Links 3/5/15

Chuck Jones’s rules for writing the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote @AmosPosner. This is how to write a spec….

Citigroup Checks in the Mail After Bank Bungles Foreclosure Deal Bloomberg. They only “forgot” to mail 23,000.

Servicing Matters Credit Slips

US banks face profit threat from shadow financing FT

Five Questions for Mario Draghi Bloomberg. On QE.

Bank of England embroiled in money-market fraud probe FT

Banks brace for U.S. Fed capital buffers inspection Reuters

New Head of CBO makes Preposterous Claims on Disability Economic Populist

The Millennials’ Money Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 New Economic Perspectives


U.S. optimistic global trade deal will come into force this year Reuters

Dems, GOP can agree: Trade is good for America Cokie Roberts and Steven V. Roberts, Record Argus

Letter to the Editor – TPP is a raw deal Corrente. On the Roberts propaganda syndicated Op-Ed. With handy letter-writing tip!


Athens faces uphill struggle despite eurozone deal FT

Can Greece avoid going bankrupt this month? Daily Telegraph

Greece heading towards third bailout: Spain The Local

Political fault line widens between Greece and Iberia’s anti-Athens axis Irish Times

Greek Gov’t Looking More and More Like the Tower of Babel Greek Reporter

ECB glimpse of Cyprus debt shows limits of bank cleanup Ekathimerini

Germany is not a model for Europe – it fails abroad and at home Bill Mitchell

Warmongering Watch

Bibi Goes to Washington Project Syndicate. Bibi to US: “Let’s you and him fight.”

Support for using ground troops against the Islamic State is increasing WaPo

US Soldiers Readying for Ukraine Deployment Defense News. For “training”….

Dempsey does not rule out U.S. ground troops in Syria Military Times

Putin Sounds the Alarm Over Budding ‘Color Revolutions’ in Russia Moscow Times

New Zealand Spies on Neighbors in Secret ‘Five Eyes’ Global Surveillance The Intercept

The Rebalance in Southeast Asia: Not About Containment The Diplomat

China Loses Millionaires as Wealthiest Tempted Overseas Bloomberg. Chinese squillionaires want to relocate from China, US squillionaires want to relocate from the planet…

King v. Burwell

Round-up: Today’s argument in King v. Burwell SCOTUSblog. Awesome summary. And SCOTUSblog has wall-to-wall coverage of King v. Burwell, so do check that blog. Here’s a transcript of the oral arguments.

Challenge to Health Overhaul Puts Obscure Think Tank in Spotlight New York Times

Rideout Hospital, California: CEO Pinocchio on quality of patient care during hospital computer crash Health Care Renewal

McDonald’s Moving to Limit Antibiotic Use in Chickens New York Times

Obesity Is Hurting the U.S. Economy in Surprising Ways Bloomberg. Why not ban High Fructose Corn Syrup, for starters?

Class Warfare

Guest Contribution: “Analyzing Recent Trends in the U.S. Wealth Distribution” Econbrowser

To Fight Inequality, Tax Land Peter Orszag, Bloomberg. Orszag a closet Georgist?!

Caring too much. That’s the curse of the working classes David Graeber, Guardian

The Robots Are Coming LRB

ATMs and a Rising Number of Bank Tellers? Conversable Economist

Meltdown at The Market; The Self Service Checkout Daily Kos

AP will use software to write NCAA game stories Poynter Institute

Britain’s stunted ‘recovery’ leaves us wishing for what might have been Guardian

Easier said than done The Economist. More public spending boosts philanthropy.

Alien abduction? Stolen by Russia? MH370 theories keep coming Reuters. (Because “the story is out there.” Here’s a level-headed interview from Emirates CEO Tim Clark in November 2014. I’m not sure the state of play has advanced since then.)

The East India Company: The original corporate raiders Guardian (furzy mouse)

Tomorrowland: How Silicon Valley Shapes Our Future Der Spiegel

Financial collapse leads to war Club Orlov

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Chris in Paris

      Great link. I go to India fairly often and the change in just the last 10 years is intense. One aspect he doesn’t touch on much is the increased separation of religions. In the past, especially in the South, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Jain and Christian shared holidays and mixed more than they do now. Maybe it’s only me but it seems that nearly every young (even very young) Muslim girl I see in India covers her hair now and I did not notice that until recently. I think this increased communitarianism (if you can call it that) it’s a direct result of the BJP policies + market liberalisation + these impacts of Partition that have been kicked down the road. At least India’s kept control of her banks…so far.

  1. Jim Haygood

    Private domains, comrades. They’re as essential as private equity and private jets:

    Obtaining an account from [Hillary’s] domain became a symbol of status within the family’s inner circle, conferring prestige and closeness to the secretary.

    The Clintons eventually decided they did not want all three family members on the same email domain, in part, an adviser said, out of concern that it might look as if Mrs. Clinton’s official business at the State Department was too closely overlapping with Mr. Clinton’s work as a global philanthropist.

