Links 4/22/14

27 GIFs That Explain How To Survive In New York City Business Insider (Lambert). Fun and accurate. Non-locals not understanding the rules of how to navigate sidewalks makes the natives crazy.

Meaningful Activities Protect the Brain From Depression Atlantic

Physics-exploiting axe splits wood in record time Reader bob, who gave me detailed instructions in the wee hours of the night on how to liberate my cat from behind my overscale bookcase, isn’t buying it:

It’s not an axe. You don’t split wood with an axe, you use a maul or “splitter”.

That thing looks like a wrist injury waiting to happen. I’d be curious to see how well it works after a few loads of wood, for the person swinging it.

It’s also very impractical for the wood that most people split to burn. The good, knot free wood goes off to the mill to be sold as timber. The left over knots are what most people end up burning. Not being able to use a sledge to drive it through a knotted log, because of the hook, kills any use it might have.

Brent Oil benchmark ‘in urgent need of reform’ Telegraph

Exodus of Japan Inc. Slams China Wolf Richter. This is a must read post if you have even a smidge of interest in the Japan/China row.

How Chinese private equity is struggling Financial Times

CSJ: Let China bubble burst MacroBusiness

Death and Anger on Everest Jon Krakauer, New Yorker

Charting Deaths on Mount Everest Atlantic (Lambert)

The Future of Europe: An Interview with George Soros New York Review of Books

Draghi’s Bold Push For Creeping Defaults And Real Wage Cuts (Illustrated With Hilarious Cartoon) Wolf Richter


Ukraine: Poland trained putchists two months in advance (OIFVet)

Ukraine Accord Nears Collapse as Biden Meets Kiev Leaders Bloomberg

US: Russia has ‘days, not weeks’ to follow accord Associated Press. Huh? I think the last time we heard macho talk like that was with Assad….and we know how that movie turned out.

US and Russia trade blame on faltering accord Aljazeera

A war zone without frontlines DW

In Donetsk London Review of Books (Lambert)

With tensions escalating between Gazprom and Naftogaz another suspension of Russian gas supplies to Ukraine cannot be ruled out London School of Economics

Under Russia, Life in Crimea Grows Chaotic New York Times

Only Ukraine Can Make Peace Happen Bloomberg

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The top spook’s stupid gag order Reuters (Howard Beale IV)

Info on Russian Bulk Surveillance Bruce Schneier

Snowden Reportedly Regrets Asking Putin Surveillance Question Reason

Easter egg: DSL router patch merely hides backdoor instead of closing it ars technica (bob). Why you should have only wired routers!

Obamacare Launch

Looking at Costs and Risks, Many Skip Health Insurance New York Times

President Obama said Democrats should run on Obamacare. So, will they? Washington Post

Horse race: Clinton vs. Warren Lambert

you want to know what’s wrong with Common Core? Daily Kos (furzy mouse)

California’s Drought Ripples Through Businesses, Then To Schools NPR

Airbnb pulls over 2,000 sketchy New York City rental listings engadget

I am in the New York Post John Hempton. Be sure to read the comments.

A Chance to Remake the Fed Dave Dayen, American Prospect

Does This Figure Show Why Fed Policy Failed? David Beckworth

Banks Turning To Interactive ATMs To Reconnect Customers With Tellers Consumerist. Who are they trying to kid? This is about reducing the number of tellers in branches and partially replacing them with people in call centers in really low wage areas.

CEO Pay is Perverse and Must be Fixed to Avoid Recurrent Crises Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives

The Biggest Predictor of How Long You’ll Be Unemployed Is When You Lose Your Job FiveThirtyEight

‘Living wage’ inflation Crain’s New York (MacroDigest)

Housing Secretary: “the worst rental affordability crisis that this country has ever known” Daily Kos

Antidote du jour (moss):

seal links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. EconCCX

      Left Forum, May 30 – June 1 NYC, has put up its first list of scheduled panels. Michael Hudson is booked for three; Stephanie Kelton for another. David Cobb is terrific. Panel proposals still being accepted, btw.

      Early bird discounts ending this evening, or possibly you’ve just missed them. Let’s think of a way to identify for a good ol’ NC commenter klatch.

  1. diptherio

    Last call for alcohol (with the lame-o’s who can’t make it to the real meet-up). Fraunces Tavern at 5 pm. 54 Pearl Street. Craazy, I hope you can make it…Jackrabbit, I’ll see you there. Anybody else would be cool too. I’m sure we’ll be hanging for at least a couple of hours, or until I get too drunk to stand up, whichever comes first. Woohoo!

    1. abynormal

      i’ll be there in spirit/s…clink

      “I would like to make a toast to lying, stealing, cheating and drinking. If you’re going to lie, lie for a friend. If you’re going to steal, steal a heart. If your going to cheat, cheat death. And if you’re going to drink, drink with me.”

      and 1 mo ta the rotten sadist:
      “No, I tell you. No, sir! Corruption charges! Corruption? Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations. That’s Milton Friedman. He got a GD Nobel Prize. We have laws against it precisely so we can get away with it. Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why you and I are prancing around in here instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the streets. Corruption is why we win.” Danny Dalton/Syriana

  2. diptherio

    Re: Striking Porters on Everest

    I hope they get everything they are asking for. If there’s one thing Nepalis are really good at, it’s striking. However, I’m not too optimistic, given the chaos and corruption rife within the Nepali government. Those $10,000 climbing fees are currently going to line a number of pockets, and the owners of those pockets aren’t likely to share the wealth unless forced to. Knocking on wood…

    One thing: my friend Ang once explained to me the racism involved in calling climbing porters “sherpas.” Sherpa is an ethnic group, not a job description. It would be like us calling every professional gardener “a mexican.”
    “Who’s that guy out in the garden?”

    “Oh, he’s our new mexican.”

    “Mexican? He’s black.”

