2:00PM Water Cooler 11/23/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente



“In addition, Sanders understands how ISIS and other groups wage war. The primary goal of groups like ISIS is to lure America into asymmetric wars that mitigate our military advantages; submarines and nuclear weapons can’t defeat IEDs or insurgents hiding in apartment buildings. The willingness of Bernie Sanders to move beyond the traditional American paradigm of continual war, in the hopes of ending continual terror, is why Sanders has the right formula to defeat ISIS” [HuffPo].

“2016 GOP Candidates Strengthen Foreign Policy Credentials By Watching ‘American Sniper'” [Duffel Blog]. Not that NC readers need the warning, but 2016 has lent itself especially to parody sites.

The Voters

“Armed protesters gather outside Islamic Center of Irving” [Dallas Morning News]. Yikes.

“Poll Watch: Democrats, Even Clinton Supporters, Warm to Socialism” [New York Times].

“We think of the People of the Id as a part of us, a part of our own community that we must be vigilant against. They are a part of us, but a part we must master” [Salon]. A righteous rant, but I’m always leery of simplifed, colorful schemata.

“Unfollow” [The New Yorker].

The Trail

“Trump: ‘It is highly, highly, highly, highly unlikely’ I will use nukes” [The Hill]. Good to know.

“Donald Trump: Open to Independent Bid if GOP Doesn’t Treat Him ‘Fairly'” [WSJ].

Compendium of Trump quotes for anti-trump Internet meme makers [Buzzfeed].

“Five symbols Donald Trump could use to identify the Muslims in America’s midst” [Quartz].

“[I]n the crowded and unruly 2016 Republican primary, Cruz is trying to position himself as the grown-up alternative to Trump and Ben Carson, two inexperienced and undisciplined front-runners who have so far captivated their party’s most passionate voters by riding a wave of anti-immigrant rhetoric” [AP].

“Morning Plum: Shock poll finds Hillary Clinton more trusted on terrorism than her GOP rivals” [WaPo].

“Bernie Sanders packs the house at Savannah town hall” [Savannah Morning News]. “The venue reached capacity, which is around 2,500 seats, and volunteers frantically searched the rows to find vacant seats for the stragglers. Sanders: “So, I do not represent the billionaire class or corporate America.” Well, that’s a differentiator. A little more potent than “I want to be your champion” (and whatever happened to that?)

“Bernie Sanders more than quadrupled his spending in Iowa during the third quarter, pouring almost a half-million dollars into the state” [Des Moines Register].

“How Snapchat Fits Into Bernie Sanders’s Strategy” [Bloomberg]. Very interesting, especially in showing how Snapchart’s collective content creates a narrative that contextualizes and competes with the networks. Same goes for Twitter. (Which, of course, the stupid money and narcissistic executives who run Twitter do not understand.)

The Hill

“How The White House Lost Democrats On The Syrian Refugee Bill” [HuffPo]. Steve Israel. Of course.

Stats Watch

Existing Home Sales, October 2015: “Sales of existing homes are not a source of strength for the economy, down 3.4 percent in October to a slightly lower-than-expected annualized rate” [Econoday]. And: “Our analysis of the unadjusted data shows that home sales declined” [Econintersect]. But: “Given the lags involved with existing home sales (they are recorded at contract closing), the dip in October likely reflects the brief period of cautiousness that ensued from the market gyrations in August and early September.  Pending home sales for October will be released next Monday, providing a window into whether activity bounced back more recently” [Amherst Pierpont, Across the Curve].

PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, November 2015: “Markit’s U.S. manufacturing sample is finally reporting weakness, weakness long registered across the breadth of other manufacturing data” [Econoday].

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, October 2015: “October was a soft month for the economy but solidly improved from September” [Econoday]. Soft but solid? Huh?

“Are technology’s ‘unicorn’ startups dangerously overvalued or not?” [Telegraph]. “Whichever side of the fence you’re sitting on, you would find something to support your position if you followed the rollercoaster that was last week’s initial public offering of Square, the payments technology company started by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.”

