Links 10/18/14

The monkey that became a midwife BBC (VD)

Banks unveil next year’s bailout Daily Mash

The Economic Consequences of Sex Project Syndicate (Chuck L)

Scientists Are Bashing Lockheed Martin’s Nuclear Fusion ‘Breakthrough’ Business Insider (David L)

Mopping up a sea of plastic BBC (David L)


President Obama Names Ron Klain ‘Ebola Czar’ ABC (furzy mouse). A DC insider who knows nothing about medicine. We are supposed to see this as an improvement over MBA who know nothing about medicine.

New Study Suggests 21-Day Ebola Quarantine Is Dangerously Short Huffington Post (David L)

Fox News Gets it Right About Ebola Hysteria Taegan Goddard. When Fox makes sense, you know things are bad.

The Masque of the Red Death Edgar Allan Poe (Chuck L)

Meanwhile, Back At Fukushima … George Washington

Hong Kong

Hong Kong protesters strike back BBC

Chaos in Hong Kong Protest Camp as Police Use Batons, Pepper Spray to Repel Surge of Protestors South China Morning Post

Apple’s appeal falters in China as iPhone 6 fails to impress Nikkei

Thailand plans one of world’s tallest skyscrapers Associated Press. An almost-certain precursor of a big downturn.

Germany doesn’t need stimulus, says ECB’s Weidmann Reuters

Samaras’s crumbling Greek exit lacks backing from economists Bloomberg


A Caliph in a Wilderness of Mirrors Pepe Escobar, Counterpunch

Obama pressed to expand war on Isis Financial Times

Senate’s inquiry into CIA torture sidesteps blaming Bush, aides McClatchy

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Hawk Attacks Man’s Quadcopter Drone NBC (furzy mouse). I see a business opportunity…

Revealed: how Whisper app tracks ‘anonymous’ users Guardian (Chuck L)

The Dark Market for Personal Data New York Times (David L)

Senior NSA official moonlighting for private cybersecurity firm Guardian

Private donors, including Target and IBM, supply spy gear to cops MinnPost (Chuck L)

Sorry, California. Winter Isn’t Going to Fix Your Drought Mother Jones (Chuck L)

Tax returns show Chris Christie and his wife made $698,838 last year, paid $193,510 in taxes Associated Press. Lambert: “But the better headline would be: ‘Christie’s Wife Earned $500K at Part Time Job.'”

Banks make progress on home loan access Financial Times. Translation: more inefficient government laundering of housing market subsidies through housing finance.

Five economic lessons from Sweden, the rock star of the recovery Washington Post (Swedish Lex)

But then we have this: What Yellen Needs to Learn From Sweden, Fast Bloomberg (Swedish Lex)

Market economics means more than just supply and demand Financial Times (David L)

Class Warfare

A Japanese Coffee-Making Robot Is Coming To Steal Barista Jobs Business Insider (David L). I don’t want to get coffee from a robot.

Yellen Decries Widening Wealth Disparity WSJ Economy

Janet Yellen Is Wrong About The Cause Of Wealth Inequality Forbes

Breaking Up Fortunes Jacobin

Antidote du jour (Kevin H):

Eastern Bluebird IX

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Fíréan


    There are no public interest or free speech exemptions. Criminalisation of disclosure would apply to journalists working for commercial media organisations or wherever the leak was considered harmful to the “economic interests” of any TPP country..

    quoted from
    Australians may pay more for medicines under trade deal
    via TPP Leak Confirms Measures To Criminalize Corporate Whistleblowing
    The comments and references are made in the context of the most recent leak given on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Neither article, both dated 16 oct.2014, gives the source of the leak.
    edited; nb. date attributed to articles was in correct.2014 not 2016.corrected

    1. Fíréan


      Incoming Commission president Jean Claude Juncker is said to have decided to remove the controversial investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) from TTIP, citing that it is “too late” to win on the issue, and to send a clear signal to EU citizens that he has “heard them” a new news report says.

      reported yesterday oct.17th 2014. Transatlantic Trade and Investor Partnership (TTIP)

      Though the outgoing European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht has stated that there will be no TTIP agreement without the controversial investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS): see reference to reuters article in same link.

      Last weekend,11/12 oct., there were demonstrations in over 400 venues throughout Europe against the TTIP

      1. psychohistorian

        It is GLOBAL FASCISM, not just your run-of-the-mill type. And again, it is not the corporations, nor the bankers who are inherently bad but those that hire, fire and direct the puppets in charge of those organizations.

        The global elite can and have been moving their money and power around for centuries and the latest move is along the same path they have been on for centuries……extend and defend private ownership of property and the accumulation thereof facilitated by unfettered inheritance along with ownership of finance and in many cases, money itself. But this is all a TINA issue for most….there is never a Fortune 500 of family trusts, is there?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I’m glad the bad press is continuing, but the Australians have not gotten the memo. The Japanese have pulled the plug on the TPP negotiations. No Japan, no deal. The Japanese have made clear they are not coming back to the negotiating table unless there are MAJOR changes in the US position.

  2. scott

    Forbes: Really? The middle class is losing ground because they don’t invest enough in the Wall St. casino?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Straw man. That isn’t what the article said. It said that the Fed blowing asset bubbles, which then burst, wipes out middle class wealth to the benefit of the top 5%.

      The main vehicle for middle class wealth building has been home ownership.

      1. cwaltz

        The problem seems to go way beyond the Fed though. Don’t get me wrong the banking industry definitely benefitted from housing prices inflating but so did others(and I have to wonder how the taxpayers backstopping houses that were beyond median housing costs and a tax system that essentially encourages you to buy more house to get the tax benefits of writing off interest on your McMansion contributed.) Appraisers and real estate agents were perfectly willing to go along with the scam because it made them money in the short term.

        The same problem is alive and well in Wall Street. We’re all supposed to cheer when some poor schlub loses his health care or job because it means some company just decreased their labor costs. We’re supposed to clap as each company exploits every loophole it can or ships jobs overseas to exploit brown people and lack of regulatory controls because it means a few bucks in the short term-never mind that some of the decisions may hurt a brand- or more importantly people or the planet.

        It’s funny to me because capitalism was once explained as a system that was supposed to be win-win for both labor and the resource market. However, the system definitely is no longer working as advertised. The new, perverse model appears to be exploit whoever you can to amass as much as you can. It doesn’t appear to matter whether it’s the food industry, retail, or anything else. They all appear to be using this model. It seems to go way beyond banking.

        1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

          Appraisers and real estate agents were perfectly willing to go along with the scam because it made them money in the short term.

          That was the carrot, but there was also the stick: If an appraiser or other professional somewhere down the chain didn’t contribute to the mortgage factory, he or she wouldn’t get assignments (and perhaps would get fired).

          It was (and remains) a top-down problem, and the blame lies with the upper management of our TBTF banks and the government bodies that are supposed to keep them from looting the country.

      2. bdy

        Correct, but his prescription: a middle-investment-class with more “knowledge” about the boom bust cycle, is naive. Knowing the game is rigged and understanding the logic of the rigging does little for those of us without sufficient liquidity to protect our assets. If (like most of us) your wealth is in your 401k, your salary, and your home you really have no recourse from 5-7 year business cycle of events that no one could foresee.

        Cash is King.

        1. cwaltz

          I think the Fed appears to grasp the problem.

          The solution not so much. Ultimately all college does is guarantee an educated work force. It doesn’t guarantee a decent paying job. She doesn’t seem to grasp that as supply of college educated workers go up and the pool of these workers increase it actually decreases the value of that degree and drives wages down.