    “No, no, you misunderstand: he’s a mexican with a small ‘m’. ”

    You see why that’s insulting? Even if you use the lowercase. Ok, rant over. Jaya hosh to all the Sherpas, Tamangs, Gurungs, Chhetris, (and probably Limbus, Rais, Bahuns, etc) who are striking to improve their working conditions. And to all the foreign climbers: make sure your local support crew is well outfitted, and for Goddess’ sake don’t forget to tip (and do it generously).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think a lot of those owners whose pockets are being lined go to Harvard, Oxford and Yale.

      Perhaps they recycle the money back to the West to generate jobs here. Maybe we should thank them and give them green cards.

  3. dearieme

    “In other words, here’s one way a Warren vs. Clinton contest in 2016 could shape up: A tribal contest …”: a tribal contest? Then you’d have to back the Law Squaw to win that.

  4. Brindle

    re: Ukraine

    From the Bloomberg link:

    —Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said yesterday the U.S. “will move to additional sanctions,” including some on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “cronies” and their companies if pro-Russian forces don’t disarm and give up the buildings they’ve seized. —

    Has Russia stooped to calling out Obama’s “cronies” ?…there certainly would be many candidates.
    It seems that a lot of the U.S. govt P.R. is for internal consumption—to mollify the McCain wing etc., rather than constructive diplomacy.
    Lavrov has been schooling Kerry most of the time.

    BTW, independent British journalist/videographer Graham Phillps has done some of the best work in E. Ukraine in the past few weeks, his twitter feed has been a must read:

    1. Vatch

      Brindle said:

      Has Russia stooped to calling out Obama’s “cronies” ?…there certainly would be many candidates.

      I wish they would. It would help to educate people that oligarchs are in charge everywhere.

    2. Jackrabbit

      Ukraine Accord Nears Collapse . . . – Bloomberg

      “Accord?” Hehe . . . no. Its just farce.

  5. Andrew Watts

    RE: Snowden Reportedly Regrets Asking Putin Surveillance Question

    This incident doesn’t really change anything. Snowden should just leave the politics to the politicians. In the short term he is going to receive the Clapper treatment from the media.

      1. Andrew Watts

        True. For political reasons I’d rather play dumb and attack the NSA’s efforts despite how similar they are to other intelligence agencies. I don’t expect foreign countries to respect US laws or civil rights in these matters. They also have more money than anybody else making them far more dangerous.

  6. Andrew Watts

    RE: The top spook’s stupid gag order

    Yeah, there’s no way this could possibly backfire. On the other hand, during the thick of the Edward Snowden drama Michael Hayden wrote an Op-Ed for CNN that told the world that Snowden had gained intel from NSANET. There were also various other leaks from anonymous officials that seemed incredibly reliable at the time. They were probably considered ill-advised in the eyes of the Obama Administration.

    Another explanation is that the NSA’s public relations department (“Gahaha!”) wants to control the media narrative. When people like Stewart Baker say that 9/11 was caused by the FISC’s illegal concern for civil liberties it doesn’t exactly portray the intelligence community in a flattering light.

    Why our spooks are forbidden from talking about declassified material to “any person… engaged in the collection, production, or dissemination to the public of information in any form related to topics of national security….” is mysterious. That language is so broadly worded it could apply to just about anyone.

    Unfortunately for them they’ll never stop Agent Maxwell Smart from shooting his mouth off. Or whatever else happens to be within range.

    1. abynormal

      yep, it always ends the same too…

      “I’m someone who’s made his mark.”
      ~Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

        1. abynormal

          the context for my quote is the bodily harm or death that follows.
          i remember a story i got so scared i forgot the title & author….in one scene an innocent uninformed brother of a spook, being held captive, had to check a mark for a tape…step by step i smelt the brothers fear. removing a brick from a wall took 5 pages. probably a le Carre or some such horror writer…seriously nothing scares/spooks me more.

        2. abynormal

          i was going to type H/T all the ‘real’ brothers in arms…but i found myself thinking about ole Valerie Plame last week. i’ll never phantom the level of treachery. for me, she drove home the ‘if’ in Life. so…H/T sisters too.

          1. optimader

            There are several people that by all rights should be serving federal time–Armitige, Libby and probably others.
            Then there are those that VPlame should have been granted, as a minimum civil settlement, “immunity from prosecution” if she so chose to beat the crap out of them with a stick, including Cheney, Rove, Novak, and probably others….

        3. Andrew Watts


          Exactly. This directive is going to cause some significant morale problems for quite a few people within the community. What do these public relations people know about the work that’s being done? We can safely assume that all we’ll hear is lies and propaganda. When we’re given a shred of truth the possibility exists that they’ll receive the benefit of the doubt in other matters.


          That level of treachery is far too common in that line of work. If the NSA had any involvement with the production of the Heartbleed exploit than they effectively played a role in compromising the US Treasury Department, FBI, and possibly the CIA. By law if this was a joint operation with GCHQ the NSA would not be compelled to disclose to anybody that they were behind it.

  7. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Looking at Costs and Risks, Many Skip Health Insurance

    Not having insurance has also carried a price. A bout of diverticulitis, an intestinal inflammation, left him with a $1,100 medical bill last fall. He stretches his blood pressure medicine, taking it “exactly half as often as I’m supposed to,” and pays out of pocket when he sees his internist.

    Conspicuously left unmentioned: Had Mr. Huber bought “insurance,” he would, most likely, still have been left with the $1,100 medical bill since he would need to satisfy his deductible before insurance paid any of his “healthcare” bills. His monthly tribute to the insurance company would simply have made it even harder to come up with the money for the actual “healthcare.”

    As for his BP meds, from what I understand, insurance companies have successfully lobbied for drug costs not applying against the deductible in some/all cases. So no help there.

    Risk/reward is a mighty interesting concept sometimes.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Here’s a great blog post about the existential absurdity of dealing with Nancy Pelosi’s troubled love child, Covered California.

      With foolish bravado, the author attempted to upgrade from Bronze to Silver. After investing dozens of hours navigating the painstaking procedural hurdles, he only succeeded in getting his coverage canceled entirely.

      It’s enuff to make you sick …

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Getting sick while losing your coverage, all in an attempt to get better coverage?

