Links 2/18/14

Alice in Wonderland creator loathed fame, letter reveals Guardian 

Soros doubles a bearish bet on the S&P 500, to the tune of $1.3 billion Online WSJ

Buying Property in London: The 10th Circle of Hell The Banker’s Umbrella (RS)

401k balances rise with record gains on Wall Street WaPo. So if you can time the market and your retirement, you’re doing great!

Pipe dreams of bank payment methods become reality FT. “Every bank you speak to wants to be Amazon.” Crime pays better. Banks should stick to their knitting.

As Bank Deaths Continue to Shock, Documents Reveal JPMorgan Has Been Patenting Death Derivatives Wall Street on Parade

EMs stay hooked on balm of Fed liquidity FT

Usurious Returns on Phantom Money: The Credit Card Gravy Train Web of Debt

America’s dumb elites risk fomenting a revolution Reuters. They’re not so dumb. They have people for that: Democrats.

The real primary fight of 2016 (and it’s not an alternative to Hillary) Daily Kos (Bob). Warrenista beat-down from Lord Kos.

White House defends $800B stimulus as a key to ending the recession WaPo

Summers Says Closing Tax Loopholes Would Help Curb Inequality Bloomberg

The middle class’s missing $1.6 trillion Reuters (CM). Even today, a trillion is a lot of money.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

SPCMA: The Other NSA Dragnet Sucking In Americans emptywheel

At Newark Airport, the Lights Are On, and They’re Watching You Times

Who Should Store NSA Surveillance Data Bruce Schneir

LAPD Travels To Israel, Falls In Love With Drones And Mass Surveillance Dispatches from the Underclass (CB)

Why is the World Turning a Blind Eye to US Drone Strikes? Counterpunch

Terrorists, infrastructure porn and our fragile energy systems High Country News

Train accidents stir worries about crude transport AP

Missouri gun murders ‘rose after law repeal’ BBC. Probably more loud kids.


Narrow Networks Under The ACA: Financial Drivers And Implementation Strategies Health Affairs

Tips For New Obamacare Coverage: Stay In Network, Avoid Out-Of-Pocket Costs Kaiser Health News. Each “tip” is a tax on your time to prop up a system that should no longer exist.

Health-Law Backers Push Skimpier ‘Copper’ Insurance Policies Online WSJ

Venezuela Under Attack Again Counterpunch (DT). You know the drill.

Bulgaria: Leaks Shed Light on Use of Internet ‘Trolls’  Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

U.S. left with no point man in Syria after ‘moderate’ rebels fire their commander McClatchy

Iran and U.S. agree final nuclear deal may be unreachable Reuters

Thailand: 3 dead, dozens injured in Bangkok clashes Asian Correspondent

China Tackles $1 Trillion Data Gap as Xi Changes Metrics Bloomberg

Tourists from China set off brawl in plane at Thai airport Global Times

Why teeth implants may be the most painful (and costly) mistake of your life Daily Mail

Data Made Beautiful: Weather, Climate and Fracking Water Bloomberg

The New Nature of Maps BookBlog

Signal of neutrino dark matter Resonaances

Nothing Left, the great Adolf Reed, Harpers print edition, which you should consider supporting, by buying it.

How to Write About Tax Havens and the Super-Rich: An Interview with Nicholas Shaxson Atlantic (RS).

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2014-02-19 at 1.56.32 AM

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. skippy

    In the 1970s, Christopher Boyce’s name became inextricably linked with the political tensions of the time when he was jailed for selling classified US information to the KGB in the Soviet Union.

    The spy’s story was also made famous by the movie, The Falcon and The Snowman, but in recent decades Boyce has been off the radar.

    On Tuesday’s Dateline, Mark Davis tracks him down to the mountains of Oregon, where he’s been living in virtual anonymity since his release from prison.

    In an explosive interview, Boyce recounts his time working for a CIA subsidiary that provided satellite equipment to the spy base at Pine Gap in central Australia.

    And he makes claims that during the time of Gough Whitlam’s troubled government, the CIA was interfering in Australian politics and its trade unions.

    WATCH – See Mark’s revealing interview when Dateline returns next Tuesday at 9.30pm on SBS ONE.

    THE UNTOLD STORY – Read more in Christopher Boyce’s book American Sons: The Untold Story of the Falcon and the Snowman.

    INTERVIEW WITH MARK – Mark talks to SBS World News Radio about his story, explaining Boyce’s admiration for Edward Snowden and his advice for the 21st Century whistleblower.

    SNOWDEN SPEAKS – Tuesday’s Dateline also has the first full-length television interview with whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    skippy… and some are worried about bankstas….

    1. Elliot

      Back in the day there was a 60 Minutes doco on it, and if I recall it correctly, not only were Australians grateful for the knowledge he gave them of that interference, Senator Pat Moynihan said he’d like to shake his hand.

  2. Klassy

    Harper’s: A couple of years ago, I decided that I should probably support a more general circulation magazine that presents less than mainstream opinion. I decided on Harper’s and MSNBC “lean Forward” ads notwithstanding, I haven’t been unhappy with my decision. Until this summer. That is when I received an issue that contained some long rambling publisher’s letter that described me as a “discerning reader”. Flattery is annoying. Then, I read further and Jeff Madrick was writing Cory Booker “gets it”. To top it off, there was an announcement for an unpaid internship following a Thomas Frank column– he of Baffler fame. They did an entire issue on Intern nation! I wasn’t sure if I would resubscribe.
    But, I have to say that there aren’t too many publications that would publish Adolph Reed’s essay. Anyway, the essay contained a passage that could serve as a direct reply to Madrick’s sorely misguided article: “.Obama relies on nasty, victim blaming stereotypes about black poor people to convey tough minded honesty about race and poverty. Clinton’s division of the poor who “play by the rules” and those who presumably do not, his recasting of the destruction of publicly provided low income housing and the forced displacement of poor people as “Moving to opportunity” and “HOPE” and most of all his debacle of “welfare reform” already had helped liberal Democrats to view behavior modification of a defective population as the fundamental objective of antipoverty policy.” (emphasis mine)

    1. Klassy

      Plus, if you subscribe, you get access to their archives, and I would think only The Atlantic would rival their archives– and that is a moot point because why would you subscribe to The Atlantic?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        He made it sound so easy that we have to ask ourselves, how did we miss the signs??

        We have to ask, as that is the only to improve and empower ourselves. We are and should be capable of greatness.

    2. JEHR

      I have a subscription to Harper’s and read the article by Reed. I thought how nice it would be to have such information in every magazine and newspaper. Harper’s view is crucial to our understanding of the world we live in.

  3. F. Beard

    re Why teeth implants may be the most painful (and costly) mistake of your life Daily Mail:

    Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God! For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked. Psalm 3:7

    I know from personal experience since I had never had a cavity till my middle 50’s but then took to abusing my prescription for some wicked fantasies. Ooops! Bad move since I soon had a mouthful of cavities that got me well acquainted with my cute female dentist and her staff. All better now EXCEPT a tooth in the front broke off recently because I’ve not yet out-grown that wickedness. Thankfully, the root is good so it should soon be fixed.

    The Lord DOES wound (and kill too, make no mistake) but He also heals. A word to the wise.

    1. JEHR

      Yes, I am presently undergoing the process of having a tooth implanted. It started one year ago and I must say, I will not have another. There are several reasons but the most important one is that I began the implantation while on a blood thinner due to excessive clotting and two pulmonary embolisms. I had to go off the thinner in order to have the root removed and the result was a deep vein thrombosis which caused blockage, swelling and distention of the vein in my leg.

      People should be very cautious about this surgery.

  4. Massinissa

    I dont care how much Kos berates me.

