Links 3/15/13

Lambert here: I generally don’t do weekdays, so I’m amazed to find out that the challenge is cutting back on links, not finding them. If there are too many, apologies!

Middle East in turmoil 10 years after Iraq invasion that officials said would bring peace McClatchy

Death to Whistle-Blowers? Times

We Stand with Rand Harvard Crimson

Beppe Grillo’s 5 Star Movement in Action Italy Chronicles (RS). Still looking for good local sources in Italian. Failing that, expat sources. Blogs would be best!

Italy Rejects Austerity Counterpunch 

Britain’s fiscal failure Felix Salmon, Reuters (follow-up to “Britain’s austerity is indefensible,” yesterday’s must-read: “There is a money tree. It is called the Bank of England.”)

The Importance of Printing Your Own Currency Tim Duy’s Fed Watch

Gold and Silver Prices Are Set In Libor-Like Daily Conference Calls Between a Handful of Big Banks Washington’s Blog [whistles].

Treasury’s Lew sees no stock market bubble Reuters

Jippy Mo: Pass the popcorn

Emails show JPMorgan tried to flout Basel rules: Senate Reuters. “What I would do is not put these things in email.”

Excerpts from the Senate’s Whale report FT Alphaville. “The book continues to grow, more and more monstrous”

Senate: J.P. Morgan’s Dimon withheld loss data Market Watch. “You don’t lose 500 million without consequences.” Oh?

JPMorgan: MF Global-like Segregation of Client Funds Big Picture. Ulp.

Live-Blogging Senate Hearing Tomorrow, When J.P. Morgan Chase Will Be Torn a New One Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

An Unlikely Hero Takes a Stand Against Big Banks Neil Barofsky, Bloomberg

Leave the insiders alone! Microfundy

Obama asks House Dems to make concessions for big deficit deal The Hill

Obama’s secrecy fixation causing Sunshine Week implosion Glenn Greenwald, Guardian. “[OBAMA:] This is not Dick Cheney we’re talking about here.” Lowering the bar, or what?

Teachers, colleges getting early lesson in Obamacare Chicago Tribune. ‘[Adjuncts are] already at the low end of the pay scale … and now they’re being told they’re going to make even less money right when the law will compel them to buy insurance.” 

The Main Reason Medicare Part D Cost Less than Expected Is the Drug Companies Stopped Innovating CEPR

MOOCed Atrios. But innovation!

Detroit EM Kevyn Orr: With ‘good faith,’ this could be done in 3-6 months Detroit News

Tomgram: William deBuys, Exodus from Phoenix Tom Dispatch

Boeing outlines battery fixes for 787 Dreamliner USA Today. Sinnot: “We may never get to the single root cause” (and see).

‘Human waste all over the floor’: Carnival Dream cruise ship forced to fly thousands of passengers home as sewage system fails one month after Triumph disaster Daily Mail

Returning soldiers ‘more likely to commit violent crimes at home if they witnessed traumatic events in combat’ Independent (original)

The Steubenville Defense Will Center on Date Rape Not Existing The Atlantic. (‘Why wouldn’t you try and help me?’)

The Password Is ‘Braveheart’ — Here’s The Invitation To The Secret Floating Strip Club That Was Made Just For Wall Streeters Business Insider

We are all routers: a new empathetic internet and the orgasmic mediation that fuels it The Verge (William)

If You Wear Google’s New Glasses You Are An [Anal Orifice] Gawker

Companies Are Putting Sensors On Employees To Track Their Every Move Business Insider

The Effects of Cell Phone Conversations on the Attention and Memory of Bystanders PLOS ONE

‘Supergrass’ takes hacking scandal into new territory Independent. Mirror Group falls 20%.

2012 State of Well-Being Gallup. #1 Large Community? Washington, DC. Of course.

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

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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. taunger

    Re: Aduncts and ACA

    Look, I’ve got lots of love for adjuncts (an excellent adjunct acted as my undergraduate advisor whilst his contract existed), and no love for the ACA. But this, “a typical adjunct teaching two classes that meet four hours a week might make $8,000 for a semester, with no job benefits — and now they’re being told they’re going to make even less money right when the law will compel them to buy insurance” is bullshit. Unless there is significant other income, the adjunct will not buy insurance, the adjunct will get set up with a subsidized plan under an exchange.

    Which is an entirely different story. Instead of the plight of the individual, it is rather again the story of the rotting out of society. For what will happen is that individual will not fall into a publicly funded (at least in part), privately managed plan and continue to support the kleptocrats. Who wrote this press release, anyway? Adjunct u. profs (I thought they were all godless commies?) or rick scott?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There is a pattern here:

      Abused children become abusive parents

      Abused students/adjunct profs become abusive professors/adminstrators.

    2. Joe

      So you’re saying that an adjunct whose pay is cut to less than $16,000 a year doesn’t actually have it all that bad, because at least he’ll probably get free health care?

