Links 12/17/13

E-mail and RSS readers: the version you see will be a few short of the completed set of Links, since I’m not done as of the 7:00 AM launch. Please visit the site after 7:30 AM to see the full set.

How do you get a bobcat out of your window blinds? CBC

Porcupine Species Identified in Brazil National Geographic (Carol B)

Japanese Man Stole Nearly Two Hundred Thousand Dollars to Buy Cat Food Gawker

Polynesians May Have Invented Binary Math Science (Chuck L)

The Black Gold Brigade Counterpunch (Carol B)

The U.S. Is A Gas-Guzzling Horror Show, In 1 Chart Huffington Post (Carol B). As if you needed proof…

Glaxo Says It Will Stop Paying Doctors to Promote Drugs New York Times. Mirabile dictu.

A Second Order Cover Up? – Judge Finds Boehringer Ingelheim Allowed Destruction of Records Bearing on Allegations of Cover Up of Drug Adverse Effects Health Care Renewal

T-Mobile’s self-defeating resurgence Felix Salmon

Bloomberg Focuses on Rest (as in Rest of the World) New York Times. Oh dear.

China accuses US of ‘harassing’ navy ships Financial Times. This is getting ugly.

Is the renminbi ready for the world? Bangkok Post (furzy mouse)

Japan Passes Energy Sector Reform in Wake of Fukushima Oil Price. Shutting the barn door after the horse is in the next county.

‘Brutal Power Politics’: Merkel’s Banking Union Policy Under Fire Der Spiegel

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Judge Deals Blow to NSA Phone Spying Wall Street Journal

Richard Leon: A Phone Dragnet Is Not a Special Need Marcy Wheeler

Military Commission Lifts Provision Classifying “Observations and Experiences” Just Security

Obamacare Launch

The Real Reason Healthcare Insurance Companies Are Now Encouraging Obamacare Enrollment: Fear of a pro-public-option or pro-single-payer political juggernaut Angry Bear

Reports of erroneous WA health exchange debits KGW

The 6,000-Page Report on CIA Torture Has Now Been Suppressed for 1 Year Atlantic

Center For American Progress Discloses Corporate Donors After Investigations DSWright, Firedoglake

Child Sex Abuse Crisis of the Religious Right Grows Talk2Action (Chuck L)

BP lawyers accused of misleading court Financial Times

Productivity growth rises to four-year high. Wages don’t Daily Kos (Carol B)

Why stagnation might prove to be the new normal Larry Summers. We are not Summers fans, but here he says he’s not keen about blowing bubbles, which was not so clear from his IMF remarks. This is a really roudabout way to call for more fiscal spending, though, and his caution is striking. He must be angling for a position in the Clinton administration.

The Financial Crisis: Why Have No High-Level Executives Been Prosecuted? Jed S. Rakoff. Note this is close to, and might even exactly replicate, his recent speech at a New York Bar Council. So it’s good to see the New York Review of Books bring this to the attention of a larger audience.

FOMC Meeting Something of a Nailbiter Tim Duy

How far would Bank of America go to screw distressed homeowners? Daily Kos (Carol B). Um, they’re asking this now? Where were they when this mattered, as in when the settlement negotiations were on?

Four Ways to Visualize US Income Inequality Visualizing Economics (Chuck L)

On relevance and rigour in macroeconomics Lars P. Syll

Extinction is Guaranteed if We Do Not Colonize Space Ian Welsh. Shorter: Extinction is guaranteed.

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):


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  1. David Lentini

    PLAN vs. USN: The Good Ol’ Days of the Sixth Fleet vs. the Sovs Are Back!

    It looks to me like the reporting over the latest “incident” is a bit overheated. I recall this sort of thing—and much worse—was fairly routine in the Mediterranean Sea during the Cold War, where the US and Soviets routinely lost air crews in mid-air collisions while jockeying near US aircraft carriers.

    Having done so much to provide the economic and technological basis for enabling the PRC to expand its military, we’re now ready to use them as an excuse to arm the region and keep the Pentagon’s budget and our MIC profits healthy. Perhaps that’s why no one in the MSM has ever bothered to question the wisdom of turning China into our financier and manufacturing base even though it’s a totalitarian state, or how the GOP could so quickly forget its paranoia over Chinese communism in its rush to open the Chinese market.

  2. from Mexico

    @ “The Black Gold Brigade”

    Jason Hirthler writes:

    ”A Princeton-produced report from two years ago suggested that from 1976-2007, the U.S. military spent $7.3 trillion guarding oil resources in the Middle East with fleets of destroyers and aircraft carriers, not to note the inevitable chains of supply vessels.”

    Ever since Jimmy Carter and Ronnie Reagan decided to “militarize our energy policy” (Marshall Auerback and Chris P. Dialynas), the energy bill has been rapidly shooting into the great blue empyrean. Full spectrum dominance doesn’t come cheap, neither in material nor moral cost.

    If one were to incorporate all the externalized costs – military, environmental, etc. — what would the price of a barrel of oil be?

    1. from Mexico

      I do have one quibble with Hirthler though. He states that “Resource extraction has a ruby red history that surges in parallel with the rise of industrial capitalism.”