  8. arby

    Mr Beckworth informs that Abenomics is a great success in the course of his assessment of federal reserve policy. With income falling for working people in Japan for years and costs of basic items essential to daily life rising for years, one is puzzled by the conclusion of great success. Surely, it is not the rising tide that is sinking so many little boats in the land of the Rising Sun. One puzzles over an analysis so divorced from the world as it is and policies whose consequences have been so obviously deleterious to the hopes and aspirations of the vast majority of people while skyrocketing the fortunes of so few.

  9. David Lentini

    Common Core Another Obama Corporatist Sell-Out

    Yves and Lambert,

    I was really happy to see (finally) some coverage on the Common Core. I started looking into this as a member of my local school board herein Maine last summer. As I read more, it became clear that Common Core is turning out to be another Obama administration exercise in corporatist privatizing of a public service. In fact, as I explained in this Portland Press Herald op-ed, Common Core is really just the tip of the ice berg. The real game all along has to been to create a national curriculum and education system that is run by the large software and testing companies through the U.S. Department of Education.

    In short, the Common Core was only a part of a bigger game foisted on the states by Arne Duncan. Under the real deal, the USDOE gave waivers under the insane NCLB performance requirements and offered a change for Race to the Top money to a state if the state agreed to (1) adopt the Common Core State Standards (“CCSS”) by signing an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Common Core State Stanadards Organization; (2) join either the SMARTER Balanced Testing Consortium (“SBAC”) or the PARCC by signing an MoU; and (3) agree to use testing results in the evaluation of teacher performance. The combination of factors, especially the data collection (as in Big Data) that is required under the CCSS and testing consortiums (data which, as New Yorkers found out, was extremely intrusive in student and family privacy and would be owned privately as well as shared with the USDOE without permission), would esentially force a national curriculum on the public schools (and many private schools too).

    In addition, the structure of the standards makes it clear that another aspect of the “CCSS” is to reduce teaching to little more than classroom monitoring. The standards are designed as a data structure to provide numerical “evaluations” of the most minute steps of each lesson under the Standards. That’s probably why Daily Kos is confused about the length of time needed to teach the lessons. My wife, who teaches in a middle school, told me that the teachers have to provide a numerical score for each element of the standards for each child. And of course, all of the high stakes SBAC and PARCC testing is computerized. Here is the big payoff for Silicon Valley—the sale of software, hardware, and services to schools to handle and evaluate all of this data, and ultimately deliver the tests and lessons.

    The big push has been from Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation, which by some estimates has spent nearly $2 billion to fund various groups to produce the standards, tests, and software, and “support” (read: buy-off) various interest groups including the two major national teachers unions. The other big push is from the USDOE, especially Arne Duncan, who wants to create a national data base covering children from pre-K through their working years as part of globalized workforce infrastructure. (I know that sounds like tin-foil hat time, but the evidence is there.)

    I hope you keep on this story. Here in Maine, I’m part of No Common Core Maine, which is fighting to stop CCSS. We’re a mix of political and social philosophies—I’m a Green in a sea of Tea Partiers, mainstream GOP, and Independents. But we share the same fear and hatred of a corporatized public education that divides the < 1% from everyone else. (And the CCSS is conspicuously absent from the Web sites of the fanciest private schools in the U.S.)

    1. Clive

      Ironic isn’t it that so many High School and College drop-outs want to tinker with education ? Like Shrek said of Lord Farquaad, do you think they’re maybe trying to compensate for something ?

      I’m not sure if we’re better of here in the UK than you folks in the US; our current crop of wonderful leaders are products of the elite class and as such “benefited” from non-state education and look down on the state sector for that reason. But funnily enough, their “fix” for the “issues” in state education are the same — an attempt to move to an industrialised, privatised measure-everything target-driven regime.

      So same old looting, just with a different motivation/ideology.

      1. David Lentini

        Agreed. I’ve been loosely following Mr. Gove’s circus in the Guardian and Independent for some time now. And I’m not at all sure this similarity to Obama and Arne Duncan isn’t completely by chance. This business of a “global workforce” is even stronger in the UK that in the US from what I can tell. And the longer the public ignore this cultural rape, the more it will continue and the worse it will get. These reformer folks are like zombies.

      2. jrs

        Well those who drop out are by definition those who were served poorly by the system (those who “win” by the systems rules are never those who are served poorly by it). Asking why those who are well served by the school system aren’t the one’s who wish to reform it is like asking why it’s mostly not rich people upset about income inequality. It’s pretty obvious.

        And that’s not to endorse any particular reform (the cure can be worse than the disease), it is just saying the U.S. school system has long poorly served a lot of people.

    2. Ken Nari

      Don’t have time right now to track down the source, but I distinctly remember — or else my memory is failing — Reagan’s Secretary of Education, William Bennet, saying in an interview his goal was to destroy public education in the U.S.

      So far the plan is right on track.

      “In 2011, neoliberal President Obama with support from Bill Gates, Rupert Murdock (and other billionaires that include the Walton family and the Koch brothers) implement Common Core standards that leads to testing in 2014 that is designed to fail teachers and schools so the public schools may be legally labeled failures, closed, all teachers fired, and then corporations will take over teaching our children—taking all power away from parents and the democratic process, and these new private schools supported by the taxpayer will not be accountable to the people.” (From Crazy Normal — the Classroom Exposé)

      This is the first I’ve heard of No Common Core Maine. Let’s help it grow.

      1. dandelion

        The other issue is just what Common Core teaches. A friend who is now having to teach Common Core tells me that the teaching of reading in Common Core includes NO fiction reading whatsoever. Students learn to read by reading newspaper and magazine articles and are tested on how well they’ve taken in the content. No poetry; no short stories; no novels.

        Without any reading of fiction, you’ll never develop children who love to read. And without that, you’ll have lesser ability to empathize and lesser ability to dream and imagine.

        It’s not just the profit margin. It’s a true escalation in the automated creation of cogs for the machine.

