2:00PM Water Cooler 5/14/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


McConnell says Fast Track will empower next Republican President [WaPo].

“House a higher hurdle for TPP” [USA Today].

Obama’s cynical game: Reduce Fast Track fight to personalities [Salon (!)].



Handy charts on Sanders vs. Clinton on funders and the issues [Crowdpac].

The S.S. Clinton

“State Department officials gave speedy and sometimes only cursory consideration to potential conflicts of interest when approving former President Bill Clinton’s lucrative speeches” [AP]. “Reputational damage” is oldthink, I suppose. At least in the circles where the Clintons now move.

Hillary Clinton on TPP: “_______________________” [WaPo]. Profiles in silence…

George Stephanopoulos discloses $50,000 contribution to Clinton Foundation [Politico]. Anybody remember the old blog, Media Whores Online? How I miss it.

“Clinton Cash” author Schweizer corrects errors in his book [Politico]. “7 or 8 passages.”

Republican Establishment

Bush, of Clinton: “You can’t script your way to the presidency” [New York Times].

College student to Bush: “Your brother created ISIS” [New York Times]. That’s hardly fair; Obama helped.

Republican Principled Insurgents

Walker to travel to DC, kiss Tony Perkins’s ring [Politico]. The Family Research Council isn’t sure Walker hates gays enough. I’m sure he’ll be able to satisfy them.

Republican Clown Car

Trump trademarked Reagan slogan — “Make America great again”[™ (!)] — and would like other Republicans to stop using it [Business Insider].


Wisconsin’s Feingold to run [AP]. Voted against the Patriot Act, opposed Obama’s Afghan surge, so not completely unsound on FoPo. Sat out running for Senate in 2012, the Walker recall year.

Alan Grayson gets some bad press [Politico]. Personally, I’ve got no problem with “K-Street whore” as an epithet (other than the category error, because political relationships are often more complicated). To be fair, I can see why Politico would.

Ohio Republican proposes 21st Century poll tax: Make people pay for voter IDs [Wonkette].

Missouri House Speaker John Deihl on sexting an intern: “It was a stupid thing to do, and I’m sorry” [KMOV].

The Hill

“Mr. Obama kicked off the discussions with a royal gaffe of his own,” by getting the name of a Saudi king wrong in a meeting with the current king [New York Times]. Welcome to lame duck status, Mr. President (since the story ran). Unless Obama’s slight was intended, of course; although probably not, since Abdullah isn’t exactly on the left.

de Blasio

Dem apparatchik Joan Walsh tries to muscle de Blasio in to “the conversation” [Salon]. To be fair, de Blasio ran on stopping stop and frisk and then appointed Bratton, who practically invented it, NPYD chief, as soon as he got out of bed the day after the election, and that’s an Obama Class bait and switch, so that qualifies him. But still.

de Blasio wants to sell $10K tickets in Silicon Valley to push his “Progressive Agenda” without registering as a lobbyist, and that concerns (even the) New York State Ethics Commission [New York Times].

“de Blasio’s pathetically inadequate Progressive Agenda” [Corrente]. Frankly, both “progressive” and agenda deserve irony quotes, but for readability’s sake, no.

“Fees paid by the [New York City] pension system have doubled since 2007 and quintupled since 2003, and many of the 250 different money managers hired to invest the plans’ $160 billion in assets plainly aren’t up to snuff” [Crain’s New York Business]. Oddly, or not, looting by private equity firms doesn’t appear on de Blasio’s agenda at all.

Stats Watch

Jobless claims, week of May 9, 2015: “This is the 3rd week in a row that initial claims have been in the low 260,000 range which is a 15-year low and one of the best runs on record” [Bloomberg]. Now that the labor force has been permanently shrunken, everything’s jake.

“Yes, President Obama wins the Tea Party trophy for downsizing government” (handy chart) [Mosler Economics]. Note that public sector jobs actually decreased during the recession, so the Democrats managed to foul up that automatic stabilizer, at least.

