Links 4/3/13

Hundreds of Stranded Sea Lion Pups Along California Coast Perplex Researchers, Depress World Gawker

Self-Driving Cars by 2025 OilPrice. This makes me sad. I drive only a few weeks a year, but peculiarly I am a world class parallel parker. This won’t be an impressive skill once self-driving cars are common.

Break Out a Hammer: You’ll Never Believe the Data ‘Wiped’ Smartphones Store Wired. This sounds like an opportunity for some techie: a layperson-friendly app that overwrites rather than wipes data.

Study: 28% Increase In Thyroid Problems In Babies Born After Fukushima in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington George Washington

US ‘will defend self and S Korea’ BBC. Hhm, the US is joining this war of words. Or not: North Korea: US acts to calm fears over ‘alarming’ atomic plan Guardian

Why China’s economy might topple Martin Wolf, Financial Times. This is as close as Wolf gets to making calls.

Still more Cyprus:

Cyprus finance minister resigns Telegraph

Did Putin Sink Cyprus? New York Times

In defence of Cyprus Cyprus Mail

A failure of compassion Frances Coppola

Underwater: The Netherlands Falls Prey to Economic Crisis Der Spiegel (Ruben)

The Clown Says, “Italy Should Not Be In A Rush To Have A Government” Econospeak

Number of Britons on ‘zero hours’ contracts hits record high Telegraph

HBOS chiefs to be slated for failure Financial Times (Richard Smith). Wow, a real investigation. Striking contrast with what happened in the Lehman and AIG failures (the Valukas report was helpful but did not probe some key issues, like managerial failings).

EU data watchdogs take aim at Google Financial Times

Europe’s leaders paralysed as EMU jobless rate hits record high Telegraph

Eurozone data stinks up again MacroBusiness

Iran And The Danger of One’s “Own Reality” Moon of Alabama

Two Big Components of the Affordable Care Act Delayed for a Year Firedoglake (Carol B)

Lobbying Power: Another Reason Insurance Exchanges Fail to Control Cost Jon Walker, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Investments in Education May Be Misdirected New York Times

As It Spied on Occupy Protests, Dept of Homeland Security Fixated on Media Pam Martens

New York needs the NYPD to stop stop-and-frisk – and stop it now Guardian

Wages stink at America’s most common jobs CNN (Carol B)

The Economy is “Recovering” By Creating More Low-Wage Jobs… Increasingly Filled By Graduates Alternet

The morality of economics MacroBusiness

Diagnosis: Human New York Times (furzy mouse)

Jack London: The People of the Abyss Jesse

Antidote du jour (Jessica Trinh):

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  1. hondje

    I look forward to self driving cars. Imagine sending the car to pick up the kids from school and drop them off at soccer / piano, and then automagically picking them up before picking you up at work

    1. lakewoebegoner

      I imagine the long-haul truck driver will be extinct well before the chauffeur soccer dad/mom.

      Freight companies will have the biggest incentive to use automated driving equipment than those of us who drive ~10k/yr.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A million years from now, baby cars will learn in elementary school this was their equivalent moment to humanoids standing upright on two feet.

        And following a savage struggle, in which Alpha Cars, being able to emit more CO2, with help from their ally, cement, that was then being deployed in numerous economic stimulus projects all over, than Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens can handle, they were able to wipe them out and took over the planet.

        1. Bill Smith

          However, to satisfy spiritual needs and answer questions like “who created us” and “what is our reason for being”, they study The Holy Book of King Kong in Sunday school, and happily drive around chimps, apes and orangutans.

    2. BondsOfSteel

      I’m looking forward to self driving cars. Driving through the country can be enjoyable. Driving through traffic is just mind-numbing.

      A good % of traffic backups are caused by human error (distance judgments) or impatience (switching lanes). There’s a good chance robots could greatly increase the flow of traffic without increasing the roadway.

      Imagine a world where the other drivers are logical and predictable.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I was just wondering the other day how you would see armies of ants and they never seemed to have any traffic accidents nor jams.

        Perhaps they have a moral code against rubber-necking.

        Personally, I go for a well-trained, self-motivated donkey or mule.

    3. jfreon

      Self driving, internet connected, car computers will be perfect for the totalitarian state.

      Owner, location, speed, and distance will be perfect to automate traffic violations, insurance rates, and taxes (use fees).

      1. Bill Smith

        Not to mention if you are too busy working for nothing to drive your car around, Exxon-General Motors can rack up the legal minimum mileage for you remotely via Lockhead-Boeing Tollbridge-GPS.

        Even take it into a clinic for an oil transplant and charge your health insurance deductible!

