Links 5/31/14

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Quantum phenomenon shown in $15m D-Wave computer BBC

Canadian Weather Forecasters Forbidden From Discussing Climate Change IFI Science (RR)

U.S. Sway in Asia Imperiled as China Tests Alliances New York Times

China on Wrong Path, Warns U.S. Commander Wall Street Journal

No end in sight to Sino-Vietnamese maritime clash Nikkei

Hazardous level of trace metals in Hong Kong’s air as scientists warn of health crisis South China Morning Post

No, China Isn’t Really Rebalancing Bloomberg

Pictured from a passenger plane: Menacing 12-mile-high ash cloud looms over Indonesia’s ‘Mountain of Spirits’ after volcano erupts Daily Mail

Thailand’s secret story: the battle for a $37b royal estate Australian Financial Review

ECB poised to cut main interest rates Financial Times

The Result of Austerity and Neo-Liberalism is the Rise of the Neo-Fascist Right Ian Welsh

Financialization and the Collapse of European Social Democracy – Costas Lapavitsas on Reality Asserts Itself Real News Network

Syria: Obama To Work With Assad? Moon of Alabama


War Nerd: What’s happening in Eastern Ukraine is very simple, rational, and straightforward Pando (bob, Richard Smith)

Ukraine makes part payment on Russian gas debt BBC

Even With Pullback, Russia Holds Huge Financial Sway Over Ukraine WSJ Economics

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

NBC’s Snowden Interview Overlooks Pre-9/11 Data Collection by the NSA Real News Network

Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden would not get a fair trial – and Kerry is wrong Guardian (RR)

What Would REALLY Happen to Snowden If He Returns to the United States? George Washington

EFF Accuses the Government of Spoilation of Evidence Marcy Wheeler (Chuck L)

US cybercrime laws being used to target security researchers Guardian

Cisco purchase of CIA-funded company may fuel distrust abroad reddit (Maxwell)

“TrueCrypt is not secure,” official SourceForge page abruptly warns ars technica

Obamacare Launch

Gallup: Health Care Law Still Unpopular Jon Walker, Firedoglake

IRS says it will penalize employers dumping employees into Obamacare Lexology

Health Insurance Options for Early Retirees Huffington Post

New Allende Overthrow Info Reconfirms US Suppresses Economically Rebellious Democracies Truthout

Bernie Sanders Talks Koch Problems YouTube (furzy mouse)

Fox News Suffers Worst Ratings In Thirteen Years – And That’s Not Their Big Problem Daily Kos (furzy mouse)

L.A. Sues JPMorgan Chase For Pushing Minorities Into Cruddy Mortgages Consumerist

Lower mortgage rates unlikely to boost the housing market Walter Kurtz

US money slump flashes warnings as economy contracts Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Inflation Creeps Higher But Undershoots Fed Target For Two Years WSJ Economics

Investors Have Forgotten What Normal Economic Growth Looks Like Business Insider

William D Cohan on Wall Street whistleblowers Financial Times (Richard Smith)

Kenneth Rogoff is an Even Worse Criminologist than Economist Bill Black

Private Equity

Banks deny KKR buyout loan amid regulatory crackdown Reuters (Scott)

PSERS to pull alternative investment contracts from public view Chris Witowsky. FYI, “PSERS” is the Pennsylvania public pension fund that entered into the limited partnership agreements that we released.

Class Warfare

Someone finally polled the 1% — And it’s not pretty Daily Kos

Rich People Apparently Dumb Gawker

Friends without Benefits Baffler (Harry Shearer). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour (mark w):


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Ned Ludd

    Cryptome, a predecessor to Wikileaks, is trying to raise $100,000 to make the site easier to access. John Young, a co-founder of Cryptome, is a critic of Snowden, Wikileaks, and Greenwald:

    “If you watch all these hyperbolic agendas, Snowden, Wikileaks, Greenwald, they copy government,” he told Business Insider. “It’s the same kind of hustle of the public where they pretend to be in opposition when they’re in cahoots.”

    Marcy Wheeler, a steadfast supporter of Snowden and Greenwald, has realized: “Not only are Snowden disclosures leading to more surveillance of average Americans, but also of intel personnel.” This is not the first time that reporting on surveillance made the problem worse.

    Given the law of unintended consequences, and a fair helping of irony, the publication of the warrantless eavesdropping story resonates now in quite another way: The furor it caused prompted the Bush administration to push hard for changes in the laws governing surveillance.

    “Our story set in motion the process of making all this stuff legal,” Mr. Lichtblau said. “Now it’s all encoded in law. Bush got everything he wanted on his way out of office.”

    When potentially disruptive information is released slowly and partially, thinned by reporters with government excuses and rationale; it is like slowly boiling a pithed† frog. Instead of causing revulsion, it causes acquiescence.

    † In the original experiment, the frog’s brain was destroyed before being placed in the water.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Bush got everything he wanted on his way out of office because FISA reform, which retroactively legalized Bush’s program of warrantless surveillance, was passed in July 2008. Had the Democratic candidate for President, Senator Barack Obama, not flip flopped on his promise to filibuster the bill, it would never have passed. Thanks, Democrats!

      Obama’s protection of elite criminals in this instance foreshadowed his protection of elite criminality in the FIRE sector for their accounting control frauds (see Bill Black) in the runup to the crash and subsequent depression that so many have yet to recover from. Thanks again, Democrats!

      Ya know, I’d hate to think that “this time it’s different” applies to the Piketty bubble, too… #justsaying

  2. Jim Haygood

    Daniel Ellsberg’s essay in the Guardian deserves quotation:

    Snowden would come back home to a jail cell – and not just an ordinary cell-block but isolation in solitary confinement, not just for months like Chelsea Manning but for the rest of his sentence.

    As I know from my own case, even Snowden’s own testimony on the stand would be gagged by government objections.

    When I finally heard my lawyer ask the prearranged question in direct examination – Why did you copy the Pentagon Papers? – I was silenced before I could begin to answer. The government prosecutor objected – irrelevant – and the judge sustained. My lawyer, exasperated, said he “had never heard of a case where a defendant was not permitted to tell the jury why he did what he did.” The judge responded: well, you’re hearing one now.


    Turns out that if defendants are silenced at federal ‘trials’ and prohibited from offering a defense, it’s really easy (as in 95% conviction rates) to obtain guilty verdicts from misled jurors.

    A classic example was the fedgov’s ‘trial’ of Ed Rosenthal, who licensed by the City of Oakland to grow cannabis under California law. He was not permitted to state that incontestable fact in court. So he sat silently while prosecutors slandered him as a drug dealer. After the conviction, outraged jurors learned of the withheld facts and denounced their own verdict. But it didn’t matter.

    That’s the principle that guides federal trials now: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Justice might be blind, but that doesn’t stop her from being a sociopath.

    2. fresno dan

      We lost any conception of honor and justice in our courtrooms long ago.

      ““had never heard of a case where a defendant was not permitted to tell the jury why he did what he did.” The judge responded: well, you’re hearing one now.”

      Secret letters from the FBI that prevent people even revealing government edicts – the fact that neither party, but more importantly, that the American people, aren’t outraged, only confirms that the populace, in addition to shambling to the slaughterhouse, insists on sharpening the knives….

