Links 11/22/15

There’s not mushroom in my kitchen for that: Giant fungi has to be chopped up and carried by FOUR people in Vietnam  Daily News 

CalPERS may lower its return target; taxpayers may have to contribute more Los Angeles Times

As Investors Shun Debt, Banks Are Left Holding the Bag Dealb%k, NYT

Accused Mastermind of J.P. Morgan Hack a Product of Israel’s Internet Underbelly WSJ

Snapchat’s lackluster ad business threatens $16 billion valuation Reuters. Valuation being more an art than a science… 

The last time we saw this happening in junk bonds things ended badly for the market Business Insider. Spiky charts.

The Rise and Fall of Shadow Banking in China The Diplomat. Hmm.

Doctors Call for Drug Advertising Ban in Position Reversal Bloomberg

Vatican to try five, including reporters, over leaks scandal Reuters

Crisis Chronicles: The Cotton Famine of 1862-63 and the U.S. One-Dollar Note Liberty Street. Oddly, or not, this potted history fails to mention how Manchester’s workers supported Lincoln’s cotton blockage and abolition. Have they never heard of Wikipedia?

Some Big Changes in Macroeconomic Thinking from Lawrence Summers Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Disemployment,” the term, moves from the blogosphere to the mainstream; in the mouth of Larry Summers (!).

The Changing Composition of Productivity Growth The Growth Economics Blog. Post-2009, productivity increases because of reduced input per worker, not increased output per worker. “But an economy that is shedding inputs rather than expanding output sure seems like a different animal. What does it imply for asset prices, for example, if we are actively letting capital stocks run down?”


We blew it after 9/11. We’re blowing it again after Paris  Salon. Answers “stupid” to the “stupid or evil” question, but the historical comparison is still worth making.

Paris attacks: UN passes resolution urging action against Isis FT

Americans more fearful of a major terror attack in the U.S., poll finds WaPo. Mission accomplished!

Paris is being used to justify agendas that had nothing to do with the attack Guardian

Nonprofits told not to help Syrian refugees KHOU

Why American Landlords Love Refugee Tenants Bloomberg

To families of mass-shooting victims in U.S., Paris attacks sadly familiar Post and Courier

In Mali and Rest of Africa, the U.S. Military Fights a Hidden War The Intercept

F-35 Too Expensive: US Air Force Might Buy 72 New F-15 or F-16 Fighter Jets The Diplomat. Hilarity ensues.


Anonymous Says ISIS Plans Attacks Against ‘Paris And The World’ Sunday International Business Times. Update: No, it doesn’t, says Anonymous.

On the trail of terror Globe and Mail. From a Syrian refugee camp.

PBS NewsHour Uses Russian Airstrike Footage While Claiming U.S. Airstrike Successes Moon of Alabama

Jeremy Corbyn aims for ‘democratic revolution’ with Labour Party The Telegraph.


The Bern Supremacy National Journal

What Is Actually Radical About Bernie Sanders’ Democratic Socialism Isn’t the Socialism In These Times

What Would Sanders Do? Dollars and Sense

Surprise: Hillary Lurches Right LA Progressive. “Surprise” must be irony, but a nice compendium.

Donald Trump unloaded on Karl Rove, then said he could ‘make up’ with the GOP establishment Business Insider

Trump supporters throw Black Lives Matter protester to the ground and kick him at rally as The Donald yells: ‘Get the hell out of here!’  Daily Mail

Home Grown Fascists Billmon. Trump as a 21st Century Joe McCarthy.

GOP Operative Plans ‘Guerrilla Campaign’ Against Trump WSJ

Insiders: Foreign policy blunders threaten Carson candidacy Politico

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Protesters of Minneapolis police shooting press on in cold Reuters

Freddie Gray remembered as jokester who struggled to leave drug trade Baltimore Sun

Auto Insurance Rates Are 70% Higher If You Live in a Black Neighborhood Time

Quantifying the Ferguson Effect The Atlantic. And by “quantifying” we mean “debunking.”

Guillotine Watch

Silicon Valley by sea: Titans of tech pay $10,000 to party on networking cruise that offers everything from sunrise yoga and world-class cuisine to a live talk with Edward Snowden – but no Wi-Fi Daily Mail. “[Kalanick] also shared the most amusing Uber story he had ever heard which came from a passenger who learned his driver had put his wife in the trunk of the car because he did not think she should be sitting with him while he was working.” That Travis. What a kidder!

Linguistic Obfuscation in Fraudulent Science Journal of Language and Social Psychology

Class War

Who Turned My Blue State Red? NYT. Important.

Rosy jobs numbers blind us to the bleak reality of the ‘real economy’ Los Angeles Times

Exploring the Wall Street Journal’s Pulitzer-Winning Medicare Investigation with SQL Public Affairs Data Journalism at Stanford University (CL). Amazing. 

Early Soviet photography at the Jewish Museum, New York FT

Who are all those smiling people in campaign advertisements? WaPo. For years, when I’d see people smiling in print or TV ads, I’d say to myself “What the hell do they have to smile about?” and then castigate myself for being curmudgeonly. As it turns out, they’re paid to smile; I was seeing stock footage. So now I have an answer to my question.

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. JTMcPhee

    On Imperial forces in AFRICOM (“Africa” is no longer the operative descriptor), the lede should be corrected to “US is (creating, making, fostering,inviting, operating) war, the enterprise, there…”

    Sh-t been goin’ down equally idiotically since our new nation messed with the Pirate States– “From the halls of Montezuma/To the shores of Tripoli…”

    And inter so many alia, Angola back in the 70s-80s, where CUBAN COMMIE TROOPS found themselves protecting US corporate extractive industries against attacks by CIA-armed and funded, US (para)military-trained, UNITA terrorists,

    How fu__Ed up can it all get? Wait, wait, don’t tell me…

  2. RedHope

    Re Corbyn

    Corbyn ratings are higher than Cameron

    Labour’s polling numbers have grown since Corbyn took over despite relentless media attacks

    Corbyn people may be quietly taking over

    Again compare this to the ineffectiveness of sanders and the effectiveness of Sawant of Seattle

    1. Daize

      I believe you are wrong in thinking that Sanders is ineffective. IMHO, he will take Iowa and N.H. which will give him the boost he needs, and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.

      1. wbgonne

        I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.