“The process used by U.S. mutual fund companies to pin a value on shares of private technology companies seems reasonable on paper but, in practice, recent downward marks are sending shockwaves through the start-up ecosystem” [Francine McKenna, Marketwatch].

“The non-manufacturing economy of Greater Philadelphia is getting a big boost from vigorous growth in the University City section where increasing college enrollment and investment in technology and life sciences is driving a boom in commercial, residential and retail real estate development, executives told MNI”  [Market News]. I wonder if the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel have real estate interests… And how this is playing out with the neighborhoods.

Ag: “Hedge funds all but wiped out their net long position in derivatives in the main agricultural commodities, led by selldowns in coffee, and in wheat, in which unexpectedly bearish positioning could set the scene for a price bounce” [Agrimoney]. Bring on the bread riots!

“Current Copper Price Below Cost of Production” [Econmatters (Wayne Harris)]. Maybe they can make it up on volume?

“Indicators suggest bottom could be near but watch out for a crisis first.” I think that’s a bromide, but this still looks like a useful round-up to me [FT, “How to read signals from emerging markets“]

The Fed: “Pssst, want to play the market? Count the Fed leak weeks: study” [Reuters]. ” U.S. central bankers not only regularly leak secret information about monetary policy, but the leaks are so predictably timed that a savvy investor without access to the leaked information could make money just by buying stocks in certain weeks.” Hmm.

The Fed: “[B]arring an outright collapse in financial markets, it is very difficult to see the data evolve between now and December 15-16 in such a way that the Fed suddenly has a change of heart” [Tim Duy’s Fed Watch].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 55 (+2); Neutral [CNN]. Last week: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Police State Watch

“British Police Apologize for Undercover Officers’ Intimate Tactics” [New York Times].

And the same story here: “An FBI Informant Seduced Eric McDavid Into a Bomb Plot. Then the Government Lied About It” [The Intercept]. My gawd, these guys are creeps (“I wanna have control”).

Health Care

“Nobody ever expected Obamacare to cover all the uninsured” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. Nobody? Nancy Pelosi: “And we are here now to be — along with the Congresses that — enacted Social Security, Medicare, Civil Rights Act, health care for all Americans. All of that on a par: (March 22, 2010, via). Joe Biden: “You have turned, Mr. President, the right of every American to have access to decent health care into reality for the first time in American history” (March 2010). Barack Obama, November 6, 2013: “We were able to get it done in part because of grass-roots folks like you that fought so hard to make sure we were able to deliver on universal health care” (White House). I hate it when Krugman just flat out lies like that. It makes him look like a Straussian.

“‘Open’ Consultation: Setting the mandate to NHS England for 2016 to 2017” [Open…] “Although you wouldn’t know it, the UK’s Department of Health has been running a consultation on NHS England.  It has kept this quiet in the hope that no one would reply, and it could just do what it wanted. …  You can respond online, and here’s what I’ve sent them.”

The 420

Post-legalization shakeout in Oregon [Guardian].

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Trust will become the defining commodity of the 21st century, just as oil had been in the 20th century, said [Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief security officer]. Therefore, Facebook’s future hinges on its ability to foster trust within its massive user base” [Christian Science Monitor]. “That trust, he said, would be the product of Facebook convincing users that it ‘makes choices in their best interests.’ And, more importantly, that the company ‘backs up those choices even in the face of adversity.'” Hmm.


“Iowa’s new climate narrative has emerged as a great story for the nation and other countries heading to Paris. Despite the fact that the United Nations General Assembly declared 2015 to be “the international year of soils,” a global soil carbon sequestration campaign — one that recognizes direct links between climate mitigation, regenerative agriculture and food security — rarely ranks at the top of any high level accords, or even conversations” [New York Times‘ “Iowa’s Climate-Change Wisdom”]. I hope Iowa’s soil is in better shape than Aroostook County’s, where I’m told soil is basically a dust-like filler, fertilizer and pesticides being the active ingredients.

