Links 11/5/13

Cat Simulator (Lambert). If you need a new way to goof off on the Internet…

I Noticed This Tiny Thing On Google Maps. When I Zoomed In… Well, Nothing Could Prepare Me. ViralNova. Lambert: “Despite the totally click bait headline and the subtext that appears at the end, this is in fact an awesome work of art…”

Better Out Than In banksy (Lambert)

Think Hoarding Passwords Keeps You Safe From Firing? Think Again Forbes

Mishaps and deaths caused by surgical robots going underreported to FDA PBS

India launches spacecraft to Mars BBC

China prepares to liberalise finance as hedge funds and estate agents salivate Guardian

Brussels tempers eurozone growth forecasts Financial Times

Debt crisis has left Germany vulnerable Satyajit Das, Financial Times

Italy’s Mr Euro urges Latin Front, warns Germany won’t sell another Mercedes in Europe Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Sea surrender plan to ease flood fears on south coast BBC

Cyprus should prepare to attract foreign lenders, says commission ekathimerini. Translation: the Trokia blew up our banking system, so now we need to rely on the kindness of strangers.

Amnesty International Explains Why It Won’t Oppose All Drone Murders David Swanson, Firedoglake (Carol B)

U.S. Officials See Few Alternatives to N.S.A. Data Sweeps New York Times

Obamacare Launch

Special Investigation: How Insurers Are Hiding Obamacare Benefits From Customers TPM (John L). While true, meant to divert attention from Obama’s “You can keep your plan and doctor” promise.

The Primary Care Technician Will See You Now Bloomberg

Senate Democrats to White House: Fix Obamacare Politico

Sticker shock often follows insurance cancellation Associated Press. It’s also disturbing to see messaging, like this in the USA Today editorial, that it’s OK to throw 5% of the population under the bus to help the 15% uninsured. In other word, an “I got mine” attitude among the 80% on company policies or otherwise covered whose lives don’t change with Obamacare. What about having everyone who can pay a little to help the uninsured, rather than dump the costs disproportionately on the self-employed (oh, who don’t have lobbyists protecting their ox from being gored). I’ve heard enough stories from people in my personal network (not all are well off, but all are pretty savvy and have looked into their options) of the big insurance cost increases they are facing to know this problem is neither a few odd cases nor people who have yet to shop for coverage and factor in the subsidies.

Top hospitals opt out of ObamaCare Fox

Another Republican switches to the Democratic Party Daily Kos

WATT NOMINATION LATEST FIASCO FOR VALERIE JARRETT Chris Whalen, Breitbart. This is all juicy but I am not quite sure right. First, we thought Mel Watts was an awful choice, so the outcome is good news. Second, we heard privately that Watt didn’t want the job, so obvious lack of enthusiasm may have played a role. So if this was Jarrett’s bright idea, the opprobrium is entirely warranted, but for a different reason.

In Alabama election, a showdown between the GOP establishment and the tea party Washington Post

Top 16 NYC charter school executives earn more than Chancellor Dennis Walcott Daily News (Lambert)

Broken Bonds Chicago Tribune (Optimader)

The Weak Economy and Deficit Reduction: Deniers and Terrorists Dean Baker, Truthout

How to Sound Insane by Talking Like a Bi Partisan Expert on Social Security Dan Crawford, Angry Bear

Republicans make the poor pay to balance the budget Guardian

Walmart Is Trying to Block Workers’ Disability Benefits Mother Jones (Carol B). Do Walmart executives spend all day dreaming up new ways to be evil?

Johnson & Johnson to pay over $2 billion to settle Risperdal investigations Modern Health Care

Great Expectations, Deferred Econbrowser (Scott). Far more important than the anodyne headline would lead you to believe

Finance Depends on Resistance, Finance is Resistance, and Anyway, Resistance is Futile Mediations (don)

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):


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  1. Butch In Waukegan

    Big Brother is Watching You Watch:

    NSA Official Cites ‘Stop and Frisk’ in Effort to Explain Searches of Phone Records —McClatchy

    WASHINGTON — The general counsel of the National Security Agency on Monday compared the agency’s telephone metadata collection program to the highly controversial “stop-and-frisk” practice used by law enforcement officers, saying the agency uses that same standard to choose which phone numbers to query in its database.

    “It’s effectively the same standard as stop-and-frisk,” Rajesh De said in an attempt to explain the evidentiary use of “reasonable and articulable suspicion” to identify which phone numbers to target from the agency’s huge database of stored cellphone records.

    Subtext: Don’t worry, we’re only targeting the poor, politically weak, non-white people that are, by their profile, probably guilty of something. Not to worry.

    1. Benedict@Large

      Do these people even bother to engage their brains before they open their mouths? This may be (probably is) true, but why in Hell would an NSA employee ever admit to it. Does the NSA really want to pin their access to the outcome of a frisking case in NYC? (On the other hand, maybe that’s why that nonsensical reversal in the NYC case in was hurried right out?)

      Corrected URL:

    2. just me

      And everybody hates drunk drivers:

      Marcy Wheeler: You know, the easy way for people to think about it is how this [NSA surveillance] all arises out of drunk driving stops. You know, the cops are allowed to stop people without suspicion to see if you’re drunk, and the idea is it’s going to keep us all safe. All of this spying in the United States to some degree operates just like a DUI checkpoint, right? They’re going to stop our communications to make sure that, you know, drunk terrorists aren’t driving around endangering the United States…

      1. anon y'mouse

        criminology class textbook says that drunk-driving checkpoints and brouhaha do absolutely nothing, except make people ‘aware’ of the issue, if that is any prophylactic at all.

        also says a lot of other hard-to-swallow things, puncturing views on both left and right. harsh sentencing and ‘deterrence’ mentality do nothing but drive up costs of incarceration (no, really?) and ‘community policing’ is much like the above: does nothing to stats, but makes people feel safe, like they have a relationship with their police force, and thus more likely to interact and notify them about things going wrong.

        much counterintuitive stuff in this book. naturally nothing about white collar crime, only street level.

  2. JTFaraday

    re: Sticker shock often follows insurance cancellation Associated Press. “It’s also disturbing to see messaging…an “I got mine” attitude among the 80% on company policies whose lives don’t change with Obamacare.”

    There are few sure things in life, but one of those sure things is that employer provided insurance is not going to last now that we have a “universal healthcare marketplace” that preserves the very private health insurance plans that so employees have indicated over many years they wanted to keep.

    It’s no secret that large corporate employers have been looking to dump their responsibility for middle class social welfare provisioning in an era in which they believe American labor has become “globally uncompetitive.” (Also, temporary “profits” irrespective of sales still equals Bonus!)

    They just need to work out the kinks on the web portal and then it’s bye bye employer mandate, which Heritage Action plan Teahadist politicians like Texan Ted Cruz (and Goldman Sachs husband) will conveniently skewer as another “tax on business” that leads to unemployment.

    If employees are lucky they turn the employer mandate into a company provided subsidy, mirroring the current government (means tested chump change) subsidy for the unemployed and self employed.

    Needless to say, this is also what (still very young, alas) former VP candidate Paul Ryan wants to do with Medicare, so it looks to me like all the little stars are aligning.

    Place your bets here. I wonder how the TPP affects the employer mandate. (Makes it automatically illegal, I would imagine).

    1. JTFaraday

      Oops, sorry. Typo:

      “the very private health insurance plans that so employees have indicated over many years they wanted to keep”

      should be:

      “the very private health insurance plans that so many employees have indicated over many years they wanted to keep”

    2. McMike

      Personally, I think decoupling health care from employment is a great idea.

