Links 4/30/15

A New York City man left his waitress a $3,000 tip. Here’s why. Christian Science Monitor

ANZAC Day Centenary John Hempton. Late to commemorate this.

Learning to speak the language of cats: How they’re actually telling humans what to do Salon. A confession: my younger cat (the one who got himself stuck behind the bookcase) sometimes hisses at the older cat because of course everything is his fault. I then chew the young cat out for being mean to the old cat. He next hisses at me. Nothing makes him madder than if I hiss back at him.

Calling all muppets! Bitcoin miner has some Bitcoin ETNs to sell Izabella Kaminska, FTAlphaville

App fail on iPad grounds ‘a few dozen’ American Airlines flights Guardian (EM)

World-first remote air traffic control system lands in Sweden GizMag (Chuck L)

IBM just brought us a step closer to quantum computers Business Insider (David L)

Iceland revokes order to ‘kill Basques on sight’ The Local (Chuck L)

Japan’s utility as a US ally is double edged Financial Times

Wang Jianlin, a Billionaire at the Intersection of Business and Power in China New York Times (Bob H)


Map of the Greek Radical Left Lenin’s Tomb

Interview with Prokopis Pavlopoulos: Greek President Promises Repayment of all Debt Der Spiegel

‘We won’t surrender’: Firebrand Greek minister risks fresh schism with Europe Telegraph. Tsipras not having control of his party is a non-trivial problem

Greece mulls sale of ports to reach deal with EU/IMF lenders – government source Reuters

Spain and Portugal Can Cope With Grexit Wall Street Journal


NYT Propagandizes False Ukrainian History Moon of Alabama

Russia’s economy: In better shape than you might think Fortune


Saudi Forces Desert Rather Than Invade Yemen Sic Semper Tyrannis. Chuck L: “Holy shit! The House of Saud is a house of cards.”

Iran insists Israel ‘give up the bomb’ as Tehran seeks nuclear-free Middle East RT (JB)

Trade Traitors

Obama trade bill in trouble Politico. Do not count your chickens before they are hatched. Please keep calling your Representative and Senators and tell them how deeply opposed you are to the TPP. Letters to the editor of your local paper (or better yet an op ed if you can get it placed) and calls to your local radio and TV station to hector them about their (presumed) lack of concerned coverage are good too.

Obama Laments Poverty In Baltimore While Pushing TPP DSWright, Firedoglake

Obama Doing Republicans Dirty Work for Them With TPP The Hill (RR)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is Secret, not “Secret” Beat the Press (DJ)


Clinton Foundation failed to disclose 1,100 foreign donations Bloomberg (furzy mouse)

Give ‘Em Hell, Bernie Matt Taibbi. Lambert featured this in Water Cooler, but wanted to make sure you did not miss it.

Oklahoma’s Key Expert in Supreme Court Lethal Injection Case Did His Research on ProPublica (Chuck L)


Baltimore Residents Urged To Stay Indoors Until Social Progress Naturally Takes Its Course Over Next Century Onion

Eyewitnesses: The Baltimore Riots Didn’t Start the Way You Think Mother Jones (Chuck L)

Lawless President Obama Chides Baltimore “Criminals And Thugs,” Ignores Savagery Of Baltimore Police Bruce Dixon

NYT Goes to Baltimore, Finds Only Police Worth Talking To FAIR

‘A Riot Is the Language of the Unheard’: 9 MLK Quotes the Mainstream Media Won’t Cite Alternet

Court dismisses appeal in $1 billion divorce of oil executive Hamm Reuters (EM). And due to an unforced error.

Ignore the ‘whiff of panic’ as US economy stalls Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Economy stalls in the first quarter Jim Hamilton, Econbrowser

Fed Signals Tightening, Loosely Mohamed El-Erian, Bloomberg

Wall Street Pushes Back on Foreign Bribery Probe Wall Street Journal

Gross Finds `Visible’ Lack of Liquidity in Bond Market Bloomberg. Duh. The Fed has been the bagholder and no one is keen about stepping in. And going to negative rates in the US would give the Audit the Fed movement new life.

Lawsuit Against Exchanges Over ‘Unfair Advantage’ for High-Frequency Traders Dismissed Wall Street Journal

SEC chairman’s past as a defence lawyer haunts former clients Financial Times. Adrien: “As far as the current situation, it could have been easily avoided if the Chair had been selected among dedicated public servants coming from the ranks who have no interest in the revolving door..Admittedly, MJ White is one of the most conflicted regulators alive between her career and her husband’ this result was to be expected. A hyper concentrated Wall Street industry defended by a small clique of securities bar lawyers who from time to time pretend to play “prosecutors”..a very sad situation indeed.”

Antidote du jour. True to form, Richard Smith finds an antidote that verges on being an anti-antidote:

jaguar in your face links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Santi


    Spain and Portugal Can Cope With Grexit

    Spain and Portugal are not coping with the current European policies: Portugal has very poor performance and Spain is increasing its public debt 7% per year to get sluggish nominal growths that barely make a dent in unemployment in a deflationary economy…

    Is this sustainable?

    The hope for Spain and Portugal is that a Greece agreement brings changes to European policies that help us grow again; anything that reinforces the debt-deflationary loop will make our lost decade into 20 lost years… Spain cannot cope with Grexit, just as Spain cannot cope with a Greece that capitulates to austerity and keeps slowly dying.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      With Global Warming and other man-made disasters (economic), Southern Europe will be without any humans, as they all take advantage of upward mobility, and a cooler – bur warming – climate (imagine whether in winter in Hamburg like that of summer in Andalusia) available in Germany (where you will be heartened to know, yes, you have a chance to work your way up from the basement).

      EOS (End of Sarcasm).

        1. optimader

          whether in winter in Hamburg

          whether whether or weather in winter in Hamburg, winter weather in Hamburg would cost less to send as a telegram.

          Is whether whether proper diction?

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thank you. It’s true one never stops learning.

          Joshu, at 60, quit as the head of his monastery and vowed to learn from anyone, at whatever age, he could learn from. I don’t know if it was because of that, but he lived to be over 100 – and that was over 1,000 ago, when the average life expectancy was, I am guessing here, 30?

          1. subgenius

            Do wish people would stop the bullshit meme that everybody used to die at 30.

            There was major infant and child birth mortality. But make it past that our preindustrial ancestors were way better adjusted, bigger, stonger and frequently lived to very ripe old ages.

  2. Chris in Paris

    Re “Wall Street Pushes Back on Foreign Bribery Probe” : what part of the FCPA do these guys not understand? Hiring the children of government officials, even without a specific deal in a quid pro quo is to me an obvious exchange of “something of value” if these are otherwise unqualified employees…I can’t imagine firms in other industries even attempting to defend this practice as compliant. But then, Wall St. is special.