  3. Ned Ludd

    Cryptome, a predecessor to Wikileaks, is trying to raise $100,000 to make the site easier to access. John Young, a co-founder of Cryptome, is a critic of Snowden, Wikileaks, and Greenwald:

    “If you watch all these hyperbolic agendas, Snowden, Wikileaks, Greenwald, they copy government,” he told Business Insider. “It’s the same kind of hustle of the public where they pretend to be in opposition when they’re in cahoots.”

    1. Ned Ludd

      Apologies for the duplicate, The site crashed when I first posted my comment, with a message to “try again in a few minutes.”

  4. Juneau

    re:Friends without Benefits

    I appreciate the author’s rationale for the employer’s methods here. I am sure shutting out women and minorities could be one agenda. I also appreciate the undercurrent of outrage for the way employer’s have the upper hand in these negotiations. Still I think the element of humiliation ( inherent in these employers’ methods is overlooked. Akin to Yves’ recent metaphor of throwing coins at the masses to watch them scramble. It is simply mean spirited. I am growing weary of seeing people drivien to the point of self destruction by these abusive practices, especially middle aged workers who know in their hearts their chances are not good and know they are deserving of more, dare I say it, RESPECT. Yet they must submit or starve. Godawful degradation. How do people cope with it?

    1. taunger

      Gen-y stuck with humiliation here. Escapism is my method of choice for dealing with it. Alternating between alcohol, fitness, women, and delusional hope for securing decent income. Oh, and american football during that season.

    2. Mel

      But they’re not even throwing coins. Michael Bailen’s “too transactional” means “the old way, we’d have to give something for what we got.”
      Actually it sort of looks like control fraud for the 99%. The people who implemented Zappos Insiders will get paid (won’t they?) and the recruiters will have jobs as long as Zappos management believes the scheme is working. That’s more than nothing.
      Even in the days of resumes there were employment pundits who gave impressively sonorous and truthy advice: research the company, learn all managements’ names, target your application to the company’s values and goals. The brutal truth from my own experience was different. We put out an ad and got 800 applications. The three of us could read, in depth, maybe 100. We could interview maybe 10. And there was 1 job. So the odds were approaching 9:1 against any application even being read, and 999:1 against any applicant. So an applicant who takes 2 days to really learn a company will take 2000 days to finish her/his 1000 applications. That’s something like 6 years to find a job. So much for punditry.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      My first impression reading the beginning of the article (never finished) is that it’s a great way (one-way, not two-way) to find dates…sorry, true friends…or in fact, true love.

      ‘Forget the job. You’re too good for that with your artistic soul. My beautiful. Let’s meet in person at my Barcelona vacation home. I have a Priorat vineyard there.’

      If I were a lone tech guy, I’d be tempted to impress like that.

    4. BondsOfSteel

      Does Zappos really need more ass kissing employees that spend all day on social networks instead of coding?

      I hope they get what they’re looking for….

  5. Banger

    Two stories above caught my eye. The first is the comparison (DailyKos) between what the one-percenters think and what the rest of the people think. There is no surprise that top earners are selfish a-holes (most of them anyway) because if you’re born to wealth and privileges (as many of them increasingly are) in which case you are trained from an early age to adopt a-hole attitudes (my young anarchist friends call them “trustafarians”) or you’ve clawed your way to the top by developing predatory sociopathic behavior you are bound to have disdain for the losers below you. Again, my apologies to the significant minority of the wealthy who do not fit into those categories. The development of the current trend was well-articulated some time ago by the late Christopher Lasch in his The Revolt of the Elites which ought to be on everyone’s reading list. But the real tragedy is not that the rich are a-holes but that the average persons believes in social democracy yet doesn’t vote that belief. Why are people voting against what they believe as they clearly are if you believe the polls? This is a question that has been little examined considering that how important it is. If a democracy does not reflect the will of the majority then is it a democracy? My own view is the while the average person believes in progressive policies when it comes to actually paying for them they don’t want to do it. In fact polls have consistently shown that Americans want to cut the budget deficit but don’t want to cut programs. What does that tell you? What it tells me is that polls are useless and that the American people refuse to deal with moral dilemmas and simply tune out. The majority of Americans who believe in helping those who don’t have jobs or income don’t have the courage to vote for politicians who favor those policies–instead they dither and often vote on cultural matters. In my area of the country white people, even very nice ones, tend to vote Republican, if they vote at all, because most of the are “Christian” and the RP flies a Christian flag and also tends to be hostile towards minority groups most white folks here distrust. They may theoretically feel everyone that wants a job should have one but when it comes to taxes some believe that just goes to prop up lazy people.

    Again without major cultural change which would have to start with deconstructing the mainstream media narrative I don’t see a change in the trend to the right.

    The second story is something out of a horror movie. The Zappos policy of using a social network to select job applicants is a inside look at what the neo-feudal future will look like. Throngs of people will gather in virtual spaces flattering noblemen and their retainers for the hope of a position. Juneau in a comment above rightly views this as humiliation.

    The new neo-feudal economy will change the workplace into artificial communities with rituals, bonding, and artificial enthusiasm. And it will be artificial and fake. They will not and cannot be true communities because these companies don’t meet their end of the bargain–if an employee displeases the bosses for any reason he or she is out and a new one will be put in her/his place from the virtual hall thronged with supplicants ready to repeat the slogans and buzzwords and pledge undying dedication to the holy endeavor of selling shoes or whatever. This world being built today is a result of the almost complete devaluation of morality and virtue. We have thrown out the baby with the bathwater–we have made a positive effort to reform morality particularly in sexual matters that desperately needed reform and, at the same time, we seem to have thrown out (as a practical matter) the higher morality that sustain our social structure. Instead of real social structure we create virtual ones, instead of solid moral principles and a sense of honor we create temporary situation ethics. Instead of reason and dialogue we engage in denial and phony behavior tuned to our audience.

    1. Eureka Springs

      We are not now, nor ever were a democracy. It’s no accident the word democracy can be found nowhere in the constitution. We may utilize some of those trappings…such as a voting booth… but there is NO choice provided within. And as we learned in 2006 through ’10… every single “progressive” we managed to get into congress lied… not just a little here and there… they lied across the board. Go back into Blue America fundraising blog chats with supposedly prog. candidates in the run up to ’06 and ’08 elections in particular. All promises were broken. Even at their inception Progs, imo, were the Blue Dogs of their day… they always align with the neoliberal types, then apologize (if they must) for they must support neolibcons time and time again.

      The constitution was never ratified by the people. One state (R.I.) allowed a public vote…and it was soundly rejected. As Yves demonstrated recently and OWSers discovered a few years back… setting up so much as a bank account for organizing is nigh on impossible.

      Our entire establishment blows up and or starves any glimmer of “democracy” in action all around the world. Has for a very long time. Democracy, imo, cannot exist with so much secrecy. Secret law, budgets, courts, police, documents, evidence… It’s bad enough we have to work so hard to be reasonably well informed… it’s another entirely when the state refuses to allow their actions to be known.

      If you haven’t been monitoring the Ukraine then you have missed a detailed example of who we are and what lengths we are willing to go in order for Democracy to be considered terrorism, which must be obliterated… rather we train and fund neonazis and private militia destroying tens of millions of people s lives. Oligarchs and business control are sacrosanct…. there is no room for democracy unless a few trappings can be manipulated to fit the neoliberalcon agenda (lessor of two evil, as long as you vote for or silently accept one of them).. You must have missed all the documents recently released that Homeland Security, FBI and so many more were targeting (literally) OWSers even in the smallest, most peaceful gatherings imaginable. You know and I know… OWS gatherings were at most a threat to begin having open discussions, mere discussions of acting democratically. Yet in the years preceding OWS the tea-baggers showed up armed… and were never so much as questioned, kettled or arrested. Homeland Security, FBI etc., will use those tea-guys (like Ukrainian nazis) to wage warfare, divide and conquer within. They always have… because democracy cannot stand…even a little.

