Links 4/19/14

Let Them Eat Code Dissent (Paul Tioxon)

Did scurvy wipe out Christopher Columbus’ crew? Skeletons suggest New World’s first European settlers were killed by disease Daily Mail (LS)

Saudi Govt. Prohibits `Unauthorized’ Media Coverage Of MERS Avian Flu Diary. Marianne Jones identified this as a good site for keeping tabs on MERS CoV, which has a truly scary mortality rate.

Vermont Senate Passes Mandatory GMO Labeling Bill NationofChange (furzy mouse)

What the Future Looked Like in 1964 New York Times. I went to the World’s Fair! Did you?

The birth of a new media species Financial Times. I don’t understand how this is a “new species”. The New Republic was (and maybe still is) a money loser, funded by wealthy backers. Rich men have a proud tradition of buying into major or small but celebrated publications to gain influence or bolster their respectability.

The Fuzzy Math Behind the Search for MH370 Slate

G-20 and US Tell Japan to End QE Counterpunch (Carol B)

HMRC to sell taxpayers’ financial data Guardian

Giftcards de $ 200 mil para damnificados sólo se puede usar en París, Falabella y Ripley elmostrador. Timotheus:

This one should delight NC readers: the people in Valparaíso whose homes were destroyed in that massive blaze are getting a clothing allowance of 200 thousand Chilean pesos in a government payment. BUT it is coming in the form of a gift card that can only be spent at one of the the three giant department stores owned by the local oligarchs.

The exchange rate is around 560 to 1, so that is something like $350.


Russia forges ahead with pipeline skirting Ukraine Beyond BRICs

Kerry warns Lavrov on Ukraine pact Politico

Ukraine Accord Doubts Grow as Protesters Refuse to Disarm Bloomberg. A risk we flagged…

Inside the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ DW

NATO boosts Baltic presence after Ukraine Washington Post

Europe’s hawks, doves, and a lot of posturing on Russia Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Ukraine and the grand chessboard Asia Times

Geneva deal won’t counter Russian resolve Financial Times

Despite sanctions, Russia is getting a $457.9M check from NASA Washington Post

Ukraine crisis sees a disturbing development MSNBC. Note it is running two day old propaganda.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Supreme Court Justices Say They’re Likely To Rule On NSA Surveillance TechCrunch

CIA psychologist breaks silence to defend torture Guardian. Que Upton Sinclair…

Obamacare Launch

Health Care Spending’s Recent Surge Stirs Unease New York Times

The glorious Obamacare reckoning fades away Washington Post. Remarkable how hardly anyone in the punditocracy has focused on back end woes and the high deductibles. As Lambert observed, this is a symptom of people who get insurance through their employer and have no direct contact with the product (and it is a product).

An Inadequate Defense Budget? CounterPunch (Chuck L)

The Strangelove Effect – or How We Are Hoodwinked Into Fighting a New Cold War TruthOut

Peoria Mayor Sends Police to Track Down Twitter Parodist Reason

White Homicide Worldwide and 10 Signs of an Imminent Race Killer Southern Poverty Law Center (furzy mouse)

When You Say “It’s the Economy” You Are Buying Into Deregulation Matt Stoller

We Built This Country on Inequality The Nation (Carol B)

More Money, More Life: The Depressing Truth About Inequality in America Atlantic

Mystery: Bank of Utah Plane Lands in Iran DSWright, Firedoglake

US banks post dismal bond trading results Financial Times

Big banks lend to corporations over consumers Fortune

The Divide TruthDig. On Matt Taibbi’s new book.

The Neoliberal Turn in American Health Care Jacobin (Jeff). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse). Camel polo:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. CB

    Yes, I went. I believe that was the Pietà showing. Went to Montreal, too. What a funny adventure getting there was: at some point on the interstate, we decided it was too dull to continue. So, we got off and turned left, for north, as we hoped. Worked out beautifully and we had a very interesting and pleasant drive right into Montreal.

      1. skippy

        Acoustic vers for you aby –

        The Huns made quite a name for themselves in the early days of Christendom, so much so, even the Germans got smeared with it back in the early 1900s. Funny thing is after the marauding is done, their actually more affable than the westerners that took umbrage over their activity’s [hay you can’t do that, that’s our shtick].

        skippy… Afghanistan [region] seems to be the gearbox between two great continents, don’t think you could strip it any harder if you tried.

        1. abynormal

          you do pay attention…love the strings
          found their playlist…با تشکر از شما دوست من

  2. allcoppedout

    Matt Stoller points to a good book and the point that the economy isn’t real. Is there any kangaroo polo skippy – I had to ask?