      (independent of what may replace it…)

      1. MacCruiskeen

        Sure. As long as a) individual rates were commensurate with the discounted group rates that corporate clients get and b) employers passed on some of the savings to employees as wages so we could actually afford to pay. Which is to say, benefit packages are part of the employees total compensation. I’d be happy to buy my own insurance if it didn’t mean a cut in my compensation. If calling it a ‘tax’ is just a way for the employer to cut my compensation and give me nothing, then that will make me pretty disgruntled.

      2. MacCruiskeen

        Ps. To put it another way, as it is, the benefits package you get is largely a function of how much your employer feels it needs to be competitive to attract employees. And the law isn’t likely to change that very much.

        1. Mcmike

          Well, as I said, decoupling is a good idea, independent of how it is replaced. Employment/career decisions should not be made based on the health insurance; that hinders entrepreneurship and productivity and gives an unfair advantage to large employers.

          People should be paid what they are worth, then go buy their health insurance in a seperate (competitive) market.

          Of course, tax benefits would need to be leveled. And for large employers, the HR department serves as your guide/advocate. There are other administrative economies of scale for employers on the buyer side as well.

          The largest competitive issue is group pricing power (which is over-rated, except versus individual insurance plans). So we would need to replace that with buying associations. Or somehow ensure a more competetive marketplace.

          Or go to single payer.

          1. sue

            Most countries with which U.S. economically “competes” feature both a state and private healthcare system. Most often they even share the same facilities.

            German healthcare, where my brother’s wife is a nurse, costs 20% that of U.S. healthcare, and rates “higher” internationally.

            Of course doctors are allowed the same FREE university education provided to others-then they must pay back education in state facility, for equal number of years of education.

            Nurses earn more than these doctors. Social benefits are numerous.

  3. armchair

    On the “Great Expectations” link, which describes an unrealized jobs and GDP boom from the natural gas and shale extraction industry: it makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. In return for insignificant jobs and GDP growth, we are polluting vast swaths of the tablewater in the nation’s breadbasket.

    I came across some writing, recently, about how the low labor inputs of the oil industry made it attractive to break from the headaches that the coal unions were giving the elites in the first half of the 20th century. I suspect natural gas similarly requires low labor input to extract huge pools. Once you stick the straw in and build the pipeline, a small amount of workers can deal with huge quantities. Just a suspicion, but anyone who was thinking that there would be some impending tsunami of jobs was probably being hustled.

    Its both funny and very depressing to think of some policy maker weighing the cost of poisoning his community’s water for the benefit of the jobs windfall. I suppose it may happen on a micro scale like in North Dakota, but as they say, “when North Dakota gets a cold, no one notices.”

    1. James Levy

      Fracked natural gas outputs per well are shockingly low over time compared to conventional fields. The fracking companies have to keep a large number of rig teams working constantly to stay ahead (that is, if they are staying ahead, which can be debated).

      And the whole process is only profitable so long as oil prices stay above the $80-$90 per barrel range.

      The entire fracking phenomenon in the US is a boom-bust Klondike replay. Most of the “sweet” spots are already in production or depletion, and future costs will only escalate. You can go to Pennsylvania and see the already abandoned well for yourself.

      In the end, a few thousand guys who stoked the bubble will make a killing, a couple hundred thousand people will have made a good living for a few years, and we will be back to square in perhaps a decade. The fairy stories of energy independence and downstream benefits will be seen as the usual hype, lies, and wishful thinking that are attendant with any bubble.

      1. armchair

        Thank you for adding some substance to my post. It is a shame that we have to throw so much away to gain so little.

  4. JohnL

    Re “Special Investigation: How Insurers Are Hiding Obamacare Benefits From Customers TPM (John L). While true, meant to divert attention from Obama’s “You can keep your plan and doctor” promise.”

    Or add insult to injury.My existing insurer is dropping all out of network benefits and increasing the premium 50%, despite telling me I could “keep the same plan”. The other two are brands of the same company (the first one in the article). Premiums are 50% higher. So no choice and a higher premium.

    1. JohnL

      Checked my existing insurer’s (a cooperative) website. I can keep my old plan, but the premium is higher (more than 50%) and it’s not “Obamacare compatible”, so is only available direct, not through the exchange, and will not qualify for tax rebates should my income be in the appropriate bracket. Like many self employed, my income varies significantly year to year. So, do I switch to a rebate-eligible plan from a less honest company in case my income goes down, or stick with my existing plan with a cooperative, who are definitely more honest, on the assumption that it won’t? Tough call…

  5. Bridget

    I wonder if the Obamacare enrollment period will be October 1 to March 31 every year? Hypothetically. A healthy person could pay the penalty or enroll in the cheapest plan, use the savings to pay out of pocket for the services they want from the providers they want, and build up a cushion to tide them over from April 1 until September30 each year if they get sick, and then enroll in a platinum plan during the 6 month enrollment period.

    I think the numbers would work for a lot of the formerly insured.

    1. anon y'mouse

      one part of the RAdical RAdish Thought Collective could take up the task of “What will the Oligarchs think up next?”

      because if it can be dreamed up, they will eventually try to put it over on desperate workers who can’t pay the rent.

    1. ambrit

      Dear jj;
      With a moniker like that, I’m suspicious that you might be Peter Parkers newspaper editor in-cognito!
      I suspect that because the Brit Street Artist said that the NYT “declined” to print the op-ed piece they had solicited from him. Reading it, I can see why. No self respecting Oligarchy wants its’ own shortcomings broadcast far and wide.
      I remember when the man came to New Orleans and did something similar a few years ago. The local “powers” attempts to suppress his work ended up being a running joke around this region. He even got in on the act, showing the city worker, in true tag style, erasing his work. A play within a play!
      Subversion of the status quo is always battled by the mighty and their minions. That’s when you know that it is doing its’ job: expanding the horizons of the masses. We don’t want self actuating masses now, do we?
      One final suggestion; let Parker do more high profile assignments. You’ve been employing him for over 40 years now. He deserves better.

      1. optimader

        Banky insights fleeting intellectual reflection which is painful and/or frightening for some people.

  6. Bridget

    “It’s also disturbing to see messaging, like this in the USA Today editorial, that it’s OK to throw 5% of the population under the bus to help the 15% uninsured. In other word, an “I got mine” attitude among the 80% on company policies or otherwise covered whose lives don’t change with Obamacare. What about having everyone who can pay a little to help the uninsured, rather than dump the costs disproportionately on the self-employed (oh, who don’t have lobbyists protecting their ox from being gored). ”

    Its one of the many things I abhor about Obamacare.  If universal coverage is the ideal, the costs ought to be universally borne.  Instead it’s funded through a mix of highly selective and narrowly based taxes, plus the forced participation of the young and the formerly insured.  Who, by the way, are not only being thrown under the bus to shoulder a major portion of costs of the uninsured all by themselves….they are STILL being taxed to provide subsidies to those who receive employer provided insurance.  How much sense does that make?

    1. AbyNormal

      my Wilzen found those pics sweeter than my home grown cat nip

      I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.
      ~Hippolyte Taine

  7. from Mexico

    @ “Great Expectations, Deferred”

    This seems to be yet one more piece of empirical data which debunks Peak Oil fundamentalism.

    According to the tenets of Peak Oil fundamentalism, all that ails America is due to the US’s achieving peak oil in 1970. The stagflation of the 1970s, the recession of the early 1980s, and the US’s inexorable economic, financial and military decline since then, according to the followers of this secular religion, were all caused by the US’s reaching peak oil in 1970.

    But even with the $145/barrel oil and $13/MMBTU gas prices of 2008, total energy expenditures in the US in that year amounted to only 5.3% of gross output.

