Links 1/7/15

As Climate Disruption Advances, 26 Percent of Mammals Face Extinction TruthOut :-(

Government Admits It Was Only Behind Destruction Of North Tower Onion (David L)

Even When They Don’t Have Jobs, Men Do Less Housework Than Women Slate

Top U.S. lawyer Dershowitz: can his accusers in sex abuse case be disbarred? Reuters

Never Buy a Phone Again Wired. But who wants to carry a tablet around all the time?

Uber faces Beijing crackdown Financial Times

Verizon warns enterprise cloud users of 48-hour shutdown Computerworld. Lambert: “And they want to own the Internet…”

Nvidia Demos a Car Computer Trained with “Deep Learning” MIT Technology Review (David L)

23andMe’s New Formula: Patient Consent = $ MIT Technology Review (David L)

Rising Dollar Presses Asian Borrowers Wall Street Journal. More proof of the value of currency controls.

Expect No Easing of ‘Chinese Whirlwind’ Wall Street Journal

Euro-Area Economy Menaced by Threat of Relapse Bloomberg

Eurozone officially falls into deflation, piling pressure on ECB Telegraph

Deflation is a rising threat for markets Financial Times (Scott)

German Unemployment Falls to Record Low on Strengthening Economic Recovery Bloomberg

The return of the lira? This year, Italy’s fate hangs in the balance Reuters

House prices: The luxury London bubble has burst Telegraph


More bark than bite: the ‘Grexit’ debate DW

Greek leftist Tsipras says ECB cannot shut Greece out of stimulus Reuters (Scott)


The Pentagon is deceiving itself again about IS Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

FBI says search warrants not needed to use “stingrays” in public places ars technica

US regulator warns tech groups on privacy Financial Times

Bernie Sanders’ Brutal Letter On Obama’s Trade Pact Foreshadows 2016 Democratic Clash Zach Carter, Huffington Post

New GOP Congress Fires Shot At Social Security On Day One Talking Points Memo (TF)

House Republicans Change Rules on Calculating Economic Impact of Bills New York Times

More immigrants could mean slightly lower wages in blue-collar jobs Washington Post. Ya think?

A preview of the trial of ex-CIA officer Jeffery Sterling, accused source of journalist James Risen Freedom of the Press Foundation (Steve L)

Virginia ex-governor gets two years in prison for corruption Reuters. EM: “Check out the 3-ring “circus of character witnesses” circus the court allowed this guy to put on in order to justify a light sentence.”

Christie Faces Scrutiny Over Gifts From Cowboys Owner Wall Street Journal. David Sirota broke this story.

Mercedes-Benz says will move U.S. headquarters to Atlanta Reuters (EM)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Darren Wilson grand juror suing prosecutor for botching the case and putting Mike Brown on trial Raw Story


Oil plummets, but don’t expect lower fares soon Sydney Morning Herald (EM)

In the US, one lesson from oil prices: rich people win, again Guardian

White House Says Obama Will Veto Keystone XL Pipeline Bill EcoWatch

You Can’t Make a Living: Digital Media, the End of TV’s Golden Age, and the Death Scene of the American Playwright Alena Smith LA Review of Books

Antidote du jour (Kevin H):

Common Yellowthroat XI

And a bonus video! The first snow day for panda cuba Bao Bao at Smithsonian’s National Zoo (Lambert):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. craazyman

    whoa oah
    whoa oh oh oh
    You gotta launch Amore today
    No mas — the Teutonic way (yeah you can put Spanish in there, there’s no law against it)
    We can print in the glow of a bank that we know of
    where debtors can find peace of mind
    Let’s leave the confusion and all the delusion behind
    Like birds of a feather we’ll default together, no mind

    Amore whoa oh
    Print More Eh? Go go go go
    No wonder our happy hearts sing
    Amore has given us wings
    No laying around we’ll go out on the town
    and we’ll make those cash registers ring
    We won’t need no euros or ECB bureaus
    we’ll print it and live like a King

    Amore whoa oh
    Print more eh? go go go go
    it’s time for Amore today
    No more the ECB way
    If it’s German you want you can go to Berlin any day

    Amore whoa oh oh oh

    1. Jim Haygood

      Funny how when CPI is temporarily on the high side, our attention is always called to the more-stable core CPI. But when the headline CPI is unusually low owing to the same phenomenon — a dip in volatile energy prices — the deflation alert horns blast their ‘ah oo gah, ah oo gah’ warnings like church bells pealing over the city.

      Lost in today’s hand-wringing over European deflation is that the core rate is still +0.8%. But with old-fashioned competitive devaluation having mutated into a new game of competitive QE, any excuse will do to fire up the presses.

      Amore per la stampa, whoa oh oh …

  2. Thomas Williams

    RE: WAPO immigration nonsense

    This is misleading. Having followed the construction industry closely for over 40 years, I can assure you the wage loss from the Mexican Invasion is somewhere between 20% and 25%. Just another weak apologia for sacrificing blue collar workers.

    I am disappointed this website linked to such an an obvious piece of neoliberal propaganda.

    1. Working Class Nero

      The Washington Post, to their credit, takes comments. Get in there and let your views be known.

    2. Steve

      I have been involved as the owner of a small residential construction compnay in the northeast for over 40 yrs. I did not see Immigration driving wages down by 25%. What I did observe is the huge increase in the Spanish speaking participation in the workforce in certain construction trades since about 2000. In my opinion this would have occurred regardless of any wage impact because these men worked harder and longer with less personnel issues than American construction workers. Subcontractors preferred those workers. My observation is that the decrease in construction wages occurred as a result of the housing bubble and the significant fall in the amount of work available. The residential market went to shit and in order to survive, small companies had to reduce wages.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        So “subcontractors” preferred “men [who] worked harder and longer with less personnel issues than American construction workers.

        I’d imagine one of those “issues” was American citizenship, which allowed the men recourse on wages, working hours and conditions and social security tax matching to name a few. “Personnel” can be more difficult to exploit when they have at least an inkling of their employment rights and no fear of deportation for attempting to exercise them.

        An immigrant workforce, especially undocumented, removes so many of those pesky “personnel” pressures requiring compliance with labor law, such as it is.

        But I’m sure it was the residential housing bust. All the construction executives say so.

        1. DJG

          Go Katniss Everdeen. And throw in the restaurant owners / fast-food executives, America’s most coddled group of exploiters.

        2. craazyman

          It gets that way doesn’t it.

          There’s a dude who works in the deli on my corner — from Ecuador. I have no idea if he’s legal. He does the night shift, 8 to 8, 6 days a week.

          I come in for coffee at 6 am and his face is twisted in exhaustion, half asleep, standing on his feet behind the counter. He’s a short dude, thick and squat and his head, his face, looks like an Inca death mask put on the face of some guy who took a spear through the chest in 870 AD in somebody’s war. He’s got a family and he’s a Christian and he listens to gospel preaching on an AM radio, there at 5 am alone. He works when he’s sick, he works when he’s well, he’d work if he died. He’d lay on a board have somebody prop him up all night long. He would.. I know him now, well enough to talk with him sort of as a friend.