    Greta Krippner’s book has been out a couple of years and is a good summary on the rise of financialisation. I see this as the process through which our chance of democracy was removed. Krippner provides a lot of lead up to the problems of finance in that it became a means to change the constitution without asking an electorate. I’d love to see this developed.

    Finance, for a number of reasons, can’t function through money in a modern world. We don’t have modernity – this term was really made up by a few arty-farties with no understanding of science and what science means for morality. Money works well in exchange deals, but its accumulation prevents moral modernity. In a science system wanting moral modernity, we’d prevent the accumulations. This, of course, has profound implications for money as a motivator.

    I struggle, at the moment and looking forward to an Easter drink (cheers to all), to think up the experiment needed at this point. Much research suggests money motivation isn’t real anyway, and often leads to a ‘screaming monkey’ society (so is counter-productive). Those needing ‘loads of money’ may also be sociopaths with narcissistic libidinal perversions (which we conflate with leadership). It is unlikely, given modern technology, that great wealth needs to be focused in individual-class hands. Indeed, we almost certainly have the money thing upside down, and the laisez-faire stuff really an organised demon pretending to be a deregulated angel. What would the situation be if money was never accumulated as capital? Is allowing such accumulation remotely healthy in motivational terms?

    Sooner or later the ideology of private property rears its head too. I’m pretty sure that can fall without us losing what might be important. Anyway, they took it on themselves to re-write the constitution without asking. I’d guess history tells us tyrants do that.

    1. skippy

      Cross polo marsupials style and yeah its rough, rellie has #1 pony, tho’ awhile back some weather meant some took to town and a few riders rode back to fulfill the responsibility thingy… past time meets reality. A few creeks were broached in haste… crocks got nothing on swift water… yet at the end of the day…nothing of mention… save a sausage on bread with tomato sauce and a beer.

      skippy… wasting something… so much love lost…

    2. Banger

      Money or no money the “natural” political arrangement is oligarchy. We have to face the fact that most people want a authoritarian system of some kind. But what they want is one that does not come out of alienation and, sadly, one of the chief features of capitalism is alienation. Planners view citizens as “workers” or “consumers” to be moved around on spreadsheets (the ultimate in alienating technology). Ordinary people see themselves in the same way. When they go to work they are objects to be manipulated like prostitutes paid to take various positions in bed. Happiness comes from having relatively few forced postures as in moving from prostitute to “kept woman” brings plenty of scope to your daily activities but, ultimately, when master calls, your time is his.

      In a more natural world people are connected through kinship, history, common interest and so on. Interesting that you should bring up modernism–indeed modernism’s project is to destroy tradition if favor of a larger connection or, alternatively, no connection. Capitalism moves us int the direction of no connection–from a spiritual point of view Hell is the place of radical alienation and no-connection. Capitalism was able to bring us radical change at a price. It has brought us to where we are, freed up a lot of energy, helped destroy many prejudices and destructive customs but now it has done its work and it’s time to get off that vehicle. It has taken us as far as it can and now we have not only reached the law of diminishing returns but we are headed towards catastrophe if we don’t get off now.

      The big questions about modernism and capitalism were put in high relief during the 1960s and, in a way, everything since then has been a reaction against and to that challenge. We have adapted many of the external attributes of the sixties in terms of fashion, music, culture, greater openness and so on but we have not dealt with the central challenge, i.e., consciousness and ending alienation–those of us involved in that period experienced a sense of belongingness that was unique but that sense of maintaining an open heart fell victim to repression and reaction both internally and externally.

      We can go on flaying about as we are but without a profound revolution in the consciousness of the ruling elites and a significant part of the population we are f—ing doomed. Actually, I’m ok with that–I’ve spent enough time staring Despair in the face to not be that impressed. I see no hope to resolve the major issues we face in an organic and friendly way without this profound change so I know we are probably, unless aliens and angels interfere, headed towards a world of one disaster after another. I’m old enough to know I probably won’t see the worst of it.

      Still, here we are in this moment and the further I feel all there is to feel and put myself fully into this moment the more bliss I feel. I believe this is the great message of the death and resurrection figure of Christ who was crucified and rose again–despair and destruction turns to resurrection–all this in a realm that is beyond thought and beyond time.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        The economy is real. It is a byproduct of human nature. It’s the basis for society — for survival of the teeming masses. If you doubt it, observe any country under economic sanctions and ask if those sanctions resulted in real-world results (and notice the inevitable “underground” economy develop, immediately).