    The intellectual author of Peak Oil fundamentalism, according to John Kenneth Galbraith, was Richard Nixon, because it dovetalied so nicely with Nixon’s lobotomized version of Keynesianism. As Galbraith explains:

    In the autumn of 1973 came the Yom Kippur war, the oil embargo and a very large increase in petroleum prices. These were widely blamed by the Administration economists, among others, for the inflation. Around threefourths of the price increases of 1973 occurred before the war and before the oil prices went up appreciably.


    Beginning in 1973, but with full effect in 1974, came the great petroleum price squeeze. In keeping with much else in this history this too was extensively misunderstood….

    Everywhere the higher oil price was considered highly inflationary; in the United States it served invaluably as an excuse for official inadequacy in the control of inflation. In fact, it was deflationary. Especially in the Arab countries but also in Iran and elsewhere, the revenues accruing from the higher prices were far greater than could immediately be spent for either consumers’ or investment goods. So they accumulated in unspent balances. Thus they represented a withdrawal from current purchasing power not different in immediate effect from that of levying a large sales tax on petroleum or its products.23 The effect, increasingly evident as 1974 passed, was the predictable effect of fiscal astringency. As demand faded, prices in competitive markets — those for food, commodities, services — began to weaken. Prices subject to corporate market power continued to rise. So did unemployment. The oil-producing countries had provided the industrial countries with a surrogate tax increase. Its effect, like any general fiscal or monetary action against inflation, was to increase unemployment well before acting to arrest inflation.

    What we have seen since Nixon gave birth to Peak Oil fundamentalism, however, is that it resonates just as much with certain factions of the left as it does with the right, and fits just as well with some left-wing ideologies as it does with right-wing ones.

    1. optimader

      “According to the tenets of Peak Oil fundamentalism, all that ails America is due to the US’s achieving peak oil in 1970.’

      Definition of “Peak Oil fundamentalism” and a link for claim would be in order.

      “But even with the $145/barrel oil and $13/MMBTU gas prices of 2008, total energy expenditures in the US in that year amounted to only 5.3% of gross output”

      Weren’t there knock on economic effects that resulted from the spike in oil $/bbl during that decade? A link for 5.3% calculation would be interesting to see if it captures replacement of any uneconomical assets that occurred. I’m guess’in no. Just the “dual fuel” requirements that were immediately instituted in US industry at the time were not only disruptive, very expensive.

      1. James Levy

        Peak oil simply means peak production. The US today produces less oil than it did in 1970-71. No projection I have seen shows that oil shale extraction will boost production above 1970 figures. It is also of some doubt whether even if you could get that boost, it would be sustainable. And there are always the environmental costs, which are not insignificant. And that oil in 1970-71 was cheaper adjusted for inflation, and was being used by 210 million Americans, not 310 million we have right now. I think this is significant.

        Peak oil is not a magic key to understanding all economic dynamics, but the end of the cheap oil bonanza ushered in by the fields in Texas and Oklahoma that helped fuel the post-war expansion are demonstrably over. Here’s a nice chart:

        The deployment of vast amounts of new money and technology has pushed up production, combined with a significant rise in global oil prices as a stimulus, has led to increased production. But all this ignores the fact that oil is a global commodity and “flows” where the buyers are. The US government would have to change the whole global system in order to “capture” the increased production, and it’s unclear if increased production here will offset depletion of oil fields overseas. How much recoverable oil the Saudis and Russians really have is not public knowledge.

        And unless one believes in magic, this increase in production is only delaying the inevitable end of the cheap hydrocarbon era. I personally think, given the evidence, that that era is already over. But it is only a matter of time before alternatives become inevitable.

        1. optimader

          “Peak oil simply means peak production.”
          That’s my understanding as well. Relating Peak Oil to the economic effects of the 1970’s Oil embargo is a non sequitur.

          1. from Mexico

            You believe it is a non sequitur that production might have some effect on supply? You believe it is a non sequitur that production, and especially production one has little or no control over, might have some effect on supply, which might have some effect on price?

      2. from Mexico


        If there were “knock on economic effects that resulted from the spike” of natural gas prices from 1999 to 2008, then there should have been “knock on economic effects that resulted” as they came plummeting back to earth again, beginning in 2009.

        But if one takes the time to read the article — “Great Expectations, Deferred” — there don’t seem to have been any “knock on economic effects” from the natural gas price plummet.

        1. from Mexico

          And “Peak Oil Fundamentalism” is a phrase of my own creation. It refers to the secular religious belief, with plenty of acolytes on both ends of the political spectrum, that all our economic ills since 1970 have been caused by high oil and gas prices, which in turn were caused by peak oil.

          To get a flavor of the religious fervor and unwavering certainty with which this faith is espoused, just do a search on “was the great recession caused by high energy costs?”

          Here’s an example of the results you will find, this one from Forbes:

          “The Recessions of 1973,1980,1991,2001,2008 Were Caused By High Oil Prices”

          –ROBERT LENZNER, Forbes Staff

          Here’s another example from The Atlantic:

          “Rick Santorum Is Right: Gas Prices Caused the Great Recession”


          1. optimader

            Ok, got it.
            So, I agree anyone that claims “all economic ills since the 1970….were caused by peak oil” is wrong (doesn’t understand the theory of Peak Oil). Oil price spikes in the 1970’s and NG price spikes (1995-2008) were political and financial manipulations of inelastic markets, more so oil than gas, not neccesarily artifacts of resource depletion.

            Peak Oil theory proposes gradual depletion of economically recoverable oil resource, consequently relating it to price spikes suggests “Peak Oil Fundamentalist” as defined really has nothing to do conceptually with Peak Oil.

            If there were “knock on economic effects that resulted from the spike” of natural gas prices from 1999 to 2008, then there should have been “knock on economic effects that resulted” as they came plummeting back to earth again, beginning in 2009.

            Actually I was referring to “knock on” economic effects of the “1970 oil price spikes”, but with regard to “knock on effects” of NG price manipulation, “positive effects” of falling prices are premature to evaluate IMO.

            In the context that the large scale value added opportunities which use NG as a feedstock– big capital formation/permitting/construction/startup –inertia typical of petrochemical facilities.

            “…But some are against increased natural gas exports. One is Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, who sees it as a threat to the U.S. manufacturing renaissance now in its infancy, and who has spoken out in the New York Times and on cable news channels. Of course, there is also the factor of his own company’s bottom line. As one of the biggest private consumers of natural gas in the country, Dow and other chemical companies are currently paying much less than foreign competitors for this feedstock.

            There are currently about 15 proposed LNG terminal projects—each of which can cost $7 billion or more—seeking regulatory approval, and if all of them got the green light, they could export over one-third of domestically consumed natural gas. Add to that a projected future increase of natural gas consumed by vehicles and industry, and an export boom would surely push up prices. However, few industry experts believe that most of these terminals will be approved, noting that only a handful of the companies applying are likely to muster sufficient financing to build the facilities. The Obama Administration has so far granted permits to three terminal projects and indications are that just a handful more will be approved over the next several years to avoid risking the spike in natural gas prices feared by the likes of Dow’s CEO…”

            A couple things have yet to play out .
            1.) Whether the US will take a High Time Preference or a Low time Preference approach to utilizing the NG as a domestic petrochem feedstock (latter) or export as LNG for other economies to exploit as a raw material (former). Which industry will have the best lobbyists, petrochemical that wants to use it domestically or the energy production interests that want to rip and run?
            2.) Whether the fracking economics play out to be the a Ponzi scheme they are suspiciously shaping up to be ie: steep NG well depletion resulting in unrecoverable drilling/production/remediation costs at market price.

            1. from Mexico

              optimader says:

              So, I agree anyone that claims “all economic ills since the 1970….were caused by peak oil” is wrong (doesn’t understand the theory of Peak Oil)….

