Occupy Sandy Relief Sites FDL (CB). If Occupy were doing a bad job, Mayor-for-Life Bloomberg would have left it alone.

Global MetroMonitor Brookings. Interactive chart of 300 largest world metropolitan economies

Review of Michael J. Sandel’s What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limit of Markets Deirdre McCloskey

The Yes Men Kickstart a revolt The Verge

The Rules Epicurean Dealmaker

New Records for Fiscal and Regulatory Irresponsibility Levy Institute

Holdout investors seek deposit from Argentina by December 10 Reuters

GOLDMAN: The Economic Crisis Ends In 2013 Joe Weisenthal, Business Insider. If so, for whom?

Bond Investor Gundlach Buys Stocks, Sees ‘Kaboom’ Ahead Bloomberg

Groupon: from dotcom star to just another coupon business Guardian

4 Companies Provided Half of S&P500 2012 Earnings Growth Big Picture (cf. Jesse)

U.S. Small-Business Owners Pessimistic Post-Election Gallup

Keeping it in the family The Economist

China’s Manufacturing PMI Expands for a Second Month Bloomberg

The Euro Crisis Will Only End When Unemployment Falls The Economist

ILVA Shuts Down Following Further Arrests Corriere Della Sera. Corruption.

Let’s create an employment Erasmus scheme! Les Echos

Judges angered by pardon for policemen convicted of torture El Pais

Quagmire on the Potomac Foreign Policy. Not a pretty sight.

DIA sending hundreds more spies overseas Washington Post

Julian Assange: Cryptographic Call to Arms Cryptome

The Science Behind Those Obama Campaign E-Mails Businessweek

Voting patterns of America’s whites, from the masses to the elites The Monkey Cage

No, the Social Security Trust Fund Isn’t a Fiction Kevin Drum, Mother Jones. The Reagan/O’Neill deal on Social Security. As understood.

The Permanent Dependency Class Economic Populist

The Truly Important News Marginal Revolution

Cuomo buys more time for New York fracking decision DEC: draft regs do not signal commitment to shale gas Tom Willber

Fracking Trade Secrets Hide Health Risks From Wells Businessweek

On The Border The Archdruid Report

Antidote du jour (NWLuna):

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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. skippy

    @The Epicurean Dealmaker link.

    Rule #5 — Harden The Fuck Up.

    If you forget every other rule, remember this one.

    Skippy… and if you think you are… your deluded… hard is never in the past or standing next to you… its ahead… all way before you… meet it with a smile… its actually a friend of sorts… embrace…

    1. Optimader

      Rule #5? Thats what she said…

      A friend sent this to me a while ago, maybe halfway through, it bomes apparent that the theory that Rules are intended as a remedy for the majority who lack judgement and common sense,, for the rest of us they are merely a point of reference

      1. skippy

        “judgement and common sense” are arbitrary observations.

        Judgement is largely weighted to cultural norms – indoctrination, where [although] common sense is just a sub set of the above, on a more individualistic level, it in its self is a set of Rules… eh[!?].

        And, are not all rules loosely based on repeating observations and their out comes, desire vs. environment, human vs. the universe, heck we are a product of the latter rules… giggle.

        Skippy… harden up could be alternatively rephrased as… steel yourself, fortify yourself, PREPARE yourself. This is why out of all the other rules I pointed out just this one, the rest are to arbitrary, to environmentally constrained.

        PS. DEBT: The First 5,000 Years

        While the “national debt” has been the concern du jour of many economists, commentators and politicians, little attention is ever paid to the historical significance of debt.

        For thousands of years, the struggle between rich and poor has largely taken the form of conflicts between creditors and debtors—of arguments about the rights and wrongs of interest payments, debt peonage, amnesty, repossession, restitution, the sequestering of sheep, the seizing of vineyards, and the selling of debtors’ children into slavery. By the same token, for the past five thousand years, popular insurrections have begun the same way: with the ritual destruction of debt records—tablets, papyri, ledgers; whatever form they might have taken in any particular time and place.

        Enter anthropologist David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years (July, ISBN 978-1-933633-86-2), which uses these struggles to show that the history of debt is also a history of morality and culture.

        In the throes of the recent economic crisis, with the very defining institutions of capitalism crumbling, surveys showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans felt that the country’s banks should not be rescued—whatever the economic consequences—but that ordinary citizens stuck with bad mortgages should be bailed out. The notion of morality as a matter of paying one’s debts runs deeper in the United States than in almost any other country.

        Beginning with a sharp critique of economics (which since Adam Smith has erroneously argued that all human economies evolved out of barter), Graeber carefully shows that everything from the ancient work of law and religion to human notions like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption,” are deeply influenced by ancients debates about credit and debt.

        It is no accident that debt continues to fuel political debate, from the crippling debt crises that have gripped Greece and Ireland, to our own debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling. Debt, an incredibly captivating narrative spanning 5,000 years, puts these crises into their full context and illuminates one of the thorniest subjects in all of history.

        1. optimader

          ““judgement and common sense” are arbitrary observations.”
          by the same token Rules are constraints intended to dispense wih critical thinking.

          “And, are not all rules loosely based on repeating observations and their out comes”


          1. skippy

            Token was not implied, rules do depend on data, its quality, broad range, etc….

