Links 10/27/13

That’s it, it’s coming down! Grumpy tiger fed up with Halloween tries to tear down pumpkin dangling from tree Daily Mail

Never Saw It Coming Alan Greenspan, Foreign Affairs

No global recovery yet Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph. “For a Marxist column later” (!).

World War $ Douglas Coupland, FT

Portrait of a Kleptocrat Testosterone Pit

Jiangxi businessman pays model Mo Lulu 100,000 yuan to breastfeed him South China Morning Post

Mayor Bloomberg grants Metropolitan Museum of Art right to charge mandatory entrance fee Daily News (CB)

JPMorgan settlement move spurs rivals to act FT. Schneiderman to banksters: “Come on down!”

John McDermott Reads Branco Milanovic on the Changing Shape of the World Income Distribution Over the Past Generation Brad DeLong

The Incredible Shrinking Plane Seat WSJ. A poor man’s Gini co-efficient (those seats don’t shrink for everyone).

Inside the hidden world of thefts, scams and phantom purchases at the nation’s nonprofits WaPo

Here’s What Happens When Wall Street Builds A Rental Empire HuffPo. Ha: 2012-08-27.

ObamaCare Launch supposedly getting fixed by Thanksgiving Consumer Reports

Despite Glitches, Obamacare Profit Windfall To Insurers Well Underway Forbes

Sorry liberals, Obamacare’s problems go much deeper than the Web site Ezra Klein, WaPo

‘Glitches’ hit Obamacare paper, phone applications too Politico. Since all applications have to be processed by the same backend that the website uses. In other words, Obama’s recommendation to use the 800 number was at best useless and at worst deceptive. Film at 11.

Why Is Obamacare Complicated? Paul Krugman, Times. Shorter: We have achieved the Heritage Foundation’s goal: Heading off single payer permanently. Modified rapture! Lambert: Rarely is the social function of the “liberal” displayed so clearly.

Responsibility for’s IT problems lie with dot gov Clay Shirkey, Guardian. “Obama’s error was not to empower technologists to tell him the truth.”

Sell-Out Alert: 9 Democrats Already Caving to GOP On Social Security Cuts Alternet. “Why aren’t key Democrats defending needed retirement programs?” Because they don’t believe in them.

Means-Tested recovery: Over 108,000,000 Americans received means-tested benefits in latest report from Census Bureau, more than are currently employed full-time My Budget 360 (CB)

The Weight of Capital Punishment on Jurors, Justices, Governors, & Executioners Verdict (CL). One really good step toward restoring a functioning democracy would be recuperating trial by jury.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Report: US spied on Merkel since 2002 Al Jazeera. “President Obama told the German leader he would have stopped the surveillance had he known about it.” I wonder if, all things considered, Merkel would prefer a back rub from Bush?

Protesters march in Washington against NSA spying Reuters; photos, other data; Snowden statement.

Federal Prosecutors, in a Policy Shift, Cite Warrantless Wiretaps as Evidence Times

Exclusive: 21 Nations Line Up Behind U.N. Effort to Restrain NSA Foreign Policy

The Spooks Will Never Have Their Software Self-Spying Working emptywheel

How to Get Ahead at the NSA LRB

Report: “A Brave New Transatlantic Partnership” Eyes on Trade

Special Report: Help wanted in Fukushima: Low pay, high risks and gangsters Reuters

Fukushima nuclear plant operators prepare for dangerous procedure South China Morning Post

History Contradicts the U.S.’s ‘All of the Above’ Energy Strategy Bloomberg

Energy Boom Puts Wells in America’s Backyards WSJ

The Decline of Wikipedia MIT Technology Review

The Ghosts of October Times (Susie Madrak)

Sox Top Sloppy Cards Roger Angell, The New Yorker

Pennies from heaven The Economist

Antidote du jour (via):


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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. dearieme

    I laughed at A E-P’s “The system is firing on two cylinders”.

    Earlier in the week one of the super-rich remarked that the economy is firing on seven cylinders.

    1. MikeNY

      Even AEP is bewitched by the growth talisman.

      The problem, at least in the rich world, is not that we need more production; the problem is our inability to share equitably the production we already have.

      The growth talisman is a protection device for plutocrats.

      1. Walter Map

        No amount of growth is enough if the workers who produce it don’t get any piece of it.

        But that’s global economic policy. Taken to its logical conclusion, the owner gets everything the worker produces and the worker gets nothing at all, not even the means of support, much less the means to support a family.

        Libertarians naturally argue that this is perfectly fair because the outcome is determined by the Market. The Market is Mother, the Market is Father. Ultimately the Market is Executioner. Moral distress is a null concept.

        Since workers are not entitled even to so much as subsistence pay, there is no point in working for a paycheck at all. At this point owners engage the state to import forced unpaid labor at state expense and dispose of the unpaid, unfed deceased workers at state expense. This was the production model of the Reich during WWII, but it’s been done before and since, and will be again, and is almost certainly happening now somewhere in the world, away from prying eyes. It’s really not that hard.

        Once the masters of humankind have secured complete control this situation can become the established order of things, and they can maximize their increase in wealth while reducing the unprofitable and wasteful majority of the population at the same time.

        Do you really suppose they wouldn’t?

        Noch weiz ich an im mêre
        Daz mir ist bekant,
        Einen lintrachen
        Sluoc des heldes hant,
        Er badet sich in dem bluote:
        Sîn hût wart hurnîn,
        Des snîdet in kein wâfen:
        Daz ist dicke worden schîn.

          1. Whistling in the Dark

            Yeah. I was excited until I looked at the site. Man, that is some dry stuff. Thanks for sharing, though.

