Links 1/19/13

Canada put “wrong” maple leaf on new Canadian dollar 20 bill: expert Reuters

Don’t Ignore the Drought Rolling Stone

Leprosy bacteria use ‘biological alchemy’ BBC (John L). This is a big find.

Amazon rainforest showing signs of degradation due to climate change, NASA warns Raw Story :-(

Alberta oil selling at 50% discount to world price… Electic Lip (Matthew K)

Kim Dotcom: the internet cult hero spoiling for a fight with US authorities Guardian

Swartz and Keen John Quiggin

An apt insight Steve Keen

IMF: Greece needs more European money Telegraph

Judge: Govt Must Prove Manning Wanted to ‘Aid Enemy’ Common Dreams (Aquifer)

Twitter Weaponized: Al-Shabaab and the Latest Offensive in “Social” War BagNews (psychohistorian)

Director Kathryn Bigelow defends her indefensible Zero Dark Thirty WSWS (jsmith)

Is Jack Lew A Friend to Wall Street? Michael Hirsh, National Journal. Managed to miss this. It’s a thorough, nuanced piece.

MMT and Social Norms Devin Smith, New Economic Perspectives

The Trillion Dollar Coin: Joke or Game-Changer? TruthDig (William)

Investing in Guns Joe Nocera, New York Times

Confidence Falls as U.S. Payroll Tax Rise Hits: Economy Bloomberg

Republicans gather at former plantation to discuss minority outreach Raw Story (furzy mouse). Makes perfect sense. They are figuring out how to get them better jobs in the Big House.

Ex-officers: APD had arrest quotas Atlanta Journal Constitution (Lambert)

The Frank Luntz script for Congressional Republicans Columbia Journalism Review (Paul Tioxon)

Banks get reprieve on new rules CNN. This is almost a default headline. The case in point is Basel III liquidity rules.

Mary Jo White Considered for SEC Boss Wall Street Journal. She was tough and respected once, but has she been coopted by being on the corporate side?

Fed minutes show slow crisis reaction Financial Times. Quelle surprise!

Stripping Down Bankruptcy Jargon Melissa Jacoby, Credit Slips

The Post-Crisis Crises Joseph Stiglitz, Project Syndicate

Antidote du jour (Aquifer):

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    1. dearieme

      The article claims that one of the authors is from Glasgow University but the caption on a photo claims that he’s from Glasgow Caledonian University, a place with much less of a history and reputation. Googling suggests that the latter is the correct affiliation.

    2. from Mexico

      Robert Hare issued a response. His argument is that Skeem and Cooke lied about his stance in order to lend legitimacy to their own half-baked assertions. “The crux of the dispute has to do with assertions by Skeem and Cooke that we consider criminal behavior to be an essential component of the psychopathy construct,” Hare writes. “We do not, and have said as much many times in print.”

      The behavioral sciences and neuroscience are being abused and misued by the security state — law enforcement and the military. Nita Farahany explains in this talk before The Science Network:

      My candle is that the neuroscientific community and behavioral sciences community needs to get involved in policymaking. And I tell you that at the outset because I’m going to give you the examples of where they have not gotten involved, and where they need to get involved because the science is already being introduced into the legal arena despite the fact that the science isn’t really ready to be introduced into the legal arena.

    3. from Mexico

      Another excellent lecture on this subject is that of Amanda Pustilnik.

      As she explains, the fundamental attitudes that underly phrenology, even though it is now considered to be the pseudoscience par excellence, are still pervasive in criminal law and criminal justice:

      She urges a great deal of caution with using psychological classifications as a justification to condemn individuals in criminal proceedings.

  1. from Mexico

    @ “Swartz and Keen” John Quiggin

    This is yet more evidence of a theme that the Canadian filmmaker Scott Noble explores in The Power Principle:

    #6. The Empire is similar to the mafia

    Just as it seems ridiculous for American police to engage in SWAT-like assaults against small encampments of Occupiers, it seems odd that the US bothers to attack countries like Chile or Grenada. In the case of Chile, a report from the State Department noted that the US had “no vital national interests” in that country. Nevertheless, it was deemed vitally important to overthrow Salvadore Allende.

    Or take Grenada. In the film I show a clip of Ronald Reagan in which he actually says, “It’s not just about nutmeg…It’s about national security”. Reagan may well have believed as much, but the folks at the Pentagon and the Rand Corporation most certainly did not.

    So why bother? The answer lies in the danger of a good example. In the film, Noam Chomsky calls it the “Mafia Doctrine”.

    If a storekeeper fails to cough up protection money, the boss may not care about the money, but he does care about the example. It may inspire other storekeepers to cut loose of the Don.

    Similarly, allowing a successful experiment in democracy to flourish – whether at an Occupy Camp in NY, or in a tiny nation like Grenada – may set a good (ergo, bad) example for larger populations.

    1. direction

      I whole heartedly agree.
      The linked article from the Guardian also puts forward how this mafia style dynamic sits in plain sight: “The US has become a society in which political and financial elites systematically evade accountability… while those who are powerless – or especially, as in Swartz’s case, those who challenge power – are mercilessly punished for trivial transgressions.”