    I am NOT voting for hillary, in either a primary OR a general.

    Of course, I cant promise I would vote for Warren or whoever in the general either…

    Any word on whose going to be Green parties nominee this time? Is it Jill Stein again?

    1. Klassy

      Wow! I read that. I never read Kos. He is even worse than I imagined.
      I do like the “you can just bitch or you can do the hard work to support good (D) candidates (as I do!)” line. Haven’t heard that one before. Sounds like a winning strategy.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        That’s Rebecca Solnit’s strategy, insulting and berating anyone not supporting the purportedly lesser evil Democrats.

        1. Klassy

          Well, I was joking about the never hearing that line before. It really has worked out well, hasn’t it?

        2. JerseyJeffersonian

          Yes, indeedy. One of those hectoring, sanctimonious screeds got picked up by the usually excellent TomDispatch, and wound up in my inbox. It was jaw-droppingly bad – sententious, and dripping in venom toward those who might, you know, think that the practice of voting for “the lesser evil” was unacceptably odious, odious enough that voting for a third party (in my case, Green in both 2008 and 2012) was the only moral option. It was so ghastly, that I sent TomDispatch an email pointing this out, and conveying my disappointment that such tripe was distributed by them. I got a nice response from Mr. Engelhardt; the old “we present a spectrum of viewpoints”, and so sorry that you didn’t find this one to your taste. I’m sure that they go way back, and she is not always so tedious. Witness this post at LRB:

          But that TomDispatch piece browbeating the left to stampede them into voting for Hopey-Changey after he had cornholed all of us at every turn in his first term sure left a bad taste in my mouth.

      2. jrs

        Don’t both options have the same result? Well then … do whatever you can sleep at night with in that case :)

        1. hunkerdown

          Both options do have the same result, but only if you’re concerned with policy, which is an unseemly concern for the little people to have.

          Then again, how much closer can they step to “The Party exists for its own sake” without tipping over?

    2. jrs

      Well suppose it was Warren, I have nothing against LOTE in pure principle, but it raises a very fundemental question: does party MEAN ANYTHING and if so what? It means a way of signalling that say Dems are more liberal socially and economically than Reps (although with Obama I’m unconvinced this is true at all, but lets say it’s sometimes a little tiny bit true at lower offices ok).

      But does party mean anything as a way of ORGANIZATION, as a way of policiing/enforcing/pushing for what a party will and maybe more importantly will not do. Well the Reps have thier Norquest pledge. Do the Dems have anything? Anything anything at all they will stand for unequivocally? It’s clearly not civil liberties! We can’t even say it’s the most popular New Deal program of Social Security! The party organization enforces NOTHING, nothing at all, demands no criteria at all to be called a “Democrat” and run under that party, has no screening of any sort of what it takes to be a “Democrat”. This is supposed to be the failure of individuals, like Obama was too far right and authoritarian etc.. But is it not actually also the failure of the party to censor him?

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        Ja, as some guy observed, “I didn’t leave the party, the party left me”.

        When the Democrats ceased to advocate for the citizenry, and instead took to surreptitiously shilling for the powerful whilst slyly pandering to special interests in order to cobble together a “base” sufficient to still enjoy electoral success of a sort, I knew in my heart that this was no longer a party, but rather a racket.

        The resulting Duopoly – that in so very many ways advocates for similar policy outcomes regardless of political labeling – is a vicious trick. The night draws on, the sheep look up, and are not fed.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        The party organization enforces NOTHING, nothing at all, demands no criteria at all to be called a “Democrat” and run under that party, has no screening of any sort of what it takes to be a “Democrat”.

        Not so. The Democratic party has minute and ridged criteria for any and all Democrats that they allow the herd (us) to pick from for office; MUST EAT WORK AND DREAM CORPORATIST, must respond affirmatively to all corporatist lobbying, must be willing to take bribes, must be willing to support legislation literally taking the lives of men woman and children if it is to the benefit of corporations, must consider (in secret but only for the time being) the US Constitution to be on a par with used toilet paper.

      3. hunkerdown

        But does party mean anything as a way of ORGANIZATION

        “A JOKE?!” “No, just a sales campaign.” (Monty Python’s Flying Circus, “Conquistador Instant Coffee”)

        Theory of mind doesn’t really apply to human corporations in the same way as human individuals. Under usual conditions, corporate communications to those outside the group are purely costs, whereas silence costs nothing. Therefore, any utterance by or on behalf of a corporation can be presumed to further a corporate goal, as those directing that utterance understand and interpret those goals. (Alan Grayson’s being asked to tone it down by party brass during the Obamasurance sausage-fest is an example of “corrective action” to remedy such divergent understanding.) Why would people with an interest in the corporate game of profit maximization choose to jeopardize their personal or team score, let alone the standing of the entire sport, through a discretionary, non-profitable communication?

        Elections, by this light, are just the exhibition games.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        That’s a good question. I’ve seen the odd link to Kos here on NC every now and again and wondered if they changed their ways or something? I will not actually go there (and give them “a hit”) unless I read a detailed post or comment on something worthwhile, so I just puzzle at the links.

        The one time I did follow the link in hopes of seeing for myself, I couldn’t understand who was saying what and gave up, and took a long shower instead.

  5. Massinissa

    One more note on Hillary.

    Why did Romney lose to Obama in 2012? If Romney had gotten as many Republican votes as McPain did in 2008 he would have won, since Obama had 1 million less votes.

    The problem for Romney wasnt that he couldnt get independents, because Obama couldnt really do that either. The problem for Romney, was that *he couldnt inspire his base*. A lot of people who voted Republican in 2008 just stayed home (the same was true of Obama that year, but Obama still eked out a victory).

    Can Hillary inspire the base in the general election, or will people who sometimes vote Democrat just stay home this time?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Romney lost because he was supposed to lose. Or, more to the point, the corporatist tool donkey known as Obama was supposed to win. A less cartoonish Republican could have beaten Obama.

      Why do you think there were so many bozos on that Republican primary bus?

      Since at least the year 2000, elections have come with an unstated disclaimer: They are for entertainment purposes only.

    2. Larry Headlund

      Let us look at the record:
      In 2012 the figures Obama-Romney were 65,915,796 51.06% 60,933,500 47.20% respectively.

      In 2008 the equivalent figures were 69,498,516 52.93% 59,948,323 45.65%.

      If Romney had had McCain’s numbers he would of done worse. Obama had 4.5 million less votes than in 2008 but Romney had a million more votes than McCain.

    3. realregularguy

      That Romney-McCain comparison, and about the base not showing up, was an election-night conjecture that turned out to be false. But yes, there were 5 million independents that voted for Obama in ’08 that just didn’t vote in ’12 for either D or R. I wouldn’t be surprised to see ’16 below the ’08 numbers either.

      1. Garrett Pace

        Our problem, such as it is, is that those five million independents stayed home in 2012. If they voted third party we’d have a very different political playing field right now.

        Even the disenchanted still feel trapped by the two-team one party dualism.

        1. cwaltz

          Yep. Apathy is our enemy and a friend to the duopoly. The sad thing is the rationale behind not voting for a candidate you believe in simply because “they can’t win” is that it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Of course, someone isn’t going to win if you are too afraid to cast your vote for them because you might not have the winning candidate. Yet over and over again in 2012 I heard rational and sane people tell me they HAD to vote for Obama because Johnson or Stein couldn’t win. D’oh.

          1. hunkerdown

            What if they held an election and nobody came? Every vote cast is a vote for the system. If nothing else, %turnout in the teens or twenties for Presidential elections would send a powerful message to the world about the popular perception of the legitimacy of the present system. (“If not voting could change anything, it would be illegal”… Australia)

            Apathy is a friend to the duopoly, IF one brand would actually make much better policy than the other, which in any category that involves elite power is an inconclusive proposition at best, and IF the duopoly brands would not find both an existential crisis and common cause in any credible threat to their duopoly, and neutralize it by any practical means.