        I don’t want your money but I do want your evidence. As I understand things, a couple of months ago Sanders was far ahead in New Hampshire and neck-and-neck in Iowa. At that point, the question was the one you allude to: would victories in those first two contests give Sanders “the boost he needs”? Sanders’ tactic then was to try valiantly to cut into Clinton’s overwhelming lead with People of Color. So far, it hasn’t worked. Worse, Sanders has regressed in both Iowa, where he is now far behind, and even New Hampshire, where Clinton is now competitive. Nearly everyone agrees that Sanders is finished unless he wins both Iowa and New Hampshire and that appears increasingly unlikely. Further, even if Sanders pulls that off, there is little evidence showing that he has broadened his appeal beyond young white people, which means he will get clobbered in South Carolina, Nevada, etc. If that happens, Sanders’ campaign will likely enter a rapid death spiral. What is the contrary evidence?

        I support Sanders and I want him to win. But the current trajectory shows a flame-out in progress. That’s why some of us argue that Sanders must change the trajectory and he must do it now.

        1. Daize

          The methodology for a lot of the recent (past couple months) polling has significantly changed to Sander’s disadvantage, and the poll results you see do not reflect who I believe will actually show up to caucuses in 74 days time and thereafter. Also a momentum lead in the first two states will work to improve Sander’s greatest disadvantage which is that not that many people know him well or his message…yet.

          1. wbgonne

            This is an aggregate of polls, 190 polls from 28 pollsters, beginning in January 2013. Sanders trails by 24 points, which is worse than a couple of months ago. More ominously, Clinton has arrested her decline:


            It seems obvious to me that Sanders has to take Clinton down. Whether he can is debatable. But if he doesn’t try it will appear that he is just protecting her for general election.

            1. RedHope

              Or more likely he’s never run a negative campaign election

              The problem with that is that a lot of people according to research vote against rather than for something

              Eg large numbers of republicans vote against brown people that they see as connected to the Dems and Dems vote against the GOP due to GOP bigotry not bc either necessarily agree or disagree with specific policies

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                I don’t Sanders should or, more importantly, can run a “negative campaign.” Then the narrative becomes one of tactical shifting out of desperation. Not a good plan.

                I’m arguing for something more subtle: Sanders should surrender his instinct for comity, and work out ways to attack while still remaining loveable, retaining the truthtelling old codger persona, etc. That’s a rhetorical issue, and I’m sure professionals can handle it. “More in sorrow than in anger” can be very effective.

                1. wbgonne

                  Good points, especially about the “desperation” thing. Let’s face it: Sanders is not David Vitter and he isn’t going to morph into that, thank god. But, as you say, this can be done in a “subtle” way that still works. There is so much material to work with that all Sanders has to do is ask some pointed questions, some very pointed questions for maximum impact. Probably the next debate or even on the stump. Do it repeatedly until it registers. If Bernie plays it right, the corporate media will jump of the Democrats-in-disarray meme. As for “the professionals” in Sanders’ camp, Tad Devine and Jeff Weaver, we’ll see if they have the guts to shoot at the Queen.

                2. Vatch

                  Yes, Sanders needs to let Democratic primary voters know about Hillary’s numerous problems. If she’s the Democratic nominee, the Republicans and their super PACS will make sure that the whole world knows about her shady foundation.

                  I like your “more in sorrow than in anger” strategy.

              2. 3.14e-9

                I never thought of it that way, but if voters (in the primaries) need something to vote against, it seems that Sanders is running “against Wall Street,” that being his shorthand for a rigged financial system. And he is working to fix in voters’ minds that Clinton is Wall Street’s candidate. His new ads that just started running yesterday in Iowa and NH are pretty good. The punchline in one of them is, “You can’t change a corrupt system by taking its money.” While the ads don’t mention Clinton by name, yesterday he tweeted that phrase, with a link to a NYT article about Hillary’s image problem with her ties to Wall Street.

                Going for the jugular requires size and strength. When you’re smaller than your opponent, sliding underneath and striking the exposed underbelly can be a better strategy.

                1. wbgonne

                  Going for the jugular requires size and strength.

                  I’m not sure I agree with that.

                  When you’re smaller than your opponent, sliding underneath and striking the exposed underbelly can be a better strategy.

                  But when you put it that way I do agree. And I think that’s what is being suggested.

                  And this is good news:

                  And he is working to fix in voters’ minds that Clinton is Wall Street’s candidate. His new ads that just started running yesterday in Iowa and NH are pretty good. The punchline in one of them is, “You can’t change a corrupt system by taking its money.” While the ads don’t mention Clinton by name, yesterday he tweeted that phrase, with a link to a NYT article about Hillary’s image problem with her ties to Wall Street.

                  This isn’t mathematics and there is no “right” answer. The proof is in the pudding. If what Sanders does works he is a winner and a genius and if it doesn’t he loses. He is the obvious underdog and must be prepared to take chances.

                2. RedHope

                  If they don’t mention Clinton they are a waste of time

                  No one will connect the dots even if you get it

                    1. 3.14e-9

                      The quote was meant to entice you, if you have the desire or the time, to read the NYT article and then comment. I saw a pattern in it (and also in Sanders’s tweet linking to it), but you might see something else. Also, if you are so inclined, read some of the comments. FWIW, I get extra entertainment value out of the difference between “Readers’ Picks” and the “NYT Picks.” Try as they might, they just can’t shift the discussion in Clinton’s favor.

                    2. 3.14e-9

                      You weren’t “supposed to” get anything. If you did you did, if you didn’t, you didn’t. So that’s the end of the discussion for now. I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunity to continue.

                3. Lambert Strether Post author

                  “You can’t change a corrupt system by taking its money”

                  That’s very good. Hopefully we’ll hear it in the next debate.

                  (Amazingly, it applies in the general, as well.)

                  1. rich

                    If a democratic voter wants Hillary then stop crying when you get this: Hammered.

                    Hillary Clinton is Wall Street

                    The Clinton Foundation also funnels donor money to friends and insiders.

                    And efforts to insulate the foundation from potential conflicts have highlighted just how difficult it can be to disentangle the Clintons’ charity work from Mr. Clinton’s moneymaking ventures and Mrs. Clinton’s political future.

                    Fall 2013 saw Hillary move into offices at the foundation’s new headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, occupying two floors of the Time-Life Building. Hillary is in close proximity to Wall Street.

                    The foundation, which has 350 employees in 180 countries, remains largely powered by Mr. Clinton’s global celebrity and his ability to connect corporate executives, A-listers and government officials.

                    Recent revelations show The Clinton Foundation a 50% owner and sole manager of a $20 million South American private equity firm, Accesso. The Clinton Foundation holds an equity stake in two Colombian companies, Alimentos SAS and Fontel SA.

                    Many of the Clintons’ speeches the last decade have been to private equity audiences. Bill Clinton advised Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa and Teneo. Chelsea worked for Avenue Capital and sits on the IAC board. Hillary spoke to numerous PEUs after retiring from public service.