            Skippy… hence my dislike for antiquity as a guide, rubbish axioms, the state of things observed (both human and environmental). Yet to get from one to the other, requires: “harden up could be alternatively rephrased as… steel yourself, fortify yourself, PREPARE yourself”…

  2. Jim Haygood

    From the WaPo article about DIA:

    The DIA overhaul — combined with the growth of the CIA since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — will create a spy network of unprecedented size. The plan reflects the Obama administration’s affinity for espionage and covert action over conventional force.

    With typical sleight of hand, the MSM has deftly inverted the chain of causation:

    The Obama administration reflects the DIA’s affinity for espionage and covert action over conventional force.

    Increasing taxes only feeds this lethal, value-subtraction leviathan.

    It’s three minutes to midnight. Where is your KongressKlown?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Jim Haygood, please de-construct reality behind this net “headline” Mask 2Dec12 (–in light of your understanding, framed by your comment:

      “Aide to Obama Faces a Big Test in Fiscal Talks
      Quiet, religious and fiercely meticulous, President Obama’s chief of staff, Jacob J. Lew, may be the most unassuming power broker in Washington.”

      N.B.: “religious” – “fiercely meticulous” — yet “the most unassuming” ???

      Jim, aren’t THEY ALL doubling down on the BS, while circling the wagons?

  3. Shizel

    That Business Insider dude is a complete asshole. Yet, I still check it out because of the one-in-thirty articles that are good.

  4. Stephen Gardner

    From the review of Sandel’s book: ” the historical evidence is crushing that unionization did not make workers better off (rising productivity did).” And recent increases in productivity without workers being better off show this statement to be propaganda for the plutocrats. Unions are a necessary but insufficient condition for the improvement of the majority of wage earners. This book review is just pushback by the plutocrats mouthpieces. Ignore it.

    1. From Mexico

      This from McCloskey’s article is what caught my eye:

      We should know why we believe, morally speaking, that bread should be allocated by a market but children should not.

      This cuts to the heart of the moral divide that separates neoclassical economics from some of the other schools of economics.

      Keynes, for instance, in his debunking of Say’s Law, argued that prices are not flexible – for example, workers may not take pay cuts if the result is starvation. The stakes for the neoclassicals, if Keynes should prevail in this argument, are high. The whole of neoclassical equilibrium analysis and its derivatives of optimization and efficiency in exchange live or die with Say’s Law.

      It should be pointed out, however, that the neoclassical morality that “bread should be allocated by a market” is not a neoclassical invention. It can be traced back to classical morality and its Law of Population, described here by Robert L. Heilbroner:

      To Adam Smith, laborers, like any other commodity, could be produced according to the demand. If wages were high, the number of workpeople would multiply; if wages fell, the numbers of the working class would decrease. Smith put it bluntly: “…the demand for men, like that for any other commodity, necessarily regulates the production of men.”

      Nor is this quite so naive a conception as it appears at first blush. In Smith’s day infant mortality among the lower classes was shockingly high. “It is not uncommon,” says Smith, “…in the Highlands of Scotland for a mother who has borne twenty children not to have two alive.”… Malnutrition…took a horrendous toll among the poorer element. Hence, although higher wages might have affected the birth rate only slightly, they could be expected to have a considerable influence on the number of children who would grow to working age.
      ROBERT L. HEILBRONER, The Worldly Philosophers

      The only thing that stands in the way of achieving this free market Utopia, according to laissez-faire principles, are the rigidities created by government regulation, labor unions, and worker intransigence.

      1. LucyLulu

        It could be argued that Smith’s argument still bears some relevance today. Infant mortality is relatively high in the US where social benefits (portion of wages) are relatively low. Meanwhile, as the workforce has increasingly seen a drop in average wages, birthrates have dropped to historic lows, including among Latinos who traditionally have had twice as many children as other demographics, and net immigration rates from Mexico have dropped to zero. All work to decrease the supply of labor. Unfortunately the demand seems to fall faster.

      2. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        The main problem, as I see it, is the potential human lifespan is much longer than any economic theory we have.

        1. Expat

          Hardly. Most (neoclassical) economic models absolutely require eternal life in order to show any social benefit whatsoever. The catch-22, as it were, is that these same neoliberal policies in the models actually shorten human life by poisoning the environment and limiting access for those in need.

    2. hb

      “the historical evidence is crushing that unionization did not make workers better off (rising productivity did).”

      I caught that too, along with multiple other hints about the POV the writer was coming from, and your argument about flat wages since the 80s despite rising productivity was my thought too.

      Rising productivity has almost always been the historical case, but I don’t see any 1 to 1 correspondence with workers’ buying power or power in the labor market.

      I think there would be a lot more correspondence with the supply of labor & how organized labor was — and also how dispersed or concentrated capital was (i.e. how organized capital was).