    Mr. Clinton stuck with, which was established in 2002. Chelsea Clinton has now set up

    After applying the usual logical inversion needed to parse assertions from the Clintons, it’s obvious that overlapping Hillary’s government role with Bill’s ‘global philanthropist’ role was the whole point.

    Nobody makes contributions to the Clintons’ so-called charities except to curry favor and buy influence from someone who could become president.

    We’ve come a long way from ‘Chelsea Morning’ (the Joni Mitchell song that inspired Clinton’s daughter’s name) to ‘Chelsea Office,’ a reference to the family offices that billionaires and wannabes set up for optimal investment and tax shelter. It sucks when you’re not in the Forbes 400 yet, and all your friends are.

    1. Carolinian

      And don’t forget Fleetwood Mac. The Clintons seem drawn to pop songs that represent what they aren’t. But then Bob Dylan is doing tv commercials these days.

      As we used to say around the hippie newspaper office: “Just tell me where I need to go to sell out.”

      1. Jim Haygood

        “Don’t … stop … stinkin’ up tomorrow.”

        Its happy-smiley lilt jazzes up the donors much better than, say, Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs.’ The ‘witches at black masses’ bit only reaches the wiccan voter demographic.

        1. hunkerdown

          By request, Pink Floyd:

          “The dogs of war won’t capitulate…”
          “One world, oh-oo-wo-oo-woah…”

        2. vidimi

          that should definitely be the official anthem of the republican party.

          the democrats can have [blue] dogs of war.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Land is already taxed. Property tax assessments break down the value of land and buildings. In most states, agricultural land is taxed at a lower level to discourage development.

      What Orszag wants is a federal land tax on top of local land taxation. For what? It don’t matter. If you’re a gov-lover, more taxes are always good. We can always send the money to the Ukrainian front.

      1. craazyboy

        I’m sure Peter O believes the way to fight inequality is to tax the feudal lords’ land so us serfs farming the land will need LESS of a new Federal Sales Tax levy (on top of the 9% state sales tax many of us pay already) . A flat tax on income always sounds good too, so as not to discourage yuppy serfs with plans to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and enter Lower Nobility someday.

        Peter O is serious about fighting inequality. Not.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          And in times of deflation, we will unburden the rich by taxing less, to reverse higher taxes imposed during inflation battles?

        2. Jim Haygood

          In much of LatAm, property is taxed lightly or not at all.

          If you own a house that you inherited or paid for, you are secure in your home, even with no cash income. The state will not sell it out from under you to recoup unpaid taxes.

          That is true security of tenure for people of limited means, which is not available in America at any price. The sole exception I know of is in Louisiana, where if you own a modest dwelling valued at $75,000 or less, you do not owe any property tax.

          1. craazyboy

            I think in LA they make up for it with vehicle registration. Something like $1500/ year. Tho I’m not sure how they ramp it down with vehicle age. Good thing about AZ is it starts kinda high – $500 for the ave price car. But then it gets reduced every year and is down to maybe $125 after 5 years. Then property taxes in AZ are around 1.5%, which isn’t too terribly bad for property prices around the national median.

            But none of this addresses the problem the Federal government has with paying off the Korean War.

            1. sleepy

              I recall that during Clinton’s first campaign for Arkansas governor in 1978 he vowed to never increase car tag fees. Well, he did it anyway and the fees went from something like $3.00/yr to $5.00/yr.

              I have many Arkansas relatives who in addition to his lying found the amount itself outrageous. As at least a partial result, he was voted out of office in 1980.

      2. different clue

        Orszag probably wants land taxed beyond the ability of normal-person landowners to pay the tax. The goal is to force them to sell their land to multi-billionaire oligarchs who want more power than they already have.

      3. financial matters

        “What Orszag wants is a federal land tax”

        I think this is a good pick-up. Also

        “”The revenue could be used to reduce other taxes, or to help close the actuarial deficits in our entitlement programs, or some combination thereof.””

        I think this is getting too many things mixed together. The federal govt doesn’t need the money for entitlements. It makes sense on a local level if a rise in property tax is offset by lowering taxes on wages and consumer purchases. This makes less money available to the banks through less money available for the interest and principal portion of home payments.

    2. Jef

      “To Fight Inequality, Tax Land Peter Orszag”

      I have a better idea. No more jail time for theft of any kind. We just let the government take a percentage of the booty. Wait…thats kinda like what’s already happening.

      Ok how about we outlaw all money making money.

    3. spooz

      Property taxes are already pretty high for most middle income homeowners. Also, I’m not clear on how this could be made fair. If this were based on just taxing the land, as opposed to property taxes already being paid on real estate, would the billionaire’s multimillion dollar condo in a rental tower be charged less than the middle class suburban homeowner’s residence?

      More fair, IMO, is a wealth tax on all assets, with a modest exemption for the shrinking middle class. Choosing one asset class as the tax base could be seen as regressive since, for many in the middle class, their home is their only asset.