Far too few climate change negotiators took notice of an important proposal called the Four Per Thousand Initiative, which France’s Ministry of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry introduced earlier this year. This proposal simply calls for a voluntary action plan to improve organic matter content and promote carbon sequestration in soil through a transition to agro-ecology, agro-forestry, conservation agriculture and landscape management. According to France’s estimates, a “.4 percent annual growth rate of the soil carbon stock would make it possible to stop the present increase in atmospheric CO2.”

Makes me wonder how TPP’s SPS Chapter would impel or impede the Four Per Thousand Initiative. On no evidence, I’d speculate impede.

Guillotine Watch

I like the image [Independent].

Class Warfare

“Given the pressure of class interests on today’s economic ideas, the long-standing neglect of Keynes’s ideas here in Cambridge does not come as a surprise” [Ann Pettifor, Prime Economics]. A little guantlet-throwing at the core of the British establishment!

“[T]axpayers have effectively handed $4.1 billion to Jeff Bezos over the last two decades” [CEPR]. That’s Bezos personally, not Amazon as a whole. And now Bezos is in the newspaper business! How nice for us all.

News of the Wired 

“Scaling Google and Yahoo with Marissa Mayer — Class 17 Notes of Stanford University’s CS183C” [Medium]. Reading between the lines, Yahoo institutionall was a lava flow.

“West Bank of the East: Burma’s Social Engineering Project” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. Aung San Suu Kyi’s election doesn’t mean Myanmar’s problems are behind it.

“Thelonious Monk Scribbles a List of Tips for Playing a Gig” [Open Culture]. “Just because you’re not a drummer doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time.”

“Generation meds: the US children who grow up on prescription drugs” [Guardian]. This seems to me like a giant uncontrolled social experiment with serious issues of informed consent. What do readers think?

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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 (Marise):

Snowfall, Macetown, Co. Meat (16)

Macetown, County Meath, Ireland. In honor of the first snowfall here in Maine, sigh snarl. Although we’re getting off easy, I know; it’s almost all melted!

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If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter has come, I need to buy fuel, and I need to keep my server up, too.


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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. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You think the Statue of Liberty, made of copper covering, is worth less now?

      “Do we have to put a price on everything?”

  1. Uahsenaa

    Allow me to put my Iowa hat on for the moment.

    The debate about what to do over soil erosion, how to increase carbon levels, promote no till farming, and so forth has been rather robust over the past few years. Branstad’s gutting of the DNR budget has led to a number of municipalities across the state fighting back, both by encouraging the reclaiming of local utilities and actively going after runoff problems under the auspices of protecting the local water supply. Just this morning, there was a good roundtable on IPR about soil conservation, the movement among rural communities to become energy independent through combinations of solar and wind power, the trend in larger municipalities to encourage cycling yard waste back into agriculture, and, most shocking of all, a very loud critique of crop insurance subsidies, something that, until recently, would have been entirely verboten in this state.

    One guest made a salient point, which is that Iowa is coming out the other side of a near ecological disaster. Native prairie is basically gone here, and the Iowa propensity for stability rather than groaf has led to real grass roots efforts to deal with the lasting effects or large scale farming. What is more, these efforts work directly against what has been promoted by the governor’s office and the legislature over recent years. It’s not all hopeless.

    1. flora

      Thanks for this comment. Very informative. I can imagine rural communities taking on crop insurance subsidies now, since the subsidies benefit large scale farming/big ag more than family farms.

      1. different clue

        Acres USA has a winter conference every year in one MidWestern city or another. Hosting an early December conference in a gray Midwestern city is a way to indicate that this is serious . . . not an excuse for Fun in the Sun. I have been to a few. Every time I have gone, there are some attendees from Britain, New Zealand, Australia, other foreign countries, some of them tropical. Some of those years people come in from South Africa. Most are from the MidWest and Prairie America/Prairie Canada. This year the conference is being in Pittsburgh. Here is a link to it.

