Links 9/22/13

Toxoplasma Infection Permanently Shifts Balance in Cat and Mouse Game Science Daily

39 killed and more carnage feared as Kenya mall attackers dig in CNN

Somalia’s al-Shabab claims Nairobi Westgate Kenya attack BBC. Their Twitter handle: @HSM_Press

Police ignored me as I exposed Westgate terrorist – survivor Capital News

Ted Cruz’s Threat To Shut Down The Government Is Brave And Principled — And That’s Why Republicans Are Upset With Him Joe Weisenthal, Business Insider

There is more than one way to burn down the Reichstag Corrente

The Honey Launderers: Uncovering the Largest Food Fraud in U.S. History Businessweek

U.S. commission reviews white-collar sentences Reuters. To make them lighter!

The Case Against High-School Sports The Atlantic

The Fed Decides the Economy Still Sucks New York

Janet Yellen: The cheery economist tipped to be the first lady at the Fed FT

Bill Clinton Backs Yellen for Fed While Defending Summers’s Past Bloomberg

A victory for Merkel will only mask Germany’s long-term economic problems Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph. Shorter AEP: Merkel is not Thatcher.

The world has the Germany it always wanted FT

Evidence against Golden Dawn mounts as murder suspect is remanded in custody Ekathimerini


U.S. official: Syrian CW list more complete than anticipated CNN

Kentucky Nerve Gas Arms Show Destroying Weapons Not Easy Bloomberg

Gas missiles ‘were not sold to Syria’ Independent

Style and substance Economist

AP freelancer says report of rebel chemical weapons use not hers McClatchy

Hardliners hold back as Iran waits for Rouhani and Obama to make history Guardian

Big Brother Is Watching Watch

NSA job post for ‘Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer’ goes live CNET

Snowden leaks help NSA critics in government surveillance lawsuits The Hill

RSA Tells Its Developer Customers: Stop Using NSA-Linked Algorithm Wired

The Girlfriend Detention Method of Coercion emptywheel. All but one of the interrogators leave the room, and then the detainee gets whacked. ‘Tis a puzzlement!

Balkanization of the Internet: Brazil’s Response to the NSA Angry Bear

SEX AND POLITICS AT GOOGLE: It’s A Game Of Thrones In Mountain View Business Insider. So who’s Tyrion?

Senator Al Franken raises ‘substantial’ security concerns about fingerprint technology on Apple’s iPhone 5S Daily Mail

BlackBerry takes huge loss as sales collapse Globe and Mail

What APIs Are And Why They’re Important ReadWriteWeb. Non-techies should read this.

Will NY natural gas future break from problems of its past? DEC lacks funds to plug tens of thousands of leaky wells Shale Gas Review

Climate change: IPCC issues stark warning over global warming Guardian

Loss of Economic Exceptionalism  Made in America

Large predictions in history Understanding Society

How Ronald Coase Demolished Current Libertarian Ideas About Property Next New Deal

The ‘Columbian Exchange’: How Discovering the Americas Transformed the World Speigel Online

Antidote du jour (via):


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post on by .

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. dearieme

    “One of the key dimensions of “American Exceptionalism” is the idea that America is the land of opportunity more than any other. ” Oh for heaven’s sake. Some brothers of one of my great grandfathers went off to the USA in the late 19th century. Their talk, as transmitted to me decades ago, wasn’t of abstract “opportunity”, it was of cheap land and less competition. Once there was no more land to steal from The Injuns, the first was impaired. Once society had matured, and competition for the desirable niches had intensified, the second dwindled. And that’s that: those days will not return.

    1. Skeptic

      allo dearieme

      I am quite fascinated by the new language which is popping up in regard to the End Times.

      I looked up exceptionalism and it was first used in the 20s, by the US Communist Party! Mirabile dictu indeedy!

      Of course it is used a lot today and means something different than what originally intended.