          He lives in a rough area so I ask about the people there. Are they on the verge of rebellion? Are they going to protest unfair economic conditions? Will they go on strke? NO. They’re all like him, except the ones who do drugs and score hookers at night. He doesn’t go out at night.

          One morning we we’re talking briefly about politics and he says to me “You know what the problem is with this country?”
          “No.” I said, not wanting to get into an elaborate discussion of central banking, economics, metaphysics, epistemology, eschatology, Greek drama, Shakespeare, calculus, linear algebra, quantum mechanics, visual arts, astronomy, astrology and paranormal phenomenon in relation to scientific “brain science” in air quotes, let alone history, labor relations, economic structures, or the literature and psychological dynamics of rebellion throughout history.

          So I waited for him to answer.

          “Americans, they don’t want to work hard.” He said sort of apologetically, but with a forthright conviction born of a trust in my willingness to hear him express his opinion in a graceful and interested way.

          I just nodded and looked vacantly at him like I hadn’t quite heard, then I and changed the subject to something else, I think it was NFL football.

        3. optimader

          That may be the case in construction subcontracting, don’t know. In my experience (manufacturing) they have more to offer than exploitability w/regard to the low wage rates/labor rights, which in and of itself might be an expensive metric w/regard to skilled craftwork work if you have to tear out work and redo it.

          In my own experience first generation Mexican (permanent residents) and Mexican-American (citizens) employees are well paid, in return they are conscientious, loyal, and honest.

          What experience I do have w/ the construction trade in my geography, Mexicans pretty much own the drywall and taping trades (other than maybe union jobsites in the City where work is extraordinarily expensive to get done.) As that goes, framing and finish carpenters — heavily Polish and other eastern Europeans.

            1. optimader

              Other than employee referrals ( usually relations), we hire exclusively through a temp agency. This allows an opportunity to vet the legal status, as well allow us and fellow employees to size them up. A self regulated workforce in a sense –works well in our circumstance.
              Everyone mutually pulls their weight. After a contractual period of time we are free to hire the temp from the agency as a full time employee.

              1. optimader

                Exploited employees would make for a dead end in our business model. We are blessed to be profitable and we pay your employees very well indeed, we would be nowhere with out them and our approach has had tangibly productive results.
                We gave everyone, even the temps generous bonuses and to the man they each personally thanked us, left gifts for us made by there children etc.. Mutual respect, the most basic playground rules work.

                Personally we have no interest in being in a working environment w/ a labor force not making a living wage. We make plenty of money, why not have healthy and happy employees? It only makes sense to me.

                  1. optimader

                    Frankly I don’t know how the %s fall. Nationwide I don’t doubt that you’re accurate. right. I do know the temp agency we work with has to compete locally (on wage) to have a labor force to pimp. It’s reasonable to believe this is very regionally, seasonally and skill sensitive.

                    1. OIFVet

                      Oh come on Opti, you, I, and everybody else here know too well that the idea of employers competing for low-wage work force is unsupported by the reality-based metrics. Wages remain low, and the temp workers have to put up with a lot because they know there is always someone else itching to get their crappy job. You would have known that had you bothered to read any of the links I provided. Also too, the idea that temp agencies vet for legal status is utterly false, something pointed out in the links as well. Finally, many of this links are based on the reality of the greater Chicagoland area, which both of us call home. Sorry homey, but what you are selling here is pretty offensive. Again, perhaps your company and its temp agency defy the norm. If so, that’s a very rare exception to the rule.

                    2. optimader

                      You are assuming we are competing for a low wage work force. We specifically DO NOT want a low wage workforce.

                      “Also too, the idea that temp agencies vet for legal status is utterly false,”
                      Apparently the employment agency we work understands they would be serially engaging in felonies?
                      They would be crushed so fast here it would make your head spin if they could not prove the legal status of employees.

                      Or maybe the Fox-Valley area is quite a bit different w/regard to how things work in area of employment practices compared to the SS of Chicago? A temp agency here that doesn’t vet legal status might a well close.

                      Section 274 felonies under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, INA 274A(a)(1)(A):

                      A person (including a group of persons, business, organization, or local government) commits a federal felony when she or he:

                      * assists an alien s/he should reasonably know is illegally in the U.S. or who lacks employment authorization, by transporting, sheltering, or assisting him or her to obtain employment, or

                      * encourages that alien to remain in the U.S. by referring him or her to an employer or by acting as employer or agent for an employer in any way,

                    3. OIFVet

                      You are assuming we are competing for a low wage work force. I am not assuming anything. Again, you and your business are basically anecdotal, isolated occurrence. The overwhelming purpose of the temp agencies is to provide the cheapest, most utterly disposable labor. A lot of it illegal.

                      Citation? Check the links I’ve provided on this thread. And don’t give me that Fox Valley is different crap. It isn’t. It is one thing to have laws, a whole different thing to enforce them. If the laws were so conscientiously enforced as to scare off would-be violators, we wouldn’t be having this many illegal immigrants. Matter of fact, we don’t have illegal immigrant problem, we have illegal employer problem. Agriculture, meatpacking, construction: these are the biggest illegal employer industries by far. It’s profitable, after all: Illegal immigrants benefit the U.S. economy The title itself is utter BS because corporations and shareholders are not the “economy”, but at least the article paints a clear picture about why the illegal employers are laughing all the way to the bank in spite of the stern-sounding law you quoted.

                    4. optimader

                      Of course its anecdotal, I’m relating my personal experience!
                      If you don’t think (legally operated) employment agencies that file State and Federal taxes vet the status of potential employees, you apparently do not have any experience working with them.
                      So if you want to speculate in the realm of what felonious activities people may engage, I’ll leave you to it.

                      And yes, Ill guess the south side and FRV are very different employment markets.

                    5. OIFVet

                      Sure Opti, in this age of unpunished corporate criminality, Fox River Valley temp agencies are shining beacons of integrity. Unlike them criminals on the South Side. Snort. You didn’t read the link about the warehouses in our very own Will County and in California, did you? Yeah I know, there are them DHS rules. I also know that there is that pesky reality, which is that the majority who employ illegals go uncaught and unpunished, and on the rare occasions they do get caught, the punishment is little more than a slap on the wrist. I trust you are well-versed in cost-benefit analysis, so tell me: what is the most likely course for an employer when the benefit of doing something far far outweigh any potential costs of doing it?

                      Really Opti, there is simply no need to be so defensive about it.

