2:00PM Water Cooler 3/31/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I’m sorry I missed Water Cooler Monday. Perhaps it would be simplest to say I was trapped in a chrono-synclastic infundibulum.


Lori Wallach on the leaked investment chapter [Eyes on Trade (PDF)].

The tribunals would be empowered to order payment of unlimited government funds to foreign investors over TPP claims. Such

compensation orders would be based on the “expected future profits” a tribunal surmises that an investor would have earned in the absence of the public policy it is attacking as violating the substantive investor rights granted by the TPP.

Yikes. Sounds like it could be more profitable for corporations to sue governments than actually run real businesses that deliver value; like patent trolls. TPP trolls, anyone?

“A TPP international arbitration case … could even occur over something like a city’s living wage law. If a foreign company said the living wage law affected its investment, the US could get dragged into an international tribunal.” [The Stranger].

“The lead negotiator, Michael Froman, was a protege of former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin, and followed him from Treasury to Citibank” [Katrina vanden Heuvel, WaPo]. Oh great, another made man from the Rubino crime syndicate. What could go wrong?

“Japan’s economy minister has called on US President Barack Obama to ramp up his lobbying of Democrats” [FT, “Japan calls on Obama to step up personal involvement in TPP deal”]. Paging Clive here, but I read this as Japan saying they’ve done all they can, and Obama doesn’t have enough skin in the game.

“After winding up five days of working-level bilateral talks in Washington, Takeo Mori, ambassador for economic diplomacy, said at a news conference that although the number of issues that need to be resolved has evidently fell [sic], the two countries have not yet reached a stage where they can hold ministerial talks” [Japan Times]. Obama and Abe will hold a summit in DC on April 28.

Maine’s Congressional members, of all parties, skeptical on fast track [NPR]. Which makes sense, given that Maine’s industrial base has been gutted.

Fast track bill may be introduced after Easter recess [Wall Street Journal]. Meaning that people like you and me back in the district need to visit their local offices and give them an earful.


O’Malley: “The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families” [WaPo].

“Hillary Clinton also used iPad for e-mail” [USA Today]. So much for the “one device” talking point. In fact, all Clinton wants to do is do her communication on whatever device is handy at the time, whether personal or business or both. But when ordinary shlubs do that, they get in trouble or can even be fired. Not so Clinton. “Privilege” is private law, as Sam Vimes was wont to say. And that’s what Clinton wants. To be fair, it’s what all the elite want.

Elizabeth Warren: ““I think we need to give [Clinton] a chance to decide if she’s going to run and to lay out what she wants to run on” [HuffPo]. “I’m not running and I’m not going to run.” That’s not a Sherman statement because she doesn’t rule out a draft.

Warren in new forward to paperback version of A Fighting Chance: “Suddenly Dimon got quiet. He leaned back and slowly smiled. ‘So hit me with a fine. We can afford it'” [HuffPo]. Yep. Paying off the cops is just a cost of doing business.

Communciations Workers of America and Greenpeace want Warren to run [Politico].

“Who did Gov. Mike Pence invite to a private ceremony at his Statehouse office for the signing of a controversial “religious freedom” bill? His office won’t say. The event was closed to the public and the press” [Indianapolis Star].

Why Indiana’s “Freedom to Hate” law is different [The Atlantic].

Pence tries to put the toothpaste back in the tube [FOX].

The Hill

Elites getting enthusiastic about a VAT tax [Wall Street Journal, “Tax Proposals Would Move U.S. Closer to Global Norm”]. Last I checked, taxing the rich up the wazoo was a real vote-getter, so it sure is odd that’s not on the agenda.


Barney Frank: In the interim before the inaugural, Obama decided was OK to help auto companies, just not homeowners [David Dayen, Salon]. This was the period when the big topic of discussion among Obama’s “progressive” supporters was whether Obama’s heart was in the right place.

“However, in a growing number of foreclosure cases filed when home prices collapsed during the financial crisis, lenders may never be able to seize the homes because the state statutes of limitations have been exceeded, according to interviews with housing lawyers and a review of state and federal court decisions.[Boston Globe]. “[T]ens of thousands of homeowners who have missed more than five years of mortgage payments, many of them clustered in states like Florida, New Jersey, and New York, where lenders must get judges to sign off on foreclosures.”

