2:00PM Water Cooler 6/5/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


400 pages of email traffic between USTR officials and industry advisors FOIAed [Intellectual Property Watch]. “The released emails, ranging from 2010 to 2013, are made public for the first time here (1 of 4), here (2 of 4), here (3 of 4), and here (4 of 4) [all pdf].”

What is striking is not that government negotiators seek expertise and advice from leading industry figures. But the emails reveal a close-knit relationship between negotiators and the industry advisors that is likely unmatched by any other stakeholders.

The cleared advisors in the email exchanges represent a range of industries and companies, including law firms. Among them are (in no particular order): Recording Industry Association of America, PhRMA, General Electric, Intel, Cisco, White and Case, Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), Motion Picture Association of America, Wiley Rein, Entertainment Software Association, Fanwood Chemical, American Chemistry Council, CropLife, Medtronic, American Continental Group consultants, and Abbott. There is also an exchange with generics pharmaceutical industry representatives.

Many of the industry representatives are themselves former USTR officials.

In other words, they’re Flexians, and the ISDS process is optimized for that Flex Net.

“Malaysian jungle graves add to Obama’s trade pact headache in Congress” [The Star]. Malaysian take on Beltway maneuvering. Paul Ryan: “We shouldn’t confer Malaysia’s sins to these other countries that we’re trying to get agreements with.” That’s a novel argument.

“The pharmaceutical industry has been pressing the Obama administration to insist that the Trans-Pacific Partnership include 12 years of monopoly pricing power” for biologics [Politico]. “Sales of biologics were $130 billion worldwide in 2013 and are projected to hit $290 billion by 2020.” 

“President Obama’s executive orders have already stripped Congress from much of its authority over immigration, carbon emissions and the environment. Why help Obama further extend the transfer of power to supranational bodies”? [The Oklahoman].

“Two members of House GOP leadership—Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Rules Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)—refused to admit … whether they have read the text of the TPP” [Brietbart]. I hate to quote Brietbart, but just to show there’s thunder on the right…

“This hit parade of failed arguments should convince any fence sitters that this is a bad deal. After all, you don’t have to make up nonsense to sell a good product” [Dean Baker, Bill Moyers]. Good aggregation of said failed arguments, including a USA Today editorial later retracted (!).

Text of ASEAN’s TPP-equivalent, the RCEP, leaked [EFF]. The IP agreements are worse than TPPs. (I can’t imagine how this would be anything other than a non-starter in Thailand. Any Bangkok Mall is a collective copyright violation on a ginormous scale. And that’s before we get to pharma.)


2:00PM updates, though the situation is indeed overly dynamic.

Snap elections? “At least two ministers suggested early elections could be an option if the creditors didn’t back down” [AP].

The Alco survey for news website Newsit found 47 percent disagreed with how the government was handling negotiations, while 39 percent agreed. The June 3-4 telephone survey of 1,000 respondents also found 74 percent backed remaining in the euro, with only 18 percent of those polled preferring a return to a national currency.

However, take with a truckload of salt, since I have no idea of the quality of Greek polling or the tendencies of this outfit.

UPDATE from Telegraph live blog: “Reports suggest outfloows [sic] from Greek banks hit €700m today.” William Hill puts odds of Grexit at 1/3 (and the bookies called the UK election correctly, while the pollsters got it wrong).

Tsipras addresses Parliament [Live Blog, Telegraph].

A brief summary: Alexis Tsipras says he is confident that Greece can come to an agreement with its lenders that avoids the country leaving the euro. Having said that, he’s talking tough on Jean-Claude Juncker’s “absurd” and “unreasonable” proposals tabled on Monday, to which he says the Greek government cannot consent.

On his list of requirements for a deal are debt relief, low primary surpluses, protection of pensions and redistribution of income.

In other words, there is not and has never been an agreed solution space between creditors — including the countries left holding the giant bag of crap that European banks handed them after the  2008  crisis, a point Syriza never makes, so WTF, dudes, who’s your enemy? — and not from the very beginning, a point Yves has repeatedly made.

“The Greeks accuse the IMF of colluding in an EMU-imposed austerity regime that breaches the Fund’s own rules and is in open contradiction with five years of analysis by its own excellent research department and chief economist, Olivier Blanchard” [Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph]. No question AEP — and oddly, at the Torygraph, until you factor in Euroskepticism — can get too close to his sources. That said, this:

Five key players in the radical-Left Syriza movement – meeting in the Maximus Mansion in Athens yesterday – took an ice-cold, calculated, and carefully-considered decision not to pay.

They knew exactly what they were doing. The IMF’s Christine Lagarde was caught badly off guard. Staff officials in Washington were stunned.

Mind you, this is not to say either that (a) a solution space exists, or that Syriza is competent at (b) negotiating or (c) governing. But the narrative of childish Greeks is a tell.

