Links 3/30/14

Good bacteria that protects against HIV identified Science Daily

Black death was not spread by rat fleas, say researchers Guardian. Air-borne, hence pneumonic, not bubonic plague. So, with antibiotics, no problemo. We hope.

America’s Class System Across The Life Cycle Demos. Handy charts!

Why Taxpayers Will Bail Out the Rich When the Next Storm Hits NBC News

Wal-Mart Sees $3 Billion Opportunity Refilling Empty Shelves Bloomberg. Opportunity for whom?

Certus Dream Team Gets Its Wake-Up Call American Banker. Hedgies unhappy about executive looting.

GM Widens Ignition Recall by 971,000 to 2.59 Million Cars  Bloomberg

An Engineer’s Eureka Moment With a G.M. Flaw Times. “A tiny metal plunger in the switch was longer in the replacement part.” 

What’s good for General Motors may no longer depend on the U.S. WaPo

More traction The Center of the Universe


Obamacare: Where Are We Now? The New Yorker

Latinos remain wary of Obamacare as deadline looms Yahoo News

Health law legacy eludes Obama as changes sink in AP

Influential Republicans working to draft Jeb Bush into 2016 presidential race WaPo

How a Toxic Leak Made One Town the Subjects of a Live Human Experiment National Journal

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

‘A’ for Angela Merkel: GCHQ and NSA Targeted Private German Companies Der Spiegel

Why we must keep biometrics out of schools Kevin Townsend (RS)

Obama’s NSA Reform Package May Hamstring Privacy Lawsuits US News

Questions still unanswered about U.S. Border Patrol’s killing of 16-year-old McClatchy

Media Neglect Turkish False Flag Attack Leak And Its Implications Moon of Alabama


Kerry to meet Russia’s Lavrov for Ukraine talks in Paris on Sunday Guardian

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson: we should be applauding Russian action in Ukraine and Crimea… Max Keiser

The surprising power of peace FT

Germany’s Russian energy dilemma Deutsche Welle

China’s Developers Face Shakeout as Easy Money Ends: Mortgages  Bloomberg

Exclusive: China seizes $14.5 billion assets from family, associates of ex-security chief – sources Reuters

Tracking China’s Hot Money Flows Through Commodities The Diplomat

The cult of cronyism Siddharth Varadarajan (Kendall Golladay) and dueling links: Rise of Modi and the end of Brahmin supremacy Asian Correspondent

Historic peace agreement in Philippines Asian Correspondent

Fear and Aggression in Florida n+1

Sacramento officials kept in dark about crude oil transfers at rail facility Sacramento Bee

The Two Numbers Climate Economists Can’t Stand to See Together Bloomberg

The People’s Republic of Zuckerstan The Baffler. The innovation economy.

The Search For The Next Platform AVC

Technology: All eyes on the future FT. Froth?

Dignity Is a Constitutional Principle Bruce Ackerman, Times

‘Porn Studies’ Is a Serious Academic Journal for Serious Academics Vice

10 Things George R.R. Martin Is Doing Instead of Writing the Next ‘Game of Thrones’ Book Flavorwire. Indeed!

This Is a Generic Brand Video Dissolve. Script from McSweeney’s.

Follow-Ups on 19th Century Red-Baiting Matt Stoller

Save capitalism from the capitalists by taxing wealth Thomas Piketty, FT

Brain scans link concern for justice with reason, not emotion Science Daily

“Incentives to produce” are incentives to rig the game Interfluidity

Antidote du jour:

NC Links, Antidote du jour: A pony

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

About Lambert Strether

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


      1. optimader

        Dignity Is a Constitutional Principle
        Doesn’t apply to ruminants that do not occur in Nature?

        I imagine these mutants have digestion and amyriad of other medical issues.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s a human fetish, I suppose.

        On the other hand, there are natural dwarves and some speculate that the Pygmies are one of the oldest race on Earth.

        And instead of raising taller and bigger kids, who require more energy consumption, maybe having smaller and shorter kids is the ‘green’ way to go, among other measures we can implement in a comprehensive ‘Peace With Nature’ initiative.

        1. optimader

          “..maybe having smaller and shorter kids is the ‘green’ way to go, ..”

          Smaller shorter ones that can digest hay and are hairy so they don’t need cloths

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The ideal mensch ist very similar to, but not exactly the same as, a Hobbit.

            Short and smaller.

            Big ears for listening.

            Hairy, less need of clothing.

            Big chest – to house a big heart.

            Short arms – less able to grab and take.

            Small brain – more energy for the big heart, as a compromise in the design of his body.

            Small mouth – while we fear Big-Foot, their monster is Big Mouth…a small mouth is considered beautiful.

            He is quite different from Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.

            Hay digestion is optional.

            1. optimader

              I tried hard to visualize a workable female Hobbit .. there’s a flaw in this design basis going forward..

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                He/she is not or doesn’t have to be exactly a Hobbit, so there is room for correction/improvement.

      3. evodevo

        It’s a money-making fad – same as dog breeders who cash in on the fad of the moment by inbreeding. The horse – actually a pony, sorry – doesn’t look well to me, either. They have joint, bone and hoof problems that might be contributing to this one’s discomfort – dwarfism and bone deformities are common, especially when inbreeding is suspected. I can’t tell what that is on the rear hooves – but founder (colic/metabolic disease) is common in ponies and miniatures. I also can’t tell whether the sitting position is something it has been taught as a trick, or whether it is sitting that way because of colic pain. If it is colic, it needs a vet – stat!