                    The Clintons are Wall Street, plain and simple. It’s not an image. It’s a fact.

                    Note: PEUReport found an undeclared speech Bill Clinton gave to The Carlyle Group and has numerous posts on the Clinton Foundation.


                    Any Democrat that votes for her is a Hillary Republican…plain and simple. It is what it is.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I’ll put up some more polls in water cooler and people can tear them apart. The most recent national one (ABC, I think) says Sanders up, and Clinton down. We’ll see.

          1. wbgonne

            I saw that but I won’t jump the gun. It’s just one poll but still encouraging since most people thought Hillary the war-mongerer would get a boost from the Paris attack.

          2. cwaltz

            My instinct is to trust polls as far as I can throw them.

            My advice for those that believe in Sanders is to believe in him and their own abilities and ignore the darn polls.

            As far as herding goes, I think the Democratic party is overestimating Sanders ability to convince people to believe something that isn’t authentic or real. I doubt he’ll be able to sell Clinton, he just doesn’t have that used car salesman edge.

        3. Ignim Brites

          Sanders might be able to pull it off if he was willing to be a Peace candidate. Clinton’s latest jag to the right is a pretty good indication that she has no fear that will happen. So progressives are left with the “pitiless war” leadership of Hollande. Maybe MO’M, building on his proposition that AGW caused ISIS, might be able to get to a peace platform. It is actually a much more promising launching point than it sounds since environmentalism is the new name for socialism.

          1. RedHope

            I think many of you suffer from “what appeals to me” analysis

            “Peace candtdate ” would not even register

            I say that as someone who is against the MIC

            There are certain tactics according to research that work.

            I vote for things rather than against but research suggests I’m not the norm

            I’ve only looked up this one in a quick google


            Clinton has positioned herself ” as against the republicans ” candidate

            That is why the Bhengazzi hearing was such a boost for her

            Democrats eat that up

            Sanders needs to challenge that directly and leave nothing to be figured out by the voters

            Eg tie her policies to the GOP

            1. Ignim Brites

              A Peace candidate would be against US engagement in the middle east and against empty Republican and Clintonian rhetoric that we must defeat ISIS. The fact that there is no Peace candidate means there is a practical national consensus that ISIS must be defeated.

  3. RedHope

    Follow up

    The only way sanders can change things is going for the jugular to have a shot at winning. The Neoliberals will NOT give up power easily. Once he is in a place of power one he can be more magnanimous while organizing and changing infrastructure to favor the left. Until then , the only way to win, is to go all in as the conservative Dem just did in right wing GOP friendly LA against the further right wing conservative and to build a massive ground game as Sawant did in Seattle

    1. Sam Adams

      Unhappily Sanders has lost the nomination, although I will continue to work for his campaign until he joins the Democratic aristocracy and media kneeling at the coronation of H.Clinton. H.Clinton is polished, willing to kiss the hands and shake babies. Sanders is observably uncomfortable with mugging the fake concern necessary. I remain convinced she will take down the Democrats in the general election and with her the Supreme Court.

      1. wbgonne

        I remain convinced [Clinton] will take down the Democrats in the general election and with her the Supreme Court.

        Very possible. And Sanders’ hope is that enough Democrats come to agree. It was headed that way when Hillary was floundering but that has ceased and even reversed. Sanders’ job is to make it happen again, this time for good.

        1. ambrit

          My money’s still on Mz Clintons’ health breaking down. Look to who her handlers tell her to pick for Veep.
          Last night I flashed on the wonderful film, “The Presidents Analyst.” That work is entering the realm of prophetic warning. That film plus “Network,” would make for a wonderiferous movie night.
          Pass the popcorn.

      2. neo-realist

        If you’re saying she will lose the general election, who would she lose to? A sleepy clown like Carson? A loudmouth bigot like Trump? Not saying she’s all that, but the opposition makes her look good.

        1. Sam Adams

          Yes, I believe Clinton would lose to either. Not because they are better or appeal to interest or policies, but because she is despised by too vast probable voting numbers.

          1. tegnost

            thats right, pulling the lever (ok i’m old) checking the digital box [suggesting you may be] voting for clinton is an act many may not find the energy for

        2. Vatch

          I’m not so concerned that Hillary will lose in the general election, although she might, since the super PACs will be spending a lot of money against her. What concerns me is that if the election is between Hillary and the Republican nominee, there will be two Republicans for us to choose from, and one of them will win. Kind of like 2012.

          1. neo-realist

            One 70’s style centrist one vs. the present day crazy right wing flavor. There are degrees to how good and hard you will get it from either, with maximum pain coming from the present day crazy right wing flavor.

    2. GuyFawkesLives

      Who ran on stopping the unlawful foreclosures..
      Yet now that she’s in office, she’s running from the foreclosure issue.

      Sawant distanced herself from the request to audit the land records. And continues to distance herself from the audit’s findings.

      She refused to bring up unlawful foreclosures as one of the HUGE reasons for the massive rent increases..

      Now that she’s part of the “elected officials machine” she has no time for us plebs.

        1. GuyFawkesLives

          Actually, people like you make me sick.

          I was at the rent control debate when a brave woman stood and shouted that the unlawful foreclosures were at the heart of the rent increase causes. After her courageous shout down, I seconded her comments..

          Sawant was invited to join Licata and Clark who courageously foraged ahead to fund the land record audit, while Sawant cowered. Most assuredly because she knew the political fall-out of holding the courageous stance. She was a coward..

          1. RedHope

            so to be clear you think she failed not bc what she’s trying to do is hard but bc she didn’t discuss foreclosures while she was fighting for rent control

            You are sick alright but not bc of me

            1. GuyFawkesLives

              You are ignorant!

              Both her and Licata had the full results of the McDonnell land record audit (see David Dayen’s Intercept articles surrounding Seattle City Council’s continued efforts to suppress the findings) prior to the rent control debate! Neither of them mentioned the 680,000 Washington families unlawfully foreclosed upon which MAJORLY adds to “Demand”. Sawant refused to assist in getting the land record audit funded. It was not Clark OR Licata who ran for office on stopping unlawful foreclosures….IT WAS SAWANT who showed up and got herself arrested (and into the newspapers) because she “defended” evictions. IMHO, Sawant had no intention of stopping unlawful foreclosures. She simply wanted press releases of how she “stood with the plebs”.