              Peak Oil theory proposes gradual depletion of economically recoverable oil resource, consequently relating it to price spikes suggests “Peak Oil Fundamentalist” as defined really has nothing to do conceptually with Peak Oil.

              “Peak Oil theory” according to who? You?

              It doesn’t sound like you spent much time on sites like The Oil Drum when it was operational.

              Consider three positions: Oil price doesn’t matter; Oil price does too matter; Oil price is the only thing that matters. Entirely too many of the Peak Oilers fall into the latter category, and these are the ones I speak of when I say Peak Oil fundamentalists.

              Can the world sustain $150+/barrel oil and $25+/MMBTU natural gas without going into a worldwide recession? I don’t know.

              Was the 1970s stagflation caused by high oil prices, which in turn were caused by US peak oil? I don’t think so.

              Was the 1980s recession caused by high oil prices, which in turn were caused by peak oil? I don’t think so.

              Was the Great Recession caused by high oil and gas prices, which in turn were caused by peak oil? I don’t think so.

              As to drilling for natural gas at $3 or $4 per MMBTU, I am of the opinion that it is a money-losing proposition. With natural gas prices north of $10/MMBTU, however, maybe not. AT $18/MMBTU, probably not. At $90+/barrel oil, the oil shale drilling seems to make economic sense. At $60/barrel, however, it doesn’t look to me like it works. Well economics and recoverable reserves from a given field are highly dependent on oil price.

              I’m not sure what’s driving shale gas drilling right now, but I don’t think it’s viable well economics.

              1. Optimader

                Yes youre correct, I did not spend too much time on TOD, did you spend too much time there?
                Yes I think as I stated pretty well captures hubberts peak oil theory.

                “Consider three positions: Oil price doesn’t matter; Oil price does too matter; Oil price is the only thing that matters”

                Consider a fourth position: the spead between production cost and sell price is all that matters.

                When the cost and price curves converge the modivation to produce is extinguished and the production goes to zero. When this happens, what cost/price this occurs at, what competitive fuels moderate price and significantly what transportation fuel supplants petroleum remains to be seen.

    2. Mcmike

      Not sure what you are trying to debunk here.

      It requires huge impact/cost externalization to allow us to suck the last few bits of oil up from the hard-to-reach places. Already oil is running out of rural places to exploit, and is running up against motivated opposition from economic stakeholders with existing mutually exclusive land uses in mind. Not just powerless brown people who can be blown up either. But landed, wealthy, educated white folks.

      We are also already entering the realm of negative net energy return on inputs.

      Peak oil does not say we will run out of oil, it says we will run out of economically/technically/politically feasible oil.

      1. from Mexico

        Mcmike says:

        Already oil is running out of rural places to exploit….

        This statement is simply untrue.

        For instance, there are the Spraberry/Wolfcamp oil shales in the Permian Basin which dwarf those in the Williston Basin or the Eagle Ford. The first well in these shales was completed only in 2011, and in the northern reaches of the play only in the latter part of 2012. The Bakken has only 140′ of shales at the thickest part, and the Eagle Ford 300′. The Spraberry/Wolfcamp has up to 4000′, and covers a huge geographical area.

        It’s $75+ oil prices that are driving all this activity, and as long as oil stays over $75 per barrel there is no stopping its development, because it makes economic sense to develop it at $75+ oil prices.

        And the recoverable reserves in the Orinoco basin in Venezuela are even vaster. But as you infer, these can be extracted at only great environmental cost.

        You want it to be so that “oil is running out of rural places to exploit,” because that belief dovetails with your enviornmental convictions. But it just simply isn’t true. At $100 oil price, the world is awash with “rural places to exploit.”

        1. from Mexico

          For instance, one of the operators in the Spraberry/Wolfcamp oil shale play estimates the Wolfcamp B zone to cover 4.8 million acres and to contain 22 billion barrels of recoverable oil at $90/barrel oil prices.

          Then on top of that are the Wolfcamp D, Wolfcamp A, Middle Spraberry, Jo Mill and Lower Spraberry Shales, all primary targets. In addition to that are the Clearfork, Wolfcamp C, Atoka, Barnett, Woodford and Cline shales, which are all secondary targets. (“2013 DUG Conference: Horizontal Spraberry/Wolfcamp Acceleration April 3, 2013

          As to the Orinoco:

          The Orinoco Belt consists of large deposits of extra heavy crude, known as the Orinoco Petroleum Belt. Venezuela’s non-conventional oil deposits of about 1,200 billion barrels (1.9×1011 m3), found primarily in the Orinoco Petroleum Belt, are estimated to approximately equal the world’s reserves of conventional oil.[1] Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. has estimated that the producible reserves of the Orinoco Belt are up to 235 billion barrels (3.74×1010 m3)[2] which would make it the largest petroleum reserve in the world, before Saudi Arabia.[3] In 2009, the US Geological Survey increased the estimated reserves to 513 billion barrels (8.16×1010 m3) of oil which is “technically recoverable (producible using currently available technology and industry practices).”.[4]

          The Orinoco Belt is currently divided into four exploration and production areas. These are: Boyacá (before Machete), Junín (before Zuata), Ayacucho (before Hamaca), and Carabobo (before Cerro Negro). The current exploration area is about 11,593 square kilometres (4,476 sq mi).

          So your hope that “oil is running out of rural places to exploit,” at least at $100+ oil prices, is not a realistic hope.

        2. McMike

          … and yet, drillers are expanding into the front range of colorado, and the Hudson watershed, and facing stiff, motivated, well-funded opposition as a result.

          Taking on the state of New York may have been the largest strategic blunder in recent memory. It put fracking on the national radar, and spawned a relatively better-funded and media-savvy opposition. And got it into the pages of the New York Times.

          The drilling in suburban Denver communities may well end up costing the industy its carte blanche from local regulation.

    3. DanB

      Sorry, but whatever point you are trying to make does not come through in this comment. If there’s peak oil fundamentalism, then what is straight-up peak oil? Also, the $147 a barrel price of oil in 2008 lasted only a few weeks as the economy and finance crashed and oil prices fell until early 2009. If you want to debunk peak oil deal with those geologists who wrote about it, like Hubbert or Deffeyes. If you want to make a comment about the misuses of geological science (peak oil) by politicians, then do so.

      1. from Mexico

        DanB says:

        If there’s peak oil fundamentalism, then what is straight-up peak oil?

        You tell me. As with all fundamentalisms, the holy grail — in this case “peak oil” — is a moving target.

        For example, in this thread alone James Levy asserts:

        Peak oil simply means peak production.

        But then just a little lower in the thread Mcmike asserts:

        Peak oil does not say we will run out of oil, it says we will run out of economically/technically/politically feasible oil.

        So I don’t know. If you can figure out what “peak oil” means through all the cacophony emanating from the peak oil crowd, you’re a heck of a lot better man than I am.

        1. Mcmike

          Gee, some fundementalists; they can’t even agree on what they are fundemental about. It seems to me that you are the one trying too hard to make your theory work.

          Let’s consider the opposite of peak oil theory: techno-utopianism: “we will never run out of oil.”

          Peak oil theory, at least, has a stopped clock effect going for it – we will run out someday, and that oil will be harder and more expensive to get as we roll down the back side of the curve. Industry boosters, on the other hand, will be wrong someday, and will most certainly miss the tipping point on the long side. So we are left really only arguing about when this will happen(ed).

          1. from Mexico

            Well again, it seems to me that, since you are the one pushing “peak oil” theory here, that it would be incumbent upon you to define what “peak oil” is.

            But you seem to be having some problem doing that. First you tell us back up the thread that

            Peak oil does not say we will run out of oil…

            Now you turn around and say just the opposite:

            Let’s consider the opposite of peak oil theory: techno-utopianism: “we will never run out of oil.”