    1. susan the other

      this tiny pony does not have the dimensions of a colt; so must assume it is a tiny breed… and shod here looks like clay feet… I’d sit down too. So question: why not let this being move freely about? It has the look of a reasonable person.

      1. optimader

        “and shod here looks like clay feet”
        It might have digestion problems, but at least it has a political future

  1. Klassy

    Glad there was a link to the Zuckerstan article because I thought of it while reading various comments on the Pilkington/Krugman post– as in why attack Krugman? what about the Kochs???
    Here’s David Koch talking about his experiences in the bluest city in one of the bluest states:
    “I read stuff about me and I say, ‘God, I’m a terrible guy,’” the baron told the New York Times about his prestige in Cambridge. “And then I come here and everybody treats me like I’m a wonderful fellow, and I say, ‘Well, maybe I’m not so bad after all.’”

    1. montanamaven

      Great interview. l actually liked the “free market” interviewer. Let Dr. Roberts talk. So here are two sensible “conservatives” that should be listened to. They have a different take on Reagan than I had, but, I have to admit, some of it made a lot of sense including the part where Clinton let the neo cons back in. Thanks for the link.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Interesting question the host asks: The corruption in the EU costing as much as the entire Ukrainian economy, so why do the Ukrainians want to join it in order to avoid corruption back home?

        We can ask the same question of the non-violent protestors, who often speak in fluent imperial tongue, in Egypt, Turkey and other countries as well – Why do you want ‘democracy’ like the West have, when what we here in this country have is just a less-visible, but more potent, monitored state? Only crude rulers round people up and get caught using force, flunking PR 101 and propaganda basics, due to their second-rate teachers who do not know their totalitarian stuff, in the Third World, and thus, not able to graduate competent, PR savvy dictators, I guess.

  2. Ditto

    Re Search for the Next Platform

    I guess it counts as irony how little the culture of the tech industry has changed over the years. The industry may boom and bust, but the b.s. remains constant.

    1. Klassy

      Here’s some world class BS from an interview with Twitter founder Biz Stone:
      “Can social media companies actually make as much money as their value suggests? “I think you have to think more abstractly about it,” says Mr. Stone. “Can a system where hundreds of millions of people engage on a daily basis to do various things—can something like that make money?” he asks. “The answer is always yes.” Twitter, of course, remains unprofitable, but he notes that the company is making money from advertising.”
      So, restating the question and adding the words “engage on a daily basis” is “thinking more abstractly”?
      Also, in the same interview says that having a lot of billionaires is “a pretty good problem to have.” and that the protests in SF are about “haves and have-nots” and not really about tech.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        OK, so everybody’s collecting rent on advertising next to content we all create. How come we don’t get a cut? Wouldn’t that be “innovative”? Maybe because there wouldn’t be as many squillionaires if that happened?

          1. Klassy

            Cognitive surplus, baby! Anyway, even though Mr. Stone has not figured out a way to wring a profit from Twitter (tho he has profited mightily in his post profit industry) he is going to come up with some solutions for this inequality problem that seems to be on everyone’s radar:
            “Mr. Stone thinks that one solution to stem the discontent is to have tech companies publicly collaborate on social responsibility initiatives.”
            Great. There will be more gems such as these in his upcoming bio.

            1. Klassy

              Or consider Jeff Bezos. It’s not just the monopoly power, or the tax arbitrage, or the crappy pay for the workers– what little profit Amazon makes (not talking about cloud service for the CIA. I’m sure that is more profitable)– is dependent on the value created by all those online reviewers.
              But hey, I see Amazon is now donating 0.5% of your (qualifying) purchase to the charity of your choice we’re even steven.

      2. Eeyores enigma

        Prime example of how nonproductive (useless and I would argue destructive) most tech is.
        All of the top names, top of the so called valuation charts in the tech industry are 90+% dependent on advertising, promoting consumption, largely consumption of more tech gadgets.

        This all started and functions in and around a highly vibrant, profitable, and productive real economy and all of the cash sloshing around that a wealthy economy creates. In other words high tech requires a large, healthy and equitable economy. As this fades so does high tech.

        When most people talk about tech as saving the future they talk about the 10% of tech that actually benifites the real economy and humanity and ignore the realities. Not going to happen.

        1. optimader

          “..Prime example of how nonproductive (useless and I would argue destructive) most tech is….”
          Most ? That narrows it down to an operative list of technologies to abandon!
          As you philosophize over the cracerkbarrel, errr. I mean peck away on a keyboard and your bromide courses it’s way through the pipe of the Internetz, lets play a game of which is more usless/destructive to:

          highspeed dental drills or refrigeration?
          cell phones or commercial aircraft?
          Antibiotics or artificial joints?

          1. MikeNY

            I suggest that ee is using “tech” in a much narrower and more digital sense than you are, Optimader. Think: Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb….

          2. eeyores enigma

            Opti – I am certainly not against tech in fact after 20 years of industrial design I am more aware than most of the breadth and scope of tech however as to your examples;

            Having developed several products for the oral care industry I can say with confidence that over half of the “new tech” in that category along with over half of the procedures are unnecessary and humanity would loose very little if we went back to dentistry of 50 years ago. That along with implementing all of the obvious preventative elements.