      In Syria, we are the madmen, aligned with, arming the most radical wahabbis or their “moderate” heart eating sidekicks – you know, a group as anti democracy as neonazi’s. Even under the fog of war we know the Syrian people are overwhelmingly against us… yet we persist. In Libya our leaders like Hillary laughed as she watched video of Qadaffi being murdered , dragged and anally raped with a stick in the streets… and now we are back on the shores of Libya as we conduct yet another coup within our recent coup. There has never been any consideration of what the people of these nations want. In fact there has been a great deal of contempt on our duopolies part when Ukrainians spoke in a ballot box democratically… before we could rig the presidential election into a bunch of TINA candidates. Egypt too… Honduras, Paraguay, Venezuela and on and on. Can you, banger, name one actual democracy we are trying to support, much less establish???

      The worst thing people like you, Banger, can do is destroy the best meanings of the word democracy by pretending we have anything close to it or that its possible without a major reboot….. and entirely new constitutional code.

      1. Banger

        You’re being a little harsh here. Much depends on what you call “democracy.” Many people, presumably you are one of them, believe that democracy is some pure thing like the free-market. Let’s be clear here there is not now, not in the past, not in the future such a thing as a pure democracy or a free-market.

        Relative democracies that flourished in the period after WWII in the U.S. and in Europe more or less reflected the will of the people–governments like, payoffs were made and taken across the Western world but, more or less, governments attempted to do the right thing for most of the people and the people, in varying ways, put their thumbs up or down periodically. The U.S. made a genuine attempt after WWII to support democracies in Europe, at the same time, it acted against perceived threats to what U.S. policymakers viewed as “democracy” in the shape of the Italian and Greek Communists.

        In my view the U.S. was a middling democracy–far from perfect but full of checks and balances that kept social-political disaster from happening. By the late seventies, however, the trend reversed for complex reasons whose roots are in the sixties.

        1. Andrew Watts

          Exactly. The democratic process does not automatically promise ideal outcomes.

          “Democracy is finding proximate solutions to insoluble problems.” -Reinhold Niebuhr

      2. Andrew Watts

        While money interests have always dominated this country to a certain extent things have changed. When the Constitution was passed you had to own a significant amount of property to vote. There is a good reason why the old populists/progressives fought to expand the eligibility to vote. Politicians will only do something if they think there is going to be consequences at the polls. The activists who were/are mental annexes of the Democratic Party are no threat to the status quo.

        Facilitating ambitious individuals to become insiders is the wrong game to be playing. Insiders by definition support the status quo. Outsiders are free to act and shape policy as they will. The recent experience of my wayward cousin illustrates this quite nicely. As a political outsider he humiliated Wolfie/Rummy and the Bush Administration. When he became an insider he enjoyed the trappings of power only to became a national scapegoat and forced to resign in humiliation.

        (“At least nobody in the family has to worry about your political ambitions anymore… Eric.”)

    2. lyman alpha blob

      “Why are people voting against what they believe as they clearly are if you believe the polls?”

      You’ll find a partial answer by scrolling through the comments to that article. The partisan Dem hacks who inhabit that website are still flogging the Nader horse 14 years later rather than taking a look in the mirror.

      1. Banger

        I know don’t get me started on DK–they smile if you back up their highly doctrinaire views of the world but when you dissent they become demonic in their hatred. There is nothing even close to a free discussion there. Having said that, there are good and useful articles on the site.

    3. Paul Tioxon

      What is a democracy? It is not a political entity or a formal organization. It is a process. Disillusionment is a bitch. So is miseducation. Of all the bromides swallowed without digestion, for Americans, the phrase “I thought we lived in a democracy” is the most misleading. Aside from all of the grade school civics class goody 2 shoes who will come crawling out of the woodwork, there are many who with good faith understand democracy without the need for critical thinking. This is due to socialization, rather than wrong headed, stubborn ignorance.

      If you go to a share holders meeting, as a shareholder, you may get to vote on some sorts of issue that are allowed to be put up for a vote. One share, one vote, majority rules. Of all the most easily understood concepts, majority rules, with 51% of a vote is universally recognized as what democracy is. However, in a corporate shareholder meeting, on one would complain about a corporation not being a democracy. Everyone there knows what they are there for. Not to make friends, but to make money and certainly not to uphold any ideals of democracy, even though it is a useful instrument to govern a corporation under certain circumstances. In other business formats, partners vote. Of course, the business may be composed of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of workers, only a small amount who get to vote as partners. The partners use democracy, but again, no one working in a partnership would ever say “This is a Democracy”.

      The Roman Catholic Church gathers together its Cardinals upon the death of the pope and holds a vote for the new pope. This internal body uses democracy to come to a decision, and of course, nobody thinks or says the Roman Catholic Church is a democracy. But for the highest office of the church, The Papacy, a democratic vote is held to determine who will lead. In Franz Neumann’s landmark work on NAZI Germany, “BEHEMOTH”, he takes the time to point out how democracy is used in the formation of cartels as the NAZIs take hold totalitarian control of the German nation and people. The voting rights of the cartel members are held in proportion to total sector production by quotas, but still a majority must be determined to make a decision. Even in a NAZI cartel, democracy is found to be useful to decide among participants. But the concentration of power in these cartels is limited to a few groups controlling all the votes, yet, they still vote. And again, these are not democratic organizations. At what scale, and how widely adopted must the use of democratic decision making be present to proclaim institutional democracy? Can what appears to be democratic voting processes be crafted in a way to diminish or even suppress a majority?

      This is a widely understood critical stance in politics. The SDS, the Students for a Democratic Society had many of its member articulate what is known as participatory democracy. It was because analysis from reasonably intelligent, earnest believers in American faith in democracy thought enough to develop a politics that would progress from where America was in the mid 20th Century, to carry it forward into a world that would be radically altered by the immense power and wealth of both public and private sectors. It was a world where technology driven by science was outstripping the culture, including the political culture, of the people who didn’t grow up in a America that was the dominant nation in the whole world, but found themselves living in a new America formed in the victory of WWII. Thinking that going to vote at the polls twice a year was all that it would take to maintain a democracy was like being a husband that only showed up twice a year for his wife on her birthday and Thanksgiving, ignoring her the rest of the time.

      Having a say in the public affairs of the nation, but having no rights in the private sector that directly provided you with the means to earn a living was a schizo, compartmentalized day to day living. You could stop your neighbor from cutting down a tree or planting one if it affected your property. But a perfectly profitable and usable factory could be shut down and reopened in another state financially ruining you, if you depended upon that factory for a living. You could protect yourself from the next door neighbors leaves causing you to clean up but you could not protect your family from the outcome of losing a job. A harmony of interests, including yours, in the most critical aspect of earning a living, which everyone who needs food and shelter has right to, is locked out by forces undemocratic, impervious to you having any say at all. You have to start all over again. So, how democratic can society be that throws people’s lives around like leaves in the wind?

      1. Banger

        Indeed–the idea of participatory democracy is an important one and also an idea that has caused the oligarchs to react very strongly against those that have favored such ideas everywhere in the world. You are right–to have some civic democracy but no democracy in the workplace is a major contradiction that people don’t seem to understand–you can’t really split up democracy into compartments because, as is now glaringly obvious, civic democracy will eventually lose out as commodification increasingly dominates our cultural life.