    1. James Levy

      Yes, when the US media report on these types of shenanigans in China it is presented as patently corrupt and nepotistic, but when it happens here all you hear (if you hear anything at all) is “but, but, but…junior went to Princeton!” (which of course is supposed to explain and justify everything).

  3. Jim Haygood

    When it comes to bent shrinks, the rot runs all the way to the top:

    WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.

    “The A.P.A. secretly coordinated with officials from the C.I.A., White House and the Department of Defense to create an A.P.A. ethics policy on national security interrogations which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the C.I.A. torture program,” the report’s authors conclude.

    This is the horror of our contemporary national security state. Your banker, your attorney, your accountant and even your psychologist owe their first and highest duty of loyalty to the state.

    It’s like ol’ Benito M. used to say: “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”

    1. skippy

      And some wonder how “pay to play” became synonymous with the sociopolitical ideology of self interest.

      Skippy… look no further…. must have been the state…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Not just any state, but an exceptional, national security imperial state.

        It’s very special.

        1. skippy

          I fondly remember in the dim light of a foggy past, time goes quickly these days, the slogan “The Worlds Police”.

          Skippy… so much for “Peace Keepers”

    2. optimader

      The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.

  4. cripes

    Jon Stewart pimp-slaps (can I say that?) Judith Miler last night over Iraq WMD reporting.
    As much as he is sometimes too smarmy for my taste and the Daily Show trivializes gross war crimes, this time he is as prepared, serious and aggressive as actual journalists once were a generation or two ago.
    About time.

    Two links of about five minutes each.

  5. NotSoSure

    I wonder what will happen if ISIS manages to take down the House of Saud? Presumably, the price of oil will skyrocket, but does that mean I should be buying the junk bonds of fracking companies?

    1. Ed

      John Robb has been raising this, but I’m not entirely sure that ISIS isn’t controlled by the House of Saud, or a fraction in the Saudi succession struggle. This is the Middle East, after all (I’ve seen CT that ISIS is a Mossad creation), and their version of Islam is very similar to the official Saudi version.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      It would skyrocket for a few days, and then slip back when everyone realises it would make no difference. Oil flows perfectly freely from wells in Isis controlled areas. They will need the money as much as the Sauds do, so it will not be in their interest stop or interfere with the flow.

  6. nycTerrierist

    Taibbi to the msm:

    “Sanders on the other hand has no constituency among the monied crowd. “Billionaires do not flock to my campaign,” he quipped. So what his race is about is the reverse of the usual process: he’ll be marketing the interests of regular people to the gatekeeping Washington press, in the hope that they will give his ideas a fair shot.

    It’s a little-known fact, but we reporters could successfully sell Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or any other populist candidate as a serious contender for the White House if we wanted to. Hell, we told Americans it was okay to vote for George Bush, a man who moves his lips when he reads.”

    Read more:

    1. James Levy

      They could take Sanders seriously and portray him as a viable candidate, but they won’t. The press in general seem 1) to want to keep Hilary around just long enough so they can turn on her, 2) to undermine and trivialize Jeb Bush the way they did his father but for reasons unknown did not his malignant brother, and 3) keep the horserace alive! The pundit class will demand specifics and policy pronouncements, then scoff at them with bored contempt. Most fervently, they will hunt for signs of “leadership” and “inspiration” as they try to fulfill their mystical longing for an American President who is half medicine man, half war chief. The thing a president is supposed to be, the chief magistrate of the Republic executing the laws set down by Congress, is just too dull and prosaic for their taste.

      1. montanamaven

        On “Leadership” from a review of “Excellent Sheep” by William Deresiewicz

        The emptiness of management jargon, applied to traditional moral concepts, is nowhere more apparent than in the ubiquity of the word “leadership.” Once upon a time it was something that was considered a duty, an accompaniment of privilege. Now, Deresiewicz writes, it’s little more than “an empty set of rituals known only to propitiate the gods.” Like so many other ideals of the meritocracy (“innovation,” “creativity,” “disruption”), indeed like the meritocrats themselves, “leadership” lacks content. And where content is absent, power pours in. We are left with Mark Edmundson’s witty summation, quoted by Deresiewicz: a leader is “someone who, in a very energetic, upbeat way, shares all the values of the people who are in charge.”

  7. T.. t.. t...

    Now here we are, all agonizing together about the nickel ride the cops gave Freddy Gray, the one that twisted his neck and pinched off his spine so he couldn’t breathe no matter how desperately he needed to, and the cops watched him slowly asphyxiate in paralyzed panic for more than an hour – but one word never ever comes up.


    Isn’t that odd?

    It so happens that when the government signed on to the Convention Against Torture, they carefully, meticulously tried to exclude anything they do to you before you are ‘in secure custody.’ If they disappeared you in that Chicago black site, for instance, and you’re not booked yet, the cops can do anything to you, absolutely anything, and it’s not torture. That’s what your government set up. You might as well be in El Salvador or Anbar. The US government took universal jurisdiction law, the rock-bottom minimal standard of the civilized world, and they cut themselves a loophole for police torture.

    Even if it sends chills down Eric Holder’s spine, if the cops do it, it isn’t torture. The CIA plants in the media know the script. They pick every single word you hear. That’s how they can torture you and get away with it.

    1. susan the other

      Freddy Gray was dead before they pulled him off the ground and pretended he was OK enough to be put in the van. His legs and feet were dragging. His head was flopping. He was already dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. To propagate nonsense like ‘they watched him struggle not to suffocate for an hour’ is disgusting. One, why would they “watch” that? And two, Why did they watch that if it in fact happened that Freddy took an occasional dying gasp because his entire body convulsed as it died. Dead. Makes you wonder how easy it is to kill a person by shoving your knee with all your weight behind it into the back of someone’s neck. Those disgusting murderous pigs. I know you can kill a dog by lying it on its right side and putting all your weight (using your knee) on its heart. Easy. No sweat.

      1. Optimader

        The urinary tract sphincter relaxes when a person dies, that does not look to be the case in the picture I saw. As well muscle and ligiments relax. His arms Are behind him providing resistance as he is lifted. FWIW looks to be alive by all accounts in the picture I saw.

  8. Jackrabbit

    Antidote Captions:

    The Troika’s game face.

    – or –

    Neolibcon mascot: Don’t let the perfect (your life) be the enemy of the good (my dinner).

    H O P

  9. geoff

    That Evans-Pritchard piece is very strange. He runs down all the bad economic news and comes up with “it’s just a matter of time before the US consumer is back in the mall”. If he’d get out of DC, he might notice that the malls are closing and the US consumer is still flat on his/ her back.