        I once looked at the circulation figures. Something like 12,000 subscribers and enough other copies printed for 20-some thousand copies printed in all. In a country of 300 million people, Acres USA has 12,000 subscribers. Maybe if they advertised more, they would attract more people? They are too small to be able to do any more outreach than what they are doing. It becomes up to people to find their way to it.

        If Acres USA had a million subscribers like Mother Earth News or Organic Gardening, Acres USA would be way more majorly impactful beyond what it is now.

  2. ekstase

    What should players wear to a gig? Definitively cool, Monk replies “Sharp as possible!”

    What a great quote. And it makes me wonder how much creativity, originality, rebelliousness and joy all those kids on psych meds might be entitled to, and are missing out on.

  3. Ron

    “is why Sanders has the right formula to defeat ISIS” [HuffPo” and the Huff Post has endless experience defeating terrorist around the world!

  4. Tertium Squid

    Prescription Meds For Kids

    In first grade I couldn’t sit still and was diagnosed ADD and became part of the ritalin generation. I took it for ten years and when I stopped, my grades suffered noticeably.

    Decades later I have no sense that the drugs harmed my brain or body, but the message that came with the pills was pernicious:

    “Your brain is broken – it doesn’t generate the right chemicals but these little yellow miracles will make you normal again.”

    That affected me a lot. And as I understand, this was a lie – the brain of a hyperactive child is indistinguishable from a “normal” one. A child can’t sit still for six hours and they tell them that something’s wrong with them. The pills address a behavioral issue and sedate the child so he or she can be warehoused for a whole school day with thirty of their peers. It’s a shortcut to conformity.

    I think society is trying to make us like robots, and we make very poor robots. These drugs are meant to make up the difference but it will never be enough.

    1. Tertium Squid

      From the article. A seventeen year old student:

      It works for me, because I’m educated about it. Obviously, I don’t want to be 30 and taking it. But as long as I’m in school and have these deadlines and pressure, for sure.

      :( Pressure doesn’t stop until you are dead, child.

      1. ekstase

        Sad but true. And I agree about the warehousing. It’s not right for kids and it’s not right for adults.

      2. Daryl

        Paul Erdos took amphetamines until he died. He took a month off to win a $500 bet and on completion said “mathematics has been set back by a month.”

        A’course, unless one is pumping out mathematical papers as routinely as a bodybuilder does biceps curls, one should probably reconsider whether some short term gain is worth the long term effects.

    2. Uahsenaa

      It’s also the most basic problem with the movement for universal education that emerged out of the late 19th century, which is one where children are expected to conform to how they are taught rather than the teaching conforming to how children learn. Of course, there are now reams of educational research that demonstrate how and why education ought to conform to the many ways in which children learn, yet the inertia of the system as we have it still props up methods where the old conformity to discipline and “how things are” is the order of the day.

      Case in point: I was considered to have a number of “behavioral” problems in school, yet I somehow managed to acquire two undergraduate degrees, a masters, and a Ph.D. and now split my time rather effectively between translation and scholarly writing. Coincidentally, I was never tracked into gifted or accelerated programs, and I think I might be better off for it.

    3. cwaltz

      What I find interesting is the idea that an attention span is something you’re born having rather than something that needs to be cultivated. I also think it’s interesting that we expect kids to sit still at younger and younger ages and push them to learn faster and faster, probably to their detriment. The older I get the more I understand that life is about balance and recognizing no matter how hard I try I’ll never be able to learn everything and learning to be okay with that.

      1. optimader

        Actually I think sitting back and daydreaming is very therapeutic, its when I braindump some of my most creative thoughts.. Regimenting little kids is ridiculous. I believe playing is what wires the complexity in the brain .