      I have always wondered how the cogs in the system, police and local authorities, cannot see this. Why do they suck up to the wealthy and accept white collar crime? Activists are routinely viewed as “dirty hippees,” and police enjoy making examples of nonviolent resistors. I have a friend who was locked to a piece of logging equipment to protect a crime site where an activist had been killed. There were over 100 people camped out to protect that crime site after crucial evidence had been tampered with. Did this ever make national news? I don’t think so. The local swat team took the opportunity to make their own DIY training video of how to use gloves when you pour pepperspray directly into people’s eyes. She was sitting with her arms locked around the equipment; I suppose that qualifies as resisting arrest, but pouring pepperspray directly in her eyes for the camera?

      I was honestly glad when occupiers got sprayed in NYC and UCDavis, because it seemed to finally get the message out to the general public. Protest makes you persona non grata. And abusive behavior is standard practice. If you are a dissident = commie = threat, then you are providing a great opportunity for those on the side of “justice” to prove that strong physical punishment will set a good example for the rest of the kids. Aside from priests diddling little boys, it’s patriarchy at it’s creepiest.

      1. JustMeAgaiN

        That’s the beauty of human developed totalitarian “systems” in the first place. Once you’re operating within them, you’re inherently limited only by them. Might as well ask why did Nazi Germany, Communist Russia, or Capitalist US do their things. Why? Because they could!

    2. JustMeAgaiN

      Purely coincidentally, posted a similar comment on another blog today myself. Been watching some old Sopranos DVDs lately, and the parallels to our current situation practically scream out to anyone who’s listening. Makes me wonder now if David Chase didn’t have all this in mind when he wrote the damn thing in the first place.

      1. YankeeFrank

        Dunno if you all remember, but in the later seasons, there was an ad for the Sopranos up all over NYC with a photo of Tony Soprano and the caption read “Made in America”… so yes, he did have that in mind. And the episodes where we get to see society from a higher vantage point do not look pretty — rich assholes insider trading, dirty dirty cops, a local and federal bureaucracy that runs on careerism and bribery, opportunistic crime, and the show ended before the housing bust unfortunately.

        I still maintain that the mafia is a more honest criminal set than the “justice dept” and any of our government institutions. At least the mafia doesn’t believe its doing good work like these others.

  2. rjs

    another significant post from Frances Coppola yeaterday:

    Government debt isn’t what you think it is – Government debt is not debt in any meaningful sense of the word. Let me clarify. The debt of genuinely sovereign governments that issue their own currencies, have properly functioning central banks and full control of monetary policy is not debt in any meaningful sense of the word.

    and an older but timely video: Stiglitz, Greenspan, Buffett: ‘we can always print dollars’ — Nobel economist Joe Stiglitz, Alan Greenspan, & Warren Buffett explain there is “zero probability of U.S. default”

    1. wunsacon

      Sadly, I read blogs for years before understanding that truth.

      I blame Newspeak, for using the word “debt” to refer to more then one thing and thereby confuse most of us rubes.

      It’s not that the “debt” couldn’t be treated as a real obligation, an obligation to repay. But, we don’t. Maybe because we have a big military, such that foreign investors generally want to hold even less currency from other nations that are even less stable (sometimes cruelly made less stable by the big tough guys).

      1. rjs

        i read the Economist for 20 years and once believed all that conventional crap too…a lot of problem is with the nomenclature used in discussing these issues…we talk of borrowing and debt, which have negative connotations, and the deficit scolds talk of balancing the budget, which is a clever use of the language, as everyone thinks “balance” is something we should strive for, as if it were a virtue…

        we really need new words to describe government note, bill, & bond issuance, because the nature of a government issue is closer to creating needed money than it is to what the public & the airheaded congresscritters think of as “debt”…obviously, obama suffers from the same delusion, saying that the government is like a household and should also tighten its belt when times are tough…& the mistake they’re all making is what’s costing us this prolonged & deep recession…

        1. Lambert Strether

          It may be costing us a recession, but it’s making Obama and his owners rich beyond dreams of avarice (well, no, because avarice can never be satisfied, but you know what I mean).

          So kwitcherbellyakin, tighten your belt, and go and get get that job stocking shelves at Walmart!

          1. skippy


            Vets stocking or handling overseas made stuff… for the pride of having a minimum wage yob…

            skippy… can it get any more absurd… duty to the future… cough country…

            PS. Military management skills?

          2. j.s.nightingale

            rjs: “they’re only hiring military vets…”

            If Walmart hires 10,000 military vets, that’s 10,000 employees they don’t have to worry about not providing health insurance for: military vets are covered by the VA, among the best and most (cost) effective health programs in the Nation.

          3. Ms G

            @ j.s. nightingale — the VA benefits angle — hadn’t even occurred — what a scam — Walmart gets to look like it’s doing god’s work by giving (crap) jobs to veterans while hiring employees it doesn’t have to cover for health insurance. Same m.o. they do with Medicaid. Amazing. Talk about a corporation that is on Federal welfare — Walmart has to be in the top 10.

        2. Bev

          AMI’s Evaluation of “Modern Monetary Theory” (MMT)

          by AMI Research, with Steven Walsh; and assistance by Stephen Zarlenga

          Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is a theory developed by a group of economists over the past 25 years or so. In the current crisis it has been receiving some wider attention from the prevailing economic community and politicians looking for a new direction.


          At the outset AMI enjoys a good, cordial relationship with some of the leading MMT economists, and we certainly wish to build on this relationship. But one thing we can’t compromise on is facts. MMT, like much of modern economic thinking, builds upon some erroneous assumptions and a definition of money that is not neutral and works to the detriment of the 99%. In addition MMT has its own specific problems between its claims and the facts which have bearing on the validity of MMT.