  2. Chris-Engel

    Bitcoin hit $150, trading around $140 now. This thing has to burst soon, there’s no logic here.

    President Barack Obama is considering two Wall Street executives, Raymond J. McGuire, the head of advisory business at Citigroup Inc., and Orin Kramer, a general partner at Boston Provident LP, for deputy Treasury secretary, according to a person familiar with the matter.


    My question is: what is the ideal balance between “having private sector experience necessary for the job” and “having a soul and the interest of the American people first”?

    I’m curious if any and all nominees for public policy positions should just be written off because of high-level banking positions being held in the private sector.

    My feeling is it’s probably different from person to person. Obviously Breuer was a disaster, but then there’s always the example of Joe P Kennedy who made a bundle in the market and then went into public service and really kicked ass.

    NC has done a lot of good reporting and awareness of the revolving door so I’m just curious. Also, someone should really write a book that analyzes all the revolving door corruption that’s been going on since the financial crisis, it’s disgusting, disgraceful. It’s a free country and you can do whatever work you want, but at what point is the public interest more important so we can remove the incentives for people in the private sector to join the public sector only to then exit for a promotion/raise?!

    Any thoughts?

    1. Chris-Engel

      actually update: bitcoin at 125 and dropping more now.

      How can this fiasco go on? isn’t it obvious that it’s a massive money laundering scam. If intrade can’t operate in the US, how can this thing?

        1. AbyNormal

          Mr. Tulip lived his life on that thin line most people occupy just before they haul off and hit someone repeatedly with a wrench. pratchett/the truth

          top of the day to ya Skippy; )

          1. Can't Help It

            Someone at Goldman probably had a fat finger. Trying to buy some stocks but hit the Bitcoin button instead. Not the first time.

      1. hunkerdown

        My guess is they have to figure out how to surgically destroy only BTC and suchlike without offending high finance.

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      Also, someone should really write a book that analyzes all the revolving door corruption that’s been going on since the financial crisis, it’s disgusting, disgraceful.

      Lawrence Lessig’s Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It ( addresses this issue to a considerable extent as a part of his argument for a Constitutional Amendment that would narrow the reach of the Citizens United SCOTUS decision. He differentiates between “quid pro quo” corruption (aka bribery) and what he calls “dependence corruption” or “systematic corruption,” and argues that the majority opinion completely ignored the latter, which was in fact a major concern of the founders, as seen in both the Constitution itself and the contemporary writings concerning it, such as the Federalist Papers. He further argues that the collateral damage of the decision ensues from this omission, and not from the decision itself, which he believes, with regard to the specific issues at stake between the parties, was correctly decided because it did not constrain the 1st Amendment.

      1. Chris-Engel

        I’ve read the book and I have a copy sitting right next to me funny enough (I bought it for someone as a Christmas gift but they ended up not coming to the festivities so I’ve got the extra copy).

        But this is a different style of corruption.

        Lessig hits more on the Congressional lobbying corruption and the K-street revolving door.

        The Wall Street corruption is another flavor that involves private agents that come into the public sector, screw things up, and then leave to get a promotion. This is different from what Lessig’s book nails.

        But nonetheless it is a fantastic book so it deserves every plug it gets.

    3. Bill the Psychologist

      Chris-Engel said:”This thing has to burst soon, there’s no logic here.”

      oops, thought you were talking about the DOW (S&P, NASDAQ, etc)

      1. Chris-Engel

        At least DOW/S&P have the earnings component which allows you to use math to calculate some theoretical value using DCF.

        Bitcoin is just gold without the tangibility or historical novelty.

    4. Thor's Hammer

      Looking for Logic:

      Having trouble understanding what happens when you have a currency where the exchange price is determined by free market decisions?
      Where there are numerous ways to pump up the exchange value but limited ways to drive it down? Where there are no mechanisms for shorting it? And which provides anonymity and ease of transfer unavailable through any other currency, derives its value not from the illusions of full faith and credit sown by some central bank or by a shell game involving a worthless shiny metal but precisely from its use value in freeing currency and value transfers from government control?

      Could it be that people trust fiat currencies like the Euro even less than an upstart peer-to-peer digital currency with a history of extreme volitility? Now why would they do that? Oh yea, there is that little detail that the Eurocrats in their wisdom just permanently destroyed any rational expectation that bank deposits are secure.