Shoutout to Jacobon for this, this, this, and this: English-language articles from Syriza . Probably best to decode their intentions from these sources, not the press; the “defiance” narrative — classic rhetorical technique of infantilizing one’s opponents — will not do. (Troll prophylactic: I’m not pom-pom waving. Sun Tzu says “Know your enemy and know yourself.”)

“A similar degree of complacency was evident in the United States before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008” [Joseph Stiglitz, Marketwatch].



“Dear America: Meet Bernie Sanders. Properly, this time” [Medium]. And here is the NSWF version. Good colllection of talking points and links.

“John Cusack says Obama is worse than Bush. But he’s just a guy with a boombox” [WaPo].

The S.S. Clinton

Clinton calls for universal voter registration [WaPo]. Good. Now how about universal health care? Note also that this sets up a “We wuz robbed!” narrative to delegitimize a Republican victory (which isn’t even a possibility, of course, but just in case…). Again, Democrats should have been on this 15 years ago. And where are they on electronic voting, anyhow?

Republican Establishment

“A Preview of Jeb Bush’s Super PAC Donors: Titans, Tycoons and Lobbyists” [The Intercept].

A listicle on Rick Perry [CrowdPac].

Republican Principled Insurgents

Rubio and his wife keep getting arrested [New York Times]. Should give them empathy with #BlackLivesMatter. Kidding!

The Hill

“Sister names victim of alleged Dennis Hastert abuse” [CNN].

Stats Watch

Portuguese 10-year bonds: “GSPT10YR:IND Yield 2.949; up 0.097 change: 3.40%” [Bloomberg]. Mr. Market more worried about contagion.

Employment Situation for May, 2015:  “[T]he May employment report proved very strong including payroll growth and, very importantly, an uptick in wage pressures” [Bloomberg]. “Another sign of strength includes the labor participation rate, up 1 tenth to 62.9 percent. The unemployment rate did tick 1 tenth higher to 5.5 percent which is unexpected but the gain reflects a solid gain in the labor force for both those who found a job and especially those who are now looking for a job.” And: “The big contributor to employment growth this month was health care (46.8K), leisure and hospitality (57K), and admin services (39.6K)” [Econintersect].

“The Do-It-Yourself Economy Just Hired 1 Million American Entrepreneurs” [Bloomberg]. “The Kauffman Index of Startup Activity, which is an indicator of new business creation, had the biggest increase in the past two decades.”

My prediction: Americans are optimistic and think in averages, so they think these startups will be on a bell curve: Some very good, most muddling along, a few failing. Unfortunately, elites, at least in this respect, are more reality-based, and think in power curves: A tiny fraction at the tippy top will do well, a steep shoulder, also small, will struggle for a time, and a “long tail” will fail, most quickly. The elite will then figure out how to get the few exemplars media time, while helping the failures in the middle of the putative, non-existent bell curve to blame themselves, purchase more self-help books, “turn to guns and religion,” and so forth. It’s also interesting, in an Alien-hatching-from-the-stomach sort of way, to see the glibertarian Silicon Valley “startup culture” — which only exists because there’s so much QE free money for rich people sloshing about — being propagated outward to the flyover states by our famously free press.

Health Care

“Despite Obamacare, gap health insurance market explodes” [Reuters]. The market is saying ObamaCare is crapified.

“Six members of Congress have a bill to stop the costly and intrusive ICD-10 coding system due to be implemented on October 1st” [CCH Freedom]. Site is on the right, but very good nonetheless.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Baltimore Grapples with Blight Quandary” [Wall Street Journal].


“[Harbin’s] the only long-term staffer known to hail from the region where Hastert grew up and began his career. It is not clear what Harbin has been up to since he left Hastert’s employ about three years ago. A source said he owns rental properties but has no job.” [Yorkville Patch (optimader). In other words, Harbin’s in real estate. Where Hastert made his money. As Speaker. Hmm.

“Deutsche Bank AG is conducting an internal probe into possible money laundering by Russian clients that may involve about $6 billion of transactions over more than four years”  [Bloomberg]. So give the money to Greece. Problem solved, and a stick in the eye to Putin’s oligarchs. Kidding!

Imperial Collapse Watch

“The Pentagon announced today that it would no longer supply the Iraqi Army with American vehicles, artillery and rifles, and instead would supply materiel directly to ISIS” [Duffel Blog]. It’s a game-changer!

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“In short, the NSA believes it has authority to operate a warrantless, signature-based intrusion detection system—on the Internet backbone” [Web Policy]. This is a more pointed, and correct, restatement of the Pando story summarizing this New York Times story in Links today. And if you believe that when the NSA controls the Internet backbone all they’re going to do is use it against hackers, then there’s something in Brooklyn that’s big and not the Clinton headquarters that’s for sale, and I would like to sell it to you.