          MMT misuses terms

          MMT stretches and twists the meaning of words beyond normal usage; for example, Wray says:

          “We say that fiat money is a government liability. For what is the government liable? To accept its money in payment of taxes.”6

          Normally people think of a liability as being something owed and due. Money need not be something owed and due, it’s what we use to pay something owed and due. To call money a liability ignores the nature and properties of money. It removes the concept of money and substitutes a concept of debt in its place.

          MMT mis-defines money as debt

          Poor methodology and misuse of terms leads MMT to mis-define money as debt; e.g., Wray says: “Fiat money will be defined as … nothing more than a debt.”7

          But money and debt are two different things, that’s why we have different words for them. We pay our debts with money.


          Now that Dennis Kucinich has a contract with Fox News…maybe some bridge building.

          1. YankeeFrank

            That is a misreading of MMT from what I’ve read. Money is never equated with debt in MMT. In fact, MMT makes clear that the problem with the current system is that money is only created by issuing debt, both at the governmental and private level, and that this practice is causing a lot of unnecessary inefficiency, usury and confusion.

            Money, in MMT, can and should be created without issuing debt. And government money is preferable to private money creation because it can best be used to support public purpose by avoiding the shackling of the money created to any kind of interest payment that limits and curtails its effectiveness and ability to be created at need.

            MMT states that money, at its most basic level, gets its value from the fact that we must pay our taxes with it, which is what causes people to desire it and value it. This point is made as a way to understand the value of fiat money at its fundamental, not to say that the only value of money is to pay taxes/debts. And I think this statement can be taken too far as well. There are perhaps better ways to clarify why money that is not backed by something else that has value, has value. Its a mutually agreed neutral and available form of exchange, which value is bolstered by its universality AND the fact that it is accepted payment of taxes owed.

            I think the reason the MMT folks fixate on the payment of taxes basis of the value of money is that this is how it ties currency to the government. There are currencies, albeit experimental at this point, that cannot be used to pay taxes (i.e. bitcoins). What differentiates this type of money from government money is that you can pay your taxes with government issued money. That is it as far as I can see.

    1. Aquifer

      Mama – “Fred – I TOLD you what would happen if we saw that fertility doc, but no, you said only 2 or 3 …. You BETTER take that 2nd job with the fire dept.!”

    2. JustMeAgaiN

      Looked like a basket full of spotted buttered biscuits to me on first blush. Good enough to eat!

  3. from Mexico

    @ “MMT and Social Norms” Devin Smith


    Neoclassical economists, along with the Darwinian fundamentalists, have labored long and hard to show that all human behavior is motivated by pleasure and self-interest. As Andrew M. Lobaczewski put it in Political Ponerology:

    The pathological authorities are convinced that the appropriate pedagogical, indocrinational, propaganda, and terrorist means can teach a person with a normal instinctive substratum, range of feelings, and basic intelligence to think and feel according to their own different fashion. This conviction is only slightly less unrealistic, psychologically speaking, than the belief that people able to see colors normally can be broken of this habit.

    Actually, normal people cannot get rid of the characterisitics with which the Homo sapiens species was endowed by its phylogienetic past. Such people will thus never stop feeling and perceiving psychological and socio-moral phenomena in much the same way their ancestors had been doing for hundreds of generations. Any attempt to make a society subjugated to the above phenomenon “learn” this different experimental manner imposed by pathological egoism is, in principle, fated for failure regardless of how many generations it might last.

    Unfortunately, large swaths of the public have been so thoroughly brainwashed by neoclassical economists and Darwinian fundamentalists that it is difficult for them to come to a realistic understanding of human nature.

    1. The Black Swan

      The type of people who say that ‘everyone has a price’ are only doing so to justify how low their own price is.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Let’s do some math.

        The value of a person’s life = infinity.

        A person is expected to live 60, 70 or 80 years, depending on the locale.

        That value of one year of a person’s life = Infinity divided by 60 (or 70 or 80) = infinity.

        Etc. etc.

        So, finally you have:

        The value of one hour of a person’s life = infinity.

        And they pay you only $7/hour?

        That’s like a discount of infinite proportion!

        1. Aquifer

          Hmmm, well the problem is, ISTM, that if the value is infinity than one cannot put a price on it, i.e. priceless, as in no price, as in no pay …

    1. direction

      Why would they break anonymity? It makes no sense to me. And in a stupid tweet, is this just a tasteless publicity stunt?

  4. AbyNormal

    re Drought:

    On January 8, more than a year after the mayor asked industrial users to conserve water, the Carlsbad, New Mexico city council is weighing an economic tool to rein in water demand. The council will vote on a proposal to triple the water rate for oil and gas customers, thus creating some of the most expensive municipal water in the United States.

    Demand is certainly up. But drought, for its part, is cutting into supply, adding stress to local water supplies that, in some cases, are nearing exhaustion. In Texas, where water levels in some rivers are too low to tap, energy companies are going farther afield and paying more to find willing sellers. In Pennsylvania this summer, a regional river basin commission suspended water withdrawals because of low stream levels.

    “This is a harbinger of things to come,” Kenneth Medlock, a fellow in energy and resource economics at Rice University’s Baker Institute, told Circle of Blue. “I think water rates will increase in a major way across the country in the next year just because of demand.”