      By the way, many adjuncts *will* have to buy insurance, because professional adjuncts make a living by teaching two courses at one school, two more courses at second school, and three other courses at three other completely different schools. They’ll typically teach anywhere from 5-8 courses a semester at 3-5 different schools. This is a VERY COMMON practice, and a horrible situation that I’ve witnessed first-hand with several different colleagues of mine.

      The main problem with the article is its sympathy with the college administration and their implicit assumption that publicly funded higher education should be run like a business that ruthlessly exploits its workers. It doesn’t seem to care much about the adjunct workers themselves.

      It’s nice that the article shows concern for the students, but the best solution to that problem–get those adjuncts into full-time positions with benefits so they can devote their full attention to teaching, without having to juggle 5-8 separate courses at three or four different schools–is simply unthinkable when higher ed administration (and the journalism that reports on it) is thoroughly brainwashed by neoliberal ideology.

      1. different clue

        How many wannabe-academics (mostly students in college I suppose) are aware of the size of this problem? How many of them are thinking about bailing out of the Academe Hamsterwheel track and going to a community college to learn just enough to make a low-stable full-time income with benefits in a health-care facility instead?

        Are any current Adjunct Faculty in a position to think about the same thing? Can they afford to gnaw their own foot off in order to escape the Academe Leghold Trap?

        1. subgenius

          To make a low, stable, full time income???

          Dude, my wife and I are both educated to master’s level…and we can’t find work! Well, occasionally we might make $100-150 a day, but it’s in no way regular.

          Reasons? I suspect because most hiring for decent jobs goes through HR assholes, who know less than nothing about the subjects in which they are hiring.

          Not only can we not get past the gatekeepers, but we also constantly see repeat ads for jobs we have applied for and never received a response. And these are jobs we could DO, if only somebody would hire us…

          1. different clue

            That is a problem I have no good answer for . . . how to make hostile or indifferent gatekeepers let you in the gate.
            The overall problem of Adjunct Faculty Abuse may only be solved politically by a big and powerful enough movement to solve that and many other things besides.

            In the meantime, I wonder what per cent of Adjunct Faculty and what used to be called “Gypsy Scholars” could escape the Wheel of Futility if they were prepared to inwardly renounce their entire Academic career . . . the Masters Degree, the Teaching, the Everything . . . as having been a waste from the very beginning . . . and go to a Community College for a Certificate in some specific sellably credentialed trade-skill and then get work in that skill. Is your situation precarious enough and your debt-load heavy enough that neither one of you could go to a regional community college for just long enough to become a Pharmacy Technician or a Respiratory Therapist or some such thing? The Community Colleges try fairly hard to be in constant touch with bussinesses and/or industries in their area which are hiring in fields to which the Community Colleges tailor their programs. In my case, several years of post-college dishwashing despair had encouraged me to give up on puerile and silly dreams of the “pursuit of knowledge”. I was ready to “cultivate survival” instead, and a single year’s “Associate’s Degree” program in Pharmacy Technology at Washtenaw Community College allowed me to do that.

            If both of you together would not objectively speaking be able to support one of you going through a Community College to get into a job, then reality itself is uglier than it was when I was younger. In that case, I have no useful advice. But IF! . . . you-all could strangle down your expenses enough to afford to put ONE of you through Community College and into a Technical or Certificated job . . . and then the ONE of you who GOT that job could help put the OTHER one of you through a Community College and into a job, and the only thing holding you back from doing that is emotional loyalty to your Masters Degrees and not letting all that education “go to waste” ; well that right there is your foot in the leghold trap. That right there is the “your own foot” that you will have to gnaw off in order to escape the trap.

          2. different clue

            ( By the way, here’s an example of what I mean by “strangle down your costs” if you can.

            If you both did this in every area of hour-to-hour life, could you torture enough money out of your budget to send one of you to Community College for the shortest-feasible job-training Certificate Program and into a job? If you could, is there any impersonal objective reason not to?

  2. Dan

    Re: Live-Blogging Senate Hearing Tomorrow, When J.P. Morgan Chase Will Be Torn a New One Matt Taibbi,

    Odds are Matt will be disappointed.

    1. petridish

      Really. No matter how many new ones are ripped, Jamie Dimon will retain his old one.

      I guarantee it.

    2. Bill

      “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”

      Even Congress’ sticks and stones are styrofoam, and words never hurt Narcissistic Sociopaths.

      1. harry

        Its hard to see how the words will really damage his net worth. I continue to hold out for jail time. After all, if it can happen to Boethius it can happen to anyone.

  3. Ignim Brites

    Somehow I doubt Tim Duy would assent to the proposition that California and Illinois should issue their own currencies. But I don’t really have a reason for it.

      1. Ignim Brites

        Lot of bold atatements being made about sovereignity and curencies. They are invitations to bold actions.