        Sociopaths are also real. They have, naturally, adopted, manipulated, corrupted, and perverted the economy, and, in the process, society, to their own ends in the name of “Capitalism” (a more polite term used to describe and justify a lust for unbridled greed and power).

        The ultimate state of capitalism is the outright ownership of one’s workforce. Oligarchy.

        The invisible shackles of debt slavery are as real as leg irons.

        Via globalization, the economy has even been weaponized.

        The status quo is that the vast majority of us are not people or citizens — we are simply a commodity (in vast oversupply), known as “human resources.”

        The slide towards oligarchy IS natural. So is the inevitable backlash.

        1. Banger

          Economic sanctions are political acts of war as much as laying siege to a town only much more complicated. There is and cannot be economics without political structures.

          1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

            Is economics political, or are politics economic? It would seem that they are both cart and horse.

            A veritable Schrodinger’s sulky.

    3. JGordon

      I am almost beside myself with joy about how much sense NC commenter are making lately, and the crossposting/links to Automatic Earth, Dmitry Orlov, etc. Somehow or another real sense has started seeping in.

      Anyway, you are right that there is no such thing as “The Economy”. Therefore we should all ask ourselves why we are paying so many economists so much money to waste our time with bullcrap.

    4. susan the other

      I guess I’m going slowly insane thinking about how elusive money is. I think it is elusive because it exists symbolically in two different planes simultaneously. It exists as a measure of time, just like a clock; and it exists as an incarnation of all tangible and social things. Greta Krippner’s thesis sounds like time made flesh. Finance replacing democracy. Just like thinking yesterday that derivatives had replaced sovereignty as the thing that prevents social chaos via a web of financial insurance policies. Which may have prevented a meltdown but paralyzed finance and democracy. I’m not gonna think about this stuff anymore. It is such a mental mirage.

      1. Mel

        “I guess I’m going slowly insane thinking about how elusive money is.”

        Wittgenstein seemed to have a similar problem with language. Fell back to the idea of Sprachspielen: rather than look for axioms that described language’s essential nature, just examine cases where language is used, and decide what it is by what it does. Dicta like “usage is meaning” come out of this. I like the results, others may not; it definitely saved time.

        Maybe a similar study of Geldspielen would help. Maybe we’ve been doing that here all along while I’ve been blabbing.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thinking with language limits what one thinks.

          Thinking with language also distorts in all cases relating us vis-à-vis the external (if it doesn’t distort something internal like 1 + 1 = 2), I think…in a self-referencing Epimenides Paradox sense.

          Sometimes, we are aware by just seeing, looking…that is another way.

      2. craazyman

        Jesus. It sounds like you’re too stoned to think straight.

        It occurred to me many months ago that the numeration of so-called economic activity is completely arbitrary.

        Some thing could be a horrible thing to be avoided. or it could be a wonderful thing to be acquired. This depends solely on cultural norms and personal transient beliefs. In fact, you could have one economy in which people pay not to have to do something and another in which people pay to be able to do it. The numeration is totally arbitrary

        If you do the math it gets complicated. So it’s easier just to think “The action and its numeration are independent variabulls” Ergo, nothing grows it only changes.

        It also occurred to me you can visualize the economy as a solid mass hovering like a hologram over a three-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system. I’m working hard on research in this area right now. Pretty hard anyway. Sometimes.

        1. allcoppedout

          I once modelled the geometry of stock market prices, producing a cool shape. It was really tough staying on that buck kangaroo Skippy gave me to play underwater polo on when we were at university together. Geometric models of the stock market and underwater polo are real. Using tensor equations and penguin distribution adjustments, model truth frequencies in this statement.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Stoller, just before quoting Krippner: The main point of financial deregulation, which happened from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, wasn’t to shift wealth upwards, though that was a consequence that later became central. It was to get the public to stop believing that the government could do anything about the economy.

        Interesting that he looks at the late 60’s where we had this paradox (for many young people…and older people):

        1. Don’t trust anyone over 30. Don’t trust the government. Get out of Vietnam.
        2. Great Society. Government is the solution and can help with bettering the world.

        To Matt and many of us, the coup on the government by taking away the public’s faith in the government is more the ‘main point’ than shifting wealth upward.

        Undoing the coup means putting good people in the government and strengthening the Constitution, so the public can have faith in the government again.

        That is more the main point, more so than making the government more powerful, via unlimited money printing and spending, in the name of moving wealth downward (not that it will accomplish that nor do it in a nature-friendly way).

