Links 12/1/14

Unbelievable underworld and its impact on us all Science Daily. Soil fauna.

When Pedestrians Ruled the Streets Smithsonian

Post-Thanksgiving Spending Tumbles 11% as Shoppers Stay Home Bloomberg. Or off their computers (National Retail Federation press release).

The space between Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be dark Chicago Tribune. Whoever invented the phrase “Cyber Monday” should be punished.

Slamming the Window on Investors Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

Pimco suffers $100bn in redemptions from top funds FT

Revisiting the Japanese Experiment in Quantitative Easing Observations on Credit and Surveillance. Missed this.

Wells Fargo Accused of Predatory Lending in Chicago Area  Bloomberg

Banks tap into big data to trap wily traders FT

A Salad Chain’s Surprise Ingredient: Tech Money New York Times. Why not invest in tech?

Sun, Sand And Offshore Drilling In Spain’s Famed Canary Islands NPR

Oil at $40 Possible as Market Transforms Caracas to Iran Bloomberg

A glut of oil? Econbrowser. Handy charts.

Saudis risk playing with fire in shale-price showdown as crude crashes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph


Gulf states launch joint command to counter Isis and Iran FT

Wahhabism to ISIS: how Saudi Arabia exported the main source of global terrorism  New Statesman

The Rolex Caliph’s Camel Selfie: How Iraqi Youth are Ridiculing Daesh/ISIL Online Informed Comment. Not sure how spontaneous this is, though.

Former al Qaida hostage recounts nightmare – of dealing with FBI McClatchy

Swiss voters reject gold, immigration proposals  Globe and Mail

Italy’s lower house okays Renzi’s budget, moves on to Senate Reuters. Tax cuts, deficit reduction. Good luck with that.

Economic devastation in Europe prompts new wave of Italian migration to Australia ABC

‘Tired’ Grillo overhauls leadership of Italy’s 5-Star Movement Reuters


Rams protest Ferguson decision with ‘hands up’ gesture as they take field WaPo

NYPD gathered intel on ‘professional agitators’ in Ferguson to prepare for ‘chokehold death’ decision Raw Story

Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Unsaid Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic. Cf. Hebrews 11:1.

Why Egypt just freed former dictator Hosni Mubarak Vox

Occupy supporters and police clash as Hong Kong protests escalate South China Morning Post. Trying to surround government offices at Admiralty.

Hong Kong Sets Out to Furl the Umbrella Asia Sentinel. The country risk view.

Class Warfare

Tampa homeless program uses unpaid, destitute residents as steady labor force, revenue source Tampa Bay Times

The Business Tycoons of Airbnb Times. So great. The nouveau riche can turn their condos into hotels, with no regulation.

I quit: Miseries of an Uber driver Salon. Terrible software; net < $10/hour. Sometimes I think Uber isn't selling transport at all, but servility. America at the Trump hotel: The food is amazing – but you shouldn’t eat here, ever Globe and Mail. Of course, the dollars are Canadian, not American. But still.

The history of the political economy of public debt  Nicholas J. Theocarakis (Yanis Varoufakis).

The Superiority of Economists Max Planck Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Socities

Dark Age America: The Suicide of Science  The Archdruid Report

I was a Greek neo-fascist LRB

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. John Zelnicker

    There seems to be an problem with the link to the Max Planck article about economists. I get an “Internal Server Error” and I’m not sure if that error comes from my machine or not. Using Firefox on a Windoze 7 machine.

  2. David Lentini

    Archdruid: Make Your Target Big Enough, and You’ll Never Miss.

    I usually enjoy reading Archdruid, although his posts tend to be a bit long for comfortable reading on-line. And I generally appreciated the post on the declince of science too. But I’m also troubled by a few things.