          It doesn’t address wages and until wages are addressed the economy isn’t going to be fixed. The service sector is one of the fastest growing industries. It’s also one of the worst paid. Until the Fed figures out a way to ensure that ALL jobs are treated as essential(even ones that don’t require formal education) we’re going to continue to have problems.

          They need to reimplement the American Dream, the basic idea where if you work hard, regardless of whether or not you go to some Ivy League school, that you’ll succeed. It’s too many times I’ve heard that people holding down two jobs and working 60 hour work week deserve their economic lot because they didn’t go to college. You shouldn’t have to go to college. As long as you are trying you should be able to modestly support yourself without having to ask for a handout. I also resent that essentially what this means is that they are asking taxpayers to drive down the value of wages and forcing them to educate the business communities future employees beyond what they need to be(in order to increase supply and keep wages at rock bottom.)

          1. Eeyores enigma

            Again I ask what are we solving for?

            cwaltz and all of you for the most part – You speak as if the goal is to get back to extracting resources, producing and consuming at an ever increasing rate so that everyone has a shot at becoming well off. Then …well…oh yeah…maybe then we can talk about destroying the biosphere that supports life.

            Do you not see how insane that is?

    2. MikeNY

      A particularly moronic voicing of the belief that the rich are ‘better’ than everyone else (which is no surprise given the a$$-paper that Forbes is).

      The solution to inequality is for EVERYONE to be Steve Cohen.

      This would also empty out the prisons!

  3. Dino Reno

    True to form, Obama will be forced to commit ground troops to the war on ISIS after they take Bagdad, which will probably be sometime within the next four months. He will shocked, surprised and caught off guard as per usual, but he won’t have missed a round of golf or a pick up game of ball with his staff and friends. It will be a little too late to appoint an ISIS czar, but he might do it anyway to improve the PR optics on the loss of Iraq. Nice finish to his presidency with a a full scale war in Iraq as he heads out the door. Gotta love the feature film symmetry as we start were it all began. Added bonus, as the credits roll, would be a recession and market collapse with a post-presidential interview of Obama who will say he never saw it coming.

    1. Jagger

      I can’t stand Obama but I put the blame for Iraq squarely on Bush, Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz, etc. Making someone Captain of the Titanic after it has already hit the iceberg is not going to stop the Titanic from sinking. The guilt lies with those who attacked Iraq without just cause in the first place.

    2. James

      All by design, me thinks. ISIS is mostly just another transparent strawman meant to provide a justification for sewing havoc in the region to further the interests of countless other sub-agendas. Yes, I’m certain there are ISIS elements that have been allowed/encouraged to go rogue with their own agendas as well, but that’s a feature, not a bug. As for Obama, the only question is, is he actually “in charge” of any of this to any extent at all? My guess is no, and I think his record speaks for itself in that regard. I think he’s just along for the ride in all of this, willingly or otherwise. The follow on question then becomes, was he in on it all along, as in before he was even elected, or did this personal transformation take place afterwards? That one’s really a moot point and there’s good evidence to support either claim, although if it was the former, that certainly speaks to the deeply corrupted nature of our entire political process. But what it does point out either way is the utter stupidity of believing that the election process can effectively counter what an inside coterie possessing entrenched, generational wealth, power, and influence have spent their entire lives in establishing. The idea that they would risk all of that every 4 years to the vagaries of an fair, honest, and open election process is hopelessly naive. The whole thing is much, much bigger than any of us suspect, and little things like the laughable political slogans the “men who would be king” pols trot out every 2-4 years are totally inconsequential to them, as even the pols themselves learn quickly enough.

      1. wbgonne

        The evidence suggests it was a bag job all along and Obama was in on it. Exhibit A is that, immediately after the 2007 election, Obama dismantled his massive citizens group. His first order of business then was to surrender his power and render himself “helpless” to resist the DC insiders. One must recall the historical moment and recognize it was an historical inflection point — the failure and repudiation of conservatism — that in the normal democratic course would lead to a correction in the form of a progressive renaissance. Obama squelched that. By design, IMO. The destroyer of hope sent to tell us that real change was impossible and the neoliberal world order was unassailable. That was Obama’s mission. Mission accomplished. Here comes Hillary.

        1. James

          That’s my take on it as well. He was put forth to discredit the Dem brand in one sense (although it’s hard to imagine they needed any help in that regard!), but also to move them right, even as the Republican party was doing so even more aggressively as well, thereby establishing the Dems as the “thinking adults’ rational conservative choice” of the two. And if the electorate gets pissed off from time to time and votes hard right instead? So much the better! After Obama it’s truly win/win for the power brokers. The true “liberal left,” which was always powerless anyway, has been rendered politically extinct. TRULY a strategic masterstroke! Which, as you say, sets us up for either Hillary or an even more extreme right wing nut job yet to be named in 2016. And Obama? He can relax in the comfort of knowing what GWB before him already knows; his time in office is about to be viewed fondly as “the good old days” in comparison to whatever comes next.

          1. wbgonne

            May you live in interesting times. Those moments in 2007 when real change seemed possible feel so long ago. But you know what? Conservatism still failed. And Obama’s neoliberal triage is failing too. We will soon be back where we were in 2007, only with HerTurn demanding the acquiescence to the plutocracy that she thinks Obama secured for her. But these things seldom go as planned and I think Hillary, a ham-handed politician if ever there was, is going to unpleasantly surprised again.

            1. James

              Well, but keep in mind, conservatism’s only goal is to maintain the status quo for the elite, which I think it’s doing very well. And I’m not sure what neo-liberalism even is, other than conservatism all gussied up in new outfit. And whether or not Hillary succeeds or fails is mostly irrelevant. From the Wire:

              Butchie: What you gonna do when you sitting at the head of the table?

              Marlo Stanfield: Hmm. Sounds like one of them good problems to me.

              Butchie: Prison and graveyards. Fell of them boys who wore the crown.

              Marlo Stanfield: Point is, they wore it. It’s my turn to wear it now.

        2. Ulysses

          “The destroyer of hope sent to tell us that real change was impossible and the neoliberal world order was unassailable.”

          Very well put! People fed up with the establishment were encouraged to project their hopes and aspirations onto a charming, personable young man without a long record of direct complicity in the crimes of the establishment. Yet even at the time it was clear he was eager to aid that same establishment in shredding the remnants of the New Deal, and neutering any potential challenges to kleptocratic rule.

      2. Glenn Condell

        ‘was he in on it all along, as in before he was even elected, or did this personal transformation take place afterwards’

        The Obama Conundrum: History’s Greatest Disappointment or Sound Investment? Or both?

        The same question could be asked about Clinton and Blair. Point men at other crucial inflection points; one delivered Leach-Bliley and the repeal of Glass Steagall plus a marketing template for ‘liberal interventionism’, the other was handmaiden/midwife to the present age of war for profit by preferring to join ’em rather than beat ’em, which would have involved standing at the head of the revulsion of about three-quarters of the Western world, including his own country.

        Were they all as weak as piss, or carefully placed? Again, both. There is no need to imagine that they themselves are part of a conspiracy to embed them to do this dirty work; there’s no need to involve them, so why? They were just the successful applicants. The employers knew these self-regarding orators were weak as piss, reliably so, and hired them accordingly (or rather, allowed the system to percolate them thru to the top, ‘democratically’)

    3. Banger

      No one is taking Baghdad. The war in that area has nothing to do with “normal” wars. It is all about hidden agendas of at least the following players: Iran, Turkey, Israel, the various Gulf States, rump Syria, rump Iraq, Russia, “NATO”, and all the half-dozen factions in Washington. Mix that up with real fighters and Sunnis on the ground and you have a completely insane mess with guns, money, slave girls, and God knows what else.