Police State

“The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the U.S. carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology – all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government” [CBS]. Somebody spotted one over Baltimore, got the tail number, tracked down the company to a box number in Northern Virginia, and concluded properly it was the Stasi (need a better word than “spooks,” alas). Then the press took over and here we are. I suppose the bright side is that they’re not using drones.

“U.S. military and civilians are increasingly divided” [Los Angeles Times]. Dangerous, especially if police departments seek out veterans.

News of the Wired

  • “Brazen Florida Teen Exercises Right To Bare Arms, Loses National Honor Society Gig” [Wonkette].
  • “Josh Duggar Molested Four of His Sisters, His Parents Tell Fox News” [New York Times].
  • “State employees anxiously await furlough notices” [Topeka Capitol-Journal].
  • “The Praying Monks, or: How Quickly False Facts Can Spread for Viral Photos” [PetaPixe]. Internet evidence is not evidence…

* * *

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 fifth of Gardens, Week Five (Rex):


Volunteers from an Indiana roadside, so we’ll call this an “emergent garden.”

Readers, the weekend’s discussion for “Open Thread on Water” was terrific. So many interesting projects! Please, send me pictures of your projects, at least if plants are involved, and when aren’t they? If only of maple twirlers in gutters!

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. I need to keep my server up!


(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: Obamacare

    This part of the Reuters article strikes out at me as especially odd:

    Accounting for much of the jump are individuals who somehow missed the open enrollment period for an Obamacare plan. More than 11.7 million consumers signed up for Obamacare coverage through Feb. 22, according to the government.

    What makes this odd is that in one location, space was rented out to DC HealthLink to do healthcare enrollments, they touted that the last day for signups was the 15th, which oddly (or not) landed on a Sunday. Are there different deadlines for each state? Of course, this being a (psuedo)state-run enterprise using healthcare.gov as the backbone, there was a crash that led to one worker staying there for an additional 2 and a half hours.

  2. Carolinian

    Jon Schwarz on the Groundhog Day of Dem candidate campaign reform promises.


    Also, Paul Street getting some higher profile attention in Counterpunch.

    Curiously enough for a politician who has identified himself as a “democratic socialist” and keeps a poster of the great U.S. Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs in his U.S. Senate office, Sanders does not use the term “capitalism” when he discusses the nation’s sharp economic disparities and the problem of climate change. As far as I can tell from his campaign pitch, Bernie thinks that America’s stark class disparities and plutocracy and climate change are just the product of the Republican Party, FOX News, the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, and the greed of “the billionaire class.” The deeper truth (something you can learn not just from radical anti-capitalist thinkers but also from the liberal and distinctly un-Marxist French economist Thomas Piketty) is that our planet-warming New Gilded Age is the consequence of decades of eco-cidal and sociopathic capitalism returning to its deeply inequitable and undemocratic historical norm. At the same time, the nation’s political system and its two major “parties” (if that’s what we really want to call them anymore) moved well to the right of the populace under the influence of the nation’s “unelected dictatorship of money” (Edward Herman and David Peterson’s excellent phrase) well before Citizens United knocked the lid off corporations’ “independent campaign expenditures


    I do think Sanders’ heavy lean on identity politics argumentation is less than fresh. After all, billionaires are people who act the way we’d probably act if we were billionaires (not in my case that’s very likely). The problem is systemic, and the Democrats are very much part of the system. Identifying villains is good agitprop though, as long as it isn’t your entire analysis.

    1. Jack

      Ugh, Herman and Peterson, the Rwandan genocide revisionists? Ew. I’ve really gotten tired of the way parts of the far-left seek to deny, praise and prop up horrible figures and factions just because those entities happen at one point to have opposed, or been a target of, the United States.

      1. hunkerdown

        I get tired of you bourgeois cootie hunters pretending that a) the genetic fallacy is going to get you a free pass from even recognizing the concept under discussion b) liberals aren’t right-wing.

        1. Jack

          Bourgeois, huh? Yeah, okay guy. And you know what? Go ahead, call it cootie hunting or genetic fallacy or whatever you want. Herman and Peterson are disgusting little worms who deserve to be ostracized from leftist circles for playing politics with an extremely well documented (not least of which via copious first-hand testimony) genocide and who show their utter disdain for facts by twisting reality in some ill-conceived desire to put the blame on the United States because Kagame once spent time in a US officer training program. Anything they have ever said or written that isn’t complete garbage can also be found espoused by other, far less disreputable sources.

          Instead the scumbags are embraced, usually by the same types of idiot who think Milosevic was a good guy and principled victim of US imperialism.

          1. hunkerdown

            Evil people can and sometimes do make correct observations and produce correct descriptions of real phenomena. To believe otherwise seems unhelpful, at best, in any analytical endeavor.

            Having dispensed with its progenitors as such horrible evil nasty Bad Men, what else, exactly, about the phrase “unelected dictatorship of money”, an excellent description of a real phenomenon played out in the open and documented in newspapers of record, gives you such a long face that you can’t let it stand?