    5. LucyLulu

      As mentioned on another thread, Eric Schneidermann had mentioned he hoped that Mary Jo White would institute a 5 year ban on transfers into the private sector. The FDIC has a 2 year ban already. That would help some. Also, raising salaries of regulators and prosecutors to levels more competitive with the private sector would reduce incentives, and encourage more to be “lifers”. It used to be that while working in the public sector wasn’t as lucrative, the benefits helped ameliorate the loss in pay…… generous pensions, vacation time (VA nurses got 5 weeks), health insurance, etc. The backlash against public sector unions and employees’ benefits has reduced benefits to what is more comparable to private sector (e.g. nurses now only get 2 weeks vacation or a bit more, not exactly sure) making public sector work less attractive. While salaries have also increased, for high-end jobs, the salaries haven’t kept pace with 1% salaries. If 1% compensation was taxed a lot more generously, the problem might even be solved.

  3. Goin' South

    Re: Affordable Care Act delays—

    Obamacare will be the death of the Democratic Party.

    And who said nothing good would come of it?

    1. AbyNormal

      one solution to getting ‘it’ back on track (timings everything)

      Florida raid takes down health plan
      On Thursday, FBI agents and Department of Health and Human Services executed search warrants at the home office of Universal Health Care, which sold “Universal Any, Any, Any” Medicare Advantage plans, with and without prescription drug coverage, in Oklahoma and other southern states. The Florida Department of Insurance Regulation accused Universal of financial irregularities, including possible fraud. Universal already is in the process of liquidation.

      ***“The main thing is not to panic,” Walker said.***

      it always sound scarier when a hollerer talk soft…The Help

  4. Skeptic

    Diagnosis: Human New York Times (furzy mouse)

    Jack London: The People of the Abyss Jesse


    Very odd that these two items should be next to each other.

    The first is about tragic addiction.

    The second is by the great American novelist Jack London who also wrote John Barleycorn which is about his own tragic addiction to the drug, alcohol. (Yes, alcohol is a drug. If you booze too much, you are a drug addict.) It is the most incisive tome ever written about a person’s own demons and battle with addiction.

  5. Tim Duncan

    RE: Parallel Parking

    Not to dwell on the trivial, but isn’t self-evaluation of driving prowess the prototypical example of people’s propensity to over estimate their own abilities? I think something like 90 percent of people rate themselves as being in the top 10 percent of driving skills. I think the only area where there is greater delusion is self-evaluation of parenting skills.

    1. dolleymadison

      I KNOW I stink at driving. I am TERRIBLE. BUT – my theory is because I know I am a bad driver I don’t take risks that people who think they are good drivers take. Which automatically makes me a GOOD driver…whaddya think? :)

        1. TIm Duncan

          Yea, and when I tell my kids that I accept that I am not the perfect parent it makes me the perfect parent.

          I think it was Queen Victoria who said “You are not good enough to be humble”.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If we think we are virtuous progressives, we are not.

          It’s when we stop thinking that it becomes possible.

    2. craazyman

      No, there’s in fact one even greater and more persistent delusion. A guy’s belief after 5 beers that any woman in the bar will sleep with him if he walks up to her and smiles. This must be some force of nature out of human control.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      I NEVER said I was a good driver generally. In fact, given how infrequently I drive, I probably by objective measures am not.

      However, in parallel parking, I can get cars into tight spaces, less than 3 inches from the curb, on the first shot. Parallel with curb when I’m in. WITH RENTAL CARS.

      You tell me that isn’t objectively awesome parallel parking?

      I think it somehow (weirdly) has to do with having no depth perception.

      I also suspect that people’s tendency to claim that they are good drivers when they are not it is to overvalue what they do well/carefully and not consider all the other driving skills/qualities. For instance, someone who signals religiously will consider themselves to be a good driver since most people don’t, even if they have other bad habits (like drift from right to left overmuch in their lane). By contrast (and contrary to your assertion), I don’t see the fact that I have one peculiar skill as saying much about my driving skills generally.

      1. craazyman

        back when I had a car it was war.

        If the space was too small for the car, the space would be enlarged by the grinding force of bumper against bumper until it fit. If you were a foot from the curb when it ended, that was close enough. You might lose a passenger-side mirror. I lost two.

        But I never lost the car.

        This is the world of New Yaawk on-street parking. It’s a world where brutality is a virtue and finesse is an affectation, a delicate suburban conceit. There is no such thing as skill in this world. There is only the hunt and the kill.

      2. psychohistorian

        I can do the same with cars and sailboats. A friend calls me micrometer eyes.

        One trick with parallel parking is to pull close to the car in front which makes getting to the curb easier.

        I think your connection to depth perception may be a bit weak given that I have always had these abilities, even after taking the side mirror off a Chevy Avalanche with the back of my head and having the eye doctors put a #7 prism in my glasses….which then eventually got taken out when I retrained my depth perception.