        I have all of my grade school report cards amongst the detritus of life my mother saved for me. My favorite was a 5th grade math teacher that wrote in the comments area “Optimader likes to sit back and watch the world go by”… classic, indeed!
        Gotta love the prescients of a report card comment that rings true pushing ~48 yrs later!
        Miss Martin, you never liked me but all is forgiven, it all worked out! HAHAHHA

    4. dcblogger

      I was diagnosed as ADD as an adult. The first day on Ritalin was a revelation. My productivity soared, and I realized how the rest of the world lives. I wish I had been diagnosed as a child. We think of nothing giving inhalers to asthmatics, but somehow tie ourselves in knots over Ritalin. I would encourage parents to educate themselves and trust their judgement.

      A word about depression, I know of two cases of people with depression that decided to treat their condition with diet, exercise, and prayer. They are dead by their own hand. My friends who treated theirs with drugs went through a series of drugs, with mixed results, but they are still alive.

      We should not be ideological where medicine and health are concerned.

      1. Christian B

        I am on disability for Anxiety/OCD/Depression, hospitalized twice, suicidal. I tried no less than 18 different medications. Although my symptoms are not gone, with my mediation, a diet that works for me, and specific supplements, I feel better than I have on medications. I found that to not live like everyone else is my most helpful medication.

        My nephew was prescribed Ritalin at 14 and a week later he died by suicide.

        I agree that medications help in an emergency, but to throw out the value of lifestyle changes is childish, and to say that medications are lifesavers is also foolish.

        And of course your productivity soared on Ritalin, IT IS SPEED, Maybe your problem was not that you were not productive, but that you THOUGHT you needed to be productive. Maybe people who are “ADD” are just different? Maybe they should not be force to work like everyone else? Why in this day an age do we think that everyone is exactly alike and should work and learn exactly the same? All this internet bullcrap and we are still so ignorant. It makes me sick.

        1. cwaltz

          This +1

          The world would be a really boring place if we were all exactly the same.

          I’m glad you’re in a better place. :)

        2. Will

          As your comment and the one you’re responding to demonstrate, not everyone responds the same way to medication for mental health issues. Overprescribing medication to people who don’t want or need it is a problem, but so is moralizing about how people should learn to accept being different instead of getting the care they’re seeking.

          Conflating the desire function normally (in my case, that means “without struggling daily to resist the urge to self-harm”) with the desire to be “exactly the same” as other people is thoughtless at best and pernicious at worst. So many mentally ill people struggle with feeling like their problems aren’t really that bad, or aren’t really happening, or are things they could control if they just weren’t so lazy, etc. And then we run into smug “internet bullcrap” suggesting that having a chemical imbalance in the brain is caused by not being adequately enlightened and self-accepting.

          Your solution works for you; that’s great. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only acceptable one for anybody.

          1. Christian B

            I in no means meant to state that everyone should follow my path, and stated that medication is fine for emergency use, like when I as well feel the urge to harm myself. But medication enabled me to do the difficult self work that is CRUCIAL to healing so one can get off of medications. I am not saying that everyone should DO this work, but it is viable and available.

            It is the same with diseases like diabetes, a perfectly curable disease. Insulin will help control blood sugar while you make lifestyle changes. Why do people seem to want to treat the brain differently?

            Depression, anxiety, whatever, they are metabolic diseases. The things we eat, as well as our view of the work has an effect on our neurotransmitters as well as our metabolism. I can stop a panic attack by controlling my thought, and I can start them by controlling my thoughts as well.

    5. Carlos

      Just one or two really disruptive children in a class can ruin the learning experience for twenty to thirty non-disruptive children.

      I don’t think they need to be sedated, but a society that values it’s children’s education should put in the hard yards to address the causes of the behaviour or manage their behaviour. Some children are beyond the capabilities of one teacher in a class. They can’t always neglect the class to focus on one difficult child.

      From my observations, quite a few children with emotional issues (getting medication) also have a family/ environmental issue.

      1. cwaltz

        Personally, if we’re preparing children for the “real world” then they should realistically be learning to deal with distractions. The world doesn’t stop while you are trying to learn.

        Mental issues are often genetic so it should come as no surprise that a child dealing with “emotional issues” also has at least one parent that has issues as well.