    4. Jackrabbit

      “Again without major cultural change which would have to start with deconstructing the mainstream media narrative I don’t see a change in the trend to the right.”

      Neolib thinking is toxic to human relations. When people are con-ed into believing that wealth=moral=smart=blessed (and the poor is perceived as the opposite) then a drift to the right is not surprising. The likely outcome seems to be a societal death spiral into dystopia.

      Are ordinary people complicit as you suggest? This strikes me as blaming the victim. The public has been manipulated so much that they may seem to be complicit but the ‘tell’ is that our political ‘leaders’ allow the manipulation to continue – and even thrive on it.

      1. OIFVet

        There is no better way to destroy the traditional community than to create a virtual one where “community ” is defined as individuals “networking” to advance their own individual interests, and if necessary to band together to repel any remote threat to their individual interests. These virtual “communities” are of course hosted by Silicon Valley Randhead corporations who can thus control the parameters of what this “community” should concern itself with and champion. Thus we see virtual “communities” take up civil causes (gay marriage for example) but who generally demonstrate indifferent and even hostile attitude in some cases to social causes. Why? It’s class distinctions: those virtual communities, while not populated exclusively by younger upper middle class white collar workers (the “creative class”), are most effective in organizing them and rather ineffective in organizing the lower classes who have neither the time nor the luxury of having the disposable income to support a social cause. The effectiveness of social networks to organize the “creative class” is the result of younger generations having internalized neoliberal propaganda to some extent, and modern communication technology making it possible to quickly coalesce around the civil cause celebre of the day, one that is of course defined by it’s non-threatening nature toward corporate bottom lines and is carefully cultivated by corporate media and the elites of the political duopoly. Or that’s how I see it in any case.

      2. Banger

        As you know, I believe we are all complicit because we are all connected. Again, ordinary people have made the conscious choice, and I have socialized across social classes and other groupings, to live in denial–not just about a couple of issues but about anything that would be somewhat disturbing. Are they being manipulated by sophisticate mind-control techniques–absolutely–but these techniques and narratives are very easy to debunk if you want to be deprogrammed–most people don’t.

        1. Jackrabbit

          As you know Stockholm Syndrome is real, and many ‘good Germans’ were shocked at was done in their name.

          What you wrote excuses anyone with power over another. Our society is a complex system. Ordinary people don’t feel that they can change anything (or that its worth the effort for any one or small group to try) and for the most part this reflects the great efforts have been made to mollify, constrain, divide and marginalize them.

          Yet despite these efforts, SOMEHOW the people that you say live in denial consistently give low marks to Congress and express distrust and disappointment in many aspects of government and society. Perhaps your time in Washington has made you tone deaf or you need to get out more?

          Those who make peaceful change impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

          1. Banger

            People are in denial but they aren’t stupid–they give Congress and most institutions (other than the military and police) low marks as well–the public is really open to change right now. But I am speaking not of Washington types–I don’t even know any nowadays nor care to–but ordinary people and the denial isn’t a highly neurotic denial–it’s more of an attempt at sanity–the world is so confusing you can’t afford to think too deeply without becoming really bummed out–and life is for the living.

            Having said that I think you make a good point.

    5. Jill


      In Ohio, several small communities has had some success at stopping fracking using local ordinances. In Bowling Green Ohio an ordinance of this kind on the ballot stated, in part, that all people were entitled to clean air, water and earth. It was voted down. I wondered what arguments would be made against the need for clean air, water and soil, as obviously, these are things people need to stay healthy or even alive. The successful counterargument was the need for jobs.

      In fact, this is an economically depressed area and people do desperately need jobs. So, while I agree with you that many people regularly vote against their own and other’s best interest, in some cases, people are voting immediate desperation (no jobs) verses long term desperation (unbreathable air, water and unusable soil).

      I have been thinking about this a lot because the dilemma presented in the whole juxtaposition of jobs verses a clean environment is itself a lie, a very powerful lie. There are so many more jobs to be had by focusing on cleaning up the environment and switching over to farming, energy production etc. which is helpful to humans and the earth. Yet dirty industries are able to convince people their way is the best way to have jobs.

      Somehow we need to take on these fundamental lies. I believe this can be done, although it is difficult. One example I read in the Ann Arbor homeless community newspaper is this: certain cities in Utah have decided it’s cheaper to just give every homeless person a home along with services such as medical, substance abuse treatment and help finding work. Go figure! A logical, rational use of money which is cheaper and actually helps others!!!

      You always raise many good points! Thanks1

      1. Banger

        One of many of the tragedies we see unfolding in our lifetime is the issue of the gradual waning of American pragmatism–institutions now make decisions based often on power struggles within the organization which often involve metrics rather than real efficiency. We have collective problems but they are immune to any rational solution because the organization dealing with them always comes first.

        Only a highly mobilized public which consistently rejects the ethic of the current moment of capitalism will change anything.

  6. Carolinian

    Pando story: “straw dogs” or straw man? The premise that Putin cynically encouraged–or at least allowed–the Ukraine east to rise and will now cynically allow them to be sacrificed doesn’t seem to be entirely supported by the facts. After all he did ask them not to hold that referendum, and has made cessation of fighting a major point in talks with Ukraine govt. It’s just possible that what he wants is what he has said he wants (through Lavrov): a federalized Ukraine with much greater autonomy for the east (and of course much greater Russian influence on their activities).

    Brecher’s other straw man is the version of Putin’s motives coming from the msm. Brecher’s triumphalism over these dunderheads is a bit much. Ten minutes on Google can debunk much of what your read in the NYT or Wash Post. No need to be so cocky.

    I’m no expert of course but there’s a lot of Putin hate coming from the Pando direction which suggests their take may be somewhat skewed. Better insight might be the frequently linked Moon of Alabama-over time his predictions always seem to come true–or even with sources on the ground and a Russian military background (but he has his own hobby horses).

    1. OIFVet

      I beg to disagree. It wouldn’t be the first time that a leader says one thing for public consumption while doing something completely different behind the scenes. Heck, we got us one in the WH right now. IMO Dolan captures the issue perfectly: the Russians have always been plagued by governments unworthy of them, governments that have been demonstrably willing to sacrifice and betray them for their own interests. The song Rodina by DDT captures this perfectly, you can get the Russian lyrics and a good English translation at

      1. Abe, NYC

        Agree on every point including the DDT song. Just wish to add that Russian rulers have traditionally cultivated and exploited nationalism, love of strong authority, etc, to secure their hold on the country. As a result, after centuries of development Russia is still a long way from a functioning civil society. Russian state, which most Russians equate to “mother Russia,” has strangled the creativity of Russians for centuries.

        1. OIFVet

          Abe, could you go into a little bit more depth about the way most Russians equate the state with Mother Russia? The impression I get from admittedly small circle of Russian friends I find the opposite to be true, that Russians know the difference between the state and Mother Russia. I certainly do not equate the two myself, and the same goes for my motherland and its governments. As to Shevchuk, I like his music but I disagree with him on Krim. Given that the US missile shield is in large part ship-based it would have been irresponsible, and yes traitorous, to let Sevastopol become a de facto NATO naval base which would leave Russia at the tender mercy of a demonstrably hostile power. All these Aegis cruisers are not in the Black Sea on vacation you know. The fact that Krim is majority Russian and has been a traditionally Russian territory add the historical/moral justification. Like it or not, Putin did what needed to be done for the security of Russia, and it is hypocritical for the US exceptionalists to blame him for that.