            1. Emma

              “Yeah. I was excited until I looked at the site. Man, that is some dry stuff. Thanks for sharing, though.”

              In keeping with the antidote du jour, your comment has less pith than the ‘anal sense backhand’ of a torpid skunk, and you clearly fail to recognize the forehand juice of a master of a site (and I’m sure Salman Rushdie is with me on this one..)

    1. AbyNormal

      “Exclusiveness is a characteristic of recent riches, high society, and the skunk”…one might add the USA Financial Hub

    2. Ned Ludd

      I used to have a cat that looked a bit like a skunk: mostly black, with a white on its head and white fur along its back. It was also about the same size as a skunk.

      One night, just after dusk, I saw it up ahead on the trail in front of me. This was odd, since our cats usually stayed near the barn or the house at night. I went up to pet it… then slowly (and doing my best to emulate “calmly”) backed away.

      I think there was an article posted here about how people are more aware of the emotions of their adversaries. A few meters from a skunk, after having approached it and startled it, I became remarkably interested in how it was feeling and why it was turning around. Luckily, it just walked away – I suppose walking away is a skunk’s ideal defensive posture.

      1. CB

        I did that one time to a line of skunks turned to me with tails raised. I walked away.

        It was an apartment complex with the usual human enablers leaving food for stray cats and never realizing what else came in for free meals, including skunks, of course, but rats, raccoons, etc. Behind the line of skunks was a line of stray cats frozen in wide eyed paralysis. They were trapped against a shrubberied brick wall and couldn’t escape. We all got away clean, so to speak.

      2. Gareth

        I live along a railroad corridor which is heavily populated by skunks. Last Fourth of July I discovered that skunks do not much like fireworks and will respond with a mass, defensive chemical-attack from which there is no escape. The horror!

      3. Crazy Horse

        Kind of reminds me of the American electoral experience. Liberals thought they were getting a nice black and white kitty but when he and all his cabinet raised their tails their true species became apparent.

  2. Thomas Williams

    RE: Greenspan article

    What a load of tripe!

    We all saw this coming by @ 2002. Anyone who did not see it by 2005 was deluding themselves for either financial or ideological reasons.

    His long-winded defense is simply sophistry and a self-induced black eye.

    1. MikeNY

      It is a pathetic spectacle to see this deluded, unrepentant, shrivelled old Randian windbag still clawing to salvage some shred of his reputation.


      1. mk

        as soon as I saw alan greenspan was the author of the article, my brain shutdown and wouldn’t allow me to read it. all the characters got jumbled, must be some sort of time-wasting avoidance mechanism…

        1. CB

          Me, too. Honestly, I’m shocked that any legit outlet would even entertain a greenspan screed. Jeebus.

        1. MikeNY

          I fudd this reply up the first time…

          But thanks to you, and to Bill… I just tossed it off in a fit of pique!

    2. Walter Map

      Greenspan is a bald-faced liar. He knows it, he knows that it is no secret, and he really could care less that anybody knows it. His role is to simply to contribute to maintaining the official propaganda lie.

    3. Mcmike

      Yes, Greenspan is part of the kabuki, but he is also merely trying to juice up his speaking fees by staying relevent and newsworthy. And of course pump up his book sales…

    4. optimader

      financial sector equivalent of McNamara but less intelligent. His excuse for a mea culpa does not deserve bandwidth

    5. zapster

      In it, he continues to cite magic–from the invisible hand to animal spirits. Nothing at all about free-market incentives, conflict of interest, or fraud.

      Oh, and it’s all Keynes’ fault, of course.

  3. Frances Perkins

    Gene Sperlin isn’t thinking straight. He wants stimulus for the economy and at the same time, wants to cut Social Security. How much activity would Social Security cuts take out of the economy?

    It really is disturbing that the President’s Economic Adviser is so confused.

  4. from Mexico

    @ “John McDermott Reads Branco Milanovic on the Changing Shape of the World Income Distribution Over the Past Generation”

    Reports like this from the World Bank should be taken with a very large grain of salt.

    If it is to be believed, then some of the biggest winners from the neoliberal rollout from 1988 to 2008, globally speaking, were the people in the top income 1%. They saw large percentage increases in their incomes over the period. But the study also claims — and this is the part I have trouble with — that the 2nd, 3rd and 4th income quintiles were even bigger winners. (The bottom 5% and the 5th quintile, less the top 1%, were almost staganant.)

    The even bigger “winner” is the new global middle class, particularly in China and India. In 1988, a median earner in China would be richer than only 10 per cent of the world’s population. Twenty years later, that median income would put the average Chinese in the top half of the global income distribution.

    One of the reasons why this is bumkum was alluded to by Ian Welsh in a recent post:

    When we moved from late Feudalism to early industrialization what was done away with were feudal rights, including the commons. Enclosure of land took away rights from people who had them before and gave those rights to other people. Serfs, for all we sneer at them, had rights. Those rights were taken away. The ex-serfs who flooded into early industrial cities after enclosure lived far worse lives than they had under late feudalism (this is WELL established.) They lived shorter, unhealthier lives, worked harder to earn money which left them living in worse circumstances than when they were back on the land.

    This process is of course near complete in the “developed” world. But it is just now getting underway in the “developing” world, places like China, India and Africa. Here’s how Arundhati Roy explains the ongoing process in India:

    The battle for land lies at the heart of India’s ‘Development’ debate. A year ago, India’s former finance minister P. Chidambaram said that his vision was to get 85 per cent of India’s population to live in cities.1 Realizing this ‘vision’ would require social engineering on an unimaginable scale. It would mean inducing, or forcing, about five hundred million people to migrate from the countryside into cities. That process is well under way and is quickly turning India into a police state in which people who refuse to surrender their land are being made to do so at gunpoint. Underlying this nightmare masquerading as ‘vision’ is the plan to free up vast tracts of land and all of India’s natural resources, leaving them ripe for corporate plunder.