  3. McDee

    Katha Pollitt at The Nation Magazine on-line has an article “Why I’m ready…and excited for Hillary” The most interesting thing about it is the comments. When I checked they were overwhelmingly Anti – Clinton. And to me the negatives did not seem to be coming from right wing trolls. I think there are rough seas ahead for S S Clinton.

    1. Pepsi

      She’s really bringing shame to her grandfather, Harry Pollitt (they’re not really related) (look him up on wikipedia)

    2. hidflect

      You’ve noticed. I’ve also been commenting on this since she announced. EVERY blog I have read with a story on her whether it be left, center or right has an overwhelming anti-Hillary tally in the comments. I mean like a 50-1 against her. Test it for yourself. Go to Truthout, or Informed Comment, or Salon, or anywhere. Type “Hillary” in the search box. Open any article on her and scroll down to the comments. 50-1 or worse against her. Very, very few people are going to turn out for Madame Clinton on her potential Inauguration Day and so I think she’s going to lose regardless of what the polls say. Basically, no-one likes her.

  4. gene

    The S.S. Clinton-During Bill’s first term when HRC was running her “health care reform” effort, Ira Magaziner suggested that universal single payer needed to be in the discussion. Hillary said “Tell me something interesting.”

  5. beene

    The card you entered cannot be used for this payment. Please enter a different credit or debit card number.

    thou it offers to let you post information on various credit cards; then refuses to except card.

    it seems pay pal and master card USAA have issues.

  6. Vikas Saini

    Syriza do mention on occasion that the rescue loans were made to bail out the banks, but they don’t make the point very forcefully, very often, or address the Eurozone people directly. Of course, without a mechanism to transmit changes in Euro public opinion to Euro policy, it’s moot.

  7. frosty zoom

    oh, i bet they’re using drones. you just gotta squint harder. won’t be long before someone spots them.

  8. Peter Pan

    “Six members of Congress have a bill to stop the costly and intrusive ICD-10 coding system due to be implemented on October 1st”

    My sister-in-law is a professor of physical therapy and supplements her income working as a medical coder for insurance companies, specifically dealing with the physical therapy provided to the physically and mentally disabled/disadvantaged. Her comment to me was:

    “Yes but there is nothing nefarious about ICD 10 coding-we do ICD 9 now. The coding is part of a larger way to look at illness and disability while emphasizing functional outcomes.

    Additionally, identifying information from health records is covered by HIPAA. While aggregate info about diagnoses and outcomes are required to be shared with JCHO ( hospital accreditation), Medicare, and the CDC, it against the law to share personally identifiable health info except on very specific instances. Breaches of this info come with huge fines.”

    I’ll discuss this with her in person this evening along with my brother, who absolutely hates the Fed Gov intelligence community. This should be fun.

    1. hermes

      There is nothing “intrusive” about ICD10, it is simply a more detailed/specific set of codes than ICD9.

      The thing is there has probably been tens of millions of dollars sunk into converting systems to use ICD10 by private industry. This affects everything from hospitals to clinics to insurance carriers to medical researchers. It is scheduled to go live in October, and most systems are 99% done at this point.

      I don’t know what those guys thinking, halting the rollout will be a huge waste of private industry money. I can’t see where they are wanting to save money at all, with only four months left basically all that’s left is to push the “on” button. Any money spent by the government has to have been mostly spent already (this change to ICD10 has been going on since the ’90s).

    2. hunkerdown

      Two angles come to mind: hiding that certain diseases are socioeconomically biased, and usually not in a way that flatters the ownership class; or the AMA is quietly upset about losing the royalties from their CPT coding system.

  9. Jack

    Water Cooler seems the best place to ask this question. I’m reading through Debt: The First 5000 Years, and Graeber is quite ruthless with Adam Smith and his ideas on the origins of money, and also notes that several other ideas of Smiths have been quietly discarded even by mainstream economics in the centuries since. So my question is is Wealth of Nations even worth reading at this point, in terms of getting an understanding of how economies actually work? And if not, what would be a better one-tome replacement?

    1. Disturbed Voter

      Economics is a sub-field of anthropology … and a co-field with political science. You can’t go wrong on the big picture, if you start with the latest by Jared Diamond (The World Until Yesterday), and work backward from there. The attempt to marry Pythagorean numerology with actual human productive activity, has been a disaster since before Adam Smith. Study the actual human productive activities. Where does food come from? How do people find shelter, clothing and medical care. How do humans actually cooperate or not, and find meaning in their lives.

      1. Jack

        “Economics is a sub-field of anthropology … and a co-field with political science.”

        Someone might want to tell the economists that.

    2. Andrew Watts

      “So my question is is Wealth of Nations even worth reading at this point, in terms of getting an understanding of how economies actually work? And if not, what would be a better one-tome replacement?”