    1. ambrit

      Dear LeeAnne;
      This is part and parcel of the usual response by ‘Authority’ to successful local initiatives. Any success not attributable to the ‘local powers’ must be discredited and or removed.
      A similar example occurred in our former town of Pearlington MS after Katrina. Geography plays a part. The town of Pearlington is the ‘furthest from’ everything. Being surrounded by the Stennis Federal Enclave, we were at least fifteen miles from any public health outlet. The town didn’t even have any doctor in residence, especially after the hurricane. So, an independent clinic was set up at the site of the local recovery centre, “Pearlmart” to us locals. It had a semi permanent staff; some of which, the real organizers, came from out of Texas. They were transplanted locals. Eventually, the local powers had the State of Mississippi shut down the clinic because the people working there didn’t have the “requisite accreditation.” As, in, they weren’t locally licensed. It ended up with all of us locals having to make the trek either to Waveland MS or Slidell LA for any medical care. This at a time when most of us had no transportation to speak of, and, as you can guess from the location, absolutely no public transportation. I personally rode my beat up ten speed into Waveland, about eighteen or twenty miles one way, several times to deal with the recovery bureaucracy. (The bureaucracy experience alone would have made me very grateful for sedatives from the local Pearlmart, if any were available.)
      So, dear Occupy NYC Sandy folks, don’t feel aggrieved. You follow in a long hallowed tradition of fighting city hall. With all that gets you. Stay strong.

      1. LeeAnne

        That’s really heart breaking when you see it personally and in the context of destroying the human spirit -the best of the human spirit of mutual consideration, support and survival.

        I’m beginning to see everything in terms of imprisoning the people; tying their hands in one way or another to fit into the slave model of control of which corporatism is the biggest most powerful cult right now. That makes the old term ‘wage slaave’ loaded with meaning. No matter how much they pay you; if taking care of yourself, energy, free speech, self defense and food independence is controlled by ‘them’ while others; corporations, government and the military are all powerful -well, its either the system or the people. No middle ground there.

        All of that time and money spent paying for the education of baby boomers and their WWII veteran parents; mostly fathers, wasted?

        Has the programming been that effective? or is the resistance just beginning?

        1. Aquifer

          “Has the programming been that effective? or is the resistance just beginning?”

          THAT, my dear, is the $3 trillion question (used to be $64,000, but what’s a few 000s among friends …)

          1. different clue

            Resistance may take many forms. People applying one form will certainly insult people applying another form and demand that those “other form” people stop applying “another form” of resistance and serve the “one form” of resistance.

            For example, people who get off on demonstrations will demand that other people who are practicing passive-aggressive economic sabotooge stop practicing economic sabotooge and get their asses down to the demonstration instead.

            Resistance will get farther when the various “schools of resistance” respect eachother and their members. Then they can compare eachothers’ methods’ results from time to time and decide what focus to keep or what focus to change.

    2. Up

      Autonomy, self determination, cooperation among neighbors, being a citizen, self reliance, “boot straps”, harmony instead of disorder, … and on…

      Can’t have Americans start doing those things en masse; people might rethink the role of the state.

      Occupy is simply engaging in Democracy and decency. That’s horrible for the state authorites because it makes Occupy difficult to

      1.) demonize


      2.) depict as useless neo hippies. (or someother convenient easy to promulgate negative imagery that occurs to editorial writers or T.V. news producers.)

  5. spy v spy

    RIVALS the CIA, hahaha, good one, Pravda! This is a smokescreen for consolidation of NCS power. When you read the legislative enabling acts themselves, you see DIA has been subsumed in NCS. Plural perspectives impede foreign interference and aggression. Another fun fact: when the National Foreign Intelligence Program became the National [not necessarily foreign!] Intelligence Program, trainers got the job of rolling out secret police duties to our C+ dimbulb local police. That’s why all the biggest dopes from your high school, the future cops, are now peeking under every bed looking for anarchists. They think they’re James Bond now.

    This is how they do it: juggling acronyms, posting detailees throughout the government, using cutouts. That’s why nobody knows what to call the guys who killed JFK, MLK and RFK, installed and ousted Nixon for the Warren stooge Ford, ran amok worldwide in full view of a succession of cowed presidents, and staged a bloodless coup in 2000. Your public officials are like the circus parties of Byzantium, an emotional outlet for your festering resentment of absolutism.

    1. LucyLulu

      ” That’s why all the biggest dopes from your high school, the future cops, are now peeking under every bed looking for anarchists.”

      My favorite display of genius: Shortly after the pepper spray incident at UCDavis I was in line with a cop at Ace Hardware who was purchasing some pepper spray and began talking. I brought up the incident to which he said he fully supported the police’s actions because, drumroll…….

      the students were trespassing, since they didn’t pay taxes.

      1. Aquifer

        They sell pepper spray at ACE hardware? Your friendly neighborhood hardware store?

        Hmmm, time for an intervention?

        1. different clue

          Lot’s of normal people buy pepper spray to protect themselves from their friendly neighborhood rapist or for other such reasons.

          If pepper spray is outlawed, only police officers will have pepper spray. (Think about it).

          I got that from a poster which would be better seen than described. Big photo . . . police at a firing range. Caption: “if guns are outlawed, only policemen will have guns”. Little inset photo: a policeman aiming his gun at you the viewer . . . Little Caption: “think about it”.

  6. ambrit

    In reference to the “Four Companies” piece; Hoo boy, read the comments below the fold. It’s a lot worse than it looks. As in, those ‘magical’ profits are smoke and mirrors. Sub prime mortgage mess 2.0? Or yet another come on for “Son of Ponzi Scheme?” (They thought that it was dead! But evil is hard to kill! Are you ready for, “The Return of Son of Ponzi?” Be afraid! Very afraid!)