        1. Bev

          Why States Going into the Banking Business (money creation) Would be a Distraction, not a Solution to their Fiscal Problem

          by Jamie Walton, AMI researcher


          Money doesn’t have to be created like this; coins aren’t, they’re just created as money, with no debt attached; when they’re issued, it’s revenue for the U.S. government, saving taxpayers $$$. All money can be created this way. And; if we don’t start with any debt, then we don’t start with any interest either.

          With that in mind, let’s look again at the States’ fiscal crisis.

          State governments receive money from the community for the provision of public services and the support of volunteer services. These are generally things that are needed in the community which aren’t commercial in nature, they’re not the types of things that it’s either possible or desirable to make a profit on (e.g. rape crisis centers, battered women’s refuges, assisted housing for people with physical/mental impairments, respite care for caregivers, etc.).

          Non-commercial services needed in the community couldn’t exist without being paid for straight out, because providers can’t borrow and then generate income to repay loans, that’s not how they work (if they could do that, they’d be doing it already) – they need money that doesn’t have to be paid back.

          Diverting public resources away from desperately needed services toward a commercial venture would only make things worse. The effect on the ground could lead to the commercialization of services intended for the relief of poverty, disability, pain, suffering and misery; by forcing service providers to also be profit makers (e.g. commercialized prisons); or reverting to relying on the whims of charity. If neither of these ‘choices’ worked-out (which history shows, they generally don’t), the community services essential for any viably functioning civil society might disappear altogether, and then “there goes the neighborhood” – social disintegration is a slippery slope, for everyone.

          This is a very serious situation – it’s no time to be playing games.


          We citizens have only so much energy and time to devote to changing our world for the better. Diverting good people into nonsense condemns us to continue suffering unnecessarily. This time of crisis must be used for real reform, not diversions.

          So what is the solution?

          It’s the monetary system which must be changed to end the fiscal crisis, and State governments cannot do this – it’s a matter for the Federal Government.

          Under present constitutional and legal conventions, the only institutions that can create money without debt are national treasuries and/or central banks. State governments within a federal nation cannot do this – the problem can only be solved at the national level.


          We have a big problem in our economy and society today: too much debt. Banking cannot solve this problem because banking produces debt, which is the problem. It’s incredible that even now the delusion of borrowing ourselves out of debt is still seen as a solution, by anyone, let alone so-called reformers. We’re in a deep hole because we listened to cheerleaders yelling “keep on digging” without thinking. We cannot afford to keep doing this any more.


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

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


          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



          1. Bev

            @ mylessthan…

            What does BBB stand for, I am missing the reference in
            BBB = MMT and vice versa?


  4. Jim Haygood

    The MSM is happy to trumpet the Dow’s recent string of record highs. But curiously, the term ‘new record high’ is never used in describing the Consumer Price Index. That’s what happened this morning, though, as the BLS announced the February figures. The CPI-U index reached 232.166, blowing past its previous high set last September.

    TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities) prices are indexed to the CPI. February’s 0.819% rise in the CPI-U will increase the principal value of outstanding TIPS bonds by the same percentage during April.

    Currently, the difference in yields on 10-year conventional and TIPS notes indicates that inflation is expected to be about 2.5% over the next ten years. But at just above 2 percent, the yield on the 10-year T-note is less than inflation. That’s abnormal: on average, the 10-yr T-note yields two percentage points above the inflation rate.

    That’s why poor Ben Bernanke has painted hisself into a corner from which there is no exit, other than his departure next January. A ‘normalization’ of interest rates would mean a Treasury yield of 4 percent, not 2 percent. Can you imagine the impact on house prices if mortgage rates (which key off the 10-year T-note yield) rose from 3 to 5 percent?

    There’s another little side effect of normalization: since bond prices fall when rates rise, it will haircut the value of the Fed’s $3 billion portfolio, leaving the Federal Reserve with a negative net worth.

    Run, Benny, run!

      1. Jim Haygood

        Supposedly chained CPI would be nearly 0.3% lower (on an annual basis) than the conventional CPI we have now.

        The UK government considered changing its inflation-linked bonds to a chained RPI (Retail Price Index), but backed off. Since the UK pioneered ‘linkers’ in 1981, long before the pokey U.S. adopted them in 1997, the UK precedent probably will be followed in Washington too — that is, retaining the current, conventional CPI.

        Mike Ashton, the ‘inflation guy,’ points out that ‘Every major group [all eight of eight CPI sub-groups] accelerated on a year-on-year basis. That’s amazing. It’s not unprecedented, I am sure, but I don’t remember seeing it happen before. By year-end, we still think we will see core [inflation] of 2.6%-3.0%.’