            Other than getting rid of CFCs refridgeration has not evolved much at all over 50 years and in fact I would say that without a doubt a fridg made back then would most likely last longer than one made today and with some additional insulation would perform just as well.

            Cell phones I won’t touch that one. Commercial air travel places the equivalent of a years supply of average Co2 per capita in the air for every cross country flight and at high altitude where more remains in the atmosphere. There is no rational for everyone flitting all around the world at 500mph, well everyone except for those of us who are special, wink wink.

            Antibiotic over use may eventually be the nail in humanities coffin.

            Artificial joints gets into the issue of healthcare and thats too damn big an issue but suffice it to say that again more than half and some believe two thirds of so called health care procedures are unnecessary and in fact the facts are showing that it causes more harm than good. A prime example of tech solving for tech, solving for tech, until we don’t even remember how to live on the planet.

            There are reams of studies showing preventative care would do away with most of what ails us as a society and many countries do just that.

            So strike three!

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Tech solving for tech – that seems to be very popular these days.

              Repeating the same idea (of relying on tech) that got us here the first place (relying on tech).

            2. optimader

              Hat tip on industrial design, that was my alternative professional choice.
              Don’t confuse inappropriate execution/policy with legitimacy.

              “Aesthetic” dentistry is a alternative to Psychiatry for many, a fundamental self image benefit for others. The scientific and technological advances in the past 50 years relative to ME being able to retain my original teeth for a life time? Huge.
              I certainly wouldn’t trade contemporary dental care for that available 50 years ago. You can.

              The Carnot cycle, the basis for refrigeration, is the application of Basic Principles so it cannot evolve much. Alternative strategies like the Peltier effect I anticipate will have it’s day in the Sun but that’s beyond this thread. Not withstanding, refrigeration (airconditioning) has certainly benefitted w/ the march of technology as applied to making the appliance vastly more efficient (File Under: Heat Pumps, SCR drives, High efficiency Motors). Should refrigeration devices be designed for serviceability and longer life, I think so.

              Commercial aviation.. Centrifugal gas turbines of 50 years ago vs todays high bypass gas turbines? aerodynamics? wing airfoil design? Just no comparison . You think too many people choose air travel? Those are public policy/transportation policy issues , not technology issues. Don’t like the “carbon footprint”? you can be sure it would be worse if aviation technology was frozen in 1964 .

              Personally, I am an advocate of light eclectic and long distance electric rail transpiration as alternatives to domestic commercial aviation and passenger cars. As well pushing forward on the thorium fuel cycle to replace the Uranium fuel cycle and coal, hugely pregnant technology issue that the public and it’s elected representatives are to superficial to engage…But again, that’s a different thread.

  3. diptherio

    We all know higher ed isn’t exactly all that it’s made out to be, but this stat from the “America’s Class System Across the Life Cycle” actually surprised me (though, in retrospect, it shouldn’t)

    Poor kids who push through all of the stuff above and get through to college are still less likely to wind up on top than rich kids who never even got a college degree. Rich kids without college are 2.5x more likely to wind up in the richest fifth than poor kids with college. [emphasis added]

    1. Banger

      The beauty of the class system in the U.S. is that people have been persuaded that it doesn’t exist despite the very obvious reality. American Exceptionalism as a religious idea is what makes it all work.

    2. Ulysses

      And the primary economic payoff for rich kids who bother to attend elite colleges, apart from those who actually train to become ready for law, medical school, etc., is the opportunity to meet other rich kids from other parts of the country.

      The conclusion to this Demos “charticle” was somewhat discouraging:

      “Class haunts people from womb to grave, limiting their ability to flourish and pursue the good life as they define it. Confronted with the reality of our society’s entrenched class system, our national politics in its present state offers three responses. The first response is to deny reality altogether, usually in favor of an anecdote or two. The second is to accept that it exists, but pretend there is nothing you can do about it because those on the bottom are inferior (see Murray, Ryan). And the last response is to note it exists and offer lukewarm solutions that nibble around the margins of the problem without ever doing anything that might actually even things out.”

      That is why our response must be far more radical than the New Deal!!

      1. Jim Haygood

        Skimming 15.3% of lifetime wage income (FICA tax) and ‘investing’ it at near-zero return is a diabolically efficient way of assuring that the bottom half of the income pyramid will never accumulate any net worth.

        1. different clue

          Then again, forcing all that money into 401ks and etc. instead of SS would leave its owners vulnerable to the next crash and accumulation of net loss, meanwhile enriching private money managers in the meantime who are not enriched due to their not handling SS. I view my FICA payments as buying survival insurance. I don’t care to risk my survival on financial ripoff games.

    3. craazyman

      It’s 70s Weekend here at Peanut Gallery Radio . .

      “City girls just seem to find out early
      How to open doors with just a smile
      A rich old man
      And she won’t have to worry
      She’ll dress up all in lace and go in style”
      -Eagles, Lyin Eyes

      It’s easy to “wind up” on top when you start there. I met them back in the day. The dad would be a top lawyer, a distressed debt expert, portfolio manager, or in one case a rich European working as lazily as possible to erode inherited wealth. The daughter lived alone with a collection of Chanel dresses, her divorced mother was someplace in Europe and the father? I never really heard. Mostly the girls would be pretty and stylish and often sort of gentle and a little anxious, filled as their lives were with opportunities of every kind and proximity to success in every field but no instruction in how to achieve it themselves. There would be a private school then a college somewhere, where they would be deposited with a credit card, to figure it out. Most people don’t, no matter how much money they have. Usually it ended up in some sort of a marriage, or a job at Soethby’s or a form of activity associate with what people call a charity. it’s not that money makes people happy, it just makes being miserable so much easier.