      However, the love affair between capitalism and resource extraction pre-dates industrial capitalism. It actually goes back to the rise of mercantile capitalism in the 16th century, and the extraction of gold and silver in the Americas by the Spanish Empire which drove the whole European show.

      1. ambrit

        Dear fromMexico;
        Don’t forget the Dutch East India Company and the horrors of the Spice Trade. Agriculture is a resource prone to extractive methods too. The sugar plantations of the New World created La Layenda Negra, eh?
        I believe that all capitalism could be viewed as an extractive process.

        1. Synopticist

          It goes even further back that that. Roman state policy was all about extraction of precious metals. Trajan invaded Dacia , roughly modern Romania and Hungary, just for the gold mines.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Luckily for China, the Romans didn’t always have to invade the Middle Kingdom for silk.

            They had their own pinna wool or ‘sea silk’ from southern Italy.

            Lost in translation, the ancient Chinese thought it came from ‘water sheep,’ and also called it mermaid silk.

    2. TomDority

      what would the price of a barrel of oil be?

      A very very important question needing an answer. Have not found it in research. I think it exceeds $1,000 a barrell – besides, when we destroy most of the worlds species – including our own – their won’t be anyone around to place a price upon it. Priceless

  3. Steve H.

    Per Summers IMF remarks: I think he got mad after not getting the Fed chair and spoke too much truth. He seemed to say that there is no more need for actual material capital to leverage. So crappy MBS actually had real houses underneath them, which were then leveraged in various ways a gazillion times. But now, any investment into a real product is wasted, since we no longer need the underlying material capital, we can leverage words or fairies or anything at all, and it doesn’t have to cost anything on the investment.

    So actually investing in something productive cannot match the ROI that leveraging fairydust can produce. If you’re trying to be productive, you’ll get selected out.

    Seems like he’s backing off of that now. Maybe Barry whispered in his ear…

    1. susan the other

      This kinda leaves Krugman back at square one too. Both K and S advocating bubbles to jump start the economy sounded nutty, but K has always spoken for fiscal stimulus. He say’s he’ll research bubbles and clarify himself! I think the clarification of both K and S seems to be that bubbles would be better than what we have, which is due to an ignorant and recalcitrant congress, which is a dead economy. But that the only sane thing to do is fiscal stimulus. Because they both know we can’t afford an economy of perennial bubbles anymore. The problem with most pols is that they equate fiscal stimulus with bubbles. When the opposite is true, that bubbles are created in the private sector.

    2. Jackrabbit

      I read it as: “Why strangulation might prove to be the new normal”

      I think that is a more accurate reading. Really, Summer’s is not ‘backing off’ anything. Summers and Krugman (and others, I expect) want to direct the debate to choices other than raising taxes on the wealthy. They are perfectly happy with financial strangulation of the real economy and the 99%.

      These fixers experts are paid handsomely to ensure that the party goes on.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      I read that in Norway, bitcoins are not real but taxable.

      So is your imaginary vacation home on Jupiter’s moon, Europa, to the Norwegians – not real, but taxable.

  4. rich

    The Rumored Chase-Madoff Settlement Is Another Bad Joke By Matt Taibbi

    Since the AA mess, the state has been beyond hesitant to bring criminal charges against major employers for any reason. (The history of all of this is detailed in The Divide, a book I have coming out early next year.) The operating rationale here is concern for the “collateral consequences” of criminal prosecutions, i.e. the lost jobs that might result from bringing charges against a big company. This was apparently the thinking in the Madoff case as well. As the Times put it in its coverage of the rumored $2 billion settlement:

    The government has been reluctant to bring criminal charges against large corporations, fearing that such an action could imperil a company and throw innocent employees out of work. Those fears trace to the indictment of Enron’s accounting firm, Arthur Andersen . . .

    There’s only one thing to say about this “reluctance” to prosecute (and the “fear” and “concern” for lost jobs that allegedly drives it): It’s a joke.

    Yes, you might very well lose some jobs if you go around indicting huge companies on criminal charges. You might even want to avoid doing so from time to time, if the company is worth saving.

    But individuals? There’s absolutely no reason why the state can’t proceed against the actual people who are guilty of crimes.

    Read more:

  5. diptherio

    Re: How do you get a bobcat out of your window blinds? CBC

    This is a trick question. You can’t get a bobcat out of your blinds, the bobcat has to want to get out.

    Or the Montana-specific answer: Show it a Grizzly and it will run off with it’s (bob)tail between its legs (although it might piddle on the floor in fright on its way out the front door).

    1. fresno dan

      How do you get a bobcat out of your window blinds? CBC
      Say “here, kitty kitty and offer some tuna?
      Japanese Man Stole Nearly Two Hundred Thousand Dollars to Buy Cat Food Gawker

      I’m thinking he was trying to get a Bobcat out of some blinds.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am ashamed to admit it, but I recent put too much fertilizer on a couple of indoor plants…

      That’s my best post mortem analysis anyway.

  6. Bridget

    Never, ever, never. Never, never, never. Whatever you do, don’t give any government the right to debit your bank account. Those naifs in Washington need to immediately empty all of the money out of their existing accounts and open new ones.