      1. tegnost

        I think RH’s point was that sawant had an effective method of turning out support,
        and I agree she’s one person on the city coucil, not the second coming, I think OregonCharles has pointed out these litmus tests seem to be primarily targeting the very left spectrum

        1. RedHope

          It’s typically a game either of 1. Centrists/ right wingers trying to discredit the leftist as not being able to do it all (a la Clinton re sanders ) or 2. Local disputes involving activist personalities too crazy to work with anyone. I live in NYC. The later is rampant with rivals fighting battles that are decades old or challenging upstarts or having expectations that are unrealistic regarding the power of the specific leftist. With the later it’s often a means of divide and conquer for the right and long list of greviances for the activists that go no where

          1. GuyFawkesLives

            You live in NYC, but claim to know everything there is to know about Seattle politics. Give me a fucking break!

              1. GuyFawkesLives

                You know nothing about me.

                What I know about NEw Yorkers: they insist the understand everything, yet they really love is to hear themselves talk.

                  1. GuyFawkesLives

                    Well, let’s see:
                    The media coverage of the rent control debate conveniently did not include any commentary of the foreclosure defenders in the audience who. Loudly commented on Sawant’s pre-election defense of preventing foreclosures (you can Google Sawant taking part in an eviction defense where she ceremoneously got arrested) and that Sawant distanced herself from the issue post-election.

                    Google “Mortgage Movies” to see Christopher King’ repeated requests for the Seattle City Council to bring McDonnell to the city to discuss her audit’s findings. Sawant could insist this happens, but stays silent.

              2. Lambert Strether Post author

                Honestly, watching the left is like watching a tiny Protestant sect split itself into a multiplicity of even tinier sects. Are you sure your houses are even big enough to wish plagues on? Get a grip, both of you.

        1. GuyFawkesLives

          How can someone “provide links” when Sawant’s cowardice only appears in emails and voice mails that go unanswered.

          However, it was quite plain when Sawant didn’t mention unlawful foreclosures as one main cause to the rental increase..

          1. RedHope

            Wow this is just cray cray

            Above you mentioned the context was during a push for rent control

            Again from a “she’s one vote on a city council”, you are discussing state law issues and how can you
            Pretend she’s not discussing rent control POV, do you not get how crazy you sound ?

          2. Massinissa

            Ohhhhhhh, so youre really just angry she wont return your calls.

            It all makes so much more sense now.

            1. GuyFawkesLives

              Okay, let’s all put this in perspective:
              Politician who pledged to fight unlawful foreclosures sits back and does NOTHING when provided the opportunity. She takes media press when it serves her…taking arrests to “prevent” evictions, but again does NOTHING regarding fighting foreclosures once in office! Fuck you all if you who claim to be “against the man” also cannot connect the fucking dots!

            2. tegnost

              + another large number…Sawant has an effective organization and style and I spend a lot of time within her district. Seattle politics is like all other local politics, think homeowners assoc on steroids. We want a better world have to have better tactics, seems to me the comment that started it all was not acknowledged.

  4. fresno dan

    Some Big Changes in Macroeconomic Thinking from Lawrence Summers Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Disemployment,” the term, moves from the blogosphere to the mainstream; in the mouth of Larry Summers (!).

    In other words, it is a real puzzle to observe simultaneously multi-year trends of rising non-employment of low-skilled workers and declining measured productivity growth. Either we need a new understanding, or one of these observed patterns is ill-founded or misleading. In my view, we should trust labor market data more than GDP data when they come in conflict—workers are employed and paid, and pay taxes (usually) so they get directly counted, whereas much of GDP data is constructed.

    Summers simply posed the labor and productivity puzzle as something significant and difficult to understand, but he then proposed another significant reason that productivity growth may be increasingly underestimated for technological reasons today. He argued that there has been unmeasured quality improvement, whether in health care or travel, or in intangible services in general (GIVE ME A BREAK!)
    Then Summers bravely (BRAVELY!!!!!) noted that if we suppose the “simple” non-economists who thought technology could destroy jobs without creating replacements in fact were right after all, then the world in some aspects would look a lot like it actually does today: Relative wages of those subject to technological displacement, or the unskilled, would go down; fewer would be employed, whether by choice or not, as a result; and labor input is permanently reduced. This is very scary if correct (and not just because economists would have to again cease being smug). Unless we can somehow transform that sustained lower demand for workers into the widespread leisure of the sort imagined by Keynes and some science fiction writers, with the income redistribution to support it, I would think this is very bad news for social stability and technological progress.

    Now I figured out that the great moderation, the “recovery” and the 5% unemployment rate were all bull a long time ago…so either I am much more brilliant than Larry Summers, or Larry Summers and his sycophants aren’t nearly as smart as they think.

    And of course, the problem is “real” interest rates.
    ALWAYS interest rates….
    Maybe interest rates are a big McGuffin.
    Heaven forbid we broach an idea that there is a demand deficit because so many aren’t working, and are working at jobs that don’t supply ENOUGH income to buy up all they crap that is made. OR there is plenty of activities that need to be done, that takes plenty of people to do it, to be done – but it will never happen as long as we believe in a sacrosanct market that just happens to distribute all the resources to those at the top (what a coincidence it just happened to work out that way!!! FOR the people at the top – who are helplessly getting rich because the market requires it!!!) who gobble up more and more and convince us that the problem isn’t distribution….its something else!!!! It is NEVER, EVER distribution – we can never speak of it. Or financial crime being responsible for (insert your own theory percentage – its probably better than anything Summers, who refuses to acknowledge it, can come up with) 90% of income distribution.

    And maybe “technology” doesn’t destroy jobs. There is this guy named Marx who talked about the reserve army of labor a long time ago. I don’t know if he is correct or not, but I do know those who spend all their time congratulating themselves on how smart they are, don’t have a clue about what is destroying jobs.

    1. fresno dan

      And one other thing:

      “Substantial underestimation of US productivity growth, if it is true, has substantial implications for monetary policy today beyond its import for our overall assessment of economic performance. As Summers argued in his speech, if you take underestimation of productivity growth seriously, you have to take into account the significant risk that inflation is lower than even its currently low level—and that has the consequence that real interest rates are higher, so monetary policy at present is tighter than people realize, but also farther away from its mandated inflation target than recognized.

      Maybe I have completely misunderstood EVERYTHING I have read on classical economics, but I am under the impression that high productivity LOWERS inflation, and therefore LOW productivity would raise inflation.
      The FED seems to think there is no good evidence that there is ANY relationship between productivity and inflation in this presentation (even though the data they present seems to sure show so)

      On the other hand, Janet (Yellen) says this:
      “In theory, slower growth in trend productivity would have two counteracting effects. First, it likely would raise business costs for a time, because firms would face more rapid growth of unit labor costs. To offset the resulting squeeze on profit margins, firms would need to raise prices more rapidly. Eventually, increases in unit labor costs are likely to fall back toward previous slower rates as workers are forced to accept lower wage growth to compensate for their slower productivity growth. But during the adjustment period—which can last for a considerable period—there is upward pressure on inflation.