            Peak oil theory, at least, has a stopped clock effect going for it – we will run out someday….

            So like I said, through all the cacophony I can’t make out what “peak oil” is.

            And you’re just one peak oiler. Imagine what it’s like when we get a group of peak oilers together. It’s tantamount to the Tower of Babel.

              1. from Mexico

                All of us here are in agreement with that, no?

                Here’s how Mcmike put it, and I certianly do not disagree:

                It requires huge impact/cost externalization to allow us to suck the last few bits of oil up from the hard-to-reach places.

                But peak oil/gas is not going to throw environmentalists or the environment a lifeline. It ain’t gonna happen, not at $90+/barrel oil and $12+/MMBTU natural gas. To think that it will is nothing but wishful thinking; burying one’s head in the sand.

                Surely anyone who lives in Australia must be aware of that, since Australia is home to the six most expensive energy projects in the world, all which involve the production and liquification of natural gas:


                The surest way to halt all this oil and gas activity is to have another world-wide recession like in the 1980s. This destroyed world-wide oil demand, US natural gas demand, and the price of oil and natural gas along with it. A worldwide recession will shut down the drilling activity. But not without a cost.

                And maybe $90+/barrel oil and $12+/MMBTU natural gas will cause such a recession. But maybe it won’t.

                1. skippy

                  All over it Mex, down under is taking its cue from Texas methinks.

                  I’ll just keep it simple – energy = credit creation. And as Jammies’D says… credit = profit *today* – for a loss too “someone else” tomorrow:?/

                  Skippy… with that logic what chance does anything environmental have, they’ll all be dead anyhow FTW.

            1. Mcmike

              Again, that’s you trying to create a label that requires putting word in my mouth.

              I believe that we are witnessing the curve rollover of the oil age paradigm. Even if it is impossible to assign an exact date, or to predict what exactly happens during its death throes.

              I believe that Carrie Ann Moss was really hot in the Matrix. Even though she bacame a caricature of herself.

              This does not make me a fundementalist about either.

          2. optimader

            “we will run out someday-” of economically recoverable oil, we can presume you mean.

            Again. the distinction between Oil Reserves and (economically) Recoverable Oil. And yes Skippy is correct that the toxic externalities are part of the “economically” part.

            I’s all about scalability ultimately when it comes to liquid transportation fuels Gas to Liquid technology is out there but depends on sustained high oil and low gas prices.


            1. skippy

              Are Health care costs externalities?

              Meta-analysis: Bug and weed killers, solvents may increase risk of Parkinson’s disease

              MINNEAPOLIS – A large analysis of more than 100 studies from around the world shows that exposure to pesticides, or bug and weed killers, and solvents is likely associated with a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. The research appears in the May 28, 2013, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

              “Due to this association, there was also a link between farming or country living and developing Parkinson’s in some of the studies,” said study author Emanuele Cereda, MD, PhD, with the IRCCS University Hospital San Matteo Foundation in Pavia, Italy. The research was also conducted by Gianni Pezzoli, MD, with the Parkinson Institute – ICP, Milan.

              For the analysis, researchers reviewed 104 studies that looked at exposure to weed, fungus, rodent or bug killers, and solvents and the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Studies that evaluated the proximity of exposure, such as country living, work occupation and well water drinking were also included.

              The research found that exposure to bug or weed killers and solvents increased the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 33 to 80 percent. In controlled studies, exposure to the weed killer paraquat or the fungicides maneb and mancozeb was associated with two times the risk of developing the disease.

              “We didn’t study whether the type of exposure, such as whether the compound was inhaled or absorbed through the skin and the method of application, such as spraying or mixing, affected Parkinson’s risk,” said Cereda. “However, our study suggests that the risk increases in a dose response manner as the length of exposure to these chemicals increases.”


              The study was supported by the Grigioni Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease and the IRCCS University Hospital San Matteo Foundation.

              To learn more about Parkinson’s disease, please visit

              The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 26,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

              For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

              Skippy… Pandora’s box is wide open mate.

    1. ambrit

      Dear dcblogger;
      Tinfoil hat time. Taking the banana republic theme further, now it’s time for the corpocracy to call in a military force under its’ control to suppress local resistance to the exactions demanded by the “Masters of the Universe.” Could that be the end game for all these Trans Uranic Trade Pacts? (Just what are the enforcement provisions hidden within these treaties?)

      1. James Levy

        Stripping away loaded terms like “banana Republic”, it is a valid question to ask if we in the United States still live in a constitutional representative democracy under the rule of law.

        My answer would be, marginally, with a little room left for popular action and agitation, but with the day-to-day operations of government largely in the hands of a few thousand “players.” And the vast majority of those players are not elected officials.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        I don’t see why you are suggesting dcblogger a tinfoll hatter. That may not have been your intent, but that is how your comment reads.

        1. anon y'mouse

          well, could be.

          I read it as “everything I will say past this WARNING sign will be considered crazy, like believing in Aliens building the pyramids and so on. just in case you want to opt-out now.”

          but yeah, it was unclear.

  8. Bugsplats talk back

    Amnesty may be hopelessly corrupted by the NATO bloc’s war imperative, but really, you don’t want careerist do-gooders speaking for the victims. The victims can speak for themselves. Here Yemeni civil society shows em how it’s done.

    To cut through all the US bullshit you just read the frickin law.

  9. TarheelDem

    Why Medicare-for-All is on the agenda still and just a matter of time.

    “But responding to Obamacare caps on premiums, many insurers will, in turn, simply offer top-tier doctors and hospitals far less cash for services rendered.”

    And that will cause those providers to opt out. Which creates new political pressure for health care reform. Don’t think that people are going to go back to the pre-Obamacare system.

    1. from Mexico

      I think Dawn Paley, the post’s author, gets the official narrative right:

      The official line on the drug war, which is parroted by governments and the media, claims that the war in Mexico is between bad guys (drug traffickers) and good guys (police and the army, assisted by the US, Canada, and EU countries). According to this version of events the “bad guys” are organized into the following hierarchy: at the top are the Capos, or drug lords, then come their Generals or security chiefs, who look after the boss and his regions, then the jefes de plaza, local bosses in charge of a particular border or drug distribution area.

      I call this frame (which is the dominant frame) the cartel wars discourse.

      But I think the dissident narrative she presents is too parochial. Here’s how she conveys it, quoting Chavira:

      “In my point of view, I think the true criminal, the true capo in Mexico is the president of the republic, the governors are the same in each of their state, and the jefes de plaza are the mayors,” Chavira told me. “They all got where they are with financing from illicit sources. They protect each other; they are the same thing.”

      However, the Mexican president and other Mexican politicians are the junior partners in the Mexican narco enterprise. The senior partner is the US deep state and the transnational corporations it is married to. One has to follow the money, and the big US transnational banks are the #1 beneficiaries of all the hundreds of billions of dollars generated by the Mexican illicit drug industry. Peter Dale Scott is very good on this, and has done extensive research to follow the money, and the power.

      There’s also no mention of geopolitics in Paley’s post. The war on drugs gives the US deep state, with its seamless working relationship with the drug cartels, a power base within Latin American countries from which to operate, to manipulate and even help overthrow elected leaders when they get out of line. When the US deep state and its narco partners come calling on Latin American politicians, they don’t just come bearing suitcases full of cash. They also put a gun to the head of the politicians, or their families and loved ones.

      I very much like this passage from Paley’s post:

      Today in Mexico, insurgents could be considered members of social worlds outside of the dictates of the hegemonic, transnational marketplace. Communal landowners and street vendors (people in the informal economy) could thus be labeled insurgents along with migrants and Indigenous peoples. Already, these groups find common cause as those who fill mass graves, and as those upon whom the brunt of terror tactics are deployed.