            Major party flacks have a vested interest in using manipulative tactics to sell not only their brand, but the belief that you need that product at all.

            1. cwaltz

              I personally disagree with the strategy of not voting. I’m pretty sure that is what the elite want. They want to own the system. Heck, some of them have even gone so far as to suggest that if you don’t pay taxes you shouldn’t get a vote or that the rich should get more votes. So no, I’m not a fan of the not voting idea.

              I’ll continue to vote third party and encourage others to do the same. At some point we will hit a tipping point and people will wise up that the Democrats and Republicans are both bought parties being controlled by the same interests. Hopefully at that point we can do some damage control before the elite seek sell outs to poison a third option.

  6. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: LAPD Travels to Israel, Falls In Love With Mass Surveillance

    Maybe if Boston had had a “Hover-Mast 100” (MY GAWD!!!!), we’d already have seen evidence of the Tsarnaev brothers actually doing what what they’ve been accused of doing at last year’s marathon. (Still nothing but pics of their doing what thousands of others were doing that day–walking around with backpacks and baseball caps.)

    This truly sinister-looking device was developed by Sky Sapience. The word “sapience” is defined as “wisdom, sagacity, sound judgement.” (MY GAWD, again.)

    Apparently the New American Palestine is to be located near LA.

    1. MikeNY

      Nobody has more experience in subjugating insurrections than Israel. The Davos men worry that social instability is the greatest threat to economic growth.

      Hmmm. Even I can do the math.

    2. optimader

      (Still nothing but pics of their doing what thousands of others were doing that day–walking around with backpacks and baseball caps.)

      To be fair, I think tossing a pressure cooker bomb out of their car on the following Friday night in Watertown pretty well differentiates them from thousands of others..

        1. Optimader

          You may, i dont i believe Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s confession note and think he and his brothers behaviour up to his capture is consistent. Ochams Razor.

          That said i also recognize the States militarization of law enforcement aggregiously unconstitutional and a dangerous precedent for future escalation.

      1. bob

        There are still a lot of unanswered questions.
        Russ Baker keeps asking about the cop that they are accused of shooting that night. Not much follow on at all. Yet, that was “the event” that sealed their guilt. In the same way that Lee Harvey Oswald was “convicted”. It also, in both cases, brought out a shoot first and ask questions later police response that no other “event” can. It really gets the boys in blue all riled up.

        Are there pictures of them throwing the pressure cooker out of the car?

        Also, you do know that DT was unarmed in the boat? They released that fact a few days after the event.

        Not sure what to think of that whole episode, but “we” don’t know much at all. Most of the popular narrative is flat out wrong.

    3. Jess

      One reason the LAPD get in heat over such systems is the particular confluence of two factors: viewed from above, the City of L.A. looks like either a grotesque piece of a jigsaw puzzle or a Rohrshack test ink blot. It’s spread out all over the place, with narrow fingers jutting south to the harbor and west to LAX. And it bends to the northwest to annex the San Fernando Valley. Hence, a lot of real estate to police with….

      Far too few officers. The last I checked, which was some years back, the LAPD had about half the sworn personnel of the NYPD and only about 2/3 of Chicago’s. Anything that acts as a force multiplier gives LAPD brass a big woody.

      Of course, the NYPD is already out in front with its (and Microslop’s) Domain Awareness System (DAS), now available for sale to any municipality with the money and inclination. (Don’t you love the telling — and more than a little Orwellian — concept of designating the places where people live and work as a “domain” of those who serve our elites?)

  7. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Health-Law Backers Push Skimpier ‘Copper’ Insurance Policies

    Wake me up when they get to LEAD and POT METAL.

    “Pot metal is a slang term used to refer to cheap metal alloys with a low melting point. The low melting point makes this metal very easy to cast, but the generally low quality can cause problems during casting and at a later date. There is no formal definition of pot metal, so it can be hard to determine its contents. Some common metals included in such alloys include zinc, lead, copper, and tin, among others.”

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘Wake me up when they get to LEAD and POT METAL.’

      … followed by TUNGSTEN COWHIDE and CRAPALLOY.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Bad news, comrades. Ellen Brown escaped along with Thomas Friedman, and while at large, she’s writing about economics again (‘Usurious Returns on Phantom Money’):

    ‘A 2% merchants’ fee is the financial equivalent of a 2% sales tax – one that now adds up to over $30 billion annually in the US. The effect on trade is worse than either a public sales tax or a financial transaction tax (or Tobin tax), since these taxes are designed to be spent back into the economy on services and infrastructure. A private merchant’s tax simply removes purchasing power from the economy.’

    Tonto, Ellen. Taxes are re-spent by governments, either on goods and services or as coupon payments to bondholders. Bank fees are no different. Like all businesses, banks either spend their revenues on goods and services, or else they pay interest and dividends to their bond and stockholders, who in turn spend them. Money doesn’t just disappear into a black hole, unless you bury it in your back yard in a coffee can.

    To be clear, I mostly use cash instead of credit and debit cards, to avoid enriching banks and to support local merchants. But bank critics such as Ellen Brown, who don’t even grasp the rudiments of economics, are easy for the banksters to dismiss as clueless flakes.

    1. Klassy

      Ellen Brown is running for California state treasurer– Californians, any news on her campaign? What do you think? I’ll take Haygood’s disapproval as an endorsement.

      And Jim– really? Bank fees are no different. Like all businesses, banks either spend their revenues on goods and services, or else they pay interest and dividends to their bond and stockholders, who in turn spend them.
      Well, we should never worry about the price of anything charged by a publicly owned company because “they pay interest and dividends to their bond and stockholders, who in turn spend them.”

    2. EconCCX

      @Jim Haygood Like all businesses, banks either spend their revenues on goods and services, or else they pay interest and dividends to their bond and stockholders, who in turn spend them. Money doesn’t just disappear into a black hole, unless you bury it in your back yard in a coffee can.

      You’re mistaken, Jim. Money in a bank account is money the bank owes the depositor. So if the bank charges the depositor a $10 fee, subtracting that amount from the current account, it thereby owes the depositor $10 less. The bank has not gained an asset; it has no additional bills, coins or reserves. Rather, it has extinguished a portion of its liability, by agreement with its creditor, in exchange for services rendered. That $10 now exists nowhere. Our circulating medium of exchange, M1, has diminished by that amount. The bank’s equity is $10 greater, because its real assets are less encumbered by debt. But equity isn’t money. Money has well and truly vanished.

      1. Jim Haygood

        When a bank debits your account for a $10 fee, it correspondingly credits its own account. This is basic double-entry bookkeeping. Try it, you might like it.

        1. EconCCX

          @Jim When a bank debits your account for a $10 fee, it correspondingly credits its own account. This is basic double-entry bookkeeping. Try it, you might like it.

          It credits its own account where, how, and with what? It obtained no cash, no reserves. Is it owed more money by some other bank? Which bank?

          I described the bank fee process accurately and courteously. Let’s not devolve into stammering rudeness; it’s a futile defensive mechanism and an obvious tell.

          1. Jim Haygood

            You’re confusing a loan payoff with a fee, in which the bank simply debits the depositor’s account $10 and credits its own account $10. Effectively it’s done with reserves, although the result would be the same if the depositor paid the fee in cash to a teller. No credit is created or destroyed; M1 is unaffected.

            Rudeness … or merely humor? As the TSA says, jokes will not be tolerated!