      4. allcoppedout

        I can’t help thinking a Greta Krippner sounds like a wrestling hold – double Nelson sort of thing. I did some wrestling as a kid, mostly with my elder sister and I’m sure she had perfected it. Very krippening, I can assure everyone.

        I will think on Susan’s mirage. She’s on to something, though I respect Craazy’s notion we are either on something or should be.
        1. Time is important as we can steal from the future. This is standard strategy. Hypothecation and rehypthecation are examples. I once caught shoplifters who bought clothes in Marks and Spencer after 5.10 pm on Tuesdays, lifted the same clothes the following day (showing yesterday’s receipt if caught – the receipt, owing to Marks’ time system (they cashed up at 5 pm) showing today’s date). Then they took all the clothes back for a cash refund, Marks allowing this at any store nationwide. Perfect crime except they tried to run my mate over.
        2. If the bwankers aren’t stealing from the future why can’t we get the money back? It’s obvious they are thieving.
        3. In other areas of law we are bothered by neglect and omission. They surely neglect and omit investment productive in the future. Guilty as charged, you might think, unless they have get out of prosecution free cards.
        4. One does time in the future, not before committing offences. The banksters don’t do time, are thieves and must have bought some protection from future consequences.
        5. Wine makes a lot right in the present. There are 5 of us here doing an NC get together, 4 on a promise to click on the blog in the future. Tomorrow will not start well.
        6. A fifth of China’s agricultural land is polluted. Isn’t this stealing from the future?

        Time is tricky before we get to non-commutative geometry. Which is relevant, though if I try to explain that my future hang-over potential will ahve been stoen from me by friends drinking my wine.

  3. sd

    Excerpt from NY Times article: “A surge of insurance enrollment related to rising employment and President Obama’s health care law has likely meant a surge of spending on health care, leaving policy experts wondering whether the government and private businesses can control spending as the economy gets stronger and millions more Americans gain coverage.”

    This statement is an assumption posing as fact. The entire article is an OpEd.

    1. Banger

      I’m always amazed at such terms as “controlling” health-care spending. What do they mean by that? The control of spending is in the marketplace–or to put it another way, each organization involved in health-care seeks to make more money and thus increase spending by someone—there are no incentives to “control” spending even possible in this system except as complex sets of rules and regs written by lobbyists that can be easily skirted by teams of lawyers.

      Health is important to people and families and the pressure will always be high to increase spending and profits that result from that. I’m sure there are precisely zero executives of insurance companies who try to figure out how to improve the health of customers except to keep them alive so they can be cash-cows till they die of a broken-heart.

      I can forgive the big banks–I’ve known real hoodlums and gangsters in my life and one can live with that; but there are three sectors of the economy are more toxic: 1) energy companies that want to destroy humanity and much of the natural environment; 2) MIC that wants to keep the planet in a state of high-stress; and 3) health-care companies that seek to profit over pain and misery.

      1. Cynthia

        One person’s cost is another person’s profit (or salary).

        Serious cost control would require challenging the people who make the most money from health care, who are largely people who do not directly provide health care. Think of bureaucrats, managers, public relations people, marketers, and executives.

        But they have a lot of money, which can buy a lot of influence. They are not distracted by having to actually provide health care, so can focus on preserving their pay and self-interest. They have not sworn oaths to put patients first, much less to save society’s resources. They are savvy in politics, opinion manipulation, and disinformation.

        Challenging them would be a real battle. But sooner or later, the costs of health care will become completely unsustainable, and the challenge will no longer be avoidable.

          1. Cynthia

            Yes, there is barely any daylight between the military-industrial complex and the medical-industrial complex. Which is why market-based medicine is about as mythical as a pearly-white unicorn roaming through a deep, dark forest where Little Red Riding Hood’s wolf may lurk.

      2. susan the other

        I’d add a 4th sector of evil: big agriculture with all its poisons, pollution and dangerous GMOs.

    1. sd

      Did you read the article about MERS? There are links to other articles. It sounds like medical authorities in the Middle East are focusing on camels for transmission because the commonality among recent victims of MERS was they had been around camels (which makes me wonder what does this say about income level?).

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I am not a camel expert, but those are super hairy and stocky camels, so I think they are bactrians, not dromedaries. I can’t imagine camels with that heavy a coat being happy in the Middle East. But maybe both types are disease vectors.

  4. diptherio

    Ok Craazy, Jackrabbit, anybody else who wants to hang: Tuesday evening at Fraunces Tavern. 5 pm or thereabouts. I’ll be the one with the ridiculous beard. Email me at mahankhal(at)gmail(dot)com if you wanna exchange digits or something.