Consumer comfort, week of May 10, 2015: Slips [Bloomberg].  “Economic outlook is down sharply in the week.”

PPI-FD, for April 2015: Inflation remains dormant; major support for the doves at the Fed [Bloomberg]. “Despite the rise in oil prices, final energy demand fell a steep 2.9 percent in April with the year-on-year rate at minus 24.0 percent.” That strikes me as a remarkable number. Readers?

Amtrak Crash

“Amtrak Crash and America’s Declining Construction Spending” [New York Times]. So, we get miserably inadequate infrastructure spending in the stimpack during the worst crisis since the Depression because Larry Summers. Then we have, like, zero interest rates for six years and don’t borrow anything (not that we had to). Finally, with the Fed mumbling about “lift off,” we open the discussion. What’s wrong with this picture?

“Lawyer: Engineer has ‘absolutely no recollection’ of Amtrak crash” [CNN].

Amtrak less likely to serve Republican districts [WaPo]. Hence, the bloviation about personal responsibility.

Black Injustice Tipping Point


25 arrested during Madison protest [Houston Chronicle].

“[T]he standard progressive approach of the moment is to mix color-conscious moral invective with color-blind public policy” [Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic]. But not at all, one might add, color-blind electoral politics. So the mix is even more unstable than Coates describes it.

“Ferguson Shooting’s Witness Freed on Reduced Bond” [ABC]. Jailing the witnesses seems to be standard operating procedure; this happened to the guy who filmed the cops chocking Eric Garner to death.

Police State

Granby, Quebec bans insulting police on social media [CBC].

“Officials criticize DEA’s light punishment of agents who forgot man in cell for 5 days” [Los Angeles Times]. What do these people want? They didn’t whack him!

Judge says suit against Philly civil forfeiture can proceed [Inquirer].

“Nearly nude man tased in airport” [Tallahassee Democrat]. “”I kinda always wanted to be tased.” So he was taken to a medical center. Instead of being whacked by the cops, lucky dude.

Class Warfare

Seafood and slavery [AP].

Los Angeles city council backs $15 minimum wage [Los Angeles Times].

Why Are Palo Alto’s Kids Killing Themselves? [Modern Luxury]. One reason to tax the rich heavily is for the sake of the mental (and spiritual) health of their kids.

News of the Wired

  • Usability review of Zuckerberg’s latest attempt to suck the whole world into his walled garden, “Instant Articles” [The Awl].
  • Chris Cilizza: “I already read most of my news on Facebook anyway” [WaPo]. Oh-k-a-a–a-a-a-y….
  • BitTorrent releases Chromium browser with built-in BitTorrent client [The Register].
  • Friend-of-the-blog Harry Shearer to leave The Simpsons, no longer voicing Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner [Variety]. You have meddled with the primal forces of Nature, Mr. Burns! Oh, wait….
  • The world of fashion: Top brands won’t consider a model with under 10,000 followers [MTV].x
  • The depiction of female superheroes: An exchange [The New Yorker] vs. [G. Willow Wilson].

* * *

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


Humble and invasive. That’s the ticket!

I’d still like more garden pictures; perhaps I started asking for them too early, before people really got rolling?

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. It’s the soil, seeds, flats, and planting season!


(Readers will notice that I have, at long last, improved the hat!)

(Readers will notice that I have, at long last, improved the hat!)

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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. Anon

    Re: Harry Shearer

    It’s kind of a downer, but it’s conventional opinion that the best seasons were between 2-10, with a small upswing following the movie. Hell, I can’t even remember the last time I watched a newer episode of The Simpsons.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      There were a few holdover episodes after 10 and the Tree house of Horror from Season 11, but I use to treat Sundays like a day of rest because The Simpsons were on.