        If Ashton is right, rising core inflation only intensifies Bernanke’s exquisite bind, since 2% is his acceptable upper limit, but he’s also promised zero interest rates into 2014. Your move, Ben.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I got this from Bloomberg:

          Also Friday, the government reported that inflation-adjusted hourly earnings for all employees fell 0.6% in February, as the CPI’s 0.7% gain outpaced an increase of 0.2% for average earnings. Real average hourly earnings increased 0.1% over the 12 months ended in February.

          Thus, they conclude, long term inflation rate shows stability – because workers made 0.6% less in February.

          Don’t worry.

          Everything is good.

        2. Hugh

          Just to add a couple of points, the COLA for Social Security is figured off the third quarter CPI-W and tends to be lower than the CPI-U. The chained CPI-U is considerably lower than either the CPI-U or the CPI-W. The BLS has a retrospective, experimental CPI-E for older Americans which is higher than the other CPIs. And for everyone, a lower CPI like the chained CPI-U is like negative compound interest. The losses from it are cumulative over time and build on each other.

          Also as MLTPB notes here and as I do in my monthly job analyses, real inflation-adjusted wages for most workers remain flat and have been flat for 35 years.

  5. Brian S.

    Hey Lambert,

    You are awesome!! :) P.S. there’s no such thing as too many links…speaking of which, you wouldn’t mind becoming my new google reader would you??? hahaha.

    1. Jim S

      Second that (except I don’t use Google Reader)–a surfeit of links is the best complement to the morning coffee.

  6. Klassy!

    Re:Exodus from Phoenix.
    I’ll admit, Phoenix has held on longer than I thought it would. Someday the Colorado will run dry.
    And that is one fragile city predicated as it is on the availability of air conditioning.

    1. albrt

      I live in Phoenix. Running out of water for the existing cities is not our biggest problem. Simply requiring people to turn off their lawn sprinklers, as folks have been doing in California for decades, would free up an insanely enormous amount of water.

      The problem here is that sprawl growth is our main economic driver, and the sprawl can’t continue to grow exponentially, whether the limiting factor is water or something else.

      The haboobs make for great photo ops, but they are not that big a deal. We’ve always had dust storms, especially during the monsoon season, but the media didn’t start calling them haboobs until a few years ago.

      1. Klassy!

        Well, it’s all related, isn’t it? But it must be infuriating to see the sprinklers running. Lawn sprinklers are infuriating anywhere– but Phoenix?

  7. Diego Schiavon

    “Still looking for good local sources in Italian.”

    So have I for most of my 25 years of literacy. Now I have sort of given up.

    In hindsight, that is why I get my news from an English-language blog and not from the Italian RAI.

    Or, of course, the Italian Mediaset.

  8. Central Reich Institute of Kos-ology

    I learned only years later, from one who had survived the ordeal, what it was like there. The people being taken away by JP Morgan/Goldman officers were herded into an unheated exhibition hall, a great barn-like building that was freezing in the middle of winter.

    It was a bleak place, where, under faint lamplight, the utmost confusion reigned. Many of those who had just arrived had to have their baggage searched, and were obliged to hand over their money, watches and other valuables to a Hauptscarfuhrer named Mar-Kos, who was feared for his brutality.

    A great mound of iPhones lay on a table, along with Burberry trench coats, expensive running shoes, and smoked mozzarella from Dean & DeLuca. Personal details were taken down, questionnaires were handed out, and identity papers were stamped EVACUATED or GHETTOIZED.

    The Chase/Goldman officers were there, along with their assistants from Murder, Inc. On the left side, there were assistants from the Nation, Mother Jones, Alternet, Media Matters, and MoveOn. On the right side, there were assistants from the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute.

    The assistants walked busily to and fro, and there was much shouting and cursing and blows as well. Those who were to leave had to stay in the places allotted to them. Most of them were silent, some wept quietly, but outbursts of despair, loud shouting and fits of frenzied rage were not uncommon.

    They stayed in this barn-like building in the freezing cold for several days, until finally, early one morning, they were taken to a nearby railway station where it took nearly five hours to load them onto the trains…

    At first there was panic, as people resisted boarding the trains. But Kos assistants on the left side of the train and Koch assistants on the right side, assured everyone they would be treated well, that they being taken to nice place, a warm climate, with plenty of food and healthcare for those who needed it……

    This seemed to calm the rabble down, and they boarded the trains peacefully…..

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Agree with Vallisa.

      Let’s hope the abused victims do not one day become abusive.

  9. barrisj

    Re: Barack “I have a Drone” Obama’s plea that he’s not Dick Cheney…a distinction without a difference, surely! And speaking of drones, I see that the Boeing Corporation – you know, the exploding-batteries Dreamliner manufacturer, and a charter member of the military-industrial complex – has been twisting arms in Washington state over a bill that attempts to regulate drone usage by public agencies. Boeing sez – surprise, surprise! – that the bill would cause Boeing to “lose business” and “cost jawbs”…dear God, is there no stopping these people?