                1. OIFVet

                  Opti, I hope you won’t take offense because I certainly don’t mean to offend, but your description of your workplace idyll reminded me of this passage from Zola’s ‘Germinal’:

                  Then they thought this funny, and all three began to laugh; the servants who were bringing in the
                  breakfast also broke out laughing, so amused was the household at the idea that mademoiselle had
                  been sleeping for twelve hours right off. The sight of the brioche completed the expansion of their
                  “What! Is it cooked, then?” said Cécile; ‘”that must be a surprise for me! That’ll be good now, hot,
                  with the chocolate!”
                  They sat down to table at last with the smoking chocolate in their cups, and for a long time talked
                  of nothing but the brioche. Mélanie and Honorine remained to give details about the cooking and
                  watched them stuffing themselves with greasy lips, saying that it was a pleasure to make a cake when
                  one saw the masters enjoying it so much.

                  1. optimader

                    No offense taken! We’re in an interesting, obscure materials engineering niche It is a great place to work.

              2. Katniss Everdeen

                Oh, c’mon, Opti. At least be honest about what’s happening and stop trying to mollify your conscience. The only difference between “temp” agencies and “subcontractors” is that temp agencies don’t troll 7-11 parking lots at dawn in pick-up trucks, sniffing out desperation and luring it in. They have Craigslist.

                “Vetting” potential “full-time employees” could be accomplished with a trial employment period, and doesn’t require the mediation of a “temp” agency. As for allowing “us and full time employees to size them up,” give us all a break. GAWD!!!

                The cost of decimating a stable, full-time workforce is a stable, full-time economy, however you choose to ameliorate your participation.

                1. optimader

                  Not sure where your coming from (literally and figuratively) , but the temp agency we use confirms legal status, criminal record ( sorry we dont want violent ex felons) provide liability ins,workmans comp fica fifa and allows us as an employer to evaluate the employee on their merits without an imediate direct hire. As important as that is, it also allows the other employees some control of who is injected into their work environment. They don’t want someone that will endanger them or behave unreliably and much as we don’t want some one getting hurt.
                  It all works, and I’ll bet my efforts support more families than yours do. You have a better method to hire people into a manufacturing environment, let me know

                  Now explain how our using a temp agency as a strategy to identify and hire full time employees is “decimating a stable, full-time workforce”?

                  1. Katniss Everdeen

                    I know you’re not stupid, Opti, so stop trying to pretend that you don’t understand what I’ve written by invoking felons and third-party job performance evaluations.

                    Regardless of the benefits to your manufacturing business, temporary employment cannot support the long-term commitments–7-year car loans or 30-year mortgages–that our “economy” requires in order to function. Bad things have been known to happen to those who make the mistake of thinking that a job, any job, pays the bills.

                    All I’m saying is that when you change the rules, you don’t get to maintain that the rules haven’t changed.

                    If temporary employees, “hoping” for, but never guaranteed, permanent positions, are so integral to your business, at least let them know that they shouldn’t get a mortgage or a long-term car loan. They’ll most likely find themselves in a position of being unable to pay it back.

                    But, presumably, the temp agency will make sure that no felons are working on the line next to them, so I guess that’s something. Good to know that no one’s going to steal their lunch.

          1. skippy

            The Polish carpenters I’ve worked with have a “Degree in Joinery”, 6 years if memory serves, hang a door with hammer and chisel faster than most can hang a pre-hung POS.

            Skippy… Generational Italian and eastern Euro sorts blow the socks of the average deskilled States counterpart…. thank you dumbing down efficiency metrics!

            1. optimader

              The Polish crew that built a fairly substantial accessory structure for me were amazing. No chit chat. Framed the first floor w/o level, then at the end nailed a 2×4 to a top plate an a corner and put a vertical level on another corner and pushed the structure around til it was plumb and level by virtue of accurately cut lumber and geometry, then nailed it out. Pretty amazing to watch. All the rafter cuts, quick measurement, then rip and run accurately.
              So this crew worked for a boss ( a former Warsaw cop) that had 3-4 crews a t that time. he visited twice per day. At the end of the day they waited for him to review, If they didn’t have a predetermined amount of lumber up the crew didn’t get paid for that day. If there were any beer bottles on the site, the crew didn’t get paid for the day. Ball buster Rules of the Game
              I would give them Pilsner Urquells after the Boss man left which they were able to drain quite efficiently as well.

        4. Jess

          Yes, Go Katniss, Go!

          And regarding the fact that immigrants did not start having an effect on construction wages in the NE until about 2000: I believe that is due to the fact that it took that long for the immigration wave to travel diagonally from the south west. Here in CA and nearby states, the illegal immigrants begin reducing both real wages and buying power adjusted for inflation in the 1980’s. One poster on FDL several years ago claimed that average wages for construction workers in AZ fell from $25.00 an hour
          in 1985 to $15/hr by the early 2000’s. I can’t confirm that but I can confirm that the hourly rate for a skilled carpenter here in L.A. was $25/hr in 1990 versus only $30/hr today because those are the rates I paid to have my house remodeled then, and some other work done more recently — by the same carpenter. (And he’s very good, is sought after for lots of fine detail finish carpentry on craftsman style homes, etc.)

          1. optimader

            “And regarding the fact that immigrants did not start having an effect on construction wages in the NE until about 2000: I believe that is due to the fact that it took that long for the immigration wave to travel diagonally from the south west.”

            Is that accurate? I wonder how much of the NE immigrant labor traveled direct to NYC then moved and then relocated to various bergs in the NE from there, rather than “slowly traveling” from the southern states.
            Much of the Mexican immigrant labor in the Chicago area came (comes) here directly, not a gradual permeation from southern states.

      2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        Working longer and harder for the same money = working for less. Theres no other way you can parse that.

        1. Steve

          Sorry to disagree but working harder for the same money is not working for less. Neither is working longer when you get paid by the hour. Parsing is in the eye of the beholder.

          1. OIFVet

            Working harder=doing more, doesn’t it? In that case, working harder for the same money=working for less money. As for hourly labor, that’s one of the many ways to increase job insecurity, thus squeezing the worker to do more for less. Hey, it’s what Walmart does. It’s what Germany did with mini-jobs. Hourly labor does nothing but drive down wages.

              1. OIFVet

                He did say “work harder”. There are indeed different ways to interpret what that means, but I do believe he meant ‘do more’. As far as that goes, the quality of the work may suffer, as well as the safety of the worker (it is a sad fact that workers hired through temp agencies are far more likely to be injured or killed in workplace accidents. See another of ProPublica’s articles in the series, In the end, it all comes down to making less while working more, which has been the case in the US since the 1970s. Even as productivity (aka ‘efficiency’) has increased about 4-fold since the early 1970s. the wages have barely budged. That’s the very definition of doing more for less.

          2. hunkerdown

            Sigh, another example where the confusion of stocks and flows leads to spirited argument instead of agreement…

      3. Benedict@Large

        A small company in the northeast. That might explain a bit; you were 1,800 miles from the front line.