        1. jrs

          One probably benefits from having some fiction exposure, however as soon as I got out of the school systems, I dedicated my reading to non-fiction, because I thought my education taught me absolutely nothing about the actual world. Shocking I know ..

      2. Ronald Pires

        Way back in the early 80s, right after Reagan got his first tax cut, I heard some loony right winger (probably an early think tanker) on a radio interview gloating about how wonderful it was, and how now it was time to do the same at the state level. His interviewer immediately had the same thought as I did; how to do this on the state level when property taxes were the largest burden there, and they were largely dedicated to public schooling. No, the right winger corrected us, that wasn’t a problem at all because they intended to defund public schooling entirely. What a quack, I thought. The people would never put up with anything as crazy as that.

        1. jrs

          And of course by that time Prop 13 had already passed in California, so it wasn’t even a prediction.

      1. David Lentini

        Agreed. I’ve been very impressed with the folks I’ve met here. I think too a big factor is that most Mainers I’ve met, regardless of party affiliation, really believe in local government and fair play.

        I hope you and Yves will keep an eye on this issue. I’m happy to help.

      2. Klassy

        One day on the crawl there was a statement about Michelle Obama calling for restrictions on junk food advertising in the schools. It was one of those things that you read, don’t really think about, and then it hits you just how f***ed things are. At the highest levels of government It is just accepted that advertising in schools is OK as long as the the products don’t contain sugar.
        Probably more than “OK”. Encouraged.

  10. Jim Haygood

    ‘Who will progressives demand this time to represent their interests at the Fed?’ — David Dayen

    Wrong question, Dave. There’s nothing progressive about a bank cartel with an unlimited public credit line, regardless of who sits on its board.

    Central planning of interest rates (and bailouts of brain-dead pigcos such as Citibank) is value subtraction writ large, whether it’s done by pinstriped banksters or soi-disant ‘progressives.’

    Abolish the freaking Fed …

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Remaking the Fed – that sounds like something a housing flipper would do.

      Just give it a new coat of paint.

      A real builder would tear it down and convert it into a community garden…in this case, an office to process Money Creation via the Little People spending it into existence.

    2. Benedict@Large

      Whatever. You have to have a lender of last resort. If you don’t, you end up like Europe.

      1. jrs

        The lender of last resort is not the main function of the Fed. Money creation is (and yes all money creation via the Fed is via debt).

      2. F. Beard

        Common stock as private/endogenous money requires no lender of last resort, nor government deposit insurance nor any other government privileges.

        But why would any company share when it can legally steal purchasing power by virtue of it’s so-called credit worthiness?

        Banks should be 100% private with 100% voluntary depositors. Anything else is government for the rich (fascism).

  11. roadrider

    RE: Looking at Costs and Risks, Many Skip Health Insurance

    Well I am in this particular boat, mainly because I’m also in this one:

    “The Biggest Predictor of How Long You’ll Be Unemployed Is When You Lose Your Job ”

    I had COBRA coverage for $438/month. Last week I got a letter from my former employer telling me that due to a provision in the ACA my premiums could now be based on my age (58) and as a result my premiums would be raised to $850/month. This is somehow related to an exemption for small (< 50 employees) businesses. Since I didn't receive notice of this until well after the open enrollment period ended its unclear to me whether I can even attempt to purchase another policy (couldn't get a straight answer out of the Maryland Health Exchange). And even if I could, the grossly overpriced junk insurance policies available through the exchange aren't much of an improvement over my new COBRA rates. No matter how you slice it I'm looking at spending $7000 – $10000/yr in premiums, deductibles and cost sharing if I want coverage. At a time when I have no income and apparently (according to my own experience and Nate Silver's data) little prospect of obtaining any in the near future this is clearly not "affordable".

    Yes, I could qualify for Medicaid. But there are two enormous downsides. First, I'm currently being treated for two conditions that require specialist care. I'm very concerned about the availability of specialists and the quality of care with Medicaid. Second, since I'm over 55, every penny Medicaid spends on me (including premiums paid to the managed care organization) will be subject to federally mandated estate recovery. Furthermore, according to the Maryland Health Exchange Medicaid may be my only choice since I have no current income (they were also completely clueless about the estate recovery issue).

    Thanks Obama, Obama-bots (especially Krugman and the shills on the Obama Cheerleading Channel MSNBC) and Democrats. I’m really enjoying your cruel, neoliberal dystopia.

    1. Brindle

      ….”neoliberal dystopia”…..but I feel so much better knowing Rachel Maddow is there to give that gleeful-sneering look she has perfected when talking about “dwoze evul stoopid republicans” or to revel in Joan Walsh’s skill in protecting the flabby rear haunches of the Dem Party.

    2. lambert strether

      I wonder how many more are in your position; a million or two, I would imagine. Unfortunately for us all, ObamaCare’s complexity makes it almost impossible to know for sure (feature, not bug). And didn’t you know that any problem at all with ObamaCare is a Republican horror story and, ipso facto, not true?

      1. roadrider

        Yes, you’re correct – no one in or out of government seems to know anything about the fine details of the law except those who are exploiting it to shift the risk and expense of sickness and injury onto consumers (a feature of the ACA – not a bug) and those of us who are being impacted. None of the government agencies I’ve contacted can even tell me if what my former employer is doing is, in fact, legal or if I have any recourse.

      2. kareninca

        Whenever I give a “certain sort” of liberal an example of something horrible happening to someone because of Obamacare, their reaction is to say brightly, “Oh, that problem will be fixed.” That is their answer. They are not willing to look closely, and see how badly individual humans are being treated (and how the damage cannot later be remedied), or what disasters are coming down the pike for other actual individual humans. And they claim/believe that some kindly person in authority will “fix” these little glitches. It is a really sick, distorted view.

    3. Benedict@Large

      I’m on Medicaid (in Florida) and being treated for a severe illness. While there’s been a few glitches, my care has been quite good, and I’ve mostly been pleased with my doctors. If you can get on Medicaid, I’d say, go for it. I’m alive right now because of it.