      The passage always reminds me of this from Robert Heilbroner’s Behind the Veil of Economics:

      The extension and generalization of exchange relationships does not come until the eighteenth centuries, with the enforced commodification of labor and land, first vividly described by Marx. No one, reading of the manner in which dispossessed labor was forced into the early English mills, would describe this as a manifestation of freedom working its way in history.

      If you speak Spanish, you can find much more on this particular subject here

      and here

      1. Banger

        Always good to see Peter Dale Scott mentioned. We understand virtually nothing about U.S. or world politics without understanding “deep politics.”

      2. Billy

        His Deep Politics and the Death of JFK is on my reading pile. Most timely.

        As to that old feminist crone in Guatemala, I read it in Spanish and it’s obvious that she is looking for someone, somewhere to listen to her outdated rantings.

        She reminds me of the old men that go to the Third World to find young chicks that’ll flatter them. Just the opposite angle though.

  10. Paul Tioxon

    Valerie Jarret insider scoop from Breibart writer Christopher Whalen. Yves, this is not juicy. Seriously. This is stupid. As stupid as almost every other piece he writes, now that you brought him to my attention. And you’re concerned about Obamabots? If you want juicy, try the Wonkette, she has cat pictures too, so you should bond over that.

    To save the time and effort of other readers who probably don’t know or care to go to the site, here is a sampling of Whalen’s headlines.


    * Washington & Wall Street: Austerity vs. Financial Repression

    The liberal segments of Congress and the Big Media are pounding away on the idea that “austerity” due to budget cuts is somehow behind the slow performance of the US economy. Never mind that there is little evidence that the massive public spending by the Obama Administration after 2007 had little or no impact on either jobs or consumer spending.

    * Washington & Wall Street: Is the Federal Reserve Responsible for Fiscal Gridlock?

    There is a lot of commentary in the press about who is responsible for the government shutdown and the near-miss with respect to extending the debt ceiling. The leading culprit is the Tea Party movement, a bunch of right-thinking Americans who are foolish enough to believe in the libertarian principles upon which our nation was founded. But blaming the Tea Party for the fiscal gridlock in Washington is dead wrong.

    * Washington & Wall Street: Why Republicans Must Say No to Obamacare

    The left really expects conservatives in both parties to kneel down and surrender. In the New Speak of the left, opposition to their agenda is tantamount to treason.
    Compromise, in the language of the left, is really all about conservative capitulation.

    * Washington & Wall Street: Paul Krugman and the Big Lie About Jobs, Consumers

    If Paul Krugman and the liberal left had their way, the 2013 federal budget deficit would still be at a trillion plus. He stills believes, it seems, that deficit spending can make a meaningful difference in terms of either job growth or overall unemployment. But as we all know, the only reason unemployment is falling in the age of Barack Obama is because fewer Americans are actually working.


    So, there you have it, from another investment banker who lives in NYC, government bad, regulations worse, law of the land cheerfully never surrendered to, but never say die republicans don’t sabotage anyting, Valerie Jarret hynotizes Obama into pure incompetance. Paranoid analysis from Nixonland! Obama, Kenyan, no wait, the Manchurian Candidate from Chicago.

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      This is utter ad hominem. Recall that the National Journal, which is widely recognized as being hard core right wing, has been acknowledged as providing really good analysis on Obamacare.

      And you don’t know who Whalen is. He’s a top bank analyst, not an investment banker. This is gossip about DeMarco, which is right in the heart of his beat. And there have been past pieces about the Administration, most importantly an op ed by Ed Luce, Larry Summer’s former speechwriter, on how insular the Administration is and how Obama relied on an astonishingly small number of advisors, four, one of whom is Valerie Jarrett. So the general picture is accurate.

      Wall Street guys in general are terrible on macroeconomics, which is what your quotes are about. They almost without exception think budgets need to be balanced and don’t grok the role they play in a capitalist economy.

      Shorter: just because Whalen is hopelessly right wing does not mean his political gossip is wrong, particularly in an area where he has extensive contacts.

      1. susan the other

        I have always liked Chris Whalen. He has given us info that nobody else dared to do. I don’t care what his politics are. He’s the guy who said, not in so many words, that there was a gag order on journalists/bloggers and that they could not discuss securitization fraud. Pretty brave.

      2. bob

        Sticking up for Whalen. I don’t always agree with him, or his politics, but he has the balls to call it like he sees it, warts and all.

      3. alex morfesis

        not a fan of britebarf but chris whalen is solid in almost everything he says and does…


        Ms Jarrett doesnt make mistakes…

        she is the grand master of the
        drunken master technique…

        she is much like in the days after mao, when Deng Xiaoping
        kept doing his best Gen francisco franco to see who would pop up from behind the woodshed with a hatchet to finish off the job.

        she is the ultimate xena

        I am not a fan of hers from my battles with her in chicago, but she is the ultimate beria…

        she is like the horror flick monsters that you thought were dead and then the crowd screaches as the soon to be demised victim has no clue the villian is behind them…

        she is the real deal…

        and Whalen is beyond wrong in calling her a “community organizer”…wow…beyond funny…the last thing she is or ever was is a community organizer…

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Another Republican to the Democratic Party…

    Is it surprising then that the Democratic party looks more and more Republican?

  12. rich

    Ukraine oligarch links to off-shore cash haven revealed

    How a marriage breakdown between a Ukrainian oligarch and his wife exposed a money-laundering link between the Black Sea and the Caribbean

    According to documents obtained by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), she hired UK-based fraud-buster Martin Kenny to chase after the funds.

    Business owners used agents such as CTL to register their companies in the BVI, as this allowed ownership of these firms to be anonymous. This model can help such owners launder money and avoid tax.

    Issued on 8 June 2007, the order stated that the Ukrainian billionaire hid assets from his ex-wife and set up at least two businesses through CTL, a register agent in the BVI.

    A High Court judge in the BVI said Maria Kalinovskaya was seeking to preserve her presumptive 50 per cent interest in the “very substantial assets” of the marriage that were “fraudulently concealed” by Firtash through “various entities” in different locations.

    The decision to allow Kalinovskaya’s lawyers to go hunting for Firtash’s assets was unprecedented for offshore jurisdictions.

    Due to leaked emails, we can reveal how this order shocked BVI registration officials, who feared it could break down the entire system of off-shore payments to the tropical archipelago.

    Europe’s continuing financial crisis has been fueled by a Greek fiscal disaster exacerbated by offshore tax cheating and a banking meltdown in the tax haven of Cyprus, where local banks’ assets have been inflated by waves of cash from Russia.

    Anti-corruption campaigners argue that offshore secrecy undermines law and order and forces the average person on the street to pay higher taxes to make up for revenues that vanish overseas. Studies have estimated that cross-border flows of global proceeds of financial crimes total between one trillion USD and 1.6 trillion USD a year.

    ICIJ’s 15-month investigation found that, alongside perfectly legal transactions, the secrecy and lax oversight offered by the offshore world allows fraud, tax dodging and political corruption to thrive.

    Multinational money-laundering exposed

    Documents used to report on this story come from a cache of 2.5 million files, which cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over.

    The secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists lay bare the names behind covert companies and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and other offshore hideaways.

    These secret files show CTL had served as a middleman for an extensive list of shady operators around the world, including in Russia and the US – setting up offshore companies for securities swindlers, Ponzi fraudsters and individuals linked to political corruption, arms trafficking and organized crime.

    as they push for austerity worldwide…..

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China…finance liberalization.