      “New Kids on the Blech” (triliminal; Yvan eht nioj) is hysterical with celebrity guests, so criticisms of later episodes are wrong. I’ve listened to every commentary through 11 except the Florida episode, and after seasons 1-5, I think the secret to the show’s success was great management. Josh and Bill shared show runner duties, and they were just on the ball guys who worked hard and gave the rest of the staff the time, resources, and ideas (Josh steals from early twilight zone episodes for regular episodes). The staff was not composed of the kids of yuppies either which is important. Lisa is contemptuous of Springfield in later seasons. Bart turned into white trash. Homer became jerkass Homer. Marge is kind of there not being a motherer. When Patti Bouvier came out, the episode descended into a full on farce instead of the strong starting point of nominally liberal Marge not accepting her sister as gay.

      I think Mike Scully and Al Jean are fantastic writers with top flight episodes to their name, but I suspect they aren’t as responsible for their underlings. They cut out a rewrite process.

      Julie Kavner sounds like she phones it in anyway, but I guess Nancy Cartwright needs her paycheck to fund scientology.

    2. Jeff W

      Harry Shearer reportedly made somewhere around $300,000 per episode in recent years (each season having about 22 episodes) and was offered a guaranteed $14 million for two years of work. He said the dispute “centered around his ability to continue doing outside work.” As Shearer put it

      It is true that as an actor on an insanely successful TV series I am by any standards of the human species obscenely overpaid. It is also that as an actor on one of the most insanely successful TV series of all-time I am getting royally screwed. Both things are true!

      (About four-and-a-half years ago, Shearer said he’d be willing to take a pay cut of even 70% if he were “allowed a small share of the eventual profits”—at that time the show was estimated to have made $1 billion in profits.)

  2. subgenius

    Why no mention of bittorent bleep? Encrypted messaging with (alledgedly) no metadata for text and voice over the bittorrent peer-to-peer network.

    Admittedly closed source isn’t great…but it is MUCH easier to use than alternatives…and runs on ios android windows and mac…

    As a plus the voice call quality is excellent (although a little flakey on ios…seems stable on android)

    1. hunkerdown

      So you’ll trust any snake oil salesperson that comes along with a bottle to vend? BitTorrent is a commercial organization and, due to the vast discretionary power of government over any business, cannot be trusted.

      1. subgenius

        glad to see your concern posting to a public site using corporate-provided tech.

        What do you do, other than snark?

        Ps…read the post…i mention its closed soirce etc…

        1. hunkerdown

          Perhaps you can present some insight into exactly how usage === fealty. When did I click assent to that EULA?

          I grind code for a living and have been doing so recreationally or professionally for the vast majority of my life. I know that the secure communication world is filled with malpractitioners both witting and unwitting, and I’m not willing to actually “believe in” any of it. I also participate in the FOSS community, albeit sparsely.

          Why support components of the entertainment-industrial complex — who are working against my broad interests — when I can download CryptoCat today, audit it as thoroughly as I like, and offer my participation value to a free (in most senses) institution?

          1. subgenius

            well, lets see…

            a) It is not as easily used by the masses in a direct fashion, for both text AND VOICE

            b) you could have pointed that out, rather than simply snark (I didn’t – same as I didn’t point out ostel or redphone or numerous OTHER more limited techs..)

            c) it runs as a chrome/etc app – meaning data passes thru chrome – and you think google/apple ISN’T compromised at base ? MAYBE firefox isn’t…but that is little comfort…plus HARDWARE level compromises mean software security is pretty much moot should they ‘want’ you.

            1. subgenius

              sorry, edit

              (I didn’t – same as I didn’t point out ostel or redphone or numerous OTHER more limited techs..because the limited or complex to actually set up nature of them)

            2. hunkerdown

              The merits of the product, as a whole, include the merits of the deliverable and of the process by which that deliverable was created and delivered. It’s good that there’s interest in the secure messaging space. I simply see that the organization delivering it has publicly engaged in some serious doublethink in recent history — allying with authentic content providers while maintaining brand mindshare through the distribution of black-market content. Iono. Maybe once the protocol’s been publicized and any well-known endpoints have been opened to the public, but I don’t trust solutions due to years of experience with them.