      At the same time, slower growth in trend productivity would likely result in slower growth in aggregate demand, which might offset some of the upward pressure on inflation. Growth in consumer spending would probably weaken as lower business profits limit stock market gains, thereby reducing household wealth. More foresighted consumers might also reduce spending, perceiving that the prospects for growth in real wages are not as bright. Further, lower expected rates of productivity growth should restrain business investment by reducing the prospective return to capital.”

      OK than…. So I would conclude that raising productivity sometimes lowers inflation, sometimes raises inflation, but always tends to that magical “equilibrium” and sometimes productivity just says “f*ck it” and goes out and has a beer that is going up or down in price…

      1. andyb

        You can throw out all economic theory since it can not apply in rigged markets, debt serfdom and “controlled” interest rates wherein the true value of anything is open to question. The government economists and policy wonks are either extremely delusional or they march to a more insidious agenda which, I imagine will lead to a more totalitarian disaster for all of us (except the 1%, of course).

    2. MikeNY

      Yes, I’ve noticed that all possible and theoretical solutions to economic problems in mainstream economics never mention ‘redistribution’. I think it must be an a priori assumption of academic models that redistribution is impossible and against the laws of nature.

      Because oligarchs don’t share their toys.

      1. LifelongLib

        Redistribution is politically difficult if you do it through taxes — allowing people to nominally acquire wealth/money and then appearing to take them away. It would be easier if a system could be devised that naturally distributed wealth/money in a way we consider fair, so that the government was not overtly redistributing via the tax structure. That said I admit to having no idea how such a system would work.

        1. fresno dan

          I certainly don’t believe in taking what people have RIGHTFULLY earned by means of confiscatory taxes. I think 90% is ridiculous.

          However, so much wealth is generated by means of restraint of trade and market manipulation (as well as fraud, but I want to deal with the theory of capitalism). The fact that the theory is so undermined would be equivalent that the rich team gets to have more players – but the unfairness in our “market” system is so pervasive, but so hidden yet justified, and we live in a world where we have become “justice” blind.

          Microsoft essentially became a money printing machine because of a clause that prevented computer manufacturers from putting any other operating system on their computer without paying MICROSOFT a fee. By any intellectual honest understanding of free enterprise this guts the rationale of markets by not allowing competition on a level playing field. It harms consumers by preventing them from deciding what operating system they would like to try (there is no reason not to more than one operating system on a computer – other than expense, which becomes a factor when you have monopolies….)
          Microsoft was sued by the Federal government, and the government prevailed. Unfortunately, the government was late in taking action, and the lead Microsoft had built up was insurmountable. Micorsoft used its incredible wealth to buy up other unrelated firms, getting themselves excess profits as well as making the products crappier (microsoft word better than Word perfect???? of course not)

          In poker, it is well accepted that someone going in a game, of average talent, with a much bigger pot (money for betting) to draw upon has an almost unbeatable advantage.

          At one time, vigorous anti trust enforcement helped to assure that their were enough firms, with enough competition, to assure that competition in the market would not be manipulated.
          That change in policy, as well as the fact that the rules of the game (the laws of the US – everything from patent to trade to …well, every law is written to advantage business, owners, and the wealthy is ways to numerous and obscure to list – and has imperceptibly and inexorably increased inequality.

          1. tegnost

            “In poker, it is well accepted that someone going in a game, of average talent, with a much bigger pot (money for betting) to draw upon has an almost unbeatable advantage.”

            pretty much describes QE doesn’t it?

        2. MikeNY

          I agree that redistribution through taxes is hard. But personally I would prefer trying that method, as opposed to i) revolution, or ii) hyperinflation, which usually leads to revolution or war. These seem to be the only other common historical methods.

          1. tegnost

            I wonder what the total “offshored [in lake mead?]” corporate person funds total up to…
            maybe someone could make a sim world reality show where corporate persons hang out and talk about tax “restructuring”. I agree though in seriousness that redistribution through taxes is hard and truly believe people pay plenty of tax right now and the other end of the distribution, the payola part (i.e. nike and ibm, reebok subsidies making municipalities buy jobs) is a contributing factor…does more distribution mean more taxes, or is more taxes the ruse to prevent more distribution?

      2. cwaltz

        Part of the problem is people misunderstand economics. Any economic model is redistribution. The difference is in who is responsible for determining how things are redistributed. In capitalism private entities decide. Walmart redistributes the dollars it is given. It doesn’t have a vault that it keeps money in for each customer, instead it redistributes that money to vendors, the resource market, investors, the government, utilities, etc, etc.

        The problem is though as you say, the oligarchs don’t want to share, and in this particular model they are the private entities largely deciding how things are allocated(straight down to buying politicians who then offer them deals to pay pennies on the dollar in taxes and expecting citizens to pick up the difference when it comes to schooling their future employees, paying for the roads their products come in on or covering the services that protect their products from pilfering.)

        1. susan the other

          Read the one about the town in Wales, ZH i think, that offshored itself as a corporation to demand the same tax breaks the other sleazeball corporations are given?

    3. tiresoup

      Take a look at Summers’ record sometime. He’s been wrong a whole lot. Not smart enough to tease out all the assumptions he’s working with, but one of them surely is that he is smart enough to figure it out. If you ask the wrong questions, you get the wrong answers.

  5. bwilli123

    The sleight of hand referred to in the Guardian link above,
    “Paris is being used to justify agendas that had nothing to do with the attack”, is also evident with the emphasis on the link between the main plotter Abdelhamid Abaaoud and ISIS in Syria in order to further mayhem in that country, completely ignoring the prior Moroccan and Libyan connections.
    From China matters Blogspot

    “Abdelhamid Abaaoud is suspected of being a leader of a branch of the Islamic State in Syria called Katibat al-Battar al Libi, which has its origins in Libya. This particular branch has attracted many Belgian fighters because of language and cultural ties, said Pieter van Ostaeyen, who tracks Belgian militants.

    Many Belgian Muslims are of Moroccan origin, he said, and speak a dialect found in eastern Morocco that is similar to a Libyan dialect. Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, who studies jihadi groups at the Middle East Forum, a research center in Washington, said there was no evidence yet that the Paris attacks had been ordered by Adnani or the Islamic State’s overall leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

    But he added that the soldiers at Libyan branch that includes Abaaoud has played a prominent role in exporting violence. One of their tasks he said, has been to organize plots that “involved foreign fighters, sleeper cells in Europe that were connected with an operative inside of Syria and Iraq, usually in a lower to midlevel position.”