    4. Adam Eran

      Worth a look:

      Executive summary: Land tax prevents speculation, and actually makes property cheaper.

      One other note: Even California’s famous Proposition 13 that limits taxes on land has had the effect of 1) making the State fund schools (so guess where local control has gone), and 2) handing commercial property owners a massive windfall. Residences used to pay 30% of property taxes. Now they pay 70%. Why? Because commercial properties don’t trigger re-assessment if a majority interest in the entity owning the land doesn’t transfer. So Michael Dell bought a fancy hotel with his wife and child, and presto! It’s still assessed at its 1978 value, avoiding millions in tax obligations. This kind of thing occurs all over the state. It’s a scam.

  2. NV

    This has been understood for a long time, but is, as I assuming you are indicating, not
    as widely known as it ought to be; and perhaps not sufficiently acknowledged in the blog.

    1. NV

      My post was about the “cats out of the bag” link, the Greeks really being indebted to French and German banks.
      It was posted out of order therefore doesn’t make sense.

      “This has been understood for a long time, but is, as I assuming you are indicating, not
      as widely known as it ought to be; and perhaps not sufficiently acknowledged in the blog.”

  3. Tom Allen

    I note that Cokie Roberts is forcefully advocating for the TPP but neglects to mention that her late brother, Tommy Boggs (of mega-lobbyists Squire Patton Boggs) was paid tons of money to promote it.

    1. Vatch

      And they’re both children of former Congress critters Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr., and his successor and widow Lindy Boggs. Eeek! Yet another dynasty!

    2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      Cokie Roberts, with her southern patrician beltway bilge was the main reason I quit listening to NPR over fifteen years ago. Finding out she was essentially part of a PR Op only confirmed me in my loathing.

      1. James Levy

        I heard someone once say that when fascism comes to America, Cokie Roberts will be the Minister of Propaganda and Enlightenment.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        “Nice Polite Republicans”. Puff pieces about the latest new American weaponry, supposedly “middle-of-the-road” views. Corporo-fascist rubbish, but then what did you expect given their overlords.

    3. ambrit

      Her mommy was not only in Congress, but was ambassador to the Holy See too. Not bad for a Gulf Coast political clan.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      Cokie Roberts’ commentary /opinion has always struck me as geared toward “adults” who can’t be convinced to take their vitamins unless they look and taste like gummy bears.

      Goodnight, Moon.

  4. low integer

    China Loses Millionaires as Wealthiest Tempted Overseas. Not at all suprised to see the first country mentioned in this article is Australia. The relatively small population here makes these movements quite visible.

    Also, not sure if this article has been linked to from NC yet, however it is worth bookmarking this site imo.
    The Archdruid Report: Peak meaninglessness

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If the Chinese did reach Australia and America before the Europeans, they missed twice at acquiring land much cheaper than today.

      1. low integer

        I’m wondering if your comment is a gong’an, so I will just reply by mentioning that if I knew what I now know one year ago, things would be different as I would now be considered a prophet, and would be the richest person in the world!
        I would use this wealth for good btw.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Financial collapse leads to war.

    Yes, and economic war in various forms leads to financial collapse too.

    It’s a cycle and it’s repeated endlessly.

    To exit that cycle is to enter Nirvana, according to economic Buddhists, or Econobuddhists.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China loses millionaires.

    It’s expensive to reside in those maternity motels, according to the details in the various news reports…and still be able to charge $4,000 to $5,000 for luxury goods as they do their duty to contribute to the local, albeit foreign (but not long – in China, 20 years for the ‘foreign’ baby to bring over his/her parents is not long) economy.

    I don’t imagine you will find many Chinese 99%ers in those places.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      This is backwards, finance causes war, not the other way around. Just like used car salesmen sell cars, bankers sell debt, and their best customers are governments. The best way to get them to take on huge new piles of debt is to make sure there are (perceived or real) barbarians at the gate. In the GWOT they finally have the Perfect Enemy: can’t be seen, and can never be defeated.

  7. Eclair

    Re: Meltdown at the Market. Every so often, I gather courage (or abandon sanity) and dip the old toe into Daily Kos. And, without fail (almost) my blood pressure skyrockets.

    And the failing ears are assaulted by the whine of white middle-class privilege, the unthinking assumption that one simply must have available – in the middle of a cold-and-snowy-snap in the middle of a long winter – long grain rice and acorn squash. Adjust your menu, eat kale and basmati. Or cabbage and potatoes. Or mushrooms and polenta.

    I so agree with the rant on the self-checkouts. But, I have a relationship going with the long-time employee of the local King-Sooper, whom management has relegated to trouble-shooting for cranky software and crankier shoppers at the computerized stations. They’re hoping to force her into retirement, but she triumphantly rules her little empire of bemused shoppers who don’t know the code for organic arugula. I deliberately foul up the machine, so we can talk solidarity.

    1. Garrett Pace

      Ha ha, if I had read the comments more carefully I would have seen this and saved the trouble of my own diatribe below. Going to ye olde supermarket and realizing your purchasing power no longer affords you a staff of personal shopping assistants is a peculiar hardship.