              1. subgenius

                Yeah, I agree in general terms, but also consider that anything pushing forward the concepts of decentralization, personal security and privacy in a more user-friendly way is valid (both technologically and socially) – and I am hoping will spur greater efforts at an open source implementation following cryptographic best practices. If my life was less complicated (ie I was younger) it is the kind of thing I might push more.

        2. Ned Ludd

          The coal that powers my electricity was probably mined with mountaintop removal mining. And the industrial contractor that turned my state into a sprawling mess of roads with their bribes generous contributions to well-placed politicians – I can’t criticize them either because I drive on those roads!

          I better mute all of my criticism of corporations – praise be to capitalism!

    2. Ned Ludd

      The NSA “works covertly with tech companies to insert weaknesses into products”.

      [NSA’s Commercial Solutions Center] is used by the NSA to “to leverage sensitive, co-operative relationships with specific industry partners” to insert vulnerabilities into security products. Operatives were warned that this information must be kept top secret “at a minimum”.

      A more general NSA classification guide reveals more detail on the agency’s deep partnerships with industry, and its ability to modify products. It cautions analysts that two facts must remain top secret: that NSA makes modifications to commercial encryption software and devices “to make them exploitable”, and that NSA “obtains cryptographic details of commercial cryptographic information security systems through industry relationships”.

      Even free software can be (and I think often is) compromised – especially anything produced by military contractor Red Hat – but all of your closed source software is “owned” by the NSA.

      1. subgenius

        All your systems are compromised should a state security org wish it so…but there are plenty of other less powerful actors scraping data (eg local law enforcement) with no ability to go to the next level (yet)…thus this is a valid tech.

        Plus the call quality is superior to regular phones.

        1. subgenius

          Ps i am aware that systems are compromised at the HARDWARE level these days…all your software are belong to US

  3. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

    Does anyone have a link to the the fast track vote? I thought it would be an easy gazoogle, but I was wrong.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Breaking news at Marketwatch – ‘Fast track bill’ clears Senate hurdle.

      Like a tsunami, it recedes before devouring its victims

  4. JohnnyGL

    Anyone know what that plant actually is? It looks an awful lot like the stuff that’s conquering my yard.

      1. Carla

        Actually, they are mostly violets, a wildflower that is also known as an invasive weed and often infests grass lawns. But they’re pretty. The orange flowers and one larger lavender colored blossom are indeed pansies (or violas, which are in the pansy family).

        1. Carla

          Hint: you can tell violets by their heart-shaped leaves. If you look closely at that larger lavender colored pansy, the leaves are different.

          Pansy, viola and violet blossoms are all edible. They’re a lovely garnish for a spring salad. You can also use them to decorate a cake, right before you serve it.
          “Eat violets to change your luck for the better.” — Well, it can’t hurt– Let’s all eat violets to defeat Fast Track and the TPP!

    1. Oregoncharles

      You’ve probably got violets, a notorious weed back east (Labrador violet does awfully well in my garden). On the other hand, it’s prettier than grass.

      Pansies are a large-flowered violet, usually short-lived.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Ban insulting police on social media.

    Lucky for us, we still can insult politicians, no?

  6. Marko

    The 13 Dems who just voted to advance the debate on TPA ( 65-33 final vote for cloture ) :

    Michael Bennet (D-CO)
    Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
    Tom Carper (D-DE)
    Chris Coons (D-DE)
    Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
    Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
    Tim Kaine (D-VA)
    Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
    Patty Murray (D-WA)
    Bill Nelson (D-FL)
    Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
    Mark Warner (D-VA)
    Ron Wyden (D-OR)

    Please turn out these turncoats in their next election cycle , or before , if possible.

    The Senate is a lost cause , I think , and not just for trade but for everything else as well. We may be able to slow things down on some issues with a tea party / progressive Dem alliance in the House. Jeez , what a mess.


    1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

      Thanks, Marko, that was the list I was looking for.

      Corporate whores, every one of them.