            1. EconCCX

              @Jim Effectively it’s done with reserves, although the result would be the same if the depositor paid the fee in cash to a teller. No credit is created or destroyed; M1 is unaffected.

              If the depositor pays cash to a teller, the bank gains a new asset: $10 in reserves. But the bank most assuredly does not gain $10 in reserves when it extinguishes $10 from someone’s deposit. That would represent a gain of $20 in the bank’s position: the $10 reserve asset supposedly obtained, plus the $10 no longer owed the depositor.

              The difference is that $10 bill. It represents the liability of a third party: the Federal Reserve Bank that issued the note. Absent that cash payment to the teller, the fee-collecting bank extinguishes $10 of its own liabilities, and thereby a portion of the US money supply. Reserves unchanged. M1 diminished.

                1. JustSayMaybe

                  @Jim Haygood

                  The curvy logic, bodacious rationalizations and air brushed truth of your pro-capitalist posts are enough to convert the most compassionate ‘comrade’ into a right wing libertarian, if only for the moment.

                  As a manufacturer of the titillating, you don’t need money. If you are limiting yourself to cash, though, how do you consume?

              1. Calgacus

                Yes, of course you are entirely right EconCCX.

                When Jim says: When a bank debits your account for a $10 fee, it correspondingly credits its own account.
                the confusion may come from the bank’s “own account” phrase of which you write It credits its own account where, how, and with what? The banks “own account” is the same account as the customer’s account at the bank – but looked at from the bank’s perspective- and the debiting action does not merely correspond to the crediting action, but is the same action. Then Jim’s statement is correct and identical to what you say.
                Once one understands things like this, one sees Ellen Brown is usually right (although she makes some extra assumptions here) and that governments don’t and can’t respend their taxes. (Jim is wrong exactly where he agrees with Brown’s statement on government respending, which may be just an allowable manner of speaking with her.) And money disappears down black holes all the time – is cancelled against debts going the other way . The value of money comes from its impermanence.

                1. EconCCX

                  @Calgacus The banks “own account” is the same account as the customer’s account at the bank – but looked at from the bank’s perspective- and the debiting action does not merely correspond to the crediting action, but is the same action. Then Jim’s statement is correct and identical to what you say.
                  Once one understands things like this, one sees … that governments don’t and can’t respend their taxes.

                  Cal, respectfully, you’re never in doubt, ever in error. A vaulted dollar bill at Treasury or the Board of Governors is an asset to government and is shown as such on these institutions’ books. Only in the vaults of Federal Reserve Banks is that dollar an unissued IOU.

                  Moreover, a sovereign coin is an asset to whoever lawfully possesses it, government or nongovernment. It is never a liability because it represents nobody’s promise to pay, but rather that wherewith said promise is satisfied.
                  Taxes do not extinguish money; that is sheer, unadulterated MMT fiction. Taxes convey Federal Reserve Bank liabilities from commercial banks to the TGA. Federal Reserve Banks are privately owned clearing houses and cannot be compelled to fund government. USG must maintain positive balances in its FRB accounts, lest its own checks BOUNCE for lack of funds. Governments thus always and forever respend their tax revenues, and borrow or mint coins to make up the difference.

                  Jim’s accounting is neither correct nor identical to mine; he declared that M1 is conserved when a customer’s deposited is debited by a fee. That the customer’s loss is the bank’s gain in money terms. I demonstrated that M1 is diminished by bank fees. By all means, Cal, please tell us who’s right, and then tell us again how our accounting is identical.

                    1. EconCCX

                      @Skippy Sovereignty does not compel?
                      USG cannot compel a private institution to pay its bills. To clear its checks at a Federal Reserve Bank, USG must surrender assets to that bank: coins, Treasury securities, or the FRBs’ own IOUs, i.e. reserves, acquired through taxation.

                      Federal Reserve Banks are owned by their member banks, and are USG’s creditors, like it or not. The profits they emit to the Treasury (only since 1947) are a Franchise Tax, and represent a rebate of a portion of the funds the USG pays the banks as owners of Treasury securities.

                      (Here’s a link to the 1947 Federal Reserve Bulletin showing that the banks rebate to the Treasury is a Franchise Tax.)


                    2. skippy

                      A Franchise comes with conditions, some of which are tantamount to revocation by the Sovereign aka the issuer of the Franchise in the first order of acts.

                      skippy… that was pretty desperate or do you portend reverse order of acts.

              2. F. Beard

                Yes, well done!

                Tut tut, Jim. What else might you be wrong about?

                And the landslide will bring you down?

      1. optimader

        Yes very..
        Like all of us, GB is a product of his childhood experience.. A bone-fide musical savant wrapped in a cautionary tale.

        If I could schedule it I would be on this, I suspect he wont be around too much longer:

        Monday 17th February – Legendary drummer Ginger Baker has today announced that he will play a very special one of event at O2 Islington Academy in London on Saturday the 3rd of May. The show will feature performances of material from the drummer’s exemplary recording career including music from Cream, Blind Faith, Graham Bond Organisation, Fela Kuti, Airforce, Baker Gurvitz Army and his current outfit Ginger Bakers Jazz Confusion. Ginger will be joined onstage by his band and some very special guests.

        Tickets go on-sale 9am on Friday 21st February and are available from or
        very good documentary/archival footage.

          1. just_kate

            That is an incredibly cruel statement to make. I’ve now reached my limit in reading your comments, though you do have some good things to say. Someone dear to me suffers from chronic pain and you’re musings on wounds/healing/pain cause my blood pressure to spike so good luck to you sir.

          2. optimader

            Strictly speaking pain has a physiological purpose as a behavior feedback for the purpose of inhibiting damage.
            Chronic pain from, say osteoarthritis, is a unbeneficial consequence of that systemic warning system. No benefit, ergo no purpose.

      2. diptherio

        The interviewer is asking for it. Stupid questions get terse answers. And the interviewer apparently didn’t pay any attention to Baker’s actual answers. Witness:

        Former Cream drummer Ginger Baker’s life has changed since he starred in the 2012 documentary Beware of Mr. Baker.
        RS: Has your life changed at all since Beware of Mr. Baker [Jay Bulger’s 2012 award-winning documentary] in any way? 

        GB: No.

        1. Optimader

          GB answers all questions tersely, that is part of his curmudgeonly charm.
          Raised rough, early success and no mentor to guide him through the minefield. Dangerous combination in that biz.

  9. rich

    One-Percent Jokes and Plutocrats in Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society

    Recently, our nation’s financial chieftains have been feeling a little unloved. Venture capitalists are comparing the persecution of the rich to the plight of Jews at Kristallnacht, Wall Street titans are saying that they’re sick of being beaten up, and this week, a billionaire investor, Wilbur Ross, proclaimed that “the 1 percent is being picked on for political reasons.”

    The second thing I realized was that Kappa Beta Phi was, in large part, a fear-based organization. Here were executives who had strong ideas about politics, society, and the work of their colleagues, but who would never have the courage to voice those opinions in a public setting. Their cowardice had reduced them to sniping at their perceived enemies in the form of satirical songs and sketches, among only those people who had been handpicked to share their view of the world. And the idea of a reporter making those views public had caused them to throw a mass temper tantrum.

    The last thought I had, and the saddest, was that many of these self-righteous Kappa Beta Phi members had surely been first-year bankers once. And in the 20, 30, or 40 years since, something fundamental about them had changed. Their pursuit of money and power had removed them from the larger world to the sad extent that, now, in the primes of their careers, the only people with whom they could be truly themselves were a handful of other prominent financiers.