  7. scraping_by

    RE: Quagimire.

    Since the American Empire is a waste, is complaining about waste in its war machine a distraction?

    Assuming, for a moment, military procurement can be made more efficient, with the engineering definition of more return per input. Would the MIC let those savings go back the the general Treasury funds? Or would they keep up throughput with more and other projects and toys? The theory of bureaucratic empire building and the economic incentives for the selling corporations would tend away from lower budgets.

    Or, if you want to follow the money, try the documentary “Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers”. I’m sure Afghanistan could provide its own myriad examples.

    1. Aquifer

      Rats – my old Mac power book G4 won’t support the Flash Player version required – i am being shut out from more and more of this stuff :(

  8. Aquifer

    Fracking – Cuomo will go for it, IMO – he is just making sure he has got all his “T”s crossed and “i”s dotted in preparation for any court challenge – that is why all the back and forth on the SGEIS – this isn’t about establishing “safe” rules for fracking – this is about producing rules that can “reasonably” be said to “adequately mitigate” all the “potentially adverse” impacts to the environment this activity implies. There are guidelines in state law and many court cases that outline what these studies must consider and to pass a court challenge, these things must be adequately considered – pass a “hard look”(Holmes) test.

    As long as the DEC can demonstrate, to a court if necessary, on paper, it has done so, and presented a “credible” case for mitigation, it can sign off on the activity, even if it’s “rules” are only good for wallpaper and will have no real effect on how things are actually done …

    And of course there is the issue of what happens when the rules are broken and the damage is done – with the state cutting funding to the DEC, there will be no, or at best totally inadequate, investigation and enforcement – so those rules, no matter how “adequate” they may appear on paper, which is all the courts care about, or reflected in the permits the DEC issues, will be almost totally disconnected from what happens where the rubber meets the road, or the chemicals meet the water …

    Believe me – once the permits are issued, all bets are off.
    No matter how “thorough” or “exhaustive” these “studies” appear, that is all they are for, appearances only –

    The only “mitigation” that will be “adequate” is the paper kind for the court …

    1. LucyLulu

      Won’t Cuomo need funding for his next run for governor in 2014? Or perhaps even a presidential run in 2016?

      1. Aquifer

        Yup – and who’s got that money – the fracking companies and their backers on WS, or the NRDC?

    2. rjs

      NY doesnt have the worst of it; theyre halting barge traffic on the Mississippi, which handles about 60 percent of the nation’s grain, as well as 22 percent of its oil and 20 percent of its coal; the river may be partially shut till february if the drought persists…
      meanwhile, the corps of engineers is holding back the missouri river in south dakota, so hundreds of millions of gallons of water can be pumped underground by N Dakota frackers..

  9. From Mexico

    @ On the Border

    John Michael Greer’s predictions about Mexico may be much closer to coming true that he suspects.

    I would direct those interested to a couple of lectures given at the Katz Center for Mexican Studies at the University of Chicago:

    “The Economics and Politics of Drugs in Mexico”

    It seems the first step in the process Greer describes will be the overthrow of the US’s puppet government in Mexico by the “warbands.” And according to the above linked discussions, that day may be nearer than even Greer believes.

    It is estimated that the drug cartels now employ 600,000 people in Mexico, and generate more new jobs than any other industry. Chapo Guzman’s cartel is now considered to be one of the three largest criminal organizations in the world. The recent report that HSBC had laundered $7 billion for the cartels between 2007 and 2008 comes on the heels of an older report that Wachovia Bank laundered $378 billion for the cartels between 2004 and 2007. Wells Fargo, The Bank of America, Citigroup, Western Union and American Express have all been implicated in money laundering for the cartels.

    While the Mexican body count continues to rise (nearly 120,000 since 2006, accoriding to the latest estimates published by the Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas y Geographia) the United States is escalating its not-so-covert military involvement in Mexico and putting proverbial boots on the ground as part of the $1.6 billion U.S.-financed Merida Initiative. But have such “initiatives” (in actuality, taxpayer-funded boondoggles for giant military contractors), turned the corner in the drug war? Not by any objective measurement.

    Greer is also right about the growing base of social support from the poor and disenfranchised. In this narco corrido, for instance, is a campesina who declares: “Chapo goes for the poor people, and we go for him.” Later she says: “He doesn’t like to see poverty, sadness and hunger.”

    I would not at all be surprised to find out that, amongst the poor and rural populations, the drug cartels have more legitimacy than the Mexican government.

    1. LucyLulu

      Another US jobs program, mentioned on one of the news programs yesterday but dug up this link:

      Pay is generally $12-$18/hr. Most require experience however delivery drivers and security positions are available. A lab testing position at $18/hr says they will train. Does require no felony convictions. Hmmm…… Gardening buff anyone?