          1. Abe, NYC

            could you go into a little bit more depth about the way most Russians equate the state with Mother Russia?

            The answer is complex. Russians have a set of contradictory beliefs about the State in general and Russian state in particular. In addition, some of it is typical of Russians while other stuff is characteristic of many people from all parts of the former USSR.

            1. Good czar/bad boyars, i.e. a belief that the ruler is a good man but his entourage are bad guys who steal, won’t tell him what is going on, etc. This is Russian all right (e.g. Ukrainians are much less prone to a personality cult) and has persisted through the various regime changes of centuries past. I’ve written about this – e.g. Putin’s underlings are widely understood to be extremely corrupt, so much so that the recent sanctions against high-level officials were welcomed by a majority of Russians in one poll, but that doesn’t apply to Putin himself.

            2. The power of Russia is determined by its state. The state is something to be proud of, prayed for, etc. The Russian state must be strong internationally, it must be feared – if it isn’t that’s a sign of weakness.

            3. The most important responsibility of the State/ruler is to “establish order,” or orderliness. It is widely seen that there is far more “order” under Putin than under Yeltsin, and the strongest “order” was under Stalin. Yeltsin’s era of 1990s with its widespread crime and a breakdown of established economic and societal relationships is very strongly associated with “democracy” and “liberalism,” both of which are practically swearwords now. Putin’s strong authority is contrasted with the weak and ineffectual Yeltsin.

            4. The state is out to rip you off and there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of it when you can. Many people from the USSR (not just Russians) have no qualms about cheating the government (whether their own or any other) on healthcare, social security, taxes, etc.

            5. It is the state’s responsibility to provide everyone with decent work and conditions of living, like it was in the Soviet Union. This is again typical of Russians and non-Russians alike and has been slowly changing after the collapse of the USSR. Libertarian-minded types of course see this absolution of individual responsibility as Russia’s principal problem.

            This is my unscientific answer, far from complete. One could go on about it for a long time, but the gist seems to be that while at the individual level Russians see the state as a predatory and repressive apparatus, they at the same time want to see a strong, assertive (if not outright aggressive) and powerful state, both internationally and domestically.

            1. Synopticist

              Yeah, I agree with these points, and it’s pretty much always been like that. They hate, fear, love and rely on the government in roughtly equal shares.

              They like strong government because of their historical development. The state built Russia in a way which no other “Western” country experienced. Apart form the Church, there are no institutions which hve contributed to their identity.

              It’s a bit of a cliche, but Russia is either authoriarian and brutally succesful, or weak and hopeless. And it may be borderline racist, but one in seven Russians is descended from a womam who got impregnated by Genghis Khan, so they LIKE a bit of brutality and low cunning in their leaders.

              1. OIFVet

                Serfdom and slavery are institutions too, and Alexander II abolished serfdom only in 1861. Everything else I agree with. I will only add that this basically describes most Asian societies. Cultural heritage left over from the Golden Horde perhaps, but one can hardly argue against its effectiveness when there is that strong leader who can whip things up into shape, pun intended.

            2. OIFVet

              Yes, lots of similarities in some respects to Bulgaria. Except I don’t particularly care for the libertarians opining on anything outside of individual liberties, everything else they say boils down to a particularly sociopathic strain of social Darwinism hiding behind the notion of “personal responsibility.” Not that I don’t believe in personal responsibility, but it has to exist inside the framework of a society responsible for the collective welfare. Which notion is of course a swear word for libertarians, as if humans are the descendants of particularly robust supermen and not troops of relatively frail-bodied monkeys whose best defense from the many predators hunting them were the ability to work as a group and make tools.

      2. Carolinian

        Your appeal to Russian history–which is hard to deny–doesn’t tell us anything about Putin specifically. I respectfully submit that the only thing we know about Putin’s motives at this point is what he has said. All else is mind reading. And that also goes for the Pando author.

        But apply the plausibility test. Is it really likely that Putin would stand by and let the easterners be slaughtered (assuming the feeble Ukrainian army can even do that) and take the huge hit of public disapproval at home? Logic says a Ukrainian civil war is the last thing he wants. This would be the opposite of controlling the situation.

        1. OIFVet

          Carolinian, I should have made myself more clear. I did not mean to judge Putin and his motives, in fact I neither dislike him nor like him. I find him to be a realist and highly effective leader, which is what country needs in this day and age when it is subjected to a hostile encirclement. As a “far left” and environmental type I don’t find his economic views and oligarchy very palatable but I can’t deny that he has greatly improved the living standards of Russians, which his predecessor basically destroyed in 8 short years. And that stopped and reversed the lethal demographic death spiral that Yeltsin’s and Clinton’s shock therapy and the looting of the state sector unleashed on the Russian people. So in that respect he has been a vast improvement for Russia.

          That said, it is becoming clear to me over the past 2-3 weeks that he is more than willing to let the Russian insurgents in the East spill their blood for Russia’s purposes while providing them with minimal support and maintaining plausible deniability. It is IMO the realist thing to do in this situation. An Ukrainian civil war works for Russia well enough as it will keep Ukraine out of NATO, soften up the junta and make it more agreeable to a working compromise. Yes, if the junta unleashes an all out terror and murder in the East he will either step in or supply the ethnic Russians with the weapons and materiel they really need in order to bleed the junta dry. But I strongly doubt he cares to annex an economic basket case. Federalized Ukraine or an independent Novorossia are probably the preferred outcomes. From what I see the East is gone and will eventually for a Novorossia; it will not submit to Ukrainian rule under any circumstance I frankly I am with the Russian insurgency on this. The question is how much more blood will be spilled on both sides before this outcome is reached.

          1. Synopticist

            The Ukrainian armed forces are in pretty much an unwinnable situation in the east.

            An insurgency with a degree of local support, plenty of weapons, some military experience, and CRUCIALLY, friendly border behind which to re-arm, equip and rest, is basically unbeatable. As has been demonstrated time and time again. If Russia doesn’t close off the border, the war goes on.

            I’m surprised the war nerd didn’t point that out.

            1. Andrew Watts

              The more blood that is spilled the likelihood that Ukraine will permanently fracture only increases. I’m really getting sick of Putin kicking America’s ass. We shouldn’t even be at odds in the first place. As with every other conflict that has raged throughout history the winner will be the great powers that stay out of it.


              1. Synopticist

                Yup, the Chinese are loving it, but so are the oil Arabs.

                I’ve been meaning to make that clear actually. The Saudis are f*cking loving this sh*t, and we know how much under-the-table influence those bastards have got.

      3. Banger

        Well, maybe you a generalizing a bit about Russia, not that you are wrong but what major power does not have a self-serving oligarchy at the top? The problems the current Ukrainian crisis are not of Putin’s making but come mainly from the West and chiefly from the neoconservatives in Washington. Normally, powerful states are given a sphere of influence around their borders and was part of the deal that Russia and the U.S. Agreed on. The U.S. And it’s vassal states in Europe, as usual, went back on their agreement and attempted to destroy Russia as a society and a world power after the collapse of the Russian Empire. A resurgent Russia now threatens U.S. hegemony thus the skulduggery that brought us the coup in Kyev.

        When Russia creates a coup in Mexico to overthrow the currently corrupt government and installs a government that seeks a hostile relationship with the U.S. then I’ll attack Putin even though my own government is just as corrupt.