    If we are talking about liberalizing capital movement, it may be a narrow window – narrower than Yongle’s open policy of Treasure Boats (before the traditionalists shut them down for good) – so the Middle Kingdom 0.01% better seize the opportunity to move loot abroad.

    If we are talking about barefoot bankers, then it would be interesting to see what happens next – the Green Guards, aka the Yuan Guards, the Great Financial Leap Forward and the Financial Cultural Revolution?

  14. Benedict@Large

    “Top 16 NYC charter school executives earn more than Chancellor Dennis Walcott” Daily News

    Note how quickly the difference in salaries becomes a non-issue if we return to a 90% marginal rate.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That 90% marginal rate addresses the present and the future.

      A wealth tax would address the past, the present and the future.

  15. anon y'mouse

    finance is resistance.

    haven’t finished it yet, but he was rolling right along with the -truth as we know it- until he decided that Stockholm syndrome of “my house is an investment” was an act of resistance by the working class to the financialization of the economy.

    really? I think it was any port in a storm. besides, the ‘working class’ did not initially begin this bubble of prices. it began, at least in California, by the techheads paying 5 times anyone else’s annual salary for a trashed out bungalow in west Oakland back in 1993.

    I guess you could say that they were working class. they work for their money. but in their pay and in their own minds at least, they were not one of the workers. these were proto- ‘creatives’, blech.

    1. Massinissa

      The ‘Creative Class’ seems to never realize that at the end of the day, THEY STILL WORK FOR PAYCHECKS.

      The owners of Capital are still above them, and always will be.

      And regardless of what they wish to believe, they have much more in common with the working class than the capitalist class. They could even be considered a privileged subdivision of the working class soon if they are as impoverished in the future as they have been, like the rest of the so-called ‘middle class’.

      1. anon y'mouse

        i agree with you. and I don’t dislike people who work simply because they are paid well and given ‘perks’ like the google complex.

        I dislike the fact that they fooled themselves thinking that they were special, and doing special things, and were thus above and entitled to displace the poor people living in the communities that they entered. they gave very little thought to those people, in my experience. they were simply the ‘winners’ and those folks the ‘losers’ in the grand game of who produces more for the masters.

        they should have really been bonding with those people, not displacing them. these are the same kinds of people who will spend 15k/yr or more making sure that their kids are getting a ‘good education’ and not rabble-rousing at the degraded public (workhouse)high school with the poverty-stricken. this reinforces the degradation of the public system, because who with any power cares about whether it falls apart?

        I find my days in a seemingly ‘progressive’ and non-typical college as surrounded by white people, and consistently asking myself WHERE are the children of the urban poor. not that everyone there is rich (many struggle working jobs and openly discuss surrogate mothering to pay for school), but they are NOT the same people who live out in the poorer neighborhoods around this town. those people haven’t a chance. they just have to get out of the way of whomever does have the money.

    2. anon y'mouse

      quote from the article:

      ” In fact, resistance may quickly become the keyword of a new, even more dystopian form of “repressive desublimation” where we are all encouraged to “resist” precisely because it poses no real threat to the system as a whole.-48″

      wasn’t this just what we were discussing here the other day?

    3. jrs

      Yea it wasn’t the working class in California buying homes (and those who did probably didn’t keep them) because the prices were noone’s working class income, actually out of range of many middle class incomes.

  16. rich

    How the NYPD is in Bed with JP Morgan

    Under some Orwellian concept of citizen surveillance, the very Wall Street banks that proved they were a far greater threat to the United States than any foreign terrorist when they collapsed the Nation’s financial system in 2008, are part of a joint venture with the NYPD to use high-tech spy equipment to monitor the comings and goings of citizens in the streets of Manhattan – the majority of which, unlike Wall Street, are law abiding citizens.

    – Pam Martens, from her recent article: Despite Eight Ongoing Criminal/Civil Investigations of JPMorgan, the Bank’s a Law Enforcement Partner With the NYPD

  17. CaitlinO

    “In other word, an “I got mine” attitude among the 80% on company policies”

    I wouldn’t assume that folks with a company policy feel that they’ve got theirs.

    Our company policy, via employment at a large national corporation, has consistently outpaced inflation by a huge margin. The portion we pay for on a company policy with United HealthCare covering a family of three is 20% higher in 2014 than it was in 2013.

    At this time our medical/dental/eye care insurance policy eats up a whopping 13% of GROSS income, before deductables ($6000 for a family), co-pays, etc.

    We need single payer which is sure what I thought we were going to get when we voted for Obama in 2008. This was a significant part of the reason why he didn’t get our vote last time around.

    1. bob

      6k (a year) for a family? Que horror. Does that also include what your employer pays for you?

      1.5 k a month for a 30 something. That’s disturbing.

      1. just_kate

        Wrong. What CaitlinO says is also disturbing: for health care coverage her family pays “13% of GROSS income, before deductables ($6000 for a family), co-pays, etc”

        Unless this coverage is paid for by significant disposable income that is not right.

        1. bob

          Wrong? Would 6k per year for a family not be less than 18k for a single person in their 30’s?

          And again, it’s not just 6k year, that’s the part she is responsible for. Her employer picks up part of the tab for a tax deduction.

        2. bob

          This means her “gross income” is more. Making the denomintor bigger makes the 13% smaller.

          80% of people, who get their HI through their employer, have A) no idea what their HI really “costs” and B) no idea what their gross income actually is.

  18. Massinissa

    I have a general question. I was thinking about CaitlynOs comment about Obama, and remembered that over a million less people voted for Obama in 2012 than in 2008, yet Obama still won because Romneys votes dropped compared to McCains.

    Where did all of McCains voters go to, if they didn’t vote for Romney? Did they stay home because Ryan was less exciting than Palin?

    1. Jerome Armstrong

      Yes, they stayed home. The belief is, based on the exit polling iirc, was that it was fundamental christians which came out for Palin, but wouldn’t for Romney.

  19. susan the other

    2 good links. Dean Baker summarizing the value of deficit spending. And Jackie Lew’s unenlightened position. Our wonderful Secretary of the Treasury. Lucky for us Lew doesn’t control the Fed. Yet. But, just carrying the thought out, what happens when the Fed finally pisses the entire world off and it is appropriated by the Treasury? Gotta think about that one.

    And then the other Link of the same theme – to Il Professore, Italy’s Mr. Euro (once) – Prof. Prodi. He is looking for a “Latin Block” to break away from Teutonic austerity. Sounds good. According to the professor, France is crucial to this alliance. So the option being considered is a North-South EU split. Germany will join Russia? And the South will join the West? But by this measure the South will gain financial sovereignty enough to make their economies flexible enough to make things work again. Stuff Naked Capitalism has been talking about, in these terms, since the day I stumbled in here. Go Latin-Greco Europe! Because Germany refuses to take any sane action.

  20. Benedict@Large

    Re: “Top hospitals opt out of ObamaCare” [Fox]

    Sorry, I despise ObamaCare completely, but this article is right wing bullshit. There is no ObamaCare that a hospital can opt out of. There is no such thing as an ObamaCare plan. (ALL plans must meet minimum standards. States have done this for many decades, BTW.) There are simply plans that people buy from insurers, and insurers that contract with hospitals. If a hospital doesn’t want to participate in a plan, it isn’t because it’s an ObamaCare plan, it’s because the insurer isn’t willing to pay prices that are acceptable to the hospital. That’s a decision between the two of them, and has absolutely nothing to do with ObamaCare.

    BTW, the right wing NY Post (note the meme) is also running a version of this bullshit, only in their version, it’s the doctors opting out. Again, if a doctor is opting out, that’s between him/her and the insurer. There is nothing ObamaCare about it. ObamaCare doesn’t set rates, and it doesn’t set payments.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No. buster, you are wrong.