    The first troubling issue is just what Archdruid means by “science”. Does he refer to the scientific method in general? Certain fields? It’s hard to tell. The problem, as I see it, is that by using the word “science” in a very general way you can easily find all sorts of negative examples without really understanding anything. For example, certain fields of scientific research, like particle physics, are very capital intensive by the very nature of their of their subject matter. And the practical fruits of such research are usually non-existent or at least very speculative. Even Richard Feynman pointed out that the search for a “fundamental particle” may become so endless that we’ll just give up. So, yes, in a time of tight budgets those fields will suffer. But is that really representative of “science” in some global way? I’m not so sure.

    Moreover, I’m a bit skeptical about the “diminishing returns” argument. Yes, the first devices used to study electrons were cheap. But the talent and sources of investment was non-existant too. In additon, I’m not sure if you can look at research like some kind of manufacturing process. Each question under investigation is often unique, requiring a lot of subsidary research and technological development in order to study the actual question. In short, then can you really apply the law of dimninishing returns to what are often sui generis projects?

    On the other end, we have the conflation of science with technology and the technical application of scientific knowlege. Here the medicine examples come to mind. I don’t disagree with Archdruid’s examples—I have plenty to share myself—but I don’t consider physicians in a clinical setting to be scientists or doing scientific research. Doctors under these conditions are really technicians, very skilled to be sure, but they are applying technical knowledge to help their patients.

    Similarly for climate. Climatology and climate prediction (not the same thing) are pushing the edge of what can be known using the scientific method. Part of the problem is the difficultly in obtaining enough reliable information to build models. Another problem is developing the models and executing the computations. So, yes, the field is in flux.

    And don’t get me started on the so-called social sciences, economics, political sciences, and psychology.

    I think a more productive approach would be to look at these examples as limits on the ability of the scientific method to provide knowledge. In some cases, the cost is getting too great to garner large support for further research. We’re reaching the “Feynman limit” to exploration (at least for now). In other cases, the problem is with the technicians who apply results too mechanically to be helpful (doctors). In still other cases, the ability of the scientific method to function reliably is stretched (nutrition and climate).

    Are these portents of the end of civilization? I’m not so sure. Which is the real driver, the hoarding of money by the <1% or some general failing of science? I think it's more likely the former, although we are playing out certain fields because the ability of the scientific method to funciton is either too expensive for the questions being asked or it's just not possible to apply the method reliably.

    1. CuJo

      Although Greer’s comments are often interesting, because he is convinced that Industrial Civilization will (is) failing, the trends that he observes are fitted to this framework. Quite a few people in his scene related to peak oil seem to analyze in this same fashion. Another common strategy with members of this group (Greer included) seem to be to assume a) the exits/possibilities for change are foreclosed and b) the public/elites are too stupid/myopic/etc. to react in the face of changes. Don’t get me wrong: often these assumptions do hold water, and there’s a lot of reason to be pessimistic about many things, including science, but often the analysis is too simplistic.

    2. pretzelattack

      i’m not sure what he would mean by saying the field of climatology is in flux. the science progresses, but it is not all base on computer models, and there is broad expert agreement about the principles.

    3. Ken Nari

      “Make Your Targets Big Enough…” Nice subtitle.

      Archdruid: “Even diehard atheists have begun to notice that whenever Richard Dawkins opens his mouth, a dozen people decide to give religion a second chance.”

      If that were so it must be because an English accent turns peoples’ brains off. What else could it be? But really, who cares how many people decide to give religion a second chance? And what’s a diehard atheist? Someone who stubbornly refuses to accept whatever the Archdruid believes?

      Even when Lambert links to the Archdruid for some reason I still decide to give Lambert a second chance.

        1. hunkerdown

          No, scientific materialism is a religion that accommodates fundamentalist nutjobs just as easily as any other — and don’t even try to weasel out of that it is exactly a religion.

          1. Code Name D

            Eeeeee. Oh I am so sorry, but thank you for playing.

            There is no such thing as scientific materialism. This is a concoction created by theologians who attempt argue that there is such a thing as spiritual or super natural phenomena.

            The natural world exists independently of my faith or lack thereof. Science is just the methodology which with we use to explore that universe specifically to counter human misconceptions, biases, and especially faith. The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. Even the scientific method itself is open to scrutiny to test its reliability.