    Drone bill put on hold after Boeing objections

    A proposal to regulate the use of drone aircraft by public agencies stalled in the state Legislature this week after Boeing privately complained that the bill could hurt business.

  10. anon y'mouse

    to the link that Universities are already getting Obamacare, i can say that for the past two semesters i have been forced by my Uni to pay over 500 smackers for insurance unless i can prove that i am covered by comparable insurance elsewhere (thus exempting young ‘uns still covered under family plans). since i’m already borrowing to pay for anything over tuition (my bill one term was literally $49 greater than the government grants given to fund my education, and i still had not bought books, supplies or transit tickets yet) this forced insurance is adding to my student loan balance.

    i mentioned it on a few blogs and the consensus seemed to be that i was ‘getting off cheap.’ i haven’t tried to actually USE the insurance yet, as i’m afraid that what they cover will only in truth amount to only a small percentage of the inflated fees doctors tend to charge now (hundreds of dollars to sit and review info that you’ve given them and ask ‘pertinent’ questions about your activities, and then review you to either testing facilities or specialists for even more milk-the-cow merrygorounds).

    it’s hard to know what the university was thinking when they saddled the students with this. perhaps it was a pre-emptive move against raising tuition (they had health services available for free/low fees prior that they didn’t seem to be charging for, and now we’re with a private company) or if it was to reduce the likelihood of having to foot the bill for some poor uninsured student who passes out in class and requires care, or if they’re simply trying to get us all acclimated to the ‘adult life’ of being forced to pay for things that you don’t want, perhaps don’t need and really cannot afford.

    1. Ms G

      “… it’s hard to know what the university was thinking when they saddled the students with this.”

      Here’s my guess. The Uni took a page from the NYU Student Loan Kickback Model (pick preferred lender, get cut of every loan to your students), i.e., Uni made deal with Ins.Co. to give Ins.Co. its student body as a guaranteed consumer pool (via forced policy purchase rule) in exchange for $XX per policy sold to students.

    1. Ms G

      Thank you for linking to this story. It is *disgraceful* beyond belief.

      What probably happened was that the banks complained to the states that the check cashers were eating into what should be *their* (the banks’) toll fees, and voila.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Of course, people ought to be able to do all boring banking at the United States Post Office. That would include DISEmployment cards.

        Notice how the author of the article slips in the assumption that we have to use the bank’s systems. Give them their cut (the rent). Just rein in the excesses.

        1. Ms G

          Yes, I noticed the not very subtle argument that banks are entitled to their tolls, just “reasonable” ones. A crock.

          And I agree 100-Eleventy Percent about a USPS Bank that would (1) service all government cash programs WITHOUT fees and (2) offer cash savings accounts at 4% guaranteed interest, no penalties for anything and no fees.

          1. Bill Smith

            But you still need to get rid of the TBTFs. It’s not enough to say we got a building here with an atom bomb in it, but we have a safe one next door without an atom bomb.

  11. Peter Pinguid Society

    Let’s see, we need someone to play good cop….how about The Nation, Mother Jones, Ed Schultz, Rachel Madow, Chris Hayes, Alternet, Media Matters, MoveOn, and the entire progressive blogosphere.

    And who can play bad cop? Well, that would be the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, the American Enterprise Institute and the Koch-funded Cato Institute,

    Let’s give the Good Cops a name….we’ll call them The Progressive Movement.

    And let’s give the Progressive Movement a goal….well, other than preserving the corporate status quo, of course. How about attacking Republicans? That can be goal number One. As for goal number two, well, there IS no goal number two. The rest is theatre.

    Let’s use the good cop / bad cop routine to keep the rabble in line. Anyone who doesn’t fall for the Republican bad cop trick will surely fall for the Democrat good cop trick.

    As for the handful of people who see through the Kabuki Theatre, well, they’ll be marginalized and easily ignored.

    Yes, under Pelosi the Democrats could have cut off funding for Bush’s unpopular wars. But that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to use the Progressive Movement to co-opt the Anti-War movement and provide George Bush with all the funding he needed to continue the wars.

    What about Occupy Wall Street? The Progressive Movement created the 99% Spring in order to co-opt their theme and message, before it could threaten the Democrat Party.

    Did anyone identified with the Progressive Movement even question or criticize the 99% Spring PR campaign?

    Almost no one. The 99% Spring was an easy way for the 0.01 percent to get OWS under control and in this way, to control the rabble.

    Why does the Republican Party keep moving further and further to the right?

    To frighten the progressive masses, of course! So the Democrat Party can move far right as well. All the Ds have to do is pretend to be SLIGHTLY less extreme than the Rs, and this guarantees all the pwogs will vote Democrat.

    Keeping the rabble in line: so simple even a caveman could do it.

    We are the Peter Pinguid Society, we are the 0.01 percent.

    1. Bill Smith

      I hear ya Pete. May I call you Pete? Last time I tried voting I missed the ballot box all together. Then we got to vote for O Care twice and the sucker still isn’t even defined yet?!