        You would have seen a different story closer to the border. Like people from your area coming here when jobs got tight there, shell shocked when they were offered wages 50% (and more) less than what they had made back up North. In the beginning, they’d refuse the work; holding out for more. Until they got hungry, and that great big “E” showed up on their gas gauges.

        1. ambrit

          I well remember ‘Snow Bird’ skilled trades workers from Canada coming down to Florida during winter and working for much less, under the table, because they were getting winter unemployment from home. The first time I encountered it, I was working for a commercial plumber in Fort Meyers on a ten or twelve story condo project. About the middle of November, we are all laid off on a Friday. Told to come back the next Monday, there are five or six Canadian plumbers in the office getting ready for work. The rest of us are offered our old jobs back at a substantial wage cut. I didn’t need that job to survive, so I walked. One or two older men stayed on. (Striking was severely frowned upon as I learned later. The developer had the local cops in his pocket.)

  3. dearieme

    “Never Buy a Phone Again”: my wife has been astonished to find that she has become stylish, by virtue of still carrying a clamshell phone. It’s cheap too; pay-as-you-go. The terms are not onerous: she is obliged to use the phone at least once very six months. To everyone who subsidises this remarkable deal: thank you.

    1. optimader

      I have a 4g phone that I use and abuse, Some people take great pride in not having one, or having the most functionally primitive version of a cell phone. To each there own. IMO it’s a fantastic tool not a social or philosophical statement.
      I have fairly instantaneous access to all manner of information, it will read things to me, I can use it as a digital tuner, it will connect as a broadband wireless device, I take and store pictures on it, look up maps .. all manner of magical things ( by 1980 standards).
      Great tool.

      Interesting how phone have became such a litmus test. Who would have predicted it in say 1980?

      When I was finishing up University and prospecting for a job, there was an interview event on campus, one of the local companies being Motorola. I made a vee line for their booth as I had some familiarity w/ their work on car phones and the impending
      So I ask the old guy sitting there ” gee, I find this mobile phone business quite interesting any opportunities in this field at Motorola? He told me to the effect: “ohhh, that? its a huuuge money looser, as far as I’m concerned we wont be able sell it off soon enough!”.. Well ok then, next booth..

      1. john gleason

        “IMO it’s a fantastic tool not a social or philosophical statement.
        I have fairly instantaneous access to all manner of information, it will read things to me, I can use it as a digital tuner, it will connect as a broadband wireless device, I take and store pictures on it, look up maps .. all manner of magical things ( by 1980 standards).
        Great tool.” Why the hurry?

        1. optimader

          “Why the hurry?”
          In what context, information access? Information can have a steep freshness date and/or it ‘s always best to make a decision w/ the best information available.
          To be clear, it’s a convenience, I am confident I could lead a very pleasant life in a low information exchange rate world, but OTOH how is it to my advantage to asymmetrically deprive myself in this capacity in the environment in which I live?

          Maybe the case here is that the environment in which you exist defines what “hurry” means. I don’t perceive I am in a hurry. It’s all relative.

          1. john gleason

            ” Information can have a steep freshness date and/or it ‘s always best to make a decision w/ the best information available.” Granted, then those finance people making trades in milliseconds are short of freshness since they lack instantaneous facts? I just think life is too short to be concerned whether I might make a wrong decision for lack of information or to be in a hurry to see a photo.

            I think too many decisions are made in a high ” information exchange rate”.

            1. jrs

              I thought of contacting our oligarchy (our congresspeople that is) as being something one might need instant knowledge for. Since we never seem to know about the bills until the last minute it seems.

            2. optimader

              ” I just think life is too short to be concerned whether I might make a wrong decision for lack of information or to be in a hurry to see a photo.”
              And that’s great if it suits your sensibility. There is no correct choice.

          2. ambrit

            You use it for business a lot? Here Down South, the cost relative to average wages is pretty steep. I could only see myself paying those rates if I could write it off as a business expense. (Plus, it goes against my visceral distrust of “instant” anything.)

      2. jrs

        Well you know, (too) late-capitalist man, taking identity in what he owns or does not own. It’s not just my stuff, it’s me!

    2. fresno dan

      I have that kind of phone because the phone keyboards are too small and I am WAY too impatient to type away on a phone. When your out and about…experience the world and not your keyboard!
      It reminds me of children in cars who want to watch TV instead of looing at the panorama outside their car window (yes, yes, I know they will often see the wretched world of suburban strip malls….but compared to the uber wretched world of American TeeVee…)

  4. dearieme

    “German Unemployment Falls to Record Low on Strengthening Economic Recovery”
    “Deflation is a rising threat for markets”

    Low unemployment seems to me to be a better measure of economic health than the avoidance of deflation would be. In fact, unemployment sinking while prices sink too seems to me to be pretty desirable. Golly, macroeconomics is a lot of piffle.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From a worker’s perspective, food/energy inflation minus wage inflation is something he or she wants to be low or negative – a quote from Anti-Manorial Household Economics 101.

  5. rich

    Cowboy Christie vs. Boy Scout McDonnell

    I pondered the difference between Christie and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, just sentenced to two years prison (with two more years of probation) for corruption, accepting “gifts from friends” like the New Jersey governor. Business Insider links to a New Jersey Executive Order (from the Governor)giving the impression that it states:

    The governor “may accept gifts, favors, services, gratuities, meals, lodging or travel expenses from relatives or personal friends that are paid for with personal funds.”

    I found no such language in the executive order. However, the order establishes an Advisory Panel to assist the Governor with ethical decisions. Did Governor Christie or his staff submit the Cowboys junket for review? If so, what was their decision?

    the port authority must be some plum for both parties to return favors… you think they have assigned floors?

  6. Llewelyn Moss

    Oh man, I love FRONTLINE. IMO it should be required viewing by all citizens. This NRA show was possibly their best ever. Exposes NRA Pres Wayne LaPierre and Congress for the cowards that they are. Heart breaking and maddening episode. Shows the faces of the beautiful kids murdered in Newtown, then LaPierre’s news conference declaring the answer is… wait for it … “More Guns”.

    FRONTLINE – Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA

    1. Carolinian

      One of the show’s segments discusses how NRA turnout may well have given us Bush over Gore. Another talks about how Wayne LaPierre was a lobbyist who knew nothing about guns. The takeaway is that guns are a red meat politcal tool being exploited by the pseudopopulists. In other words it’s not about the guns (except to the people who get shot).

      1. Llewelyn Moss

        Yes the episode made a strong case that the gun nuts swung the election to Bush.

        Here’s The Repub Base: Pro-Gun Nuts, Gay Haters, Rascists, Gawd Lovers Against A Woman’s Choice.
        And the Repubs play them all like a cheap violin.

        1. Carolinian

          In fairness it should be said that Leftie pseudopopulists have their own pushbuttons–one which would be opposition to all of the things you just mentioned. This doesn’t mean they aren’t important. However politics, at least in this country, is all about money…who gets it and who doesn’t. Winners and losers. One could argue that the limpness of the Left in recent times stems from their failure to acknowledge this class based nature of our politics. Don’t want to be called a Commie.