      1. Ulysses

        I met a few myself over the years… some of them ended up trying to write a novel– after the divorce and the kids moving out left them feeling empty in that big house in Greenwich.

      2. Jagger

        I knew a 30ish guy in my Point Loma apartment complex in San Diego about 10-15 years ago. He won some sort of major lawsuit and apparently receives x amount of dollars every month for the rest of his life. He also, at least on the surface, didn’t have any physical disfigurement or obvious disability. Didn’t have to work and didn’t, lives in a very nice part of the country right next to the Pacific Ocean and Dog Beach. Started early and got drunk every…single… day of the week by the pool. Felt bad for the guy, just completely lacking any direction or purpose and was slowly killing himself with drink.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In contrast, students from other countries come with their families saving all they have, in order to support the climb up the ladder; they take learning seriously, hoping the next generation, too, can be exceptional and experience what it is like to be part of the idle rich.

        The foreign students themselves not only are usually quite talented in fields that do not challenge the status quo nor question the imperial hegemony, but in fact make very reliable parts for the System, coming, often, from cultures that respect order and authority, and treasure social harmony, thus, ensuring the smooth functioning of the Machine.

        Some of these foreign students may in fact come from rich families as well, but they seem, depending on the culture, I suppose, to take neoliberalism seriously and study hard. You hardly see them act like the lost, wasteful examples cited here. I have met a few from certain cultures/parts of the world. Today, with admirable competence, they lead the charge of the global neoliberal conquistadors, acting as their local, native collaborators now, but one day, will be reckoned as lords with complete sovereignty in their own spheres of domination.

        1. OIFVet

          Indeed, they are often the compradors of the Washington Consensus. They were very easy to identify in college, getting undergrad/grad degrees in economics, finance, and business; Atlas Shrugged was their bible. The greedier amongst them would go on to employment with the vampire squids, the more ambitious would intern in the IMF and the World Bank and then to key government posts in their native countries. This is an example of the latter: And then there were those who wanted to serve their new countries directly, they would usually study foreign policy and Leo Strauss was their god. They saw the IMF and NATO as instruments of the righteous struggle of the forces of freedom and free market capitalism against the evil of everything else. I am still recovering from that period of my life.

      4. YankeeFrank

        “It’s not that money makes people happy, it just makes being miserable so much easier.”

        -best quote of the year so far.

        Hat tip to ya craazyman.

    4. Crazy Horse

      The single most accurate metric for predicting who will enter and subsequently graduate from university in the US is not IQ, SAT scores, or high school grades. It is how much money the parents have.

      Two possible explanations: Rich people are smarter than the rest of us and pass their superiority on through their genes and nurture it through a stronger work ethic.
      Or: University education is a mechanism for perpetuating class structure and inequality.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Leaving aside greedy administrators and professional athletes, we could perhaps ask why teachers and professors would want to be enablers of such a mechanism.

        1. Ulysses

          Not all academics hide in their ivory tower and shrink from confronting the problems of the real world. When I was a graduate student at Brown I was very grateful for the generous example of Bill McLoughlin, who worked harder against militarism, and for civil rights and liberties, than anyone else I have ever known.
          Yet the truth is many in academia are just as status-conscious and money-grubbing as any corporate lawyer or investment banker. This, pace Christopher Hedges, is not a new phenomenon. Indeed the early universities in medieval Bologna, Paris and Oxford were probably even fiercer defenders of the status quo than today’s Harvard Business School.
          Yet I wouldn’t favor some sort of Chinese Cultural revolution where we abolished all manner of elitist institutions, including universities. Far preferable to socialize their costs, and open wide the gates to all aspiring scholars– thus reducing somewhat their social exclusivity.

          Banger is correct to point out the beauty of the American class system is that people refuse to acknowledge it exists. Not all beneficiaries of this unheralded system wish to preserve it. I have found it possible to get other men and women of privileged backgrounds to join me as class traitors. We shouldn’t forget that Karl Marx himself had servants, and never had to blacken his own boots or wash the dishes.
          Dropping out of academia to commit myself to labor activism was only possible for me because of the American class system. My ancestors in New Amsterdam began a multi-generational process of acquiring social capital that I am now pleased to squander in fighting against an unjust system. This system is now more cruelly oppressive than it has ever been in my lifetime!

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Ulysses, you have set a good example and perhaps not all is lost.

            As for the Chinese Cultural Revolution, a lot of cultural relics were destroyed or badly damaged. But as for how people think or act culturally today, it’s as nothing has changed much…ivory objects, rhino ‘medicinal’ tusks, bird’s nest soup, hardwood furniture, the Confucian ethics of respecting authority, fulfilling one’s role in the society…

      2. neo-realist

        Not just university education furthering the divide, but rich people live in high tax base neighborhoods with superior K-12 education, which better preps their kids for academic excellence in the University; Furthermore, the wealthy have those connections in industry which gets their kid’s foot in the door, with minimal effort on the kid’s part, to companies that promise upward mobility and an excellent standard of living, thereby furthering class (and to a large extent racial) stratification and inequality.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s not what you write on the blackboard.