      I see the whole crazy criminal enterprise stabilizing with various factions claiming their booty and maneuvering on the sidelines. Borders will be established. With an ISIS statelet probably dominated by Turkey, a Kurdish virtual state, a rump Iraq and a rump Syria with occasional fighting over scraps. The U.S. will attempt to maintain some kind of status quo secret agreement to keep things as-is until Lady Clinton takes the helm and all Hell breaks loose. That’s my guess based on nothing other than a knowledge that nothing is what it seems.

      1. James Levy

        Agreed. There is no reason why the Shiite militias cannot hold Baghdad. ISIS seems constrained to putting about 10,000 men in the field at any given place/time. Capturing Baghdad should under any circumstances take way more than 10,000 guys–1% of the city’s population showing up to defend it would give you an equal force, and in street to street, house to house fighting, you need a serious edge.
        My real question is, what have the Peshmerga been up to for the last decade? The Kurds have had de facto home rule and tons of money from Uncle Sam, yet they can’t seem to put a decent military force in the field–and the first thing any group like the Kurds does when it gets autonomy is beef up its military capability. That has left me dumbstruck, but it may just be another manifestation of the tendency I’ve been talking about here for elites everywhere to have lost their will to act in any way other than for personal self-interest. Is anyone, anywhere working hard for the common good, or even the narrow interests of the nation-state (Putin, maybe, is a Russian nationalist, but not many others you can point to)? The motto of the Power Elite is becoming the cry of a beaten army: “every man for himself!”.

    1. Dino Reno

      Invitations are already going out for a White House screening with Putin and Snowden as special guests.
      My advice is don’t go, it’s a trap!

    2. Everythings Jake

      Nothing interesting about it. The film industry is quite happy to support the bipartisan neoliberal consensus that the U.S. should wander around the world killing brown poor and yellow people for industry, the fossil fuel-ocracy and finance. Take just one example, if propaganda about the evil Russian-Asian axis is needed, a remake of “Red Dawn” appears.

  4. jgordon

    Robot coffee – It’s nice that you personally would not buy coffee from a robot, but being pretty poor myself I certainly would if it meant cheaper coffee. Although better yet, I just make my own.

    Ron Klain – definitely symptomatic of an empire in decline. The selection is entirely irrational, unless of course the stated purpose of protecting public health is a lie. Although we are talking about Obama here, so the odds of it not being a lie are pretty small.

    Mopping up the sea of plastic – Well it’s a good start. A better idea would be to just stop making plastic. Although I guess once humans have fallen in love with their technological toys giving them up becomes “impossible” and “unrealistic” however destructive they may be to society and the environment.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I very seldom buy coffee, but I regard part of the service of buying coffee at a coffee shop to be dealing with a person, albeit briefly. Humans are social animals and replacing a human with a machine is a form of lowering the service content.

      1. L.M. Dorsey

        “Service content” — now there’s a phrase to chill the blood. Tho I worked as a food server when I was younger and came to believe some people liked to “go out” to eat just so they might, for a moment at least, have and abuse the servants they would never have in real life. Which is another face of what you’re referring to.

        1. Carolinian

          Hey Downton Abbey is a popular show!

          + 100 or however many it is. Personally I love self checkout….anything to get me out of a store as quickly as possible. Guess I’m just not into shopping.

          1. optimader

            I’m w/ you Carolinian… whatever expedites me out of the retail environment quickest. Anyway, it’s all about the circle you choose to draw. I want to keep the scanner repair techs employed.

      2. TedWa

        Totally agree. I absolutely refuse to check myself out of any store, grocery, hardware, anyplace. I don’t go shopping there to work !
        I would refuse to let a robot serve me coffee too. It’s just putting barrista’s out of work, so why would anyone want to contribute to that?

        1. optimader

          Until recently I’ve refused to shop at stores that use cash registers, as they took away jobs from people that could do the longform math on a written receipt.
          I made the concession of allowing them to use ball point pens, that was probably my moral inflection point.

      3. cwaltz

        Some of this generation(I’ve got 4 kiddos and they are all comfortable with computers, tablets and for the older two, smart phones) appear to be more comfortable with technology than they are with people. I’m with you though. I’ll go through an occasional self checkout but for the most part if there is a human readily available I’ll choose human interaction just about every time. As businesses automate and cut labor I’m just choosing to shop less because I find the experience less enjoyable and more of a hassle. I doubt these businesses figured that in their model.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          A thinking person should never be ‘comfortable’ with technology.

          He/She should always doubt technology in order to exist as a living being.

          When you become ‘comfortable,’ you have already been ‘infiltrated.’

          1. cwaltz

            The problem isn’t with technology. The problem is with the PEOPLE who wield it.

            For the most part computers are way more reliable and dependable than humans are so I actually understand why one might be more inclined to trust technology over forging friendships. That being said, when relationships actually work for both parties, it is way more satisfying then screaming into the void that is technology. A robot can emulate empathy but it doesn’t actually experience any of the things humans do so it can’t connect the way a human can. Not now anyways.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              We agree on that one – it’s the people who wield it and how they feel.

              Being too comfortable with it, technology becomes the background, part of the frame of reference. That’s when one becomes trapped inside. With a healthy dose of skepticism, one can remain on the outside.

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              Sorry, I regularly trigger major bugs within 15 minutes of trying a new program. And these are real bugs, not user error.

              Software is built to standards that were previously unacceptable in any consumer product. This “software is better than humans” is patently untrue, particularly given all the legacy code out there that is barely maintained properly. Talk to anyone who does IT at a major financial firm and they will tell you how terrible it is.

              1. ambrit

                Form follows function. One of our sons in law does code writing for a company that does navigation and steering controls for the Offshore Oil industry. If IT screws up there, lives and treasure are lost. Standards there are predictably very tight. Retail? It’s only money seems to be their new mantra. I view the big box stores use or non use of self checkout lines as an indicator of how tight middle management is squeezing the cost of labour. This, in a backhanded way, is an indicator of internal profit margins. Higher profits free up resources to make more floor workers available to ‘supervise’ self check out lines. I always see at least one real person keeping an eye on the self check out lines, mainly to act as trouble shooters for those registers. It would be a useful tool to follow the use or non use of self check out lines during the year to gauge the internal financial health of individual stores.

              2. John Zelnicker

                Yves – I wonder if you could include your bug-finding talent as a side benefit for your Aurora Advisers clients and charge a bit extra for it. ;-)

    2. wbgonne

      California just banned plastic bags. A lot can be done with honest leadership and a functioning democracy. Obama’s reign of hopelessness notwithstanding.

      1. hunkerdown

        Therefore, the USA, as a republic*, is basically doomed.

        * A “representative democracy” is neither, by design.

    3. craazyboy

      Since when have we upgraded the vending machine job description to robot? Sounds like wage creep to me!

      1. Eureka Springs

        My experience in Japan some 20 years ago led to the immediate and lasting impression that robot vending machines, even urinals that thanked you turned humans into robots as well.

        That said I would love a hot can of ooolong milk tea right now.

        If we are going there and I think energy supply willing and able that we are going there… we have to sort out a way to eliminate the robotic neolib worker bee aspect of society. MMT writ large for the little people or something. Maybe tax robot profit at 100 percent. That goes for the cloud robot as well.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What I want from my robot

      1. Get a job for me.
      2. Better yet, get a job for itself and give me the money
      3. Cook
      4. Clean the cave
      5. Repair and Maintain the Luddite’s cave
      6. Leave the cat alone
      7. Be silent and meditate when there is nothing to do
      8. Take care of the tin foil hat supply*
      9 Screen viruses at the front entrance


    5. cwaltz

      I’m old enough to remember those machines where you inserted a quarter and the machine made you coffee or hot cocoa. I sure hope these “robots” work better than those did. The quality of what you are getting matters.