          Which is a roundabout way of saying that the NRA’s purpose in life is to use guns to get rich people more money. If the left would face the real issue then the NRA would have a lot less power.

          1. fresno dan

            I’ve posted this article many times

            I would make the point that with most things, what goes around comes around. Gun control was originally a law and order, pro police issue. It is always amazing to me how things evolve.
            We had 30 children die because Americans believe mentally ill people should have access to guns and guns protect us.
            But what happens (God forbid) to the dynamic if gun lovers have to deal with an incident like Charlie Hebdo? – and we have the issue that terrorists SHOOT, not bomb? Will the idea that we are shot by terrorists be the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back?
            (OH, I am sure the argument will be made that if only those French had had guns in their offices. But sometimes reality does intrude. The NRA did not get the right to carry concealed carry on airliners….)

    1. fresno dan

      Its an interesting article, that brings up a point: income is declining for any number of actual “producers”
      I think the fact of the matter is that there is a tremendous amount of talent out there, and it produces far more worthy entertainment than any normal person can consume.
      There is no right to be a writer, or any kind of entertainer, and be rich. But the business that owns the copyright…why, they have a right to make money off that work for a century (and I suspect by the time a century rolls around, they will have right to make money off that same work for a millennia…)
      It is also a strange tenet of capitalism of who gets free services and who doesn’t. The copyright owners get the FBI diligently looking for, and arresting copyright violators. Courts are paid for by everyone, as well as prisons. Strange how so many resources are expended to help so few….(or maybe its NOT)

      But this “market” is a strange thing. There are far, far more smart, talented business school graduates than ever before. Yet somehow …with free market, capitalistic THEORY saying therefore that the compensation of CEO’s should be falling, we see them spiraling higher than economic theory says they should or could…

      We live in a new gilded age of pure, unmitigated corruption. Competition for thee and me, and none whatsoever for the 0.1%

  7. James Levy

    I think Dershowitz’s response to the lawyer representing the other side in the lawsuit which alleges he had sex with minors perfectly reflects the attitude of insiders–no thought of a reasoned defense or exculpatory evidence: crush the opponent! Dershowitz’s defense seems to be a combination of “How DARE you!” and “I’ll fix YOU!”. How typical of the thought process of our “betters” is that?!? To slightly misquote Leona Helmsley, “evidence is for the little people.”

          1. john

            The Derschewitz (spelling = whatever) story is gone!

            The memory hole is speeding up every day. Why wait a week to scrub the story, when you can just block it today!?

            Surely has nothing to do with the investment dude in Florida who (allegedly) recorded the Duke of York in a “party” with an under-aged girl! And the fact Clinton is on the record as a supporter of him.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Why do the freaking Clintons have to stay in our face for damned ever?

      What’s happened to dear old Al Gore, for instance, who invented the algorithm, and already was elected president once?

      If you thought the last go-round with the Clintons was bad, just wait till Hillary and Huma take over the White House family quarters with their palace guard of eunuchs, while the Arkansas Caligula exiles himself to the Boom Boom Room on Epstein’s Island. This is your First Family on bath salts.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In contrast with Caligula, Claudius played dumb to eventually rule the empire.

        When he first put on the purple robe, he proclaimed ‘Mission Accomplished,’ though history did not record his soldiers having ever reached modern-day Afghanistan…Iraq maybe.

  8. Jim Haygood

    From the TPM article on Social Security:

    In a memo circulated to their allies Tuesday, Democratic staffers said that [restrictions on transfers between trust funds] would mean “either new revenues or benefit cuts for current or future beneficiaries.” New revenues are highly unlikely to be approved by the deeply tax-averse Republican-led Congress, leaving benefit cuts as the obvious alternative.

    The Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees estimated last year that the disability insurance program would run short of money to pay all benefits some time in late 2016. Without a new reallocation, disability insurance beneficiaries could face up to 20 percent cuts in their Social Security payments in late 2016 — a chit that would be of use to Republicans pushing for conservative entitlement reforms.

    Meanwhile, the Financial Report of the United States for 2013 shows that SocSec’s negative net worth (i.e., underfunding) has climbed to -$12.294 trillion, up more than a trillion from last year (see page 3 of management’s Discussion and Analysis):

    How is simply ignoring a grossly underfunded program, one of whose components is projected to exhaust its trust fund in 2016, responsible or beneficial? Stripped of its tiresome partisan slant, this is an argument for letting the existing generation of beneficiaries bankrupt the program, leaving a looted shell for the next generation of workers. How selfish.

    1. Carolinian

      Those SS freeloaders paid the taxes that provide the money for their lavish stipends. It was of course the politicians who made the decision to fold the trust fund into the general budget. You could argue that the Boomers benefitted thereby by having their Federal taxes cut or not raised. However that’s a very roundabout assignment of blame to a whole generation. Most of those Reagan tax cuts, of course, went to the plutocrats.

      I believe there is an issue about disability SS and whether this should even be part of the program. It was, once again, a political decision to pretend that this was somehow not a Welfare State program.

    2. Llewelyn Moss

      Robert Reich – Budget Baloney: Why Social Security Isn’t a Problem
      Social Security isn’t responsible for the federal deficit. Just the opposite. Until last year Social Security took in more payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits. It lent the surpluses to the rest of the government.

      Now that Social Security has started to pay out more than it takes in, Social Security can simply collect what the rest of the government owes it. This will keep it fully solvent for the next 26 years.

      PS Llewelyn Moss – Funny how there is always , ALWAYS $trillions for endless pointless wars and no one says one damn thing about it.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘Until last year [2010] Social Security took in more payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits.’

        This is true, on cash basis accounting. However, no entity with long-lived obligations uses cash basis accounting. The U.S. government’s annual report based on appropriate accrual accounting shows that nearly every year, ‘net operating cost’ (accrual basis) exceeds ‘budget deficit’ (cash basis). In 2013, net operating cost was $125 billion higher; in 2012, it was $227 billion higher.

        And these figures are with social insurance (negative net worth: $39.698 trillion) treated as ‘off balance sheet.’ (See page viii in the report linked above).

        To make an analogy, if you owe a balloon payment of $1 million next year, but this year your $50,000 income covered your $50,000 in living expenses, then on a cash basis you’re doin’ great. Let next year worry about itself, eh?

        1. Carolinian

          Speaking for myself I wouldn’t begin to try to joust with you on the nitty gritty of SS. I’m an English major. So I refer you to Dean Baker’s many comments on the subject at

          However on the political side I believe that it’s a simple debate. We cannot say on the one hand that property rights are sacred for the wealthy but not for everyone else. The subtext is that the upper class obviously fear that their taxes will be raised to meet any SS cash shortfalls (and they are right). It’s not America’s solvency but their own that they are worried about. They might have to cut down on yachts. Less property.