    1. James Levy

      He has to think that, or else he’d have to think very deep and become very pessimistic, and that won’t do. No one is ready for what is likely ahead for us, the transformation and running down of the industrial age. We’ve overshot in terms of growth, population, and despoilment of the environment, and we’re in for a correction. Some things will make it through the bottleneck and some will not. Mass consumption of disposable plastic crap made thousands of miles away from the consumer is one thing that almost certainly won’t. Trains and barges, which are still operating, will continue to do so long after air travel and truck transport become rare events. But how to you say such things in the FT and not face ridicule and abuse?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If we human consumers are not up to the task of lifting the economy, they will replace us with A.I. robot consumers.

        It takes just one keystroke, to get them all to consume. Talk about efficiency.

      2. Ed

        This commentary appeared in the Telegraph, not FT, but if you read some of the comments you will see the commentators almost all called Evans-Pritchard out for presenting some very alarming data, than putting in a happy conclusion at the end that didn’t follow from the data at all. But I’ve noticed that in mainstream media sometimes editors will do this or for the writers to do this for articles where the substance is pessimistic. Also I’ve seen this pattern in Evan-Prichard’s writings, and find him almost unreadable as a result.

        I agree with your general point that overpopulation will result in a secular (really long term) economic decline, if this hasn’t started already. Half of GDP growth is simply caused by population growth, and at some point the world population has to stop growing. Otherwise, the more intensive used of resources needed to support the additional population will result in ecological collapse and a collapsed economy anyway.

        The commentary came out due to preliminary estimates (and these always tend to be too optimistic) of US GDP growth of 0.2%.

  10. Jackrabbit

    Give ‘Em Hell, Bernie – Matt Taibbi.

    A more even-handed portrait of Sanders: The Problem With Bernie


    It seems to me that the Democratic Party is beyond redemption. “The People’s Champion” is unlikely to come from that dark and thorny place. Although Sanders can sometimes talk a good game, I doubt that he will “give ’em hell” sufficiently to make a difference. To the extent that he doesn’t, he is just window-dressing that gives credence to the sham democratic process that our elections have become.

    H O P

    1. Ed

      I have argued here that the American left made a strategic error in trying to work with and steer the Democratic Party from the inside. If they were going to infiltrate one of the two big parties, the Republican Party was a better choice. Over the long term course of American history, the Republican Party was the more “left-wing” of the two parties, the positions reversed because of the historical accident that it was Democratic presidents who (successfully) had to handle the response to the Great Depression, World War 2, and the Civil Rights movement. But the Republican Party remained more populist, most hospitable to outsiders, and generally less machine controlled.

      1. JTFaraday

        I do think certain American political traditions are more prominent in the Republican party–one of the reasons Republicans are anti-government is that they still think they should rule themselves, literally, and the institutions of government as they exist today don’t permit that. Democrats want everything administered for them by benevolent dictators, and FDR is still “proof” that the fairy godmother exists. Republicans will do all kinds of things politically, and Democrats show up to vote.

        It would be interesting if someone could do a study of where the ancestry of the membership of each of the parties lies today. It wouldn’t surprise me if it were still the case that more Ds were descendants of more newly arrived immigrants from the great wave of immigration at the turn of the last century, who were unionized into political passivity.

        But in that century, the R-Party also managed to become the racist party by, among other things, welcoming overtly racist defectors from the D-Party who couldn’t handle the sixties. Consequently, I might almost call it “nativist” rather than “populist,” and you can see the tension that exists today in the R-Party between business interests that like immigration for its cheap labor potential and the more nationalist anti-immigration contingent, among other things like an at least superficially more politically correct position with regard to gender issues rendering people like Todd Akin of “legitimate rape” fame a political embarrassment.

  11. OIFVet

    My cats do pretty much the same thing: the younger one hisses at the older one (the Nike footwear aficionado), and I hiss at her to make sure she knows who the real boss is. She just retreats, trying to affect some semblance of dignity as though she graciously humors my silly affection for the other one. Several days ago the young one was sniffing the elder’s butt and growling, which was hilarious given the regular need to wipe her own butt clean with baby wipes.

    1. optimader

      My yard squirrel doesn’t care for hissing either, even though he/she/it does more of a clicking noise.. But he/she/it tolerates me for the apple cores set on top of the fence post.

      I guess the hiss is a cross species onomatopoeia of distain of a sort.

      1. OIFVet

        Furry little aholes keep digging out my bulbs and eating my tomatoes. Last summer I had a small measure of satisfaction in seeing a jalapeno that had been partially eaten. The tree rat would have been in agony for a while, that jalapeno definitely was up there on the Scoville scale

  12. Antifa

    I hope everyone’s prepared for how quickly the kingdom of Saud is going to come apart at the seams. Their fighting forces are more interested in enjoying their American toys than in getting shot at in an actual battle. Nobody, from the latest Crown Prince on down, signed up for that sort of thing. How do you live the good life when you’re dead?

    So that’s right out, effendi.

    When ISIS floods through the northern fence, and shows up among the teeming poor and unemployed youth of the Kingdom; when the Houthis and the Iraqi Shiites press on the southern border, seeking oil wells and bloody revenge for past wrongs — the leadership of the Kingdom will call on the Americans to come save their sacred state — as all those princes fly out in their private jets to join their billions in Switzerland for the duration.

    Perhaps America will come over and kill all the enemies of the House of Saud, and hand the Kingdom back to them. A quick fumigation, as it were.

    But our deal with the House of Saud was always on the basis of their keeping the oil flowing this direction, in quantity. Which the new owners of this sandy spot can do just as well. Hey, it’s not like we haven’t sold weapons to ISIS before.

    Once the zealots of ISIS are running Mecca, and the oilfields, they’ll become very wealthy, very soft, and very civilized religious fanatics. People we can work with for as long as the oil flows our way.

    Just like the Saudis.

      1. Antifa

        There is a trillion or so dollars of Saudi money invested in Wall Street stocks and Treasury bonds. That might seem at first glance to be a good reason to be nice to the Saudi royals in their hour of greatest need. They can wait in Paris or Basel while we fight to take their country back from whichever rabble seizes it in their absence.

        But on second thought, it may be better strategy to freeze their assets here if the Saudi royals abandon their own Kingdom. Then we could slowly and steadily provide a trillion good reasons for whatever government takes their place to see things our way.

        It’s all about winning hearts and minds.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If only we still had barter.

          Our manufacturing would boom, even with fewer buyers for our government debt.

          And with all those American consumer goods distributed to the needy, it would have been a better society.

    1. hunkerdown

      There are rumors of radiological doomsday devices down Saudi Aramco’s wellbores. (Hah, almost wrote “Saudi Arambo”… in typo, veritas!) The new owners might could pump it, but to use it would be ecocidal.