      And it’s all so big and hard to walk across! The produce section is like a hundred feet long! Why does the store have all these choices transported from ten thousand places around the world, instead of just what I want!

      About short-staffing checkout and the writer’s favorite supermarket, trader joe’s. The only time I was ever in trader joe’s, I only saw maybe three checkout stands? Same number of checkers, it just isn’t as lonely and empty.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        NO KIDDING!!!!!

        ABUNDANCE is so, well, INCONVENIENT and TIME-CONSUMING!!!! And you actually have to WALK through it!!!! Can you imagine???? We have “dinner parties” to give.

        Acorn squash. Long grain rice.

        Travails abound.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          PS. Love the “peculiar hardship” construct.

          Truer words were never spoken.

    2. reslez

      Fail to see what rice and acorn squash have to do with “middle class privilege”. Vons, in its majestic equality, allows the rich as well as the poor to consume squash and staple grains during winter, just as people have for thousands of years.

  8. Stephanie

    Normally a fan of Graeber but the Guardian op-ed was a bit much. Like Graeber, I grew up in a working class family, and in a working class town, and the spousal abuse, bullying, pride in ignorance and sectarian hostility I saw and experienced did not impress me as generous or big-hearted. Perhaps because life could be so rough and uncertain, it did not seem as if my extended family or many of the people I grew up around had any time or patience for other people’s problems. If the lying, stealing, drug-dealing, system-abusing slacker is sleeping on your couch and won’t get off it until you call the police, it makes sense to me that you’re not going to support assistance for said slacker.

    For myself, getting the hell outta town was my biggest priority growing up, and going to college in a middle class neighborhood in another city, where I was able to meet polite social-liberals who actually read books in their free time, was freaking heaven. Granted these new folks I encountered were mostly spoiled and rather naive, but I learned I would far rather feel irritated than threatened. Perhaps this was not Graeber’s experience. I’m guessing not.

    It’s a pity, because I feel as if economic progressivism (or whatever you want to call it) really doesn’t have a chance in the U.S. until/unless folks like Graeber stop it with the romanticizing. Solidarity is not going to emerge from the ashes of unionism (because racism, immigration, pick-a-divisive-issue), and class conciousness runs into the barrier that too many folks in one’s own class are complete tools. If I were to suggest a buzzword, it would be accountability. The non-tools I know want it: from bankers, from the police, from their kids’ schools, from their niece who dropped her kid off for the evening two days ago and hasn’t been seen since. Granted, accountability could easily become a double edged sword, but in my opinion you’ll have an easier time convincing people that we should all be held to the same standard than that everyone who isn’t bougie is therefore awesome. Maybe something to consider.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Good post.

      Re:It’s a pity, because I feel as if economic progressivism (or whatever you want to call it) really doesn’t have a chance in the U.S. until/unless folks like Graeber stop it with the romanticizing

      Economic “Progressivism” doesn’t have a chance become the percentage of nice people isn’t high enough. The only places that have Economic “Progressivism” is where the predators running the place have enough fear of outsiders, usually due to ethic differences, that they need to keep the their own similar ethnic prey alive for protection.

    2. James Levy

      Yes, amen. I grew up among lower middle class Catholics, and a more bigoted bunch you would hardly see outside Bull Connor’s police department. In fact, a ton of the kids I grew up with became NYC, Nassau and Suffolk county cops. The only thing I can say for them unequivocally is that they got the reality of America: you were not going to get fairness or justice out of those above you, so you might as well go after those below you. I wish they had wanted to fight that reality, but they assumed (and they may have been right) that butting your head against that brick wall was just a stupid waste of time. In their hearts they knew America was a rigged game, but it was the only game in town, and identifying with it meant you were part of the winning team, not some frightened loser from Europe, Commie drone, or starving ignorant slob in the Third World. How you get around that mentality is way beyond me.

    3. craazyman

      Jesus. This so transcends the run-of-the-mill-vituperative-yeah-team!-peanut-gallery-rant it should be signed and framed as an example for all you boneheads.

      Authentic, personal thought and feeling is the key to success.

      If you’re hot and single, Stephanie, I’ll marry you tomorrow. Otherwise, I’ll respect your mind and soul tomorrow as much as I do today. You’re on my team now. You can play wide receiver on the Gnostic Rangers from Magonia. I bet you can score big time if somebody throws you the ball! hahahahah

    4. Chris in Paris

      I agree. Stop romanticizing ignorance. The only working class solidarity I ever saw before I “got outta town” was among the petty criminals in the awful crowd I ran with – until they eventually ratted each other out or got stabbed or worse. I’m so much better off from what could have happened to me for the very same reason as you. I managed to get to a school far above my class beginnings and make a new life – yes, those social liberals are annoying, especially when they tell you how great Clinton was, etc. but man it’s better than the alternative I was facing.

    5. JTFaraday

      Yeah, I think that what he meant to say is that the work that working class women do is thankless.