Stats Watch

Redbook, week of March 28, 2015: Chain-store sales firm, cool weather holds down spring sales, but a strong March seen relative to February [Bloomberg].

Consumer confidence, March 2015: Consumer confidence jumps (although not spending) but based entirely on expectations, and not current conditions [Bloomberg].

S&P Case-Shiller HPI, January 2015: Prices firming, but year-on-year still soft. All regions show gains [Bloomberg]. “[T]his report nevertheless extends a sudden run of favorable readings out of the housing sector which appears to be gaining momentum.”


Chicago Tribune poll: Rahm doubles his head [Politico].

“The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) plans to court private investment in as much as half of its public-housing units through the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD)” [In These Times]. “RAD arrives in the city as the CHA is already under fire for failing to spend millions of dollars earmarked for affordable housing while amassing at least $440 million in cash reserves, even as more than 280,000 people sit on its housing waitlist.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Investigator: Inmates forced like gladiators to fight as deputies took bets” [CNN]. Sick puppies.

Health Care

“‘Many patients are simply accepting pure cash pricing for procedures — as if they had no insurance coverage at all — because it is cheaper than if they were to stick with their narrow-network options,’ Dr. Kamrava said.” [Business Insurance]. All anecdotal. Heaven forfend the administration should collect numbers.


“[P]recipitation variability is more strongly associated with the outbreak of conflict, operationalized as militarized interstate disputes – threats, displays of or uses of military force, short of war – than mean levels of rainfall” [New Security Beat]. Conflict investment advisors take note.

“One promising solution is to create water markets that allow people to buy and sell rights to use water” [Op-Ed, New York Times]. Because markets. And not if water should be treated as a common pool resource.

“About a third of the country’s households have simply refused to register with the newly created state authority that is to run the country’s water service, though the deadline for doing so has now been extended three times. In some neighborhoods, workers trying to install meters have been met with angry mobs and forced to flee” [New York Times]. Because markets.

A group from Detroit joined the massive Dublin protest in December against water fees that drew close to 100,000 people [Irish Central].

Class Warfare

“Well-off homeowners are more responsible for rising inequality than top-hatted capitalists” [The Economist].

The Corinthian 100 student loan recipients go on repayment strike, face default [McClatchy].

Amazon testing delivery drones at secret Canadian location [Guardian].

News of the Wired

  • Scientists propose existence and interaction of parallel worlds [Science Daily].
  • “Research by Harvard University found that men who ate the greatest amount of fruit and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residue had a 49% lower sperm count and a 32% fewer normally formed sperm than those who consumed the least” [Guardian].
  • A Pre-Pantone Guide to Colors [Open Culture].
  • “[European] researchers now claim that Facebook tracks computers of users without their consent, whether they are logged in to Facebook or not, and even if they are not registered users of the site or explicitly opt out in Europe” [Guardian].
  • “It is basically always the case that the long-term costs of keeping a system working reliably vastly exceed any inconveniences you encounter while building it. Mature and productive developers understand this” [McFunley].
  • “The larger the unit of participation, the harder it is for people to take part. That’s why, for example, the growth in the size of modern legislation is so antithetical to democracy” [Tim O’Reilly, Radar]. Maybe we should be making short legislation (unlike 900 page ObamaCare) a requirement.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant, the first of “I Wish It Were Spring!” week three:


Desert Marigold near Tucson. I keep forgetting that in some places, it is spring. Lucky for you [snarl].

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. It’s the heating season!

Talk amongst yourselves!

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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. Howard Beale IV

    There was a pic floating around Twitter that showed many religious folks at the table-conspicuous by their absence were Muslims, Jains, Hindus, Greek Orthodox, and Pastrafarians.

  2. ambrit

    So Lambert, you were trapped in the Sarlaac were you? Did Fett help you escape? Anyway, glad to have you back in this continuum.

  3. jo6pac

    “Yikes. Sounds like it could be more profitable for corporations to sue governments than actually run real businesses that deliver value; like patent trolls. TPP trolls, anyone?”

    Yep, corp. Amerikas new business plan. No employees needed just outside law firms.

    1. ozajh

      It’s interesting that folks in the United States are twitching over this aspect of the TPP. Elsewhere, this is widely seen as intended to further the interests of US-based corporations over non-US regulations.