  13. diptherio

    Here’s an update from on the ground in Bhaktapur, Nepal (and from a charity that is “diptherio-approved”):

    Update from Unatti Foundation 5 days after the Quake

    It is now 5 days since the devastating earthquake hit Nepal and much has happened.
    Because of the pre-existing system the Unatti Foundation has set up in Bhaktapur to wire financial support, we were able to mobilize funds and manpower to begin feeding people within 20 hours of the initial quake. What began as purchasing rice, dal, biscuits, instant soup, tents and plastic sheeting for a few hundred survivors quickly grew to be a large scale first response effort to an entire community – purchasing and distributing food and supplies for more than 4000 people in the community of Bhaktapur.
    This morning we heard from Ramesh, our Executive Director, that many 1000s of residents have begun to leave the area for shelter with extended family. The Unatti girls continue to cook and tend to the needs of 1000s of homeless people in Bhaktapur. Ramesh has mobilized more than 100 people to execute this massive undertaking of food distribution. These local volunteers have managed to keep everyone calm with no incidences of fighting. The Red Cross and UN have finally arrived with 5 big trucks carrying supplies.
    While many thousands of homes in Bhaktapur were destroyed, we are blessed to report that our Unatti girls have returned to The Unatti Group Home for Girls as it only suffered cosmetic damage. Unatti willl continue to provide for the homeless people of Bhaktapur until the Red Cross gets up and running. Unatti will then work with leaders of the Municipality of Bhaktapur to create a plan to best serve all the people in rebuilding and moving forward.

    It’s difficult to describe the pride that I have in our girls and also in Ramesh. He has been working with the Unatti Foundation for over ten years and in that time has become a community leader and an ardent protector of human rights in Bhaktapur. Seeing him use the leverage he has with the backing of supporters like you to make a massive difference – the only response on the ground for 5 days in the community of Bhaktapur! – is a source of deep inspiration for us all. He has already helped saved the lives of our Unatti Girls and now has led the effort to support the entire community that surrounds them. I am humbled by his exemplary and heroic response to this tragedy.
    The Unatti Foundation is honored to continue channeling your financial support directly to the community of Bhaktapur. As soon as we hear that the funds are no longer necessary or should be directed elsewhere, we will update you about next steps for supporting the community on a more long-term basis. In the mean time, please continue to share our story and give generously – there is still much immediate emergency response support needed.
    Also – in case you didn’t see it, we are so grateful to this People magazine article and social media for sharing our girls’ story so that the Unatti Foundation could become a vessel for funds and hope for this community.
    Stephanie Waisler-Rubin
    Founder, Unatti Foundation

    And here’s the People story mentioned:

  14. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website

    Don’t get too excited about the story of Saudi deserters. It’s a nice case study of how propaganda propagates on the information superhighway.

    Thousands of Saudi Forces Flee Bases“, Fars News Agency (Iran’s semi-official news sourse), 26 April 2015.

    Global Research reposted it, with a link and citation.

    Others pick up the story. Some cite a secondary source, as does Almanar. Some. like News786, without citing a source.

    Then analysts pick it up — without bothering to check sources, because it matches their theories. As does Pat Lang.

    Then general websites pick it up, like Naked Capitalism. It’s the new news misinformation ecology, as this story benefited everyone who passed it on (clicks!) down to the end consumer. Who is misinformed not just by the original propaganda, but also by the accretion of commentary attached to it along the way.

    It’s perhaps the primary result of our shift from getting information from news organizations to websites, and our uncritical acceptance of them. It’s an example of how the infor superhighway can make us less well-informed if we’re not careful and skeptical.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      With all due respect, I wonder who is engaging in propaganda here. We cited Sic Semper Tyrannis, a well respected site written by ex military personnel with expertise in the Middle East. In other words, no slouches.

      The author of this post, Pat Lang, has repeatedly made the point, and documented it, that Saudi Arabia has no ground forces worth speaking of. His post cites other sources, including Associated Press, showing a rout of the Saudis near Arden, and points out the ineffectiveness of the Saudi (and US) approach on relying primarily on airstrikes.

      I further note that you point out the use of the one article, which is only one of four sources that Lang cited, and use it to try to impugn his report, while providing not a shred of counter-evidence. This is an ad hominem attack and is a well recognized logical fallacy.

      I finally note that you have not taken your objections to the Sic Semper Tyrannis site. Is it because you expect you’d be shot down?

      If I see you get Lang to rewrite or retract his piece, that would show your remarks had merit. But you should take it to him rather than wage what looks an awful lot like a disinformation campaign in our comments section.

    2. Fars, So?

      f it’s Fars’ word against the US government, I go with Fars. When you say Fars I don’t think bullshit. I think stuff that the USG suppresses.

      But if you cite New York Times or Washington Post or White House spokesman, I have a rebuttable presumption that the polar opposite is true. US government-authorized sources, you can tell they’re lying cause their lips are moving. Inverse credibility.

  15. Propertius

    IBM told me Josephson junction-based supercomputers were right around the corner back in the late 1970s.

    I’m still waiting.

    I’ll believe them on quantum computing when the wave function collapses, the cat dies, and they actually deliver some hardware.

    1. hunkerdown

      IBM’s new design is also scalable. The only problem is working out how to manufacture silicon chips full of qubits on a mass scale, Chow said.

      The joys of journalistic agnotology.

  16. susan the other

    Speaking of body language or something. I don’t know why, but everytime I find myself sitting on the couch in somebody’s house where there is a resident cat, the cat always winds up, voluntarily, on my lap – waiting for pets. Which I offer without even thinking.

      1. bob

        Unless the visitor is allergic to cats. They sense that. I can hiss all I want. The cat still ends up on me.

  17. Oregoncharles

    the antidote: “Here, kitty, kitty…..” Whew.

    And about
    At one point, when one of our cats had said something obviously hostile to one of the others, my wife managed to imitate him almost exactly (not that easy). The poor cat looked very alarmed – that was his meal ticket telling him to (obscenity).
    I actually found that hissing at them was very effective discipline. They understand it perfectly.

  18. Max

    re: NYT propagandizes, MOA garbage

    >not understanding the difference between people starving in a time of famine and people in one of the most agriculturally productive regions on earth starving to death because their land and harvests have been forcibly expropriated from them

    I really wish that NC wouldn’t promote MOA’s russian propaganda. are we really trying to do revisionist history on the holodomor?

    leftist skepticism makes me embarrassed to be a leftist.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Wow. we seem to have an outbreak of thought police today. MOA doesn’t deny that the land was appropriated. He says it was an ugly “guns v. butter” choice that history validated:

      The separatist governments in east-Ukraine have this right. The famine was the heavy price paid for the fast industrialization of the Soviet Union in the 1930s. The main agricultural regions were hit hardest while areas with coal and iron ore and the cities developed the most.