        1. OIFVet

          I fully agree with everything in your comment Banger. The problem is that as realist who is drifting toward anarcho-socialism I have to somehow reconcile idealism and realism, what should be and what is. Not an easy feat. I dislike oligarchy wherever it may be, but as I said in my reply to Carolinian at least Putin has greatly increased Russian standard of living and has done what needed to be done to protect Russia and build up its defenses, both military and diplomatic. By that standard he has outclassed American and Western diplomacy time and again, which is why he is so hated by them. The US, like all bullies, likes to pick on the weak, patronize the submissive, and jaw from a safe distance at those who are capable of defending themselves.

        2. Andrew Watts

          “When Russia creates a coup in Mexico…”

          Does the French intervention in Mexico count? At the time the United States was busy fighting the War of Secession so attention was focused elsewhere. The US government was supplying Mexican rebels with arms/intel. When the civil war was finally concluded the Union Army was deployed at the US/Mexico border while Napoleon III’s puppet emperor was being overthrown.

          This doesn’t sound familiar at all!

        3. Abe, NYC

          The problems the current Ukrainian crisis are not of Putin’s making but come mainly from the West and chiefly from the neoconservatives in Washington.

          Can you prove it, or at least do you have strong supporting evidence for that claim?

    2. Abe, NYC

      Brief summary of the article: by stirring unrest in Eastern Ukraine, Putin is responsible for far more Russian deaths than the mythical Right Sector. The real fascist junta is sitting in Kremlin not Kiev.

      1. vidimi

        he is not absolving the kiev junta of those russian deaths: putin may be allowing it, but it is still the former who are doing the killing.

    3. Jackrabbit

      I agree with OIFVet. Like him, I am no fan of Putin. He is doing what he has to do, and doing it well – to the chagrin of the neocons. Russia/Putin:

      – has deftly used intelligence to embarrass US/West (e.g. Neuland’s “f@#k the EU!)
      – has grabbed the Crimean ‘prize’ in a way that was as quick and legal as they could muster.
      – have avoided being baited into a new Afghanistan quagmire
      – are turning Ukraine into a financial drain on the West by supporting the separatists

      My beef (shared with many others) is with the short-sighted, self-serving adventurism of the neocons and those (chiefly cut throat neolib schmoozers that think ‘real politic’ means answering the question of “how do we make money”) that support and excuse it. The failure of Ukraine could have been / should have been foreseen but career-minded ‘group think’-ers have sidelined anyone that doesn’t sympathize with the neocon view.

      In neocon adventures, everyone pays a price EXCEPT the neocons and their supporters.

      As American neocons continue to shape the narratives that define the permissible boundaries for U.S. foreign policy thinking, the failure to enforce any meaningful accountability on them for their role in the criminal and disastrous invasion of Iraq has become painfully clear.

      In any vibrant democratic system, it would be unthinkable that the neocons and other war hawks who yahooed the United States into Iraq a little more than a decade ago would still be exercising control over how Americans perceive today’s events. Yet, many of the exact same pundits and pols who misled the American people then are still misleading them today.

      Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern describes how the US exploited Russia-China distrust in the 70’s then lost the advantage, culminating in the ‘Ukraine gambit’ that has solidified their relationship.

      1. Jackrabbit

        PS I was calling the neocon Ukraine gambit a mistake months ago because, just like with GFC in 2008, when it is all over, there will be people that say: nobody could’a foreseen this disaster . . . (“hoocoodanode?”)

        1. Synopticist

          Yeah, it was always going to end badly, because Putin could always do exactly what the west did…kick up a bit of dissent and watch the country fracture.

          Most of this came from sheer neo-con/R2P anger about Syria. There wasn’t a lot of thought about the consequences if Putin didn’t take it like a b*tch.

      2. VietnamVet

        Long ago I was weaned on WWII movies with Nazi played as the bad guys.
        Last week Frontline broadcast “The Battle for Ukraine”.
        It is a strange documentary blaming Putin for Civil War yet it gives a devastating portrait of Right Sector. They are dangerous, ruthless, and driven fanatics. Worst, they are real and they are Nazis and they like killing Russians who they hate. This is not going to end well.

        I cannot believe our government is so driven to fight wars that we are supporting Nazis in Ukraine and Jihadists in Syria. It is morally wrong and worse it is dangerous and will blow back and will kill a lot of us.

        1. Synopticist

          Dear god slav untermensh nazis, clearly irony free.

          It would be funny to rock up to a right sector meeting with a bunch of Germans, English and Scandinavians and start bossing everyone around.
          “Ok guys, the racially superior superior folks are here, we’re in charge now…”

          1. OIFVet

            It has already been done, the 14th SS Division was comprised of Ukrainians with Germans in charge.

  7. OIFVet

    They are all interchangeable: “No Maidans would affect the president, no matter how much anyone would want it. Otherwise Maidan would no longer be the will of the people and would turn into a common spin technique. I know how to deal with such techniques” Standing by for Nuland to appear bearing the gift of cookies in 3, 2,… ah never mind.

  8. Cynthia

    IRS penalizing employers for dumping employees into ObamaCare is good news for taxpayers, but it’s not such good news for employees. I’m afraid this will result in more and more employers hiring employees through staffing agencies and the like. From what I understand, staffing agencies are exempt from having to provide healthcare benefits for their employees. Even if they aren’t exempt, I am sure they have plenty of ways around it. This is largely why employers like to hire employees through staffing agencies, which will become even more common when ObamaCare is fully implemented in about 3 to 4 years.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Rich people are apparently dumb.

    I believe they are not wise, but not dumb. They can be quite… what is that much-sought after attribute… oh, yeah, intelligent.

    If we think they are ALL apparently dumb, it can only mean that some of them are very good actors.

      1. Banger

        As a sometimes observer of the rich a-holes “low cunning” is exactly the right term. I have been continually amazed (more in recent years than in the past) at the low-level of culture, grace and intelligence at the top–not only in the rich but, for example, in top positions in the media both entertainment and “news.”

    1. Mcmike

      “The rich can buy everything but health, virtue, friendship, wit, good looks, love, pride, intelligence, grace, and, if you need it, happiness.” — Edward Abbey

      “The most striking thing about the rich is the gracious democracy of their manners — and the crude vulgarity of their way of life.” — Edward Abbey

      1. down2long

        I worked for this woman here in Los Angeles (when I was moonlighting as a cater-waiter) who was wicked wealthy, and wicked mean. I had the misfortune of working a dinner party for her the night W. bombed Baghdad. The guests were cheering like it was a soccer match. One of our waiters was a vet, (from some ill-fated U.S. adventure) and the sounds/visuals of the bombing (showing on all the homes’ then-rare big screen TVs scattered around the house, and blasting at full volume) triggered a very bad PTSD reaction. He had to leave. . It was the night I decided I could no longer not hate that woman – not only for being a bad tipper (which is, as all cater-waiters will tell you, is the worst, most unforgiveable sin of all. A $100 tip will buy a lot of forgiveness. ) while we served everything on her $500 a piece custom plates – but for being a truly horrid person.

        Her son had kidney disease. She had given him one of her kidneys, but he still looked like death. His body was so poisoned he looked like a failing heroin addict. All that money, all that heartbreak in her own home, and yet she was a truly awful person. Her son died about a year after that. All that money, and it was meaningless when it came to saving her son. One doesn’t want to assign divine judgment….oh hell, one does. But after the last six years watching the wealthy feed on the little people (like a Bosch painting) one despairs that divine judgment exists. I will say this: She was not a happy person. Good. My great revenge with all these asshats is finding that I am living a happy life, despite many setbacks (oft recounted here at NC). I have something these horrid fetid sacks of living human excrement do not have, and will never have: ENOUGH.