    The forcing of the people off the land has an added benefit for the neoliberals, as it provides them a vast supply of slave-wage labor, as Roy explains:

    An unacknowledged, low-grade civil war has been under way for a few years now. Hundreds of thousands of people have had their villages destroyed, their food stocks burned. Many have migrated to cities where they work as manual laborers on starvation wages.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Would Mao say, these out-of-land farmers will one day carry the barrel of my gun, even if the only safe milk to drink in the Middle Kingdom is out of a model’s bosom and only the Chinese 0.01% could afford such a healthy elixir?

      1. from Mexico

        Are you attempting to make this a contest between neoliberalism and Communism? It’s not. Roy does not defend communism, as is very clear in this passage:

        Within months of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Indian government, once a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, performed a high-speed somersault and aligned itself completely with the United States, monarch of the new unipolar world.

        The rules of the game changed suddenly and completely. Millions of people who lived in remote villages and deep in the heart of untouched forests, some of whom had never heard of Berlin or the Soviet Union, could not have imagined how events that occurred in those faraway places would affect their lives. The process of their dispossession and displacement had already begun in the early 1950s, when India opted for the Soviet-style development model in which huge steel plants (Bhilai, Bokaro) and large dams (thousands of them) would occupy the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy. The era of privatisation and structural adjustment accelerated that process at a mind-numbing speed.

        1. don

          It is you who equates the Soviet State with communism, not Roy. See:

          It is much more accurate to refer to the Soviet State as state bureaucratic socialism.

          As for Evans-Pritchard, he is mistaken to suggest that Marx is talking about too much savings (underconsumption). Instead Marx was addressing surplus capital and overproduction.

          1. from Mexico

            From the article you link, it is very clear that Roy does not see this as a battle between Maoism (Communism) and neoliberalism, but between neoliberalism and the tribal peoples:

            It’s easier on the liberal conscience to believe that the war in the forests is a war between the Government of India and the Maoists, who call elections a sham, Parliament a pigsty and have openly declared their intention to overthrow the Indian State. It’s convenient to forget that tribal people in Central India have a history of resistance that predates Mao by centuries. (That’s a truism of course. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t exist.) The Ho, the Oraon, the Kols, the Santhals, the Mundas and the Gonds have all rebelled several times, against the British, against zamindars and moneylenders. The rebellions were cruelly crushed, many thousands killed, but the people were never conquered. Even after Independence, tribal people were at the heart of the first uprising that could be described as Maoist, in Naxalbari village in West Bengal (where the word Naxalite—now used interchangeably with ‘Maoist’—originates).

              1. from Mexico

                Well don can certainly claim that the former USSR wasn’t communist.

                But I don’t know how many takers he will get on that contention. And Roy is most definitely not one of them.

                don states that “It is you who equates the Soviet State with communism, not Roy.” But in the very article which he linked Roy makes the following statement which shows don’s claim to be wrong. Roy writes:

                Free Market Capitalism defeated Soviet Communism in the bleak mountains of Afghanistan.

          1. from Mexico

            Well I have a sense of irony and the absurd. But I prefer mine to be reality-based, in addition to being coherently and understandably conveyed, such as this from Roy’s article which don linked:

            Enter Mahendra Karma, one of the biggest landlords in the region and at the time a member of the Communist Party of India (CPI). In 1990, he rallied a group of mukhias and landlords and started a campaign called the Jan Jagran Abhiyaan (public awakening campaign). Their way of ‘awakening’ the ‘public’ was to form a hunting party of about 300 men to comb the forest, killing people, burning houses and molesting women. The then Madhya Pradesh government—Chhattisgarh had not yet been created—provided police back-up.


            And what Chairman Mao said about the guerrillas being the fish and people being the water they swim in, is, at this moment, literally true.

            Chairman Mao. He’s here too. A little lonely, perhaps, but present. There’s a photograph of him, up on a red cloth screen. Marx too. And Charu Mazumdar, the founder and chief theoretician of the Naxalite Movement. His abrasive rhetoric fetishises violence, blood and martyrdom, and often employs a language so coarse as to be almost genocidal. Standing here, on Bhumkal day, I can’t help thinking that his analysis, so vital to the structure of this revolution, is so removed from its emotion and texture. When he said that only “an annihilation campaign” could produce “the new man who will defy death and be free from all thought of self-interest”—could he have imagined that this ancient people, dancing into the night, would be the ones on whose shoulders his dreams would come to rest?

            It’s a great disservice to everything that is happening here that the only thing that seems to make it to the outside world is the stiff, unbending rhetoric of the ideologues of a party that has evolved from a problematic past. When Charu Mazumdar famously said, “China’s Chairman is our Chairman and China’s Path is Our Path,” he was prepared to extend it to the point where the Naxalites remained silent while General Yahya Khan committed genocide in East Pakistan (Bangladesh), because at the time, China was an ally of Pakistan. There was silence too, over the Khmer Rouge and its killing fields in Cambodia. There was silence over the egregious excesses of the Chinese and Russian revolutions. Silence over Tibet. Within the Naxalite movement too, there have been violent excesses and it’s impossible to defend much of what they’ve done. But can anything they have done compare with the sordid achievements of the Congress and the BJP in Punjab, Kashmir, Delhi, Mumbai, Gujarat…. And yet, despite these terrifying contradictions, Charu Mazumdar was a visionary in much of what he wrote and said. The party he founded (and its many splinter groups) has kept the dream of revolution real and present in India. Imagine a society without that dream. For that alone, we cannot judge him too harshly. Especially not while we swaddle ourselves with Gandhi’s pious humbug about the superiority of “the non-violent way” and his notion of trusteeship: “The rich man will be left in possession of his wealth, of which he will use what he reasonably requires for his personal needs and will act as a trustee for the remainder to be used for the good of society.”