    6. tongorad

      To be a revolutionary is to be a romantic. But hang on, what’s so head-in-the-clouds romantic about solidarity? Especially when you consider the real concrete gains that our labor movement was able to achieve.
      By comparison, accountability seems like an empty idea. Accountable to whom or what?
      Our owners know the value of solidarity, we have forgotten it. Peasants who think in the terms of their masters just might be problem numero uno.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Robots are coming.

    Going by historical experiences of conversion, where you got the king to convert first and the rest would follow, voluntarily or otherwise, the key will be to put a robot in the White House and it will be a cakewalk to put robots in other jobs.

  10. Garrett Pace

    Robots to write sports stories.

    This matters. It made sense for finance stories, which are mostly read by robots anyway.

    Now I’m seeing the world through new eyes – if the only thing that matters is the pre-set narrative that the facts illustrate, well a robot can do that easy, better than a human.

    But sports stories carry emotional weight. Is a hug from a robot satisfying? A tender letter? A pat on the back? Lovemaking?

    This is the loneliest society ever.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Most cult members will tell you, wait for the next, improved model, featuring dual Aritificial Intelligence and Artificial Love.

      “Still lonely after all these years? Introducing our newest, AI-AR robot. You have never experienced robot intimacy like this before!!!!”

  11. Garrett Pace

    Shorter Kos “Meltdown at the Market”: High-maintenance shopper resents having to navigate lower-class supermarket without pleasant, sedulous staff to smooth the rough edges.

    BTW, I have relatives who have worked at supermarkets for decades. When they started it was a solid middle-class job, dignified work. They’re retiring with pensions! Not really the case now. It’s peculiar to see a progressive wish there were more supermarket serfs.

    1. hunkerdown

      Peculiar, but telling. I dare say that’s all the “progressive” class has ever wanted… the return to Athenean democracy, complete with the slaves that made it possible.

      1. Garrett Pace

        I know, right? Reading through Thucydides I am struck by the similarities between Anthens and us. No wonder that vicious, grasping, amoral bunch of hegemons have been so popular to Anglo Saxon readers.

        The democratic ideal looks a lot less ideal if you look anywhere other than the land of marble pillars and smiling well fed faces.

      2. Vatch

        From the article:

        The corporate scum who own these companies will expand “self-service” checkstands endlessly because these machines don’t form unions or demand overtime or even hourly wages.

        I seem to recall that it was unusual for slaves or serfs to belong to labor unions. Another quote from the article:

        Machines have replaced some jobs and changed others since the Industrial Revolution; that’s nothing new. But what’s happening in these cases isn’t the machine replacing an employee’s job. It’s the customer replacing the employee’s job. For free.

        And you know which way the savings are going to be passed. Straight up the corporate ladder, in accordance with the siphon up theory.

        Don’t we in the NC commentariat often complain about the way that top executives skim their fortunes from the labor of their employees (or from their machines and customers, in this case)? Perhaps this article really isn’t so bad.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      No, that was just a small town. Unless you kill over a thousand peasants it’s not a real industrial accident.

    2. JEHR

      Yes, 47 people burned alive in Lac Megantic because the tanker cars used were not designed to carry such flammable oil. I’m sure that the search for “efficiency” played a role too.

    3. TedWa

      If the trains aren’t safe due to old tracks or weight limits or whatever, make the damn oil companies and the railroads guarantee their safety, make them upgrade everything to guaranteed safe standards or hold them liable for damages and deaths caused. I mean, WTF. Wouldn’t that be a free market – ie… one that causes innocents no harm? We can’t ever ask an oil producer to spend money when we subsidize their enormous profits??!!! It’s sooo irritating that no one that matters demands better.

  12. Garrett Pace

    “Obesity is weighing on the U.S. economy.” This is a comedy, because it’s actually an economic godsend according to economists, because what kind of buyer is more motivated than one who will die without the product (in this case health care).

    “Widespread obesity raised medical-care costs by $315.8 billion in 2010, according to John Cawley, an economics professor”

    That’s not “loss”, that’s PRODUCTIVITY and the markets would suffer without it. There’s also a couple billion in gasoline expenses because us fatties won’t walk places. Also: PRODUCTIVITY. If they walked it won’t show up on GDP anywhere.

    And pray tell, article, what productivity losses balance against that $316 billion in health care extortion?

    $8 billion in obesity induced absenteeism.

    That’s the tragedy they are bewailing – not that people are sick, and killing themselves with inedible, hyper-palatable empty calorie filler. It’s that they can’t go to work.

    1. Mattski

      You mean that they can’t swell the reserve army of labor and lower wages further. . .

  13. JEHR

    Today’s antidote is the most gorgeous, diaphanous and luscious image I have ever seen! It appeals to all the senses and makes it easy to believe in a Supreme Being.

  14. Luke The Debtor

    What is with all the German-phobia? They’ve done good for themselves. Why can’t that be a model for Europe?