    When you’re a member of the fraternity of money, it can be hard to see past the foie gras to the real world.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Those with the most to lose are naturally prone to the greatest fear. The irony of course being that wealth hoarding is a sociopathic response to personal insecurities. Thus the palpable fear of the elites represents not only a gnawing doubt about their security but the security of their entire belief system that great hoarded wealth can insulate one from accountability or indeed, reality.

        1. down2long

          Thanks for posting the NY Mag piece. It puts a lie to all the bullsh*t the bankers have been selling – that they did it all themselves, that they are the sharpest tools in the shed, that they didn’t need the bailouts, etc. My God, a song about rushing to the Fed to get a loan sung to some American folk song.

          These guys hate us, and think we are stupid. As FDR said, “I welcome their hatred.” What I also am especially enjoying is that now they are coming around to realize how much we hate THEM. And no, while many Americans apparently do still want to to be rich, (well, really, why not) but we do NOT want to be Rich Like Them. They really are hated. This realization hurts. The picture of the waiter at the St. Regis serving these scum seems to say it all.

          So, as one wag said today in response to the 2nd JPM employee to leap off a JPM building to his birth in eternal life, it’s time for Slimin’ to be putting suicide nets around his buildings a la Foxconn, because the joint is really getting jumpin’.

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: The Health News and KHN Obamacare Articles

    Seems to me this is some very basic stuff that barely skims the surface.

    Nobody seems to be able to bring themselves to utter the all important words: CASH ON THE BARREL HEAD.

    As in, if the doctor you NEED to see is not in your plan’s network, it’s CASH ON THE BARREL HEAD (and payment doesn’t apply to your deductible.) Obamacare does not require that all networks include practitioners in all specialties.

    And no refunds.

    1. Janie

      Re: health care costs
      The really scary part involves being away from home. If you have a health emergency, you will go/be taken to the nearest hospital. If there’s time, find a hospital that is contracted with your insurance company. This is important; BC/BS and UHP and other nation-wide plans have contracted hospitals you can use. Another tip: with my insurance I can call an RN, describe the symptoms and get advice. If the advice is to go to the nearest hospital, then emergency visits are covered whatever the hospital affiliation.

  11. Furzy Mouse

    Re: Venezuela
    I think CounterPunch’s article is a mix of truth and conspiracy theory. The Chavistas are running the country into the ground (oil production is plummeting, there’s a huge black market for dollars), violent crime is sky high (Caracas, along with Baghdad and Ciudad Juarez, is now one of the most dangerous cities on earth), and political opposition leaders are jailed or exiled before they can even run. So all the conspiracy nonsense about Venezuela being under siege is just blaming “the enemy” for problems they have created.

    That being said, the conservatives in Venezuela are some pretty slimy rich dudes who oppressed the poor and kept it all for themselves for decades, and the Chavistas are elected by the majority (except see above for the opposition), so they are doubtless fighting back dirty where they can. But it’s the government ruining the economy, not the opposition. Once oil profits hit a certain low point they won’t be able to keep redistributing (there will be nothing left), and that will be that.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Just now I went to the Banco Central de Venezuela’s website. Their monthly report on monetary aggregates can be downloaded as an Excel file (go to Información Estadística, select Agregados Monetarios, then Base Monetaria (Mensual).

      This document shows that currency in circulation increased from 95.8 billion bolivars in Oct. 2013 to 133.0 billion bolivars in Nov. 2013. That’s a 39% increase in one month. Also, November was more than two months ago (the December update is due ‘mañana’).

      Foreign enemies didn’t make Venezuela print all them bolivars. They done it to their own fool selves.

    2. diptherio

      Question: is there anyone here who lives in Venezuela and could offer an on-the-ground perspective? The author of the Counterpunch article was born and partially-educated in Venezuela, so I’m willing to give her spin more credence than anyone else’s so far, unless I discover that Furzy or Haygood are writing in from Caracas.

      Wealth inequality decreases, reported well-being increases, and Chavistas continue to win elections. All good so far. I am unmoved by efforts to pin crime entirely on gov’t policy, as it seems to be a problem in LOTS of places, with very different regimes. As for arresting political opposition leaders, I would normally condemn it outright. However, given Venezuela’s recent experience with anti-democratic coup attempts sponsored by the US, it might be the case that Maduro is jailing people who would be likely to try that sort of thing again. And given that politicians and media figures are calling for violent overthrow of a democratically elected government, I’m willing to give Maduro the benefit of the doubt on this one. He’s facing terrorists. REAL, literal terrorists, I mean: people who seek to impose their political agenda through violence and intimidation.

      When you hear about opposition political leaders being jailed you might want to keep this in mind:

      These last few days, these prominent leaders of the undemocratic opposition, parliamentarians Leopoldo López and Maria Corina Machado, were urging violence. Orchestrated riots, with professional sabateurs, and the manipulation of young men, assassinated 3 people and injured 66.[vi] López –whose link to the CIA goes back to his stay at Kenyon College, Ohio[vii] – stated publicly that the violence would go on until they “got rid of Maduro”.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        The US incited Syrian civil war was a conspiracy theory turned fact, as was recent US coup-mongering in Ukraine. Ditto Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela ’02, Iran ’53, and so on. In fact, it’s astonishing that the “conspiracy theory” charge still carries any dismissive weight at all.

        Dr Dawgs Blawg has an interesting piece on the photo (mal)documentation of Maduro’s purported brutal repression of protests, many laughably absurd, but still uncritically run by CNN et al. in service of the neoliberal narrative.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      Venezuelan oil production is plummeting? Links? Sources I’ve seen show modest declines, apparently from investment contraction which may also be external manipulation.

      What we do know is that Venezuela has the world’s largest known reserves, an irresistible prize for US empire. The US has committed terrible atrocities for oil in the past. I wouldn’t discount that motive as a conspiracy theory. Mark Weisbrot of the Guardian:

      “Of course we all know who the US
      government supports in Venezuela.
      They don’t really try to hide it: there’s
      $5m in the 2014 US federal budget for
      funding opposition activities inside
      Venezuela, and this is almost certainly
      the tip of the iceberg – adding to the
      hundreds of millions of dollars of overt
      support over the past 15 years.

      “But what makes these current US
      statements important, and angers
      governments in the region, is that they
      are telling the Venezuelan opposition
      that Washington is once again backing
      regime change. Kerry did the same
      thing in April of last year when Maduro
      was elected president and opposition
      presidential candidate Henrique
      Capriles claimed that the election was
      stolen. Kerry refused to recognize the
      election results. Kerry’s aggressive,
      anti-democratic posture brought such a
      strong rebuke from South American
      governments that he was forced to
      reverse course and tacitly recognize the
      Maduro government.”

  12. diptherio

    Re: Venezuela Under Attack Again

    I’m reminded of a scene in the excellent documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, about the aborted coup of Chavez. George Tenet (iirc) is testifying before a congressional committee about Hugo Chavez. His remarks tell you all you need to know about the US gov’ts concern for democracy in Venezuela (or anywhere else for that matter). This is from memory, but almost verbatim:

    “I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Chavez does not have the best interests of the United States at heart.”

    Democratically elected leaders, you see, are not expected to have the best interests of their own country at heart, but ours.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Dumb elites fomenting revolution.

    Maybe there is a bet on whether it’s possible to have a revolution under the NSA.

    ‘They may not be wise, but they are not dumb.’

    The elites have a lot of smart guys on their side. They try to identify these smart guys when young to inculcate into the system properly, with attractive incentives like prizes, scholarships, fellowships, etc.

    Wisdom has a hard time developing when the brain is so preoccupied with being smart.

    He walks into a room, and the first thing he does is sizing everyone up on the smartness scale.

    She walks into a room, and the first thing she does is sizing everyone up on the wealth scale.

    He walks into a room, and the first thing he does is sizing everyone up on the cuteness scale.