      It isn’t. I can pretty much guarantee that anybody who misquotes Smith over the whole invisible hand of the market thing hasn’t read Wealth of Nations either. I believe it’s only mentioned twice in the whole course of the book. At best it’s an irrelevant piece of economic history.

      If you can stomach Karl Marx try Das Kapital. Kapital is more than relevant to our age of economic crisis. Forget the Communist Manifesto. I gotta warn you though the early Industrial Revolution was pretty hideous. Some sections of Kapital will make you think you’re reading a book about the Holocaust.

      Among other recommendations I’d make would be Thorstein Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class and The Theory of Business Enterprise. The Leisure Class deals with the sociopolitical aspect of political economy while Business Enterprise deals with the more mundane aspects and the American industrial revolution / Robber Barons era. So whichever interests you the most should be your pick.

      …and you can’t really go wrong reading all the above.

      1. Jack

        I get the gist of what Smith was actually talking about with his ‘invisible hand’. It’s literally the hand of a benevolent God directing society through the inherent morality he imbued his creation with. It’s not the idea of greed for greeds sake magically benefiting society, but people generally looking to advance their self-interests, but always grounded in a morality that curbs the worst impulses. I wondered if Smith was still worth reading precisely because it’s clear so few economists today have ever actually read him, if what he actually had to say had more merit than the twisted caricature presented these days.

        And I have no animosity towards Marx, but have heard his prose leaves something to be desired.

        1. Andrew Watts

          The Wealth of Nations mostly covers an archaic proto-capitalist system. This doesn’t have any relevance to the present day since we’re living in an advanced and decaying capitalist system that’s probably verging on another collapse. Marx did cover this scenario in Kapital so his utility to non-Marxists is still relevant to modern day intellectuals. Engels had a hand in writing Kapital but Marx was definitely the better writer in terms of the accessibility and prose of the book, Although Engels was the more talented War Nerd by far especially when it came to his understanding and his predictions for the course of the American Civil War.

          Anyway, modern day economists are promoting/pimping an ideology. This was something that was fairly common in the past too. Veblen had a lot of fun mocking his contemporaries for it and I think he does it frequently in The Theory of Business Enterprise. If you’re looking for a book for the sole purpose of shooting down what passes for today’s conventional wisdom in the dismal science there isn’t a better book than Reinhold Niebuhr’s Moral Man and Immoral Society.

          It’s a long time favorite and oft quoted book in the Naked Capitalism peanut gallery. It’s been awhile since I read it but if any of these quotes sound like the book you’re looking for than there it is.

            1. Andrew Watts

              No problem. Incidentally, the Communist Manifesto isn’t completely worthless. So if I made it sound like it was I am wrong.

              “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify.” -the Communist Manifesto

              Think of the Uberization of the economy and the ill effects it will have in this context. This is something that Marx would surely have recognized and actively opposed. The old socialists were skeptical of the technological change that was morphing their society. This is not a trait commonly found among the contemporary left wing of the present.

              In that vein the financial innovation and subsequent bailouts can be understood in the same context of revolutionary change in the economy. Never mind the fact that the financiers are repeating the same mistakes that led to the Great Crash of 1929. (See John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Great Crash of ’29 or Volume III: The Great Depression of Herbert Hoover’s memoirs)

              As smart as Marx was he was still looking for an escape from history and that is the main problem that makes the Manifesto wholly irrelevant to us.

              Nobody escapes history into utopia.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        The David Harvey podcast on Capital is good. Marx is a brilliant polemicist, too, but that’s not always the same as being a clear expositor, so it might help to have Harvey walk you through. Marx, I think, was doing a critique of political economy, but of the political economy of his day. (“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past” applies to Marx as well.) I have a vague feeling that to understand an economy where finance rules, we’d require a finished version of Volume III; but Marx died without completing it. I’ve heard that Marx’s writing on the Civil War is insightful; he was a correspondent for the New York Daily Tribune (!). So that would perhaps like starting on Joyce with Dubliners, instead of jumping straight into Ulysses.

        On Veblen, I’m sold on the distinction between business and industry, and on the idea of conspicuous consumption; but I find his style offputting. If a reader could direct me to a drier and more schematic explanation of his ideas, I’d be grateful.

        1. Andrew Watts

          The Republicans should never forget and always be reminded that Marx wrote for the conservative friendly New York Tribune.

          As for podcasts and alternative interpretations of the works of Veblen/Marx I don’t really know of any. It’s easier for me to listen to music and maintain focus on the reading material. Rather then listen to a podcast or audiobook. It’s heavy reading at any rate.

    3. ex-PFC Chuck

      I am currently reading Michael Perelman’s The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy and the Secret History of Primitive Accumulation. Perelman asserts that Sir James Steuart (1713-1780), an earlier contemporary of Smith, was far more important than Smith and presaged much of the latter’s work. According to Perelman a major reason Steuart has been largely forgotten is that unlike Smith, he candidly addressed the brutality experienced by the common people during the primitive accumulation period. This was an aspect of that process the story of which the powers that be, then and since, didn’t want out in public.