  15. afisher

    McDonalds make a promise. The Guardian reminds everyone – they did this once before: The Guardian has learned that this is not the first time that McDonald’s has made – and failed to keep to – a similar antibiotics-use pledge. In 2003 McDonald’s introduced a “global policy on antibiotic use in food animals”, which said:

    McDonald’s prohibits the use of antibiotics belonging to classes of compounds approved for use in human medicine when used solely for growth promotion purposes. Growth promotion is defined as the use of antibiotics for any purpose other than disease treatment, control or prevention.

    Please ignore all the Ag/GAG laws that have popped up in the past decade and Please ignore that the funding for Inspectors via FDA continues to be cut.

    PR or facts? I’m willing to bet a nickel that it is the first.

    1. cwaltz

      Corporate behemoth Kraft did something similar back when there was an outcry against growth hormones in milk. It told consumers it was going to get rid of them in some of it’s cheese products and then promptly did absolutely nothing.

  16. optimader

    China Loses Millionaires as Wealthiest Tempted Overseas Bloomberg. Chinese squillionaires want to relocate from China, US squillionaires want to relocate from the planet…

    Chinese “squillionaires” overstates the barrier when it come to the step to the front of the line gaming of the US visa program. It simply is not that financially challenging ($500,000 is the gate fee).
    The EB-5 visa provides a method of obtaining a green card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States.[1] To obtain the visa, individuals must invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a “Targeted Employment Area” – high unemployment or rural area), creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers excluding the investor and their immediate family.[1] Initially, under the first EB-5 program, the foreign investor was required to create an entirely new commercial enterprise; however, under the Pilot Program investments can be made directly in a job-generating commercial enterprise (new, or existing – “Troubled Business”[2]), or into a “Regional Center” – a 3rd party-managed investment vehicle (private or public), which assumes the responsibility of creating the requisite jobs. Regional Centers may charge an administration fee for managing the investor’s investment.

    More simply, but a longer play are the “Maternity Tours” to game US citizenship
    US federal agents raid ‘birth tour’ facilities
    Mar. 4, 2015 – Updated 10:09 UTC

    SO, why is North America such a popular destination to drop anchor?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “You may laugh at me. I am illegal and probably committed a fraud when I told the official I was just a tourist, but mark my word, my son is an American now, born on the same soil as you, here – and with a birth certificate, take that, you birthers – and one day, he will be president and he will avenge meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.”

      Sadly, the mother in our tale under-estimated her own dragon son. He grew up to rule two empires…count them, two, not one, but two.

      * To learn more about this dual-emperor who united East and West, you will have to wait for my book.

    2. hunkerdown

      Only USD500k? That might be the cheapest ticket in of any developed Western economy, and competitive with many developing ones. Didn’t Cyprus want $2mn?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        $500K is cheap.

        You can cover that in a few container loads of laminating flooring or dry walls.

        1. optimader

          HAHAHA.. Indeed. Perhaps we’ll wait for the book on the inscrutable Dragon Boy.

          I do love the food, I just couldn’t take all the hacking & spitting, everywhere, jeeze, in restaurants? really, is that necessary?. Must be a challenge for the Chinese sent to colonize Singapore.

  17. susan the other

    J.D. Alt and the Millenials. J.D. politely tells us old boomers to back off and let the millenials speak. Except for this post. So I’ll give it my last and best. I agree the millenials could be the pivotal “civic” generation. They are very thoughtful kids (since I’m their mother/grandmother). They will come to understand fiat as if it were just a gentle rain. I hope nobody will be able to terrorize them with balanced budgets for the masses. Especially when there isn’t enough good collateral to go around even once. Now there’s a disgrace waiting to be revealed. There isn’t enough good collateral in the world to cover the outstanding debt even fractionally. Why the hell not? The value is there staring us in the face. The planet is worth its weight in gold. And what difference does it make if you mine the gold or put the gold back in the mine? As long as you clean up your dreadful toxic mess? Here’s the reason double-entry bookkeeping “works” – it’s because we live on a zero sum planet. But it is so big… we’ve only just begun to understand.

  18. susan the other

    And also too: Orlov on financial collapse and idiot-war. He gives us a variant on Yves “financial time goes faster than political time.” Orlov says that financial time burns out faster than political time (I think we’re talking suicide here), leaving nothing and causing chaos. And that America will use any mirage to move the economy forward – even if it seems more lucrative to engage in disaster capitalism without the reparations at this point. Just devastation. Orlov says we are a failure economy – meta even; that we gladly fail even at failing. Clever guy. Yes. I agree. What we need is a new vision and a new constructive financial model. But not if Orlov is thinking about a gold standard. That is the thing that got us here in the first place. I’d like to read some Orlov on the joys of fiat. No sarc.

  19. valley gurl

    In the Silicon Valley, a new elite is forming that wants to determine not only what we consume, but also the way we live. They want to change the world, but they don’t want to accept any rules. Do they need to be reined in?