      For example, from a Wikipedia entry on cigarette packaging:

      In June 2011, Philip Morris International announced it was using the provisions in a Hong Kong/Australia treaty to demand compensation for Australia’s plain packaging anti-smoking legislation. As a US-based company, Philip Morris could not sue under the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement. The company rearranged its assets to become a Hong Kong investor in order to use the investor-state dispute settlement provisions in the Australia-Hong Kong Bilateral Investment treaty (BIT). In response, Health Minister Nicola Roxon stated that she believed the government was “on very strong ground” legally, and that the government was willing to defend the measures. Dr Patricia Ranald, Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network said that big tobacco and other global corporations are lobbying hard to include the right of foreign investors to sue governments in the current negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

  4. Clive

    Welcome back Lambert — I know I speak for everyone else when I say that I really missed the Water Cooler yesterday. But you’re entitled to have a day off. Actually, you can have as many days off as you fancy. It’s not like you’re an Amazon distribution centre employee or something.

    Re: “Japan’s economy minister has called on US President Barack Obama to ramp up his lobbying of Democrats”

    Yes, this position was signalled by a leak from the Japanese negotiating team about a week ago who gave the strongest hints they could that the U.S. had to be “prepared” to do more with Congress. “Prepared”, when the Japanese use the word, usually means that one party expects another to do something specific to resolve a problem (and the party doing the expecting won’t take any action themselves because they believe it to be the responsibility of the party needing to do the “preparations”).

    So in short form this is Japan saying to the U.S. : “get those Democratic congress members in order Obama, we won’t do anything much serious until you’ve brought them to heel”.

    1. hunkerdown

      This doesn’t look like slow-walking anymore. This looks like elites shaming elites into ignoring those uppity proles. What do you think?

    2. different clue

      That sounds like the Japanese authorities support TTP and WANT to pass it and are basically begging Obama to please please please get his mean old Congress to pass it too so we can all pass it together. I don’t see one iota, let alone a jot or a tittle . . . of basic opposition to TPP on the Abe regime’s part in this explanation you have given us.

      If I am correct, it means we cannot rely on Japan to save us from the TPP conspiracy. We have to kill TPP right here in this Congress if we can.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Buggy whip manufacturer to merge with whale oil dealer:

    (Reuters) – U.S. cable T.V. operator Cablevision Systems Corp (CVC.N) is planning to make an offer for the New York Daily News as early as this week, valuing the troubled tabloid at just $1, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    The MSM — is it worth a dime?
    Cablevision’s $1 bid takes into account the New York Daily News’ reported $30 million annual loss and $150 million investment in a printing press, and declining circulation that relies heavily on newsstand sales rather than on subscriptions, the source said.


  6. Jim Haygood

    Buggy whip manufacturer to merge with whale oil dealer:

    (Reuters) – U.S. cable T.V. operator Cablevision Systems Corp (CVC.N) is planning to make an offer for the New York Daily News as early as this week, valuing the troubled tabloid at just $1, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    Cablevision’s $1 bid takes into account the New York Daily News’ reported $30 million annual loss and $150 million investment in a printing press, and declining circulation that relies heavily on newsstand sales rather than on subscriptions, the source said.


    The MSM — is it worth a dime?

    1. craazyman

      It’s synergy-driven. They can show cable content on newsstand-mounted TVs and sell newspaper subscriptions through cable programming.

      For me, personally speaking, I don’t know what I would do if every morning when I get my coffee at the deli there aren’t three piles of newspapers on a bench — NY Post, NY Times, NY Daily News.

      It’s like the father, the son, the holy spirit — not necessarily in that order. It’s one of those things that makes reality real. Almost every morning my entire adult life, this is what I have experienced. If one of them was gone, it would be like living in Seattle and one day Mt. Rainier isn’t there anymore.

  7. Vatch

    “Well-off homeowners are more responsible for rising inequality than top-hatted capitalists” [The Economist].

    From the article:

    “surging house prices are almost entirely responsible for growing returns on capital.”

    And why are housing prices surging? Perhaps one very important reason is that banks and other mortgage holders aren’t putting houses back on the market after foreclosing on them. In other words, it’s the actions of the top-hatted capitalists which are enhancing the wealth of the well-off homeowners. And let’s face it, some well-off homeowners are also top-hatted capitalists, even if they don’t actually wear top hats.