    (in short order, Mother Nature will make 1%’ers austerity wrath seem compassionate)

    1. frosty zoom

      i live near one of the great lakes and water rates are ridiculously low. and how the people waste it! watering lawns in the middle of the afternoon, washing driveways with the garden hose and on and on…

      meanwhile places where i’ve never ever seen the bottom of a river now have beaches as these jewels dry up faster than the zimbabwe treasuries market.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Between being punished with droughts and floods, the former seem more thorough and severe.

      I mean, with worldwide floods, animals like sharks actually might like it.

      With droughts, none can escape.

      So, you have to wonder, what was He trying to say by the Flood? I want more sharks?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I love whale songs much more than dolphin songs (maybe they were just chattering).

          My final guess is He either wanted more sharks or mermaids by the Flood instead of a drought.

  5. jsmith

    As we further witness/contemplate the murderous hypocrisy of the US, France and the West in regards to Syria, Mali, Yemen, Bahrain, Palestine, Iran, Iraq etc etc here’s a nice look back to the halcyon and more honest days of Ike’s tenure where in a 1953 speech – notice the elevated reading level! – to the State Governors he lays out the reasons for our increasing involvement in Asia, hints at the creation of a police state disciplined civil defense force and actually mentions Congressional debt ceiling shenanigans! Here’s a sample (emphasis mine):

    “Why is it? Now, first of all, the last great population remaining in Asia that has not become dominated by the Kremlin, of course, is the sub-continent of India, including the Pakistan government. Here are 350 million people still free. Now let us assume that we lose Indochina. If Indochina goes, several things happen right away. The Malayan peninsula, the last little bit of the end hanging on down there, would be scarcely defensible–and tin and tungsten that we so greatly value from that area would cease coming. But all India would be outflanked. Burma would certainly, in its weakened condition, be no defense. Now, India is surrounded on that side by the Communist empire. Iran on its left is in a weakened condition. I believe I read in the paper this morning that Mossadegh’s move toward getting rid of his parliament has been supported and of course he was in that move supported by the Tudeh, which is the Communist Party of Iran. All of that weakening position around there is very ominous for the United States, because finally if we lost all that, how would the free world hold the rich empire of Indonesia? So you see, somewhere along the line, this must be blocked. It must be blocked now. That is what the French are doing.

    So, when the United States votes $400 million to help that war, we are not voting for a giveaway program. We are voting for the cheapest way that we can to prevent the occurrence of something that would be of the most terrible significance for the United States of America–our security, our power and ability to get certain things we need from the riches of the Indonesian territory, and from southeast Asia.”


    Now, what our problem is–the very difficult problem–is to find these trails, these trails through these great extremes–difficult to climb, difficult to discern, difficult to mark out, sometimes, because it is done by the process of trial and error. But that is our job. And we should measure up to that, with all the work, all the disappointments, the frustrations, such as when the Senate won’t extend the debt limit when you know you need it–you had that explained to you last night.”

    Some PhD candidate should do some research and find when it exactly was that some told the President to drop the “riches” line, huh?

    Anyone else tired of this rerun that has been going on for well over half a century?

    To recap:

    Communists = Islamists
    Civil Defense = Homeland Security
    Debt Ceiling Shenanigans = Debt Ceiling Shenanigans

    1. JustMeAgaiN

      Ironic that Ike was the one to deliver an indictment of the MICC on his way out the door, when it was his administration that labored so hard to give birth to it in the first place. And the rest, as they say, is history. We’re all willingly complicit good little fascists now. Somewhere Hitler, Stalin, and the rest are smiling knowingly. This is how totalitarianism works.

          1. JustMeAgaiN

            Good point. But by at least subscribing to the internet, I’m still technically consuming (and possibly causing others to consume as well), and thus offering “utility” to the holy *ECONOMY* (in which we trust, pause for heavenly choir chords), and am therefore a “going concern/viable contributor,” for as long as I continue to pay my bills at least. It’s damn sure an idiotic and anti-human system we’ve built, but it’s logical and internally consistent to a fault. Faint praise that.

            Fortunately for us all, the current round of US dictated global totalitarianism will end the way it always has before, albeit with a few billion more human casualties. Not to mention the mere non-human flora and fauna species wasted along the way as well, like so many Afghani wedding parties vaporized remotely by satellite link.

    2. jsmith

      “Debt Ceiling Shenanigans = Debt Ceiling Shenanigans”

      For those interested – and for what it’s worth – here’s the Congressional Research Services report The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases

      World War II and After

      The debt ceiling was raised to accommodate accumulating costs for World War II in each year from 1941 through 1945, when it was set at $300 billion.52 After World War II ended, the debt limit was reduced to $275 billion. Because the Korean War was mostly financed by higher taxes rather than by increased debt, the limit remained at $275 billion until 1954. After 1954, the debt limit was reduced twice and increased seven times, until March 1962 when it again reached $300 billion, its level at the end of World War II. Since March 1962, Congress has enacted 76 separate measures that have altered the limit on federal debt.53 Most of these changes in the debt limit were, measured in percentage terms, small in comparison to changes adopted in wartime or during the Great Depression. Some recent increases in the debt limit, however, were large in dollar terms. For instance, in May 2003, the debt limit increased by $984 billion and in February 2010 the debt limit was increased by $1.9 trillion (P.L. 111-139).

    3. Another Gordon

      An aside. Ike gives the 1953 the population of the Indian subcontinent as 350 million – not so very different from the current US population.

      Today the indian subcontinent has a population around 1.5 billion.