            Those who science a religion – do not know what science is.

            1. cwaltz

              I disagree with your assessment that there are no sacred truths in science. If that were true there would be no science, just a natural world. The fact that there IS a scientific method essentially proves that even science has rules and methods with which to scrutinize and test what humans believe to be true.

              The reality is that science and religion both have belief systems that can be biased by humans(you start out with a hypothesis after all). Heck there can even be arguments that faith like science is tested although it is not done scientifically.

              I challenge your last statement that those who think science is a religion don’t know what science is- It doesn’t pass the smell test as a scientific statement. While as a person of faith, I might disagree with their viewpoint that everything is testable and explained by science I think it is just as valid of a belief set as believing in God. I also think that your statement that science is used to counter faith(and I particularly love how you lump it with bias, hypocrisy much?) or with misconceptions( because we all know that science NEVER gets it wrong so it totally has to be a method in which to fight them right?) is a slap in the face of the many scientists that did and do believe that science and faith can coexist(Newton, Kepler, Galileo, Pascal, Kelvin and Einstein to name a few.)

  3. dearieme

    “The bathroom attendant in the men’s room”: what the devil does a “bathroom attendant” do? Is he for people too posh to wipe their own bottoms? Or is he there to police the foul manners of Toronto millionaires?

    1. ambrit

      Dear dearieme;
      I fear it might be something like the “bathroom attendant” at the orgy in either de Sades’ “Justine” or “Juliette.” If my memory serves me right, the line from the attendant to the heroine, who is preparing to leave the toilet is , “Can I offer madame the use of my tongue?” de Sade was, if nothing else, an Immoralist.

    2. Larry Headlund

      Too posh to turn on the faucet for themselves. Also hands you a towel and brushes your coat.
      The strangest attendants I ever encountered were in a not posh at all seafood restaurant in Thailand: While I was standing at the urinal one come up behind me and starts massaging my shoulders. At the same time a second man massaged my calves. I thought eventually they we going to cooperate and shake me up and down but no: instead a third man came up and gave my neck a little snap to release any tension there.
      Now that was service.

      1. dearieme

        The only “bathroom attendant” I remember seeing was in Prague under Soviet socialism: some benighted soul who handed you your two squares of loo paper, and expected a tip for it. Forewarned, we wandered around with loo rolls disposed about our persons. I suppose we should have sold the surplus as we left, but we were too busy metaphorically weeping for the poor sods.

        Still, my memory is probably faulty – perhaps I have seen the like elsewhere. But Tronno? Oh dear.

        1. Medici1

          In Budapest, they joked about the Brezhnev era. Soviet loos were locked until you said “Hail Soviet Union” three times. When Brezhnev got locked in a loo, he tried saying “Hail Hungary” three times, and then a voice over the loudspeaker announced that the loo door would unlock once he flushed!

    3. Chris in Paris

      I was kind of astounded by the reasonably priced lobster…compared to here. In London nightclubs there were always attendants in the gents toilet but that was quite a while back.

    4. Romancing the Loan

      Some time ago there were bathroom attendants in the not-at-all-upscale club Jillian’s on Landsdowne St. in Boston. Ostensibly they kept the place stocked and clean and handed you a towel, but really I’m pretty sure they were there to prevent sex and/or puking in the loo.

  4. ambrit

    The “Slamming the window on investors” piece left me conflicted. What could be framed as a monolithic management versus feisty shareholders story somehow morphed into a predatory fund versus decently conservative management tale. The issue being fought out is stated to be “Shareholder Value.” However, the “Shareholder Value” mentioned is framed in terms of stock price. We see no mention of why the management really threw up the barricades. Indeed, I got the distinct impression that the company management was trying to protect the company against corporate despoilers. Some of the suggestions from the investor, Sandell Asset Management, included such tried and true looting techniques as selling off profitable subsidiaries. Managements reluctance to “sell the farm” is understandable if it is following what it believes is best for the health of the company, not some corporate Barbarians.