    2. jrs

      Personally I’m hoping Feinstein will just keel over before then, but that evil vampire is immortal isn’t she?

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          It’s amazing how the household names are like Marvel superheroes who are secretly working for the Other Side.
          DiFi, Grand Old Dame of California, that wacky and progressive Left Coast that gave us so many tech wonders…in the basement with her husband however she takes off the Wonder Woman costume to reveal beneath…she is the evil Spy Queen, amassing a fortune by deceiving the very people who gave her those superhero powers in the first place…

            1. hunkerdown

              Two out of three of a random web dictionary’s definitions for succubus did. Fair enough, I’ll go with “any demon or evil spirit”.

    3. Eureka Springs

      The U.S. Senate is and always was designed to be a “lost cause”. Abolish it!

      1. DJG

        I wrote Dick Durbin a letter on paper and sent it through the U.S. Postal Service, now on the verge of total crapification and extinction courtesy of the Congress. So that explains his vote. (And I am pleased.)

        Yet: I’m starting to wonder if Durbin, who has true progressive credentials, got tired of being a sponsor of Obama. I note, too, that he didn’t bother to comment during the Rahm run, unlike the absurd and moderate Mark Kirk. Something’s up, and I have a feeling that Durbin isn’t all the impressed with the Obama Foundation and Library siting in Chicago, either. He knows a crumb when he sees one.

      2. grayslady

        Durbin has been whipping against the bill for the past year. When I called a couple of weeks ago, it was clear he had in no way changed his mind.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Did they, those 13, have dinner together the other night?

      “The bell rung 3 times. Hurry up. Back to your seats and vote*.”

      *You will keep voting until you get it right.

    5. neo-realist

      Disappointed in my WA state senators–Maria was a bit more hooked into the corporate world prior to running for office so I’m not that surprised by her. I thought Patty was a bit more populist than that—they usually run with minimal or no opposition on the democratic side—may have to write in green candidates.

    6. Propertius

      Bennett has been a corporate stooge ever since he was first appointed, so by definition he’s not a “turncoat”. You can’t betray that which you never even pretended to espouse.

  7. casino implosion

    Water cooler people, I have a question about corporate business practices that one of you can probably answer. A while ago I read somewhere that it’s in the interest of Amazon to have high employee turnover. I mentioned this to someone and they scoffed at me and said that high turnover always costs companies money and they don’t like it, full stop. Is that correct?

    1. jrs

      Not sure what Amazon’s deal is. How costly turnover is depends on how hard it is to find employees. A multiple interviews position with many candidates, of course that’s somewhat costly, all those hours lost going through the hiring process. Hanging out a “help wanted” sign and hiring the first or second person to apply, not so costly. I think the warehouse workers may be closer to the later category. Isn’t that the main cost of high turnover. I mean if you have high turnover and are paying out unemployment that’s a cost as well, but if you can get the workers to quit, no unemployment.

      I could also see if the workforce had lots of people with years of experience, strategically hoping to drive them out to hire younger (read: cheaper) people, though I doubt that’s the case with the warehouse workers.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        My father and godfather were corporate attorneys, but the key difference was my dad couldn’t be replaced. They paid my father a hideous sum to work part time when he really wanted to be one of the various layoffs because of the cost of retraining. On the flip side, my godfather was laid off rather suddenly simply because younger, cheaper lawyers could do his job not as well but they could do it. My dad knew where the bodies were buried and had to be kept around to occasionally remind people that there were even bodies buried.

        My dad can also stock shelves and worked summers at a can factory as the vacation help. I

    2. hunkerdown

      Depends on how much a bad employee can cost you. When IT obviates the need for knowledge, teamwork and skill, surveillance obviates the need for trust and coaching, and contingency obviates the need for loyalty, there isn’t really that much cost or risk to letting another contestant (worth far less than the robot chariot they’ll be attending) into the arena and tossing them out upon their first failure.