    2. tongorad

      Excellent Counterpunch article.
      Here’s the money shot:
      “There is no grassroots organized progressive movement with power in the United States, and none is being built.”

      Kinda says it all, don’t it?

  12. JTFaraday

    re: Teachers, colleges getting early lesson in Obamacare, Chicago Tribune.

    If I understand it correctly, adjunct instructors were traditionally part time, moonlighting instructors who filled out the curricula with the kind of real world, practical experience that a lot of perpetual students in the professoriate proper simply didn’t have.

    Students tended to like these instructors (this goes without saying) and it gave universities the ability to more readily adapt core curricula to changing times by providing some flexibility in hiring.

    This is the original meaning of the term “adjunct.” It was a curricular supplement. We also see here the old primacy of a liberal education and the research sciences, that made up the core curriculum and the core purpose of the university, as opposed to “all things job training.”

    Because they brought something distinctive and weren’t economically dependent on the university for a salary and a full complement of social safety net benefits, but filled particular curricular lacunae not filled by core faculty, these professionals who happened to teach part time got a little more respect and could better negotiate their per course rate. There are still some adjuncts like that today, but you wouldn’t primarily know them as “adjuncts.”

    Once administrations turned that part-time professional freelance-style model into a new cut rate labor norm, it proliferated in large part in order for the schools to avoid paying for health–and other safety net– benefits for burgeoning teaching staffs in the face of higher ed expansion.

    (Forget tenure. Even today there are full time teaching and teaching-administrative staff with benefits who don’t have tenure. Like in English Departments at large state universities or in massive community college systems. This is another category in addition to the adjuncts and the grad student teachers).

    Today, a big bone of contention between the schools and the adjunct unions, where they can establish them, is how many courses qualifies one for health benefits. Needless to say, the departments aren’t supposed to schedule teaching assignments so as to qualify adjuncts for benefits, leading to the traveling adjunct phenomenon where people piece together a living teaching at multiple sometimes far-flung campuses.

    This does nothing for collegiality within the universities’ (non-functioning) supremacist hierarchy. This effectively ensures that people who need to work together on common educational goals will never do so.

    Apart from inertia upon leaving grad school, strictly economically speaking, I’ve never really understood why anyone educated enough to be an adjunct would continually fall on their sword on a regular basis and remain an adjunct unless they had another source of income.

    Such adjuncts are attempting to turn the essentially freelance adjunct “moonlighting” job into something it was never intended to be. As with everything else, so long as people are in fact working for $3k or less per course, the business managers will hire them, avoid paying benefits to too many full timers, and avoid the trap of too many tenured anti-social mis-hires who become a permanent drain on department morale and university budgets.

    I guess in this economy adjuncting makes a little more economic sense–I have heard that “any job is better than no job”– although I’m sure it’s still not working out. That’s why ONE of the things we all needed, individuals and large labor intensive organizations, both, was real health care financing reform that would remove the burden off our collective books. Individuals and organizations, both, would have had more freedom to figure things out in a way that make some kind of sense for everyone.

    It’s hard to see how you can have everyone you need to teach in a diverse, rambling and specialized (and perhaps over-specialized) mass education system hired into a plum full time job and still have education be affordable to the students. I have also found that a lot of people who land such plum jobs because they do quality intellectual work and even teach a good course, do not necessarily want to pull their weight within a large institutional setting.

    Such people should be enabled to find ways of making a living following their creative lights without sloughing off their responsibilities and generally making the institution uninhabitable for everyone else.

    I find it odd that the MMT-ers never seemed to have anything to say on this healthcare issue when it was still politically relevant nationally. That is, before Obamacare misdirected the cash flow into the FIRE sector, and sent the bill back to individuals and employers.

    There’s nothing wrong with working freelance or starting your own own small business. Frequently people quite justifiably think the things they can do this way are a better use of their natural talents and developed abilities than working in a minimum wage job for Walmart or some bureaucratic Walmart equivalent.

    But with our common assumption that all social safety net benefits are to be provided through employers, this is not always so easy to pull off. Health insurance is only the most obvious such component of the social welfare provisioning that is tracked through employers.

    Some people have a deep seated need to follow their own lights. We should be maximizing “individual freedom,” not making things impossible on individualists or entrepreneurs out of some misfiring hatred of the idea of “individual freedom” on the mistaken notion that is nothing but neoliberal propaganda.

    I’d be the first to say that not everyone is equipped to pull that off. I myself personally prefer some structure and some un-structure. Large employers hate the very sound of that!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Not taking the bait. Sorry! That said, I agree with you on the universities, which have become a giant rental extraction machine run for the benefit of the administrators, in which teaching and research functions serve only for branding.

      1. JTFaraday

        No, no, no, no, no.