      1. kareninca

        Bendict, are you for real, or are you just someone being paid to troll chirpy fake Medicaid experiences?

        It is very irresponsible to tell someone to go on Medicaid, without first telling them to check to see if their state’s Medicaid program will truly provide the specialty care they need, in the time frame that is medically required. Many may not; there have been a million horror stories over the years about kids on Medicaid not being able to get specialists (and now that there will be loads of adults on Medicaid, why shouldn’t it happen to adults, too)? Saying that you had a good experience at some location in Florida (even if it is true), means nothing at all to someone in Maryland.

        Also, how old are you? Did you have any money when you went on Medicaid? Do you ever expect to earn any? Inherit any? Do you have any kids? Why are you not addressing the clawback provisions, when they obviously matter to roadrider? The fact that you just ignore the topic looks very strange.

    4. kareninca

      roadrider, I have been obsessing over your post for hours. I am so sorry that you are in this situation. Obviously I have no answers that are truly good. The best I have been able to come up with is an ultra-cynical “a la Zerohedge” type of answer (I’m afraid that site matches my temperament too well) – but I think it does make sense in a desperate situation.

      Okay, the first question is whether you can afford to self-pay for the specialist treatment you need, if you drop the COBRA. We have a family friend who has lacked health insurance for many years, and has always managed to cut some sort of deal. I’m assuming that you don’t see this as possible, however you really could check to be sure. Doctors love cash patients; they will often give them great prices.

      Medicaid is, like you say, usually a terrible option for people who need specialists (and of course there is the estate claw-back). Are you able to get any details about whether your present doctors take Medicaid patients? Whether they will be taking any new ones? Can any of the nurses or receptionists in their offices tell you? Or tell you if they know if other doctors in that specialty in the area who do? Can you find anyone who has ever left Medicaid, after being on it, who can tell you how that worked???

      Okay, so assuming those things don’t work, the thing to do to obtain an “income” if you can’t get a job – enough of an income to afford the COBRA and avoid Medicaid, and after COBRA ends low enough so that you can get a subsidized Obamacare policy (perhaps a “good” one, or perhaps a cheap catastrophic one that you supplement with self-paid treatments), you need to go back to school and take out loans. In today’s WSJ there is a good general article about the forgiveness programs, and what a truly small percentage of income (after graduation) you need to actually pay, and at what point the loans are totally forgiven (ten years if you work for a nonprofit or the government; 20 years if the private sector). You are now allowed to take out student loans for all sorts of non-tuition items; people take them out for medical care and policies and (if I have read correctly) they are not at all breaking any laws. Unlike most people who do this, you could even go back to school in something that will help your job prospects (a lot of people just do it for the temporary income). There is presently no upper limit you can borrow and have forgiven, but that may change (after the elections, naturally), so you might need to act fast.

      So this buys you time, even several years, and then you have to give up a small percentage of your income each paycheck (assuming you get a job afterwards). Sometimes buying time is the best option.

      I guess that as a Zero Hedge style ending, I should suggest that no matter what path you take, you should use any money you manage to save to buy gold, and bury it for your heirs. Haha.

      1. roadrider

        Hi kareninca!

        Sorry I haven’t replied until now as I have not been monitoring this thread for a while (a little matter of Yankees-Red Sox and Rangers-Flyers).

        Can I afford the specialist care out of pocket? Well, that all depends. If it ends up being less than the $7-10K I would be paying under an Obamacare policy (which I probably can’t get anyway as per your next post and what I was able to find out) it might be doable. The problem is that I have no way of knowing if things will take a turn for the worse and expose me to much higher costs than I would face even buying a junk policy from the Exchange. That said, I am being seen at the NIH for as part of a clinical trial for one of my conditions. I have some additional diagnostic work scheduled for this week and should have a better idea of what my short term costs might be in a couple of weeks. Its also possible that I could obtain all of my care from the NIH for that condition. For the other condition, I am being considered for participation in a clinical trial by my specialist but I don’t know yet if I will qualify. If so, my costs for that specialist and the required medications would be very manageable. I have not yet checked on whether my doctors participate in Medicaid but that should be easy to find out (I have much more difficult research to do on this before I get to that one).

        As far as going back to school and taking out loans that would be a very poor investment for someone in my age group. I do believe in lifetime learning but at my stage of life its much more for avocation than with the expectation of getting a job that would recoup the investment. If I can’t get a job doing what I’m really good at and have a record of more than a quarter of a century of solid progressive achievement in (in other words not 1 year of experience repeated 25 times) there’s little possibility of me being hired for something new. No one is hiring nearly 60-year old rookies in any field.

        I’ll probably end up playing the float – that is the 30-day grace period allowed for making the first COBRA payment under the new plan. If I get a job before then its all good. If not I’ll probably have to bite the bullet and do the Medicaid thing at some point but I might play the odds for a bit before I do that (you can enroll at any time unlike buying the private policies).

        Thanks for your interest in my posting and your advice.

        1. kareninca

          roadrider, that is very good re the clinical trials. Your location (combined of course with your high level of education and initiative and ability to drive to places) is giving you an option that had not occurred to me. Most people are far from places like the NIH (I know some trials are done all over, but not as many), but if you re nearby that is fantastic.

          I wasn’t recommending going back to school as a method of lifetime learning, or as a way of getting a better/any job. I was recommending it as a way to survive for a few years while getting badly needed medical care – the idea being that the loan forgiveness programs would make the debt far less burdensome afterwards than you might expect. In fact I don’t think it would lead to a job. Nothing to do with you; it’s just that there are going to be very very few decent jobs.

          I hope things go well for you, and that if you do go the Medicaid route you are able to get what you need and supplement it with clever things like clinical trial treatment. Best wishes!!!!

    5. kareninca

      roadrider, this is from the Kaiser Family foundation website (naturally it is bad news):

      “I have COBRA and am finding it difficult to afford, but Open Enrollment is over. Can I drop my COBRA and apply for non-group coverage outside of Open Enrollment?