          But Social Security contributors who plowed substantial portions of their income into the system have every right to expect that they will get what they are owed. Not surprisingly many Republicans–in the spirit of Reagan’s “I paid for this microphone”–tend to agree. The attack on SS is being waged by the usual suspects for their own benefit but it has had little success up to now and that will probably continue. Yacht dealers will just have to suck it up.

          1. Jim Haygood

            ‘Social Security contributors who plowed substantial portions of their income into the system have every right to expect that they will get what they are owed.’

            No disagreement there. If you contribute to a pension plan, you have a right under Erisa to expect that your contributions will be invested on your behalf to pay your future benefits. Unfortunately, Social Security is exempt from Erisa. And it shows.

            Reich’s advice that ‘Social Security can simply collect what the rest of the government owes it’ is tantamount to advocating that despite being on the hook for trillions in future benefits, SocSec should run its assets down to nothing (i.e., 0% funded). That’s what Bernie Madoff did — spending money that was owed to investors.

            You are on target about ‘property rights.’. But sadly, the Supreme Court ruled in 1960 that beneficiaries have no property rights in Social Security. It is a political program, the Court said, that Congress can amend or end at any time.

            This lack of legal accountability, baked in the cake in 1935, is what set up today’s insecurity as the program’s underfunding metastasizes into the trillions. Enforceable property rights in Social Security would have stopped this looting decades ago.

            1. Carolinian

              I’m sure all current and future Social Security recipients fully realize that their fate is in Congress’ hands. No one ever said otherwise. But the curious thing is that despite the politicians’ utter fealty to the financial industry the gutting, or if you will “reform,” of SS has yet to happen. That third rail thing could be real.

              Like I say I’m not going to pretend to be expert enough to debate the solvency or lack thereof of the program. But it is my humble opinion that until the rich have been thoroughly soaked any talk of cuts to current retirees is a political non starter. At any rate should be interesting….

            2. zapster

              What a ridiculous debate. Millions have reduced their consumption, and *demand* and continue to do so because of the regressive payroll tax. This idiotic focus on what it “costs the government” does *not* cost the government a dime. The tax costs the economy, and aggregate demand tho.

              Government can and will simply provide the cash when it’s needed. There should never have been a so-called trust fund, or a payroll tax to depress economic activity all this time. It’s entirely unnecessary. The increased productivity of eliminating that tax would do more to make it “solvent” than any amount of taxing and cutting ever will.

              1. davidgmills

                Just print the money like Article I Section 8 of the Constitution permits.

                “To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures….”

                And the Supreme Court has held that coining money means printing paper money.

                I will gladly take my SS in printed money and so will everyone else.

                Basic MMT.

                1. davidgmills

                  If the Constitution gave me the right to print money, I would never have any debt or need to find a way to generate income.

              2. ambrit

                OOOH! “Regressive payroll tax.” From which you deduce that it is the tax itself that is to blame, not its’ implementation or makeup. How about removing the cap on income subject to the ‘payroll’ tax and watch the money roll in? The entire ‘stealth’ component of the original New Deal taxing regime was to redistribute some of the wealth of the nation to, as many have noted, save Capitalism from itself. In other words, at heart, social engineering.

                  1. ambrit

                    Good idea. I haven’t heard that argued before. I wonder what the absolute economic weights of the two trade offs would amount to.

        2. Eclair

          OK, a few years ago I actually read the annual reports issued by the Social Security Trustees and here’s what my understanding is. I am ready to be corrected especially since I am working from memory here.

          Back in the 80’s, the so-called ‘payroll taxes’ (FICA) were increased, while the higher income tax rates, as well as rates on investment income, were decreased. As the percentage of working age population actually employed rose through the next decades, the FICA taxes collected proved to be a lovely and reliable cash spigot, relieving the federal government from experiencing an embarrassing cash flow problem, as well as plugging the revenue side of the annual budget.

          Meanwhile, the Retirement Insurance part of the program puttered along, sending monthly benefit checks to the retired as well as to widows and orphans. The annual cash flow needed for these checks was much much less than the incoming cash from the FICA tax collections. So, the government gave an IOU (in the form of good-as-gold Treasury Bonds … or, maybe just an accounting entry). All this was carefully kept track of by the Social Security trustees.

          Now, there are also two additional programs that, over time, became funded by the FICA tax: The Disability Insurance (DI) Program and the Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI). The DI payments have exploded over time (why? That could be the subject of dissertations, but my take is that there are now so many miserable jobs and bosses out there that people actually become ill, rather than have to work at them. And, there are the workers who are injured on the job. We could just dump all this Insurance and go back to the days when, if a coal miner lost his leg, he and his family were thrown out on the street.) The DI and the SSI programs, to my recollection, are severely underfunded and and about to run out of both cash and investments.

          The Retirement Insurance part of the program is in decent shape; cash outflows are now, or will become shortly, more than cash inflows on an annual basis. But …. there are all those ‘promissory notes’ from the federal government; you lent us your cash over the past decades and we have promised to return that money (with interest) when you need it.

          And, with a few adjustments, increasing the salary cap on contributions for example, the future program should be in good shape.

          But, please, let’s refrain from “blaming” the current retirees (full disclosure: I am one) from sponging off the current crop of workers. Taxpayers (especially the wealthier ones) of the past four decades have benefited from the FICA taxes paid by workers. A tax that is avoided by those who receive most of their income from ‘investments’ or from rent.

          So, if we are going to bash anyone, let’s bash the really really wealthy (including hedge fund managers) who have benefitted from the tax breaks. After all, we oldsters can do nothing about our age (except grow older) while the wealthy can, at any time, join the ranks of the poor.

          1. Jim Haygood

            ‘There are all those ‘promissory notes’ from the federal government; you lent us your cash over the past decades.’

            Yes. In a funded plan, the Trust is invested to pay promised benefits. Running down the Trust to zero means that benefits to future beneficiaries are not funded at all.

            What happened, in this ‘Robert Reich scenario,’ to their years of payroll contributions? They were looted to pay current retirees. This is the very definition of a Ponzi scheme. Whereas a legitimate pension plan is either fully funded, or has plans to become so, Social Security has neither. It is $12.294 trillion underfunded, with no plan to fix it.

            Congress ran Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into bankruptcy. Why would we expect any different result with Social Security? (Particularly when it is treated as off-balance sheet, which is like a declaration of bad intent.)

            1. Sammie Sawee

              Well, the only way for Social Security not to be a ‘ponzi scheme’ is for it to invest the proceeds and earn a return. I think the 2008 melt down shows how terrible an idea it would be to intrust all of Social Security assets to Wall Street.

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Is there a second Reich scenario?

              For sure, we don’t want the Third Robert Reich scenario.