    1. ohmyheck

      That is an amazing article! It is a must-read, imho. I hope it makes it into the Links tomorrow.

      “While conducting research for this article in Frankfurt, London and New York, SPIEGEL kept hearing the same phrase: “The party is over.””

      But there is so much more to it. Lots to take apart, as well. There is a Part 2 in the works, too. Fascinating.

    1. rich

      From India: Corrupting Power Of Wealth In Politics Is Making the People Angry

      JAIPUR: Taking serious note of middle class protesters taking to the streets over corruption, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said the lifestyles of leaders is giving rise to questions about the source of their wealth.

      Speaking at Congress’s chintan shivir (brainstorming session) here, Sonia said, “Celebrating weddings, festivals and happy events is one thing, what of lavish and ostentatious displays of wealth, pomp and status? Does this not beg the question, where is this wealth coming from?”

      Her direct remarks caused a hush to descend on the meeting. “Our citizens are rightly fed up with the levels of corruption that they see in public life at high levels, but equally with the corruption they have to deal with in their daily lives,” she said.

      1. craazyman

        When Bush Senior was president he went to India and there was a dude in the crowd with a protest sign that said “Yankee Go Home! And Take Me With You”

  6. Jim Haygood

    In the convenience store this morning, a headline jumped out at me:

    Market for horse farms jumps, a sign luxury sales are rebounding

    ‘Huh??’ I aksed myself. ‘That don’t make sense.’

    As it turns out, the entire article is devoid of factual content. Not a single reference to any index of rural or agricultural land prices is cited. In fact, it contains this gem of logic:

    Ghylaine Manning, owner of Vincent & Whittemore Real Estate in Bedford Village, says the abundance of horse farms for sale shows people are optimistic about the market after the lows of 2007, when prices were down 30 to 40 percent.|topnews|text|Frontpage

    Never mind the myth taught in Econ 101, which claims that more supply tends to drive down the equilibrium price, all else equal. No, folks dump properties when they’re optimistic, you see. Optimistic like all the quoted real estate agents, who probably ghostwrote this simple-minded advertorial.

    But that’s what passes for journalism in the sleazy little Gannett gun-grabber paper which ‘serves’ New York’s northern suburbs. Defund the MSM!

  7. diptherio

    Re: Keen

    Clive Smallman, UWS Dean of Business, lives up to his name! (Unfortunately, I can’t think of any easy jokes to make about Kerri-Lee Krause)

    Who says the Universe doesn’t have a sense of humor?

  8. Thorstein

    For a couple of years now, commenter “Jim” has been calling attention to Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski’s one-man fight against the FDA, the National Cancer Institute, and the Texas Medical Board. At first most commentors dismissed him. E.g.

    Agree, it is far too difficult to get funding for therapies that don’t have patent protection. But that’s no explanation for why no one has been able to replicate [Burzynski’s] results and why the doc isn’t publishing (and instead just collecting money from desperate patients).

    Well, a quick check of PubMed would have shown Burzynski *had* been publishing refereed papers on “antineoplastons” since 1977.

    Today ran a recitation of how, after 15 years of litigation, the Texas Medical Board finally was forced to dismiss all charges against Burzynski. If you have any doubts that U.S. medicine is in regulatory capture by Big Pharma, you should read this.

    1. frosty zoom

      i heard the creepy eyepyramid on the u.s. buck in actually the invasive redcommiechina creepy eyepyramid.

  9. Aquifer

    Ah yes, another hit piece on the payroll tax – my, my that tax is OBVIOUSLY going to sink the ship that was doing soooo well during the “holiday” …

    So we have the headline and the first few tidbits (which is all that anyone reads …)

    “Confidence among American households unexpectedly fell to a one-year low in January, as higher payroll taxes create a risk that the biggest part of the economy will slow in early 2013. ……………

    ‘Everybody took a two percentage-point pay cut and that is not going to help.'”

    Well OK that’s what we need to sell, but for those who care to read on we’ll tell you what we really think ….

    “‘The U.S. economy is expected to continue to improve,’ Lentz said. ‘Consumers appear to be more upbeat about the business and labor conditions.'”

    Hmmm – a little nod, nod, wink, wink? “Hey, we know what the gig is, we have to undermine SS/Med in the public eye – but, shucks, we know that’s a crock ..”

    If even TPTB can’t really do this with a straight face – what a shame that “progressives” pick up and carry the ball for them …

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I understand the new name is Social Insecurity, as in, I hope to rely on Social Insecurity for my retiremet.

      1. Aquifer

        What gets me is how obvious it is that this a blatant effort to change how folks look at that payroll tax – from an “investment in their future” to a “drag on their lifestyle” – this payroll tax which has been the raison d’etre for the best defense SS has had for decades – “I AM entitled to it – i paid for it!”

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From the trillion dollar coin link:

    The current economic crisis cannot be solved with the thinking that created it. There is simply not enough money in the system to fund the services we desperately need, pay down the debt, and keep taxes affordable. The money supply has shrunk by $4 trillion since 2008, according to the Fed’s own website.

    If that’s the case, why not just add a few zeroes to our currency to expand our money supply?

    The problem is more likely that we have eough money but it is not distributed in the right places (too much owned by the 0.01% and too little by the 99.99%). Anything that will distract us from thinkig about this is ‘good.’

    Mabye it’s time to say the platinum coin is not a silver bullet.

    For the record, I also don’t think the silver coin is a platinum bullet.