      Then in your post appears ““One of the key dimensions of “American Exceptionalism””. So thus dimensions might become dementions if one thinks the idea of “American Exceptionalism” is untrue, or, maybe even, crazzzzy.

      As we sink into the abyss, we will need new language to describe their madness.

    2. F. Beard

      Let’s not forget that in a booming economy, anyone (now including blacks to some degree) with a sound business plan might be able to get a business loan or a line of credit from the counterfeiting cartel, the banks, and start his/her* own business with the stolen purchasing power of his/her neighbors. But that’s OK because in principle his/her neighbors can reciprocate assuming they are so-called creditworthy. /sarc

      *I would normally just use “his” but in a non-sexist way because frankly I don’t find men sexy! That is, I think of men as genderless.

  2. real

    Balkanization of the Internet: Brazil’s Response to the NSA

    Our overlords in indian govt have taken note of USA spying and banned govt bureaucrats from using USA email services.May be in next 15 years,our country will have separate internet service

    1. Antifa

      Undersea cables have been tapped by the US military in the past. Tapping fiber optic traffic is a whole ‘nuther problem, but it can probable be solved.

      Or a tap can be put in place during its construction, so the owner of the fiber optic cable never knows it has a ‘mirror’ attached at 13,000 feet down.

  3. D. Mathews

    According to the Examiner, the Gavlak story seems to have been corroborated by Doctors without Borders:

    The sarin gas was purportedly released by untrained members of the Jabhut al-Nusar militia in the town of Ghouta Sham. This allegation has been substantiated by Doctors without Borders who treated the injured survivors, including injured Jabhut militia members who complained that they had not been properly trained in the use of the gas weapons they had transported into Syria from Iraq.

          1. psychohistorian

            Is it going to be possible for us little people to know the truth about this?

            My gut says the Saudi’s are complicit…..their’s is the kingdom that American empire built.

          2. Doug Terpstra

            This is odd: “Gavlak implied that the nearly three-week delay in her public repudiation of the claim was due to legal advice and pressure from the AP to let the controversy over the story die down since the story, which was thinly sourced, was not picked up by any major media outlets.”

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Good catch. The likelihood of a false-flag atrocity in Syria by one or more members of the US-Israel-SA axis is now growing. Worse, the alleged Saudi involvement now also casts reasonable suspicion on the Obama regime as well — more so, I would say, than on the Assad administration (semantic reversal intended).

      Consider the implications. The US-Saudi-Israeli alliance against Syria is undisputed, as is direct US support of al-Qaeda-allied rebels — in flagrant contravention, we must note, of US anti-terrorism laws. Now, given this and the United States’ sordid, uncontested, history in Iraq, in Libya, Vietnam, Iran (1953), Guatemala, Chile, and so forth, it is not a stretch at all to suspect a US-Saudi connection in this “event”.

      Still more suspicious in this case is the Obama regime’s conspicuously-groundless certitude of Assad’s guilt — a presumption made repeatedly and with such strident rectitude that it constitutes way too much protest. It smells distinctly rank in fact, even more so than Colin Powell’s false UN testimony on Iraq. The implications are wretched and retching. But however revolting or unthinkable, US history— especially post-911 — no longer permits us to dismiss them. In this case, it is quite reasonable to suspect the US of yet another war crime, in collusion with SA and Israel.

  4. allcoppedout

    Thanks as ever for the links Lambert. Large predictions in history leads to a long and very interesting paper. We obviously need a big switch to responsible, green and cooperative capitalism. The paper does not discuss this, but gets into a lot of interesting material on historical change that may help devise the ‘green switch’.

    I found a lot of material in the references I haven’t read and will follow up. Personal thanks on this one – my own searches were failing and you’ve saved me a lot of work.

    1. optimader

      It’s all good..

      Watched some NHK last night, they are now coming up w/ prepackaged excuses about why the “freezer system” will be difficult to execute inan active earthquake zone!
      Who would of thought??