      I recommend Perelman’s book, as well as The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi, which covers much of the same territory of early capitalism but with a different emphasis. Yves wrote a post based on Polanyi’s book several months ago which, as usual, is very much worth the read.

  10. hermes

    A bill to stop ICD10 because it’s costly? Egads! ICD10 conversion has been a multi-year process that stretches from one end of the health care industry to the other, as well as insurance and research. It’s been going on for years, and this late in the game, after all of this money has been spent to update thousands of systems (and the government ain’t footing the bill, who are they fooling) that are being prepared to switch on in October, to toss it all away will cost somebody, but it won’t be the government.

    ICD10 is an international standard. We are already way behind, should’ve done this years ago. Canada has been using ICD10 since 2000. Why do we ever want to fall behind, what a pointless, truly costly, and frankly stupid idea to delay this again.

      1. Felix

        You are right…….and since primary diagnoses are often more wrong than right the whole thing is rather meaningless from a medical standpoint. A few things might be helpful in terms of data mining but overall the billing game dominates.

  11. Calgacus

    William Hill puts odds of Grexit at 1/3 (and the bookies called the UK election correctly, while the pollsters got it wrong)
    As I have noted a number of times here, Varoufakis implied the probability of Grexit occurring under a Syriza government was >50%, in an old interview that I am not alone in thinking is the best guide to Syriza’s strategy and the course of events. I wonder why people don’t take him (& Tsipras & the rest of Syriza) at their word. Varoufakis has wondered the same thing in other contexts.

  12. Andrew Watts

    ““In short, the NSA believes it has authority to operate a warrantless, signature-based intrusion detection system—on the Internet backbone”

    This is already well known and a source of controversy. I’ve been reading Michael Morell’s book The Great War of Our Time and I skipped ahead to the chapters dealing with Benghazi (for the lulz) and Snowden. Morell lets it slip that the US Intelligence Community is after ALL the telephony metadata, which I presume would include cell and internet phone calls, and ALL the email metadata they can get their hands on in the part dealing with Snowden. Under Section 215 of the Patriot Act the NSA was already collecting a significant percentage of the landline phone metadata. Although cell phones and internet phone calls may not have been included in this act of mass collection.

    In the declassified FISC rulings (circa 2009 – 2011 ~ I think) the Court has a problem with something along these actions because of the massive violation of civil rights that it would undoubtedly entail. Furthermore, the Court didn’t accept the government’s minimization procedures as anything other than inadequate. I believe that Senator McConnell was trying to circumvent the FISC via additions to the Patriot Act or now possibly through amendments to the Freedom Act. This wouldn’t be the first time that he has pulled this political stunt. McConnell has repeatedly tried to defy the Supreme Court in the past through legislation to enable the executive branch to continue torturing people.

    1. Andrew Watts

      Just in case anybody’s wondering (“Hey, what is the water cooler for?”) I’ll put a short review here of the Benghazi chapter. Quite honestly I don’t care if the CIA was using their outpost to funnel weapons to the Syrian “moderate” rebels. By focusing on this point you’re missing the fact the Islamic State and al-Nusra got their hands on an arsenal of US-made TOW missiles among other things. I choose to blame the fools on the National Security Council and in the CIA for that regardless of how this outcome came about.

      Beyond the re-telling of the embassy attack the lulz factor of the chapter was strong. It is a matter of pride for intelligence analysts to be impartial and non-political. Which is why, in my opinion, the politicians and whatever administration is in charge hardly ever listens to objective analysis. Due to the circumstances surrounding the attack Morell amusingly (“Wow! Am I being petty or what?”) expresses his shock that his character was under question by politicians who “cared for” and paid “attention to the national security of the United States”. I was literally chuckling out loud while reading this chapter and re-calling how many Republican warhawks, like McCain and Graham, were accusing Morell of lying for political gain on the eve of the 2012 presidential election. With a sense of dismay and a bit of irony Morell states that the Benghazi attack will probably play a role in the 2016 elections.

      But this part of the chapter brought to mind another incident which really brought on the lulz. In his defense of his congressional testimony Morell provides this answer.

      “I was also being accused of lying to Congress — a serious accusation against anyone in the executive branch, because misleading Congress undermines the central pillar of our constitutional democracy — Congress’s role in overseeing executive branch activities.”

      And you know they’d never do that… would they? Well, then let me just say it was particularly unfortunate that DNI Clapper provided a misspoken and/or incomplete answer, and I think I’m being fairly generous in that interpretation, to Senator Wyden’s question about the collection of the American people’s telephone metadata. Wyden gave him a 24 hours notice prior to asking it and a sequential followup query if the ODNI wanted to correct the record. It’s even more unfortunate that the answer remained unchanged for the record. Particularly when everybody already knew the answer to the question that was asked in the first place. BUT MOST ESPECIALLY SINCE SNOWDEN SAID THIS INCIDENT WAS WHAT DROVE HIM TO PULL HIS ILL-ADVISED YET FAR REACHING DISCLOSURES TO THE MEDIA.