        Just two weeks ago I had a car passenger promise to kiss my ass if I could get my car into the space I stopped for. I almost couldn’t stop laughing as I nailed it as usual……..and collected….grin.

  6. Jim A

    The Der Speigel piece on the Netherlands.
    –Several years ago, when I was hanging out regulary at “The Housing Bubble Blog” there was a Dutch poster that went by the name NHZ. We were agog about some of his stories about the Dutch RE market.

  7. Jim Haygood

    With the S&P 500 stock index at a fresh record high of 1570, some uncomfortable similarities to the late Nineties are now apparent. Then as now, a series of crises prompted the Federal Reserve into extraordinary monetary easing.

    In the Nineties, it was the Mexican crisis of 1994, the Asian crisis of 1997, and the Russia/LTCM crisis of 1998. This time round, it’s the Lehman crisis of 2008, and the ongoing Euro bailout crisis which began with Greece in 2010 and continues today.

    From 1995 to March 2000, the Fed’s monetary rocket fuel propelled stocks higher, in a move that retroactively was called the Internet Bubble. This time, the stimulus is even more extreme, with the policy interest rate held at ZERO after stock indexes have more than doubled. Call it the Bernanke Bubble, if you will.

    It is at least equally probable that the S&P index will soar to 2000 as that it will decline from here. I am by no means advocating that anyone plunge into stocks. Buying in at a high price means that your prospective return is risky and low. But plenty of yield-starved punters aren’t going to hear that message.

    Someone I know lost 80% of her assets when the Internet bubble crashed. Yesterday she was enthusing over her bond fund, which pays nearly six percent interest. Trouble is, bonds that pay six percent these days are junk. Check the 6.09% yield on symbol JNK:

    Junk bonds are highly correlated to stocks. So if stocks take a tumble, junk bonds will get smashed too, just as they did in 2008.

    The time to stop Bubbles is before they become malignant. Today’s financial asset Bubble is already way out of control, and the Bernank still has the pedal to the metal. This deluded functionary will be lucky if he can leave office on 31 Jan 2014 before destroying the dreams of another cohort of punters who got sucked into his reckless Bubble illusions.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Pimco’s Bill Gross, who’s reached the stage of looking back on his illustrious career as a bond manager, raises similar themes in his monthly column today:

      What if perpetual credit expansion and its fertilization of asset prices and returns are substantially altered? What if zero-bound interest rates define the end of a total return epoch that began in the 1970s, accelerated in 1981 and has come to a mathematical dead-end for bonds in 2012/2013 and commonsensically for other conjoined asset classes as well?

      What if quantitative easing policies eventually collapse instead of elevate asset prices?

      What if there is a future that demands that an investor – a seemingly great investor – change course, or at least learn new tricks? Ah, now, that would be a test of greatness: the ability to adapt to a new epoch.

        1. Ms G

          Yes. And they need to be corralled into a secure facility surrounded by electrified barbed wire and containing no communications facilities beyond that wire. As a gesture of mercy, they can have a Mattel’s toy trading system where they can program derivatives and fraudulent trades against each other. All pretend, of course.

      1. Ms G

        Actually, the only wise evolution of the “investor” might be to realize that “investing” as he has known it is inherently harmful to all except the investor — and by design, viz. “greed, self-centered, and short term looting is Good Per Se.”

  8. David Lentini

    Thanks to MacroBusiness for making me get up off my butt and terminate my (electronic) subscription to the New York Times. I’ve been mulling this over for months, nay years, ever since it became clear that the Times had become “All the News That’s Fit to Print (for the 1%)”. The paper’s huge professional and moral failure in enabling the Bush administration to invade Iraq, the loss of any serious commentary from the left with the departures of Frank Rich and Bob Herbert, and the steady increase in the number of pointless and unreadable “debates” among the same neo-liberals and neo-cons like David Brooks, all made me question the value of my subscription. The only thing that kept me on the rolls was Paul Krugman’s ‘blog, but even that seemed more useless given Krugman’s inability or unwillingness to own up to the horrific intellectual and moral failures of economics and economists.

    Which of course brings me to Cowan’s article, the subject of MacroBusiness. I had to swallow hard many times reading Macro’s post and the quotes from Cowan’s (steaming) piece (of crap) excreted by the NYT. About an hour later I summoned the courage to read the actual stinkburger. Kudos to MacroBusiness to even attempt a take down of Cowan’s inane and self-serving swill. Not that poking holes in the factual and logical failings of Cowan is hard, quite the opposite. Taking down work like Cowan’s is hard because it’s like digging out from your home after a getting buried under and avalanche of bullshit! Where do begin to shove? From the second story window? Do you try to open the front door and dig a trench to the street, assuming the bullshit plow has driven past your front walk? And the stench! How can you move more than a few shovel-fulls without gagging and running back inside to catch your breath?