              1. ambrit

                Somehow I suspect the Russians would have an existential objection to it. (Lebengeld would about sum it up, eh?) [Hey! Wait a minute! We’re driving deep into old Soviet territory, Ukraine, and the Baltics, as we speak! Somehow, I think no one on the neoliberal General Staff is up to the standards of a von Runstedt or a von Manstein.]

    1. James Levy

      I love my chickens. They free range on my property (when it isn’t 8 degrees out, which it is right now). I’ve seen them down toads, crickets, flies, moths, and my big Buff Orpington likes to hunt mice under my deck. My point being–animals kill and eat other animals (forget about my dog, who lives to run down the groundhog’s tunnels and rip him apart, and would if I didn’t keep him leashed, or the barred owl, fishercat, bear, raccoon, and coyotes who live in the area). Since this is the case, I think the best approach would be for us all to eat less meat, not foreswear its consumption. Americans have, objectively, too much meat in our diets. We’d be better off, and the biosphere would be better off, if we ate a great deal less meat and we dismantled the cruel and dangerous factory farms that produce too much of the meat we eat. You can convince a lot more people to moderate their behavior than to successfully demand of them a binary choice of meat or no meat.

      1. Foppe

        I get the feeling you did not read the article I linked to, as your response makes fairly little sense as a response to what Hedges writes there. That said, chimps also engage in warfare, and they rape females. Should we, because they do so? Male lions kill their ‘stepchildren’ when they take a new wife. Should we? We are moral animals; we can think about how we act, and reflect on how we act. Why should we suddenly forswear this as soon as we start talking diet?

        Animals are just as sentient as we are; and they desire to live just as much as we do (even if they can’t reflect on that). We in no way need to eat animal products in order to thrive. (In fact, it’s more likely the other way around…) So please tell me why we have the right to use them as living milk/egg/meat/wool/leather/fur factories. Merely because “we are superior”? “Because they cannot reason morally”? (I would hope) needless to say, that argument doesn’t hold much water..

        1. optimader

          “Animals are just as sentient as we are”
          How do you know that?

          Causing “living milk/egg/meat/wool/leather/fur factories” to suffer unnecessarily can legitimately get some traction in an argument about morals, but that will devolve into parsing what constitutes unnecessary.

          I suppose the “right to use them as living milk/egg/meat/wool/leather/fur factories” would be derived from the being at the top of a foodchain in the natural order of things.

          If animals are “just as sentient as we are” does that come with some elevated responsibility to their fellow animal co-inhabitants?
          Do Male Lion have the right to kill their stepchildren or are they immoral?

          Do Killer Whales have the right to kill Seals, no less even after they’ve eaten their fill or are they immoral? Should they instead become vegans and just eat seaweed? Bunt don’t plants have feeling too?
          Maybe we have to be patient and just wait for the human species to evolve to a more hairy form with nice thick foot soles and digestive tracts that can accommodate eating sterile dirt before we can truly consider ourselves civilized.
          OR maybe we can mutate some genes that will allow our melanin to become photosynthetically active?? In which case, we should put a hold on all that hair and migrate to more equatorial mild and sunny climates. I thing I would prefer that to being hairy and eating dirt.

          1. hunkerdown

            You’re harshing their mellow, man. Can’t we all just let the dandy bourgies alone spewing out directives and admonitions like lawn sprinklers and carefully milking their human underlings for profit in an ordure labor system?

          2. Foppe

            would be derived from the being at the top of a foodchain in the natural order of things.

            I do hope that you realize that social-darwinist notions like “the natural order of things” and “being at the top of the food chain” are nothing but narcissistic/anthropocentric fantasies that we’ve made into pop science.

            Causing “living milk/egg/meat/wool/leather/fur factories” to suffer unnecessarily can legitimately get some traction in an argument about morals, but that will devolve into parsing what constitutes unnecessary.

            Allow me to try. Given that most of the large professional bodies agree that a plant-based diet is nutritionally adequate for all humans at all stages of life, I’d say that it is fair to say that it is wholly uncontroversial that the eating of animal products (never mind wool/leather) is unnecessary.
            Now, your statement that ‘unnecessary’ suffering is wrong suggests that you agree that we need to be able to offer reasons for why we are permitted to harm animals. Given that ‘nutritional necessity’ is off the table, it follows that the only reasons we have left for nevertheless consuming animal products are tradition/habit, convenience, and (palate) pleasure. Given your above statement, I am guessing you also agree that, say, raising dogs for dog fighting activity, and training them to maim and kill other dogs, is wrong, because of the fact that this does not respect the animals’ interests in not being harmed and killed. To be (purposely) pedantic about it, in said case, someone uses ‘pleasure’ as his/her justification for using dogs in these ways, for those purpose. Let’s contrast this with cheese production. To produce milk, one needs to (pay someone to) raise dairy cows, impregnate them each year (and generally killing, but at least removing, the calves), and forcing them to keep giving milk for you, until (due to exhaustion/”old age” — a dairy cow is generally killed at between 4 and 7 years of age, even though a cow has a 25-30 year lifespan when not used in this way) the milk production drops below some threshold that makes it economically inefficient to keep the cow, after which the cow is sent off to slaughter.
            Both in the case of dog fighting, and in the case of milk production, animals are used and and abused in order to make possible pleasurable experiences for humans. Certainly in the first case, someone is deriving pleasure from harming animals directly, whereas in the second case, the harm and killing are ‘undesired’ by the person buying milk/cheese. Nevertheless, the harm is real, while — given the nutritional adequacy of a wholly plant-based diet — all of the harm inflicted upon animals in the course of milk production is avoidable. So to make a long story short, it seems to me that unless you want to argue that “necessity” applies to cases where people engage in a behavior purely because of a desire for pleasurable experiences/to engage in traditional/habitual behavior/because they find it a bother to look for alternatives, it is unreasonable to say that we have good reasons for using animals in the ways that we do.

        2. ambrit

          I don’t see any chickens striking for better ‘working’ conditions. I personally love cows and cried the first time I saw a calf being slaughtered. Those ancient hunter gatherers understood. They conducted ceremonies to placate the souls of the animals they killed ( and assuage the guilt of killing too, I suspect.)

          1. Foppe

            Those ancient hunter gatherers understood. They conducted ceremonies to placate the souls of the animals they killed ( and assuage the guilt of killing too, I suspect.)

            I’m sure they did, but in this day and age there is no reason for anyone to feel forced to eat animals/animal products, as hunter/gatherers without access to supermarkets presumably did. The use and killing of cows and calves is entirely unnecessary from a nutritional point of view, so why pay people to do it?

      2. davidgmills

        Maybe you have four stomachs but I don’t. I don’t do well at all on a carbohydrate diet. And apparently my wife and daughters don’t either but the love carbs so they won’t stop. My wife and my youngest daughter needed gastric bypasses.