    The Der Spiegel author, like every author I can recollect who (as usual) ‘critiques’ Silicon Valley from thousands of miles away, stunningly neglected to comment on the chilling (an understatement) fall out effects that Silicon Valley (a totality of less than one hundred, or so, 99.999999999999 WHITE ENLIGHTENED! MALE ALGORITHM MASTER$ who view themselves as GAWDZ ) on those who actually live in ‘silicon valley.’

    Very disappointing, since the author could have most easily made the case for reigning in by describing: just how significant inequality is right in that Silicon Valley Sandbox (what, not even an obligatory mention of the Racial, Pedigree, and Age Inequality, and no more than a sentence as to that horrifying gender write off?); the DOD money involved, indeed, the fact that Silicon Valley is the U$ Government, apparently.

    Personal and typical anecdote (have lived in Silicon Valley for over thirty years):

    Was at a Silicon Valley convenience store asking the clerk how he was doing while at the same time exchanging coin for my purchase, when a – I’m more logical and more important than you –late twenties – thirtyish aged white male loudly whipped his desired purchase on the counter between myself and the clerk; clearly noting disdain for the both of us for sharing human kindness in acknowledging the immeasurable value of sociability in one another.

    When I called special male on his insult, he informed me:

    There are two types of people in this world, I like the world I’m living in.

    After which (my epithets have been redacted, dear reader) he skittered into his gleaming white SUV (with, now doubt, the requisite Green $2, 000 bicycle in the back, along with the well trained and groomed, in its master’s ‘idiosyncrasies,’ requisite pet dog – 100% reliant on being fed by such gawd master) and rode off into his world’s sun set, away from the contemptible stain of the Middle Eastern human clerk and I, towards his fellows.

    As to Silicon Valley’s economic inequality:

    10/17/14 Census Bureau: California still has highest U.S. poverty rate

    California continues to have – by far – the nation’s highest level of poverty under an alternative method devised by the Census Bureau that takes into account both broader measures of income and the cost of living.

    Nearly a quarter of the state’s 38 million residents (8.9 million) live in poverty, a new Census Bureau report says, a level virtually unchanged since the agency first began reporting on the method’s effects.

    Under the traditional method of gauging poverty, adopted a half-century ago, California’s rate is 16 percent (6.1 million residents), somewhat above the national rate of 14.9 percent but by no means the highest. That dubious honor goes to New Mexico at 21.5 percent.

    But under the alternative method, California rises to the top at 23.4 percent while New Mexico drops to 16 percent and other states decline to as low as 8.7 percent in Iowa.

    About that Bay Area , where Silicon Valley reigns:

    The Public Policy Institute of California used a similar methodology last year to gauge poverty in the state’s 58 counties, called a California Poverty Measure.

    It pegged the statewide poverty rate at 22 percent and found some of the highest rates in the San Francisco Bay Area and coastal communities usually considered affluent [NOT – valley gurl] due to their high costs of housing. Los Angeles had the highest rate in the state, 26.9 percent, followed by Napa at 25.5 percent.

    (Thanks for that link Yasha, but about Mike Honda, and the rest of the 100% Silicon Valley DemRats ? Much further: it is not only Techie workers who have been utterly mowed over (as to wage destroying and ‘bot’ (read [Rentier] Soft Ware) replacement) in “The Valley.”

    Is it really that long ago (NOT) that there were (STILL ARE) other needed vocations to sustain a healthy society?)

  20. bondsofsteel

    RE: Why not ban High Fructose Corn Syrup, for starters?

    HFCS isn’t the problem. (Or at least there’s no existing evidence that HFCS is any more unhealthy than other processed sugars:

    The problem is too many calories and not enough exercise. Processed sugars and fats make it easy to consume large amounts of calories, so people do. You have to run more than a mile to burn off a Snickers.

    P.S. I’m not a shill for corn. Who cares about corn? I just like science, and science is about proof.

    1. optimader

      Not that I advocate it, but the nanny government strategy to HFCS that has precedent would be to treat it as a prescription drug –HFCS has persistent deleterious neurological effects.
      “Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,” said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a professor of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. “Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information. But adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.”
      While earlier research has revealed how fructose harms the body through its role in diabetes, obesity and fatty liver, this study is the first to uncover how the sweetener influences the brain.
      Sources of fructose in the Western diet include cane sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup, an inexpensive liquid sweetener. The syrup is widely added to processed foods, including soft drinks, condiments, applesauce and baby food. The average American consumes roughly 47 pounds of cane sugar and 35 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
      “We’re less concerned about naturally occurring fructose in fruits, which also contain important antioxidants,” explained Gomez-Pinilla, who is also a member of UCLA’s Brain Research Institute and Brain Injury Research Center. “We’re more concerned about the fructose in high-fructose corn syrup, which is added to manufactured food products as a sweetener and preservative.”