      No, voluntarily dropping your COBRA coverage or ceasing to pay your COBRA premiums will not trigger a special enrollment opportunity. You will have to wait until you exhaust your COBRA coverage or until the next Open Enrollment (whichever comes first) to sign up for other non-group coverage.”

      I realize that this doesn’t specifically address the question of whether it is relevant that your COBRA premium has suddenly spiked.

      1. roadrider

        Yeah, no surprise there. They actually can grant you special dispensation if they’re so inclined but its nothing I would count on and I don’t think the policies are affordable in any case.

  12. optimader

    RE:27 GIFs That Explain How To Survive In New York City Business Insider (Lambert).

    Amusing, most apply to any big city.. ( except the NYC garbagebags on the street = huge urban planning fail). Missed the don’t stop two abreast to lookup at a tall building

    Here’s a great all-season drive anywhere/park anywhere you want vehicle– just paint UN in big black letters on each side.
    Pinzgauer 710K

  13. James Levy

    The last line of the article on Japan ceasing to invest in China is the Achilles Heel of all conventional reflation schemes: Japanese corporations aren’t even pretending to invest the Abe easy money in Japan. Lowering interest rates at home is just a license for corporations and banks to gobble it up and reinvest it elsewhere. Without control of money transfers, low interest rate, easy money strategies are doomed to fail. And the idea of such controls is so far outside the acceptable limit of discourse today it isn’t even funny.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s a global village.

      That’s why a corporation can out-grow GDP (of it’s home country), not just for a short while, but for quite a long time, if, that corporation can get growth from abroad.

      A competitive company in a small country, say, Andorra, can outgrow Andorra’s GDP, for quite a while, if it gets its growth from, say, America.

  14. Ron

    The latest event on Mt. Everest is a shock to the every widening exotic world wide travel industry that promotes tourism to the wealthy class or anyone that can pay for a short thrilling experience that they can talk about at the latest social gathering. I have lost track of the endless locations and trips my wealthy friends continue to take and other friends with modest incomes going on the once in a lifetime trip to country X and returning via luxury cruise. Visiting rural or extoic locations have become a necessary life experience for proof just attend a middle or upper class gathering and mention that you have not traveled to Europe or HK . World wide travel locations offer endless activities for hunting, fishing, walking, running, sight seeing, food its endless and many that can afford these trips have become trip junkies always looking for the next trip or cruise.

    The economic benefit to local rural locations from world wide travel seems to be positive on the surface but I have the feeling that it benefits the few and does little to provide living wages to locals but it does provide big revenue for building ships and planes and economic grease for world wide travel that supports Western trip organizers and travel agents rather then a significant boast to local economies.
    While I have never enjoyed Disneyland I have come to realize it does offer society the benefit of giving people a thrill without destroying local faraway culture’s and herds the thrill seekers into specific venues.

    1. bob

      All they do on vacation, from what I’ve noticed, is talk about work, and how hard they work.

      I never wanted anything to do with climbing Mt. Everest until I heard about the porters revolt last year. I would buy a ticket to throw rocks at eurotrash clinging to the side of a mountain.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Not just Euro-trash, but a lot of European-wannabe trash, as well.
        The Japanese in late 19th century/early 20th century, the first thing (or almost the first thing) after learning from ,Europeans, was to desire colonies, in Manchuria, Hokaiido, Korea, Pacific and other parts of Asia, like the Dutch, the Spaniards, the Portuguese, Russians etc. And you see Japanese climbers in Nepal these days too.

        Perhaps driven by display too unique a culture to assimilate by China, Taiwanese are discovering, like many European and American economic hegemons, their own cute, exotic ‘little people,’ the aborigines whose ancestors first populated many, many islands in the Pacific. And yet, as far as I know, nothing in their school textbooks about how these people were robbed, like many indigenous people in the last 500 years in Africa, Australia, the Americas, and elsewhere, of their homes and ways of life, by the majority Han people. Certainly, these in control over don’t talk of returning the island to the aborigines, many live in mountains, when not absorbed by the Han people in the plains, just, by the way, like all the minorities all over southern China. And yes, you see Taiwanese climbers over there as well.

        ‘They imitate imperialism, (European, Chinese, or whatever other versions) very well.’

        1. bob

          I think eurotrash is like the eurodollar– not limited to Europe, quite possibly the root of all evil, and based in london.

    2. lambert strether

      D’où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous….

      * * *

      When I travel, one of my favorite things to do is figure out local system of public transport. And if I’m in a place where I can’t overhear any English at all I couldn’t be happier. That’s actually my modus operandi on this continent, too, but never mind that.

      1. optimader

        one of my favorite things to do is figure out local system of public transport.

        as for me, while simultaneously hunting up the best local bakery and butchershop/deli.

    3. jrs

      Or if you can’t stomach Disneyland (I can’t) they could visit the national parks (they haven’t sold them yet).

      1. ron

        National Parks offer great central locations to herd the tourist crowds both local and visitors from other countries. Keeping the tourist confined to Disneyland and National Parks makes the most sense!.

  15. Klassy

    Thomases: Piketty and Friedman
    The Wall Street Journal joins in the Pikettyrama with their review of Capital in the Twenty- First Century.
    The reviewer, Daniel Shuchman, described as a NY fund manager, seems particularly troubled by the fact that Piketty turned to Austen and Balzac to undergird his argument.
    What’s wrong with that? Why is a novelist any worse a source for describing the problems of the economy than your typical CEO. Who do you think has a clearer view of the whole picture?
    Now, I haven’t read Capital (I do have it on reserve from the library, and who knows? –Maybe I will actually read it.) But, I have read Pere Goriot which figures in Capital, or so I’ve read. I have a passage that I underlined and I did indeed think of that writer of several (designed to keep you an idiot) guides to globalism, Tom Friedman, when I read it:

    I shall succeed! he said to himself. So says the gambler; so says the great captain; but the three words that have been the salvation of some few, have been the ruin of many more.”

    But I suppose that was before 4G wireless and twitter. It’s different now.