    Sorry I couldn’t reply to ya’ll yesterday, but as I’ve mentioned, I’m painting a few buildings in SI while I’m here and I had to go do that yesterday (today as well), but rest assured I’m checking the comments, just not until after dinner.

    And if I haven’t mentioned it lately, NC’s peanut gallery is the best derned peanut gallery around. No foolin’! This crazy colloquium has saved my sanity more than once. Even if we never meet in person, know that I lubs you all.

    1. direction

      If these gatherings are still happening next year, perhaps I will be able to make it to one. Would love to sit down face to face with you wonderful folks. I grew up on the East Coast but New York City was a bad scarey place way back when; one did not visit except on business. Nowadays, I’d love a delicious stroll in the Big Apple on a warm evening during summertime.
      Have fun tomorrow everybody,
      Rub elbows for me.

  5. Brindle

    re: Ukraine

    Thanks for the DW (Deutsche Welle) link. I mainly look at the the NYT an Wapo coverage to get a look at the current releases of U.S. govt propaganda.

    The German site generally has a much clearer take:

    —-Supporters of the movement equate the political crisis as larger struggle against political extremism.

    “All of Europe should help us against fascism,” said 73-year-old supporter Vladimir Khachaturian, who says he has very early memories of the Second World War. “And we don’t want more oligarchs who help Kyiv.”—

    1. Cynthia

      There is another dimension here which needs exposure and that is the gullible affirmation and willingness to accept the propaganda pie which is served up to us the public. We gobble it up with relish. We, the public, are complicit in this by our refusal to listen to any other side of the argument. For anyone discerning enough to seek it out, there was convincing information available at the time to convince that the Gulf of Tonkin was fabricated, that there were no WMDs in Iraq, that the poison gas in Syria was probably unleashed by others than Assad, and so it is no surprise to me that Neo-Nazi provocateurs may have touched things off in Ukraine. No matter what the evidence though, the clarion call that “your country needs you to go to war” seems to prevail. It will be our undoing.

  6. notexactlyhuman

    Regarding those exorbitant health insurance deductibles: visit a ‘progressive” site or Facebook page, such as MoveOn, and bring that point up. You will be promptly chastised and informed that those deductibles are basically just there for looks; that they won’t be enforced but in catastrophic circumstances. Shit you not.

      1. notexactlyhuman

        I’ll work on a link when I get home later today. I follow MoveOn on Facebook and comment on their propaganda here and there, and the response I get regarding how the poor and working poor are supposed to pay their deductibles is that the deductibles are irrelevant. I’ve seen the same claim in the comments of several outlets.

      2. notexactlyhuman

        Apologies. I’m still driving and it’s near impossible to scour most websites’ comment sections on mobile devices.

        Whatever day NC posted the article wherein we were told that deductible caps had been tossed is the day I began noticing the dissonance regarding deductibles being irrelevant. Maybe that’ll help is anyone else is perusing for the offending gibber.

    1. ScottW

      I am interested in knowing how the Gov. is going to deal with people who initially qualify for the gov. subsidy, but experience an increase in income mid-year, pushing them above the subsidy threshold. Is there a clawback mechanism? Also, people who make less than anticipated. Can they seek a subsidy for premiums already paid? If the economy improves, more people may find themselves losing subsidies. Finally, depending on the size of a subsidy, families are going to have to think long and hard about increasing their income and losing a subsidy. Once subjected to the “free markets,” private health insurance becomes prohibitively expensive.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        The reckoning will be at tax time. Hence the some 16,000 new IRS agents who will enforce this “healthcare reform.”

        These issues have been discussed here AT LENGTH. Many times. Please tell me that you have not been too busy playing Candy Crush to have noticed.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, the clawback is via your taxes. If you have a refund coming, it will be seized or reduced. It hasn’t been discussed, but lookbacks often apply with the IRS (as in they might be allowed to lookback for what are the still-auditable returns, as in those filed in the last 3 years, and “take” from them, meaning issue a penalty). There’s been some discussion on the Net that there’s no effective enforcement mechanism if you don’t have a refund due but I doubt that that is how it will work in practice.

      3. mellon

        That may look a bit like the “rescission” that the Obama-proxies falsely claimed were banned.

        Retroactive cancellation of benefits and re-billing at the uninsured rate. It will keep wages for the poor down.

        Poor people will learn never to ask for a raise again And serve as horrible examples of what will happen if you do.

        Also it will make it legal to fire older, better paid workers “en-masse” based on the legitimate economics based reason that insurance costs are higher for older workers.