            How strange it is, though, that the contemporary tsars of the Indian Establishment—the State that crushed the Naxalites so mercilessly—should now be saying what Charu Mazumdar said so long ago: China’s Path is Our Path.

            China’s Path has changed. China has become an imperial power now, preying on other countries, other people’s resources. But the Party is still right, only, the Party has changed its mind.

            When the Party is a suitor (as it is now in Dandakaranya), wooing the people, attentive to their every need, then it genuinely is a People’s Party, its army genuinely a People’s Army. But after the Revolution how easily this love affair can turn into a bitter marriage. How easily the People’s Army can turn upon the people. Today in Dandakaranya, the Party wants to keep the bauxite in the mountain. Tomorrow, will it change its mind? But can we, should we let apprehensions about the future immobilise us in the present?


            And are the Maoists the only ones who believe in protracted war? Almost from the moment India became a sovereign nation, it turned into a colonial power, annexing territory, waging war. It has never hesitated to use military interventions to address political problems—Kashmir, Hyderabad, Goa, Nagaland, Manipur, Telangana, Assam, Punjab, the Naxalite uprising in West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and now across the tribal areas of Central India. Tens of thousands have been killed with impunity, hundreds of thousands tortured. All of this behind the benign mask of democracy. Who have these wars been waged against? Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Communists, Dalits, Tribals and, most of all, against the poor who dare to question their lot instead of accepting the crumbs that are flung at them. It’s hard not to see that the Indian State is an essentially upper-caste Hindu State (regardless of the party in power) which harbours a reflexive hostility towards the ‘other’. One that, in true colonial fashion, sends the Nagas and Mizos to fight in Chhattisgarh, Sikhs to Kashmir, Kashmiris to Orissa, Tamilians to Assam and so on. If this isn’t protracted war, what is?

            Unpleasant thoughts on a beautiful, starry night. Sukhdev is smiling to himself, his face lit by his computer screen. He’s a crazy workaholic. I ask him what’s funny. “I was thinking about the journalists who came last year for the Bhumkal celebrations. They came for a day or two. One posed with my AK, had himself photographed and then went back and called us Killing Machines or something.”


        2. indian

          From mexico and don
          Indian elites changed their views about US under duress.In her last days,indira gandhi got angry over russians.
          The legal-bureaucratic-governance system set up by Mughals,English,Russians is still here.It has been now topped with american system.So India have an extremely complicated and non functioning bureaucracy.Even most dynamic govt can not get work done.I think in next 10 yrs,whole governance will simply seize up.It has already seized up but the grinding halt will come later.
          BTW Indian commies never left politics. Communist party of India ,which was set up by English and Russian lefties still have enough representation in parliament.Most of the media eagerly listens to them.
          But the lefty neo liberal socialists are in much focus.
          In days of USSR,India was more socialist than Russia.In the days of rule by US-NWO,india looks like very cheap version of USA.
          I see another turnaround coming.I don’t think US will have more influence in future.Then Indian politicians will have to look for new boss.
          Just few days back Indian PM inked some deals with russians and chinese. The deals were signed after syria non event.
          It seems Indian politicians don’t understand who is heading the world.It was easier in old days:you pick US or USSR.Now things are hazy.
          Indian politicians are suffering from a syndrome of serving too many masters.They have to satiate UN,banking cartel(WB,IMF,BIS),US,EU,Russia ,Saudi Arabia and china.
          India has one party system like china and have politically active royal family.The one party is congress and royal family is Gandhi(no relation with M.K.Gandhi).The one party allocates part of country to other minor families and maintains hold over economic,social,political life of country.

          1. from Mexico

            indian said:

            It seems Indian politicians don’t understand who is heading the world.It was easier in old days:you pick US or USSR.Now things are hazy.

            Indian politicians are certainly not alone. I don’t think any thoughful person knows who is heading the world these days.

            You might enjoy these videos featuring Zbigniew Brzezinski from a conference a few days ago. I would classify Brzezinski as extremely hawkish, but not oneiric like the neocons. He’s a little bit more realistic, but not so realistic that I would classify him as a realitst. So he’s somewhere between a realist and a neocon.

            He was the intellectual father of the Carter Doctrine, the financing of the mujahideen in Afghanistan, as well as the arms buildup and the development of the Rapid Deployment Forces – policies that are more generally associated with Ronald Reagan now.

            The Carter Doctrine was proclaimed by Carter as follows: “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

            Reagan would expand the Carter doctrine to the following: Only by enjoying unquestioned primacy in the region — initially defined as “Southwest Asia” but eventually to encompass all of the Persian Gulf, the Caucasus, and Central Asia — could the government of the United States “assure the unimpeded flow of oil” (General Robert Kingston) and guarantee American prosperity and therefore American freedom.

            But even a super-hawk like Brzezinski now acknowledges the days of US world hegemony, or even hegemony in that region of the world, are over.




      1. from Mexico

        Roy is remarkable.

        In addition to the words wisdom, compassion and courage, I would add universalist and undoctrinaire.

  5. diptherio

    Re: Here’s What Happens When Wall Street Builds A Rental Empire

    I’m assuming that the states where this is happening do not have any kind of tenant protections in state law (like some version of the Uniform Residential Landlord/Tenant Act). In Montana, and many other states, the law gives the LL 3 days to two weeks to make repairs after having been informed by the tenant of the problem, depending on severity, threats to health and safety, etc. If the LL doesn’t get the problem taken care of, the tenant can have the repair made and deduct the cost from the next month’s rent (known, for obvious reasons, as repair-and-deduct).