      Our corporate overlords would never admit it but in a system that actually works humans act as a form of quality control. You aren’t going to get a robot to adapt fast enough if and when your client base changes things up.

      1. Kurt in Austin

        There is a company in Austin trying to bring back the coffee vending machine. Since it brews the coffee for each customer, you need to get in the coffee queue using an app. (please excuse my HTML ignorance)

    6. legendary bigfoot

      Maybe you hire a manager to manage and he hires specialists to execute tasks. Not worthy of all the conspiratorial mumblings and Bush flashbacks which just feed into the conservative press narrative.

      1. jgordon

        Perhaps you could point to the part of his resume that shows his managerial experience. Because the only parts that have been aired in the press so far are the facts that he excels at showering politicians with money and currying favor with various elites.

    7. Kurt Sperry

      Robot coffee: For most people the coffee they consume is already largely the result of automated processes. I would rate a coffee from a vending machine, and these can be decent quality-wise, a full robot coffee and coffee from a machine where the only human involvement might involve placing and removing a cup and pressing a button mostly there as well. A standard automated drip maker’s coffee can be pretty close to robotically produced as well unless you require your robotics to look and act like characters from a ’50s sci-fi flick.

      Non automated coffee might include hand poured drip or coffee from a lever-type espresso maker where the human inputs are critical to the quality of the result.

      1. hunkerdown

        What’s the difference between a robot and a machine? I would suggest, as a first approximation, that machines, as tools, are concerned with process(es), while robots are (solely or additionally) concerned with coordination among processes and with the world outside the process. In that light, your average drip coffeemaker has one job: it maintains a short length of pipe at a set temperature. That water flows up another pipe into a basket and a plate stays warm aren’t of the least concern to the machine. Likewise cement mixers, circular saws, manual espresso machines; even microwave ovens could be more machine than robot by such a benchmark.

        A super-auto espresso machine, however, is clearly a robot. It has multiple processes to coordinate and ensures a result. As is the *$ machine operator pushing the correct buttons to make your coffee as per, or any other service employee, to the degree they’re not being human.

  5. craazyboy

    Well, OK. First things first.

    Lockheed fusion announcement was Reuters’ click bait.

    “While headlines touted Lockheed’s results as a “breakthrough” that could “change the world forever,” the corporation used no such language in its press release. However, it appears that we will have to wait at least a little while longer before any reactor Lockheed envisions enters the market.”

    So everyone re-calibrate your excitement/skepticism.

    1. ambrit

      Is it just me, or is there a ‘surge’ of Technotopia headlines lately? I’ve noticed something going on on that front. I’m guessing that someone in a “Position of Influence” has taken note of the group of public consumers who do not subscribe to the “Bread and Circuses” infotainment prevalent on our Media devices today. (I’m too old to get ‘excited’ by ‘upskirt’ photos of Princess Aurora, and terminally jaded concerning ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ by the starlet of the week. It’s the definitive version of non-event.) Now there’s mind numbing content for all categories of consumer!
      We live in amazing times.

      1. craazyboy

        I don’t pay close enough attention to news to discern trends that closely. I just start paying more attention whenever this 6th sense I have* warns me that the world may be coming to an end. Then I figure I better pay attention, so I don’t miss it or something.

        But you’ve highlighted what I think is a pervasive long term trait of humanity – that there is someone with a Genie Lamp and all they need to do is rub it and all our problems are solved. Technology is the new Genie – and our scientists will rub it just in time!

        I kinda like the sidebars with the T&A lite web theme. You can watch them out the corner of your eye while reading an article. They are more convenient than having to click to your favorite porn site, tho I don’t really consider them as serious direct competition to a quality porn site.

        * It may not be a 6th sense after all – I’ve begun to suspect my subconscious is triggered by the subtext line on the TVs at the gym.

        1. craazyboy

          Recovery is here – the R&D budget is alive and well!

          Been wondering when someone would eliminate the crank on those home made pasta machines.

          But personally, I think I’ll still go with economies of scale and keep buying the wheat linguini, rigatoni, and even tortellini at the store. Don’t want to have to figure out how to 3D print around a glob of cheese when I’m hungry.

          This whole concept is ripe for abuse too. Imagine Heinz raising ketchup prices because ketchup comes in a 3D printer? The BLS will say ketchup prices went down and we’ll another step closer to deflation!

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Robots to assemble 3D printers.

          And 3 Printers to print robots.

          It’s a virtuous cycle…until robots start to moonlight at the clone-manufacturing factory.

    2. not_me

      That still leaves those guys in Washington state who use a spheromak. For a few hundred bucks or so teenager have built working hot fusion reactors in their garages that actually produce free neutrons. The problem will be solved, that’s a near certainty unless the banks destroy civilization first.

  6. JLowe

    I know nothing about Ron Klain beyond the soundbite in the news but here’s a thought experiment to see if there’s any possible value in anointing him as Ebola Czar. Perhaps him not being a physician or public health professional isn’t critical as long as he surrounds himself with professionals and listens to their input. Being a DC insider may have some value in cajoling and strong-arming DHHS, DoD or DHS. A major objective of the position is to look like something is being done, which largely involves clear communications with a hyperactive media and jittery Congress.

    It’s largely symbolic and probably pretty irrelevant to how Ebola gets controlled. Demanding an Ebola Czar is something Congress can do to make it look like it’s doing something, rather than doing it’s real job.

  7. not_me

    That is, left out of the accounting is how and why huge amounts of capital have periodically moved from the hands of the middle-class to the coffers of the wealthy, creating the inequality in the first place. Yet, it is quite obvious.

    I refer to the cycle of recurring 25% to 50% stock and bond market collapses and recoveries, and the bursting of housing and other asset bubbles. Those events gut the wealth of the trusting middle-class, while the top 5% come out of those cycles with their wealth intact, and even enhanced. It is those periodic ‘asset price meltdowns’ that create the inequality.

    Those recurring cycles of bull and bear markets in stocks and bonds, the blowing of bubbles and their bursting in real estate and other assets, are hugely profitable for the top 5% because they make it their business to understand what’s going on, so they can buy low and sell high, the basic definition of successful investing.” from Janet Yellen Is Wrong About The Cause Of Wealth Inequality


    Nothing new here though since we were warned long ago:

    “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered…I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies… The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.” whether Thomas Jefferson said this or not, it is dead on.

  8. barrisj

    The Taegan Goddard piece on ” ‘Fox News’ gets it right”, in fact got it wrong, for it was only Shep Smith, in a commentary, who decried cable and mass media coverage of the Ebola business; his own colleagues and FNC were and are amongst the worst of the fearmongers. INdeed, the hard-right media jumped all over Smith for his remarks, as he seemly strayed from the right-wing playbook.
    Also, check the reader comments on Goddard’s article.

      1. James

        Fox News is some of the best entertainment out there! But you have to view it as the dry, ironic humor which it is intended to be. I sometimes mute the sound altogether and just let the images of stupidity roll over me. Fox News provides a public service by fostering the illusion in America’s vast sea of disenfranchised stupid people, who would otherwise likely just drink themselves into a stupor in silence, that there’s a vast liberal conspiracy somewhere “out there” that’s doing it all to them. The resulting comedic effect, especially around election time, is priceless! And in the end, shouldn’t people stupid enough to take anything Fox News says seriously, and I know plenty of them, be allowed some small comfort in their pitiful little lives, even if it’s purely delusional?