        A “Reasonable Factor Other than Age” or “RFOTA” (or “RFOA”)

        This is one of the many semi-subtle clues which all add up to why I think Obama and the GOP are actually coordinating their plans in private, and not really arguing. Just pretending to argue.

    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      “catastrophic” is a relative term.

      When disease or injury destroys one’s neighbor, physically, financially, and socially, it’s a bad break, and we feel sorry for them. When the same happens to us, it’s catastrophic.

    3. Cynthia

      Just wait until the low-/no- information “beneficiaries” of Obamacare learn what a “deductible” is. What fix will Obama mandate then? After all, he has “habeas pencilus” and “habeas telephonus.”

  7. arby

    The torture story illustrates the banality of evil identified by Arendt. Here is your highly educated, highly esteemed, highly compensated person incapable of critical, moral humanity. And, here in the American Republic, on this evil of torture, he was surrounded by lawyers, generals, congress persons, information analysts, doctors, etc., all equally well educated, esteemed and compensated and all equally incapable of morality.

    1. allcoppedout

      The chilling banality of the Albuquerky cops videoing themselves committing murder? I tended to see academics as banal. You somehow need a smiling brotherhood for banality in my book. The universe is “beige”. Creatures give it colour. I agree Arby, yet somehow doubt banality. The bright-coloured shiny things in our newsrooms are banal.

  8. Cal

    Why are you posting stuff by The Southern Poverty Law Center?
    They have about as much credibility as Stormfront…those guys actually need each other to whip up donations. Glorified ambulance chasers who make money, lots of money, off civil rights.

    “Today, the SPLC spends most of its time–and money–on a relentless fund-raising campaign, peddling memberships in the church of tolerance with all the zeal of a circuit rider passing the collection plate. “He’s the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the civil rights movement,” renowned anti- death-penalty lawyer Millard Farmer says of Dees, his former associate, “though I don!t mean to malign Jim and Tammy Faye.” The Center earned $44 million last year alone–$27 million from fund-raising and $17 million from stocks and other investments–but spent only $13 million on civil rights program , making it one of the most profitable charities in the country.”
    (subscription only) Google some of the text above and you’ll get it free through other sites that post it.

      1. Vatch

        You can get some information about the SPLC from the Charity Navigator web site:

        For the fiscal year ending in October, 2012, they had $256,554,758 in assets. Kinda makes one wonder why they only spent $21,302,321 on their program, when they had revenue of $40,418,368. With $256 MILLION in the bank, they ought to be able to spend 100% of their revenue on program activities, not just 53%. But hey, I’m not an accountant, so there’s probably something I just don’t understand. For example, the web site says that they spent 55.7% on their programs. 21 million / 40 million is 52.5, not 55.7, but I guess they’re using total contributions ( $38,759,765 ) rather than total revenues ( $40,418,368 ) in their calculations. The SPLC earned more than 2 million bucks just from their investments!!!

    1. Trinity River

      Thanks, Cal. I have received Southern Poverty Center’s literature off and on over the years. I have always had an innate feeling that they were a scam but never before had any confirming information.

    2. Jess

      Yep, and the SPLC is famous for branding any person or organization that is against illegal immigration as racist. You can be a rifle-totting white supremacist assassin or simply someone who doesn’t believe that we should let in more people when we don’t have jobs for everybody who is already here, but to the SPLC you’re both racists.

  9. Martskers

    I too went to the ’64 World’s Fair, as a violinist in the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, which was invited to play in one of the performance venues. The highlight of our appearance, though, took place after we played when we got caught in a downpour and I (and the other juvenile male members of the orchestra) got to watch the hemline of one of our more attractive female musicians creep up her legs before our very eyes, since her dress was made of crepe. To our everlasting dismay, though, someone loaned her a raincoat before her modesty was compromised.

  10. fresno dan

    “Apparently bedazzled by the book’s arguments, few reviewers mentioned its assault on the field. Yet Piketty’s disdain is unmistakable, the lament of a scholar long estranged from the mainstream of his profession. “For far too long,” he writes, “economists have sought to define themselves in terms of their supposedly scientific methods. In fact, those methods rely on an immoderate use of mathematical models, which are frequently no more than an excuse for occupying the terrain and masking the vacuity of the content. Too much energy has been and still is being wasted on pure theoretical speculation without a clear specification of the economic facts one is trying to explain or the social and political problems one is trying to resolve.”

    If biologists were economists, research papers would being, “assume the elephant has a can opener….”