      But only the successful industrialization in the 1930s enabled the Soviet Union to withstand the German onslaught in the following decade. Without Stalin’s foresight and brutal industrialization the Soviet Union would not have been able to later out-produce the well industrialized Germany in weapons and ammunition. It would have lost the war against the Nazis. Even as it won the war it cost the Soviet Union about five times the casualties of the 1930s famine.

      To put not too fine a point on this, the Russians did more to win WWII than the West did, although the two-front attack was necessary to bring the war to a conclusion. And it is also not mentioned in polite company that the remarkably rapid industrialization of Russia freaked out the US and led to doubts that we could compete in the long run with a command and control economy. That worry, BTW, was one of the big drivers of the rise in power of economists as advisers to the government. The view was we needed to have pro-growth policies in order to foster more industrial production, and economists were the best people to devise them.

      1. Vatch

        I think Max is referring to what happened in 1932-1933, which was, perhaps, close to being the epitome of government imposed austerity. The Soviets really did export grain from the famine regions. Admittedly, the Chinese artificial austerian famine of 1958-1962 was worse, with perhaps 45 million dead. But the Holodomor was genuinely horrifying. The Soviets managed to kill off large numbers of people in several groups of “troublemakers”: Ukrainians, Cossacks, and nomads in Kazakhstan.

        I’m not sure what the “2015” refers to, though.

        1. Jack

          The 2015, along with the ‘>’, are 4chan memes. The greater-than sign is to make text green so it stands out, often used to indicate internal thought, past tense, or (usually unflattering and straw-man-y) paraphrase of another post. Any mention of the year is to further mock an idea, as in how could anyone seriously hold it in this day and age.

      2. Vatch

        Yves, did you modify your reply to Max? It seems different from what I first read. Whatever, that’s okay. As for guns versus butter, the Soviets were not at war in 1932, so there was not need for a choice between guns and butter. This was extreme austerianism of the cruelest sort. Also, the Germans wouldn’t have been able to start the European portion of WWII without the Molotov – von Ribbentrop nonaggression treaty.

        The heroism of the Soviet people in the fight against the Nazis is unquestionable. But they won in spite of their leaders, not because of them.

        1. skippy

          Lamarck resurrected a la Lysenkoism – named for Russian botanist Trofim Lysenko, was a political doctrine in Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union that mandated that all biological research conducted in the USSR conform to a modified Lamarckian evolutionary theory. The underlying appeal was that it promised a biology based on a plastic view of life that was consistent with the plastic view of human nature insisted upon by Marxist-Leninist dogma.

          The whole concept of genes as “idealist” thingy.

          Anywho…. The fate of Soviet genetics

          Skippy… sort of the same thing wrt [Neo] Libertarianism and its preferred view on Capitalism and the hang up about Determinism. Chalk another one up to Proudhon… at a boy!!!!!!!

          1. Vatch

            Yes, Lysenkoism was a huge problem, but that wasn’t the only cause of the Great Soviet Famine. Communist collectivization of agriculture has been extremely tragic, for which the Chinese Great Leap Forward provides additional evidence.

            By the way, the heritage of Lysenko is one (of several) reasons why I’m horrified by the efforts of the fundamentalist Christian right wing to introduce young Earth creationism into science textbooks. Superstition is not a good substitute for science.

            1. skippy

              Its not good methodology to mix the Mao thing with the Stalin just because they are viewed as communist in reductive terms, it leads to lack of granularity. It would be better to be inclusive of all of human – environmental history to get an accurate picture .

              BTW Lysenkoism – was – the primary enabler wrt said agenda, per the link Soviet science was flourishing before –

              “Nevertheless, for an all-too-brief period after 1917, the new Soviet state provided the first indications of the vast potential inherent in a society based on production for social need, not profit.

              Science began to flourish. In 1921 the revolutionary government set up the Foreign Science and Technology Study Bureau to bring the latest scientific advances into the Soviet Union. Scientists were sent all over the world to collaborate with others in their field. Outstanding figures such as the Nobel Prize winning physiologist, Ivan Pavlov, were given financial support and the facilities needed to continue their research.

              In 1923, Leon Trotsky, co-leader of the Russian Revolution with Lenin, summed up the intimate connection between science and socialism in a message to the First All-Russian Congress of Scientific Workers: “Socialist construction is in its very essence conscious planned construction, combining–on a hitherto unprecedented scale–technology, science and carefully thought-out social forms and methods of utilizing them.” –

              Which is noted by Yves above “And it is also not mentioned in polite company that the remarkably rapid industrialization of Russia freaked out the US and led to doubts that we could compete in the long run with a command and control economy.” – to which I add its growing knowlage which enable so many other activity’s.

              Skippy…. Stalin seemed to suffer the same issue the last Czar had with Rasputin – Mysticism.

              1. Vatch

                Its not good methodology to mix the Mao thing with the Stalin just because they are viewed as communist in reductive terms

                Both the Soviet famine and the Chinese famine occurred largely as a result of agricultural collectivization. That’s a huge similarity.

                1. skippy

                  “That’s a huge similarity.”

                  Sure if one is only looking at reductive labels from an already biased vantage point.

                  One could say as much about the dust bowl or the on the horizon water shortages facing huge swaths of America or Baltimore et al.

                  Skippy…. personally I prefer a more granular non ideological observation.

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              That’s completely fair, but the general point is that this was out of an effort to “rationalize” production along Communist lines, which actually worked pretty well (at least by certain measures in the first few decades) on the industrial side and terribly on the ag side. But the ag disaster was brushed aside (and I’m not up on the details as to why…ideology just as in Europe with austerity, that the terrible results were attributed to not trying hard enough or “necessary” transition costs?).

              1. OIFVet

                Right, and as result the famine raged in the other big agricultural areas of the SU as well. Ukraine was simply the biggest one, and politics dictate that the famine becomes a juicy target for propaganda. Never mind that Stalin, being Georgian and not particularly fluent in Russian, despised Russian nationalism as much as any other (nationalism being counter to the aims of the Comintern) and crushed it just as ruthlessly. So an incompetently implemented agricultural collectivisation is now a prime propaganda opportunity to justify support for Ukie neofascists as the US tries to encircle Russia.

            3. skippy

              Amends but the link does provide a cogent point wrt this discussion.

              “From the early 1920s, Trotsky and the Left Opposition had warned of the dangers of fostering the growth of a layer of rich peasants at the expense of agriculture as a whole and of industrial development.