        1. Foppe

          I’m sad to hear that your wife and youngest daughter aren’t doing well currently. However, I feel obligated to point out that everyone does well on a carbohydrate diet, provided they’re not already getting 20-40% of their daily calories from animal fats. Please consider that plant protein sources such as beans/lentils contain at most 9% fat, whereas animal protein sources (meat primarily, cheese secondarily) contain upwards of 25% fat. By switching to legumes you get better satiety, and you are allowed to eat more (because there are fewer calories in legumes)..
          Please watch this, or alternatively have a look at, say, this book

    2. jrs

      What happened to Hedges anyway? Here we have a prominent critic of the increasing U.S. police state who was writing article after article on it, a prominent liberal (I won’t necessarily say leftist although some might) and what they write about nowdays is things like personal consumption decisions like going vegan. Has Hedges been spooked by the spooks? It really reads like he was.

      Arguing the world could be saved by individual consumption decisions is shaky as is (though I appreciate the intent …) and especially by individual consumption decisions as unlikely to happen as everyone going not just flexitarian and eating meat less often, and not just vegetarian, but vegan no less which doesn’t even agree with everyone’s body.

      1. Foppe

        ‘doesn’t agree with everyone’s body’? This because lactose tolerance is a natural state?
        The following is the official position of the largest dieticians’/nutritionists’ professional body in North-Am:

        It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.

        As for your taking umbrage at the title: I think the way he intended it as follows: It is impossible to address GW without quitting animal agriculture. Every person contributes to its continued existence through his food choices; and our capitalist system will never allow for supply-side ‘forcing’ of a fully plant-based diet (if only because, so long as animal ag is as big as it is, it will continue to have enormous pull in congress). So yes, change will have to come from the demand side, and from each person individually; at least until a critical threshold is reached.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Even when they don’t have jobs, men do less housework.

    It’s a tradition.

    Even after the bison hunting season was over, cave men still respected the division of labor – I guess it was so sacrosanct – that no one dared to take away another cave woman’s job.

    “Keep your unemployment to yourself!”

    EOS (End of Sarcasm, for newbies).

    1. fresno dan

      really, its just that men are filthy.

      I, of course, cloak it in physics – the second law of thermodynamics says that entropy is always increasing in a closed environment (i.e., my apartment). I see no reason to even attempt to disobey this law. At some point, after I’m dead, my apartment and me will reach equilibrium, and I will be at one with the universe.

      Oh, I kidding – I have to shovel out the beer cans every now and again just to fit into my apartment…

      1. ambrit

        Beer in cans? How can you? Beers’ natural state is in glass or porcelain bottles! Those big wooden kegs are its’ gestational state.

  10. OIFVet

    The European Commission has provided online access to its negotiating positions on the TTIP at

    “And as part of our latest transparency initiative, we’re publishing:

    –new 2-page factsheets, in plain language
    –negotiating texts we’ve given US negotiators:
    –EU textual proposals on parts 2 and 3 of the TTIP – these set out how we’d want a final deal to read, line by line
    –EU position papers – what we want to achieve in a chapter.”

    That’s nice, but I find the absence of the language of the current proposal to be conspicuous. It sure would be helpful to compare the US proposal with the EU positions so we know just how close or far apart the two sides are, what the areas of main agreements and disagreements are, etc.

  11. Andrew Watts

    RE: The Pentagon is deceiving itself again about IS

    If Colonel Lang is correct and it’s likely he is they still don’t understand a damn thing. Hopefully there is more than a few analysts out there who utilize open source information. (“wink“) Instead of gloating over all this I’m just going to refer everybody to my previous comment(s) on the subject I made back in December.

    “War never changes” -Andrew Watts, Water Cooler 12/12/14

    Noteworthy replies:

    “The Saudis have been arresting IS sympathizers at a rate of about a dozen a week. They’re being infiltrated and actively subverted.”

    I sincerely doubt the attack on the Saudi border was a one time deal.

    “I find the recent declaration of war by Islamic State on the Saudi state to be credible.”

    …and now you should too!

    One factor of the recent drop in the price of oil that is being ignored is that IS is bringing in less revenue from it’s black market sales of oil. They were reportedly selling it for $15-20 USD a barrel when the market price was $80+. The price crash should negatively affect their finances but to what extent is unknown.

  12. Hierophant

    if we want to tax cigarettes in order to get people to stop smoking, why are those taxes levied against smokers and not the tobacco companies?

    Altria (Philip Morris)

    CEO: Michael Szymanczyk (He’s #176 on Forbes’ list of the most highly paid CEOs, raking in $6.35 million last year.)

    2010 Pre-tax Profit: $5.7 billion

    How Altria avoids paying US taxes: According to MSNBC’s analysis, “Between 2001 and 2003, the cigarette maker took advantage of $3.3 billion in tax breaks, which effectively cut its taxes by one-third.”

    Altria fun-fact: The word “Altria” is derived from the Latin word for “high,” and was taken to distance itself from the baggage surrounding the name Phillip Morris. According to the Center for Public Integrity, Altria came in second in terms of dollars spent on lobbying between 1998-2004, showering politicians with over $100 million.

    Put the tobacco companies out of business through onerous taxes, voila, smoking rates drop. Here we see another case of people being punished for corporations bad behavior, while corporations continue to reap massive profits, all courtesy of their addicted costumers. Cigarettes, smart phones, coffee, what’s the difference? Same business model, different products.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      We already tried putting them out of business with tobacco fines and they are still around.

      Taxes at the consumer level do inhibit consumption.

      And you’d only create a huge importation market this way. Tobacco companies still have huge sales around the world. The US is only 5% of the world’s population. It is perfectly legal to keep profits offshore for tax purposes.

      1. Propertius

        As someone who lost both parents to tobacco-related illness, I’d rather just string the bastards up. I’ll even bring the rope.

        1. Eclair

          Same here, Propertius. You watch your mom bleeding out from a carotid artery eaten away by throat cancer and your dad hemorrhaging from a cancer-ridden lung and you wonder in what universe a small-time drug-pusher gets life in prison and tobacco company CEO’s take home millions of dollars.

      2. Hierophant


        Thanks for the reply. If only we could put the cost of taxation on to the tobacco companies instead of on the addicted smokers.

  13. docg

    On “Climate Change Disruption . . . “:

    “If you’re on the “left,” you’re for it; if you’re on the “right,” you’re agin’ it. How convenient. You don’t even have to think about it, just ask yourself if you care about whether or not polar bears will be able to continue eating baby seals alive in the same abundant numbers as in the past. If you care, then “climate change is real.” If not, then “climate change is a hoax perpetrated by greedy climate scientists eager for government handouts.””

    1. davidgmills

      Well maybe I am an exception. I am about as far left as it gets and I got off the global warming train about 8 years ago when the earth hadn’t warmed as predicted in the previous ten years and it still hasn’t. 18 years and no warming to speak of. That is the real consensus by 100% of the scientists.

      Except that as a lefty I really am not much of an exception. Lots of people on the left are not on the global warming train. They are just not in the US.

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