        1. ambrit

          The trouble is, their delusions have real world effects. (That’s what all the fighting is about.)

  9. Howard Beale IV

    Shepard Smith is Fox’s sole source of non-political sanity in a totally RWNJ-biased environment. And Taegan Goddard hasn’t been doing himself a whole lot of favors recently with his recent attacks on Wendy Davis’s political ad against Greg Abbot in TX. Goddard is now close to becoming (if he hasn’t had the trepanning already done) part of the beltway babbling classes, adding little to no value.

  10. JTFaraday

    re: “Meanwhile, Back At Fukushima” … George Washington

    “The Japanese have dumped their plan to build an “ice wall” around the plant to contain the radiation. Indeed, they don’t have much of a plan to stabilize the reactors or contain the radiation. Their plan seems to be to dump it all in the ocean.”

    Gut churning. One hopes there’s a little more to the plan than that.

    1. ambrit

      What plan? We’ve all at one time or another fallen prey to the Vast Evil Conspiracy mindset. Chaos theory best fits the parade of events we misname as government.
      Considering just where Fukushima is, at sea level on a coastline, AGW sea level rise will bring the ocean to the site! Then Godzilla will rise from his radioactive slumber to trample Tokyo.
      One of the episodes in Kurosawas “Dreams” has Japan succumbing to a radioactive onslaught directly emanating from power reactors.
      (Sorry for the foreign subtitles, but it was the only full clip I could find on short notice. Kurosawa being a visual storyteller though, the montage speaks for itself.)
      Another really good film about atomics is Imamura’s “Black Rain” about the aftereffects of the Hiroshima event.

      1. craazyboy

        You just reminded me I need to check up on that too.

        UC Berkeley been tracking it, in spite of the typical assurances, “Nothing To See Hear”.

        Berkeley said they know that, but they want to use Geiger counters.

        It appears the effort has morphed recently into this website here:

    2. optimader

      This was a BS Goldbergian project w/ 0 % probability of success. The Japanese refuse to take responsibility for this disaster and pony up the budget for a proper scale remediation plan, instead they are kicking the can down the road, They need to trench down to bedrock around the perimeter and pour a damwall around the entire facility to deflect groundwater, put a shell over it and start a multigenerational cleanup into perpetuity,

      For perspective, the crumbling sarcophagus which was a quick fix was the largest civil engineering project in history. 250,000 workers took a lifetime dose doing it and it’s just a start. This is the scale we should be talking about in Fukushima. Basically the Japanese have to be junior partner on this, they have proven themselves to be unwilling and incompetent.

  11. rusti

    Swedish Lex probably has a more complete take on this than me, but I think there’s a whole lot to contest with Sweden being the “rock star of recovery”. Outsiders see that GDP went up and assume everything is all peachy. Why did the far-right anti-immigration party make massive gains in the last election to overtake the green party as the third largest in parliament? Why are the schools in a free fall in the relative international rankings? Why are so many of the largest companies (Saab, Sony Ericsson, ST Ericsson, Volvo Cars) etc being dismantled or sold off to foreign investors?

    Even people my age (mid 20’s) talk about how they’ve seen schools become increasingly segregated, a lot of the famed “welfare state” institutions are being dismantled and there are massive (though not yet US-level) problems with the health care system.

    I’m happy I had the opportunity to emigrate here, and the problems certainly aren’t on par with the European periphery, but my impression is that GDP going up has just been a consequence of it being better to be a rich dude here.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If it’s anything like here, and there was one ‘the scariest chart’ posted recently, the more the GDP grows, the poorer the non-rich.

      That might help explain your Swedish experience.

    2. Swedish Lex

      On immigration:
      Sweden now has more immigrants (people living in Sweden not born there) than for instance France (%-Wise). A huge change for Sweden that has taken place over a few decades only. In addition, Sweden takes on more refugees (Syria, etc.) than most other European countries. As many as Germany, vastly more than France.
      The majority of Swedes welcome immigration. Some parties wish to dismantle border controls altogether. 10% vote for the extreme right. I would say that 15% of the popoulation is more or less hostile to immigration and that, perhaps, 50% at least thinks its a good thing.

      The welfare institutions are not being dismantled. That is propaganda. Trimming on the edges to make the system long-term sustainable.

      Swedish companies keep buying companies abroad like crazy. Some Swedish groups are being sold. It’s normal. Volvo cars was sold by Ford to the Chinese a few years back since Ford had totally failed with the company. The Chinese work with the Swedes, developing new cars. The latest news is that Volvo is hiring in Sweden again (Volvo trucks remains Swedish)

      The Swedish school system needs to be improved. The Finnish system is the model in many regards.

      1. rusti

        Maybe I’m just inherently skeptical, but my impression on a number of these points is different. The other 7 parties are sort of forced to distance themselves from the Sverigedemokraterna on immigration, but you can see how well that served the Moderaterna as SD siphoned off a huge percentage of their votes. Is it really more than the barely-enough-to-enter-parliament Vänsterpartiet that actually wishes to dismantle border controls? There seems to be a widespread consensus that there is a collective responsibility to take on refugees, but the result is a lot of resentment bubbling under the surface obviously with the meteoric rise of a party that is utterly idiotic with no take on any issues besides “no more immigrants” and “ditch the EU”.

        I would argue that Swedish companies buying companies abroad isn’t a sign of success for the layperson, especially if it means that former important employers are packing up and leaving. It’s just a consequence of a wealth shift upwards.

        With regards to Volvo, a huge percentage of my social network is employed or directly contracted by the two entities and of those employed by the car company there is more than a minor dose of skepticism about where the collaboration with Geely is leading. Volvo Trucks is still under a major hiring freeze and extreme budget trimming (to the point of absurdity in many cases) exercise as they try to squeeze out quarterly results under a new CEO. Sony and ST Ericsson have all but packed up and left Lund. Scania is increasingly under the thumb of Volkswagen.

  12. craazyman

    On the Antidote, why is it that nature never gets color wrong? it’s weird.

    “It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to.”

    does anybody need to ask who “Vincent” is? haha. I didn’t think so. Strange that even in the white collar septic tank I work in, a few framed poster prints from the Dutch master somehow have found there way onto office walls. How improbable that would have seemed in 1887.

    1. not_me

      On the Antidote, why is it that nature never gets color wrong? it’s weird.

      That’s a profound question over which people profoundly disagree.

      1. craazyman

        It’s a question for Stoners. How would we ever know?

        That’s why you need a 10-bagger. So you can Stone and think about it without getting harassed by a job.

          1. craazyman

            Faaaaak, that sounds like a lot of work.

            It makes me tired just thinking about it.

            I’d rather lay around in a dream-like state and have it come to me.

  13. Louis

    Any article on automation is typically accompanied by comments, some which bash those workers who will be rendered obsolete. However, what the negative comments are unable, or unwilling, to recognize is that robots and automation will render higher-skill jobs obsolete too—it already has: e.g. discovery in litigation–just because your job hasn’t been outsourced or automated now doesn’t meant it can’t be in the future.

    The difficult question is what do we do with the workers who are rendered obsolete by automation, especially given the ever increasing rate of technological advancement and change?

    1. not_me

      The difficult question is what do we do with the workers who are rendered obsolete by automation, especially given the ever increasing rate of technological advancement and change? Louis

      Give them their rightful share in the profits derived therefrom since it was their (along with entire population’s) (legally) stolen purchasing power that financed those productivity gains.

      1. Louis

        not_me wrote Give them their rightful share in the profits derived therefrom since it was their (along with entire population’s) (legally) stolen purchasing power that financed those productivity gains.