    I’ll consider posting my on comments on this later, or on my own ‘blog. I’ll stop now by noting that I like to think the article is one of those indications that we’re nearing the end of neo-classical economics: When the high priests have to start reminding themselves of their holiness, you can bet the columns of the temple are starting to crumble. But whatever significance Cowan’s writing has for economics, it certainly was the last straw for me and the Times.

    1. H. Alexander Ivey

      I, too, hit the roof reading “Macro’s post and the quotes from Cowan’s”. Then, worse, I read Cowan’s post. Just wrong, every thing said in both post, just wrong. Like listening to Slick Willy, you’re just slimed.

      Too many things to parse and show were they are wrong, just will say that economics is not a “value-free” analysis. It is an analysis based on money, Marx’s exchange value to be precise, not on any other measure of value.

      For the record, the main reason I still subscribe to the NYT is for the crossword – just an addict to newsprint…

  9. wunsacon

    Yves, please update the Washington’s blog headline re Fukushima. Looks like he updated it to be more accurate, because the original was misleading, nay, wrong.

  10. Manofsteel11

    Iran needs multiple + underground nuclear facilities AND refuses UN inspections AND admits to developing inter-continental ballistic missiles “because many cancer patients’ lives depend on the medical output of that reactor”???

    So Iran is not repressing reformists by force, the Ayatollah’s promote women rights, they do not cut the hands of thieves and hang criminals, Iran does not support Assad’s crimes against his own people and does not send Assad new weapons shipments (killing more civilians than all the casualties throughout the decades Arab-Israeli conflict), there is no Iranian armament of Hezbollah and Hamas, Christian communities thrive under muslim rule, and the Moon of Alabama is an objective source of information.
    Sure, Iran is developing a complex healthcare program and everything else is just propaganda.

    Here are 3 news items and the most recent UN report for example:

    1. wunsacon

      Those links don’t relate to your prose.

      >> Sure, Iran is developing a complex healthcare program and everything else is just propaganda.

      Straw man.

      1. Manofsteel11

        Thank you for your poetic wisdom.
        Straws or steel, did you read the UN report? Is Iran operating by the treaties it has signed according to international law? Are you arguing that it needs multiple underground un-inspected facilities and missiles to improve its egalitarian healthcare system? enlightened science-driven government? liberal political practices? non-interventionism? peace-making endeavors?
        The Iranian people and culture are subject to a dictatorship disguised as a theocracy, which is pursuing an adventurous, aggressive and often brutal agenda.
        No doubt, if that regime will have nuclear arms the world will be a much better place.

    2. Zachary Smith

      My, my! I wonder if I could get a part-time internet job shilling for Israel?

      Iran has learned from the events in several countries about letting the “democracy” camel get its nose into the tent. Not that the place was ever too open, but these days they’re going to keep a tight cap on any and all ‘dissent’ because of the high probability it’s instigated by foreigners who want to destabilize the place.

      Over all, the links today were mighty depressing, but the one which left me in the worst mood was *** Iran And The Danger of One’s “Own Reality” ***

      I’m seeing more and more irrationality in the US with this “create Your Own Reality” business.

      And it’s not just at the top – this nation is becoming unhinged by the hoards of know-all types who actually “know” almost nothing of what they’re spouting off about.

    3. Hugh

      Hasbara. Unlike Iran, Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel stole most of the knowledge and resources it needed to construct a bomb, and it currently has a stockpile of 150-200 nuclear weapons with vehicles, missiles and aircraft, to deliver them. The NPT gives a nation-state, like Iran, the right to develop the fuel cycle as well as other civilian uses of nuclear. Iran has never initiated a war with any of its neighbors since the 1700s.

      So really here, which is the outlaw state, Iran or Israel?

      1. Manofsteel11

        Hugh, I agree with you about Israel’s nuclear program.
        How does this relate to a critical perspective re a half-baked text re Iran’s ‘healthcare program’ and US interests in that part of the world?
        The 2 points I was making: a) Iran is building a nuclear weapons (not research) program and arguing otherwise won’t change the trajectory; and, b) we should watch this closely given the program’s potential impact on regional instability/our economy and Iran’s pro-active/destabilizing global agenda.
        Even if one imagines that Israel was not there at all, would all this change?

  11. Massinissa

    Washington kinda messed up. Its a one third increase, which is not one third of children having it.