  10. TimR

    I just caught up to this article from a few days ago. Most articles just wash right over me, more or less, but this really gets my attention. Raises questions on all different levels, from the practical personal matter of avoiding being crushed, to speculation about its coming impacts on society at large and how we might all adapt.

    Other notes- Stockman does some Keynesian (and I would assume by extension) MMT bashing here and there, and worries about govt deficits. Yet so much of his analysis seems knowledgeable and perceptive. How to square this, since I am pretty convinced by MMT at least on a descriptive level (albeit with Craazy’s caveat from that “MMT on a Postcard” post: ceteris paribus, assuming society operates within basically similar parameters, MMT makes sense. Maybe not so much if it leads to Sorosian reflexivity that substantially changes the parameters; or if some other event(s) conspire to rework the nature of the status quo. Caveat 2- tongue slightly in cheek here, I have only glancing familiarity with reflexivity.)

    Also- This quote from Jim Quinn:
    The entire engineered “recovery” since 2009 has been nothing but a Federal Reserve/U.S. Treasury conceived, debt manufactured scam. These highly educated lackeys for the establishment have been tasked with keeping the U.S. Titanic afloat until the oligarchs can safely depart on the lifeboats with all the ship’s jewels safely stowed in their pockets. There has been no housing recovery. There has been no jobs recovery. There has been no auto sales recovery. Giving a vehicle to someone with a 580 credit score with a 0% seven year loan is not a sale. It’s a repossession in waiting. The government supplied student loans are going to functional illiterates who are majoring in texting, facebooking and twittering. Do you think these indebted University of Phoenix dropouts living in their parents’ basements are going to spur a housing and retail sales recovery? This Keynesian “solution” was designed to produce the appearance of recovery, convince the masses to resume their debt based consumption, and add more treasure into the vaults of the Wall Street banks.

    Pithy and sharp no doubt. I pretty much buy it. But HOW DOES THAT WORK EXACTLY. Where do you take your booty if you kill the host? Or can it work… Can there be these little enclaves of wealth, guarded by militarized police and drones, and vast decaying suburban sprawl everywhere else?

    Or then again, do they plan to get the bottom 80% all buttoned down into neat little ticky-tacky tech boxes — forced by poverty to accept “nice” (because new and designed by hip designers) but very low impact and spartan consumption footprints? Self-driving (tiny) cars, total grid surveillance, stacked living spaces, “relieved” by tech escapism. Not necessarily anything wrong with consumption reduction, except for the scary vision of it being a BNW monoculture ruled over by people with pre-21st century lifestyles of course, lives of glorious excess because *somebody* has to do that if you’re going to reduce the rest of humanity to farm animal status. (And you’ll like it too, unless you want to go live in the apocalyptic slums beyond that sheltered world. Which actually don’t sound too bad, if we get to have apocalyptic slums, I might take my chances there. Not I find this scenario entirely credible mind you, just spit-balling.)

    He also writes:
    The Federal Reserve can buy every Treasury bond issued to fund an out of control government. But eventually reality will shatter the delusions of millions as the debt based Ponzi scheme will run out of dupes and collapse in a flaming heap.
    But MMT would say that a sovereign issuing fiat money is not a Ponzi, right? Sovereigns can run deficits, and no inevitable flaming heap, right? Just checking… These guys seem so sharp, again, how does that square with their apparent fundamentally mistaken analysis when it comes to central banking.

    As an aside, it seems like, if MMT is really “right,” it should challenge otherwise smart and savvy pundits like Stockman to debates. Any pundits acting in good faith (not paid lackeys) should be open to having their minds changed if they can’t defend their positions. And if you could get at least all the (few) good faith pundits to embrace MMT, you would have a chance of spreading it far and wide. Which I go along with, at least to the extent that it seems to more accurately describe our system than the orthodoxy, and I would prefer a world where the common man deals with reality and not a fog of proganda and illusion. Even if the experts “know better”, I still prefer the incompetent common man having some major say in steering the ship, at least if he is not handed a steering wheel connected to some fake rudder somewhere just to keep him happy.

    1. Mel

      I just reread The Origin of Financial Crises by George Cooper. It’s an explication of Hyman Minsky’s Financial Instability Hypothesis, and it’s an antidote to the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH) that runs through Stockman’s whole article. The EMH states that Sensible American Businessmen doing what comes naturally will create an economic Elysium; anything goes wrong it’s because of interference, usually from the Central Bank. So the whole article is about how easy money forced businessmen to invest in shopping malls, and that turned out to be a stupid thing to do. We’re left to infer that if they hadn’t had the easy money they wouldn’t have made the stupid investments. What would they have done without the easy money? I don’t know. Would they have invested no money in sensible enterprises? What would be the effect of no money invested in sensible enterprises? I don’t know. Would other money have appeared by magic, and through wise investment got us out of the L-shaped recovery that we’ve been in since 2008? I don’t know, and I don’t think Stockman does either. Central-Bank-bashing is just how you develop after you’ve played the Efficient Market opening.

      The Keynsian-bashing is misdirection based on a setup that’s reasonably accurate. You can best think of America as having two different economies, a Wall Street economy and a Main Street economy. The “Keynsian” stimulus from TARP through QE has been applied to Wall Street, and it’s worked wonders, with fantastic gains in the DJIA and the other stock indexes leading. As far as Main Street is concerned, stimulus hasn’t been tried yet, so to say it’s a failure is disingenuous in itself. “HOW DOES THAT WORK, EXACTLY?” I can only think. You’ll get no long-term if you don’t have a short-term. I suspect their low cunning has gone no further and they’ve settled for that.

      Credit Ponzi scheme? There’s an interesting way to look at debt. It’s most poignant in terms of the victims of payday-loan shops, but it doesn’t stop with them. Since the War on Payroll started in the mid-’70s it’s a central feature of the American economy. It’s part of the burst of the real-estate bubble in 2007. If you don’t believe in the War on Payroll, Quinn’s part of the article describes it volubly. If you don’t believe after reading Quinn, then there’s no hope for you. When business decided to cut back wages, and saw that it worked, the gap got filled with consumer credit. The juiciest credit was in home loans because of the collateral involved. The population could make up the shortfall in paychecks with 2nd mortgages, reverse mortagages and all the other home-as-ATM products. When the industry began to securitize mortgages, the cash floodgates were opened. After they couldn’t find more real mortgages they securitized toxic fake mortgages and it all worked. People say that that was evil but it boosted the consumer market’s liquidity by years. The crash of 2007 would have happened years earlier, and all the people that lived through consumer spending would have bitten the dust that much earlier, too.
      But that made it policy to support the people, not on wages, but on loans. If you’ve earned a wage the money’s yours to use and there’s no more question. With borrowed money, your life depends on this strange equation:
      1 – 1 = 1
      which is to say, you’ve borrowed the money, you’ve spent it, yet you still have to have it to pay it back. Accounting arithmetic never embraced that equation, so the crunch eventually came, and came hard.

      If you think of the government as having to live on borrowed money, then the same “equation” starts to constrain the government as well. Borrow to spend, then borrow to repay, then borrow …
      Remind you of Ponzi?