          It’s teaching by example.

          We have to ask our teachers what they can do to ‘teach.’

          1. hunkerdown

            I protested that my 5th-grade teacher not letting her son watch television was child abuse. It didn’t take me but a handful more years to figure out she was right on that.

            1. neo-realist

              She certainly would have been right if she put positive alternatives in place to help him grow–books, stimulating conversation and hobbies. Simply saying don’t watch TV because it makes your mind lazy or illiterate without proactively providing alternatives would have amounted to the parent merely being a control freak fascist.

  4. financial matters

    We don’t need China to fund our debt but we do need to be concerned with foreign exchange.

    “China’s yuan overtook the euro to become the second-most used currency in global trade finance after the dollar this year, according to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

    China is seeking a greater role for its currency in global trade and investment as the state loosens controls on the exchange rate and borrowing costs in the world’s second-largest economy. People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Yi Gang said Nov. 20 it is no longer in the nation’s interest to keep building up its foreign-exchange reserves, which totaled a record $3.66 trillion at the end of September

    The People’s Bank of China will “basically” end normal intervention in the foreign-exchange market and broaden the yuan’s daily trading limit, GovernorZhou Xiaochuan wrote in an article in a guidebook explaining reforms outlined following a Communist Party meeting that ended Nov. 12.”


    February 24, 2014
    By L. Randall Wray

    “I have no doubt that China would eventually be in a position where floating (her currency) would not only be desired, but it would be necessary.China will probably float long before it reaches such a position. China will become too wealthy, too developed, to avoid floating. She will stop net accumulating foreign currency reserves, and will probably begin to run current account deficits. She will gradually relax capital controls. She might never go full-bore Western-style “free market” but she will find it to her advantage to float in order to preserve domestic policy space.

    If she did not, she could look forward to a quasi-colonial status, subordinate to the reserve currency issuer. China will not do that.”

    1. Jim S

      I just read Roberts’ piece of the 28th on his site. I’m not convinced that the US is aiming for war, but it had occurred to me that all the scare talk of WW1 might be a preparatory bit of propagandising should a war break out, so the US can say, “as in the events leading to WW1, we were sucked into the war despite our efforts to avoid it”. Rubbish. If the US is not seeking war, its brinkmanship–and only its brinksmanship–will provoke it.

      For all Putin’s cool-headedness, his back is against the wall. The fight is on his doorstep, and if he backs down now he has no choice but to accept US hegemony. That’s no choice at all. The US does have a choice, and it had better choose peace, because we won’t be fooled by a bogus plea of “not our fault”. History is holographic: each event echoes the truth of the whole, even if the whole is concealed for a time. Warmongers take note; you are discovered.

  5. Lupemax

    Some optimism?
    Left Alternatives to Social Democracy

    Moderated by Abbie Bakan. Presentations by:

    * Leo Panitch is member of the Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly, is Canada
    Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and Distinguished Research
    Professor of Political Science at York University. Editor of The Socialist
    Register, his books include Working Class Politics in Crisis (1986); The
    End of Parliamentary Socialism (with Colin Leys, 1997). He is the co-author
    with Sam Gindin of The Making of Global Capitalism (2012), winner of the
    2013 Deutscher Memorial Prize.

    * Roger Rashi is a founding member of the left-wing Québec solidaire party
    where he sits on the party’s International Commission and on the Steering
    Committee of the Mercier chapter which has twice elected Amir Khadir to the
    National Assembly. Roger is also a founding member of Réseau
    écosocialiste (Québec’s Ecosocialist Network) and a member of the
    editorial board of Canadian Dimension and Nouveaux cahiers du socialisme.
    He presently works as Campaigns Coordinator for Alternatives, a
    Quebec-based social justice organization.

    * Adolph Reed Jr. is a professor of political science at the University of
    Pennsylvania, specializing in race, class and American politics and was a
    key leader in the attempt to establish the U.S. Labor Party in 1996. His
    books include Renewing Black Intellectual History: The Ideological and
    Material Foundations of African American Thought (edited with Kenneth W.
    Warren, 2010); Class Notes: Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the
    American Scene (2000); and Stirrings in the Jug: Black Politics in the
    Post-Segregation Era (1999).

    Organized by the Education Committee of the Greater Toronto Workers’

    Click here to view presentation:

  6. eeyores enigma

    One thing not ever mentioned wrt Walmarts stocking issues is diesel.
    Remember when Walmart was touting its warehouse on wheels as being key to their growth success?
    Back then they were the nations largest contract diesel buyer paying well under a $1.00 a gallon. back then their diesel bill was billions. but they made up for it in volume as they say.

    Now even contract diesel is well over $3.00 and no suppliers are willing to lock in long term anymore as price fluctuates so much. Interesting that back then all the internets were adamant that it was all due to evil speculators. Ha!

    Walmart margins can’t do the warehouse on wheels any more or at least not like they use to.

    1. eeyores enigma

      By the way diesel is the life blood of global commerce so this effect is being felt through out the economy and no we aren’t going to simply adjust, at least not in a nice way.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      All the mobile, cheap-diesel powered warehouses in the world won’t amount to a hill of beans without actual EMPLOYEES to take the merchandise off the truck and put it on the shelf where customers can find it.