    1. Propertius

      Ok, I can understand how my owning a home since 1987 has increased asset or wealth inequality, but I really don’t see how it affects income inequality in the slightest. I haven’t sold the damned thing. I haven’t cashed out my equity through some too-good-to-be-true refinance scheme.

      I just live here.
      It keeps the snow off my head.

      I did borrow against it a few years back to pay for a much-needed surgery that my insurance company decided was a little too cutting-edge for their taste. I paid that off after a few lawsuits (by others) convinced my insurance company that they were in error.

      Yes, I could probably find a “greater fool” to dump it on for a hefty paper profit – but I’m not going to because I still need to keep the snow off my head. Its effect on my “wealth” has been purely hypothetical. Its effect on my income has been negligible.

      1. cwaltz

        I read the article and I think the young man is completely off. If indeed home ownership was the source of inequality, we’d likely have seen growth for the middle class. After all, during the years in question we saw home ownership rise in terms of percentage(although I’d argue that there were never HUGE gains since the 1960s to the 2000s the percent of home ownership has been above 60% but remained below 70%). Instead we’ve seen that the concentration of wealth is going to the top of the economic food chain, not the middle class. I also think that he acts as if the moment you purchase a home it becomes an asset. As it was many people LOST money when the economy and then the housing market tanked. He also doesn’t talk about how housing costs careened out of control. In January 1963 the median cost for a home was 17700. By January 1973 the median was 29900. The problems with housing prices seemed to occur in the 80s, in 1983 median housing increased to 73500. Hmmmmmm I wonder what happened in the 1980s that possibly could have driven that rise?( Oh wait wasn’t the 80s the decade that the capitalists were able to deregulate the financial industry? )Housing had gains in 1993 as well, 119,900 and in 2003 181,700. However, if you look at housing after late 2007(Hmmmmm again I wonder what happened to cause this? Oh wait the capitalists tanked the economy by participating in poor lending practices and colluding with assessors to inflate housing prices.) median housing prices plunged. I’d argue that the PLUNGE in prices increased inequality from now to present. That seems to fly in the face of the position that homeowners are more responsible for inequality than capital. While some people did indeed benefit from housing price increases, I didn’t read page after page of articles saying HOMEOWNERS pushed appraisers to overvalue property. However, I did read brokers and banks heavily influenced the process(and that my dear friends is CAPITAL in a nutshell.) As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure homeowners wished they had more control over the appraisal process since essentially it’s this process that determines if you can move from somewhere free and clear or if you are stuck.

        In short, I think that this guy drew some poor conclusions

        1. Ron

          Maybe its not home ownership by the middle class but rather the large number of rental properties owned by corporate and individuals achieving significant tax and income benefits.

  8. craazyboy

    “Amazon tests delivery drones at secret Canada site after US frustration”‘

    This is hilarious that they are taking this seriously. They are quite insane. If Dominoes was delivering pizzas by helicopter because it’s faster and cheaper than a pizza delivery guy in a car, then I’d have a different opinion on the biz model.

    Plus shit breaks mid-air or loses radio contact just like a cell phone – they will be shocked when they can’t insure for 55Lbs dropping on someones head, car, or property. (With huge Lipo batteries that burst into flame like a magnesium fire that can’t be put out – except lithium lites off just by contact with oxygen.)

    1. Propertius

      If they drop a 60″ flatscreen on my yard can I keep it? I don’t have anywhere to put it, but I was just wondering.

    2. hunkerdown

      If you have NoScript, try the Application Boundaries Enforcer. Just add this stanza to your ABE rules (you may need to add your local TLD to the list):

      Site .facebook.com .fbcdn.net .facebook.net
      Accept from .facebook.com .fbcdn.net .facebook.net http://www.google.com/url .socialfixer.com

      Then only Facebook, Google and Social Fixer websites can make requests of Facebook servers by name. I haven’t been on fb in a long while, so I don’t know if that blocklist is still current or accurate. It did work for me at the time.

  9. sihlkee

    Of course a VAT — regressive taxes make sense to people who exclusively serve the rich and feign ignorance about sovereign fiat monetary systems.

  10. McWatt

    Re CHA: The 280,000 people on the Chicago housing voucher wait list are real but not in the way one would think. The terms for qualifying for a voucher have been so expanded and the fact that the selection process has been turned into a lottery, means that everyone who qualifies files the paper work for a voucher whether they need it or not. You never know…you just might win.