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      If you’ve got any “hot” links feel free to add them, but I did check the news, and there seems to be nothing new.

      A situation for which the term “SNAFU” was invented….

    3. LucyLulu

      The government has told Tepco they want #5 and #6 decommissioned, too. Tepco can’t be holding out any hope anymore of restarting them. The government also let Tepco know they wouldn’t be subsidizing the cost of decommissioning. They government has thrown in part of some money set aside for another water decontamination plant. (The government tends to due this — only give Tepco a portion of the funds set aside for assistance, on infrequent occasions any assistance has been offered).

      The government nuclear regulators’ grand plan is to use Fukushima as a decommissioning training facility. Maybe the idea of assistance is providing free labor by mandating all workers train there? (And will properly calibrated dosimeters be provided to each worker?)

      1. Roland

        Why shouldn’t they fund TEPCO? All they would have to do is print a few quadrillion more Yen.

        Or maybe they could mint a quintillion Yen coin made out of depleted uranium.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          All the jokes about the coin, without exception that I have seen, focus on its physical substance, betraying misunderstanding not only of currency, but of fiat money. That’s why they’re not funny, not even crazyman’s. Of course, the combination of invincible ignorance and disinformation is not funny, and could even end in tragedy.

  5. catlady

    screech!!!!! what is that delightfully bizarre creature in the antidote du jour?? LOVE IT!!!! he’s so camouflaged!!!

  6. jjmacjohnson

    Wow! For white collar criminals not minor drug offenders:

    “There’s only so much bang for buck you get for locking someone up that doesn’t impose a threat to safety for the purpose of deterrence,” he said.”

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    Camouflage and chameleons.

    “Down with the Tsar!”

    The people: Finally, our voice will be heard.
    the chamelon: Yeah, I will be the new Tsar, the new dictator!

    “Help the poor, the sick and the old!”

    the people: Return the loot to the 99.99%.
    the chameleon: Yeah, Big Bro & the NSA will have unlimited spending!

    “Get the banksters!”

    the people: We want to restore democracy!
    the chameleon: Yeah, my dream theocracy! My version of what I read.

    The chameleon shouts the same slogan, but it means something quite different.

      1. skylark

        One of my all time favorite movies!! I love that scene where Rod Taylor tap dances on the bar with his ‘electric shoes’. Thanks for the link–some one made off with my copy of the movie.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Not to take anything more than glancing notice, but isn’t there some quote about shaking the dust from your shoes? Not from the site, of course, but possibly from certain threads or situations. Ducking out again.

        1. F. Beard

          In regard to skippy, I said his blood was on his own head which is an expression, iirc, used in conjunction with shaking the dust off one’s feet.

          But with Beefy, I never have had any real hope of convincing him of anything but perhaps I’m being unfair and projecting my own (hopefully declining) stubbornness and perverseness onto him.

          Of course it hasn’t helped defuse things by my waving a huge red Biblical flag at the bulls in here but I fear plagiarizing God more than offending a few strangers. The reason being that I suspect our money problems WILL be solved, at least temporarily, by Satan’s henchmen, the Beast (666) and the False Prophet. I take pains that I will not be either of those since the Lake of Fire is their eternal doom.

          1. skippy

            Your three hours away form a psychology degree and you still don’t understand self projection – bias conformation – imposition upon others – review out side your peer group – et al.

            Then there is the – hole – bastardization of royal science – anthropology – history – anything that does not conform to your personal reading of a book, of political opines, tribal taboos, cobbled together over century’s and filtered through successive divine kingdoms.

            Have you noticed the trinity thingy, its shadow, the three pillars, projected from the dark past. Personally, I think its a deliciously absurd observation, there are three tribes of Abrahamism and sad that a fathers offspring have such murderous intent… over brightly colored garb (my prophet thingy).

            skippy… how much of this world today has been shaped by this fracas? Do you kids understand what its like to be in the middle of a family domestic with no escape exit.