    1. Brian

      “9-11 attack is being used to justify agendas that had nothing to do with the attack”
      please wash, rinse and repeat. Until we all realize talk won’t do anything, that any one like Larry Summers is paid to obfuscate for someone with an agenda, and that criminals are in charge and committing crimes against the citizens (treason) and humanity.
      Perhaps it would be a good time to wake up now.

  6. Steve H.

    Changing Composition:

    : MFP growth allowed us to use inputs more efficiently, and we took advantage of that by using our increasing inputs to increase output by a lot. In the last few years, though,we have taken advantage of MFP growth by shedding inputs while increasing output only a little.

    Compare to:

    : When energy supplies support accelerating growth, maximum power fosters competition. When energy is flow-limited, growth levels off and more cooperative, diverse units are favored (Odum, 2007). This idea of succession becomes important in explaining how systems stop growing, mature, and even devolve, through pulsing. Systems’ first priority is to maximize energy intake; their second priority is to maximize efficiency in energy processing.


  7. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: In Mali and Rest of Africa, the U.S. Military Fights a Hidden War The Intercept

    It makes no difference what part of the world you are talking about, the explanation for the rise in “terrorism” is always the same:

    “A continent relatively free of transnational terror threats in 2001 is — after almost 14 years of U.S. military efforts — now rife with them, in the Pentagon’s view.”

    The “shining city on the hill” strikes yet again.

    1. fresno dan

      Prediction if a republican is elected:
      There will be some terrorist attacks on the “homeland” and despite all the incessant campaign bull about being “ready from day one” – – will than be explained as not being able to prevent each and every terror attack (even though every republican ad will insinuate that the republicans can stop terror attacks much, much, MUCH better than dems). Just like with finding Bin Laden, forgetaboutit – not that important after all… The important thing is support the troups! support the police! Support America! (just like Jeb! – no, not ‘support’ Jeb, the use of exclamation MARKS!) and of course, support republicans! The important thing is to be UNITED! when there is a republican! president!, and criticizing him will be unpatriotic!! and undermining!! America!!! !!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I am kind of interested how anti gun control and anti terrorist ideology will cross sect if there are gun used terrorist attacks. There was the Fort Hood incident, but I wonder what will happen if there is a Paris style attack – Will the NRA actually say there are significant numbers of people who should not have guns? Sure, they have always said convicted felons can be prohibited. But in general, they are always trying to allow the widest latitude in who is permitted to own guns – see this:

      O where would I be without Google!!!!!!!!!
      There is a Bill by Feinstein now to prohibit guns going to people on the no fly list

      “The NRA — and their gun-loving Republican cohorts — are refusing once more to stop terrorists intent on getting armed in the U.S.A.
      A legal loophole allows suspected terrorists on the government’s no-fly list to legally buy guns, but a bill to fix that will likely wither on the vine. The federal Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, even in the wake of last week’s terrorist killing of 129 people in Paris, remains a long shot due to its rabid pro-gun opponents.”


      I always note that Atlantic article about Ronald Reagan being pro gun control in the 1960’s. Things change in surprising ways sometimes

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Some of us are old enough to remember the brazen gaslighting Bush used in the run-up to the 2004 election. Maybe that will happen in 2016, on the assumption it helps Clinton (assuming the administration wants to do that).

  8. jsn

    Who Turned My Blue State Red:
    Congratulations to the Democratic Party for reinventing Speenhamland!

    First deprive folks of the ability to sustain themselves off the land, then make jobs so scarce they can’t earn a healthy living and then, patronizingly, provide them with subsistence “benefits”.

    But today’s rural poor are totally isolated and dependent on cars they can no longer afford for access to everything. And they have no memory of even raising potatoes in the yard. It took forever, but mortality rates are finally going up, good job Democrats!

      1. Massinissa

        Are you trying to defend the democrats somehow? Because JSN is not defending Republicans.

        It takes two to tango, both Dems and Republicans are to blame.

        1. ex-PFC Chuck

          The parties are jointly responsible for the situation, but responsibility for the fact that the dispossessed who once reliably voted for Democrats are no longer showing up at the polls lays squarely at the feet of the Democratic establishment itself. The glue that held the New Deal coalition together was that the party aggressively advocated for the economic interests of the working class, the lower strata of the middle class and the poverty-stricken. Thanks to the sea change in moral values ushered into the upper reaches of the party establishment since the late 1980s it no longer does this. However, it has been fraudulently representing itself to the party’s grass roots base that it still does. More and more of these people are catching on and therefore voting with their butts on election day.

          The only announced Democratic candidate for president who would have hit the root cause this issue head on was Larry Lessig, but he was denied the oxygen of a place on the debate stage when the DNC, under the tutelage of chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, moved the goal posts after he had met the previously announced criteria. DWS almost certainly did so precisely because of the disruptive potential of Lessig’s message. It was a classic case of the Iron Law of Institutions in action.

          So the party is left with the very likely nomination of a crownednominated candidate long past her sell-by date that few are enthused about, and the very unlikely nomination of a candidate who if elected will be 74 when he is sworn in. With the House under Republican control because of the gerrymandering enabled by the low turnout of the Democratic grass roots base in 2010, which was a result of the disillusionment that set in when the base realized President Obama’s 2008 campaign was a bait-and-switch operation, the likelihood of a Democratic administration getting much done for the economic interests of its former New Deal coalition is slim. Thus if a Democrat is elected it will likely be the first one-term presidency since Bush 41 because the disillusioned base will again vote with their butts, causing catastrophic collateral damage to the Party’s future prospects as Republican state legislature once again gerrymander districts to their advantage.

          1. Jagger

            So the party is left with the very likely nomination of a crownednominated candidate

            And then there are the superdelegates. What a brilliant idea to subvert the popular vote. Talk about rigged.

              1. LifelongLib

                Unfortunately, part of what held the Democratic New Deal coalition together was FDR’s soft-pedaling of civil rights. Starting with Truman, accelerating with LBJ, and culminating in the titanic battles over school busing and integration, the South and many in the working-class North began voting their prejudices rather than their economic interests. Many liberals/leftists peeled away over the Vietnam War. The coalition had largely unraveled well before the late 80s.

  9. timbers

    “Surprise: Hillary Lurches Right LA Progressive.”

    “In short,” Cohn added, “the Clinton campaign has made a conscious decision here. It is not merely criticizing Sanders for suspicious math. It is suggesting the test for any proposed initiative is what taxes it imposes, regardless of what benefits it might bring.”

    WHAT TAXES? The only who has brought new taxes up is Hillary, who also helped pass taxes for healthcare. It’s called Obamacare.

    The article spends paragraphs on Hilary’s charge that Sander’s single pay healthcare would come with new taxes, yet didn’t notice any mention that no new taxes on “middle class” or maybe no new taxes period, would even be needed if you count the savings from elimination of the very expensive ACA or military draw down. Also no mention of the tax that’s hear and now – Hillay’s Obamacare tax.