    “Catch-22 says they can do anything we can’t stop them from doing.” Heller

  11. craazyboy

    “Desert Marigold near Tucson. I keep forgetting that in some places, it is spring. Lucky for you [snarl].”

    Cactus bloom season is coming up soon. That’s when things get really impressive.

  12. McWatt

    Re: Water. What was once a right, the right to water, is increasingly being monetized by Villages across the country.
    The only reasons Villages exist is for the benefit of the citizens. The property taxes we pay once paid for water, sewer, garbage collection etc. Water, sewer, and garbage collection were previously viewed as public utilities to be run for the benefit of the public. Villages are now turning to water and sewer and garbage collection rates as an income source to balance their General Funds needs. What was once paid for with Property Taxes and therefor deducible on Federal Income Tax, is now being run as a non-deductible revenue source for many communities. So along with the yearly increase in Property Taxes to pay for too rich public and teacher pensions we are now getting hit with double digit water, sewer and garbage collection rates. And they do this under the cover of being “Environmental”. You can only get sqoozed so many ways before the wallet pops.

    1. hunkerdown

      Too rich? I hope some teachers remember their labor history and come find you. Your own pension will be perfectly adequate recompense for arrogantly insulting entire classes of employees based on YOUR endorsement of politicians that decided to jump in bed with Wall Street and lose.

      Own up. It really is all your fault.

      1. Propertius

        I was unaware that the phrases “too rich” and “underfunded for decades by politicians who ‘balanced budgets’ by kicking the actuarial can down the road” were synonymous. That’s what I like about the NC comments: I learn something new from them every single day.

  13. CB

    There’s a campaign in NJ to consolidate municipalities into larger units and the argument goes that larger units are more operationally and cost efficient. Says who, the people who are going to have larger opportunities to loot the system? Show me the evidence that larger units are more operationally efficient and cost less per operational unit. I thought consolidated schools put paid to that argument decades ago.

    What consolidation and resulting larger government units do is diffuse any particular individual’s ability to effect the system and put obscuring distance btwn administration and ordinary citizens. People have their best chance at controlling the systems that impact their lives in small government units, as the front yard signs “Impeach Boro Council” that marched down one of the main streets in a small town amply demonstrated.

    Consolidation is about further attenuating accessibility and accountability, and not one damn thing else.

  14. Socal Rhino

    Our Aloe plants have been blooming for a week now. They look like aliens, we’re keeping a close eye to be sure the poodle doesn’t become plant food.

    Clive said it, missed your cooler but glad you’re not signing non compete clauses.

  15. Propertius

    Barnet Frank: In the interim before the inaugural, Obama decided was OK to help auto companies, just not homeowners

    If only he’d realized at the time that he had the power to force private citizens to buy a product from a private company, or face a hefty fine! He could’ve forced people to buy cars and houses, whether they had the money to do so or not. He even could’ve set up “exchanges” to facilitate the transactions. Talk about lost opportunities…

    1. hunkerdown

      Cash for Clunkers — the bourgeoisie gets carrots, not just sticks. It’s how divide-et-impera works.

  16. OIFVet

    “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is apparently so 20th century. Does Obamacare cover fertility treatments for men?

  17. alex morfesis

    tpp love ♥ ♥ ♥

    people are corporations 2 and I think you may have given (or taken) away my joy…

    confused ?? don’t be…what is a multinational corporation other than a po box in the caymans and a 500 dollar payment to keep a tax benefit for 50 years…

    still confused…??? say there is a lambert type person in brazil, who skypes a lambert type person in bangladesh, and contacts a lambert type person in chile…etc and more…and you end up with lambert type persons in 50 countries…and they all have their own little entities in their own countries…then they decide to contribute a small portion of their enterprises and a littel bit of cash (and their time) as the “capital” of this new multinational company….might not then the same capacity to spend 100 grand to file the arbitration dox be available to this “peoples multinational”….I was looking to laugh about that wondrous piece of reality…but now that some of the details are coming out, I see lots of reasons to imagine baby bam bam scalia waking up one morning and crying at how his clients hubris became their own demise….BRU HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