              By the end of the decade, the Stalinist bureaucracy, faced with the withholding of produce by wealthy peasants, and armed revolts in the countryside, turned to a brutal policy of forced collectivisation. Peasants burned their crops and killed their animals rather than submit to the orders of the Stalinist regime. Agricultural output plummetted.

              In response to the crisis, Stalin began to demand that geneticists develop crop plants more rapidly to solve the problems of famine. Careful scientific work was sacrificed to political expediency. The Stalinist bureaucrats became increasingly impatient with the painstaking methods that scientific breeding required. The actual crossbreeding of varieties and the subsequent testing of the new plants could take as long as a decade.

              The Soviet bureaucrats wanted quicker results and turned to breeders who told them what they wanted to hear, no matter how implausible their methods. Under these conditions, T.D. Lysenko, a plant breeder from Odessa, was promoted to the highest posts in the field, destroying many of the gains made by Soviet science.

              Lysenko promised a rapid increase in crop yields. He is best known for his fraudulent claims that yield could be increased by a process he called “vernalisation”. Contrary to scientific knowledge at the time, Lysenko asserted that one species could be directly converted to another by subjecting it to external influences.

              Lysenko claimed that through vernalisation one species of wheat–winter wheat–could be transformed into another–spring wheat. He germinated the winter wheat and then subjecting it to very low temperatures to halt its growth until it was sown in spring. Lysenko believed that the shock of the cold would cause the transformation from one species to another, and produce greater yields.

              Vernalisation was introduced on state farms without any testing. A plant breeder from Vavilov’s institute set up a five-year test from 1931 to 1935, proving that vernalisation had no effect on yields. Yet these scientific results were ignored, and Lysenko’s followers went on to make more and more grandiose claims–that wheat could be transformed into rye, barley into oats and cabbages into swedes.”

              At the end of the day it was political expediency in a failed attempt to fix an ill conceived Stalinist autocratic bureaucratic policy, which then was doubled down on due to power dynamics.

              Skippy…. one could easily argue the same dynamic is in play right this moment, if not, increasingly from the 50s. Milton, Greenspan and Bernanke were Lysenkonites… whom knew – [??????].

                1. Skippy

                  Really sorry… but… one could see the wealthy peasants in above as nascent tea party sorts.

        2. OIFVet

          Two quick points:

          the Soviets were not at war in 1932, so there was not need for a choice between guns and butter

          Planning ahead is generally prudent. Particularly in what was largely a peasant society. The thrashing Russia received in WW1 was believed to be the result of backwardness and lack of industrial capacity, so the Bolsheviks’ foremost priority after consolidating their power was rapid industrialization. Trying to industrialize only after getting attacked would have never worked.

          Germans wouldn’t have been able to start the European portion of WWII without the Molotov – von Ribbentrop nonaggression treaty

          Which was signed only after the Brits, in their infinite wisdom, rebuffed Stalin’s overtures to sign a treaty of their own. The Soviets believed, correctly IMO, that the West was hoping to set Hitler eastward and destroy communism for them. Given the West’s reluctance to treaty with the SU and Hitler’s stated hatred for communism, their concerns were hardly unreasonable paranoia. So the Soviets did the next best thing from their perspective: buy themselves time and add strategic depth at the West’s expense. In the immortal words of Herman Cain, ” Blame yourselves!”.

          1. Vatch

            When WWII started in Europe, Stalin got eastern Poland, the Baltic nations, and the part of Romania that became Moldova as part of his agreement with Hitler. The Soviets also attacked Finland. I think the Molotov – von Ribbentrop agreement is exactly what Stalin wanted.

            1. OIFVet

              Since West refused to sign an ironclad mutual protection treaty, Stalin would have been a fool not to add strategic depth by gobbling up a part of Poland. Stalin was nobody’s fool, whatever else can be said about him. Great powers are not warm and fuzzy and prone to sentimentality, I think that is abundantly clear by our own great power.

              1. Vatch

                Could you please provide a source about pre-war negotiations between the Soviet Union and Britain or France?

                  1. Vatch

                    That’s not an answer. Please direct us to an English language book or a specific URL.

                    1. Ned Ludd

                      Michael Parenti is the source that I am familiar with. I heard the information in a speech he gave, but cannot point to a written source off of the top of my head.

                      The Cold War is an Old War” is the closest I found, but it glosses over the details that he gave in his speech.

                    2. OIFVet

                      Am I your butler or something? Head over to the Wiki page for the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, it is all there in plain english. It’s where you seem to have acquired most of your knowledge anyway, so off you go. Why I should I do all the work for you?

                    3. Vatch

                      Really? That’s your source for saying that the British rebuffed the Soviets? It’s clear from the Wikipedia article that the Soviets were negotiating with both the Germans and the British simultaneously. The secret pact with the Germans allowed them to add significant territory to their empire. The British wouldn’t agree to anything like that. The Soviets helped start WWII.

                    4. OIFVet

                      Just because you dislike it don’t mean it’s not prudent. Chamberlain was a moron who rebuffed the overtures, what with being anti-commie and listening to Poland (which, come to think of it, is happening to Germany today). For your enjoyment: “Amidst all the appeasement policies by the western Allies, it was obviously German aggression must be contained before it led to war. To that end, on 13 Apr 1939, Josef Stalin of the Soviet Union dispatched Soviet ambassador Maxim Litvinov to engage the British in talks toward a military alliance to contain Germany and protect Polish and Romanian borders. Surprisingly, the British and the French, more so the former, rejected the offer; British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was much more interested in the preference of his allies in Poland, which was heavily anti-Soviet, than recognizing the fact that the only power east of Germany that could serve as a deterrent to war was the Soviet Union. Collectively, the United Kingdom and France both viewed communism with suspicion.” Like I said, Stalin was nobody’s fool. He could see both the weakness of the Brits and their ideological blinders, and how these encouraged Hitler to move forward with his plans. War was a matter of time, so he was going to grab that strategic depth and rely on the time-proven Russian formula of conceding space for time. It worked, and methinks that’s what’s truly bothering you. But like I also said, “Blame yourselves”… It might provide sustenance to your russophobia to state that the pat began WW2, but the fact is that it started in Munich in 1938… and the SU was not present there to sign anything with Hitler.

                1. Jose

                  A book that covers quite well the pre-war negotiations between the USSR and the western powers is AJP Taylor’s “The Origins of the Second World War”

          2. Jack

            Belatedly jumping in here, but according to Norman Stone’s The Eastern Front 1914-1917, Russia in WW1 was not particularly backward and was able to adequately conduct modern warfare. The claim of lack of industrial capacity was an excuse frequently used by generals to clear themselves of responsibility for failures. Shell shortage was the biggest claim, but it was only true for several months early in the war. The excuse continued to be used long after shell production reached a satisfactory level.