  10. Valissa

    Image Gallery: Fossil Forest in the Canadian Arctic
    A fossilized forest, one that lived between 2.6 million and 3 million years ago, in the Canadian Arctic, could thrive again, say scientists who suggest by 2100 the climate there would be warm enough to allow such growth. [Photo 1]
    … Fossil forests of a similar age have also been found on Ellesmere Island, where mummy trees were uncovered by a melting glacier in the Canadian Arctic, and shown here. The spindly, mummified trees showed signs of stress, which was likely the result of a changing climate (from greenhouse to an icehouse of sorts) as well as the seasonal enduring darkness at the top of the world. [Photo 7]

    1. LucyLulu

      To replace the tens of thousands of square miles of pristine forest turned lunar landscape in Alberta left by the extraction of tar sands oil?

      Buy now while its still cheap, and make gazillions. Never let a good crisis go to waste.

  11. sd

    As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price
    By Louise Story, The New York Times, December 1, 2012

    The NY Times analyzed more than 150,000 awards and created a searchable database of incentive spending.

    A Times investigation has examined and tallied thousands of local incentives granted nationwide and has found that states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies. The beneficiaries come from virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains.

    The cost of the awards is certainly far higher. A full accounting, The Times discovered, is not possible because the incentives are granted by thousands of government agencies and officials, and many do not know the value of all their awards. Nor do they know if the money was worth it because they rarely track how many jobs are created. Even where officials do track incentives, they acknowledge that it is impossible to know whether the jobs would have been created without the aid.

    Much more…

    They just barely touch on state tax incentives for film production which return CASH to multinational film companies. All over the country, states are facilitating construction on multi-million dollar production facilities for a fickle industry. Just ask Orlando, Florida.

    1. Ms G

      Good Jobs First has been doing yeoman’s work on this massive (under the radar of most people) system for the looting of public resources by private parties and corporations (cronies, mostly). The system is alive and well especially at the municipality, town and state levels. The net (massive) losses to taxpayers resulting from these deals have been documented ad nauseum for many many years now. For some reason, it has never gotten the steady attention of major newspapers.

      I wonder if the NYT acknowledges Good Jobs First and Bettina Damiani at all. GJF also has a searchable database

      1. Aquifer

        A couple of decades ago the Fiscal Policy Institute in NY did a rather scathing critique of IDAs.

        Just about every county and city has one – quasi governmental agencies granted tax exempt status who use it to “own” properties of private businesses for purposes of avoiding property taxes for a given period of time for the real owners who make PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for the privilege.

        They keep fiddling with the program, revising, revamping, and renaming it every few years as the latest round of outrageous abuses is revealed.

        As to why newspapers don’t do more – well in my locality the newspaper was a big cheerleader for the Carousel Mall – shucks, who can be sour about such a tremendous potential for getting advertising $, even if the deal itself was obviously a scam, not to mention which, the newspaper itself got a tax deal of its own around the same time …

    2. sd

      Looks like this article is part of a new series

      Lines Blur as Texas Gives Industries a Bonanza
      By Louise Story, The New York Times, December 2, 2012

      Under Mr. Perry, Texas gives out more of the incentives than any other state, around $19 billion a year, an examination by The New York Times has found. Texas justifies its largess by pointing out that it is home to half of all the private sector jobs created over the last decade nationwide. As the invitation to the fund-raiser boasted: “Texas leads the nation in job creation.”

      Yet the raw numbers mask a more complicated reality behind the flood of incentives, the examination shows, and raise questions about who benefits more, the businesses or the people of Texas.

      Along with the huge job growth, the state has the third-highest proportion of hourly jobs paying at or below minimum wage. And despite its low level of unemployment, Texas has the 11th-highest poverty rate among states.

    3. Aquifer

      Thank you very much for this – very interesting ….

      I checked out NY and found it likewise very interesting – #14 on the list was my “favorite” project – Carousel Mall in Syracuse. One can, and should, write a book about that one – irony alert – Company that runs this scam is the Pyramid Company …

      Even more interesting I thought was this – under “Top incentives by type” is listed “$871 million in sales tax refund, exemption tax or other tax discounts”

      No mention of the billions ($15 billion a few years ago) of bucks from NY’s Financial Transaction Tax that is rebated to brokers and traders every year (I keep hoping Yves will do a story on this …)

      And then under “Top incentives by industry” are listed “Manufacturing, film, Agriculture”

      No mention of the financial services industry that is the recipient of this largesse ….

  12. Up

    Re: Bond Investor Gundlach

    Peripheral theme in the article: the illusion of anonimity on the web.
    This guy Gundlach was a victim of art theives earlier in the fall:

    The robbers also snatched two works by Gundlach’s late grandmother, Helen Fuchs, who was an amateur painter.

    The money manager first offered $200,000 for tips leading to the recovery of his art and days later boosted the reward to $1.7 million. Santa Monica Police Department Sergeant Richard Lewis says the large sum of money was key to cracking the case, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted on.

    In late September, two suspects were arrested and all of the stolen art was recovered.

    The cerebral Gundlach also gave investigators a tip for solving the crime. He says that while he was at home in his family room, it dawned on him that thieves would do a Google search using his grandmother’s name to find out more about the paintings and how much they might be worth.

    Gundlach told the authorities that they should check the Internet to see who might have googled the name Helen Fuchs. He says exactly two such searches were executed: one by him and one by the thieves.

    Gundlach says his Internet idea impressed investigators.

    Help disabuse me of my ignorance: How can one’s web searches be linked back specifically to an individual searcher?