      Sounds like more of that brilliant 21st century “innovation” that, in the “olden days,” was known as “putting the cart before the horse.”

      Quick, call Mark Zuckerberg. I’m sure he could make it work. Or, at least, make everybody THINK that it’s working.

      1. hunkerdown

        Um, that’s Bezos’s bailiwick, and he’s working on it. Just not appearing to work on it too hard, as “Arbeit-macht-Frei” in as many words is the national religion, and suffering is the only purpose the designated losing classes.

    3. Trinity River

      ” . . . no suppliers are willing to lock in long term anymore as price fluctuates so much. Interesting that back then all the internets were adamant that it was all due to evil speculators. Ha! ”
      I don’t follow you. The fact that regulations/laws have changed to allow speculation in the price of oil does not sound like a good idea to me. I strongly suggest we should not allow or, at least, not give tax preferences to non-productive so-called investments. Am I missing something here?

      1. eeyores enigma

        Trin – I am talking only about the fact that it was supply constraints that ran up diesel and is keeping it up there. I agree with your comments and would take it lot further but I will not rant here.

  7. eeyores enigma

    And since you asked….

    I guess you can’t just put climate in front of economist and expect to get a different result.

    If AGW were to be acknowledged to the extent that policy options were seriously discussed and implemented the entire Ponzi Global Economy would collapse. People simply do not comprehend how much the global economy relies on extraction, consumption, growth, finance, etc. All of which requires a large surplus to feed it.

    To build out the massive infrastructure proposed for transition to alternative energy would require all the fossil fuels we have so I have yet to see anyone explain how this can be done in a way that isn’t destructive. There is no such thing as “renewable energy”.

    There is no energy source that can renew itself including fossil fuels and certainly not solar, hydro, biofuel,wind. These are all fossil fuel extenders which I guess you could argue is a good thing. It could buy us a few more years until the magic of technology kicks in and solves everything.

    Any surplus that alternative energies generate, and they are all very small compared to FFs, are needed to support even just the most basic economy. So what will it be alternative energy surplus being used to perpetuate itself (it can’t) or used to support the economy? You can’t have both.

    There is an answer but it is so not BAU.

    1. MikeNY

      If you’re trying to rot your brain, read Friedman’s cotton-candy carnival drivel today in the Times.

      It’s all there: reflexive veneration of the military, encomiums to ‘excellence’, the bromide that Washington politics is all that’s wrong with America, a heavy helping of omphaloskepsis, along with the de riguer and utterly superfluous reference to Israel / Judaism.

      1. Klassy

        I think you got it all except the hard choices/SS. (I don’t know, though– could be “omphaloskepsis”. I’ll look it up.)

    2. Thor's Hammer

      If you tend to see the world as a biosphere inflicted with the disease of human folly as I do it is worthwhile to take a break from pessimism sometimes and consider what-if scenarios. Here is one:

      If this is in fact a path not taken– one with an essentially unlimited supply of high EROI energy, no climate impact, and manageable risk it’s abandondment is another prime example of human folly.

  8. jfleni

    RE: Why Taxpayers Will Bail Out the Rich When the Next Storm Hits

    1938: no-name hurricane, worst in about a century, with very heavy damage in Northeast;
    Sandy: 2012: almost as bad as 1938.

    Idiot know-nothing, subtraction-challenged lawyer,2014:

    “Sandy was a once in a millennium event …”.

    And sea-levels are rising inexorably; and the plutocrats have loaded the (flood-insurance) dice.

    People sometimes forget scams, but the record will be clear, and the bail-out will be very doubtful!

  9. Mel

    “Sorry e.e., that was NOT meant to be a reply to you.”

    I wish I could reply to comments. All mine get dumped at the end. Don’t know why; I’m using Firefox, lately turned on more privacy options, but the trouble predates those particular options. Oh well.

  10. jfleni

    RE: GM Widens Ignition Recall by 971,000 to 2.59 Million Cars

    For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
    for want of a shoe the horse was lost,
    for want of a horse the knight was lost,
    for want of a knight the battle was lost,
    for want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

    No matter how many courses these MBA types (“business-men”)take at “Buffoon Business Academy” (good ol’ BBA), they are losers!

    1. hunkerdown

      First, sorting people into “winners” and “losers” is inevitably an endorsement of American Exceptionalism. Second, wibbly-wobbly strivey-wivey pathos is a counterproductive romantic pacifier and basically unfit to utter in a reality-based environment.

  11. Mel

    What’s good for General Motors may no longer depend on the U.S.

    Cute. It’s one of those stacked graphs where the top of the figure shows total profit, the top of the blue part shows domestic, and foreign is the bit in between. Can’t deny the growth, but even at 5x comparative growth, the foreign profit is only around 1/5 of the total. Zerohedge is upset about channel-stuffing, and the risk that the domestic profits may not be there when it comes time to spend them. Foreign outlook may be good, or may just reflect the fact that the accounting is being done farther away.

  12. Jim Haygood

    From the WaPo article:

    On Thursday night, [Jeb] Bush was feted here [in Las Vegas] at a VIP dinner held by Sheldon Adelson inside the billionaire casino magnate’s airplane hangar.

    He’s not the only one:

    Three Republican governors eyeing the White House, including embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, were in Las Vegas yesterday to court Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino owner.