  5. DJG

    I strongly recommend the piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I read it over the weekend, tipped of by someone on Facebook. It is about the original sin of slavery, the maintenance of black people as economic untouchables, and white obliviousness.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      That’s more like 15,000 gallons, or to be precise, 15, 850.33 (60,000 / 3.78541 – the number of liters in a US gallon)

  6. Jef

    “Unbelievable underworld and its impact on us all”

    “New research shows repeated poking in the eye with sharp stick bad for vision.”

    This article treats the connection of healthy soil, healthy food, and healthy people as some kind of scientific breakthrough. Just like climate science all of this has been known for a century or more but conveniently set aside for profit purposes.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They will push the boundaries of science, no doubt.

      Beyond those boundaries, we know nothing (simple tautology).

      Meanwhile, inside the boundaries, we Homo Not-So-Sapiens go around playing with the partial-knowledge toys we are given by our best-current-explanations scientific method, meddling with this or that part or aspect of Nature.

      How that impacts anything outside the scientific boundaries, of course, by definition, we have no clue; otherwise, the boundaries would have moved to cover that.

      Perhaps, we should stick to ‘knowledge for knowledge’s sake.’

  7. Garrett Pace

    The inventor of “cyber Monday” was rewarded, not punished, for smartly realizing that Americans will shop on the day that the zeitgeist tell them they should.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Poor Dr. Hussman, still flagrantly violating the late Marty Zweig’s two cardinal rules of stock investing — ‘don’t fight the Fed; don’t fight the tape’ — retreats into his messiah complex:

    I hear that I’m a polarizing figure in internet chat circles. While I write a lot of market commentary, I rarely read comments on social media, following Neil Stephenson’s rule that “arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker’s game – they turn out to be indistinguishable from self-righteous sixteen-year-olds with infinite free time.”

    Some have marveled that we can be so faithful to our investment discipline despite having been incorrect about the persistence of this speculative advance in recent years. Understand this: I know exactly what went wrong in 2009-2010.

    I know what led me to encourage a leveraged-long position in the early 1990’s, and why were right about the 2000-2002 collapse, and why we were right to become constructive in 2003, and why we were right about yield-seeking behavior causing a housing bubble, and why we were right about the 2007-2009 collapse.


    Oh, dear. Unlike Boomer rock stars, who can still fill stadiums with loyal fans from the 1970s, fund managers can’t monetize their illustrious pasts. Clients only care about ‘What have you done for me this year?’

    Recounting one’s long-ago hit parade of prescient market calls is indistinguishable from senile ranting. Sad.

    1. MikeNY

      What differentiates someone like Soros from Hussman is an innate feel for markets, what Soros calls “reflexivity”, the ability to think what the markets will think, even if you know it’s not ‘right’ or ‘sane’. Because in investing, being ultimately right doesn’t matter. Timing matters.

      Grantham has some powers of reflexivity, but even he falls short of Soros, who has proven himself a genius in the capacity. And it is a kind of genius, I think we must admit.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Soros’s Alchemy of Finance remains one of best-ever real-time diaries of the thought process of a hedge fund manager. Overall, 1986 was one of the best years in history for European bourses, and Soros was riding that wave. The US dollar was in the midst of an historic downtrend following the Plaza Accord of 1985, and Soros was all over that trend, too — with leverage.

        His ‘theory of reflexivity’ seemed like an attempt to paste some algebra and academic credibility onto what essentially were just good (and non-replicable by others) trading instincts. Soros has an excellent nose for governments making the most dogmatic statements about ‘unyielding resolve’ … just before they fold and run!

        1. Ronald Pires

          For those who haven’t made the connection, Soros’ “reflexivity” is nothing more than Karl Popper’s falsifiability dressed up for Wall Street and the City. Falsifiability of course came out of Popper’s “The Logic of Scientific Discovery” as an explanation of how we make stuff scientific, and the same concept was repeated by him in “The Open Society and Its Enemies” as a defense of liberal democracy. Soros simply saw the adaptability of the concept and extended it into investing. With superior results, as we can see.