      2. Tertium Squid

        A society that values education probably wouldn’t stack the kids 30 deep in a single class, either.

      3. Oregoncharles

        Local school districts have special schools for the major behavior problems, and special classes for the most disabled. My wife has taught at both. Don’t know how many have that.

      4. tongorad

        What is the role of a student? This question seems too quaint in our current era of education as a service…the transformation from citizen to consumer is now complete.

  5. Left in Wisconsin

    I’m not sure you are being fair to Krugman. “Universal health care” is to “40 million with no insurance as “full employment” is to “10 million without work”. To an economist, which is first and foremost what Krugman is, they are just words, I mean “concepts.” They only become meaningful when they are operationalized.

    1. Code Name D

      I also recall Obama’s own talking points, as well as the CBO projections reaching only about a quarter of the uninsured. Part of the “better than nothing” ploy they always like to use in order to justify extremely low standards.

      I also recall a counter point being made that this was a feature, not a bug in the program. For the most part, those without insurance tend to be at the bottom of the income scale and tend to have health problems. It was argued that they would come on board when prices came down, or the penalty would force them into the market. In other words, create a system that treated the wealthy and the healthy first (read, mostly) and then pretend the market would take care of every one else eventually.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Krugman was actually telling the truth, just in a misleading way. The GAO analysis BEFORE IT WAS PASSED said it would leave out millions of people (Krugman fudges by mentioning the 2011 analysis). So his statement has to be read with “no one WHO MATTERS” understood. As Lambert proves, the politicians were lying through their teeth (?how else would you lie? On paper, I guess), because of course they’d seen that analysis, too. It was much publicized by the single-payer advocates.

      His other deceit is that only the Right is complaining about Obamacare. That seems to be Dembot boilerplate.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        This isn’t hard. Krugman said nobody intended it. Obama, for one, said he achieved it. Pelosi and Biden use language like the WikiPedia entry (“provides health care and financial protection to all citizens of a particular country”).

        So Krugman is wrong either because they meant what they said, or because they’re all lying weasels. In the first case, he is outright wrong, and in the second totally obfuscatory. Which is it, one wonders?

    1. jo6pac

      Amazing and I’m sure there are a lot of retired cia that aren’t happy about this. I figured the more effective evil would be the one to sign off on this.

    2. different clue

      Some of the commenters over at SST have noted that when Pollard was sentenced, parole-guidelines and timetables were baked into the sentences given. Since Pollard spent his jailtime being a well-behaved prisoner in prison, there is/was no legal way to deny him the legallly mandated parole baked right into his sentence. No horsetrading involved.

      Now that he’s out on parole, of course, they can set various conditions on his parole. No leaving the country, no unsupervised use of a computer, etc. If he is given easier parole terms than what he could legally be given, there could well be some horsetrading involved in THAT.

      And some SST commenters suggested sending him right over to Israel, so he could be given a telegenic hero’s welcome for all Americans to see . . . and to ponder upon.

  6. Eric Patton

    The issue with use of prescription drugs is, to me, the same as all manner of addictions and pain that people suffer. So much of it is artificial.

    Remember at the beginning of 1981’s History of the World Part I, when Moses (played by Mel Brooks) comes down from the mountain? He’s carrying three stone tablets, and he shouts, “I bring you these fifteen” — and then he drops one of the tablets. He looks at it, as it lies in pieces at his feet. He looks up and resumes shouting, “Ten! Ten commandments! For all to obey!”

    On that tablet that Moses dropped, I guarantee there was no commandment that said “life has to be insane pressure.” There wasn’t anything about capitalism being God’s chosen economic system. But it’s capitalism — and market allocation specifically — that causes this stress. Markets force everyone to work and stress to the point of insanity, whether they want to or not.

    Markets destroy solidarity. No one in any market economy can have the slightest concern for anyone else in a market economy. To do so is self-defeating. That people continue to have empathy for one another is literally proof that human nature is basically good. If human nature were genetically sucky, then markets would ensure we’d all be a-holes of the worst sort.