    Like Christie, Governors John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin offered themselves as exemplary Republican candidates. Kasich gave a lunchtime talk yesterday, repeatedly directing his eye contact and comments to “Sheldon,” who was in the crowd.

    We can count on the Republican party, comrades, to actively fund housing construction … on occupied Palestinian land.

    1. Brian

      It reminds me of the the ring kissing coronation parties of the no so reverend Moon.
      If you want his money, you kiss the ring. (around the finger, tub, cock, saturn…)

    2. susan the other

      There is no free lunch when it comes to entropy or the exhaustion of fuels on planet earth. But we do have ways and means. We must conserve energy first and foremost. But additionally we actually do have renewable energies because we live on a planet with a tilted axis which orbits an energy rich sun. We can enhance conservation by heat exchange technology. Maybe not from the north/south/north hemispheres, but definitely from heat pumps; passive solar; etc. And develop wind, solar, hydro, and thermal to their max.

  13. jfleni

    RE: Obamacare: Where Are We Now?

    The system is defective, but at least partially reasonable and effective in most places. But the “Hillbilly Heaven” or “Cow States” (as H L Menken called them) are going to have castrophic outcomes; “Tobacco Road” will reign supreme there.

    Question is, are the rest of us going to have to rescue the innocent from the machinations of the latter-day Klukkers called Republicans?

    1. Ned Ludd

      Democrats need the votes of the poor and working class. Scratch the surface, though, and they are just a bunch of elitist snobs.

    2. Splashoil

      No need to worry about the different outcomes as long as Democrats keep Single Payer off the table. Your troll like screed suggests you do not have a clue about the con called O’care. The NY piece was pathetic with so much left out. We can thank Yves and Lambert for their efforts to get the whole story out.

  14. Kurt Sperry

    Creating renewable energy infrastructures should probably be our #1 national priority. The millions of unemployed are an enormous resource that currently and wholly unnecessarily lie fallow. Those who dismiss renewable energy–both the left post-industrial paleo doomers and the right wing drill baby drill boosters–are wittingly or unwittingly tools of entrenched political interests. This would make perfect sense even if global climate change weren’t real.

    1. TomDority

      Agree withyour point Kurt. Spending dollars on infrustructure and ultimatley making it cheaper to live and work is enourmously benificial. All wealth requires labor in it’s production. Employing people at good wages to produce something that will lower the costs of living and working is probably the most important thing to do. For every dollar spent on these projects I would assume a multiplyer in the real economy of something above 1 at least….probabbly more like 4. It is also imparative that taxation favors labor and real capital and discourages economicaly extractive practises IE: Favor real capital formation (machines, tools, plants) and, disfavor financialization and incomes derived from asset inflation and stripping.

    2. hunkerdown

      “Those who dismiss The Solutions Project are wittingly or unwittingly tools of entrenched political interests.”

      Shorter: we need new corrupt political interests to run the thoroughly compromised political machine, because a) if we don’t the machine won’t pay us anymore and I might have to touch real, biological things b) jooooooobs.

  15. Lune

    RE: Certus dream team article.

    Two quotes stand out:
    The four founders made a total of $45,000 in political contributions between 2010 and 2013

    In total, Certus received more than $241 million from the FDIC, according to a 2011 KPMG audit. The FDIC also protected Certus against 95% of any future losses on loans acquired in the three deals

    The tragedy of our government isn’t that it’s made up of prostitutes. It’s that their price is entirely too low.

    1. Skeptic

      “The tragedy of our government isn’t that it’s made up of prostitutes. It’s that their price is entirely too low.”

      I would love to see a calculation of the ratio of political contributions, bribes, perks, etc. that these pols get against what it costs in Loot disbursed. For every cent these pols get, it must cost at least thousands of dollars form the Treasury. Cheaper to publicly fund all elections, keep the pols sequestered and no political parties.

      1. hunkerdown

        Cheaper = less barrier to entry. If power is the means by which you can get money, a bit of that take can be spent on making your power stronger, and why wouldn’t you?

        And it’s cute to dehumanize the financial elites as lesser beings, made primarily of instinct, so as to make them more accessible and less threatening, and bolster your own moral superiority credentials. It’s cute but has little to no explanatory or predictive power, and serves only as a siren call to grouse and do nothing. I’ll pass, thanks.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If there is a coup on the government and no one pays any attention at all, does it change a thing?

  16. susan the other

    About Interfluidity’s Incentives to Produce. Too often it is n order to rig the game. What is genuine productive activity? Is it internal complexity or external complexity? Should we derive wealth from spinoffs within our economy or from trade? If internal then we need lots of disaster capitalism to churn the production end. This works because the nature of markets provides protections by established distribution networks which amount to monopolies. But wait, they say, what if we had a political system that protected the Social Good of productive activity? What a good question.

  17. Massinissa

    Bush V Clinton 2016!

    Time for half of America to not vote while the other half is busy slinging shit at eachother!

    1. Banger

      That race would be interesting. Two Machiavellian political enterprises colliding. Either one will be able to wield real power unlike Obama who feels much like a placeholder. Barring some sudden outbreak of social conscience we will limp into neo-feudalism led by one or the other of these gangs. Having said that the Bush Gang and the Clinton Gang aren’t that far apart.