      1. Aquifer

        Shucks, a wooden stake would work as well, wouldn’t it – and it would be cheaper – I’ve got a few from an old croquet game, I think …

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Unless you can get close enough and fend off its tentacles, it’s best with a silver bullet, or perhaps a wooden bullet.

          How you would do it with a platinum coin, I haven’t been able to visualize it yet.

          1. Aquifer

            Ok, how about this – you polish it up and then invite the squid out on a date – you flash the shiny coin in front of it’s eyes and while it’s distracted, sneak up with the wooden stake and …..

    1. Aquifer

      “The problem is more likely that we have eough money but it is not distributed in the right places (too much owned by the 0.01% and too little by the 99.99%).”

      I agree completely – and this used to be the idea we focused on before this coin idea gained traction –

      We need to redistribute that wealth for a whole lot of reasons, and just “printing” more takes the focus off that.

      But just as, if not more, importantly, I do believe we are better with a system that “forces” us to make choices –

      If we had enough to spend to utilize “all our resources” that’s just what we would do – Right now i’m thrilled if an entity can’t drill another oil well, or blast another mountain, or cut another forest because it runs out of money … i don’t WANT there to be enough money to use up everything out there ….

      We are in the trouble we are in, IMO, not because we are using the wrong economic “model” but because we are making the wrong choices inside whatever model we are using – and changing the model, ipso facto, won’t change that …

      The sooner we deal with that reality, the better, ISTM – anything that keeps us from dealing with that is, IMO, an unfortunate, and perhaps fatal, distraction …

  11. JGordon

    On MMT (and guns)– It’s always interesting to dip into the bizarro-world reality at NC where printing infinite gobs of money is good, but trying to protect yourself from the printers of that infinite money–whether by gold or guns or just plain old provisions and self-reliance–is bad.

    Think about it now: this is a sinking system that so inefficient and burdensome that people have to be corralled into it with the threat of government-sanctioned violence–and your solution is to use even more violence to slam shut the escape hatches. Do you even see how insulting and threatening your solution is?

    If citizens don’t want to participate in your bizarre, central-planning paper regime(and plenty don’t–and aren’t–the “black” market is growing vigorously every day, as I’ve come to discover, whether you want to admit it or not), at the very least you have a ethical and moral duty to let people opt out of it in peace. I mean, if you do in fact know what’s best and you have the better way of doing things, then people will use it–because it’s better-whether that means dumping their ability to protect themselves or using your paper “money” that’s backed by nothing but fiat. But we both know that the paper regime would collapse overnight if there were no laws enforcing its usage, eh? And we both know that very few will actually give up their firearms simply because they are told to do so.

    So, does it give you a good feeling, knowing that you’re cramming your Keynesian monetarist ideology down the throat of people who want nothing to do with it–because you “know” what’s best for them? Do you feel good knowing that you can help empower the same government that wantonly slaughters little children and their mothers with drones–on nothing more than a cursory intel estimate–and passed the unconstitutional NDAA–with the ability to snatch away people’s ability to defend themselves?

      1. jsmith

        Sorry, laughing too hard…

        That should be “compute”.

        See like you hate printing but like printing could give you like more guns so like printing would be awesome if you could print like infinity guns instead of infinity dollars, right?

        Totally AWESOME!

      2. jsmith

        “So, does it give you a good feeling, knowing that you’re cramming your Keynesian monetarist gun-nut ideology down the throat of into the brains of innocent people who want nothing to do with it–because you “know” what’s best for them?”

        Fixed it for ya!

        1. AbyNormal

          Marvelous JSmith, Now you got me laffin and i Don’t want to laff! …GiddyGordon could be my neighbor :-/

        2. JGordon

          Apparently I am not allowed to reply to your extremely offensive and logically deficient post in the manner I want to. So I’ll link to this instead.

          You see that tiny orange bar all the way at the right of the graph next to sexually transmitted diseases? That’s what your focusing all your efforts on trying to eliminate. That’s not very logical. That’s not even sane.

          1. jsmith

            Wow, so the fact that – from your graph – automobile deaths only slight edge out gun deaths as concerns preventable death is cause to celebrate and tell people who are concerned about gun violence that said concern is misplaced?

            Me think print bad but print good too.

            And why is it the “big bad government” – which has spearheaded successful campaigns to reduce the deaths in nearly every single category listed – should not be allowed to do so concerning one of those top 10 leading causes of preventable death?

            All government people bad even when do good but all gun owners good even when they blow little kids faces off from point blank range in their kindergarten classrooms, right?

          2. AbyNormal

            JGordon, from your link

            Leading preventable causes of death in the United States.[5] Note: this data is outdated and was in fact significantly revised in subsequent reports of the leading causes of deaths, especially for obesity-related diseases.[6]

            its a little dated and do your really want to rely on CDC stats
            Most diseases and injuries have multiple
            potential causes and several factors
            and conditions may contribute to
            a single death. Therefore, it is a challenge
            to estimate the contribution of
            each factor to mortality. In this article,
            we used published causes of death
            reported to the Centers for Disease Control
            and Prevention (CDC) for 2000,
            relative risks (RRs), and prevalence estimates
            from published literature and
            governmental reports to update actual
            causes of death in the United States.

          3. Lambert Strether

            So the people trying to cram gun culture back into its coffin are doing their bit on their bar. What you on on the part of the chart you consider important? Or is it that you consider lives lost to guns — unlike other lives — a necessary evil (“externality”) that comports well with your hobby? If so, do feel free to say.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am still trying to understand the descriptive nature of MMT.