    Like this?:

    •You search.
    •your IP address is attached to your search.
    •algorithm protocols go from computer to computer collecting all that is relevant to the search.
    •the algos are finished their collection, they come back to the original searcher, i.e. YOU!
    •voila search results are on your screen. BUT!!!!—–>You’ve also left info that you made a search.

    •the info/fingerprint that you leave is Your IP Address

    Am I correct?

    1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      Yup, but someone (Google) needs to store it forever it retrievable form – meaning they would have to store it and be able to do a DB query using the stored search parameters as the DB query.

      A little mind boggling when you imagine how many searches are performed everyday in the world.

      1. psychohistorian

        Don’t think of it as mind boggling, think of it as 1984 in preparation.

        Yobs for all the Winston Smiths of the world. What sort of history can we create for you today?

        1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

          Sure. Cherry pick the right searches to support circumstantial evidence in criminal cases, or even Wrong Think cases.

          Pre-emptive crime solving like in the Minority Report?

          New fodder for sci-fi novels at least.

          1. Mark P.

            It’s quite feasible. To some extent — say, with searches that involve, for example, certain aspects of bioweapons development — there are things that obviously are getting flagged already.

      2. Up

        Ahh, so the record of my search does not live on in perpetuity, because of the practical limits of data storage.

        (Generally speaking)My posts, your posts, anyones posts on, say, NC will live on though; well, for the lifetime of the site. *Discomfort*

        I’m imagining the method of law enforcements investigation. They contact google and request the IPs that searched for “insert likely search term here.” It’s a standard criminal investigation like going to any other business and making a request for xyz. Law enforcement had to contact google before the temporary storage of the likely “Helen Fuchs” search was discarded though.

        How long are internet searches preserved? is the next natural question.

        1. LucyLulu

          How long are internet searches preserved?

          That depends on the policy at Google, the same as storage of records at any other company that aren’t mandated to be kept by laws or regulations. However long they want to keep the information, or until storage space presents a problem.

        2. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

          They can store the searches as long as they keep buying more raid arrays to store them. But I would think the query would start taking a very long time to run at some point.

          I don’t know now long Google would keep the stuff. A necessary part of retrieval also exists at your service provider because, once you have the IP number, you need to go to the service provider to get it matched to customer info. I think they passed a law requiring service providers to keep this data for some period of years, but I don’t recall how many.

          But the USG is building a monster storage site in Utah and they claim they store everything on the Internet. So our NC pages are probably backed up there and will be available to alien anthropologists when they arrive to study how earth life disappeared.

      3. hunkerdown

        Compared to how much iron they have to actually perform the searches, dedicating 10-20 machines to writing a log entry with IP address, user ID (if any), time, search terms and whatever technical info they might desire wouldn’t be much trouble at all. Since Google already has a competent enough distributed database implementation for search usage, querying search logs by whatever indices are presently available would be fairly straightforward. Presumably they are already indexing search terms by user to support their advertising business, so running an extra query for the nice officer is trivial.

        This is one of the few happy endings brought to us by unrestricted availability of private commercial data to law enforcement. The entirely uncontroversial right to keep and hold one’s family heirlooms leaves so little room for outcry that I can’t help but think that vignette is being surfaced for Mr. Bloomberg’s own pro-surveillance reasons more than for newsworthiness.

  13. rich

    Wall Street finds a foreign detour around U.S. derivatives rules

    (Reuters) – Wall Street banks are looking to help offshore clients sidestep new U.S. rules designed to safeguard the world’s $640 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market, taking advantage of an exemption that risks undermining U.S. regulators’ efforts.

    U.S. banks such as Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Goldman Sachs (GS.N) have been explaining to their foreign customers that they can for now avoid the new rules, due to take effect next month, by routing trades via the banks’ overseas units, according to industry sources and presentation materials obtained by Reuters.

    The rules, a result of Washington’s Dodd-Frank reforms, aim to prevent financial catastrophes in the over-the-counter (OTC) market – a huge, opaque market which is partly blamed for felling Lehman Bros in 2008 and fuelling a global financial crisis.

    The banks’ solution is to route trades via their non-U.S. affiliates – subsidiaries with their own separate balance sheets, often in London – rather than the parent banks. It is a detour that could eventually be shut down by foreign regulators, but for now offers shelter from the U.S. regulatory storm.

    “What we are seeing now is a gamesmanship dance in which firms do whatever they can to avoid regulation, which is an age-old phenomenon,” said Thomas Cooley, a professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

    1. psychohistorian

      I was corrected recently about the estimated number of stars in the observable universe. It is 30 billion trillion.

      These financial idiots are just trying to put at risk more dollars than there are stars in the universe and they may be getting close. Does the almighty US dollar pop then?…….lots of countries of the world hope so.

      1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        Being a forever bachelor guy, they can’t get mine.

        But I can give advice anyway. US citizens and corporations are subject to IRS regulations wherever they may be, or conducting biz, in the world. So I don’t see why a USG backstopped industry like international banks domiciled in the US couldn’t be subject to banking regulation in the same way.

        I mean, really, we are able to go after Walmart for engaging in the normal biz practice of bribing low level officials in Mexico to get stores approved. But a $640 trillion derivatives market is nothing to worry about?

  14. KFrtiz

    Re Gallup Small Business Assessment

    Did they use the same metrics that worked so well for the recent Presidential Election?