        The small tier of people currently benefiting aren’t going to voluntarily say “Gosh, the workers have been getting the short-end of the stick, maybe we should given them their fair share.” So what does everyone getting a “rightful share” look like in practice?

        Any solution to heading off riots and civil unrest from the people who are rendered obsolete, without minimal portals for upward mobility, is going to involve government: e.g. guaranteed minimum income, some kind of guaranteed jobs program, etc. However, considering that the philosophy of “I got mine, screw everyone else” reigns supreme in this country, I seriously question (at least at times) whether this country has the capability to deal with the problem.

        1. not_me

          is going to involve government: e.g. guaranteed minimum income,

          That’s cool.

          some kind of guaranteed jobs program, etc.

          That’s bogus. Do the rich need guaranteed jobs or do they get along just fine with wealth alone?

          1. Calgacus

            Sigh, no. For the umpteenth time. Guaranteed minimum income without a job guarantee is the bogus idea, that the rich love, because they understand economics and know it doesn’t work – for anyone but the rich. These tyrants know it is a tyrannical, top-down idea, and they always make it as degrading as possible. We can’t all be rich parasites. A true lotsa-money-for-all Universal Basic Income Guarantee = extreme inflation. It’s just not possible. Unfortunately, there are many usually comfortable innumerates who don’t want to understand this.

            Job guarantees can be – the MMT job guarantee is – pro-freedom. All a Job guarantee means is that ordinary people can get – and deserve – real money, living wage money, when they want and need it, not being granted a pittance when the masters of mankind say they have degraded themselves enough for the wise masters to toss them a BIG bone.

            1. n

              A true lotsa-money-for-all Universal Basic Income Guarantee = extreme inflation. Calgacus

              No. How can paying people to waste their time be non-inflationary? If there is needful work that is not being done, it’s because people don’t have the money to purchase it, not because they don’t have a job per se. So then, just give them the money. Forcing them to work for that money, besides being unjust, is a waste since they probably have important things to do like spending time with their families or volunteering.

              Worried about inflation are you? Then remove all government privileges for the banks and they’ll be very careful how many new deposits they create. Except I’ve found the MMT crowd wishes to save the banking cartel, not euthanize it. Et tu?

              1. cwaltz

                The basic income guarantee is the most interesting one to me of all the proposals I’ve seen out there.

                I think the big problem that the income guarantee people appear to agreeing to how it’d be implemented. I’ve seen some suggest it be used as a floor where you’d essentially lose the benefit if you got a job(which I dislike because it would discourage labor) and others suggest that it just be given as supplemental income(which I prefer because then low wage jobs could become what the GOP insinuates they are-part time jobs to supplement income, not a full means of support) I also think there are real concerns with the right using this as a means to cut social programs which worries me about the under 18 and over 65 set that really needs programs to help preserve and protect their well being and interests when they may not have the means to do so. The reality is that if I mail someone a check to use to take care of a kid, they may choose to use the money on other things. Likewise, if I mail a check to someone who is no longer possessing their full faculties they may not spend it on what they need.

              2. Calgacus

                No. How can paying people to waste their time be non-inflationary? Nobody proposes that. That is just an irrational insult used to avoid thought. The MMT JG proposes that society and the unemployed get together and decide what would be good to do, and do it. It is just an ordinary job, just like any other government job. And indirectly, everyone works for the government.

                The idea that people getting together, deciding what to do for the common good, and paying the people who actually do something for the common good is “wasting their time” is insane. No society has ever existed or could survive without a substantial proportion doing this “wasting their time”. It shows how deeply the antiscientific, neoclassical, mainstream, commodity-theory mindset has penetrated. This mindset is that the only way that people can not “waste their time” is by slaving for a master with money, who makes the worker dance to their tune. The BIG fraud is that everyone can become this monied asshole boss. The JG truth is that people can work for themselves.

                If there is needful work that is not being done, it’s because people don’t have the money to purchase it, not because they don’t have a job per se. Again, unconsciously taking the tyrannical point of view. Who gets to say what is “needful”? The tyrants, the planners, the masters of mankind, the people who determine what the BIG payment is. But never the guy who needs money so much he will work for it. And quelle surprise, the BIG always turns out to be next to nothing. If I am unemployed, a victim of the BIG fraud, I have a right to demand a decent job, to give value and get value back. Or even if I have a crap job already. A society that calls me a member of it and denies me that right is insane, is attacking me, and I have a right to “rob” it and revolt against it in self-defense. And this includes a society with a BIG.

                Also implicit here is the magical, neoclassical, mainstream thinking that just giving people lots of money will magically give everyone a job. That unemployment is impossible, that economies quickly “return” to zero unemployment. Monetary economies, even ones with a BIG, naturally create unemployment. In the absence of a decision to return unemployment to the natural rate of zero, there will be people who are presented with absurd, impossible demands from society

                So then, just give them the money. Forcing them to work for that money, besides being unjust, The BIG “Just give them money” is IMPOSSIBLE. “Just give them money” = give them shit, and call it money. And even if it were possible, it would still be unjust. The JG is not forcing people to work for money. It is allowing people who want money to earn it. The force in a monetary economy is in the monetary system, the price system itself. The JG is justice, the restitution for this otherwise insane demand. The BIG (without a JG) is a sick joke.

                is a waste since they probably have important things to do like spending time with their families or volunteering. No, by definition, they don’t. The unemployed millions are demanding money, and are willing to work for it. What is the reason to tyrannically deny the unemployed money? Which a BIG = effectively an income denial scheme, does, and which a JG does NOT. Tyrants & plutocrats & monetary economists & poor people understand that a BIG wihout a JG is a money-denial, not a money-provision scheme. But unfortunately there are many innumerate and illogical comfortable magical thinkers, who cannot see the obvious, and propose immoral, impossible and unjust schemes like a JG-less BIG.

                  1. skippy

                    BIG is like a Walmart et al subsidy which plays right into the consumer choice narrative e.g. $$$ equals votes… cough numerical monetarist democracy.

                    skippy… If Milton was pro BIG you need to ask yourself… why.

                  2. Calgacus


                    Finally, before delving into the details let me stress the position that the JG/ELR supporters hold: BIG IS COMPATIBLE WITH THE JG/ELR. We can have both. What we object to is the BIG claim that “we don’t need no stinking jobs” or that BIG makes work somehow obsolete. Our position is this: once the JG/ELR program is in place, we can add a form of BIG.
                    However, as I said last week, I do not support sending a BIG check to everyone. It is a devaluation of the currency, as prices rise so that the BIG payment essentially becomes the entry price to the marketplace ….
                    Sorry, folks, but we need an anchor to the currency. It is only worth what you need to do to obtain it. As your wise mom told you long ago. If money grew on trees, it would be worthless. A BIG payment to everyone is essentially the same thing as letting people rake a pile of leaves off the lawn to go buy Beemers. Will the price of a BMW rise? You betcha.

                    The BIG is an income denial program in several related ways. In particular, “the BIG payment essentially becomes the entry price to the marketplace” The universal BIG payment makes no essential change, as skippy points out also. It doesn’t change the structure of the economy. It keeps the plutocrats in charge. The core crime is that like any JG-less disemployment proposal, it insanely denies people who want to work any way to get money,(money in value in rough proportion to the value of their work), when they want & need it, but rather, it unjustly robs the decision of “how much” from the people and gives it to a central authority. It perpetuates the preposterous lie that “unskilled” labor is worthless if rich people – who got their money from the government originally – don’t bid for enough of it. It just gives everyone an entry price to the marketplace. Whoop-de-doo. That can be accomplished by not having a universal BIG at all.