  13. Kevin Carhart

    Lambert, you make a good formulation about how “The elite will then figure out how to get the few exemplars media time” and conveniently not play up the bulk of failed businesses. I think this also works with positive-thinking religions and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided. No controlled studies, just tell a story about the exemplars, and say that the reason for the success is all in the person’s attitude, moxie, etc.

    If you have something decentralized, possibly the power moves to who can most effectively gerrymander data to creates narratives with certain emphases and de-emphases. I suggest the term “terrymandering” for temporal gerrymandering. Like for instance, there was an article on April 15th, saying that sharing-economy workers are clueless about taxes:
    “I’ve never seen a single person from Lyft or Uber come in that had any idea of what their tax liability was or what kind of records to keep,” [tax adviser Matthew] Whatley says. “Not one.”
    “These people are literally thrown to the wolves,” Whatley says. “They are being put in a tax meat grinder.”


    So how much previous positivity and bogus storytelling from the companies does this discredit?
    If I terrymander by polling the “microentrepreneurs” on how well they like their experience when they have not been doing it long enough for the drawbacks to hit, they will probably report that they enjoy it more than once they find out that they spent more than they had. We could use a lot more attention on skewed storytelling and this process of publicizing just certain exemplars.

  14. tegnost

    tried to donate more than 25 and was unable to do so, defaulted back to 25 as someone else also reported

    1. Mike Lacourse

      Hey tegnost – I’m the dev for NC and wanted to look into that donate issue.. What browser/OS are you running? Are you doing a subscription or regular donation? And do you have a paypal account or were you signing up for a new account? We’ll try to get this fixed asap!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The guy who got out of bed the morning after his election and picked Bill Bratton for his police chief wasn’t going to slap Patrick Lynch around. Do not accept narratives of Democratic weakness!

  15. Code Name D

    HA! It’s so funny you think Clinton is all about voter’s rights. Nope, this is simply a check-the-box ploy to bring on young black people who tend to hold passion about this. Yay, the universal voting thing is kind of cool. But it’s also something not on the list for most activists who are far more concerned about voter purges, the preparatory code found on “private” ballot machines, the so called voter ID movement, the shrinking number of polling places, the growing cost of electronic ballot machines, that fewer machines mean longer lines, shadow banning, dropped registrations, notary requirements on registration applications. It a long list of here and now issues that she hasn’t seemed to mention. FAIL!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “It’s so funny you think Clinton is all about voter’s rights.” Where on earth do you get “all about” from? It’s good that she said it, right? Even if it’s fifteen years too late? And even though it’s a tendentious ploy? Yes, I think it’s “good.”

      “It’s so funny to watch people’s knees jerk whenever they see the word ‘Clinton.’ They can hardly read to the end of the sentence, let alone the paragraph.”

      1. Code Name D

        Why is it a good thing she is talking about universal voting when she isn’t talking any of the current problems activist are fighting.

        First, she isn’t serious about the issue. (Democrats don’t do “issues” remember?) When I visit her web page, my first stop to finding out what she said – it’s just a sign up page so I can follow her on twitter. I have no way of knowing what she actually said. FAIL! Such political incompetence is disgusting at this point.

        All I have to go on are second hand accounts, many of which are openly hostile. She might as well have stayed rapped up in cellophane, she is doing more harm than good at this point – if she was truly interested in the issue. Hell, she isn’t even helping out her electability any.

        But as I said, she isn’t interest in voting as an issue. This is just a shallow ploy to motivate certain demographics, the so called “Obama coalition.” It looks like she is making herself the victim and expecting young Latinos and Black voters to swarm in with twitter follows and campaign donations of money and time. Hell, her staffers are so clueless that I heard them boasting about this “brilliant strategy”. Gees, why not just have them sit in on all of your strategy sessions. All they are doing at this point is building buzz and a labor base.

        She hasn’t said any thing new, presented any data of her own, and referenced any research. Hell, she hasn’t actually said any thing at all for that mater. Right now, she is doing more harm than good.

  16. different clue

    People of Naked Capitalism: the Open Thread On Water which Lambert Strether offered us a few days ago is still open for accepting comments. Why have I been the only person leaving comments there for the last couple of days? Does no one else have any good advice or good links or good sources to describe in a comment at the end of that thread?

    So that people remembering it in future can go right to the Permaculture topic and find their own remembered item with only moderate searching and reading?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, because this is a blog. Very much in the present. What you’re really asking for is a hub page, a sort of permanent waystation on a given topic. We’ve discussed creating and pages, and teh Google likes them, but hub pages are a lot of work to maintain. Next time I do a water link aggregation, I’ll try to remember to refer to that link.