  15. kevinearick

    So, let’s go ’round one more time, in the nastiest Black Hole ever constructed…San Francisco.

    It’s not really that nasty, just a global war machine, fighting itself, unless you volunteer….

    The eunuchs and their goddess/witch gatekeepers aren’t going to like this…

    1. kevinearick

      Don’t the p- in Mendocino make me walk all the way across the County, and call the firefighters half a dozen times, because I’m walking on the side of the road (1/128). With pot being 70 % of the economy, the other 30% can’t help but be corrupt too, a derivative of a derivative of San Francisco.

      1. kevinearick

        @The Epicurean Dealmaker link.

        Mendo wine makes an excellent laundering soap for pot $, but I would not suggest you drink it. Have some apple vinegar just in case.

  16. skippy

    Cabul 1970s photo


    USA prints textbooks to support Jihad in Afghanistan and Pakistan

    The USA openly printed millions of textbooks

    to support the Jihad in Afghanistan and Pakistan

    against the Soviets and Afghan Communists

    The books written with the purpose of ideological propaganda….We come across the following examples in math book:

    – If out of 10 atheists, 5 are killed by 1 Muslim, 5 would be left.
    – 5 guns + 5 guns = 10 guns
    – 15 bullets – 10 bullets = 5 bullets, etc.

    See also US Counter terror Adviser to Obama

    (John Brennan)

    Defends Jihad as “Legitimate Tenet of Islam”

    From U.S.

    the ABC’s of Jihad

    Violent Soviet-Era Textbooks Complicate Afghan Education Efforts

    By Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway

    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Saturday, March 23, 2002; Page A01

    In the twilight of the Cold War, the United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation.

    The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books, though the radical movement scratched out human faces in keeping with its strict fundamentalist code.

    As Afghan schools reopen today, the United States is back in the business of providing schoolbooks. But now it is wrestling with the unintended consequences of its successful strategy of stirring Islamic fervor to fight communism. What seemed like a good idea in the context of the Cold War is being criticized by humanitarian workers as a crude tool that steeped a generation in violence.

    Last month, a U.S. foreign aid official said, workers launched a “scrubbing” operation in neighboring Pakistan to purge from the books all references to rifles and killing. Many of the 4 million texts being trucked into Afghanistan, and millions more on the way, still feature Koranic verses and teach Muslim tenets.

    The White House defends the religious content, saying that Islamic principles permeate Afghan culture and that the books “are fully in compliance with U.S. law and policy.” Legal experts, however, question whether the books violate a constitutional ban on using tax dollars to promote religion.

    Organizations accepting funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development must certify that tax dollars will not be used to advance religion. The certification states that AID “will finance only programs that have a secular purpose. . . . AID-financed activities cannot result in religious indoctrination of the ultimate beneficiaries.”

    The issue of textbook content reflects growing concern among U.S. policymakers about school teachings in some Muslim countries in which Islamic militancy and anti-Americanism are on the rise. A number of government agencies are discussing what can be done to counter these trends.

    President Bush and first lady Laura Bush have repeatedly spotlighted the Afghan textbooks in recent weeks. Last Saturday, Bush announced during his weekly radio address that the 10 million U.S.-supplied books being trucked to Afghan schools would teach “respect for human dignity, instead of indoctrinating students with fanaticism and bigotry.”

    The first lady stood alongside Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai on Jan. 29 to announce that AID would give the University of Nebraska at Omaha $6.5 million to provide textbooks and teacher training kits.

    AID officials said in interviews that they left the Islamic materials intact because they feared Afghan educators would reject books lacking a strong dose of Muslim thought. The agency removed its logo and any mention of the U.S. government from the religious texts, AID spokeswoman Kathryn Stratos said.

    “It’s not AID’s policy to support religious instruction,” Stratos said. “But we went ahead with this project because the primary purpose . . . is to educate children, which is predominantly a secular activity.”

    Some legal experts disagreed. A 1991 federal appeals court ruling against AID’s former director established that taxpayers’ funds may not pay for religious instruction overseas, said Herman Schwartz, a constitutional law expert at American University, who litigated the case for the American Civil Liberties Union.

    Link to the original MSM article:

    Blogs link:

    skippy…. lieistan methinks….

    1. psychohistorian

      skippy, I like the lieistan term, thanks.

      If Americans only knew the lies spread to maintain the control of empire……

      That said there are some good things done with foreign dollars around the world to help some countries “advance”, IMO. Is all assistance from AID propaganda? I can’t answer that.

  17. LucyLulu

    Enough of the disingenous arguments used to propagate the meme that the Social Security lockbox is empty. If Krauthammer were asked how the current size of the US debt, would he answer anything but $16 trillion? Or would he like to tell private investors in Treasuries that because the government has spent the money raised by selling the bonds and that redemption “will have to be financed by raising taxes, borrowing from the public, or reducing benefits or other expenditures” that they don’t own real economic assets? Is the “responsible” party that advocates “debts must be paid” advocating that the US default on their bonds?

    Krauthammer knows better. Does it get any more reprehensible than trying to con old people out of their life savings? This isn’t about differences in ideology. Ideology might translate to a belief that benefits must be reduced to compensate for retirees collecting 2-3% more than they contributed (on average), not to selectively invalidating funding. This is about being little more than a common thief, the haves wanting a free ride on the backs of the have nots.