    1. BondsOfSteel

      Interesting point. I assumed it would be the insurance company doing the debiting. That’s where the money goes. It would also explain why this debiting would be inconsistent, frail, and buggy.

      I hope the government isn’t the payment processor for the insurance companies…

  7. dearieme

    “The residents of a tiny Polynesian island may have been doing calculations in binary—a number system with only two digits—centuries before it was described by Gottfried Leibniz”: that naughty Leibniz, forever stealing other people’s ideas.

  8. craazyboy

    Extinction is Guaranteed if We Do Not Colonize

    “On the other hand, if we stay on Earth, especially given how incapable we are of acting in basic racial self-interest (as proved by climate change) our odds of an extinction event, and soon, go way, way up.
    from → Space Colonization and Exploration”

    haha. but we’ll do better in outer space, where nature is doing her damn best to kill us off!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It sounds like a poor excuse for NASA and rocket scientists to ask for more money – after we wreck this planet, let’s move on to another planet; otherwise, my God, we might become extinct…the race capable of destroying a planet, becoming extinct? Are you kidding me? We need a bigger cave to exercise our blindness.

      1. craazyboy

        It’s all about the money.

        If people read more sci-fi, NASA would be cancelled and the money re-appropriated to sci-fi writers. At least they are safer.

        Humans would die of rad exposure on a trip to Mars.

        And where is this un-wreaked planet we are going to? Mars? Venus?

        The moon has to be first. The Chinese just got there, 50 years late. But they probably did it with a probe made from 100% cheap plastic – and for half the price of US and Soviet programs.

        1. BondsOfSteel

          It’s better than spending money on trying to create more money. I don’t think our species greatest achievement should be digging gold out of a hole in the ground only to put it in underground vaults (aka other holes in the ground).

          I think Yves is correct… Extinction is guaranteed. The 2C limit where runaway climate change happens will occur in our lifetimes. Human population [civilization?] will decline at that point. I don’t see us actually accomplishing inter-planet colonization.

            1. ambrit

              Sorry, but the odds are still in your favour, even with the cheap Chinese spacesuit. The determining factor will be, just whose customs and immigration system has jurisdiction. (Heinleins “The Man Who Sold the Moon” has an interesting, er, market based slant on this.)

              1. craazyboy

                Just started “Blue Remembered Earth” – the latest novel by Allistar Reynolds. (he used to be a real astronomer)
                It’s set 150 years in the future – and I have to say the level of technology employed by the author is rather optimistic. I haven’t got far enough along to get an explanation of how this all happened, but African Chinese are the most powerful nation on Earth – and seem to be opposed by the Aquatic Group of Nations.
                The Chinese own the Light Side of the moon – and you CAN’T go there – it’s protected by a holographic Wall.
                The Dark Side is populated by Anarchists because Earth line of site surveillance rays don’t work there.

                Happy future!

                1. Jim S

                  I’m about halfway through with this myself, and I don’t know if it’s just me (and self-criticism finds a good chance it is), but I’m bored silly with it. I’m continuing to read in hopes later books in the series will click with me, as I do quite like his earlier Revelation Space books.

                  I did laugh when one of his characters’ inner-monologue portrayed the surveillance state as benevolent totalitarianism. Hopefully that bit is misdirection on his part, but if it isn’t I wonder how he’s taking the whole Snowden affair.

                  1. craazyboy

                    I had high hopes after reading all the Revelation Space novels and Terminal World was good too.
                    But I guess every author does a dog now and then.

                  2. Jim S

                    I would like to amend my comment somewhat, having finished the book. The first 300-odd pages bored me silly, but after that it picked up and started to have more of a suspenseful feel. And Reynolds still dreams big.

                    But seriously, you could rip the book in half, present the second half to someone, and they would be able to follow the story with only minor gaps in understanding. My paperback edition is 565 pages long; the editors could have pared that down to 265 for a much better book.

                2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Is there any sci fi where cats control the world in the future, by infecting humans with a virus that make them find cats irresistible…there are no commands humans can disobey?

                  I luv a good book like that.

                    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      It probably all started with a front set up by some cats called Humans Hating Humans club – or HHH club, the central dog-ma and cat-pa of which was that after living a obedient human life, you would be re-born as a cat, or a dog if you were not so lucky.

                      (That’s upward mobility for you!)

                      After that, there was only one thing left to do – you gotta obey cats.

                    2. ambrit

                      Not to be contrary or anything, *rolls eyes* but my Chinese Texican room mate at college, (his parents were from Shanghai) used to tell us that, (his family owned and ran one of the biggest Chinese restaurants in some big college town in Texas,) the proper pronunciation of the name of a popular chinese dish was “Meow Gu Gai Pan.” Also, “why do you think we call those dogs chow?” I’ve eaten some very interesting things in the kitchens of some Chinese restaurants when I’d tag along with him.

    2. optimader

      A brief review of eh fossil record and we can see the planet is pretty damn effective at climate change and extinction at the top of the food chain even without our helps.
      Humans are merely vain hosts for the bacterial inhabitants of this planet.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s the irritating part…like some people who insisting on helping you when you don’t need their help.