            1. F. Beard

              Personally, … skippy

              By your own tacit admission you’ll be nothing but a fading memory in a few decades. And I’m supposed to listen to a self-proclaimed absolute loser?!

              Yes, the almost psychology degree, my own best friend, drugs, my knowledge of science, my pride, my Roman Catholic upbringing, Calvinism and other Christian cults not consistent with the Bible and a bit of insanity in my family – all of those I had to overcome to believe. (Hint to others who claim they want to believe but can’t: Just read a chapter of the Book daily CAREFULLY and keep reading till, like an impressionist painting, it makes sense to you.)

              So continue your attacks if you must but know that you’re talking AT me and not to me. I’ve been there and done that and you’re like a little vinegar compared to the acid I’ve been through.

              1. Skippy

                The victim shtick is a bit well done don’t you think, especially when ones fundie world view tosses everyone not inclusive in the mother of all pits…seriously. Yes I remember in the past you using that rhetorical plea ie. I’m scared you’ll throw me/us in some pit when nothing insinuating of the sort was uttered. There is a name for that kind of position.

                OK, to the point. When you can clean up the corruption in your own house, you’ll have my attention. On this point of order there is zero arbitration. If we don’t address the fundamental issue first and foremost the rest of it is just mental masterbation.

                Skippy… Any you have the nerve to speak of theft.

    1. tyler

      I’m referring to Bill’s comment that stocks are high because QE produces “Free money for the Investment Banks, thus for Hedge Funds too …”

  8. Jim Haygood

    TP workers struggle heroically to meet production quotas in Venezuela’s Bolivarian paradise:

    CARACAS (Reuters) – A Venezuelan state agency on Friday ordered the temporary takeover of a factory that produces toilet paper in what it called an effort to ensure consistent supplies after embarrassing shortages earlier this year.

    A national agency called Sundecop, which enforces price controls, said in a statement it would occupy one of the factories belonging to paper producer Manpa for 15 days, adding that National Guard troops would “safeguard” the facility.

    “The action in the producer of toilet paper, sanitary napkins and disposable diapers responds to the state’s obligation to ensure a steady supply of basic goods for the people,” Sundecop said, adding it had observed “the violation of the right” to access such products.

    Econ 101: price controls produce shortages.

    Putting the price control clowns in charge of production will make intermittent shortages chronic.

    Back on the rag, as it were …

  9. fresno dan

    The Girlfriend Detention Method of Coercion

    Simply put, we live in a police/prosecutor/legal complex, that despite all the words about justice, transparency, and accountability is nothing more than BS.
    We have long ceased to be a nation of laws, and now a nation of cronys, insiders, and persons who are exempt from even any consideration of ever being investigated.

  10. TimR

    I watched that David Lynch speech somebody posted in the Louis CK thread yesterday… I respect Lynch’s film-making, kind of on the fence about his comments on TM – but the foundations, and these guys he’s involved with, seem pretty scammy. Especially that one other speaker – maybe his speaking style just doesn’t appeal to me, but I felt like “how can the whole auditorium not just break up in laughter listening to this guy” – he’s like a parody of a scam artist selling a scam (although admittedly in command of his patter and terminology.)

    I looked up TM, the Mahareshi, on Wikipedia, read some other sites. Eh – I’ll keep my $2500 and investigate meditation via books and free online content, if I pursue it.

    Still puzzled why Lynch would be involved – is he deluded that TM really gave him these creative solutions (and that only TM would work, not other forms of meditation), or does he get something out of the whole set-up? Like the celebs Scientology lavishes perks on.

  11. Antifa

    The notion that the plutocrats behind Washington’s players actually want a genuine default on “the full faith and credit of the United States government” is worth pondering.