      1. Ulysses

        Your comment is right on point. I hate to quarrel with the long-accepted usage of “Machiavellian” as a synonym for amoral, but it is actually somewhat unfair to Machiavelli. He unflinchingly described the ruthless methods used to gain and hold power, but in his own life he suffered imprisonment and torture for defending Florentine republicanism against Medici tyranny. The Prince represents an unsuccessful attempt to convince the Medici to entrust him with government responsibilities– because he was supposedly now ready to abandon the scruples he had always been known to keep. The Discourses on Livy, and The Florentine Histories, reveal a keen mind with more depth than is revealed in The Prince. Machiavelli had far more concern for the common weal than one would guess from the typical caricature of his thought provided by Anglo-American authors. These critics (wittingly or not) tend to follow the line taken by Frederick the Great of Prussia in his Anti-Machiavel.
        As Machiavelli said of Corso Donati, we could say of him: “Had he a quieter spirit, his memory would be happier.” (“se egli avesse ‘avuto l’ animo più quieto, sarebbe più felice la memoria sua. Florentine Histories II,23”
        Apologies for the OT rant!!

  18. wheretheoxengo

    Re the Science Daily piece, interesting findings, but I have doubts about the conclusion:

    “According to Decety, one implication is that the search for justice and the moral missions of human rights organizations and others do not come primarily from sentimental motivations, as they are often portrayed. Instead, that drive may have more to do with sophisticated analysis and mental calculation.”

    This reads like the author inclines to a view of empathy and a concern for justice as the product of rational (self-interested) calculation, which is where conventional economics would like to place it. So there are only two sources of action: emotion and calculating reason. Emotion doesn´t seem to be involved here, so the evaluation must be the product of a rational calculation.

    I don´t have a ready answer to this, but could there be a third option, a non-emotional and non-discursive clear-sighted recognition of the wrongness of a situation or event, that then stimulates discursive activity (how to fix this bad situation)? It is a surprise to me that emotion doesn´t get involved too though.

    1. hunkerdown

      It seems as if there’s a hidden agenda in there, to paint emotion as shrill and untrustworthy. What about the emotion of wanting to be accepted and esteemed by appearing cool and rational? Entire forests have been pulped to cater to that one. For that matter, so have entire peoples.

  19. OIFVet

    Good lord, didn’t Tom Clancy die some time ago? Leslie Gelb: “The boldest and riskiest course would be to dispatch 50 or 60 of the incredibly potent F-22s to Poland plus Patriot batteries and appropriate ground support and protection. Russian generals and even Putin surely know that the F-22s could smash the far inferior Russian air force and then punish Russian armies invading eastern Ukraine or elsewhere in the region.”

    Yeah, makes sense coming from the guy who also supported the Iraq war. This reads like a video game review. Look for this latest Red Storm Entertainment shooter at your nearest Game Stop.

  20. John Mc

    60 Minutes – Michael Lewis on HIgh Frequency Trading was on this evening.

    I have three comments:
    1) Why now? This has been going on quite for a while. – Lewis has a book out?
    2) The mainstream never ceases to celebrate the wall street scam – even in a hit piece
    3) What about the process of complexity is used a disguise – stop wacka-mole and get to the root of the problem (predatory neoliberal finance sector).

  21. Jackrabitt

    Looks like talks went nowhere (but other news organizations are reporting that the two sides agreed to work together – and with the Ukrainians, somehow):

    Ukraine crisis: US-Russia deadlock despite ‘frank’ talks

    So, with tens of thousands of troops on the border, Kerry turned his plane around to meet Lavrov. The urgency seems palpable, probably because Putin knows that he may have less room to maneuver after the upcoming Ukrainian elections (May 25th, I believe) so he wants to force a result now. But Kerry is hamstrung. If the US demands concessions, ultra-nationalists could gain the upper hand in Ukraine. Yet, unless Kerry assured Lavrov that the US would push(hard) for such concessions, it seems likely that Putin will orchestrate a Crimean-like outcome in the East and South Ukraine. THAT would likely mean a new round of sanctions and a deepening crisis.

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Chinese developers face shakeout.

    It’s ‘liquidate, liquidate, liquidate,’ for these developers not too big to not fail.

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Ex-Chinese security chief…$14.5 billion worth of assets seized.

    Perhaps not all is calm under the surface…

    The ex-chief was a supporter of Bo, the failed contender for the throne earlier.

    It seems that the code of chivalry didn’t completely disappear and they still practice Trial by Combat in China – if you lose, you must be corrupt. The winner is never corrupt.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Garamond is certainly an acceptable option. Personally, I hate sans serif typefaces, so I’d be okay with this.

      Unfortunately, even copying and pasting from Word into the comment box does not permit one to vary the palette from the blocky, and fairly hideous sans serif typeface that is the default on this blog. I know, because I just attempted to give examples of five different serif typefaces using this expedient, and they all defaulted to this typeface. For those who might be curious, open Word (or similar) and try out in succession Garamond, Goudy Old Style, Bookman Old Style, Baskerville Old Face, and Mongolian Baiti. All are different in their proportioning and spacing. To me, reading can and should be an aesthetic experience for the eye as well as for the intellect. Of course, I enjoy reading German Blackletter, so I guess that I am a weirdo by nature.

  24. participant-observer-observed

    “Why Taxpayers Will Bail Out the Rich When the Next Storm Hits NBC News”

    Shamelessly stated as if there has been a hiatus and taxpayers are not doing so presently!

Comments are closed.