        That’s us…insisting on interfering when Nature has not asked us to.

        And now, we want to help the rest of the universe.

        I think when we have built a Garden of Eden here, we may think about export the model; otherwise, we should think about helping ourselves…to become more responsible inhabitants.

        Humans, heal thyselves!

      2. tim s

        agreed. too much emphasis on the “great human”, as if we were something other than a rather impressive collection of god-knows-what microbes, etc, which are really just the smallest proof of a smaller visible sphere of life (one that probably knows no more about the human than we know about the universe). It is hard to take a species too seriously that seems to have the self-destructive impulse in it’s own nature as a part of the progression of life through time.

        Extinction? It may be harder to kill off 7 billion humans who as a species have shown a remarkable adaptability to any type of environment and reproduction than one might think.

        We are tools of some greater life force, which seems bent on using our present form for as long as necessary, then on to the next form. No cry.

        You can’t really argue that humans don’t act like tools….

        1. Emma

          “You can’t really argue that humans don’t act like tools….”

          It’s going to get worse.

          You should see the latest on another warm and fuzzy Google escapade to ensure “see no evil, speak no evil” takes over the world….

          I’m definitely ‘Victorian Girl’, naively still believing that courageous and direct face-to-face communication, free of encumbrance (ie. spies, technology, etc. etc.) is best.

          1. tim s

            Hmm, looking into my crystal ball, I see a huge spike in smartphones being thrown into walls and/or being stomped on…right after the big argument with it, of course.

  9. Splashoil

    Correction: Families under 55 will no longer be liened by WA Medicaid. Family members older than 55 will be liened.

    1. Alexa

      Confused–doesn’t the article [linked to] say that they will only exempt those age 55 and up–who are in Expanded Medicaid? (101-137% FPL)

      Or does the new proposed exemption apply to every Medicaid beneficiary, age 55 and up? I can’t tell from the wording.

      In Oregon, state officials changed estate-recovery rules last month.

      Recovery will no longer apply to health benefits for those 55 and over, the Oregon Health Authority said, although the state will collect expenses for long-term care.

      Does this apply only to beneficiaries of “Expanded Medicaid,” or ALL Medicaid Program beneficiaries in Oregon?

      It’s a great start.

      But by far the greatest medical expenses (I would think) are incurred by long-term care SNF residents. THIS regulation needs to go, as well.

      P.S. Does anyone know “how” to make a “blockquote?”

      (The “old way” doesn’t seem to work. And the “new way” below didn’t work for me, either.)

      Thanks for the post!

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Binary math: I got a wildebeest. I got food! (1); I got no wildebeest, I got no food (0).

    That’s my theory (tentative) on the origin of binary math – lions.

    There are lionesses, yeah (1); I don’t see no lioness (0) :(.

    1. optimader

      I got Rice and Beans, I got food! (1)
      I got rice but no beans!,,, arrgh missing essential amino acids… um (0.5)? :o(

  11. Jim Haygood

    Stung by chronic production declines, México prepares to end the Pemex monopoly:

    The bill ending the state monopoly was approved by the Mexican Congress Dec. 12. Before becoming law, the proposal must be ratified by state assemblies, most of which are controlled by proponents of the reform. Oil companies will be offered production-sharing contracts, overseen by government regulators.

    Though some foreign companies already operate in Mexico under service contracts with Pemex, the reform could increase foreign investment by as much as $15 billion annually and boost potential economic growth by half a percentage point, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in a Nov. 28 report.

    A doubling in production as suggested by Citigroup’s Ed Morse would put Mexican output at 5 million barrels a day, an unprecedented level for Pemex, the state oil company created during nationalization in 1938.


    If México can demolish sacred cows such as the Pemex monopoly (which was actually enshrined in its constitution), why can’t the U.S. dump broken policies such as the drug war and Obamacare?

    Apparently, many Third World democracies actually function more effectively than the petrified Depublicrat duopoly in the U.S., which hasn’t repealed anything since the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act in 1989, nearly a quarter century ago.

    1. ambrit

      The problem with the Pemex bill is how the revenue stream from those wells will be “bent” by the new masters to the detriment of the Mexican polity. Pemex was nationalized way back in ’38 for some very good reasons. The underlying fundamentals haven’t changed all that much.
      Now, if the Mexican legislature were to overhaul and liberalize the countries contraception and abortion laws, that would be groundbreaking.

  12. Eureka Springs

    Here’s an idea. Bring those U.S. Naval vessels home from threatening China and the rest of the world (for what!?) for Christmas. Permanently. It’s called peace… and if peace isn’t enough, rumor used to have there could be dividend behind it.

    Maybe those who still suffer the illusion we live in a democracy could start a Move On or mega church petition. That ought to scare up a little sanity, I mean a few laughs.

    Pivot to Asia is evil.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Summmers…angling for a position in the Clinton administration.

    What position can that be? Ambassadorship to the Cayman Islands?

    The man is president-material. Let’s not waste his talent.

  14. diptherio

    Thinking through a strategy for sustainable social change:
    Movements Moving Together, part 2 ~Grassroots Economic Organizing

    1. Given the overwhelming presence of neoliberalism and its relentless drive to dominate and shape all political economic realities, how do we strategically take measure of what we need to do to become substantial, developing, and enduring alternatives that are recognized as such in our locales, homelands, and across the globe?