    For some time, it’s been clear that the “will of the people” doesn’t rule Washington, or even count for much. Recent NSA revelations, and the ridiculous push for launching open-ended war in the Middle East have also made it clear that the day to day enemy of the government in Washington is the American people.

    We are all of us treated as criminals in dire need of constant surveillance, are we not? The NSA is reading this right now, is aware that you are reading it, and aware of how that fits the pattern of things you read and write online. Let that sink in, and you can hardly mistake where things stand.

    So then — if you are a very few, in possession of most of the assets of a nation, how do you prevent the many from taking those assets back? How do you control an unruly 99% beyond surveilling them, and weeding out the leaders among them?

    Why, you kick the chair out from under them. You pull the rug out from beneath their feet. Take their jobs, their wages, their spending money, their homes, their safety net, their ways and means. Make them beggars in their own country, as Andrew Jackson once warned would come to pass. You destroy their economy, and make piles of money while doing it.

    The threat from the 99% is that we will rise up, nationalize the banks, get money out of politics to the degree possible, take back our assets from the very few, and put all that hoarded wealth back to work on Main Street. The kind of shit FDR pulled.

    Their only real defense available to the very few is to have the vast majority of us so busy looking for “food and firewood” that we don’t have time to worry about the lords and ladies in the castle. Their cotillion can continue.

    It’s a risky strategy for them, but one they may feel forced to adopt, since the alternative is to appease the many with a real safety net, living wage jobs, free public education, universal healthcare — “oh, God it’s too horrible to contemplate! The expense! The interference in governing the affairs of the nation! It can’t be! Keep them looking for food and firewood, that’s the ticket!”

    It’s a risky strategy because maybe we will make time. Firewood makes lots of torches.

    1. F. Beard

      The threat from the 99% is that we will rise up, nationalize the banks, … Antifa

      With respect Anti-fascist (for some reason I think you’re a Russian female), you’ve been cognitively captured to think we even need banks. And the banks won’t stay nationalized for long anyway (maybe a generation or two at most).

      Instead, we need a universal bailout* with new fiat to return to us the Equity that has most likely been stolen from us by the banks and the allowance of ethical forms of private money creation.

      *And land reform too in accord with Leviticus 25 and the equal redistribution of the common stock of all large corporations on the premise they’ve been built with stolen purchasing power.

    2. JTFaraday

      Well, strictly in terms of cultivating inattentiveness– so the wealthy can go on having their cotillions– how is what’s going on now any different from “the kind of shit that FDR pulled” in the first place?

      I am in the middle of reading Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation about how Ciba-Geigy flagrantly polluted the entire water table under a small town on the Jersey Shore between 1952 and 1996.

      Ciba deliberately sought this location out because it offered access to a large water supply and they could hide their operations in the woods of the NJ Pine Barrens, having been repeatedly troubled by the locals in more urban locations after polluting the water supply, including locations in Europe and on the Ohio River in Cincinnati. As it turned out, the sandy soil at the NJ shore also absorbed industrial waste product like a sieve, enabling them to dump on company grounds as a bonus. Gold mine!

      One of the things I find most interesting about the Toms River case is the way that the local conservative government, primarily interested in economic development, and the union and its employees, primarily interested in employment, collaborated with the corporation to deep six very obvious and well known polluting practices and hide their effects from the resident public at large.

      The existing environmental protection laws, meanwhile, were only weakly enforced over the years by the NJ State government and later, c. 1970s, by the newly formed federal EPA. Due to the long time span, this is partly a story of the advance of scientific knowledge, but at the same time, due to the remote location, Ciba-Geigy didn’t even bother to keep pace with long ago standards, like industrial waste treatment.

      What resulted was a particularly egregious case of 19th century industrial pollution in the second half of 20th century US, due primarily to a lack of attention on the part of a diverse group of people united in the pursuit of short term profit at the expense of their own long term health, while others in the know– including regulators in the days before the corporate-government revolving door– also looked in some other direction.