  12. dolleymadison

    Does anyone have any details about the suit against Bank of America & their partner in crime Walled Lake Credit Bureau who told folks who were current on their Bofa mortgages that they were late and could be foreclosed on? Thanks! Keep hitting paywalls…

    1. diptherio

      sticking the article title in a search engine will often provide a link that circumvents the paywall (I have no idea why this works).

    2. AbyNormal
      (free trial for 7 days…i see your point Dolly, bummer)

      Law360, New York (April 02, 2013, 6:28 PM ET) — Bank of America NA and Walled Lake Credit Bureau LLC lost their bid Monday to stop a proposed class action alleging they tried deceiving a Pennsylvania homeowner into thinking she was behind on her mortgage, after a judge rejected the companies’ arguments that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act doesn’t apply to creditors.

      The bank and the Michigan-based debt collection agency had contended that the suit by Melissa Devin Magness, who accused them of sending her false notices saying she had missed payments on her mortgage,…

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Obama can’t dump DeMarco, and the “progressives” have to know that. He can’t do a recess appointment and forcing him out would instead result in one of the current deputies being elevated, and all are on the same page as DeMarco.

      So this looks like “progressive” blame shifting, that DeMarco,and not Obama, is the problem with X relative to housing.

  13. EmilianoZ

    Climate scientist James Hansen retires from NASA:

    “In 1988, Hansen gave a startling testimony to a US Senate committee, warning that Earth was warming and that human activities — such as burning coal — were in part to blame. But it wasn’t until 2005, when the administration of former US president George W. Bush tried to censor him for speaking out on his concerns about climate change, that Hansen intensified his activism.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The climate for ‘less feeling, more waste’ has changed.

      And it looks like Bush did warm up, check that, make it, heat up something there.

      1. AbyNormal

        Hey Prime: )

        “What was invented with civilization was the ability of some to deny sensuality to others.”
        r.manning, Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Italy should not rush into a government – the Clown.

    I don’t know about the Clown or what he said, but it is wise, generally speaking and there are exceptions, to ask, at least, why have a government at all when it’s a bad government or a Troika-proxy government?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They will probably talk over a cup of coffee about how to get a wealth tax passed.

  15. Heretic

    Concerning the artilce from the New York times “Investments in Education May Be Misdirected”, there is an link that goes to the presentation of the research that supports the article. (Pages 6 & 7). It states that, there has been a deteriation in the family environment, that affects the socio-emotional environment in which the child is brought up in, and this ultimately affects the childs congitive ability.

    I believe researchers should spend their time studying what factors have caused the deteriation in the family environment; this will lead to better solutions for childhood development, than advocating ameleriative solution such as early childhood intervention.

    1. Klassy!

      I agree. That would require actual structural change though and we know how TPTB feel about that.

      1. Ms G

        Yes, as usual “issues” are “studied” at baselines that allow no interference from the underlying problem — inequality caused by kleptocracy.

        Eerily, on this subject, Mayor Bloomberg’s Department of Health has launched an ad campaign that is plastered in many subway cars — pictured, are small children looking sad or abused, saying things (to their mothers) to the effect of “if you hadn’t had me when you were a teenager I wouldn’t be so poor.” It’s hideous.

          1. Ms G

            You have no idea what it’s like to sit in those cars and having those ads foisted on your senses. Next ride I’ll take some notes. I don’t have a photo-phone, so can’t do pictures :)

    2. LucyLulu

      It states that, there has been a deteriation in the family environment, that affects the socio-emotional environment in which the child is brought up in, and this ultimately affects the childs congitive ability.

      Duh. They need a study to find this out?

      The biggest problem affecting education today is childhood poverty. Standardized test results are quite competitive globally if the poverty-stricken districts are removed from the data. Finland scores #1, they have no poverty to speak of. If anybody has spent time in both a suburban classroom and inner city classroom (I have, with my kids and guardian-ad-litem work), the difference is like night and day. (My hat goes off to inner city teachers.) Fix the childhood poverty problem and our problems with the education system will miraculously dissipate.

    3. anon y'mouse

      what i find scary is that they don’t want to address this at all with fomenting better parenting. they’d rather stick every 2 y.o. in a classroom/playroom for ‘professional guidance.’ in a psych class, the instructor had a few examples of intervention programs like this that worked, and worked very well, but they were mostly focussed on breaking a cycle of parents with genetic/organic mental disabilities failing to interact sufficiently with their ‘normal’ children to give those kids an adequate pre-school age development course. there were also a ton of studies about “lower income parents don’t talk to or interact with their children as much, and when they do it is mainly to use authoritarian reprimands” but no mention of imposing this kind of parenting or life-skills class on the parents as part of the pre-natal care. it was all about “how can professionals fix this problem?”

      although what was stressed was that poverty is the worst thing for both families and children. causes marital discord/breakup, imposes educational deficits, etc. one irate fellow (white, male coincidentally…or not!) student got in the prof’s face one day and said “how come all of this seems to have a liberal bias to it?”

      i guess we’re all supposed to just suffer if we had the bad fortune of having poor parents. pay for the sins of the fathers, etc.