    2. Are there any indications that activists in the 21st century are more able now than in the 20th century to bring autonomous movements together and unite them around some kind of shared body of themes and agendas? If not, what do we need to do to develop that capacity?

    3. If there are positive indications for creating the solidarity we need , and if these indications seem strong enough to risk investing time, energy, and resources to the endeavor, then some key questions come into focus for each movement and each of us personally:

    What projects, organizations, and enterprises would you want to bring into a coalition for developing a more deeply democratic world?
    What criteria would you use in selecting who and what to ally with?
    How negotiable are you about these criteria? That is, how open are your ears, mind, and heart for negotiating strong differences of opinion?

    4. Given the reality that mainstream “politics is not a dinner party, but more like a civil war by bloodless means,” how do we pursue our visions for a deeply democratic world without getting sucked into seeking to destroy what is seeking to eliminate or, at least, keep our diverse projects and…possibilities radically marginalized?

  15. scraping_by

    Since the FT has become better at shoring up its paywall, I ended up finding the article in a more local source.

    Which led to the interesting follow up.

    Yes, the US and the PRC are doing the threat dance. Most people are thinking it’s like bucks in the rut. Actually, more like male birds of paradise bouncing in a circle.

    I can’t help but think it’s on the order of Tiananmen Square, when Bush I screamed fire and brimstone while he sent his secret envoy to assure the Chinese government sanctions were entirely temporary and for show. Barry’s masters make too much from feeding Treasuries to China. If they need to distract with more war, it would be a smaller, weaker victim.

  16. kevinearick

    Real Estate Welfare Programming

    If you are not labor, save yourself the heartburn and don’t read my stuff, but keep in mind that without labor there is no freedom, because money and property are control mechanisms.

    Money and property are convenient myths, employed by legacy capital to grow a middle class beyond proportion, man-made extensions of gravity in the feedback loop. The ponzi signal suggests that the middle class standard of living is increasing. Net of monetary misdirection, the middle class buys high and sells low; capital buys low and sells high. The middle class sells out its entire family line, while capital feeds itself on the inflation and deflation of the ponzi.

    The bankers have already proven that money is a myth, by printing to infinity with nothing but a net loss to capital to show for it. The bank can’t set prices any better than you can, despite its alleged information age advantage. Marginalizing labor through definition for the purpose has simply devalued all currencies relative to alternatives. Next, we dissect the property myth.

    The point of property mythology is to provide some basis for legacy capital, depending upon the resources you are going to recycle into your developments. You have to account for past labor if you want labor to show up tomorrow. All the nation/states are running real estate welfare programs at a loss to capital because they cannot get labor to show up under current regulations.

    The kernel is harsh because you have to strip away all the false assumptions supporting the old system to build the new system.

    Centralization tells everyone to show up at the same elevator at the same time to go to the same floor, requiring an energy source from the past to exploit. Decentralization allows each to make their own decision, and employs the energy from the elevators coming down to power the elevators going up. In a nutshell, that’s the kernel. It balances resources, bias.

    Once the middle class ponzi decelerates the bank loses control of monetary policy, which is fed by fiscal real estate regulation. In this case, people are redefining work for themselves, much faster than Congress can adjust, which is why it has lost control of fiscal policy. The data tells you that we are migrating to a 24 hour public workweek. It’s not a negotiation.

    Labor defines work as an investment in its children. The middle class has a short memory because it is paid to focus on popularity. Its costumes of false assumption chase property inflation with wage credit deflation and associated debt to feed the ponzi, resulting in a miscarriage every time. “Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown…and bring it into subjection…”

    Legacy defines justice as an equal right for one group after the other to seize labor’s investment, with an early childhood propaganda system built for the purpose. Corruption in education far exceeds all other organizations because nearly everyone is participating in the normalization of the behavior, with a printed real estate tax base to ensure the outcome, the American Dream, social ownership of children, swapping group discipline for self discipline.

    The union cartels represent real estate interest, not labor. The AMA is a real estate concern. Healthcare is the means to the end, misdirection. Look at the data. That 1% are all REITs with bankruptcy preference, hidden by willing middle class public, private and non-profit corporate servants that cannot see past their own self-serving misdirection, all randomly seeking a municipal bankruptcy solution.

    Don’t send your child to school without self discipline and expect anything other than an automaton to return. America doesn’t have the least effective education system in the industrialized world by accident. American teachers are not the lowest scoring college graduates by accident. America doesn’t have the least effective healthcare system in the world by accident.

    Madoff wasn’t guilty of running a ponzi; he was guilty of letting it collapse. The participants were not innocent; they all wanted something for nothing, increasing return on the promise of lower risk. Welcome to America, the greatest ponzi ever built. Capital simply cannot escape its sunk costs, because labor doesn’t function as a democracy, as the middle class groups are built to define democracy. Labor is defined by the group distilled out by all other groups.