  18. heresy101

    PG&E decided that we weren’t to have electricity today. People have probably gone out on the east coast so there won’t be any answers to this question on why the Deirdre McCloskey was on NC reading list?

    While I was able to make it through the review without upchucking, it was very painful! Her book and whole perspective is of the Ayn Rand wonderful bourgeois making history progress variety. She is anti-materialist (repeated multiple times) and it is only the bourgeois that counts.

    I don’t know about Michael Sandel’s book, but this review is weeks old tripe. Coming from the University of Chicago and being reviewed in National Review are usually signs of an impending waste of time for reading.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Because I like Donald (she was Donald before becoming Dierdre) McClosey’s Rhetoric of Economics a lot, that’s why. It is sometimes the case that people with whom one has disagreements make good points. Eh?

      1. heresy101

        Scanning the Wikipedia site for the “Rhetoric of Economics”, I can see why there are ideas about mathematical economcs that are attractive in that book.

        The 2010 book’s main idea is nothing more than idealism about the wonders of the bourgoisie and as the 1% how they have improved the lives of the masses. Where did I recently hear those same thoughts?? The review is a rehash of those same ideas.

        If Steven Keen can avoid going off on a tangent about “free energy”, he should be able to root economics using thermodynamics to allow it to be brought back to a materialist, scientific outlook. Also, his bias against the labor theory of value needs to be addressed because labor (either physical or intellectual in a large organization) is how energy is converted to work (buildings, transportaton, agriculture, education, energy sources, etc) which is the output of economics.

        1. JTFaraday

          I haven’t looked into this– nor do I plan to at present because like the writing of most economists it’s probably riddled with pig Latin– but I have a hard time seeing how Steve Keen is not merely reinventing the modern wheel, wherein human beings are reduced to inputs in a mechanized system that leaves no space for human decision making, which is to say, for human freedom.

          And to the extent that he is reinventing it, it is only in order to update the modern mechanical metaphors of industry and the modernist aesthetic for metaphors derived from contemporary physics– which are completely beyond human alteration–effectively reinforcing just the same sort of TINA inevitability that always seems to drive economic practices and policies like today’s global race to the bottom.

          ie., It looks like he is replicating the air of inevitability of the industrial era that already infected both capitalism and communism. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being forced to live the narratives of necessity that are continually pumped out by the economists.

          Heck, Marx/Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” leaves more room for human freedom because at least the machine breaks down and opens spaces for innovation, however differently M and S may have defined this. It’s only when you raise creative destruction to a “law of the universe” and allow it to destroy your entire society that it becomes the problem it is today.

          So, like I said, I’m not an economist and I have no plans to embark on a crash course in pig Latin but it looks to me like he is heading in exactly the wrong direction.

          Subjecting society to the putative laws of the universe is almost never a good idea. Intellectuals always think they control the necessity they introduce and thereby manipulate their targets, but they don’t control it. Whoever can controls politics controls it.

          Not that they necessarily see it that way. Keen probably thinks he’s telling the truth, not inventing the truth.

          1. JTFaraday

            Yeah, that sounds about right. People who believe their own bullsh*t can really be the most problematic sometimes.

  19. Ms G

    Even as he was ordering the NYPD-executed evictions of volunteer Relief Hubs in Staten Island, Bloomberg made a stealth visit to the Rockaways — probably hoping for a photo-op. It didn’t quite work out that way. This video is chilling in its depiction of how Mayor For Life interacts with his subjects: slithering away like a cockroach from citizens gathered to ask him questions about where are the electricity, water and supplies that the City still hasn’t delievered, squeaking “you guys are great,” and whisked by a cordon of fully-armed security guards (helmets, etc.), into the armored safety of his helicopter (which seems not to have even turned off its engine for the entirety of Bloomberg’s “visit.”)

    You have to wonder why this junket merited a helicopter ride. Bloomberg has a fleet of private cars that can shuttle him all over the state.

  20. LucyLulu

    Strolling around another interesting story for anybody who might have missed this:

    “The US Senate Judiciary Committee today approved a bill that would require authorities to produce warrants illustrating probable cause before retrieving email records and other data stored on the web. Though the committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of the measure, which would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the changes face a rocky road to becoming law as they’ll need to gain passage among the full Senate and House of Representatives.”

    The chances of the new law making it through both houses and getting signed by Obama is uncertain at best. Under current law, once emails have been stored online for 180 days, it’s no longer considered to have rights to privacy. Authorities may wait 90 days before alerting email owner of access, with one 90 day extension if deemed appropriate.

    Sen. Leahy is sponsoring the bill. He generated outrage last week when his admendment was reported to allow 22 federal agencies to obtain emails, tweets, and facebook info without a warrant. By the next day, Leahy came out and denied the charges but original CNet reporter said Judiciary Cmte aides had clearly changed their tune. Time to yell at some Congress critters……

  21. wunsacon

    >> Gundlach told the authorities that they should check the Internet to see who might have googled the name Helen Fuchs. He says exactly two such searches were executed: one by him and one by the thieves.

    What does this line tell you about what happens when you search the internet????

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