    But capitalism doesn’t stop with the economy. It bends everything — including schools — to its logic. So people take meds (or whatever else they need to do) in order to cope.

    This is not an act of God. It’s changeable. It wasn’t one of commandments eleven through fifteen. Capitalism can be unmade, and without turning the US into the USSR, Nazi Germany, or Yugoslavia. But first, people have to see that there’s a third class — the coordinator class — and not just owners and workers.

    When the left starts getting serious about acknowledging the existence of the coordinator class — which is the class that mostly constitutes denizens of the left — I am telling you that you are going to see mountains move. And people will be able to get off the Celexa and the Ativan.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Not sure about “coordinator class.” (In the % formulation, I’d say 80% wage owners, a ~20% of compradors and wannabe compradors, and an 0.01% of owners. But that’s way too crude.)

      Can you break it down a little? (It’s occurred to me that managing the surplus via Twitter could hardly do worse than we’re doing now.)

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Reason #99 to love NC: I learn excellent new words. I see lots of similarities between compradors and coordinators (both are “winners” of the meritocracy) but also key differences – compradors are the bigger deal in smaller towns and rural areas, coordinators in bigger metro areas. Maybe the biggest difference is compradors lean right, coordinators lean left.

  7. Oregoncharles

    Under “Class Warfare”, I think, rare gold on Salon (as always, the title is misleading): http://www.salon.com/2015/11/23/this_is_why_were_so_fcked_our_politics_are_only_goin

    “Peter Turchin, a former theoretical biologist who turned his attention to studying human history more than a decade and a half ago.” Long term social analysis based on biology. Not actually very encouraging, though the article author dwells on the positive example of the New Deal.

    At least in my reading, this supports the concept of a birth-and-death cycle of civilizations and societies, something I think Lambert has challenged but I see as obvious.

  8. albrt

    Seems to me there is plenty of consent associated with drugging kids.

    You just have to understand that in our system consent is usually a product, not an input.

  9. Chris in Paris

    “Trust will become the defining commodity of the 21st century, just as oil had been in the 20th century, said [Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief security officer].”

    When you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail.

    1. Will

      Yeah. That’s just such a bizarre claim it’s hard to even parse it — I mean, starting with the labeling of a precarious emotional response like trust a “commodity,” as if it could be quantified, stockpiled, traded, seized in mass quantities in war…. I frankly can’t imagine a world where “trust” is a more important commercial good than any of the physical life-sustaining resources we’re reaching the limits of. I think you’d have to really work for it to even build a sci-fi setting where that was convincing.

      The techno-utopian blinders are strong with this one.

    2. Gaianne

      no. no. no. They are on to something. When your whole business model consists of betraying your customers, getting them to trust you is a big deal–in fact, a necessity.

      It is not just Facebook that runs that way.

      So, say you are a startup looking for capital. You tell everybody that you are on the verge of developing an ap that can generate trust–automatically, with no awkward trustworthiness involved. Well, obviously, everybody wants that: You will have no lack of business customers. Which means you will be a big success, which means all the investors will want to invest in you.

      In fact, I am on the verge of creating such an ap myself: Perhaps you would like to contribute to my Kickstarter campaign!

      Trust me


  10. Daryl

    > “Armed protesters gather outside Islamic Center of Irving”

    Living in Texas, these armed protests are getting extremely concerning with the increasingly permissive open carry laws. These knuckleheads don’t understand how much involving a gun escalates a situation. It’s only a matter of time before one of these ends with a mass shooting.

      1. cm

        Stay classy, JSN.

        Wikipedia lists the Waco fatalities with age & nationality, including:
        Mayanah Schneider, 2, American
        Aisha Gyrfas Summers (pregnant), 17, Australian
        Startle Summers, 1, American
        Hollywood Sylvia, 1, American
        Rachel Sylvia, 12, American
        Chica Jones, 2, American
        Michelle Jones Thibodeau, 18, American
        Serenity Jones, 4, American
        Little One Jones, 2, American

      2. Jim Haygood

        Janet Reno is indeed a whacko. But her whacking was pretty unilateral and medieval (a high-tech auto-da-fé, as it were).