    China has no magic bullet; it’s just a digital extension of the ponzi, fed back into itself with a currency peg. Kissinger & Kids simply buried the misdirection in the computer code, globalizing the process. Their problem of course is that they cannot bring in new immigrants from Mars to continue feeding the ponzi. One day they are pleading an oil shortage and the next they are fracking for export, not a convincing argument for anyone with the perspective of integrity.

    You can run another iteration of America, or global equilibrium economy if you want, but those false assumptions creating event horizon circuits exist for a reason. There is no net charge. There is only relative charge. Capital is the ground, the past. You are the future. What do you want to do?

    You can install a minimum standard of living, but hiring someone else to tax someone else isn’t going to get you there. If you want culture you have to create it. Somebody has to take over from the old-timers of substance, in order for everything else to exist. Why can’t it be you?

    Life is not a performance; it’s people of substance building a better world than the one they inherited. Going to a performance is something you do after the work is done. Set your own standard. Work increases the standard of living in your community, as measured in health. Toys, TV and manufactured food aren’t going to get you there.

    Labor exceeds expectations, the limits of empire. China has much to recommend it, but it is never going to be the leader of the free world. It’s a real estate welfare ponzi, like all the other nations run by the legacy families. Law follows behavior, despite any and all propaganda to the contrary you were taught in school.

    You are welcome to work more than 24 hours a week, to feed the empire real estate welfare system; just don’t expect labor to show up, which means that the middle class can only be replaced with computers, by its own in Silicon Valley. Legacy capital can only marginalize labor with a middle class grown beyond proportion for the purpose. That’s it.

    1. susan the other

      Labor and capital have both become meaningless. They were once one and the same thing and then along came money and then interest and then ROI and ruthless productivity. If we want a world that makes sense we might wanna toss the old capital-labor thing out the window. When the world was young, maybe at the beginning of the industrial revolution, there were plenty of needs – things and processes to improve on. But the supply of needs was not very long. So now we make up “needs” and call it glorious consumerism in order to perpetuate the capital-labor paradigm. I think human needs, a rational standard of living, could be created and then an economy designed to fit it. If we weren’t all so nuts and confused. We are ass backwards.

      1. kevinearick

        definitions, definitions….assumptions, assumptions….
        the cart before the horse…
        a race to nowhere, fast…
        with a computer designed for the purpose.

        1. kevinearick

          we are all labor, and we are all responsible. Division is an assumption of gravity, a perception bias, creating relative charge. Call the event horizons anything you like.

      2. squasha

        …when the world was young troglodyte ravers fingerpainted either their prey or deities inside earth’s craggy belly, not even Simon Scharma can say for sure

        …when adolescent, a slave might forgo his jubliee freedom to remain with a beloved spouse, his ear’d be pierced and he’d die in slavery rather than live without his love

        were labor and capital once really one? were the pyramids built with any less ruthless productivity than Stalin’s canals? Is there any better symbol of surplus need than the Roman vomitorium? If we’re ass backward, at least we’re in good company :)

  17. davidgmills

    On Sunday I reported that I had enrolled in Obamacare for my 29 year old daughter who is a dental hygiene student and who has not really had insurance since she was 21. Since she is a full time student we estimated her income next year at $13,000 which qualified h3er for a 94% subsidy. I reported that her premiums for a Blue Cross Blue Shield silver plan in Memphis, Shelby County Tennessee would be $50 a month, 20% co-pay and $750 max out of pocket for a very good insurance plan covering mental health, drugs, doctors, ER and hospitalization. Today I had to call Blue Cross to check on the status. If premium was not paid before 12/23, I could not get coverage for January.

    Was it too good to be true? No. It turned out to be exactly what the assistant at signed me up for. Actually dealing with Blue Cross was worse than But I was able to get her a website account with ID and password, after a few phone calls able to find out what her Blue Cross member ID number was and her Group number and log in. Then I was able to print a temporary Blue Cross ID card and was able to get someone on the phone to accept payment. There were long phone delays due to swamped personnel. Probably took about an hour and a half to do and in all fairness, a lot of people might have been frustrated or would not have had the time to finish. Would a public option or single payer been easier to acquire? I would hope so.

    But at least she is covered beginning January 1 and we are going to start getting appointments with providers. It has been a long time coming.

    I hope there will be many more successes like hers. But when you think of all the subsidies she is getting, it seems to me that all the insurance companies are doing in her situation is acting like third party administrators and that the government is really paying for her healthcare. It seems to be nothing more than back door single payer with a private administrator.

    1. davidgmills

      Now that she has coverage and I am able to find out who is in her network, I have to say it is pretty darn good. Every single major hospital in Memphis is on the plan and University of Tennessee Medical Group is on it which is by far the largest physicians’ group in the area covering every specialty. So I think this is going to work out fine. Might be better than my own and mine is through a Methodist Hospital where my wife works as an RN. I have to use the Methodist Hospitals (about 7 in the area and the largest hospital group here). But my daughter will have many more hospital choices than I, including the best Trauma Center which is not part of Methodist.

      1. just_kate

        “the government is really paying for her healthcare” … um, you’re welcome? And your 29 year old daughter should take you out for a nice lunch or something similar for taking care of that for her.