    Is Sanders absent? What’s he doing about Hillary’s saying this?

  10. dk

    The CMC data sets are available at:

    There is a rather intimidating license agreement, prohibiting transfer of copies:

    There is a 2013 dataset available, possibly this was not previously available to the WSJ researchers (or Stanford researchers?).

    Among other things, the datasets open a partial window onto medical costs, showing submitted charges and remitted medicare payments. The differences between these two figures can be taken to represent payment by insurers and/or patients, such remaining payments are sometimes negotiated. There are often further charges for services not covered by Medicare.

    What would be really nice would be to be able to review the “Chargemaster” tables for hospitals, their references for base charges for all procedures, services and items. Unfortunately, only California requires hospitals to publish these tables.

    In 2013, CMS “made public chargemaster data for the 100 most common Medicare inpatient diagnostic related groups”:

    C. Duane Dauner, president of the California Hospital Association, observed in a statement that since Medicare is paid based on DRGs and the state’s Medicaid program is paid on negotiated contracts, the chargemaster data release by CMS is “less relevant and may confuse patients as well as the public.”

    In other words, hospitals charge patients and insurers different rates than the negotiated Medicare charges.

  11. wbgonne

    Who Turned My Blue State Red? NYT. Important.

    Yes, it is important. For decades now there has been a propagandistic assault upon the state, the common good, and distributionist policies. This reactionary movement gained traction as the dominance of the United States began waning in the 1970s. The brainwashing was quite effective even then and now, as economic conditions deteriorate for most Americans, resentment against others is a source of comfort for those who are struggling. As the article points out, the political problem for the distributionist Left is two-fold (three-fold, actually, which I’ll get to in a moment). First, the beneficiaries of the distributionist policies are politically inert. Second, the opponents of distributionist policies, primarily seniors, are politically active. Double-whammy. While the resentment mentality is disproportionately in older people who, by definition, won’t be around all that much longer, it is not at all limited to seniors. I hear lots of younger people, non-seniors anyway, who say the same things. IOW: this problem must be confronted: we can’t hope for demographics to resolve it for us.

    Now the article suggests that economic growth will help the resentment ebb and this is undoubtedly true, though perhaps overstated because the psychology of resentment is now deeply ingrained. So I’d say what we need is a two-pronged approach. First, demand that those receiving public assistance participate meaningfully in their communities. For instance, I think it might go a long way if able-bodied public housing beneficiaries were required to clean and maintain the housing projects. And perhaps able-bodied welfare recipients should be obliged to perform some form of community service. If they refuse they may still get benefits but reduced in some measure. Maybe that seems vindictive but I don’t really think it is. I think it inculcates the sense of community that will help the distributionist beneficiaries engage meaningfully in their communities and ultimately in the political process. Further, it will teach younger people the valuable skills of teamwork, diligence and just-showing-up which are the hallmarks of adult life.

    Second, lowering economic anxiety for those who are not the beneficiaries of the distributionist polices will help. How to do so in this current economic climate? It must be government work. There is certainly plenty to do: our national infrastructure is a shambles. And had Obama adopted even a semblance of the Green Party’s Green New Deal, we could have thousands of people working today on solar, wind and hydroelectric installations and constructing a national grid. Decent jobs to tide the people over while we transition to a low-carbon future, while building the sense of community that will be required in that new world. This could go some way to reducing the resentment but it won’t be adequate due to the anti-distributionist propaganda assault which — as the article notes — has now been joined by the putative Leftist party, the Democrats.

    Which brings me to the third political obstacle and the one, to my mind, that is most acute. There is no political party serving the interests of the American people so there is no political party that will either counter the anti-distributionist propaganda assault or launch the Green New Deal initiative that could provide economic security to reduce resentment and resistance. (Maybe there could be some movement towards skin-in-the-game demands on distributionist beneficiaries but in the absence of the other elements this “reform” will undoubtedly take a punitive form and, after all, the opponents of distributions policies don’t want beneficiaries politically engaged). In the vacuum that results because neither party stands with the people, the people feel increasingly bereft, threatened, and insecure, which leads inexorably to yet more resentment against distributionist policies.

    1. James Levy

      The post-war European welfare state worked in part because Italian welfare payments went to ethnic Italians, Germans to Germans, etc. The big problem in America was always that some of the transfer payments would go to blacks, and plenty of poor whites would face ruin rather than see the money go to blacks, even if it meant money, jobs, and opportunities going to themselves and their children. Now, with immigration an issue in Europe, the welfare state is being dismantled/destroyed so that the “darkies” can’t get any, and the votes are coming from too many of the people who will themselves lose out but don’t care because they hate The other that much, and the elites exploit this to the hilt (which is why I consider any demonizing of immigrants as playing directly into the hands of the elites).

      What is destroying redistributionist policies is tribal politics. Until we accept people as people and citizens as citizens, you know, the great Enlightenment Project, we are doomed.

      1. wbgonne

        Until we accept people as people and citizens as citizens, you know, the great Enlightenment Project, we are doomed.

        I agree with this. What we need, I think, is a genuine foothold in the political system to begin changing the direction. How to (re)-gain that political representation is the question.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Because everyone gets newly created money, no one will bully you or try to stigmatize you.

          “Your mom is on welfare.”

          “You dad is in the Job Guarantee program.”

          “No, we the people own that money. And everyone has an equal share in it.”

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            In Kentucky, my reading is that you’re 180° wrong. JG solves the economic problem*, and defuses the political problem (“free money for lazy people”) in a way that BIG can never do.

            * The barbaric system of throwing people out of work to regulate the economy.

            1. cwaltz

              I disagree. Personally I think a basic income guarantee could solve quite a few problems including the “part time” work dilemma.

              Some of the problem is this idea that people making poverty wages are lazy. Most of them work harder than the Jamie Dimons or the Hemsleys who head the banking or health care cartels. They just are unfortunate enough in this business model to be considered more expendable bcause they lack the elite pedigree that someone like Dimon has.

              1. PhilK

                This reminds me of a JFK story I read somehere, maybe in Theodore White’s book, and perhaps it’s especially appropriate today.

                Kennedy was in West Virginia campaigning for the primary there, and he was at a coal mine, shaking hands with miners coming in to start their shifts. An old miner shook his hand and said, “Senator, they tell me you never done a day’s work in your life.” And Kennedy said something like, “No, a day’s work like you fellas do every day? No I’ve never worked like that.” And the old miner said, “Well, lemme tell ya somethin’ —— You ain’t missed a damn thing!