      Obamacare imposes specific requirements to be an ACO:

      One of the main ways the Affordable Care Act seeks to reduce health care costs is by encouraging doctors, hospitals and other health care providers to form networks to coordinate care better, which could keep costs down.

      To do that, the law is trying a carrot-and-stick approach in the Medicare program: Accountable Care Organizations. ACOs have become one of the most talked about new ideas in Obamacare. Providers get get paid more if they keep their patients well. About four million Medicare beneficiaries are now in an ACO, and, combined with the private sector, more than 428 hospitals have already signed up. An estimated 14 percent of the U.S. population is now being served by an ACO. You may even be in one and not know it.

      While ACOs are touted as a way to help fix an inefficient payment system that rewards more, not better, care, some economists warn they could lead to greater consolidation in the health care industry, which could allow some providers to charge more if they’re the only game in town.

      Because ACOs are increasingly important, here are some answers to common questions about them:

      What is an accountable care organization?

      An ACO is a network of doctors and hospitals that shares responsibility for providing coordinated care to patients in hopes of limiting unnecessary spending. At the heart of each patient’s care is a primary care physician.

      In Obamacare, each ACO has to manage the health care needs of a minimum of 5,000 Medicare beneficiaries for at least three years.

      Think of it as buying a television, says Harold Miller, president and CEO of the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement and executive director of the Center for Healthcare Quality & Payment Reform in Pittsburgh. A TV manufacturer like Sony may contract with many suppliers to build sets. Like Sony does for TVs, Miller says, an ACO would bring together the different component parts of care for the patient – primary care, specialists, hospitals, home health care, etc. – and ensure that all of the “parts work well together.”

      The great teaching hospitals don’t want this bullshit. People fly in from all over the world and pay hard $ to get their services. So you’ll have even more stratified healthcare as a result. The teaching hospitals as not for profits will still have to take emergency patients regardless of whether they can pay. So you can see Obamacare opt-outs winding up there if they can stand the damage (or alternatively are willing to declare bankruptcy when the bill arrives).

      And there are some indemnity plans around. They are rare but I have one. I can go to any medical provider in the world with the same co-pay. I’ve submitted claims that were paid from the UK, Thailand, and Australia.

  21. skippy

    J$J doling out 2B for shenanigans??? What would the price tag on something like this would be?

    Environ Health. 2012 Nov 9;11:83. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-11-83.

    Cancer and non-cancer health effects from food contaminant exposures for children and adults in California: a risk assessment.

    Vogt R, Bennett D, Cassady D, Frost J, Ritz B, Hertz-Picciotto I.

    UC Davis, Department of Public Health Sciences, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

    In the absence of current cumulative dietary exposure assessments, this analysis was conducted to estimate exposure to multiple dietary contaminants for children, who are more vulnerable to toxic exposure than adults.

    We estimated exposure to multiple food contaminants based on dietary data from preschool-age children (2-4 years, n=207), school-age children (5-7 years, n=157), parents of young children (n=446), and older adults (n=149). We compared exposure estimates for eleven toxic compounds (acrylamide, arsenic, lead, mercury, chlorpyrifos, permethrin, endosulfan, dieldrin, chlordane, DDE, and dioxin) based on self-reported food frequency data by age group. To determine if cancer and non-cancer benchmark levels were exceeded, chemical levels in food were derived from publicly available databases including the Total Diet Study.


    Cancer benchmark levels were exceeded by all children (100%) for arsenic, dieldrin, DDE, and dioxins. Non-cancer benchmarks were exceeded by >95% of preschool-age children for acrylamide and by 10% of preschool-age children for mercury. Preschool-age children had significantly higher estimated intakes of 6 of 11 compounds compared to school-age children (p<0.0001 to p=0.02). Based on self-reported dietary data, the greatest exposure to pesticides from foods included in this analysis were tomatoes, peaches, apples, peppers, grapes, lettuce, broccoli, strawberries, spinach, dairy, pears, green beans, and celery.


    Dietary strategies to reduce exposure to toxic compounds for which cancer and non-cancer benchmarks are exceeded by children vary by compound. These strategies include consuming organically produced dairy and selected fruits and vegetables to reduce pesticide intake, consuming less animal foods (meat, dairy, and fish) to reduce intake of persistent organic pollutants and metals, and consuming lower quantities of chips, cereal, crackers, and other processed carbohydrate foods to reduce acrylamide intake

    Skippy…. wash your fruit and veggies…. facepalm~

  22. craazyman


    If Mr. Das and Mr. Evans-Pritchard are right about Joymeny it could be:

    Springtime for Merkel and Germany
    Winter for Italia and France
    The Bundesbank is bailing
    And all the banks are failing
    As the euros go flying out the door

    It’s springtime for Merkel and Germany
    Deutschland is happy and gay
    Exporting at a faster pace
    To planets far in outer space
    ’cause Europe can’t afford it anymore.

    It’s springtime for Merkel and Germany
    Winter for Italia and France
    Lira falling from the skies again
    The Deutchmark’s on the rise again
    And the U-boats might be sailing once more!

      1. craazyzman

        I’ve lost so much money listening to these doomers & gloomers it’s not even funny at all. I thought they all knew what they were talking about. Even back in 2012 they were at it — Greece is gonna leave the euro, the euro’s gonna break up, Germany’s gonna cut and run, yadad yadada yadaada. I believed it. I thought “wow. now I’m at the point I’m reading what all the ‘smart money’ is saying. this is awesome. not only will I not lose my money, I’ll time the top, go short and get rich quick.” Well, I don’t have to tell you how that worked for me. I was long Greece at 13, long Spain at 22 and long Germany at 20. Then I read something by a doommer and gloommer and it scared me so badly (I could see it in my mind paying out like a horror movie on a flat screen TV) and I sold. Then I went short! I had to cover. This is what you get for reading macroeconomics on the internet. You’d be better off watching professional wrestling on cable TV. the only reason I read this stuff is to help me get rich quick and I’n going backwards! It’s hard to know whether to just stop reading or to wait for them to be right and hope there’s still some money left when they are.

    1. craazyboy

      Leaders of Ruskia and Joymany prepare for NEO-WAR!

      Joymany aims it’s deadly and destructive BMW production machinery towards Ruskia. Ruskia deploys ALL it’s formable oil and natural gas resources on it’s border to to defeat the threat of foreign invasion.

      Porcupine Tree leaks the Ruskie battle plan.

      “Russia On Ice”

      A high stakes battle, and the winner takes the Account Surplus.

      Deutschbank and Cypress Bank devise plans to invest the winnings in some country that can’t pay it back, then spin off the risk with securitized products sold to Joymany and Ruskie pension plans.

  23. Jerome Armstrong

    “Because of the higher cost, the Griffins are considering paying the federal penalty — about $100 or 1 percent of income next year — rather than buying health insurance. They say they are healthy and don’t typically run up large health care costs. Dean Griffin said that will be cheaper because it’s unlikely they will get past the nearly $13,000 deductible for the coverage to kick in.”

    Yea, that’s where we are headed. The last upstanding part of the middle-class on it’s own, self-employed, telling the Gov’t to take a hike.

  24. mookie

    ….But while this anti-TSA campaign was created by the libertarian-right, it was enabled and strengthened by the left. Some of the most prominent progressive and leftie bloggers and journalists took an active part in the TSA media witch-hunt.

 They joined the right in labeling the TSA as America’s enemy within, unaware that underneath the big-brother rhetoric and feigned right-wing concern about civil liberties, the anti-TSA campaign was really a union-busting operation with a specific set of political goals: to prevent the TSA from unionizing, to privatize airport security and to introduce Israeli-style racial profiling into the airport-screening process.

    “TSA And Pigs” Yasha Levine – NSFWCorp

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