        1. kareninca

          Yes, “the government” paying for it, means that when we pay our taxes, we are paying for it. Or the government is borrowing it, to be paid (or not) by future generations. One can argue that it is a good use of one’s tax money (better use than e.g. military excursions and bank bailouts), but it is ultimately from your fellow taxpayers (those ones who are not in a position to evade it), not from “the government.”

          I wonder how much system gaming this will produce. I’m assuming david’s daughter’s free rent, food, and health care research, are not counted as income for purposes of her subsidy. Just her 13k a year of money income. So she gets the same subsidy as someone who earns 13k, without having free housing. It could be rational for people to live with their relatives and not try to earn more, in order to get a big subsidy, rather than earning more and losing the subsidy, or getting a smaller one.

          So, although I’m 50, my parents are in okay shape. I could move in with them (they’d be happy with that), earn a very little, and get a big subsidy. Any more I earn would count against the subsidy, and if I earn a lot and move out I have to pay rent and get no subsidy. Hmmm. I am going to go out on a limb here (not) and say that this is not going to increase the “household formation” rate.

          I also think that I need to find out how to “go long” black market wages.

          I’m not trying to be mean, david. I do think your daughter needs health insurance, and the system she has been dealing with has been horrible. However, from what I’m reading, it sounds like her fair share (given that she is supported by relatives who are comfortably off) should be more than $50 per month. She’s not really poor; she is only poor on paper. I’m very sure that your family could afford $350 per month without difficulty. Again, I’m not trying to be mean, but I know plenty of people who are truly poor, and she is not in that boat.

          1. davidgmills

            So I guess you would not be in favor of single payer. I thought that was what everyone on this blog wants. Single payer does not take into account what one’s income level is. And it is paid by the government.

            As for my daughter, you don’t know anything about her. She has worked pretty darn hard when her depression wasn’t keeping her out of work which it did one time for fourteen months. She also has worked for employers who don’t provide health insurance. Even when she was earning fairly good money after she got a massage therapy license she still had no insurance. And even if she had been on an employer’s plan, in all probability it would not have covered mental health.

            And she pays her own rent, (she does not live with us) about $600 a month, and buys her own food and gas. You make some strange assumptions.

            I choose to take care of her when she can’t take care of herself. I consider it my responsibility.

            I don’t get your point which seems to be nothing but resentment. We live in a state where insurance may be cheap but it is because wages are depressed. It is relative. And why would I pay $350 a month when the premium without a subsidy is only $200?

            As for gaming the system… what is this, a right wing talking point? That is always the right wing claim when someone gets a government benefit. I never have understood this resentment people have against their fellow citizens who are not in the 1%. I could care less what benefits my fellow citizens of the 99% get. I don’t care who gets food stamps or welfare or whether someone gets $50 more a month in a government program than they are entitled.

            I worry about the 1% or the 01%. They are the real gamers of the system.

            1. kareninca

              Yes, I’m afraid I do feel resentful. I know loads of people who would love to have your daughter’s policy, but will be getting nothing of the sort; people who will be paying huge amounts of money for shit plans under Obamacare that have huge co-pays and deductibles and no decent hospitals (Obamacare is what we are discussing here, not the merits of single-payer). If you go around describing something fabulous that you have that others don’t get, you will have to expect resentment. That was the very point that an earlier poster made: this is not going to be good for social cohesion; it will be socially corrosive.

              You seem to have missed my statement that I know that your daughter needs insurance, and that the old system was terrible. I could have guessed (and did guess) the details that you have now given of her health and insurance situations. They are pretty much the norm for people her age; they are virtually all depressed and broke and have terrible jobs. The fact that she can live so cheaply is not the norm; I’ve never heard of anyone being able to pay for rent and food and gas on 13k per year; must be one of those special qualities of Tennessee that I have never seen elsewhere; you couldn’t live in a dumpster in most parts of the country on 13k per year. Hence my assumption that she lived with you.

              Just curious, how much would it have cost, all along, if you and your wife had bought health insurance for your daughter? In my extended family, when parents are upper middle class (e.g. lawyer and RN), or even less well off, they scrape up the money to make sure their kid has health insurance, no matter what the kid’s age. It’s often not easy at all, but it’s considered more important than many other things. Was that not possible for you?

              1. davidgmills

                The problem you seem to ignore is that people who are 29 years old do not necessarily want the help of their parents. She wants to make it on her own. Yes, we could have paid her insurance all of these years, but that is not what she wanted. Instead, we had to bail her out when she had crises.

                There are many people like my wife and I in that regard. In fact, last night my wife was telling me that her boss had a similar situation with her daughter and granddaughter. But my wife’s boss has to stay out of the matter because her relatives do not want her help.

                As for the cost ofthe actual premium in my daughter.s case, to me a $200 premium for insurance seems to be quite high when the going rate here for a one bedroom apartment is $600-700 a month, not including utilites. So it is relative.

                There are a lot of college graduates here who struggle to make $20,000 a year in crap jobs. We are well below average in income.

                Whether my daughter will end up paying most of these premiums or whether we will remains to be seen. She should graduate from dental hygiene school next fall and hopefully will have a good job then — maybe one that even has health insurance. But her student loans will be eating her lunch because by then she will probably have $80,000 in student debt, most of it at 5 or 6%.