    Either the tenants in these houses need to bone-up on their protections under state law (if there are any) or they need to try to get a repair-and-deduct law on the books ASAP.

    Nice call on where this whole PE landlord strategy was going to end up, by the way.

    1. PeonInChief

      While that’s what the law may say, in practice tenants have to be very careful in using repair and deduct (fixing the problem and deducting the cost from the rent) and rent withholding (keeping the rent until a repair is made). A tenant who does not have a perfect case, and in some cases even one who has a perfect case, can face an unsympathetic judge and be evicted for doing that.

      To give you a sense of how bad the judging is in California, which isn’t as bad as Georgia, and Florida is so awful we won’t even mention it:

      One judge allowed the eviction of a tenant, even though the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act prohibited the eviction, claiming that the federal law was an “interference with business.” In another case the judge allowed the eviction of a tenant in violation of the PTFA, even though the facts of the case were directly covered by the law.

      A judge who can’t rule according to law on a simple, discrete law is even less likely to rule for the tenant in addressing more complex issues.

      1. anon y'mouse

        long ago, from real estate law class–onus is on the renter to have properly contacted the landlord and given them sufficient time to carry out the repairs.

        if the battle isn’t worth it, and one can’t move, and the costs are not substantial (as in, not a repipe of the entire house or something), I would simply recommend getting it done and worry about who will pay it later if you’re getting no joy from the owner.

        I wonder if there is any recompense to be had after the fact?

        1. PeonInChief

          Most “repair and deduct” statutes (and Georgia doesn’t have this at all) limit the amount the tenant spends to one or two months rent. And although that’s a substantial sum for a lot of people, it’s not going to put on a new roof or re-pipe the entire house.

          In states with an established warranty of habitability, a tenant can repair and then sue the landlord in Small Claims Court for the money. The tenant would have to have a good case and a very good paper trail.

  6. craazyman

    faaaak the Met charging $25. ahha hahahahahahahahah

    Every time I go I give $1.

    It’s the same paintings over and over and over. the sculptures were made hundreds or even two thousand years ago. are they different next week? it should be 50 cents, then 25 cents, then 12 cents. Bottoming out a 5 cents.

    If you’re a rich European on vacation, then you can pay $25.

    why isn’t it free? It’s free down at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. They have the same paintings too, over and over and over. But it’s the govermint and the govermint knows how to run things. It’s when the private sector takes over, that’s when things go to hell.

    Somebody should write a textbook about that and teach it at Havaaahd. Nobody would believe it. They’d have to find out for themselves, like by going out and starting a company, then lobbying for tax breaks from the govermint so they could avoid running themselves into the ground. Even then, they still probably wouldn’t figure it out. You just can’t teach somebody some things, no matter how big a bonehead somebody is.

    It’s a bad day for collocations. The skunks and the breast milk stories don’t collocate. You sort of get nauseous thinking about them together.

    I don’t know what about wikipedia is declining. every time I go there there’s something that looks uphill to me. I need to send them some money by Christmas. even if they roll downhill, it’s for services already rendered.

  7. Mcmike

    Re hedge fund slumlords: wait till the firms start screwing people out of their security deposits… Painfully predictable.

    Also: The firms, of course, will develop black lists, further hampering tenants ability to fight back or get recourse. Punishing them by putting them on a “no rent” list. Which will evolve sort of like a credit rating.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      The hedgehog slumlords may encounter a shock when confronted by myriad, toothy tenant-landlord laws that favor tenants rights. These are hard-fought and entrenched in local agencies and state bar associations that are not likely to be as easily bought or bribed as state AGs. The hegehogs may discover Greenspan’s “fundamental flaw” in their hermetic business model. The blood from turmips scheme may not pan out quite as well as projected when they fimd themselves mired in a fustercluck of small claims cases.

      1. Mcmike

        Yeah, just like all those local laws about recording changes in mortgages, filing foreclosures, and the like… those local laws.. sure got in the way of… um, oopie.

        [Sorry for the snark; couldn’t resist]

  8. tongorad

    Krugman: “Yes, Obamacare is a somewhat awkward kludge, but if that’s what it took to cover the uninsured, so be it.”

    Is Krudman the mother of all Obama-bots?

    Sure, single-payer would take rentier’s hands out of working people’s pockets, but if that’s what it takes to provide health care to people who need it, so be it.

    1. Montanamaven

      It’s that exact sentiment of Krugman’s that you quote that compels me to never read anything he has to say. He is a mere apologist. He knows what the right thing should be, but, hey, it ain’t gonna happen. He repeats this over and over. And, yes, Paul, if you don’t raise a hue and cry for the right policy, then you are complicit in the scam and I will not give you the time of day. No one should give him their precious time. It’s not enough, Paul, to know the right answer and shrug.

    2. Ned Ludd

      Krugman gained his status by advocating for free trade and writing columns such as: “In Praise of Cheap Labor”.

      You may say that the wretched of the earth should not be forced to serve as hewers of wood, drawers of water, and sewers of sneakers for the affluent. But what is the alternative? … And as long as you have no realistic alternative to industrialization based on low wages, to oppose it means that you are willing to deny desperately poor people the best chance they have of progress for the sake of what amounts to an aesthetic standard–that is, the fact that you don’t like the idea of workers being paid a pittance to supply rich Westerners with fashion items.

      Sounds a lot like something Matthew Yglesias might write. Publications like Slate exist to promote neoliberals, who then absorb, deflect, or marginalize dissent and find endless excuses for their advocacy of – or captualation to – policies promoted by elites.