    He walks into a room, and the first thing he does is sizing everyone up on the wisdom scale – this can never happen, as there is no wisdom scale; you are either wise or you’re not. There is no ‘wisdom quotient.’ There is no competition like, ‘you’re wise, but I am a little wiser than you’ – that is not what a wise person does.

  14. tdraicer

    Thomas Franks wrote an intelligent article at Salon (rare these days) in which he said that the Obamacratic (my term, not his) belief that they can keep on winning based on demographics, while ignoring the economic needs of 80% of the population, is delusional. (I would add that while I agree, politically delusional or otherwise, it is in terms of the national interest a disaster.)

    Unfortunately the comments from readers do not fill one with hope, consisting mostly of either Obamacratic denials that there is a problem, or far-left calls for Revolution. Both of which point to why the 1% keep winning: the post-60s left has either all but abandoned economics for social causes (which however worthy in themselves are no substitute for a new New Deal) or remains stuck in dreams of Marxist revolt that were already well past their sell-by date 50 years ago.

    1. Hugh

      How, minus revolution, in our poisonously corrupt political climate, do you intend to enact your new New Deal? And even if you could, of what would your new New Deal consist? All change is impossible, delusional, until we start to work to make it happen. It does not fall like manna from heaven. It comes from hard, relentless work and organizing.

      1. tdraicer

        I didn’t say a Marxist Revolution was impossible (though it is very improbable). It is simply that even if it were possible you would have to ignore too many horrors to make it anything like a good idea. As for that new New Deal, it will come from working for it (I didn’t say anything about opposing hard work) , work in which plotting the Revolution is at best a distraction (and at worst, an actual possibility).

        As for the corruption of our system, corruption is endemic to most human efforts. But I’m not convinced things are more corrupt now than in various periods in our nation’s past. (This is, after all, the SECOND Gilded Age.) And our choices are not actually limited to Marx or Hayek.

        1. Hugh

          Actually it is you who are now bringing up Marx, something you did not do in your initial comment and I did not do in mine.

          I do not see how you can so easily dismiss the systemic looting of our society as just ordinary corruption, nothing to get excited about. I have written before about the “reformer’s paradox”. You want to tweak a thoroughly corrupt system. Reforms are suggested without a clue let alone a plan to get them enacted. Where are you going to go, who are you going to approach to get your reforms? I will tell you, the same people who created and are benefitting from the conditions you want to reform. The two parties? Academia? The judiciary? The media? They all service the corporations and the rich. This is the reformer’s paradox. You want reform but all the avenues for reform are blocked. You want to effect change from within the system but the system does not allow any meaningful change. So again what are you going to do?

          You run from the mere mention of revolution. You instantly cite Marx. All this has been indoctrinated in you. If you are a US citizen, you come from a country that was born in revolution, that in fact exalts that revolution, a revolution that took place 40 years before Marx was born. So what are you afraid of? If change within the system is denied, then change outside the system becomes a moral necessity, and that is revolution. Reformism stems from a moral outlook, and morality is a harsh taskmaster. If reform is denied, you can not pick up your marbles and go home. You can not play act that reform is still possible. In the face of such a moral choice, you must choose either to go beyond reform or rest a hypocrite or coward. I am not calling you these things. It is the nature of the moral process you have taken up and are engaged in. It is the choice we are all faced with.

          1. Doug Terpstra

            Well said, Hugh, better than Thomas Paine, who was convinced of the futility of reform or reconciliation … on the necessity and inevitability of revolution.

            1. tdraicer

              Of course Paine supported two Revolutions: the first involved simply breaking the ties with Britain in order to ensure the TRADITIONAL rights of the British to (white, male, property-owning) Americans. The second involved sweeping away the old order entirely. And resulted in Paine in prison under the new order.

              For myself, I want another FDR, not another Directory. Or Napoleon. (Or George III.)

              But I do thank you for making my point on why the opposition to the Right over the last 40 years has been so inept, being split between “progressives” who let economic issues fall off their radar, and “leftists” who mistake dreams of revolution for an actual political program. When what we need is a new generation of New Dealers.

  15. kevinearick

    Road to Perdition: Peer Pressure Normalization

    Government, deferral of individual responsibility, is a tax on future productivity for the sake of legacy consumption. Real productivity decreases with public education, and consumption increases. Absent the individual ability to adapt in real time, repeating the past is the only possible outcome.

    Economic mobility has not ground to a halt by accident. University Foundation is a feudal organization. Public education, parental deferment to civil marriage, is an oxymoron. Centering the economy around information by committee was just plain stupid. Without effective parents, there is only activity, leverage.

    Automate all you like, certify ‘illegal’ immigrants all you like, and give government natural resource control all you like. Price inflation, RE or otherwise does no work.

    Law has always been a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do ignorant competition for entitlement. That’s no way to raise children, but failure never stops the next majority from repeating the mistake. It always prefers to pay a scapegoat over accepting personal responsibility, ill will telling others to have faith, the blind fighting the blind, as spectacle.

    The State is an expert at chasing its own failures by the tail, and it desperately wants to tell you how to raise your children. With peer pressure, no one is to blame because everyone is to blame. Everyone is doing it.

    Public, private and non-profit politicians are paid, with inflation, relative to the hierarchy of stupidity they represent. The purported 1% is not the 1% the majority really wants to crucify or it would be crucified. Rebooting and increasing factory efficiency isn’t going to fix anything.

    Critters that feed their children garbage I/O in an artificial environment get garbage I/O back, depravity multiplied. “I need control to function, and when I get control I am going to practice extortion, because I have subjected myself and my family to artificial scarcity, breeding more of the same.” Brilliant.

    If you are going to be dependent upon anyone with a paper certification for a paper certification, in a supply-side economy, you may as well dig your grave right now, because life is not going to go well. Who do you suppose bankrolls manufactured food, adult toys and TV? Hint: the same people bringing you Hillarycare bankruptcy.

    The majority, easily diverted by shiny objects, always defers responsibility, seeking a minority to blame for the outcome instead, with the rule of law. A constitution is an at-will contract, protecting the majority from itself, but go ahead and pull down all the safeguards, to exploit the minority.

    You want to shrink stupidity with productive families in a community built for the purpose. Therein lays separation of power, balance, not the artifice that is the constitution. Family Common Law shorts government into itself. Of course the welfare cartels want to subject your family to international law for the purpose of trade extortion.

    “I don’t understand. I complied, but it’s not working anymore,” repeat emotion/logic tack…denial and passivity…anger and aggression…fear of rejection. What kind of mind trades recurring tangible wealth for non-recurring intangible promise as the basis of wealth and expects a happy outcome?

    Kids have a funny way of finding exactly what they are looking for, without knowing what it is…

    If you encourage your children to seek effectively by age 2, aligning their body functions to seek more diverse self-directed action, in natural settings with other diverse families doing the same, probability favors their success, because they reach the threshold to higher brain functions, before encountering artificial peer pressure.

    Public education in the global city represents 5000 years of peer pressure development. Expect your children to lose some battles. Pick them up, dust them off, give them some love, and throw them back in. If your children decide to pursue their own path before their teenage years, probability overwhelmingly favors their success.

    From an economic, rather than political, perspective, custodial skills are much more valuable than CEO skills. If you want to take equal pay to its logical conclusion, pay them the same. At least then we won’t have to hear this stupid argument that a moron politician in a skirt should get equal pay to a moron in trousers. Political economics is an oxymoron.

    First come the frivolous tickets to inure the community to arbitrary law enforcement, and then come the gangs, and then comes invasion of privacy in the home, with a spectacle to maximize fear. I don’t blame my ex for buckling under the pressure. Living among hedge fund managers, she didn’t want to understand that buying a new car on credit, with its ratcheting effect on RE inflation and taxes, raising your own rent to fit in, was the dumbest possible investment for a young family.