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      The minute fiat “money” (in all of it’s infinite glory), is introduced into any equation, the result is the same as any other equation containing infinity: It becomes an exercise in pointlessness (unless self-delusion and pissing into the ocean happen to be your thing, mathematically).

      1. Paul Tioxon

        “If our hypothesis is about anything, and not about some one or more particular things, then our deductions constitute mathematics. Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. People who have been puzzled by the beginnings of mathematics will, I hope, find comfort in this definition, and will probably agree that it is accurate.”

  11. susan the other

    The Jacobin article by A W Gaffney on universal health care in America. Good history, Trying to achieve universal health care has been our march of folly. We have now settled on a health care stalemate. We have wrestled with health care as a human right (our champion) for a long time and come up empty handed. But we have learned one very important thing: health care is extremely lucrative. So much so that our capitalist “economy” will not surrender its claim on every aspect of it. So that now, as before, whoever controls the flow of money gets pretty rich. I’m not hopeful, I’m very disappointed even tho’ I’m too old and cynical to indulge myself in that emotional luxury. So I am now thinking about what happens in a society where injustice runs amok? Blatantly amok. Justice happens because that is all there is left to do. Stand by for the People’s Health Care. Unless politix forestalls it by making it illegal. Remember one thing: all the people have to do is stop using the corrupted system.

    1. mellon

      If you were to make a venn diagram which delineates the countries in all of the world’s free trade agreements- a very great number of them – perhaps more than any other country would include the US. And a great many of those FTAs attempt to use the treaties to gain concessions which the governments of both countries would never be able to get past elected bodies because they are SO unfavorable to the PEOPLE of both nations.. So these free trade agreements have become a way for corrupt officials from different countries can use the cover of FTAs to screw their own people royally. Since as I was saying a great many intersect with the USA, the way that seems to work out on healthcare- particularly drugs, is that in the interests of gaming/getting higher prices from the countries in the developing world, the US- we Americans- seem to be doomed to getting the worst deal of all. Because each of the FTAs is bilateral or multilateral, and apply to both sides.

      This is the dirty secret of US’s recent health reform. It was doomed [before it even started]( by US free trade doctrine which is basically a state religion, with the blindness that implies.

  12. Jess

    In light of the fact that the Geneva Ukraine deal is already falling apart, I think it relevant to re-post what I put up yesterday about the disarmament element of the plan:

    Yeah, I’m waiting for that disarmament of the illegal groups, too. Let’s see:

    – The Neo-Nazis won’t disarm because they want to retain the power to coerce the legislature and whatever devolved/federal entities remain standing when the dust clears.

    – The average people who just want a better country won’t disarm because that would put them at the mercy of both the Russkies and the right wingers, not to mention preventing them from staging some kind of Hungary ’56/Czechoslovia ’68 genuine reform revolt.

    – The pro-Russian groups won’t disarm because they fear the regular folks, the right wingers, and the established military (not to mention whatever “special police” might be reconstituted in the future).

    Yep, this is will go just the way they wrote it up. No doubt.

  13. Hugh

    The Nation post on inequality proposes to end inequality by waging a class war against white males. Good luck with that. I have a thought. If we want to wage a class war for an equitable society, how about waging it against the rich and elites, the creators and maintainers of this inequality?

    The Nation is an organ of Establishment liberalism. It preaches ineffectual reform while defending and/or directing attention away from the system which creates the inequality we are experiencing.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, I thought the piece was bizarre but I didn’t know quite what to say in short form when I linked to it. It was trying to settle old scores on the back of a not really immediately related issue.

    2. JTFaraday

      That post was a little trifle written by another junior achiever. But this:

      “The Nation post on inequality proposes to end inequality by waging a class war against white males. Good luck with that.”

      is definitely not what that post says.

      1. CB

        Yes, I read the Nation piece and sent the link. The premise, that this nation was founded on inequality, is correct. Whatever nits one wants to pick, one can’t argue with the historical record.

  14. BondsOfSteel

    RE: Health Care Spending’s Recent Surge Stirs Unease

    Is it me… or am I the only one that hates going to the doctor? I especially dread the stirrups, the cold office and the paper on the bench, the waiting room full of sick people, the waiting. The whole thing is just dreadful.

    These articles always seem to assume that since people have health insurance that they suddenly will binge on health care. It would actually be a good thing if people started going in and getting yearly pelvic and prostrate exams. The more we spend on the cheap stuff, the less we’ll have to spend on say chemo. I just don’t see it. The huge deductibles make this seem very unlikely to me.