    3. Ned Ludd

      After five manufacturing plants collapsed in Bangladesh, “killing more than 1,100 workers on April 24,” Krugman revisited his earlier column in order to tamp down expectations.

      It remains true that given their low productivity, countries like Bangladesh can’t be competitive with advanced countries unless they pay their workers much less, and provide much worse working conditions too.


      But if we demand higher standards for all countries — modestly higher standards, so that we’re not talking about driving the business back to advanced countries — we can achieve an improvement in workers’ lives (and fewer horrible workers’ deaths), without undermining the export industries these countries so desperately need.

      So, can we act to improve the lot of workers in low-age, labor-intensive manufacturing? Yes, we can, as long as the goals are realistic and the measures appropriate in scale.

      After a horrific tragedy, the social function of a liberal is to run interference for the ruling class. Instead of fundamental change, a liberal will, at most, advocate for modest reforms that are “realistic” and “appropriate”. Liberals are key to how capitalism absorbs dissent.

      1. anon y'mouse

        with you there, Ned.

        we need to abandon liberalism apologetics and become radical.

        this “trade off to nothing” negotiation process is just a way to slip in what the overlords want with greater acquiescence.

        gentle now, horse…my bridle is what will be good for the both of us!

  9. ambrit

    The Reuters article about rampant corruption in the Fukushima clean up and decommissioning jobs is very scary. Roughly put, the same old same old. Which bought us a mal-designed nuclear reactor complex that failed under the stresses of a natural disaster. A disaster that could have been predicted, and designed for, if the initial design and construction weren’t corrupt themselves. So, does anyone think that an anti-redisaster program will do any better if it is designed and run exactly as the original program? All of which is to say that this Fukushima Disaster Recovery Program must be internationalized. Too much is at stake for the world to let petty bureaucrats and small time gangsters run this show. Maybe it’s time to go on in and re-occupy Japan.

    1. pero no

      You say too much is at stake. I’m not sure the Naked Capitalism readers realize just how much is at stake.

      “Former Ambassador Mitsuhei Murata says full-scale releases from Fukushima ‘would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.'”

      This should be the #1 news story each and every day until competent memebers of the world community intervene to help.

      1. susan the other

        Agree with both of you. Fukushima #4 is the apocalypse. Tepco is the world’s most incompetent, self-serving corporation. Monsanto is a distant second, followed closely by the entire financial industry. But Fukushima’s fate seems to be as relentless as our own Karma. An almost impossible problem, left to be remedied by those idiots at Tepco. I agree Ambrit. The US, Russia, China, France and all countries with expertise should just go in now. Screw Japan’s infamous pride. I mean, those Tepco twerps were using the equivalent of Little Kitty radiation counters for two years.

    2. Eureka Springs

      You first. /s

      Seriously I have not read anywhere anything resembling a plan by anyone, even from afar, which could possibly end well. I don’t think there is much anyone / any current tech can do. The next step begins in a couple of weeks… emptying the fuel pool atop reactor four. It’s should be treated as one of the greatest nail biting moments in human history. The equivalent of more than ten thousand nuke bombs going critical for dawg sakes!

      To advise anyone but the absolute minimum of needed personnel to do anything but stand back a thousand or more miles while that effort gets underway is crazy.

      1. pero no

        “I don’t think there is much anyone / any current tech can do.”

        I would feel a lot more comfortable if the best engineering minds in the world considered this first, as opposed to a bunch of Yakuza.

    3. Dirk77

      Oh man. I love the comment about how Tepco feels pressure to turn a profit soon. If that isn’t evidence that corporate limited liability protection should have a fixed lifetime I dont know what is.

      1. optimader

        Tepco has an have an infinite liability, however they \collude with the government is plain ol fraud.
        The honest business model would eat the liability become insolvent and turn it over the government to steward into the future.

        Ultimately the blood is on the hands of the Japanese Government which signed off on construction of a poorly conceived and located nuke plant, then followed through provided operating permits to an apparently incompetent utility operator.

        1. Dirk77

          Limited liability applies to the company owners not the company itself. But I can understand your interpretation, what with corporations being above the law these days. And I’m sure that is related to any government corruption and incompetence. I wonder if a species could be created that could handle nuclear power.

          1. Paul P

            In the United States, and I would bet elsewhere, corporate liability for nuclear accidents was limited by law to a petty amount relative to the costs of an accident. I don’t recall the liability limits, but they were set by the Price-Anderson Act.

          2. optimader

            I am aware of the codified limitation of liability relative to nuke plants in the US, its the only way they could be built. I’m sure the same legislated risk removal exists in Japan.
            My comment relative to infinite liability and Tepco was a Moral observation (yes call it a hypothetical observation).

    4. The Black Swan

      How we are letting a bunch of corrupt buffoons handle an extinction level event is beyond me. We can bicker and argue over war, debt, spending, health care, etc. but none of that is going to matter if Fukushima kills off the biosphere. This is the only time in my life that I would support the invasion of a country and the disposal of its oligarchs. The fact that nothing is being done by the international community to ensure the survival of humanity shows just how far gone the human race is. We can invade Iraq under the pretense of WMD, yet ignore Japan with the largest WMD in human history. And one that could go off at any moment. Insanity, pure insanity. I hate the fact that we (the average citizen of spaceship earth) have on control over events that could end this 14 billion year experiment in life on earth, and that the control is in the hands of the least qualified members of our species.

      What poor karmic events have placed us in such ‘interesting’ times?

    5. emptyfull

      Agreed. This may raise some hackles here, but I think the US military should take over. Am I wrong to assume that the US military would have the best expertise and command structure to deal with this?