                But I don’t get the resentment of winners and losers of Obamacare. That is nothing new. Ever since the government began any kind of social welfare (in the generic sense) program of an kind, it seems like all we do is resent someone who got a better deal on whatever the government welfare program.

                I doubt that single payer would put a stop to welfare resentment. If single payer ever emerges, then someone did not have a good source of income will be advantaged by it, and people who do have good sources of income are going to resent their tax dollars being spent on someone who they think did not carry their weight.

                It is just the nature of things. But it is time we got past that. I don’t resent the people in Vermont who are going to get single payer. I say good for them. If it works well, then maybe other states will sign on; and frankly, that is the way I think we will get single payer in this country — on a state by state incremental basis.

                That is also how federalism often works.

                1. kareninca

                  I take the point about a kid wanting to be independent.

                  Re $200 per month for a premium for her: that is stunningly cheap. Incredibly cheap. Even in a very low wage area, that is cheap. That fact that rents are so low, makes it that much more affordable, actually. I’m not saying that the wage earner could necessarily actually afford it; I’m just saying that from what I’ve seen over the years it is stunningly cheap; one more Tennessee bargain, I guess.

                  You say that kids with college degrees where you are, are struggling to make 20k/year. Um, kids with college degrees all over the country now are struggling to make 20k a year, and most of them are in much, much higher cost areas. I know kids in CT and PA who barely make that much with college degrees, and they’re not paying $600/month in rent (actually they live with their parents, since rent is in no way an option). So I would actually guess that people in Tennessee are doing better than others, vis a vis living cost/income ratio. This is not surprising; when wages are declining/terrible everywhere, the low cost regions are easier to live in, even with their lower wages. In part due to what you have written about TN wages/costs/healthcare, I will actually be recommending to people that they look into moving there (I’m not joking).

                  It is all very easy to be noble about winners and losers of social programs, when a) one has more money than the “winners” one is looking at, b) one oneself has the resource that is at stake, and c) it is not a matter of life and death. So, it was always easy for liberals (I’ll leave aside other political groups; different issues for them) to not care about the proverbial “foodstamp winner.” Who cares if this person gets an extra fifty bucks a month (your example); I have plenty for food myself and more in general than this person, and I am not looking at dying from starvation myself. In the Obamacare world, the upset person a) does not necessarily have as much money/resources overall as the person who is getting the prize; b) does not him/herself have the resource at stake (good and affordable healthcare), and it IS a matter of life and death, if you can’t get the right hospital or specialist.

                  Noblesse oblige is easy and cheap, when one has the item wanted. I’m expecting to see a lot less noblesse oblige among people who felt it for the “food insecure,” when they themselves are lacking decent health care that others are getting. So as I said, corrosive and divisive.

                  1. davidgmills

                    I think the paradigm is wrong. If you are worried about what the government spends on welfare then it is time to get a full education on government fiat money vs private fiat money. The government can print all the money it wants, but instead it borrows.

                    If you could print money, would you borrow to buy a car? Of course not. Would you need a source of income? of course not. This is the big scam of our time and I don’t buy into it. So the government can print whatever it needs for the general welfare of the people and for the defense of the country. Only states and local municipalities, who can’t print money, need to operate a budget like a household and need to borrow and need to tax.

                    So I am not buying your argument. And by the way, I saw at least two articles on Democratic Underground today where people got Obamacare for $10 and 20 a month. So I don’t know what you are talking about when you say a got a great deal.

        2. davidgmills

          Single payer seems to be what everyone on this blog wants. Last time I checked that was a government program. I got chewed out by Lambert for proposing a public option which would basically be insurance provided by the government but for which a person had to pay the government an insurance premium instead of to an insurance company. The premiums I pay for my daughter go to an insurance company as does the government subsidy.

  18. kjhgl

    “Child Sex Abuse Crisis of the Religious Right Grows”

    Think you mean the MALE religious right. Name the problem.

    1. scraping_by

      Part of the religious right attack on democracy and modernity has always been a fantasy of patriarchy. Some sort of Old Testament thing with women as livestock and children as property. It’s all of a piece.

      It’s a vicious fantasy, really, hung on the words of a whacked out Hebrew carpenter who pissed off TPTB of his own time. Rooting around the recesses of a long book in black covers. Meh.

      Or, meh if it didn’t have such ugly, dangerous consequences.

      1. F. Beard

        I don’t think so, having read the entire Bible. I suggest you do the same. The following should terrify any would be child molester:

        And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

        “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! Matthew 18:5-7 New American Standard Bible (NASB) [bold added]

        And this even more so:

        “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
        Matthew 7:21-23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

        But look what a mess Progressives have made by deciding that “Thou shall not steal” did not apply to bankers in aggregate. You’ve replaced a cross of gold with a cross of unethical credit creation. Way to go Einsteins!

        Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him Proverbs 26:12

        1. Optimader

          … but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble…
          Ahhh… And how about the rest of them?
          This rrminds me of a famous conversation between Ambassador Gillespie and Sadam Hussein

  19. Kim Kaufman

    This is my first time here since it’s all new look. Beautiful job! The comments are much easier to read.

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