      Is it like if I come up with a theory called Modern Political Theory, MPT, and I merely describe that buying Spanish politicians is how the system works in Spain and go from there about getting what the Spaish people want.

      That’s descriptive, isn’t it?

      1. j.s.nightingale

        MMT is a description of a theory (that is not practiced anywhere), while your description of the Spanish modus operandi is a description of a practice (for which the relevant theory can be drawn from the Italian School (Machiavelli and the Mafia)).

        And don’t forget that the difference between theory and practice in practice is greater than the difference between theory and practice in theory.

      1. JGordon

        Operationally the quantity of printed money is strictly determined by the private banking cartel and the government that is owned by that cartel (thanks to their ability to print infinite money–and of course they own the government you rubes–nothing else is even possible but for them to own the government under this monetary system. You wonder why everything is so corrupt and degenerative today? It’s by design).

        Under my system, you are free to use the central-bank’s fiat currency if you like. And if you want to do that, then more power to you.

        But one system is readily available to manipulation by the criminal elite. And always is, since they designed in the first place. That’s how voluntary wars and the police state, random drone assassinations, for example, are funded. The other isn’t. That’s the operational difference, and it is significant.

        No one determines the quantity of precious metals available on the planet earth. That’s the operational difference. I’m not arguing that we should be forced to use gold for currency by the way. I am simply saying that people should be free to use whichever currency they like. Personally, I use a time bank rather than precious metals. All I am saying is that at the very least you should allow me the same decision-making ability. Why is there so much anxiety about allowing people to make their own choices?

        1. reslez

          As long as the federal govt requires payment of taxes in USD (and not gold, or potatoes, or time bank hours) you need USD and USD have value. That is not always true of gold (during a famine), potatoes (in Idaho), or time bank hours.

        2. Lambert Strether

          Good, so we’re agreed that “printing money” and “mimting coins” aren’t the same.

          Got a working example of a polity where poeple chose their own money? If I understand your proposal correctly, we’re not talking parallel systems of money, but where a guy could wake up in the morning, make some money, and go out and try to get it accepted, right? I guess I have to say that I’d rather try to get money creation under democratic control.

    1. j.s.nightingale

      Leprosy co-opts expressed cells for its own purposes. Our Rulers (not the government) co-opt money for their own purposes. So it’s already working that way.

  12. Susan the other

    I’m definitely not happy about what is happening to Steve Keen. I hope his like-minded academic colleagues at UMKC will find a position for him asap. Let Australia deal with China like whores in a mining camp.

    1. reslez

      Keen is not an MMTer. He may agree in some points with the Kansas City school but to say he’s a fellow traveler is a big assumption.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Whether he’s a fellow traveller or not I still don’t like what’s happening to him. First, let’s kill all the university administrators. (Well, not kill them, but find them honest work.)

        1. JustMeAgaiN

          By “honest work,” I’m assuming you mean subsistence farming. Me thinks they’re probably not suited. But hey, I’m sure there’s opportunities out there GALORE for enterprising fat aging capitalist numb-nuts of little or no real world skills who now suddenly deem themselves worthy of an existence amongst us poor folk.

    2. j.s.nightingale

      He should get a position at Chicago. On Phaedrus’ principle that every great university, proceeeding in the Hegelian manner, should embrace its antithesis.

  13. charles sereno

    Michael Hirsh’s National Journal article on Jack Lew is indeed “a thorough, nuanced piece.” However, one sentence, in accord with the present, revised common wisdom, spoils it for me:
    “Geithner will likely go down in history as the Treasury secretary who helped avert a second Great Depression—it’s how he sees his own legacy, and he deserves a lot of credit for that…”
    From the founding of this country, there has never been a financial crisis that has come close to imperiling national stability. A handful have resulted in Depressions. The only way in which the 2008 Financial Crisis could have led to a Depression would have been if the government took no action. This was never an option. What action to take was the only question. As Hirsh intimates elsewhere, a golden opportunity for true reform was thrown away. Geithner, just in time for the party, was a chief culprit.

    1. AbyNormal

      WoW and Great read and Thanks
      i watched Frontline ‘The Education of Michelle Rhee’ and they did Not mention
      “Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s and Michelle Rhee’s relationship goes way back to Teach for America and the 1997 non-profit New Teacher Project, so there’s little mystery surrounding Henderson’s loyalty to Rhee.” (from your link)

      “Mahaley, like Daley’s other famous ex-employee Michelle Obama, hit the big time. As part of Arne Duncan’s exclusive $100,000 club, she was making $132,000 for “privatizing and charterizing as many Chicago schools as possible.” Almost 1,000 education officials were making over 100 grand working for CPS at the time. And while he was handing out hefty salaries to public-sector employees, Duncan went before the Illinois General Assembly to moan that the school system faced a $300-million deficit.”

      (then Mahaley headed to GA…folks, it was a gas)

      1. Inverness (@Inverness)

        And these education reformers are carefully using language to make it seem like they are “the civil rights leaders of their time.” Alec is in there, too. What a bananza.

    1. Aquifer

      Lambert – surely you know, he wants nuthin’ to do with FDR; maybe he knows that if he touched FDR’s bible, he’d be zapped immediately …

    2. Ms G

      Does that mean he’ll be saying “I HAVE A DRONE” twice — once for Lincoln and once for Martin Luther King? Or three times, if he listens to Lambert and gets a hold of FDR’s?