        Most university administrators are just administrators. There is also a fair amount of “administrative bloat” that is a byproduct of the way the teaching corps has been structured. If you only have a relative handful of full time teachers, then functions were traditionally handled by faculty get farmed out to staff hires, like academic advising. From there you get all kinds of “student services” expansion, which may or not have all that much to do with the core educational mission of the university. But students still expect (much of) this.

        The real problem is at the very top of the administrative hierarchy, and not necessarily in the fact that some top administrators are paid salaries comparative to what top management makes in the private sector.

        The problem is in the way that the top of the administrative hierarchy interfaces with the boards, which are full of corporate CEOs with a further concentration from the financial sector and real estate development.

        NYU would, in fact, make a perfect case study in relationship between the composition of the Board, for each of the various schools and in the University over all, and in the development of the institution’s strategic plan.

        Serious bonus points in the fact that what was once the “Private University in the Public Service,” followed by the “Enterprise University,” followed by the “Global Network University” has some notably egregious features.

        Needless to say, none of this involves going back and rethinking core operations that leave a lot of people working at universities largely unhappy unless it furthers the business interests of those who tend to serve on Boards. The entire school starts to exist to serve them.

        If high profile schools keep spilling their garbage into the streets, I don’t doubt we’ll all get better at assessing the problem.

        1. JTFaraday

          Let me add that most higher ed faculty today at elite schools and flagship universities expect to *not* assume advising and administrative repsonsibilities. (Those at community colleges and small schools are better about this).

          From time to time they make a ruckus about the tradition of “shared governance” but the “governance” of the unviserity was farmed out to managerial specialists a long time ago.

          This is the way they want it. Not only do most of them belittle “the admisnitstration,” but they regularly piss on those of their faculty fellows who take “shared governance” seriously and assume administrative repsonsibilities.

          That is the culture. That’s why I call them the permanent students, and that is a fair assessment of what whole heck of a lot of them are, and have been permitted to remain.

          That’s not to say that they don’t have frequently interesting things to say, usually on other topics of discussion, (sadly).

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          “The real problem is at the very top of the administrative hierarchy.”

          I vehemently agree. Gawd knows I don’t want to give the heave-ho to the people who make the cafeterias work, etc.

          But: Up here in the great state of Maine, our last President stayed for a couple of years — long enough to totally piss off our largest donor, the revered Stephen King — and then blew town for UConn, where he was busted for corruption a year or so later. One can only hope that the consulting contracts he had acquired during his tenure here allowed him to survive, even thrive, in the style to which he had become accustomed.

          Up here, we’ve got a thing called “The System.” It’s an administrative entity — rather like the chitinous succubus in Alien was an entity — that consumes about one-third of the higher education budget. And nobody can say what it actually does.

          Since Maine is a poor state, I can only assume things are much worse in states where there are richer pickings.

          “Hey, people, I’ve got an idea! Let’s screw the adjuncts!”

    2. jrs

      I think you are saying we need socialized medicine, which is also what I think most authors on this site believe, so I really don’t see what the disagreement is, arguments over the meaning of neo-liberal?

  13. LeonovaBalletRusse
    //By the way, before you write me about it, I do not agree with Michael Hudson on Social Security, and his aversion to taking out money as ‘pre-savings.’ I think the fact that it is pre-paid insurance, rather than a pure social spending program, without means testing, is one of its enduring strengths. Its greatest single problem is that the deduction cap has not kept pace with inflation. And I think Obama is willfully undermining it with these payroll tax cuts, but that is a matter for another day.//
    We now comprehend from the predictable “unintended consequences” of U.S. Postal Service “pre-savings” plan DICTATED to them, which the Service was FORCED to employ in order to covertly profit the .01% Rentier Reich at the expense of Postal Service and its employees, that the “Social Security Payroll Deduction Hike” is indeed a “pre-savings” which the .01%DNA Rentier Reich and its .99% Agency now COVETS as Extraction Capitalist Tribute to Babylon’s Banksters and their minions in BIS “Governance” that has usurped U.S. Government of/by/for the People. “If it walks like a duck, . . .” Is not this one more turnip to bleed to feed “The Rake’s Progress” du jour?

    Will MICHAEL HUDSON please respond fully to Jesse’s claim, SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT? Will he tell us how this Extraction Scam-in-the-pot compares with the Global Rentier Reich Extraction Scam that broke the U.S. Postal Service? Thank you.

  14. Richard Cottrell

    Hi Lambert I write frequently on Italian affairs (I am resident in Italy) at I am a former European MP, professional journalist for a lifetime, published author. If you check in endtheline shortly you’ll find a piece that I’m posting on the new pope.
    Its not obvious btw from the site where to suggest postable items

    Richard Cottrell

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Ah, thank you. I/we want locally sourced reports of MS5 activity from the ground ideally in Italian. Why is this so hard? It’s so weird that this is hard, it really sounds like there’s something we need to understand here. Is there no Italian blogosphere? Independent press? Twitter feed?