      1. different clue

        Hmmm . . . . now I know what a “hub page” is. I hope I wasn’t really asking for that, given how busy I know you already are.

        I think I was hoping that our fellow readers could kind-of install a sort-of cerebro-cortically-mounted “hub memory” inside their brains . . . so they would know to go to “permaculture” and find the “water” post whenever they wanted to refresh their memory about water items there.

    2. Carolinian

      Here’s a good link on water with a capital W. It’s about the failure to revise the Colorado River pact and how the Southwestern states are are playing every man for himself with their allocations.


      The story suggests AZ in particular is getting more than they should since their intakes are upriver from California’s. Since the primary result–besides the cotton farms talked about on NC the other day–is more Phoenix subdivisions that the residents’ hate you have to wonder about the logic. As with so much else money overrules common sense.

      1. ambrit

        There’s a pretty good piece about the Colorado River in Harpers for April 2014; “Razing Arizona.” Sorry, but it’s super paywalled.

        1. Anon

          I had asked a couple of days ago if the Harper’s subscription was worth it and don’t recall getting an answer. I mean, long-form reading is nice to do during the slow hours at work, but I’d hate to just pay for the privilege of reading an article or two and then nothing else strikes the eye/I forget about it and the opportunity becomes wasted.

      2. craazyboy

        Phoenix must be the culprit, if there is one. But they do get a lot from the mountains in central AZ, provided precipitation holds up. #2 Tucson is 90% aquifer, 10% CO River. Then there is distant #3 Yuma, but the river is about empty by the time it gets there.

        Truth be told, you can’t tell much difference between CA and AZ on either side of the CO River border. CA has a bunch of farms growing what appear to be useful veggies, and need river irrigation to do it. Then I’ve never seen a cotton plantation here either, tho there are supposed to be some somewhere. There is a sort of suburban town bordering the far northern reaches of Tucson that was historically known for growing cotton, but they have been growing housing tracts quite well the past few decades. So AZ’s cotton problem may be on the wane.

  17. C

    “John Cusack says Obama is worse than Bush. But he’s just a guy with a boombox” [WaPo].

    I read the article and I noticed this really lazy clever bit:

    At the same time, no matter how many famous people take this stance, it’s still not the prevailing liberal view of Obama — not hardly. Most Democrats still like Obama. Though a poll this week found George W. Bush is viewed more favorably than Obama, 86 percent of Democrats still view Obama in a positive light. (emphasis mine)

    I am sure that George Wallace would be trilled to find that he was a liberal.

    1. ambrit

      Funny how the author never explicitly says who is the one with the boombox, Cusack or Obama.
      A ‘Sign of the Times’ alert is in order. The ‘writer’ of the HuffPo piece is described in his CV blurb as the go to person for “the intersection of politics and pop culture.” Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the real definition of “the intersection of politics and pop culture” the word ‘propaganda?’
      The other takeaway from this piece is the continual dumbing down of the public discourse. I took the time to do a word count; 325 words. Lots of short ones in there, too.

    2. different clue

      I have talked to some of these Democrats at booths in the political section of Art Fairs. They are smart enough to know better. They are crippled-sick in their heads, is the problem. They are also boring and predictable and sometimes snippy to talk to.

      The Republicans at the Republican booths are much more interesting to talk to. Some of them are trying to stagger their way towards something or other. Some of them were against Free Trade Agreements but for Rand Paul. They are struggling towards some kind of logically consistent coherency in certain respects, but at least they are struggling towards it. And did I say they are interesting to talk to?
      Because they are.

  18. ChrisPacific

    What is striking is not that government negotiators seek expertise and advice from leading industry figures. But the emails reveal a close-knit relationship between negotiators and the industry advisors that is likely unmatched by any other stakeholders.

    Why is this striking? It’s the Occam’s Razor explanation for pretty much all US domestic and foreign policy.

  19. frosty zoom

    [in response to lambert’s below response to something above]

    “Oh, the jobs people work at! Out west near Hawtch-Hawtch there’s a Hawtch-Hawtcher bee watcher, his job is to watch. Is to keep both his eyes on the lazy town bee, a bee that is watched will work harder you see. So he watched and he watched, but in spite of his watch that bee didn’t work any harder not mawtch. So then somebody said “Our old bee-watching man just isn’t bee watching as hard as he can, he ought to be watched by another Hawtch-Hawtcher! The thing that we need is a bee-watcher-watcher!”. Well, the bee-watcher-watcher watched the bee-watcher. He didn’t watch well so another Hawtch-Hawtcher had to come in as a watch-watcher-watcher! And now all the Hawtchers who live in Hawtch-Hawtch are watching on watch watcher watchering watch, watch watching the watcher who’s watching that bee. You’re not a Hawtch-Watcher you’re lucky you see!”

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