      It’s only because residents, in combination with child health practitioners, started to suspect a local cancer cluster that this economic collective–which had more knowledge all along– was eventually brought in line, very much after the fact. I wouldn’t drink the water in the Toms River area, if I were you. Although the lack of attention people give to this matter continues to surprise me, the more so the more I think about it.

      All of which is just to say is that “the kind of shit FDR pulled” may have helped create a bustling “main street” economy that kept people hustling after, and sometimes getting, their “food and firewood”– while being inattentive to everything else of ostensibly lesser importance in order to get it– but it really didn’t do much in terms of the civic health of the nation, which always requires attention and the time that it takes to pay it.

      I can think of other reasons why “the kind of shit that FDR pulled” might not have done much for the civic health of the nation, but this is what comes to mind today.

  12. Garrett Pace

    Sex and politics at Google.

    Ha ha! What self-serving tripe this is:

    “In a place like Google, which has strong technical talent as well as business talent, it’s very natural that people are going to be attracted to one another. You have amazing combinations of intelligence and wit in one place. You can’t fight that people are going to be attracted to each other.”

    Are stupid people attracted to each other the same way? What about people with poor self control and a love of power?

  13. rich

    SEC Omitted Dimon Misinformed Investors on April 13, 2012 Earnings Call

    The SEC filed a cease-and-desist order on September 19, 2013 in the matter of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s “London Whale” credit derivatives trading incident and misstatement of earnings. JPMorgan admitted it violated securities laws and agreed to pay a $920 million settlement.

    The release mentioned that JPMorgan filed inaccurate reports with the SEC: Form 8-K filed April 13, 2012 and Form 10-Q filed May 10, 2012. The SEC also listed several failures by senior management defined as the JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer, the JPMorgan Chief financial Officer, the JPMorgan Chief Risk Officer, the JPMorgan controller, and the JPMorgan General Auditor. But the report doesn’t mention them by name, and in particular, it doesn’t mention Jamie Dimon by name, even though he is both the Chief Executive Officer and the Chairman of the Board.

    Dimon’s widely reported earnings call on April 13, 2013 not only misinformed the public, Dimon was dismissive of credible news reports about huge credit derivatives positions and mounting losses in JPMorgan Chase’s Chief Investment Office unit that reported to Dimon. Not only did he dismiss the reports, he didn’t disclose the size of the losses he already knew about, and the numbers were whopping. Reported losses eventually mounted to $6.2 billion.

    1. psychohistorian

      Rule of law is for little people….when necessary for control purposes.

      Otherwise, not so much…

  14. S Haust

    “The ‘Columbian’ Exchange” — Lots of rank misinformation here. I hope it’s just from Spiegel and ABC and not from the book. For instance, earthworms. They don’t live in forests and when they are spread there, usually by some human activity, they either die out or tend to destroy the surrounding forest. That’s why there is a Great Lakes Worm Watch.

  15. Abe, NYC

    Not convinced by AEP’s take on Germany.

    1. As regards low productivity, I wonder if it has to do with massive lay-offs in Eurozone countries, which on paper pushed up their productivity.

    2. Ranked so low in “wage flexibility” (and is that a bad thing in the first place), and at the same time showing a very slow growth in per capita income? Don’t these sort of contradict each other, at least at some level?

    3. The low wage growth could also mean there’s a lot of potential for domestic demand to gradually replace foreign demand.

    4. Germany is not Japan, it is far more open to foreign labor. In fact it’s wide open to other EU countries save for the language barrier, and it can also look beyond Europe as it has in the past.

    5. Treating renewable energy as a pure cost rather than investment is rather bold.

    Not to say there aren’t serious issues. But one way or another, the Euro drama will be resolved for the good of all, and the shock to Germany is probably going to be much lighter than almost all other countries. Unlike the US or UK, its manufacturing base has not been hollowed, R&D is top notch, the economy is not financialized, private and public debt is low, and unlike Australia it doesn’t depend on commodities export.