  15. Peter Pinguid Society

    The Pinguid Society during the 19th Century

    Opening up of the Congo

    When the Association Internationale pour l’Exploration et la Civilisation en Afrique was established in 1876, the inaugural meeting was attended by exalted personages representing the aristocracy, the churches, the sciences, industry, and finance.

    The aim, said King Leopold of Belgium, was to open up the last part of our earth to have remained untouched by the blessings of civilization.

    As early as 1885, Leopold, now styled Souverain d l’Etat Independent du Congo, was the sole ruler of a territory on the second longest river on earth, a million square miles in area, and thus a hundred times the size of the mother country, and he was accountable to no one.

    Ruthlessly he set about exploiting its inexhaustible wealth through trading companies and soon legendary profits were built on a system of slave labor which was sanctioned by all the shareholders and all the Europeans contracted to work in the new colony.

    In some parts of the Congo, the indigenous people were all but eradicated by forced labor, and those who were taken there from other parts of Africa or from overseas died in droves of dysentery, malaria, smallpox, beriberi, jaundice, starvation and physical exhaustion.

    Every year from 1890 to 1900, an estimated five hundred thousand of these nameless victims, nowhere mentioned in the annual reports, lost their lives.

    During the same period, the value of shares in the Compagnie du Chemin du Fer du Congo rose from 320 Belgian francs to 2,850.

    We are the Peter Pinguid Society, we are the 0.01 percent

    1. Peter Pinguid Society

      Just adding….

      “The Casement Report was a document of 1904 written by the British diplomat Roger Casement (1864–1916), detailing abuses in the Congo Free State which was under the private ownership of King Leopold II of Belgium.

      [It] comprises forty pages of the Parliamentary Papers, to which is appended another twenty pages of individual statements gathered by Casement as Consul, including several detailing grim tales of killings, mutilations, kidnappings and cruel beatings of the native population by soldiers of the Congo Administration of King Leopold.

      Copies of the Report were sent by the British government to the Belgian government as well as to nations who were signatories to the Berlin Agreement in 1885, under which much of Africa had been partitioned. The British Parliament demanded a meeting of the fourteen signatory powers to review the 1885 Berlin Agreement. The Belgian Parliament, pushed by socialist leader Emile Vandervelde and other critics of the King’s Congolese policy, forced a reluctant Leopold to set up an independent commission of enquiry. Its findings confirmed Casement’s report in every detail.

      This led to the arrest and punishment of officials who had been responsible for murders during a rubber-collection expedition in 1903 (including one Belgian national who was given a five-year sentence for causing the shooting of at least 122 Congolese natives).”

    2. Peter Pinguid Society

      Finally (to make a long story short) as his reward for becoming sensitized to the the oppression, exploitation, enslavement and destruction (across the borders of social class and race), of those who were furthest from the centres of power, Casement was found guilty of high treason and after his trial at the Old Bailey, the presiding Judge (Lord Reading) pronounced the following sentence:

      “you will be taken hence, to a lawful prison and thence to the place of execution and will be hanged there by the neck until you be dead”.

      1. Ms G

        Very interesting story. Before I got to the part about Casement being condemned to a beheading I thought the story would end with the Queen knighting Casement for doing a good job eliminating Belgium from the Congo so that Britain could move in and take over the looting!

        1. Peter Pinguid Society

          Hanged, not beheaded, Ms G.

          “In the landscape of extinction, precision is next to godliness.”


  16. Zachary Smith

    *** The Steubenville Defense Will Center on Date Rape Not Existing ***

    Am I the first to comment on this link? It’s a tragedy at many levels, but the one thing I’d like to see happen is that the football coach of that little town gets fired.

    *** Boeing outlines battery fixes for 787 Dreamliner ***

    Boeing had many years to do the batteries right, and the ways that company managed to screw them up still amazes me.

    Many great links today, but the two about Phoenix and colleges/Obamacare were standouts.

    1. lambert strether

      And Boeing’s chief engineer still doesn’t know the cause of the problem. We’ve got a plane whose selling point is long distance travel and we don’t know why it catches on fire?

      * * *

      Don’t be half safe. Take the Titanic!

      * * *

      Really, the engineering is just like IT at the big banks: Nobody understands a sub-system? Nobody can maintain it? Build a box around it.

      1. Ms G

        It’s all about the benjamins. Just push out “beta” versions and “work out the kinks” based on the misadventures of the end-users.

    2. lambert strether

      Re Steubenville: The context is the hollowing out of American industry, as well. Football is all that town has, now. Not a a situation where people necessarily rise to the occasion. Which the Peter Pinguid Society enjoys, when they’re in “pulling wings off the flies” mode.


    Thanks for the password. My Invite is in the mail (save the US Postal Service!…or do you think they’ll send the Venue by email? Then Save The Internet!)

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