            1. OIFVet

              Alexander III did launch industrialization campaign headed by Witte, that resulted in Russia catching up somewhat to the West. Still, the size of the industrial labor class, the proletariat, was a puny 3 million out of 170 million population. The inadequacy of Russia’s industry was plain to see by the spanking it received in by Japan in 1904-1906, when Japan’s ships and artillery proved far superior to Russia’s. Alexander’s successor, Nicholas II, sacked Witte and slowed industrialization after the 1905 revolution led by the newly minted proletariat. Tables of industrial output I have seen in college show a significant gap between Russia and the Western powers. While Stone is correct that Russia wasn’t entirely backward, his writing always struck me as that of the haughty Brit eager to show everyone else as incompetent and thus affirm British superiority. Tsarist Russia’s military definitely wasn’t very competent, but neither was Russia as developed as he tries to have us believe. It simply lacked the brute output of the Brits, the Germans, and the US.

              1. Jack

                I can’t say anything about Stone’s work as a whole, but have you read this specific book? Because I didn’t feel he portrayed the Russian military leadership as particularly more inept than any other side, which admittedly isn’t saying much since most leaders didn’t know what they were doing in WW1 and it was a four year learning experience. His point was that Russian generals simply had a unique excuse they could fall back on to justify failures even long after that excuse had objectively ceased to exist.

                The book is filled with industrial and other economic tables, I think it would be of interest to many readers of this site.

        3. Yves Smith Post author

          The then USSR went on a very aggressive industrialization and militarization program. The validation came about via WWII. I did not say, nor did MOA that the Nazis were the impetus for said militarization. Remember, they even had a non-aggression treaty before Germany repudiated it and attacked them.

          The USSR was hated throughout Europe. Much of the British aristocracy was keen about the rise of the Nazis because it looked like a reliable, muscular bulwark against the Commies (at least before the 1939 agreement).

      3. Max

        >thought police
        I don’t accept contrarian revisionist history, must be because I am an imperial agent of the Western axis of evil that only wishes to demonize the Good Guys from the Russian Empire. MOA’s point, that it was one of many ‘Hard Choices'(tm) / ‘guns v. butter’ for Stalin to cause a man-made famine in the Ukraine, is entirely garbage.

        “Although Stalin flouts political jargon that establishes aims to “liquidate them as a class” and accuses Ukrainians of “bourgeois nationalism”, his actions draw a very different picture in terms of power relations and agency. The year 1928 brought Stalin’s programs that forced farmers off of their land and robbed them of their livestock. In 1930, over one million people were dragged from their homesteads, packed into freight trains, and shipped to remote lands (i.e. Siberia) without food, shelter, or any other provisions. In 1932, secret police were commissioned to arrest any starving peasant caught stealing the smallest amount of food and to confiscate any hidden grain in peasants’ homes. By 1933, Ukrainians are dying at the rate of 25,000 per day, at least half of that being children, with a final count approaching 10 million. Despite such staggering numbers and convincing suggestions to the contrary, Stalin continued to deny famine in Ukraine and to keep international aid out of the country.”

        The Russians did more to win world war II than the West did in pure blood-letting, sure, but to pretend that this is a justification for Stalin’s actions re: the famine is morally reprehensible. It’s also, I think, incredibly dubious to draw speculative implications about history based on ‘what could have happened’ if Stalin didn’t kill millions of Ukrainians intentionally. That’s a very bourgeois viewpoint, that Ukrainian farmers simply had to die in ‘rapid-industrialization’ (a white washed term itself, let’s be fair and call it a selectively-targeted man-made famine) so that the Nazis could be defeated. It’s totally hypothetical, which removes the actions from context.

        His point at the end about WWII seems to be tacked on to justify the body of the article, which is a rant about Ukrainians teaching their own history, which is accepted by the vast majority of academics the world over. Holodomor-deniers seem to be almost entirely Russian or pseudo-academic Russophiles, which should itself spark some curiosity.

        1. OIFVet

          Ok, but how do you explain the famines in other parts of the SU, Russia included? If the famine had been confined to Ukraine I would be rather inclined to see Golodomor as a “selectively-targeted famine” in pursuit of Ukainian genocide. But it wasn’t so I won’t. Stalin was an equal opportunity murderer. And BTW, a lot of the proceeds from the sale of that grain went to Koch Senior, who was busy profiting from selling oil field machinery to the Soviets.

            1. Jay M

              Let us bring up British primitive accumulation and the potato famine in Ireland along with the famines piled up in India. For shame.

              1. Vatch

                Excellent point. And a few weeks ago there was some discussion of Churchill’s horribly shameful delay in correcting the Bengal famine of 1943. He didn’t cause the famine, but he increased the death toll by refusing to respond quickly. Oligarchs and imperialists do a very poor job of managing the world.

          1. Vatch

            I think there’s some truth in what both of you are saying. The famine affected people in many parts of the USSR, but it was worst in Kazakhstan and Ukraine. I suspect Stalin looked at the situation as a win/win. Collectivize the farms, and get rid of millions of very troublesome Ukrainians and Central Asians at the same time.

            One other point: one of the Russian areas hard hit by the famine was the Kuban region east of the Sea of Azov. Apparently there were many ethnic Ukrainians living there, at least according to this Wikipedia article:


            So the death toll in Russia probably included a significant number of ethnic Ukrainians.

            1. OIFVet

              Kuban is but a small part of the Volga region. Also, not many Ukrainians lived in the Urals and Siberia as far as I know. Those areas suffered heavy famine also. I hate to brake it to the glorious Ukies, but they ain’t as special as they think they are.

                1. OIFVet

                  College history class on the Soviet Union, back when propaganda didn’t masquerade as college education and news to the same extent as it does today. This is a stub, but it pretty much backs up my contentions: The fact is that the famine was class based, not nationality based. Heck, Stalin’s famine killed a bunch of Volga Bulgars, who had supported the Bolshevik revolution, and got repaid with a famine and being forced to give up their Bulgar identity and be called Tatars instead. Of course, pretending that the famine was aimed at the Ukrainians makes for great propaganda narrative to justify the US support for the grandchildren of nazis who slaughtered in a particularly cruel way Jews and Poles. It also neatly mirrors the run up to WW2, as in the SU was isolated by the West then as it tries to do today to Russia.

                  1. Vatch

                    Here’s a quote from your link:

                    No one will ever know for sure how many died. However, it is generally accepted that within the Ukraine between 4 and 5 million died; one million died in Kazakhstan; another million in the north Caucasus and the Volga and two million in other regions. Over five million households were affected either by deportation, prison or executions.