    So, Germany may be in for some tough times but it looks much healthier than most other countries, and even in the medium term things may turn out far better than now expected.

  16. mookie

    Harper’s Magazine: Progressive Dupes Yasha Levine – NSFWCorp

    Yasha Levine calls out Harper’s econ writer Jeff Madrick for fawning over Cory Booker’s “insight and courage” in mentioning the problem of child poverty while utterly ignoring Cory Booker’s actual record. On reading both articles, it seems to me that Madrick just wanted to brag about his access to Booker and their comfort and ease in “batting around” issues as a framing device for a policy-professional talk on child poverty.
    Apparently those in Very Serious policy circles no longer address poverty itself, because it’s understood that the poor deserve their situation. But never fear: brave, smart and kindhearted Democrats are standing up to those big mean Republican bullies and addressing the issue of child poverty. You see, the children haven’t yet used up their chance to live a healthy, productive life™. We can only hope that “someone with Booker’s high media profile will continue to speak out on the problem”.

  17. Trisectangle

    The primacy of school sports in the US article is really interesting. I was obviously aware that school sports in the US were a much bigger thing than it is elsewhere but I’ve never seen the funding and attention consequences laid bare in such a stark manner before.

    That said I would still say that the fact that US education is primarily funded by local estate taxes is a larger structural issue than this though:
    A bit similar to healthcare the US is ranked joint first for funding per student (though rather lower on percentage of GDP spent on education, unlike for healthcare where they are near the top by that measure to) but has mid-table educational outcomes. I would argue that, like for healthcare, the huge disparity of service (and expenditure) between the top and medium to bottom end of the scale contributes to this. In many states the top funded school district has double the amount of funding per student that the lowest funded district has. If you look at the funding histogram you can see that there is a long tail of highly funded districts with the bulk of the districts with much lower level of funding per student.

    That’s not to say that the non-estate tax part of the funding is distributed equitably, let alone in a way that compensates for the vagaries of local estate tax income:

    1. LucyLulu

      ” I would argue that, like for healthcare, the huge disparity of service (and expenditure) between the top and medium to bottom end of the scale contributes to this.

      Yep. I’ve seen studies reported that demonstrate this disparity in outcomes. They also demonstrate that when scores from urban impoverished districts are removed, US students perform very competitively compared to other nations. Nations like Finland, which was recently ranked #1 (seem to think has since fallen), has little disparity or poverty. The same is true for most of the larger EU nations, but especially Scandinavia.

      Hunger and other stresses related to poverty result in poor learning outcomes. Quelle surprise. I’ve spent time in both wealthy suburban classrooms and inner city ones. There is a stark difference in terms of student behavior. The inner city students exhibit more disruptive behavior limiting the attention that can be given to instruction vs. behavioral management. The reasons are open to speculation and probably not singular. For example, children born to crack or cocaine addicted mothers don’t see complete resolution of symptoms once withdrawal is complete, but continue to experience behavioral issues through school-age (even when lucky enough to be adopted as infant…. they aren’t popular babies, and are more likely to be relegated to foster care in same poor school districts).

      The solution isn’t so much throwing money at the schools, as it is addressing our high rates of poverty.

      1. Trisectangle

        “The solution isn’t so much throwing money at the schools”

        I disagree with both the framing and substance of this. Looking at both stats and testimony many poorer school districts can barely fund adquate acedemic programs let alone any program to push students further.

        If money is being thrown at things anywhere it is on the top end. The many additional benefits, outings etc pupils get at there most likely benefit them from a personal development point of view but if the aim is to improve the US’ overall education standard then I believe you’d get more bang for you buck ensuring that the basic programs are all properly funded first.

        As an aside, I love how many (though obviously not all) people pushing against greater redistribution of funding are choosing to send their kids to private school to ensure an even higher level of funding per pupil for their kids.

Comments are closed.