      2. vidimi

        hmmm. i would posit that what differentiates someone like soros, or icahn, or singer from someone like hussmann is not reflexivity, or timing, but agency. the former actively work towards a financial goal by buying the right people and using their influence and capital to make sure certain conditions are in place. hussmann is just an economist.

        1. MikeNY

          I disagree. Both Hussman and Soros are fund managers. Soros trained as a philosopher, Hussman as an economist. And you imply that Soros “bought” the Bank of England — what proof can you adduce?

          1. vidimi

            soros is one of the most active political contributors around, not just in the states, but elsewhere too, particularly in his native hungary and the former eastern bloc. i don’t have a record of his trades there to rattle off, but if you think soros has had absolutely nothing to do with the increase in neoliberal policies in those countries then would you like to buy my bridge?

            but if that single trade shorting the pound almost a quarter century ago is the only example of soros’ reflexivity then we might as well stay on hussmann’s “i invented the piano key necktie!” lament because it’s all about what have you done for me lately.

            1. MikeNY

              Even a cursory review of Soros’s political activism shows him to be a supporter of many ‘progressive’ causes. You damn him simply because he is a market (capitalist) genius, a hedge fund manager.

              I don’t see the world so black and white.

  9. Jim Haygood

    What’s the first day of the month? That’s right — ISM day!

    Manufacturing expanded in November as the PMI registered 58.7 percent, a decrease of 0.3 percentage point when compared to October’s reading of 59 percent, indicating growth in manufacturing for the 18th consecutive month.

    The November PMI indicates growth for the 66th consecutive month in the overall economy. The average PMI for January through November (55.8 percent) corresponds to a 4.2 percent increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) on an annualized basis.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      November PMI of 58.7%.

      One number (58.7%), and we know 1). manufacturing expanded 18 consecutive months and 2) the economy growth of 66 consecutive months.

      There must be more than was quoted above to arrive at those 2 conclusions….something like any number over 50% indicates manufacturing expansion and any number over 52.539% (must be a different % to account fo 18 and 66 consecutive months) indicates economic growth.

  10. zephyrum

    The food at America sounds ghastly. Here in rural Northern California we make do with locally-grown or raised food and simple preparations, for the most part. The eating experience of natural simplicity may not make for profitable high-margin restaurants, but it feels good.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if you grow you own food or cook your own food, will the GDP police pay a visit to you?

      ‘You are undermining the GDP and not helping to circulate money, slowing down money velocity.’

      A most serious offense.

  11. OIFVet

    St. Louis Police Officers Association want the NFL to punish the Rams’ players for raising their arms in the “Hands up, don’t shoot” gesture. They proclaim it to be “tasteless, offensive and inflammatory,” and threaten to exercise their own 1st amendment rights.

    So let me see if I have the cops’ reasoning figured out correctly. When black males exercise their rights, it it constitutes an offensive and tasteless display that should be punished. When cops exercise theirs, the opposite must be true, and elevates murder of black males tasteful and inoffensive expression of the cops’ beliefs. Simply, wow.

    1. hunkerdown

      The bourgeoisie are more equal than others.

      Of course, the only reason the police union is whingeing over it is because shooting football players might get them written up.

      1. OIFVet

        Apparently the St. Louis cops think that they have a carte blanche to issue threats. Spokesman Jeff Roorda, who also happens to be a Democrat member of the MO legislature:

        I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights. Well I’ve got news for people who think that way, cops have First Amendment rights too, and we plan to exercise ours.

        I’d remind the NFL and their players that it is not the violent thugs burning down buildings that buy their advertiser’s products. It’s cops and the good people of St. Louis and other NFL towns that do.

        That last sentence sure sounds like a threat to me.

        1. pretzelattack

          he was investigated for falsifying police reports when he was cop, and i think they found he did so (don’t remember where i read this but i’ve seen it a couple of times).