                    Your source clearly states that Ukraine far suffered worse than Russia. Your statement about Siberia and the Urals appears to be an exaggeration. Of course, vast numbers died in the Siberian labor camps, but that is a separate story.

                    1. OIFVet

                      Also too, from the same site: “What happened was kept as a state secret within the USSR. This happened in the Ukraine, the Urals, to the Kazakhs – anywhere where there was a large peasant population.” And Russia was still a peasant country, mind.

                      Wanna double down? “They argue that because the famine not only killed Ukrainians but huge numbers of Russians, Cossacks, Kazakhs and many others as well, it can’t be termed genocide – defined as the deliberate killing of large numbers of a particular ethnic group.
                      It may be a strange defence, but it is historically correct…The Ukraine was the bread basket of Russia, but the Great Famine of 1932/3 was not just aimed at the Ukrainians as a nation – it was a deliberate policy aimed at the entire Soviet peasant population – Russian, Ukrainian and Kazakh – especially better-off, small-time farmers.
                      It was a class war designed to ‘break the back of the peasantry’, a war of the cities against the countryside and, unlike the Holocaust, it was not designed to eradicate an ethnic people, but to shatter their independent spirit.

                      Keep it up Vatch, this is on par with your “Why would ethnic Russians and Russophone Ukies in Crimea vote to join Russia? Must have been a sham election” argument despite the polling from the West that backs up the results. Why do you have to keep proving your russophobia time and again? It was a class war, but don’t let the facts get in the way of good ole lifetime hate.

                    2. Vatch

                      You are misrepresenting what I have said about the Crimean election, and you know it. I believe there was probably electoral fraud, but I never said that the majority didn’t approve of union with Russia. What I do not believe is that 96.5% voted in favor of joining Russia.

                      Regarding Ukraine in the 1930s: Stalin hated Ukrainians and Poles, because they fought against the Communists after the Bolshevik Revolution. He made sure that the Ukrainians suffered far worse than other regions in the famine.

    2. skippy

      Whilst awaiting… so much was a factor of Lysenkoism, named for Russian botanist Trofim Lysenko, was a political doctrine in Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union that mandated that all biological research conducted in the USSR conform to a modified Lamarckian evolutionary theory. The underlying appeal was that it promised a biology based on a plastic view of life that was consistent with the plastic view of human nature insisted upon by Marxist-Leninist dogma.

      Skippy…. ridged ideological preferences strikes again…. same same with neoliberalism…

  19. micky9finger

    Of course they died of starvation, that’ s what happens when Stalin takes away all your food.
    And it was Stalin’s war on the Kulacks where his purpose was to wipe them out.
    You can’t compare agriculture in Kazackstan, or any where else in Russia for that matter, with the Ukraine, the ” breadbasket of Russia”
    As an aside, all my Russian teachers, immigrants from Russia, used to compare Hitler to Stalin and call Hitler a mere child and an amature compared to Stalin.

    On another subject, not on the subject, but here because the site said to comment here.
    Links to Financial Times ( FT) suck because of their pay wall. Why push business to them.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Onion (be that as it may) piece…social progress naturally over the next century.

    When every one gets an equal share in the newly created money, that would be a good first step to social progress, because money is power and when we are constantly being injected equally with new money, it become easier for our differences to disappear.

    1. skippy

      Making Money: Coin, Currency, and the Coming of Capitalism

      “Money travels the modern world in disguise. It looks like a convention of human exchange – a commodity like gold or a medium like language. But its history reveals that money is a very different matter. It is an institution engineered by political communities to mark and mobilize resources. As societies change the way they create money, they change the market itself – along with the rules that structure it, the politics and ideas that shape it, and the benefits that flow from it. One particularly dramatic transformation in money’s design brought capitalism to England. For centuries, the English government monopolized money’s creation. The Crown sold people coin for a fee in exchange for silver and gold. ‘Commodity money’ was a fragile and difficult medium; the first half of the book considers the kinds of exchange and credit it invited, as well as the politics it engendered. Capitalism arrived when the English reinvented money at the end of the 17th century. When it established the Bank of England, the government shared its monopoly over money creation for the first time with private investors, institutionalizing their self-interest as the pump that would produce the money supply. The second half of the book considers the monetary revolution that brought unprecedented possibilities and problems. The invention of circulating public debt, the breakdown of commodity money, the rise of commercial bank currency, and the coalescence of ideological commitments that came to be identified with the Gold Standard – all contributed to the abundant and unstable medium that is modern money. All flowed as well from a collision between the individual incentives and public claims at the heart of the system. The drama had constitutional dimension: money, as its history reveals, is a mode of governance in a material world. That character undermines claims in economics about money’s neutrality. The monetary design innovated in England would later spread, producing the global architecture of modern money.”

      Addtionaly: 5. money, democracy and the constitution: revolutionary experience in the united states

      1. JTMcPhee

        Skippy might find amusement and distraction in this excerpt, discovered at random, from the 1824 edition of the Old Imperial Everything It Matters To know Encyclopedia Britannica:

        Scrolling up and down a couple of pages gives a nice nutty flavor to the vintage…

        1. skippy

          The Alexander Pope, Moral Essays quote at the bottom sure does, yet I think Websters –

          Daniel Webster, speech on Hamilton, March 10, 1831, Vol. I, page 200.

          “The only road, the sure road—to unquestioned credit and a sound financial condition is the exact and punctual fulfilment of every pecuniary obligation, public and private, according to its letter and spirit”

          – carries a more somber note wrt our currant malaise.

          Skippy…. seems some rewrote the letter and executed the spirit.

  21. Andrea1

    Greece, following on from the prevous G. discussion. To put it more softly, Greece has an informal economy for a large part.

    — How to tally that is difficult, and is in itself a misnomer, as the State supervises / allows / endorses / ignores. Instituted practices continue.

    — The US also has powerful lobbies and corps that profit some would say illegitmately. However the scope, the laws, etc. are different and hard to compare… Is G really that different? Certainly, for the US, more bureaucratic, distant, etc. and less corner-shop discussion..

    Economies like that of G are built on personal and various group relations – domination, power, connections, status, contacts, family, friends, patrons, etc. Nothing mysterious about that, it has been described many times. Ottoman Empire comes to mind. Many ME and Mahgreb countries.

    As hinted at before, the dominant groups tend to be, and in Greece are: Gvmnt., oligarchs (big biz actors), Army and Defense, Church, and certain essential professions – Finance and Banking, and for ex. docs and lawyers. To ‘reform’ such an economy, provided one considers that necessary, there is only one way:

    Baby steps. TINA.

    The EU could not, and cannot overall the G economy in its image (Germany, France, Sweden …) But they like to think they want to or can. Pathetic, really.

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