    The backbone algorithm of case law is what it is, and no trial of fact is required, not that the law schools teach anything other than the misdirection of doctrine separation. The appeal discussion is just emotion parading as logic, with a few quotes from judicial ‘thought’ leaders. And Rules of Court, violated by the majority of clerks when the Court is challenged, is just a matter of patience, discovery.

    I’ve been hearing equal rights hustlers and oligarchs feeding each other bullsh- in class, all the trades and in every office since I was 5, running wire for my dad, at $1/hr. The majority didn’t like him much either, because they couldn’t keep up with his sixth grade education. By firing me, with no recourse not subject to duress, in a paper catch-22, the State proved that liberty and property rights to civil employment depend upon peer pressure compliance, like every other private, public and non-profit corporate job.

    As a consultant with Navy, it always struck me as ironic when the civil servants learned that they could all be fired wholesale, with no due process, when their compliance was no longer required, when the local private economy was replaced by the private welfare corporation, leaving the casualties to the non-profit vultures, only to feed the next wave, until the private sector was needed again to reboot the so bankrupted government holding all the promises.

    Funny, the State keeps hiring me for privatization efforts, assuming that small adjustments to its compliance reward and noncompliance punishment regime will alter the outcome. The majority always has a long list of consumer demands that it expects to be met, before the individual needs of producers can be addressed. The empire defeats itself every time, because nature has other interests.

    With market automation, no one has to know anyone to fire everyone, and replace them with inflation. Congratulations, and keep up the important work – spying, gossiping and stepping on each other on the way to the top. Wakey, wakey vegetables. Oh, that’s right, other people do manual labor, people like me, who also fire people, with their own words.

    The majority can disassemble to make room for children or get fired, one way or the other. There is always another peer pressure group that wants to form a majority. That’s how politicians build one-way bridges to nowhere, from nature to the global city. 24 hrs/wk on the equal-right-to-be-stupid clock is more than sufficient.

    If you have a choice between talking about people or events, choose ideas, and the events of people will take care of themselves. Just because some moron with no evidence of faith, love, ‘proves’ that faith is a lie, is no reason to surrender your faith. NPV is entirely dependent upon faith in the future, goodwill based upon experience.

    If you want to explore beyond the empire box inhabited by the majority, go, or accept the artificial prison of peer pressure, willful ignorance. Natural resources are not scarce. The thinking individual, in an artificially induced sea of anxiety, is scarce. That is what the Internet is telling you. Build a better tool, for your community.

    Appreciate what you have been given and you will be given more, the future. Government is a myth, a sprit of the past, with which the majority deludes itself into thinking that it can avoid responsibility, Republican or Democrat.

    You have one real choice in life, around which all other choices revolve. Make it count. You cannot choose your parents or your children. Choose a spouse that will guard your back door, against their own. That is your only means to privacy, a peer pressure interrupt without which the empire implodes.

    Think twice about trafficking in stolen code. Labor makes the pie everyone else is jockeying to cut up, at will. The corporation is just a piece of paper, issuing paper, digitized or not.

    Where do you suppose that divergent series comes from? Where is it relevant? How is it related to pi and the speed of light? What is the implicit thread? What is DNA? If the difference in DNA between human males and females is minimal, what is the difference between a janitor, a nurse and a CEO?

    Watch out for my kids. They are not quite so easily misdirected as they would allow you to assume.

  16. ScottS

    Play, Dissected Philip Pilkington, The Baffler

    Great response to David Graeber’s “What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun?” Truly comports with the existential dilemma I’ve been having especially as relates to income inequality and hoarding — namely, what is it all for? Economics, at best, is mute on the topic of purpose. At worst, it lies and says that no other purpose other than resource hoarding is a valid reason for doing anything. Yet ask anyone — rich or poor — their purpose in life and they’ll say it’s some combination of taking care of their loved ones and having fun and not always in that order.

    To the point of the article(s), sub-atomic merriment is the only answer to the question of purpose that makes sense. The universe obviously has a sense of humor.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Bulgaria, internet trolls, organized crime and corruption….

    Organized Crime is driving out Un-organized Crime, that should be the trend, based on evolution, I believe.

    One can organize into corporations, departments, divisions, subsidiaries, trusts, trading units, hit squads, syndicates, partnerships, etc.

    Gotta get organized!

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Summers…tax loopholes…inequality.

    He talks about income gap and tax loopholes.

    Nothing about wealth gap.

    Nothing about wealth tax.

    Nothing about the structural inequality that results in wealth and income inequality.

    You may continue to have your servants, but that $1/hr salaries are no longer tax deductible! This will show you.

  19. J Sterling

    London housing: under wealth inequality, the 99% can’t afford to buy, so if they want to live in London, they must rent. They rent from the few who can afford to buy (to let), at whatever price their landlord sets. With their income hemorrhaging through paying such rent, they can’t afford to buy. Meanwhile the landlord rakes the rent in for nothing, and can use it to buy another property to let. Causing more wealth inequality. Like Lambert says, it really is all about the rent.

    It’s Henry George’s world, you just live in it.

  20. squasha

    As Bank Deaths Continue to Shock, Documents Reveal JPMorgan Has Been Patenting Death Derivatives

    so many aspects of the system involve coerced cannibalism, from factory farms feeding cows to other cows, big box retail feeding distant slave sweat to local peons, temperary robo-signers feeding fellow precaria to the curb, the downwind and downstream feeding their grandchildren to the slagheap, and now bankers are raining from the rooftops. Has the serpent finally spotted his tail and found it mouth-watering?

    1. F. Beard

      Has the serpent finally spotted his tail and found it mouth-watering? squasha

      Best thing I’ve read all day! Thanks.

    2. Antifa

      Yeah, the JP Morgan death thing. Actually, companies have been taking out secret life insurance policies on employees for many years now. Easy money. You and your neighbors can take full advantage of this trend as well, just as I have.

      I have 15 acres of dense timber around my log house, and my Vietnamese neighbor has 11. He and I have long enjoyed talking about the good old days in the A Shau Valley, when we were opponents in different uniforms. We both came out of those desperate, long years in the jungle with some serious skulking about skills, and nasty tricks of the trade. Those were the days, eh?

      Well, last Christmas, after too much rice wine, we decided to each take out a million dollars of life insurance on ourselves, naming the other as our sole beneficiary. We each added a rider about accidental death, hunting accidents and such, and declared our entire 26 acres a free fire zone as of January 1st.

      I haven’t seen him since then. Just some tiger traps, a few punji sticks in pits, and those trip wires down by the creek. I know he’s out there. Sometimes I can smell him, real close by.

      One of us is going to pay off our mortgage in full this year. Easy money.

  21. F. Beard

    re Usurious Returns on Phantom Money: The Credit Card Gravy Train Web of Debt:

    Ellen Brown helped me to understand banking; for that I am grateful. But sadly she came to love the concept of government-enabled credit creation for private interests while I loath it with all my heart.

    Also: ANY positive interest rate is USURY (See Deuteronomy 23:19-20), not just high rates. Otoh, common stock as private money requires NO borrowing, much less at interest.

  22. Jim A

    “401k balances rise with record gains on Wall Street”—But you can’t really time the market with your retirement savings…And I don’t mean that you can’t identify the optimum moment to retire, I mean that even if you COULD it wouldn’t do that much good. Unless you have a sudden onset fatal health problem, you can anticipate drawing down your retirement savings over a period of more than a decade. Likewise, unless you have some sort of lottery or inheritance windfall shortly before retirement, you’re going to be putting in the money over decades if you’re going to have anything in there to speak of….