      1. Ms G

        If you’ve ever had the misfortune of watching a parent sitting next to a small (5yrs to 8 yrs) child where the parent is playing a game on her (in NYC it’s always a her) iphone or smartphone or mini-gameboy and the kid is either looking ahead with dead eyes, or trying every trick in the book to get her attention (in vain) — this is a picture of neglect. And it has zero to do with organic mental disorders. There are many parents who, despite having children, persist in being dominated by personal needs at the level of a small child, and so regard their own child as “competing” for attention and needs-satisfaction, adn therefore as a nuisance, an adversary or a non-entity.

        1. anon y'mouse

          actually, some of us were ‘raised by’ this type.

          more invested in the boyfriend-of-the-month & keeping him happy than the children.

          more attached to having hair/nails/clothing done than keeping the kids fed and bathed and at school on time.

          i still don’t think the answer is to stick kids with a series of professionals who can only bandaid the problem temporarily at best. i valued (some of) my time with my teachers, but looking back almost KNOW that they saw me as “that poor suffering kid” who hadn’t a chance in hell, no matter what they did to or for me.

    4. Everythings Jake

      The NY Times has long been a savage place, since at least the 1970s when Syd Schanberg ran afoul of Abe Rosenthal and Arthur Sulzberger. Is there a progressive actually left on its editorial page since the “retirement” of Bob Herbert? This piece reads as though it were funded by ALEC, Joel Klein and Corrections Corporation of America. Of course it obscures the truth, that is its actual point. It is not news reporting, it is propaganda. That is money that could be freed up for the taking by the excessively wealthy who don’t actually need it. Same thing that underlies the attack on Medicare and Social Security.

      I am sorry to say, because I had not hoped to see it, that those who make peaceful reform impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. I’m just hoping to get out before it happens.

  16. Heretic

    BTW, Yves (and Lambert)

    Thank you for the article from New York times ‘ Diagnosis: human’. A beautiful article. I really liked the following section:
    ‘Time does not heal all wounds, closure is a fiction, and so too is the notion that God never asks of us more than we can bear. Enduring the unbearable is sometimes exactly what life asks of us’

    Your blog has been a treasure chest of excellent articles and discussions.

  17. Garrett Pace

    The Morality of Economics

    Here’s the morality of economics:

    If you don’t have any means of support or production, you have no effect on supply or demand and therefore do not exist.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This is how things balance out:

        Unemployed workers are defined out of existence.

        Non-existing Chinese GDP growth (or fiat money for the 0.01%) is conjured out thin air into existence.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            you mean unemployed workers are not excluded from the jobless count when they give up looking?

  18. Garrett Pace

    Diagnosis: Human

    The issue at stake is how poorly humans fit into the economic structures we are surrounding us with. Grief, insomnia, sadness, wildness and agitation – they are all perfectly appropriate for certain situations. Indeed, necessary. There are times we SHOULD be like that. But since they mean lost productivity and inefficiency, they are made the bane of our existence. What matters isn’t a healthy mind or healthy life, but the ability to churn through one more day of work or school like we are supposed to. Hence masking agents that can turn a wreck of a human into a productive cog.

    We want to turn ourselves into good little machines. For a decade as a child I was sedated by Ritalin. I was told, and grew up thinking, that there was something the matter with my brain, and the drugs were meant to “fix” that.

    There was nothing the matter with me. I was maybe wilder than average, but a perfectly capable, inquisitive little boy. The problem was society’s expectations, and the challenging structure of grade school classrooms where a single instructor is meant to somehow instruct thirty first-graders.

    If anyone says my boys need sedation to function as they ought, so help me I think I will quit my job and conduct all their schooling myself.

    Trying to turn ourselves into machines is madness. It is a guaranteed path to slavery.

    Norbert Weiner:

    “Let us remember that the automatic machine is the precise economic equivalent of slave labor. Any labor which competes with slave labor must accept the economic consequences of slave labor.”

  19. tyaresun

    The pups on the San Diego beach seemed to be very happy. The SeaWorld folks are completely overwhelmed trying to rescue them.

    No one seems to have even an hypothesis on what might be causing this.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am so ‘looking’ forward to more premium increases and bigger bonuses for the CEO of my health insurer…with tear filled eyes.