      1. ambrit

        Dear emptyfull;
        The organizations with the most experience with nuclear materials today would be the various militaries around the world who have atomic weapons. Not only do they have the most extensive experience in general, but they have also had various ‘accidents’ involving atomics to deal with. The Russian experience with Chernobyl alone is a trove of information. Such as: Who does best in command and control during delicate disasters? How much radiation exposure did the workers manage to live with? How much killed them? When in that process did their usefulness degrade past utility? Just what materials could be handled, and how? What types of disaster responses worked? Which were wishful thinking? An interview with the General tasked with the response I remember seeing stated it starkly. Something like; “I sent men in there knowing they were going to die as a result. That’s what military commanders have always done.”
        I will assert that the threat from the Fukushima Disaster is so grave that thinking like that is needed. When the fate of the worlds biosphere is at stake, even nations are expendable.
        As a side issue, I wonder what the state of the worlds underground habitats is. The scene from the end of “Dr. Strangelove” comes to mind. The quants pull out their slipsticks and try to calculate the “Mineshaft Gap.”

    6. Optimader

      I agree Ambrit
      I am appalled and disillusioned that other than NHK there is so very little coverage of this ongoing slow motion trainwreck in MSM . Cluelessness. Cant see it taste it smell it = little apparent interest.

  10. Eureka Springs

    The best engineering minds got us here. And as I said, I have been looking since 3-11 and I haven’t seen any “best minds” step up and suggest there is a good solution. There isn’t one.

    Pandora has long been out of the box. Probably the most we can/should do is shut down every other nuke box around the globe while we can. And hope the best crane operators in the world / or Japan win the nuclear pool #4 game of extinction level event pixie sticks.

    1. pero no

      “The best engineering minds got us here.”
      Not really. It was more the greed of Tepco. Tepco ignored of warnings to shore up safety features at their plant before the earthquake struck.

      “I have been looking since 3-11 and I haven’t seen any “best minds” step up and suggest there is a good solution.”

      They’ve been rebuffed from trying to help by the Japanese and Tepco.

      “There isn’t one.”
      I would much rather the person who said this to the world had some qualifications to do so. It would be funny if the fate of mankind depended on the WWW searching prowess of a naked capitalism commentator or commentators.

      Also, it’s not clear whether one might emerge if everyone qualified to think about it put their heads together.

      “Probably the most we can/should do is shut down every other nuke box around the globe while we can.”
      Shutting down every power plant would do nothing to solve the problems at Fukushima.

      “hope the best crane operators in the world / or Japan win the nuclear pool #4 game of extinction level event pixie sticks.”
      They are using the worst and worst paid personnel. Surely, they can do better!

      1. Eureka Springs

        “They’ve been rebuffed”

        Who is they? What is their plan? Rebuffed by whom?

        I’m not defending the insanity of neoliberal Japanese corporate/political/yakusa laden ways at all. I’m all to familiar with it as one who conducted business in partnerships all over the country for years. But I still have yet to see a plan by anyone, best mind or nay, which suggests a somewhat plausibly decent outcome is possible.

        These ‘best minds’ if they have a plan surely know how to post and share a blog post. I mean jeeezuz, enenews alone will post just about any plan someone might be considering. ***crickets***

        1. pero no

          “I am aware of three US companies with state of the art technology that have been to Japan repeatedly and have been rebuffed by the Japanese government”

          “Russia’s nuclear company, Rosatom – the parent company of Rosenergoatom – sent Japan a 5 kilogram sample of an absorbent that could be used at Fukushima almost three years ago, Asmolov recalled. The assistance was never used, Asmolov said.”

          There were other rejected offers I’ve read about, but I don’t have time to find them all now.

          The test should not be whether a “good” plan has been formulated so far. There is no question there needs to be a plan. If a “good” one has not been formulated, then everyone who could give valuable input needs to be employed to do so. It’s possible that a good plan cannot be made until the relevant people have access to real information about what is going on, as opposed to Tepco’s lies. (more on Tepco’s lying is at Technical challenges are often like this, requiring detailed knowledge of the problem at hand.

          The idea that the world should give up trying to solve the problem simply because there are no plans in public circulation is absurd.

          Japan is now using their “International” (in scare quotes since its members are other corrupt Japanese utilities and corporations) Research Institute formed 3 months ago to study the problem.

          There’s no question though that a solution needs to come from outside of Japan.

          1. Eureka Springs

            Ah yes, The Russian sponge!

            Every report of decontamination I’ve read about (in communities many miles from the plant) have later had to admit it didn’t work. After a dust or rain storm contamination is often worse than before the initial cleanup. Would you (for any amount of money) go over and soak up the highly contaminated plant area waste? You really want to take this type of plan and tell the Japanese to move over and let someone else do it? What are you going to do with the sponge and contents afterwards? Many millions of tons of it!

            Looking busy with a sponge is not a plausible plan. At least in my opinion not enough to ask human beings to step into it. Much, much better to step way back and pray for the best minded crane operators to get the worst out safely and to stop all other nuclear power/weapons activity on the planet immediately.

            Dr’s Gunderson and Caldicott’s letter are fine on some levels, but it is not a clean up plan, because cleanup to any safe living standard is impossible.

            No plan says otherwise. None. Your links make it clear.

            1. pero no

              You seem to want to attack any plan and any technological fix as impossible, hence the need to find a plan to attack that has been posted online. I’m not sure if it’s true that nothing will work, or if you are in a position to judge this for any given plan–not just because you lack the credentials, but because we don’t have a clear picture of the exact problem given Tepco’s lies.

              I don’t accept the lack of blog postings on this topic as proof that it’s impossible. The major limitation so far seems to have been Tepco and its Yakuza partners’ desire to profit from the disaster.