      1. Franklin A Quasar

        o/~ They’ll drone you when you’re walking on the street
        They’ll drone you when you’re trying to keep your seat
        They’ll drone you when your walking on the floor
        They’ll drone you when your walking to the door
        But I would not feel so all alone
        Everybody must get droned o/~

    3. Raul's last job

      If they really want to evoke American traditions, there has to be a Portuguese CIA asset in the bushes and a guy with a .44 derringer behind him, and they blow his brains out.

  14. George


    “Potenital assemblers” per the image,

    China, Russia, Japan.

    Wow, just wow. The chinques can’t even make safe dogfood, the Russians are infamous for bad quality. Fukishima?

  15. Hugh

    Re Mary Jo White, the name sounded familiar. Here are a couple of snippets from my old Bush scandals list:

    On October 24, 2006, the night before John Brownlee the US Attorney for the Western District of Virginia completed a plea bargain with Oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, he received a phone call from Michael Elston Chief of Staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty who urged him to go slow. Elston was acting on behalf of a Purdue Pharma executive and was contacted by Mary Jo White a former US Attorney representing Purdue Pharma. It is unlikely that Elston acted without McNulty’s knowledge.

    and here is part of a longer post on the Gary Aguirre affair:

    In 2004-2005 Gary Aguirre led a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation into insider trading involving hedge funds and investment banks. Basically, the investment banks made large profits from commissions from hedge funds and in return tipped off these funds ahead of ordinary investors on lucrative deals about to be announced to the markets. Specifically, Aguirre was looking into Pequot Capital Management run by Arthur Samberg which made $18 million in one such deal in 2001 when it received information that General Electric Capital Corporation intended to buy Heller Financial. In mid-June 2005, Aguirre sought to subpoena John Mack, chief investment executive at Morgan Stanley, an investor in Pequot, and friend of Samberg, together with emails exchanged between the two. In this he was initially backed by his boss Robert Hanson but Hanson soon backtracked warning that Mack had powerful political connections. He wasn’t kidding. Mack was a 2004 Bush Ranger, an elite group of political fundraisers who collected $200,000 or more in bundled donations. Enter at this point Mary Jo White a corporate fixer at the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton (see item 229) representing Morgan Stanley. She went over Aguirre’s head directly to the Enforcement Director at the SEC Linda Thomsen and the subpoenas that Aguirre had sought were blocked. Aguirre protested, announced his intention to resign, but then withdrew it. Meanwhile his supervisors had decided to fire him and orchestrated a special negative evaluation to justify their action. On September 1, 2005, Aguirre was fired at the end of his one year probationary period. On his last day, he wrote a letter to SEC Chairman Christopher Cox outlining the preferential treatment John Mack had been given.

    The Oxycontin case had been brought because Purdue Pharma had downplayed the dangers and addictive nature of the painkiller. Between 2000 and 2001, it was blamed for 146 deaths and may have been responsible for as many as 318 others. Despite Elston’s call, Brownlee went through with the plea deal which included the company pleading guilty to one felony and being fined $635 million. Three former executives also pled guilty to misdemeanors. This was actually a fairly light punishment seeing as the company had made billions off Oxycontin and none of the executives pled to felonies. 8 days after the settlement, Brownlee’s name appeared on a list kept by Elston of US Attorneys to be fired. In the event, Brownlee kept his job.

    1. Hugh

      Not quite sure what happened there. The second paragraph of the Oxyc*ntin post appears after the snippet from the Aguirre post and not in block quotes. Long story short, White has been working the corporate side for years. Does anyone think she is going to suddenly change her spots with the SEC post, especially after the Aguirre affair? Did Holder give up his corporate past when he became AG?

      1. Ms G

        Isn’t the whole point to install a corporate fixer at SEC Enforcement in order to maintain the status quo (market enforcement kabuki masking market kleptocracy)? Ms. White fits the bill perfectly.

  16. Hugh

    Personally, I did not like the Hirsh article on Lew. It is a little too cute to say that Lew is a “cipher” and then follow this by, what we all knew, he is going to continue the status quo. And any journalist who can write of anyone in the Obama Administration that he/she “has a reputation for unimpeachable integrity and total honesty” drank the koolaid long ago.

    Most of the article is a revisit of Rubin and Geithner and even here we get howlers like this about a crook like Rubin:

    “There was a style about Rubin that everyone loved—judicious, calm, untouched by the rancor.”

    I guess I am not everyone. Or there is this that is just plain wrong:

    Rubin “performed brilliantly as a crisis manager during the 1997-98 Asian contagion.”

    I thought it was generally considered that this crisis was exacerbated by the way it was handled (It was primarily a liquidity crisis and the policy was to cut liquidity). Geithner made his bones during it as the hitboy for the policy.

  17. JTFaraday

    re: Republicans gather at former plantation to discuss minority outreach, Raw Story

    “Makes perfect sense. They are figuring out how to get them better jobs in the Big House.”

    Yup. Because some racists aren’t in the closet.

  18. JTFaraday

    re: The Trillion Dollar Coin: Joke or Game-Changer?, TruthDig

    It’s clear Ellen Brown writes with the aim of informing the public, as opposed to writing to belittle the public.

    Refreshing, that.

    Also, love that dog!

  19. Ray Johnson

    the banks are government sponsered entities(have been since the creation of the Fed), privateers if you like, to fix that?

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