      Debate’s happening right here. Hang around, read the articles. No need to have a mud fight on Fox News to bring out the truth.

  11. Mcmike

    re Fox News.

    While it fun to see their ratings plummet – and even funner to know they are affixed to a shrinking demographic (one that is ironically sucking the life out of Medicare and cashing their Social security checks while watching Fox news and calling the 1-800 number for Medicare financed motorized scooters and stair lifts) – I think the author is mistaken that Fox’s anti-Hillary attacks will offend seniors.

    Right wing numbies have long since shown that they are perfectly willing to ape and outrage at whatever the right says in the moment, completely devoid of broader context, deeper meanings, or past positions.

    The hatred of Clinton is deep and long term, it’s the only thing that matters. In fact, the return of Clinton’s to the main stage will be an epic session of right wing apoplexy. The long simmering fear and loathing will boil out in seething demonstrations of rage and unreality that will both shock and amuse us.

    Watching the tea partiers complain about government in medicare, Obama as a Kenyan socialist, and the like will pale in comparison to this monumental visit to the right’s Mordor of the mind.

  12. TimR

    Catching up with the comments to “MMT on a Postcard” —

    Craazyman’s bit about how the JG would make skating by on the margins of society much more difficult in an MMT regime really cracked me up. Not the kind of view that generally gets aired in “polite” “respectable” conversation. But very to-the-point for us misfits who prefer reading books to useful employment, hahahah.

    Somebody here (or maybe at linked an essay called “Why Work?” some weeks back that I thought was pretty brilliant. Title is too generic though, and I forget the author/pub. He advanced an argument in favor of work as play, more self-directed and with more variety than the current dispensation provides.

    I also appreciated JGordon’s concerns about the “monoculture” MMT could serve to advance or maintain. This I think is a pressing problem of humanity as a whole, to work to avoid creating a total Grid, total Matrix. It’s bad enough already, but we need to publicly proclaim the need to rollback and impede any establishment of the potential for a “turn-key tyranny.” “Efficiency” is no excuse for the dangers of such total centralized control.

  13. Jake Mudrosti

    The D-Wave quantum computer is not what the BBC article makes it out to be.
    Here, for example, is a 2009 post, which pretty much puts the BBC report into perspective:

    From that post:
    ” But when asked whether things are still on track to reach tens of thousands of qubits in the next couple of years, Rose dodges the question. “Right now we are concentrating all our resources on getting the 128-qubit systems up and operational and delivering them to customers,” he says.
    Which means D-Wave still has a long way until it can build a quantum computer that can solve large real-world problems—and that companies would pay good money for.”

    Also, this:
    “[D-Wave] has raised some US $65 million from investors that include Goldman Sachs and Draper Fisher Jurvetson, ”

    Note that even in the current BBC article, there’s no slam-dunk success being reported. My initial reaction to the BBC report is therefore this: “Seems that they’re angling for more funding now.”

    Don’t misunderstand, though: the underlying physics behind quantum computing is firm, not in any way “spooky”. (A pox on BBC for repeating that “spooky” quote) The only issue here is whether the D-Wave people are being dishonest about their work.

  14. Paul Lafargue

    Applicants = supplicants. Same term used by Guy Standing in his latest book A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens. A “must read” as they say.

    1. JTFaraday

      Interesting, thanks. Alas, that’s not in my local library.

      When I heard Stanley Aronowitz was writing about “The Jobless Future”– also not in my local library– I figured that was just wishful thinking on somebody’s part. God knows I was drowning in work– if you want to call it that– for some strange reason.

      But, here we are. Crowd sourcing shoe sales.

  15. rich

    Savage capitalism is back – and it will not tame itself Capitalists spread prosperity only when threatened by global rivalry, radical movements and the risk of uprisings at hom

    Piketty, in contrast, begins his book by denouncing “the lazy rhetoric of anti-capitalism”. He has nothing against capitalism itself – or even, for that matter, inequality. He just wishes to provide a check on capitalism’s tendency to create a useless class of parasitical rentiers. As a result, he argues that the left should focus on electing governments dedicated to creating international mechanisms to tax and regulate concentrated wealth. Some of his suggestions – an 80% income tax! – may seem radical, but we are still talking about a man who, having demonstrated capitalism is a gigantic vacuum cleaner sucking wealth into the hands of a tiny elite, insists that we do not simply unplug the machine, but try to build a slightly smaller vacuum cleaner sucking in the opposite direction.

    What’s more, he doesn’t seem to understand that it doesn’t matter how many books he sells, or summits he holds with financial luminaries or members of the policy elite, the sheer fact that in 2014 a left-leaning French intellectual can safely declare that he does not want to overthrow the capitalist system but only to save it from itself is the reason such reforms will never happen. The 1% are not about to expropriate themselves, even if asked nicely. And they have spent the past 30 years creating a lock on media and politics to ensure no one will do so through electoral means.

    Since no one in their right mind would wish to revive anything like the Soviet Union, we are not going to see anything like the mid-century social democracy created to combat it either. If we want an alternative to stagnation, impoverishment and ecological devastation, we’re just going to have to figure out a way to unplug the machine and start again

    1. psychohistorian

      My latest rejoinder to folks in discussions like this is to suggest we “crowdsource” ourselves a new government, by and for the 99%.

  16. Jill

    Zappos: All you nattering nabobs of negativism. Let’s turn this lemon into lemonade!

    The military has programs where one person can become up to 10 different identities on blogs, etc. Political candidates hire people to write positive facebook posts for them. Surely unemployed people could pay for that and sleep on the street instead of on that guy’s couch.

    I truly hope the freeware people come up with downloadable AI identities which exactly fit the Zappos ideal proletariat profile. It’s time for that military hardware to be put to good use in a civilian capacity. Love you so much Zap!

  17. OIFVet

    Those who say that student loans are a burden to the economy and to the graduates are whiny slackers. It is easy to repay $74K student loan debt in two years, according to Business Insider. All one needs is $80K starting salary and a bit of planning. Helpful tips include the following gem: “4. Keep your contact information current.” Of course, we need to make sure our creditors can track us down on a moment’s notice. Left out of Business Insider’s helpful tip sheet was an analysis of the number of $80K jobs available to new graduates, and the effect of the austere personal budget on the consumer spending-driven economy. Not that it matters of course, the important thing is make sure we pay our creditors. Moral of the story is, those who say that student loan debt is a problem are nattering nabobs of negativism. Go to school and borrow heavily to pay for your degree, the $80K job will be there and waiting for you!

  18. Avalancheden

    In the old days you would merely presume that The Lugar Center was a proprietary stuffed to the gills with ordinary gumshoe spooks. But knowing what we know now, this is not at all implausible because

    (1.) The Biological Weapons Convention is toothless by comparison with the CWC. The US government wipes its ass with the NPT. You think they care about the BWC?
    (2.) The US produces illegal US government bioweapons including the weaponized anthrax that US government officials used on Senators Leahy and Daschle when they stalled the PATRIOT Act.
    (3.) The US biodefense provisions in the PATRIOT Act and U.S.C. Ch. 6A § 201 et seq are now being used as a pretext for developing biological weapons (‘hey, how are we going to test our smallpox vaccines without smallpox?’)

    But why would this come out now? Because the current Georgian regime is наш, and the gentleman’s agreement is out the window. The Russians gained the moral high ground by default so they don’t give a crap what comes out. Hold on loosely. When the floodgates open you’ll think you ate a pound of LSD.

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