    Even with Obamacare going to the doctor is expensive and sucks.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      A single dose of chemo runs around $10K, from what I have seen. Give a middle- or upper-middle class patient 10 doses (while taking their career and capacity to earn away, if only for the duration of treatment), and they will not survive it, financially. If, under the old system, that patient lost healthcare coverage at any point after their diagnosis, they were barred from coverage at anything less than exorbitant rates. If nothing else, the ACA fixes that.

      That said, the ACA is a pretty bad law/solution to the healthcare dilemma (“dilemma” in this instance meaning a choice between merely obscene “free market” vs. outright pornographic “legally mandated” profits for this “industry”). The incestuous relationship between money and politics resulted in one bastard of a law.

      Preventive care and assessments can catch diseases in their early stages and that practice has resulted in a much higher survival rate for many diseases than there was 20 years ago.

      1. mellon

        Don’t you see the ACA as an attempt to prevent real health care reform? Prop up prices against all odds and common sense, and preserve failing business models essentially unchanged? Also, we should be aware that while the rest of the world’s progress on improving health has been substantial, outcomes in the US have basically almost stagnated or in some areas even been rolled back (as has the legal standard of care) Thats been the goal. Also covering up the fact that the free trade agreements drastically limited any kind of public healthcare sice the 1990s and NAFTA and GATs were signed. Revealing that to the public would make a lot of people’s heads explode because the Democrats like to hint that single payer “might” be in the future. Its a reliable vote stealer. (See “Whats the Matter with NAFTA” pages 8 and 9)

  15. John Merryman

    Interesting conversations.
    I would add three main points about what is wrong with how we view reality.
    1. We look at spirituality backwards. Absolute is basis, not apex, so a spiritual absolute would be the essence from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell. It is just convenient for executive powers to claim the source is top down, so everyone looks up and says, “Whatever.”
    2. Time is backward. It’s not the point of the present moving from past to future, but the changing configuration turns future into past. Tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth turns. This makes time much more like temperature than space. One is frequency and the other is amplitude. Now my experience of life, from micro to macro, is that it is swarming, that it is much more of a thermodynamic medium, with everything as degrees of the same sense of being and that even our sense of self is often multiple subconscious impulses and thoughts and it is our need to focus which makes them line up in a narrative fashion, like frames of a film. So when you look at the history of religion, it started off as animistic. The sense that things are mostly just alive. Remember that at the dawn of civilization, we hadn’t pushed nature back and it really was very much alive. There really wasn’t any aspect of what would have been encountered that wasn’t essentially crawling with life, so it made alot of sense. Then came polytheism, as stories were made about this living nature. Then monotheism, as we looked for a single explanation for it all. To a very real extent, I see the natural and spiritual world as being much more like that thermodynamic medium and essentially polytheistic/animistic, while monotheism is an attempt to put it into a single narrative structure. To take all those living, conscious things, as well as thoughts and ideas and make them go in one direction. The result is we all get going in one direction and build up a lot of energy, but eventually it all comes apart again and is scattered, like the Tower of Babel.
    The last point is that money is a contract, not a commodity. When you think of it as a commodity, it is something to accumulate and store and hold, but if its a contract, the perspective changes entirely. Then it is like water, or air, or a road. You understand it is essential, but using it is a function of balance and letting go, as much as taking on. If people understand it amounts to a promise from the rest of the community and the essential value is therefore dependent on the health of the community, they will much better understand why the way we treat money today, with everyone trying to simply accumulate as much as possible and no sense of proportion, with an economy essentially geared toward producing this capital, as opposed to promoting a healthy society and stable environment, etc. is stupid and counterproductive.

  16. Jackrabbit

    In Cold War Echo, Obama Strategy Writes Off Putin

    So much here that I barely know where to start. The perspective is notable (even if expected by now) – U.S. and Obama himself! I depicted as unquestionably superior and on the moral high ground. But what is really remarkable is the evident haughty petulance of the Obama Administration that gets translated into what can be surmised as an almost incredible policy of Russian regime change. I am no Russian expert but I find it difficult to believe that Putin acts without wide support from Russian oligarchs and govt officials. And I question if China and other countries would join in in any meaningful way (as the article suggests).

    Banger has previously written about how important the NYT can be with regard to policy signals. I believe this qualifies. I also think that the ‘dangerous world’ theme is one that Hillary hopes to make much of in her 2016 campaign.

  17. JTFaraday

    re: “The Divide” TruthDig. On Matt Taibbi’s new book.

    Wow. My local library owns all of MT’s books, and already has the new one on order. Somebody must be a big fan.

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