              We do know without a doubt that whatever problems there are, are being compounded by the incompetence and greed by Tepco and the Japanese government. The situation requires international intervention for both technological and above all political reasons.

              1. Eureka Springs

                I’m not attacking plans… I’ve said no plausible plan exists. You haven’t provided a link to one yet.

                I’m equally surprised by folks here who suggest U.S. France etc… who are all equally corrupt on every relevant level – nuke loving, and deceptive to their core, fully complicit originators in this nuclear nightmare could possibly move into Japan whether invited or by invasion for gawd sakes! and A. be anymore honest. B. Be anymore willing or able to put pandora back in the box.

                Talk about collective Stockholm Syndrome! Invite Hannibal Lector to dinner today… what a plan.

                1. AndyB

                  This problem has never been faced before and there are no technological solutions available other than taking the rods out one by one. One little misstep and it is all over for the planet, easily within 50 years. Due to wind and ocean currents, there will be no ultimate place to hide. Those of you who are under 30 who live anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere will experience zombies first hand with 15-20 years. Good luck.

                  1. neo-realist

                    “Look at the bright side of life”– if the worst happens at Fukushima, not even the TPTB will survive. They’ll buy a little more time than the peasants, but in the absence of an “Elysium” underground bunkers and private security protected islands won’t isolate them from similar fates.

                    Not that we should be totally relieved by such a possibility.

  11. Montanamaven

    Well, I was going to steer people to the Post article on thievery at non-profits since charity is a big bug-a-boo of mine. These huge non-profits seem put together to provide upper middle class people with la de da jobs. So why would they know what’s going on underneath them? They work for looters and are in turn looted by lower looters. Ha. Ha. Ha. But the Fukushima crisis and the “Broken Ocean” trumps all other stories, so I’m going to also ask that we spend time on this topic.

  12. anon y'mouse

    Pennies from Heaven:

    “Mr Anoche’s first move on getting his windfall was to buy a new roof. Not only is thatch leaky, but it also needs to be replaced twice a year, at $40 a time.”

    um, far be it for me to tell Mr. Anoche the truth of his own experience, but that tin he intends to replace it with is not better.

    thatch is leaky?

    thatch needs biannual replacement?

    must not be properly done thatch.

    thatched roofs are extremely environmentally friendly, utilizing basically agricultural refuse or reeds.

    how about encouraging people to spend their money building things that are of better quality from natural materials that they can learn to grow, gather and craft themselves rather than rely upon what is most likely an imported, mass produced product. might even be a role for local roof thatcher & apprentice.

    how about a workshop focusing on low-tech but very comfortable building processes? wait, we can give them money and they can find ways to solve their own problems (i’m all for that part) and yet it involves engaging in a wider market which undercuts local craftsmanship and environmental sustainability.

    ahh, the tradeoffs.

    1. CB

      I thought thatch sheltered vermin and the transition to solid roofing materials reduced the incidence of vermin borne diseases. Reduced, mind you, not eliminated.

      1. anon y'mouse

        i am not a builder, or a thatcher but do believe that it is how it is done that matters as to whether vermin will find an entry. i have some books around here which show that even something as simple as how poles are fitted together in the roofing can affect whether rats & such have access.

        it is doubtful to me that UK or US building codes would allow something so subject to infestation to be installed. i have seen documentaries which discuss vampire bats and so on living in the roof, but that would depend upon how the underside is finished, wouldn’t it?

        my main concern recommending such a thing is this: what are the local reed (best materials) stocks like, and can they be cultivated to be more manageable as a roofing material. perhaps there isn’t any ‘reed’ as we know it, in which case what exactly are they using in Kenya now?

        my guess is that this biannual re-roofing was not such a problem until they entered the cash economy which forces the farmers to pay money (instead of goods, favors, or other considerations) for the service.

        i would never recommend someone sacrifice on comfort. but there are historic buildings which rely on thatched roofs in the UK right now, which is a much rainier climate than Kenya, i believe.

      2. anon y'mouse

        he (the master thatcher, whose website i listed above) discusses water, fire, and pests on his FAQ page.

  13. craazyboy

    “Here’s What Happens When Wall Street Builds A Rental Empire HuffPo”

    Maybe the private equity guys will sell the houses to their renters for 40% off? haha

    Probably not.

    1. Hugh

      Clearly, Obama did not officially tell himself of the surveillance of Merkel. If he had, he would have stopped it at once. I think we can all accept that as a given. As it was, there wasn’t much he could do and certainly should not be held to blame.

  14. Hugh

    Fukushima and are both examples of devolution. Our elites and ruling classes are so consumed by their desire to loot that they are no longer capable of even minimal levels of competence. It isn’t culture. It’s kleptocracy. The fact that Tepco allowed Fukushima to happen should have ended the company and landed its executives in jail. However, if Japan was not a kleptocracy, Fukushima probably would not have happened in the first place. Going nuclear in a country prone to earthquakes should have raised all kinds of red flags and at a minimum have sparked serious planning and close regulation. Instead we see a company only concerned with the bottom line which embraced a defective nuclear design, placed its reactors without any concern for risk or safety, and to top it off operated this highly dangerous form of energy production in the sloppiest and most unsafe manner imaginable.

    It goes to the heart of devolution and the depth of corruption in the Japanese government that Tepco was put in charge for so long of the disaster it created (you know sort of like the treatment of the banks after the 2008 crash). Supposedly, the Japanese government has taken over but again with the theme of devolution to little or no effect.

    Could Fukushima be dealt with? Yes, but it would likely be expensive and, as with Chernobyl, messy and incomplete. But it would be better than this clown show dancing on the knife edge of a truly catastrophic ecological disaster.

    Will it be dealt with? Unlikely, the devolutionary effects of kleptocracy are simply too strong.

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