        1. jsn

          To far back, I’m thinking the biker shoot out this year, but Waco has always been Wacko, why else would the GWB Library end up there?

  11. Wayne Harris

    “'[T]axpayers have effectively handed $4.1 billion to Jeff Bezos over the last two decades’ [CEPR]. That’s Bezos personally, not Amazon as a whole. And now Bezos is in the newspaper business! How nice for us all.”

    Careful, Lambert. The man knows where you live. And has drones.

  12. different clue

    The East has several West Banks. China has Tibet. China has Sinjiang. China has Inner Mongolia. But China is big and powerful, so there is nothing to be done about any of that.

    Is Burma small and pressurizable enough to be pressed into something different than now? Maybe . . .

  13. Darthbobber

    “I wonder if the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel have real estate interests… And how this is playing out with the neighborhoods.”

    Their real estate holdings are considerable, and in addition both schools, Penn in particular, have actively worked to alter the surrounding neighborhoods. I was living just west of 47th st., from 2001-1011. (Penn campus proper stops at 40th.) They identified an area west of the campus, which if I recall correctly went west to 48th, and waas bounded roughly by Baltimore Ave on the south and Pine on the north. Their college of education runs a hybrid charter school, which is practically of prep school standards. Unlike most charters, it actually has a catchment area, which coincided roughly with the area Penn wanted people to move into. So moving into that area automatically got your kids sent to one of the 2 or 3 best schools in the city. They also subsidized the mortgages of university employees willing to move into the area, and created a zone in which the city police were supplemented with pretty heavy patrolling by the University Police.
    (As an extra chotchkie to reduce resistance among the locals, everybody living in the area as of a certain date got to join the Penn gym (not free, but state of the art.) When we moved to the area, our block was largely black and businesses in that part of west philly were tattoo parlors, cheap Chinese restaurants, cheap bars, bodegas. Also a lot of houses occupied by anarchist squatters, since this had been the home base of the West Philly anarchists for decades. Coincidentally with all this, Licenses and Inspections began to much more actively inspect the retail establishments, slapping all the down-at-the-heels businesses with code violations at every opportunity. Many of them left and were replaced with more upscale places. Gentrification wasn’t total, its still a very mixed neighborhood.

    An alliance of realtors moved into the gutted area that was Mantua, at a time when Drexel’s expansion in that direction was just drawings, and began to buy up distressed properties (which was most of them), and selling the rehabbed properties to those willing to take that gamble.

    1. John Zelnicker

      I attended Penn in the late ’60’s-early ’70’s.

      In 1952, the university threatened to move out of Philadelphia to some land it owned near Valley Forge. In order to persuade Penn to stay where it was, centered near 36th and Spruce Sts., the city of Philadelphia gave Penn what was essentially eminent domain over an area extending from 34th St. to 52nd St. and from Powellton Ave. to Baltimore Ave., most of which consisted of black neighborhoods and encompassed several square miles.

      In 1969-70, the university made its first major move in this area by buying up all of the homes in an area north of Market St. to build its Monell Chemical Senses Center and other facilities. This action was one of several events that led to our takeover of the administration building. Other than paying for the properties, of which very few were owned by their residents, the school gave no assistance to the several hundred families that had to move. Providing cash assistance to those displaced was one of the 6 major demands we made of the administration, and they acquiesced to some degree and grudgingly gave these people a bit of assistance.

      Apparently, nothing has changed.

  14. crittermom

    I also love the image under Guillotine Watch! My sentiments exactly (but with photos of American banksters & a couple others instead, of course).

    I’d been following the story of Iceland & was familiar with their approach, but the photo makes it even better. Perfectly put, in a picture. Yes!

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