    1. Vatch

      I don’t have my copy of A Companion to Marx’s Capital in front of me, but I remember reading that Marx planned to do a study of Balzac’s writings. This is mentioned here:

      Engels and Karl Marx took a keen interest in Balzac – their lifetimes overlapped. The economist David Harvey says in his book, The Companion to Marx’s Capital, that Marx had aimed to write a study of La Comédie Humaine after he had written Capital. You can see why.

        1. Vatch

          Yes, it’s the book by David Harvey (I meant to say that in my post, but I guess I forgot). It helps to clarify things. I haven’t read the whole book by Harvey, though — I’ve jumped around, a bit like Winston Smith when he was reading the book by Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984. Sometimes I let myself be diverted by escapist books with space ships and strange aliens.

          Harvey’s book just covers the first volume of Capital. He has a sequel about Marx’s second volume.

          1. lambert strether

            But isn’t Volume III (M-M’) really the most relevant to the present day? (Just relying on scraps of memory here, feel free to correct)

            1. Vatch

              Beats me. I’ve only read small portions of volume I. I jumped into this thread because I knew a bit of Balzac/Marx trivia.

    2. Wayne Reynolds

      When you get to Capital, I recommend following along with the David Harvey lectures on YouTube. They are very helpful, especially in the grueling first three chapters.

        1. Paul P

          Volume I is not so hard, but it is not a mystery novel.
          It requires some work.
          Later in Volume I, Marx gets into descriptions of how capitalism developed. These historical chapters are easier and fascinating. I recently read for the second time the Chapter, The Working Day. I didn’t think I could be shocked by descriptions of working conditions, after all, I had read the Chapter before.
          But, this time it got to me more than it did before. Capital is a great read.

    1. bob

      That’s a neat one. There are a few different sliding/dropping wedge types out there.

      But, your wedge will pass entirely though a log. The “new” one won’t. It’s designed not to. How many times do you have to bang the wedge entirely through the log before it splits? Not possible with the “new” one. Also, check out the price.

      1. lambert strether

        I agree. The first thing I wanted to know about when I watched that YouTube was the quality of the wood. From the pitch of the sound of the axe, it was well seasoned. But one splits the wood in order to season it. (Actual users of the axe please correct.)

        1. evodevo

          I agree with Bob – as a long time splitter (40 years) of wood by hand – there is no way that gadget would split oak or elm. And my arthritic wrists are screaming just looking at that video. I’d say he’s splitting some kind of very brittle, light wood – never would work on my wood lot species. I’ll take my old maul, thank you very much.

  16. Paul Niemi

    Thanks for the links on China. I’ve been absorbed by this topic of late, mainly because I think all the money the West has poured into China is no longer there, and the impact of the bubble bursting will be felt around the world. Here’s an analogy: How do you know when a farm is going broke? The farmer (China) may be driving a new pickup, but a closer look reveals that his account at the co-op for feed and seed (the US, South America) is in arrears, and they want cash now. Likewise, he’s in a dispute with the farm equipment dealer (Japan). He has cut off free water to uncle Dick’s trailer (North Korea), and he is talking to bankers all the time about getting loans (hot money). Money he has borrowed has gone right back out the door (oil). All the while, he’s paying tuition for his spendthrift son (corrupt officials), and had to borrow against momma’s jewelry (gold). He’s expecting the price of his crops will go up, but it isn’t happening (exports). His wife lost her temper the other day (riots), and a check bounced (bank runs). His new banker is talking about tapering (QE).

  17. Carolinian

    Ukraine/ Interesting stuff. Thnx for link.

    Meanwhile the NY Times is ramping up their “I know you are but what am I?” counter accusations re Russian meddling and the “green men.” More on this

    Of course the Times story may be true, but that doesn’t alter the fundamental bias which applies to almost all American media coverage. Which is to say a failure to address how Ukraine is even remotely any of our business.

    1. AdamK

      Voltaire web site:
      Especially the comment if Israeli soldiers camouflaged in maidan square with no evidence what so ever, seem to me closer and more affiliated with the Ukrain antisemitism forced. Have enough open mind to listen to logical interpretations, but not ones who taste and smell of antisemitism.

    2. Banger

      I saw the NYT story in question got picked up by the Comedy Central mandarins where people on the “left” seem to get their news. My wife loves sarcasm so she watches the Daly Show and Colbert which she watches for yucks and I watch to see the current Democratic Party line. These news outlets are all propaganda and more illiterate than most people think. Stewart, for example, is as pseudo intellectual as Bill O’Reilly. Colbert is much smarter than either one but still stays with the Democratic Party line.

      1. OIFVet

        I gave up on Stewart when he announced his “Rally to restore sanity” and spouted inane drivel about “compromises”, as if one can compromise with lunatics or about policies that destroy basic human rights. I haven’t looked back since, but it appears that nothing has changed.

    3. bwilli123

      Contrary opinion from a Finnish weapons expert
      “…It appears as Nato’s analysts have hard time telling a modern Russian issue small arms from Ukrainian issue Soviet-era plum clubs, and those pictures contain Mr Silencer and Mr Airsofter from Crimea and Mr Criminal from Chechnya.
      As you can read from our story published three days ago, both Gen Breedloves’s analysis and these pictures are as vapor clouds of evidence of Russian involvement as “Iraq’s WMDs identified by intelligence experts” – which Mr Gordon, along with Ms Miller, notoriously promoted in NYTimes during those dark days of 2002…”

      …”To continue, the weapons they carry are primarily ex-Soviet, Ukrainian army and security forces issue. Rest of the equipment is clearly commercial or western surplus. That is exactly the kind of materiel that Ukrainian civilians would be likely to get their hands on in large numbers…”

      1. OIFVet

        Thank you for the link. It is amazing how fast US propaganda gets debunked these days. The propaganda has become shriller, sloppier, and most of all it has become so divorced from reality that it lacks even rudimentary appearance of plausibility. As to the NYTimes, it has become as laughable as Pravda used to be to those of us who were born in Eastern Europe.