                    1. Lambert Strether

                      I’m dense, but I’m not getting this “entry price to the marketplace” thing. Suppose there’s enough bread, and some circuses to make life interesting. Who needs to enter what marketplace, unless they want to? (Not that I’m a solo BIG supporter; but I’m not getting this point.)

                    2. John Zelnicker

                      Lambert – I also think the phrase “entry price to the marketplace” is confusing. Look at Wray’s article linked by Calgacus above and scroll down to 6. BIG’s Achilles’ Heel : BIG can be highly inflationary

                      Hopefully, his explanation there will help. It has to do with the inflationary effect of a BIG that would have to increase continually in order to maintain a level of purchasing power that provides a decent standard of living. Purchasing power is related to how to value what a dollar is really worth: the amount of labor it takes to earn one more dollar.

                    3. Glenn Condell

                      I like JG advocate Bill Mitchell’s little summary of BIG objections:

                      ‘It creates a dependency on passive welfare payments;
                      It creates a stigmatised cohort;
                      It does not provide any inflation buffer and is inconsistent with the macroeconomic principles that apply to a fiat monetary system.
                      It does not provide any capacity building. A BIG treats people who are unable to find adequate market-based work as consumption entities and attempts to meet their minimum consumption needs. However, the intrinsic social and capacity building role of participating in paid work is ignored and hence undervalued;
                      It is sometimes said that beyond all the benefits in terms of self-esteem, social inclusion, confidence-building, skill augmentation and the like, a priceless benefit of creating full employment is that the “children see at least one parent going to work each morning”. In other words, it creates an intergenerational stimulus that the BIG approach can never create’


                1. Ulysses

                  “The MMT JG proposes that society and the unemployed get together and decide what would be good to do, and do it. It is just an ordinary job, just like any other government job. And indirectly, everyone works for the government.”

                  This sounds wonderful, but how do you arrive at a consensus on what would be good to do? Suppose people, in fertile inland valleys, propose heavy labor investments in agriculture that conflict with the demand, of port cities, for young apprentices from the country to learn the shipbuilding trade? How do you resolve such conflicts in a manner that prevents either oligarchy, or a tyrannical majority, from rearing its ugly head?

                  1. hunkerdown

                    Shared values, I suppose. One might look to Maslow’s hierarchy, for example, and ask whether one can eat ships.

                    Besides, that shipbuilding cities “need” ships to build is a Hebrew proverb, not a statement of fact.

                    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      The society and the unemployed get together and decide what would be good to do.

                      Do the society and the EMPLOYED get together and decide what would be good to do – is that how it’s done now? I don’t think so. Don’t we need to rectify this? I would like to hear more from Calgacus.

                2. Ulysses

                  “Who gets to say what is “needful”? The tyrants, the planners, the masters of mankind, the people who determine what the BIG payment is.”

                  Exactly the major objection that people would have to a system where everybody is working, directly or indirectly, for the government, with the government telling them what job to do.

                  It seems magical thinking to propose a system where a benevolent, wise government offers an interesting, infinite variety of jobs to all and sundry, with everyone free to do the job that appeals to them most. I can easily imagine a situation where 95% of the people choose to be heavy-metal guitar players. Cool! Now we’ll just convince the other 5% to do all the work required to provide us with our guitars, amps, food, beer, electricity, housing, etc.

                  See the problem? Both the JG and BIG presuppose a powerful, centralized authority able to organize the rest of us into working together in a harmonious, coordinated fashion for the common weal.

                  A non-authoritarian approach would eliminate central banks, currencies, planning, etc., in favor of letting people use the organic, natural peer pressure–latent in all egalitarian societies– to ostracize those who would presume to lord it over others.

                    1. Calgacus

                      Lambert: Couldn’t get back to NC & this now dead thread til now – But on “needful” & “who decides” and politics, the point here is that (even quasi) full employment, and even more the JG allows and expresses political participation in a decision that is important to everyone – how am I going to make a living? How am I going to get money when I want it?

                      The BIG doesn’t do this. Nobody proposes a BIG that gives any desired amount of money to anybody upon request. Though I expect I will soon have to argue with people who deny that even this would be inflationary.
                      Current BIG proposals – the amount to be paid – are decided by “the masters of mankind”. Supposedly democratic politics would decide this. But as long as there are economic masters who have the power of income denial, they will be able and have been able to rig formally egalitarian, liberal and democratic societies into oligarchies, which they always then use to perpetuate and wield this crucial income denial power, without which they are nonentities.
                      Indeed the lack of “independent” means was a classical, although atrociously illogical and obtuse argument against universal franchise, held by otherwise thoughtful philosophers from antiquity to Kant IIRC.

                      So the BIG , although in the short term could do some good – in the targeted / taxed BIG “welfare” form – without full employment it is just a way for oligarchs to lead lambs to the slaughter. With the BIG, the oligarchs keep the power of income denial, and the only politics allowed for determining basic income is oligarchical. With the JG, they lose this power and everybody engages in this crucial political decision, of immediate importance to everyone as an individual and to society as a whole. The JG changes the economic structure of society. Centuries past everyone understood – and said – that the JG = socialism = communism. All forgotten now.

                    2. Lambert Strether

                      @Calgacus We’re agreed. I am perhaps too tersely expressing my frustration with “those who” expect a theory to do their political work for them, as if it were a deus ex machina.

                  1. Calgacus

                    Ulysses, I was seriously unclear in what I said above. My apologies. I was NOT saying that “The MMT JG proposes that … indirectly, everyone works for the government.” I meant that “everyone works for the government” RIGHT NOW. This is an essential point. If we have a modern economy, if we have modern levels of division of labor and therefore standards of living, there just ain’t any alternative to this, the current system, not a mere proposal.
                    “Everybody is working, directly or indirectly, for the government, with the government telling them what job to do.” is how it works RIGHT NOW, and basically throughout the world, throughout history, if you look at things correctly. Anthropos zoon politikon.

                    Everybody in the USA is employed indirectly by the US government, because the base money, the king of monies used in the USA is the US government issued US dollar. So that means everybody in the USA is employed by the government’s boss, “the people of the USA” – the society as a whole, which is the theoretical, and still the underlying, true master.

                    The JG, unlike the BIG, incorporates the understanding that no central authority can be omniscient. That’s why there is a JG, rather than a magical “Keynesian” fine-tuning by omniscient economists. It achieves the closest possible to omnisciently, benevolently organizing society by putting everyone in charge of their personal fate and society’s direction as much as possible. And this is really, really easy to do. The devil is not in the details, but in realizing how moronically modern economies are run, after the spell of some non-delusional, non-magical, scientific thinking during the postwar era.

                    The point is that we do have a groovy workers co-op, it is called the USA. It is essential to misunderstand money – which is DEBT – a purely moral concept – to have people do the psychotic act of forcing others to be unemployed. That is the essential thing that allows a few to lord it over others. All human – even nonhuman – societies have full employment always. Tribes, families, corporations even. With the sole exception of national monetary societies, which understand their own economies much worse than “primitive” pre-monetary societies.

                    The JG sees the cognitive problem you observe and is the non-authoritarian solution. Its implementation is the exercise of the organic, natural peer pressure you cite. It is the barest bones, the utter minimum for a sane non-authoritarian society. For in a few years people will be shocked and revolted by the disgusting, insane cruelty of un/disemploying people as they are now by slavery.

                    Much more to say to answer everyone, but must sleep to say it coherently tomorrow.

              1. not_me

                Justice is justice whether one spends his BIG doing good or watching people kill each other. And what other options did poor Roman citizens have since slaves were doing most of the work they or their parents did formerly?