        2. OIFVet

          Android troubles. Roorda’s last two sentences were: ” Somebody needs to throw a flag on this play. If it’s not the NFL and the Rams, then it’ll be cops and their supporters”. If this is not a threat then I don’t know what is. Obviously St. Louis cops think that they are above the law, lawless gang of thugs that hides behind police badges. That is probably true of most police forces out there. It is sickening.

    2. Benedict@Large

      This is the trouble with right wingers. The FPD gets handed a great big fat juicy plum in the No Bill, but it’s not enough for them. Rather than just STFU and be satisfied, they want to insist that everyone LIKE the decision too. Which is exactly why more and more people are getting to hate cops.

  12. L.M. Dorsey

    re: Chris Nuttall-Smith on Trump’s America restaurant
    It’s a beautiful thing when journalism calmly and with the requisite malice aforethought commits literature.

    1. voxhumana

      “The difference between journalism and literature is that journalism is unreadable and literature is unread.” Oscar Wilde

  13. Yonatan

    “The Rolex Caliph’s Camel Selfie: How Iraqi Youth are Ridiculing Daesh/ISIL Online”

    A nice idea compromised by a poor photoshop implementation. Unless he really does have a massively asymmetrical pointy beard.

  14. RanDomino

    After Mubarak was arrested, I said to a friend, “Now the hard part”. The reason why the Egyptian revolution, and most of the concurrent and subsequent uprisings, failed was that you can’t just revolt against something. Successful revolutions have been positive actions in favor of something the previous regime was suppressing. The best chances are for those movements which have prefiguratively established a system which can replace the old one, to make the transition smooth and quick, if not instantaneous. And when I say “system” I mean mainly an economic system, but also a social and justice system. But mainly you need control of the economy, which for us means direct worker control of their workplaces without bureaucrats or bosses, resident control of their homes with no landlords or debt, and understanding of federation to tie society together. It’s not an easy answer but as long as people just want easy answers then we will continue to be doomed.

  15. Banger

    As usual we tend to focus on the individual and the individual events when it comes to police activity in our country. Ferguson is one town with problems but no unique. Police shoot first and ask questions later–there are numerous instances of this as PCR shows in a recent article.

    The videos show over and over and over and over again the willingness of police to shoot people without cause. They WANT to kill and they shoot always to kill. I don’t know if all police act this way but I assume they do because police organizations are silent about these things. So we have to assume they are all killers and gangsters who get a charge out of spilling blood. What other conclusion can we come to? Seriously.

    Of course we’ve all known cruel people but why does the American public tolerate such cruelty? Well, perhaps because the American public is cruel. The evil sorts of foreign adventures that make no sense other than causing a lot of deaths attest to that. The willingness to brutalize the poor and people in pain attests to that. The popularity of hyper violent entertainments (including porn) attests to that.

    I don’t really think most of the public is cruel–it just appears that way. It appears that way because the main problem is not cruelty but denial. Denial, denial, denial is rampant and infects every aspect of our society, every class, every organization and all shades of our culture and politics.

    1. Larry B.

      American public isn’t cruel so much as frightened. They’re afraid that “Michael Brown” will get out of his neighborhood and come to theirs, so their may be some tut-tutting when he gets shot, but the police “are just doing their job” and really don’t have any choice when confronted by a large black man. Even in cases less ambiguous than Ferguson, such as a recent shooting in Salt Lake, where it is very clear (thanks to a body camera) that the only real crime is being insufficiently obedient, grand juries and prosecutors refuse to charge. People forget that the way police act in the “ghetto” this generation will be the way they act in their neighborhood in the next.

    2. not_me

      We assume that our society is just or that it leans toward favoring the poor. Why? Because Progressives have wasted a lot of goodwill on expensive programs to help the poor when what the poor really need is justice, not, for example, the injustice of government subsidized banks and private credit creation – welfare for the rich at the expense of the poor.

    1. Jim Haygood

      From page 4: The 9/11 Commission concluded that one of the biggest failures before the attacks was a “failure of imagination.”

      The commission also reached 28 more pages of conclusions. But only a handful of people know what those conclusions are, since they remain classified.