        1. optimader

          Never say never/always, it’s always a generalization

          The distinction for me is along the lines of:
          nanny government=arbitrary criminalization of a personal choice(eg: smoking a weed)
          greed crazed brats= eliminating a choice to benefit a commercial gain (eg: Monsanto GMO corn)

          If someone inadvisably wants to consume HFCS I’m think’in they should be allowed to. IMO people should reject products that contain it.
          By the same token if someone does not want to consume GMO corn products, they should not have to by default/subterfuge (lack of labeling).

    2. optimader

      A link that go to the premise that bad health outcomes linked to obesity are most fundamentally systemic lifestyle problems here in the US (and elsewhere).

      Of course people need to actually consider what they are putting in their food holes, but lifestyle is the fundamental issue that wont remedied w/banning this or that, additive pharma drug interventions, yoga, self-torture in “healthclubs” at 5AM before going to work..

      A famous health and lifestyle study that most people never heard of.

    3. TedWa

      I saw a movie about HFCS. Sorry, I forget what it was called. It talked about how the body metabolizes HFCS. It basically by-passes the liver and turns directly into fat. Another reason why I avoid it is because it’s probably GMO corn used. I now buy low-fat chocolate syrup with no fructose and I see no real difference in taste.

    4. cwaltz

      From an anecdotal point of view, I don’t drive, walk everywhere(when well anywhere from 3 to 5 miles 5 days a week) and still somehow managed to become overweight.

      I’m not as convinced that problems like processed food and endocrine disruptors in our food chain aren’t problematic.

  21. mundanomaniac

    It’s a week, and so more next week,in which the doom -scenario is palpable. Astrologers, I know, have to refrain from writing sentences like this one. And I only want say that I myself shuddered by the imagination, what might happen when blind Mars meets Uranus in square with Pluto: the historical constellation 2014/2015
    in it’s crucial “first strike week”. (When, when not then?)
    May God have mercy with us sinners.

    I thrust in the word of Carl G. Jung: “If the archetypes do remain conscious in any form
    so the energy which complies them can accrue to man.”

    1. craazyman

      If a man can keep his pants on it won’t matter what meets Uranus (and i mean the proverbial “you”, as a generalization, not any particular person). Pluto and Mars will just bounce off.

      Otherwise, I hear you. Things just have to crash very very soon. It can’t go on like this. It’s been like this for several years now, day to day, with each moment feeling like it’s a Hail Mary hanging in the endzone over about 18 outstretched hands.

      Eventually you wonder why you’re even paying attention. I wonder that’s for sure. It seems like a huge waste of time but you’ve just got to keep your pants on no matter what (unless nature calls).

      1. mundanomaniac

        Lambert, thank you for this “parses”. To me with English as second language this word opens me some respect.

        What I pointed at: the wandering lights in the zodiac talk (to me) forever the language of the “Self”.
        If you perceive them is one thing but if you are ready for apperception it might give you the ability of not being identical with the holy and dangerous forces in the psyche, but to approach them with respect and distinction.
        To parse, in this meaning, to me is to find the chaos assorted by the time of lights in signs. This relieves the psyche enormously. The last 34 of my 73 years told me so.

  22. craazyman

    if this doesn’t qualify for Links tomorrow I don’t know what would. I would hope Yves personally intervenes and assures this news is given the respect it merits. This is news that wisll shake the ontological foundations upon which any thinking person reposes their contemplative faculties.

    This is a real bigfoot sighting in Utah. This is phenomenal. I can’t believe this is a hoax:

    I wonder how these beings survive without a growing economy. Maybe the scavange and eat deer. It would be weird to think of monetizing a bigfoot economy, as they go inn and out of our dimensions. Would they have recessions and booms and busts? If so, would these have existed without the existence of a medium of exchange? Does the medium of exchange carry with it as an intrinsic property an expansion of what we can call the “imaginative space” for creation of social structures around which society finds sustenance and which in turn give it an identity/? It’s a theoretical question of utmost interest to those pushing the boundaries of economic thought into the sunlight of lucidity. is this something Paul Krugman can write a blog entry about? Or does an MIT edukayshun crush the brain so badly it renders one virtually analytically unconscious? These questions are provoked simply by observing the bigfoot in the brush. How can anyone doubt the intellectual validity of these phenomenon?

  23. participant-observer-observed

    Echoes (so it seems to my naive ears) of what Ms. Yves was trying to tell us the other day – it still sounds convoluted, but again, this is probably the nature of the message and not the messenger’s fault!

    “Resolution for the humanitarian crisis in Greece may mean exiting the euro-zone since it will be impossible for Greece to pay €1.5 million to the IMF at the end of this month and € 300 million by this Friday says Dimitri Lascaris”

    TRRN video interview

    1. Lamarr

      Another good read (nerd warning) that shows that there is much behind most chronic medical conditions that lies off the horizon of the popular press. We need to clean up our environment while we find better lifestyles. Trying to live healthy atop a cesspool-can’t be done.
      ” Epidemiological evidence increasingly suggests that environmental exposures
      early in development have a role in susceptibility to disease in later life. In addition, some
      of these environmental effects seem to be passed on through subsequent generations. ”

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