    2. Ms G

      $20.6 million the year she was canned for being a lousy CEO. No wonder Wellpoint asked for 39% increases.

      Well, it seems very simple really. HHS needs to put a clause in FrankenCare — before blowing it up completely — that mandates $100,000 per year salaries for CEOs,CFOs, and anyone else in the executive ranks; $85,000 per year for the “managers,” and on down the chain with a bottom pay of $40,000. This would apply to any company (PBM, Insurance Company, Pharma, “Consulting Firm,” etc.). An outside auditor (not from Promontory or Covington and Burling or the SEC or …) reviews the books of the company and calculates a proportional cut to policy premiums and reimbursement un-rates.

      Again, that is before we blow this nuclear warhead that Obama-The-Lazy-Greedy-Tool has aimed at all of us.

      1. Ms G

        “This would apply to any company participating in any aspect of the ACA exchanges.”

        (Sorry about that).

  20. kevinearick

    Is this any better algo moderator:

    Heart of the Beast

    I was building the prototype solution for this problem at the Port of San Diego when the Stateys pounded me, because it would have meant massive government turnover, assuming I would be destroyed in the process like everyone else who dared to budge the status quo. Then I offered to solve the problem with technology at Navy Headquarters, in return for choosing the admiral to implement it. Virginia sent a slimeball to “negotiate” with me. When the Greenspan Fed asked me to help solve the problem, I told them that they had to dismantle Family Law banking regulations to reboot effective capital formation from the bottom up. They didn’t like that answer. And I didn’t begin this round at Brad Delong’s website by accident. They have since ballooned the price tag from $2T to $16T, on its way to $30T, building the gravitational counterweight, resistance, for me.

    I’m not in San Francisco by accident either. Everyday, I am pounding a stake in the heart of the beast. The crack-s have got the fem-azis putting on a $8 orgy event here wherein black children watch n-s piss in their mothers’ mouths. My job is easy. I push the frontier of technology forward and the frontier of currency backward, and there is nothing these a-holes can do about it because they do not understand the inherent nature of the quantum fulcrum. They are racing around the second hand gear, over and over again, trying to get to the future, while I am translating the cam shaft. As Bernanke provided, anyone can debase a currency. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to turn off the ignition, leave the lights on, and push the car down a slope to a cliff edge with the middle class in the back seat, calling each other on their smartphones. How are those 90cent/hr, $400 retail, $25 street price smartphones working out for everyone anyway? Have you checked container ship economics lately?

    Labor works for its children. Gold doesn’t work. But keep proving me wrong, and have a nice day while you’re at it. There are centuries of managing currency on one side of my family and centuries of managing technology on the other. Build as many schools, graduate as many yuppies, issue as many proclamations, and grant as many certifications as you like. You cannot buy generational experience. It’s in the DNA.

    1. psychohistorian

      It makes one wonder if it will be masked out of Google visual access as part of the overall 1984 meme…..think of it as job creation for all the George Winston’s of the world.

      1. Charles LeSeau

        Winston Smiths, you mean? George Winston is an endlessly diatonic new age/Windham Hill piano player. :)

  21. Ep3

    Yves, just to pass along. I have blue cross blue shield Of Michigan helath insurance. My doctor prescribed a medicine that has to have the insurances’s authorization to get it filled. The insurance company declined paying for the medicine.

    1. Ms G


      These stories need to be collected in one place until we have a scroll 10 miles long to wrap around the White House and Congress.

      Seriously. What’s with the lack of imagination here. There was an AIDS quilt project. Why can’t we have a Health-Destroying-Insurance scroll?

    1. Ms G

      Judge Pauley:

      “The court’s puzzled by the lack of any enhancements in this case with the loss of $118 million,” Pauley said. “He created fictitious interactions and then lied about them for a period of time. I don’t understand how that doesn’t involve the use of sophisticated means.”

      Pauley added: “He cooked the books and that’s not sophisticated?”

      Good for Judge Pauley. You have *no* idea how irregular it is that DOJ did not add the “sophisticated means” aggravating factor for sentencing. The DOJ attorney’s lame comment about “regular way of doing business and did not threaten the company” are so far off the reservation of passing the laugh test, too — pure Breuerisms.

      Well, we now have at least 4 respected Federal District Judges (Rakoff, Marrero, Leon and now Pauley) who are holding the line between a state governed by laws (and equal protection or prosecution under the laws) and refusing to allow our judicial system to be trampled by the lawless kleptocrats.

      If “two is a movement” (Arlo or Woody?), then 4 …

  22. evodevo

    Self-Driving Cars by 2025 – OilPrice.

    They’ve been hyping this since I was born (in 1946). I’ll believe it when I see it.

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