  23. Oregoncharles

    About “America’s dumb elites risk fomenting a revolution Reuters. They’re not so dumb. They have people for that: Democrats.” –
    Yes, that’s a point I’ve made myself many times. In particular, it explains the drive to authoritarianism under Obama (which has gone much farther than under Bush).
    So: who do WE have? – aside from the bloggers here, of course.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Oh, don’t despair Mr. Arnold! I’m sure CNN will gladly air such a “documentary” a/k/a Elitist Concern Trollery. And you can take that to the bank.

  24. fresno dan

    Nice graph of the 1%, the 0.1% and the 0.01
    If the argument is that the rich know how to invest and that makes society richer…..well, its half right….the certainly know how to make THEMSELVES richer, but empirically not society.
    And to use that fancy economists term, I DON’T think it is Pareto efficient – I think their allocation of resources, i.e., MBS is pretty much responsible for the great recession. And I’m pretty sure they are responsible for 40 years of rising wealth inequality too…

  25. kareninca

    I am not sure where to post this, I hope here is okay. Nancy Metcalf responded to my email re Medicaid clawbacks, and then responded to my response.

    Here is her first response: “It would be terrific if subsidies were available to purchase private insurance for people at all income levels. But for that to happen would require an amendment to the Affordable Care Act. Please let your Congressional representatives know you are in favor of this.”

    Here is her second response: “Also, I’m not really understanding how we are throwing low-income 55-plus people under the bus. The original blog, which I hope you read, makes it clear that we think estate recovery for this new category of Medicaid recipients is (1) unfair (2) not cost effective for the states and (3) an administrative nightmare.
    I added the part about legal advice because some of the people in this category may in fact have substantial assets that they want to protect even if their current income is not high.”

  26. Kokuanani

    $29.99 to “buy” access to the Harper’s article? I’d like to “support” them, but not to the tune of $30.

    I’ll wait until it’s at my library.

  27. kareninca

    Well, I have settled one matter. This Metcalf person at Consumer Reports may or may not be ideologically motivated. But she is most certainly an imbecile. Here is an example she sent me, showing that people should go right ahead and sign on to Medicaid, without concern about losing their assets:

    “I stand by my advice: not having health insurance is an invitation to financial ruin. Let’s say you are 60 years old, downsized and not able to find another job, living off savings, but have a house worth $300,000. You decine Medicaid because you want to leave your house to your daughter when you die. (Surviving spouses get to stay in the house until they die and only then will estate recovery proceed. That’s in the ’93 law.)
    Oops, you get colon cancer. The cost of treatment is $300,000. (And it really is.) You are either going to have to get on Medicaid immediately or cash in your house to pay your medical bills.”

    This moron does not understand the difference between insurance and a lien!!! Medicaid in this context is not insurance; it is a lien. The person in her example would clearly be better off NOT signing onto Medicaid, but instead waiting. Maybe s/he will make it to Medicare age without getting cancer; if so she’ll be way ahead by not signing onto Medicaid now. If she gets a dire disease she can’t afford to have treated, well perhaps she will THEN decide she wants Medicaid (or maybe she will want to sell the house to get care of her own choosing, since Medicaid care can truly suck).

    It is scary that this Metalf person is out there in a position of authority, giving advice. This is going to give Consumer Reports a very bad name. I have been disgusted for years by their focus on costly products that only the upper middle class can afford, but this is worse; this terrible advice could destroy someone financially, and it is coming from a source that the middle class has traditionally trusted.

      1. kareninca

        here is the second email I sent her (the first was brief):

        Dear Ms. Metcalf,
        I take it you have not read the Naked Capitalism article that I directed you to. You are advising people to sign up for Medicaid (actually, they have little choice; unless one takes complicated and difficult steps one can now be forced onto Medicaid) on the assumption that they they will not be stripped of their assets by the state. Here, I’ll quote you:

        “Will Medicaid take my house when I die?
        In theory, it could. But it seems unlikely, and you should enroll anyway.”

        If this were a private company selling a product, would you (without qualification!) advise people to sign up for a product that was designed to strip their assets?? In the fond hopes that the stripping won’t actually happen? You are telling people to assume and trust that that this will not happen to them, when it very likely will; it is not a demographic with political clout. When the very broke states do indeed claw away the family home from middle class families, it will be in some cases because those families followed the advice of a source they have been inclined to trust: Consumer Reports.

        Why don’t you tell the truth? That states have been clawing back the family home and furniture and trinket-jewelry of poor people for a very long time. And that now, they can target the middle class (since there is no longer an asset test for Medicaid). And that those middle class people will have no choice: they will be put on Medicaid whether they want to be or not, if their income is low enough, even temporarily. And even if they get no care at all, their estates will be charged Medicaid “premiums” for the months that they are “enrolled” in Medicaid. And worst of all, none of this is being disclosed by the states or the federal government when people sign onto or or put on Medicaid. If a private insurance company set up this sort of “asset stripping,” with this utter lack of disclosure, Consumer Reports would cry foul, I presume. Why don’t you say:

        “Will Medicaid take my house when I die?
        Quite possibly. They have been doing it to poor people forever. What makes you think you’ll escape? Think you have much or any more political power than the poor? Think again. You have been given no disclosure re these clawbacks; do you think that is an accident? Your state is broke, and you, middle class person who can’t afford fancy legal services, well, you are a sitting duck. If they decide against clawbacks now, well, they may impose them later when they are broker (as they will be). Maybe you should enroll in Medicaid; maybe you shouldn’t. It may be the best choice for you; you may deeply regret it. If you do decide to enroll, assume that enrolling will put all of your assets at risk.”

        You asked me how you are “throwing poor people under the bus.” You are doing it by giving them terrible advice; by telling them to “trust” that the political process will protect them. Poor people can’t afford complex legal services; they rely on Consumer Reports and the like. You are giving them a false sense of security.

        1. kareninca

          and here is the third email I sent her:

          Dr. Ms. Metcalf,
          Good grief, your example is one that a rational person would use against your claim that people should “enroll anyway” in Medicaid. You do not seem to understand the difference between insurance and a lien. Yes, insurance can prevent financial ruin. But Medicaid (in this context) is not insurance. Don’t you understand that???

          Your sixty year-old would be best off waiting. If s/he gets colon cancer, s/he can then make the choice of selling the house, taking a loan against the house, or signing onto Medicaid. Precisely what does s/he gain by signing on now? S/he’s not obtaining insurance by signing on. S/he getting “official access” to loan money in advance of need. That’s all Medicaid is, if one has assets and is over 55. A loan with no disclosure, that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, for an overpriced crappy product. There is nothing great about that. The odds are very good that this person will not get colon cancer, and will make it to Medicare age without needing Medicaid coverage. If s/he has to sign on to Medicaid at some point due to dire illness, so be it. But there is no reason for this person to sign on in advance of need, to what is basically a loan program (Medicaid) that charges high premiums for crappy service.

          If this person could buy insurance, well, that would be a different matter. But that is not what you are advising. You are giving shockingly bad financial advice to trusting people, perhaps for political and ideological reasons. I would bet it is not advice that you would take yourself. Or maybe it is, since as I said, you do not appear to understand the difference between insurance and a lien.

  28. Usual Suspect

    Usurious Returns on Phantom Money: The Credit Card Gravy Train

    “Even when the balance is paid on time every month, credit card use imposes a huge hidden cost on users—hidden because the cost is deducted from what the merchant receives, then passed on to you in the form of higher prices.”

    The merchant increases prices to cover the fee. The cost is paid by everyone dealing with the merchant. So non-card users are really getting ripped. They pay the higher cost and get no benefit.

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