      Selectively filtered conclusions are the functional equivalent of lies.

    2. Demeter

      Another Ferguson (if they get hired as cops). Or another 1917 (if they come home energized for revolution). Teaching people to kill and enjoy it is asking for trouble, IMO.

  16. buffalo cyclist

    Love the Smithsonian article. Our current car culture is not a natural event but rather the result of government policies that favored the rich and well-connected over the poor and vulnerable (I guess somethings never change).

    One thing the neoliberals and market worshipers don’t want to admit is that the free market does not exist, never has and never will. Rather, the government sets the rules of the game that allows markets to work. The country’s transportation policy is a prime example. When pedestrians and cyclists were forced off the streets and the streetcars taken down, people were effectively forced to buy cars whether they wanted to or not. Of course, 90% of all cars are financed or leased, leading to the absurdity of people borrowing money to buy a car to get to work, which they need to pay off the money they borrowed.

    The nearly absolute legal immunity from criminal prosecution that motorists enjoy for any deaths or injuries they cause (the recent example of Minneapolis motorist who deliberately drove into a crowd is a prime example) has made our roadways deathtraps for pedestrians, cyclists and those who drive smaller cars. Yet, because of “freedom” (apparently, the “freedom” of people to travel by means other than automobile doesn’t matter), this issue is never mentioned, much less meaningfully addressed.

  17. buffalo cyclist

    The dismissive attitude that economists take of other disciplines(in “The Superiority of Economists”) is indicative of the intellectual bankruptcy of the possession. In truth, one can not truly understand how an economy works unless they understand a broad range of other fields (and not just mathematics and neoclassical modeling), including law, psychology, history, political science, etc.

  18. Lisa FOS

    Archdruid pushes a ‘Climate Skeptic’ lie.

    I remember well all the arguments and studies in the 70’s about the coming end of the inter glacial period, where the long range trend was towards an ice age.

    This ‘global cooling’ argument has in recent times been taken up as a propaganda ploy by the ‘climate skeptic’ (and corporate backers) movements, to blacken the work on global warming. So I was disappointed in him for bringing this up and fall for an obvious political/propaganda play.

    The studies back then came from the obvious fact that we were getting towards the end of the current inter-glacial period, based on past events. Sometime (estimates varied between a few hundred to quite a few thousands of years) the world’s climate would start to return to glacial conditions.

    The question for research was how long this would take and when would we see symptoms of it. There was, as usual, some hyping by the media about this as though it was going to happen next week, plus ca change.

    There was a lot of debate in scientific and other circles about this, in many ways what we know of as ‘climate science’ started to take off then.

    The possible impact on the human race would be rather obviously bad. No less than Arthur C Clark suggested that we hoard coal now for burning in far larger amounts in the future to increase CO2 to put off an Ice Age.

    Note that back then, the idea of burning the amounts of coal for electricity generation in the volumes we do now was unimaginable. No one thought we would be so stupid, as the downsides of coal were too well known, plus it was an unrenewable resource.

    At that time nuclear power was growing rapidly and the prospects of solar and wind and tidal (etc) power were in the research and development phase, with the space industry being a great source of solar panel R&D. Projected improvements in efficiency showed that they would become economically viable at fairly reasonable costs by the late 90s (earlier if more money was put into R&D), which was basically what happened.

    Thus the end of large scale coal burning for electricity generation was, for most people, in sight (Scotland and France had already achieved it). It was expected that it would level off back then, then steadily decline. Hence CO2 production would follow. Any growth in 2nd and 3rd world countries coal use would be offset by large reductions in the 1st world, as they got richer then they would follow the same path.

    No one predicted that the fossil fuel companies, with compliant Govts and aided so well by the Green movement (the ‘unholy alliance’, the essential and ever so useful arm of fossil fuel companies, the gift that keeps giving) would manage to kill off nuclear power (except in France).

    And hence no one thought CO2 levels would rise to the insane levels they are at. No one though we would be so stupid back then.

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