      It is entirely possible that the life-cycle costs of an employee at the margin are close enough to zero that the productivity gains driven by the motivating ruthlessness of the workplace, in combination with a buyer’s market in labor, more than offset the expense of optimizing for throughput.

      You might ask your friend how much an uppity employee costs.

    1. hunkerdown

      Y’know, after I’d heard about the Jon Stewart finale with Henry F’ing Kissinger singing “We’ll Meet Again”, I think I jokingly asked whether “We Are the World” was next.

      They did nail all but one word on the second part of that. “There’s a choice we’re making, we’re saving our own lives… It’s true we’ll make a brighter day, just [for] you and me.”

  8. MikeNY

    I’m sure Congress will use the Amtrak disaster as a reason to ‘grease the skids’ of our decline into a third-world country. Never let a crisis go to waste … or whatevs.

    How many billionaires take the effing train?

  9. rjs

    “Despite the rise in oil prices, final energy demand fell a steep 2.9 percent in April with the year-on-year rate at minus 24.0 percent.” That strikes me as a remarkable number. Readers?

    gasoline, diesel, heat-oil and LP gas are all down by around 40% over the past year, offsetting lesser decreases in electricity & other services (see table 4).


    1. rjs

      i just looked, & electricity is up 1.7% YoY…that’s what i get for commenting from my predictably faulty memory

  10. Carolinian

    Some of us fondly remember Media Whores Online and wish you would institute such a subcategory here. In view of NC’s higher tone it could be “Media Clown Car.”

    IMVHO media crit is one of the highest and best uses for the web. Politicians ignore us. Journos have very thin skins.

  11. Jack

    Can’t really comment on the superhero debate, since I find superheroes as a whole to be a blight on Western comic fiction, receiving far too much attention and money. Their domination of the medium is why Western comics have no real equivalent to Japanese works like Wandering Son, or even really the genre such works inhabit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wandering_Son

    But taking even the most casual glance at any random selection of superhero covers will reveal a pattern of T&A and stripper poses. I’m surprised the idea the medium has a problem portraying women is even considered up for debate.

  12. Jeremy Grimm

    I tried but could not get through the entire article “Why Are Palo Alto’s Kids Killing Themselves?” It went on and on and on with endless anecdotes but provided little which seemed “insightful.”

    Near the middle of the very long article was a paragraph capturing some “acute insights” which seem closest to identifying some aspects of the heart of the problem: “… not thinking about how to do it [provide counseling] in a way that really helps kids.” The observations “… attempts to fit all the suicides ‘neatly under one umbrella.'” and “Fake” seem to capture other aspects of what is going on.

    During his days as Governor, Ronald Regan began dismantling such systems as there were in California for dealing with and treating mental health problems. After Regan the common wisdom was that prisons and being homeless on the streets had become California’s replacement for psychiatric hospitals. President Regan and the new era he ushered in brought his improvements in California to the rest of our nation.

    Expanding on the observation about counseling — I believe the lack of any facilities, lack of any action “that really helps” for dealing with mental health problems is one facet of what appear to be the increasing mental health problems in this country. Another facet is our increasingly stressful and meaningless jobs; another the stress and lack of content and meaning in our ways of life; another the growing difficulty/impossibility many teenagers, young adults, and growing numbers of adults face in our society for achieving even the current level of a misery regardless of their strivings and the unpalatable compromises they’re forced make (the problems facing the poor and just middle class are of another order of magnitude than those the Palo Alto kids must deal with — although failure in Palo Alto means a fall from much greater height); another facet is the near complete breakdown of family and community; and another the delusions, mendacity, and inflexibility of such few components of family and community as remain. I cannot claim to have captured more than flimsy pastiche of some of the problems and the “umbrella” needed has grown quite large.

    I fear I only scratch at the surface of frightening trends. Increasing suicides and growing insanity are only a couple of components of these trends.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Thank you for a heartfelt comment about this disturbing trend, Jeremy. I share both your concerns and feelings regarding one’s own capacity to make a positive contribution. It is clear we are facing a very toxic brew.

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