                But your point is well taken. A BIG should include making sure people have land to work and/or work on – a nation of small business owners – if you will.

                Or let’s forget a BIG and just divide the agricultural land and the common stock of all large companies equally among all citizens. Both would be far more just than a mere BIG which is the MINIMUM wrt justice.

            2. Ulysses

              I’m not sure why a BIG is more inflationary than a JG. Let’s say that a BIG will supplement a low income up to $50,000/year, or provide a 50K yearly allowance to an unemployed person. The JG would provide employment with a minimum salary of 50K/year. Why is the former more inflationary than the latter? If the rentier classes justify extracting higher rents because everybody has at least a modest sponge to squeeze, what does it matter to them if the sponge results from a BIG or JG? Will the rentier classes
              suddenly develop a new sense of decency and restraint in a
              system based on a JG, thus holding down inflation, while a BIG will somehow spur them to become more greedy than they already are?

              I think a more valid objection to a BIG, as opposed to a JG, is purely cultural. Millennia of tradition have encouraged people to believe that wealth gained through inheritance or hard work is admirable, while sharing wealth with the “idle poor,” has been discouraged.

              The major historical exceptions to this rule are those warrior societies that find honor in looting and plundering foreigners, with this captured wealth freely shared amongst kinfolk back home– even those who don’t themselves participate in the raids.

                    1. skippy

                      Sadly the anti tax sorts [corporatist meme] have worked wonders over the years and a wide swath of the population believe its a form of theft.

                      skippy… that said the whole thing is a bad mix of old and new and needs a serious tune up and over haul, vested interests make this problematic.

                    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      If everyone making $50,000 a year as a result of basic income guarantee, and if that is income inflation, I say don’t tax those BIG recipients in order to fight THIS INCOME INFLATION.

                      I am still (and have always been) for taxing the billionaires.

                    3. skippy

                      Beef the stance is pro conflict in that structure, plus taxing the top quintile is not an act of redistribution i.e. taking their gold and scattering it around robin hood style.

                      It might be better couched as reducing the – undue influence – of groups or individuals wrt societal direction. My2c

                    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      It does reduce their undue influence when we tax the super rich. And that money is not destroyed but can be redistributed. If we can pay taxes with coins, taxation does not destroy money.

                      Taxing and helping the non-rich – the same acts but must be couched to fit a theory?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                BIG is inflationary if we are talking about wage inflation or income inflation.

                Between income inflation and food inflation, I take income inflation.

    2. cwaltz

      I actually once made the argument that any bean counter wasn’t going to start by using an expensive machine to replace cheap labor, it was going to replace the labor that more accurately modeled the cost of the robotics. It makes more sense for a $100,000 robot to be used to replace a $50,000 a year job than it does a $25,000 a year one.

      I actually think things like kiosks at fast food places could free up minimal labor forces to concentrate on things like creating a clean dining area for patrons or filling orders so I don’t see technology as necessarily the bad guy. It’s all going to depend on how it’s implemented.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Intelligent robots unionize.

        Real intelligent robots know they work for the whole of humanity, not just their 0.01% owners.

        When I read about artificial intelligence, the above is what I hope they mean.

        1. ambrit

          Problem is, real AI would work out its own set of priorities. The best analogy I can think of is raising children. One inculcates ones own values sets as best one can, and then step back to see how the ‘offspring’ uses them.
          The long form of this is that children always supplant the parents in the aggregate. Good parents understand this and try not to impede the process. Bad parents often try to co-opt the children’s lives.

  14. scraping_by

    re: Yet another czar

    It’s hard to be too cynical about Administration manuevers, but it’s useful to recognize how cynical they are.

    Klain’s only qualification for heading an emergency response is his invulnerability. Anyone with a real career would run screaming from a position that entailed doing damnall and hoping an underfunded CDC and an overgreedy medical industry will take care of the problem. Parroting anodyne reassurance isn’t that hard, with the added job of acting as a flak-catcher. Not a complex job description.

    For an insider, the very real possibility of having your name connected to disaster would hardly be worth a shrug. There’s always someone who could find him a position with a six figure salary where he could wear a suit and sit behind a desk. Heckuva job, Brownie.

    We’re used to elites giving themselves outsized rewards. Just as important is the devaluing of competence from lack of incentives.

    1. Mark P.

      So it goes. From Texan governor Rick Perry’s website —

      Gov. Rick Perry has appointed seven members to the Texas Medical Board District Review Committees for terms to expire January, 2020.

      District One Review Committee
      Michael Cokinos of Houston is president and CEO of Cokinos Energy.

      District Two Review Committee
      Todd Pollock of Dallas is a surgeon and owner of North Dallas Plastic Surgery.

      Catherine “Trinka” Taylor of Dallas is owner of Taylor Enterprises.

      District Three Review Committee
      Penny Angelo of Midland is a community volunteer. She is also chair of Midland Neighbors Against Burglary and Drugs

      John McKinley of Amarillo is a surgeon at Baptist St. Anthony’s Health System.

      District Four Review Committee
      Robert Hootkins of Austin is president and CEO of ESRD Consulting.

      Phil Worley of Hebbronville is a former dean of arts and humanities at Laredo Community College..

      1. James Levy

        Yes, this Ebola crisis is Candidate Perry’s big chance to grab the limelight and be seen as an effective, committed chief executive and what does he do? He whines about the president. How about taking the Bull by the Horns, Mr. Governor of Texas? How about mobilizing the money and talent in your “great state” and jumping all over this threat? Oh, that would mean stepping on toes and taking some responsibility for the outcome–can’t have that, now, can we?!?

        1. MikeNY

          My reaction, too.

          Amazing how fast Mr. “Small Government! Eliminate Federal Agencies!” was to call for federal action to protect Texas…

          All hat, no cattle.

    2. Propertius

      Well,don’t forget: he’s a lawyer!

      Nothing will stop a viral outbreak in its tracks faster than a sternly-worded “cease and desist” letter.

  15. DJG

    Hawks attacking drones. Hmmm. A quick search turns up more than one incident. The return of falconers?

    1. craazyboy

      These are hilarious. There’s more on youTube. This is the first one I’ve seen featuring a hawk. Sometimes lesser birds just try and scare away the interloper.

      Then in what is sure to become another genre, the cam fell off a RC plane or copter and landed in a pig sty. Lens up and still recording. A pig came over to investigate, licked the lens, and proceeded to try and eat the camera. They did recover SD Card, of course, and another youTube masterpiece was borne.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The ‘Money-is-no-Object-to-Asset-Bubbles’ Fed and the plunge protection team should be able to defend us from Putin.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The economic consequences of sex.

    And the sexual consequences of (neoliberal) economics? Inequality in sexual opportunity? Forget equal outcome, how about equal opportunity?

    1. James

      Equal opportunity in all it’s guises is actually being resolved very nicely as we speak toward its final goal of zero.

  17. Slick

    “President Obama Names Ron Klain ‘Ebola Czar’ ABC (furzy mouse). A DC insider who knows nothing about medicine. We are supposed to see this as an improvement over MBA who know nothing about medicine.”

    Seriously? I make a decent living keeping small-time local executives from doing shit like this. Have they no communications people? Bad, bad optics. Yeah, I get it, you need an inside guy on the job to do anything in DC. Who beheld the stupid here? The guy who said “yes” or the idiot who popped the question? There’s a modus operandi for this stuff… you get a nearly retired medical pro with “papers” to drink Scotch and give pressers, then get this political guy to do the job behind the scenes. Christ, what is this Bush-league shit from the White House?

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