        1. Synopticist

          Yeah, sloppy propaganda is just about it, these days. Surprisingly poor, and people are catching on.

        2. Henry

          No objections to the information linked to by bwilli123 (not that I’m an expert in the field), but talking about divorcing from reality, how about linking to the Poland/Ukraine article by a *9/11 truther*?

  18. Garrett Pace

    Why Costco Pays More than Other Chains

    Because, apparently, only they can? Wonderful quote:

    But not all companies can charge customers more without driving them away, Saltsman argues.

    “If McDonald’s could raise burger prices by 40% without losing customers, it would have done so already,” he writes. “But customers are price sensitive.”

    The statement “If McDonald’s could raise burger prices by 40% without losing customers, it would have done so already” is factually true, only without any suggestion of increase in pay or benefits for employees.

    In the race to the bottom, it’s exhilirating when you start to pick up momentum.

    1. Klassy

      2000 dollars profit per employee implies there is more wiggle room for a raise than the article indicates.
      You could also say “a rise in the minimum wage will not necessarily lead to a price increase because customers are price sensitive.”

    2. Ed S.

      What is galling is that McDonalds and the rest are really saying is this:

      Our business model can no longer produce the desired returns without government subsidized labor. If we were to lose that subsidy and were required to bear the full cost of labor, our returns and our stock price would decline to reflect those reductions.

      Asking us to bear the full costs of production without government subsidezed labor is a socialistic interference in the market economy and free enterprise.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Meaningful activities…prevent depression.

    With that, we realize we have to aim higher than living wage and job guarantee. We need something like GDP sharing and Money Creation via the Little People spending it into existence.

    Being guaranteed a boring spot, as an easily replaceable part, in the Machine, paid at a little bit higher than the minimum wage is not mentally healthy.

    ‘Oh, but you can survive on that money. Stick to cheap, sorry, stick to affordable processed GM foods and you can find meaning in the fact that you are feeding and supporting your family. That’s meaningful. Much more meaningful than talking about taxing the 0.01%, the super-rich. Remember, you mustn’t talk about taxing the super rich. That’s bad for the ‘economy’ – it’s the economy, stupid… Remember these Pavlovian words, sorry, forget I say Pavlovian. Just remember these words, economy, growth, jobs, inflation and no-taxing-the-super-rich.’

  20. allcoppedout

    I’m too depressed to read the reasons why. Of course doing things for others is great. We have money because they forget and don’t reciprocate the gift. Money is only necessary because of free-riding nerks. Now money depresses us rather than favours forgotten.

  21. Liam

    Hi Yves,

    I’m not sure if you covered this, but I thought I’d pass it along just in case. It’s a link to the german report on the maidan snipers, (with English subtitles).

    This comes via a commenter on an ft article from a few days ago.

    In her comment, she adds an additional link to a video, that should also be viewed.

    1. skippy

      Yahoos firing individually for a personal kill shot.

      A better tactic is to get everyone to formed up in a spread out sq grid, then pick a point out in space leading the drone [speed in seconds to ratio 100s of meters ahead]. One person with tracer can establish center point of grid in space, which also serves as firing command, fill space with rounds for drone to – fly thorough -.

      skippy… tho’ it would have been interesting having a go with my grandfathers Damascus twist steel gooseneck 10 gauge.

  22. alex morfesis

    log splitter seems fine…have to disagree with reader bob

    first wife had friends who regularly insisted we join them (free slave labor) on the nine hour
    treck thru ice past stevens point from chicago to land o lakes wisconsin on the edge of the UP

    They had useless axes, old and rusty…

    I never thought about using a tire to stabilize the trunk…

    but, in the winter, a dried piece of wood will have the ice particles expand the wood so that a good blunt blow will help do the trick, at least with a big enough piece of tree trunk

    the guy in the video looks about my size, a couple of hundred pounds and he is using his lower back for force

    wish I had it available back in the late 80’s, it would have made those trips more fun…

    although I suspect “babs” would have found some other chores for her “guest” to help with…

    1. bob

      1. Never try to use a cutting tool that’s rusty. Spend a few minutes removing the rust, it’s safer for 2 reasons, tetanus and control/effort. Rust doesn’t allow the metal to ‘slide’ well. Lots more friction. If you’re spending that much time splitting wood, take 15 minutes and some grease/oil to make it much easier on yourself. Double true for saws. If it’s too far gone, just the oil or grease will still help.

      2. This is probably semantic, and dependent on locale as much as anything, but you shouldn’t be using an axe to split firewood. Splitting maul.

      It might work well on clean, straight wood. I question it’s ability to split knotty wood without being able to drive the wedge completely through the log, which can be necessary. The ‘hook’ stops it.

      1. alex morfesis

        we can agree to disagree

        I never used fat v splitting mauls…too much weight…too much blunt force

        I obviously needed to spend way too much time making the rusty axes useful as you described…that’s what made it annoying…half hour making the equipment useful to spend ten minutes cutting wood…

        preferred to put a long handle on an axe head…allowed more velocity and control

        never tried to punch thru the wood, simply worked to crack it open like the person in the video…and then would just toss it up in the air and let the weight of it hitting the ground do most of the work…had I thought about using a tire, it would have saved all the energy lifting a big piece of wood up over my head and throwing it down…

        no one ever said I was great at it…was not looking to make pretty logs…just wanted to get back indoors…brrrr, its cold up there…

  23. El Guapo

    Here is some thoughts from that horrible piece of shit Tony Blair:

    Blair, scum that he is, is not out of step with other western leaders. They all think like this, and this outlook of is not limited to the middle east: we are seeing it now in Ukraine. Anybody who thinks the bleating about “democracy” from the likes of Obama actually means anything is either a shill or a moron.

    1. Synopticist

      The particularly galling thing about that speech backing the Egyptian coup is that he didn’t seem to realise that the same analysis applies even more to the Syrian war. If there’s one leader who truly fighting loathsome religious extremists it’s Assad, son of a bitch though he may be.
      It is so utterly typical of the UK media that no-one criticised him on that point, even though most journos openly despise him.

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