    I don’t remember where I read it, but some fairly well known consumer defense attorney said he was amused at how corporations asking SCOTUS to declare corporations are people too was going to uncork some massive backdraft in the not so far off future for these megacorps…

    the time seems to have arrived….all those…

    synthetic winds…

    let the merry breezes blow…

  18. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re TPP: At least four major identified issues with this international agreement:
    1. The terms of the agreement are secret and being withheld from We the People and are to be kept secret for several years.
    2.) Those seeking Congressional approval of the “Trans-Pacific ‘Partnership’ Agreement” are seeking “Fast Track” approval by Congress, meaning approval of the entire agreement and that there can be no renegotiation of any specific terms of the agreement.
    3.) Forced Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) by three member corporate-appointed arbitration boards, rather than our courts.
    4.) Loss of national sovereignty, including indirect impairment of monetary sovereignty. (Think about disputes involving the trillions of dollars in derivatives entered into by the TBTFs.)
    Wonder who will give away the country for thirty pieces of silver?… Seasonally timely legislation, no?

  19. Jessica

    “Well-off homeowners are more responsible for rising inequality than top-hatted capitalists” [The Economist].

    In his book “Oligarchy”, Jeffrey Winters makes the point that oligarchs and other super-rich often throw the just-rich under the bus to protect themselves. He makes a distinction between the just-rich who have wealth and the super-rich and oligarchs who have so much wealth that the wealth is a form of power.
    He also makes the point that nations such as the US and the UK have many oligarchs too. It is not just Russia.
    I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in a clear delineation of different forms of power, how wealth as a form of power overrides other forms of power, and what it takes to change that.

  20. Kevin Carhart

    Unrelated to the Cooler topics at hand.. A couple of weekends ago, I downloaded and read the entire Richard Smith canon like a book. The density of his stories, the series (IV, V, VI) and the richness with all of the inline links tend to make me wait for a rainy day, so I finally did it! They are extremely good and I recommend putting in the time. I feel as though I learned about a specific and a general kind of thing at the same time: all about the particular frauds as well as the methods of constructing these chains of connections and then following a Midas touch of muck: someone is demonstrably committing fraud, and they have these other associates or these other companies, so either the latter is very naive and duped, or something smells about that entity also. You can play along and learn about how to say “if a=b and if b=c then a=c.”, and what types of chains are journalistically solid.
    Like for instance, we have a scam over here, and we have a major sporting event still running their logo and giving them an imprimatur to work off of. Why? Don’t they know? If they don’t know, where is the diligence? Or, like the NZ prime minister and his permissive attitude to the corporate registry. Don’t you suppose that other heads of state are going to bring it back to you eventually, since it is NZ shell companies that facilitate all kinds of international frauds?
    These series are the sleeper hit and the well kept secret of Naked Capitalism.

    1. vidimi

      +1 richard smith does excellent and courageous work. criminals are dangerous people and he must have pissed off quite a few

    2. ambrit

      Mr. Smiths’ work is enlightening indeed, and perversely funny too.
      What makes these pieces almost numinous is their predictive function. With “regular” business practices sliding rapidly down the slope to Avernus, the clear outlining and explanation of the ‘con man’ mindset emplaces a series of signposts pointing to the end state of “modern” capitalism. I too applaud Mr. Smith and his courage. Indeed, I’ll go a step further and suggest, (I hear the “assignment” warning klaxon going off, I assure you,) that Mr. Smiths’ series of ‘Confidence Game Theory’ posts can be a valuable addition to the NC ‘brand’ as a side bar series. Under Topics perhaps a Richard Smith cache, or, if that threatens to step on too many toes, a Confidence Game Theory cache. Excoriate me if you will; that’s my Two Cents.

  21. JTFaraday

    “The Corinthian 100 student loan recipients go on repayment strike, face default,” [McClatchy].

    I support the debt strike. I think they should all go on strike.

    In retrospect, probably Lawrence Weschler was right when he suggested just that at this Occupy forum in 2012, (about 6 months before he was mysteriously disappeared as Director of the NY Institute for the Humanities). The young people should have lashed themselves together and threatened to take down the ship. That would have been a fitting end to Occupy.

    Reel three:


    1. sd

      I am curious as to what would happen if 40 million Americans simply decided not to pay their student loans,

    1. ambrit

      Actually, since a VAT is about as regressive a tax as one could encounter, it would be a big concession to the oligarchic class world wide. It would guarantee more concentration of wealth.

  22. Demeter

    Wow! Monsanto has invented the Male Pill….it’s called RoundUp, and it’s already patented. They just have to improve the effectiveness and start marketing.

Comments are closed.