            2. Optimader

              in my observation at least, most, most people want to be productive and make a contribution at their capacity and carry on with a sense of dignity.

              Quite frankly there is no shortage of infrastructure and value added things that would improve the quality of life in this country An obvious one to fall off the log with is an electrified rail public/commercial trans network, and everything that goes with it, which would take decades if we started tomorrow.
              There will always be a small % of healthy people that just want to exist on the public dole which should be considered merely as an acceptable cost for a more enlightened society.

              1. wbgonne

                Excellent points. That’s right. So what if there are a few freeloaders? Most people aren’t like that and don’t want to be. The job of a healthy society is to maximize the number of people who want to participate meaningfully but there will always be some who don’t. Give them a modest existence and let them be. We used to celebrate characters like this in our culture as colorful eccentrics but now we demonize them. The resentment is wildly disproportionate.

        2. cwaltz

          The programs that work the best and that are the hardest to dismantle are the ones where everyone benefits.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


            That was the point I was trying to make.

            “It’s not that some people get to vote and some don’t. It’s not that some people get some money and others don’t. We all get money and that’s way it’s been since forever.”

            I’d rather be poor than see some people get free money (James Levy’s point) – that’s not even an option.

          2. wbgonne

            Very true. The problem, however, is defining and recognizing the benefits. For instance, I’d say the society at large benefits from social programs for poor children because this gives those children the best chance to become healthy and productive adults, and spares them and the rest of society the anomic alternatives of substance abuse, crime and dysfunction. Unfortunately, many people don’t see that as benefiting anyone other than the poor children themselves which for them — unfortunately again — isn’t enough “benefit” to justify the cost.

    2. tegnost

      I agree with your comment generally except on the point of paying people to maintain the commons. Imagine if the gov created the vast array of commons improving jobs from solar to park maintenance and everything in between and paid (the apparently almighty) $15/hr. There would be a lot of takers and not in the recent valuation of the word. They would take the jobs en masse and the private sector would have to pony up or lose workers. This in itself would create demand based on simple multipliers. The people who spend money would actually have some, but as you say, the wrong people…

        1. tegnost

          No I’m for them, just including cleaning up around the “projects” as it were, instead of the need for skin in the game, pretty much agree with everything except that one point

          1. tegnost

            more clearly the gov can make green tech as well as basic infrastructure, without the sort ok you live here so you must clean it up, rather you live here and can improve your situation with these available maintenance jobs cause people like money and want to buy stuff they’ll work

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Red and blue together = purple.

      Purple, as in it will be bruising.

      Maybe, but healing starts after that…in a healthy system.

      “Resentment towards others.” — Are people resentful?

      Resentment is to be something to be avoided, I guess.

      Are you angry and resenting?

      Are you envious in your resentment?

      And so, if you advocate taxing the rich, it’s your resentment towards others.

      Thus, we must not resent others, we are told. That’s our lesson. When we’ve learned that, we are educated.

      And if we are not resenting, but merely stating what we believe, they will attack you as being resentful – resenting money, resenting success, resenting progress, resenting new ideas, resenting newcomers, etc.

      1. wbgonne

        What if people receiving government benefits were required to vote?

        Well, I’m aiming at motivating political engagement rather than mandating it. But I think we get to the same place either way and it would be a major step forward. (And bear in mind that those who oppose distributionist policies — the entire Republican Party to start with — do not want the recipients to become politically engaged, so they would fight any such mandate tooth and nail, even assuming it would be legal, about which I am skeptical). Still, I think we can make progress if someone articulates the way forward.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        To encourage voter turnout, we give anyone who votes money.

        Matters no if he/she votes left, right or center.

        “Thank you for coming in to vote on this cold, raining/snowing day. Here is your $100 bucksE

        .Election time – candidates get money. So do voters. Everyone wins.

        Hey, let’s have another election. What should we vote on? Getting bases out of Germany?

        1. Ulysses

          “To encourage voter turnout, we give anyone who votes money.”

          Back in 18th and 19th c. U.S. it was very common for candidates to throw lavish parties on election day. Many voters chose who to vote for based on the relative quality of food, drink, and entertainment that was offered.

          Much better system than choosing based on television advertising!

    4. Brooklin Bridge

      The author omits discussion of Democrats and their part in this; namely they no longer provide a sense of public conscience, a sense of reason, or any factual information about social programs to counter the lies. “Have you no shame”, today, would draw blank stares. And few if any would say such a thing in the first place. Indeed, Democrats are increasingly fully active in exploiting the safety nets, playing slightly different parts than Republicans, but with the same goals.

      In articles like this the picture presented is bewildering at best when the only actors are Republicans and Democrats are implicitly victims.

    5. inode_buddha

      Economic growth isn’t going to cause any resentment to ebb if those who are producing more aren’t sharing the fruits of their own labors. In other words, whose economy is growing? The laborers, or the capitalists?

    6. tiresoup

      Maybe “the people” rather have a decent job than a big brother teat to suck on? Redistribution doesn’t work because someone has to create the wealth to begin with. If big government is looking over a productive shoulder, waiting to vacuum the profit out of his or her pocket and give it to someone else, how long do you think that person will work hard to create the wealth you so blithely want to “redistribute?” Plus, gov also wants a big, big slice for itself for all the hard work “redistributin.”

  12. jgordon

    To families of mass-shooting victims in U.S., Paris attacks sadly familiar

    At first I thought this would be another irrational anti-gun rant, but I’m happy to say that I was wrong. In fact it seems to becoming more widely acknowledged even among those on the left rampant violence is entirely a cultural artifact, and has little to do with the widespread availability of various tools such as personal passenger vehicles and firearms. It probably has something to do with the continued widespread lack of evidence that gun control initiatives have much of an impact on homicide rates or violence in general, though such do still manage annoy a large percentage of the population whenever they’re trotted out.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “more widely acknowledged even among those on the left rampant violence is entirely a cultural artifact”

      Link, please. (And what exactly do you mean by “even among”?)

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    $10,000 to party on networking cruise.

    That’s another option post-status quo.

    Some envision living on a farm, fending off hungry, urbanites-truned-brigands.

    Or you can prepare a canoe now and live off the sea when the time comes…harder for those marauders to track you down.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    CALPERS…taxpayers may contribute more.

    Another attempt at divide and conquer unless we go one single pension for all.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Drug advertising ban.

    There is another way. Take all the military advertising money (and other global adventure money) out of our nearly $600 billion a year Pentagon budget, and buy up all advertising ($180 billion or so in the US in 2014).

    The only message: Exercise is good for you and do it in your own home or any public park (this is not an ad campaign to benefit private for-profit gyms).

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Junk bonds…the last time we saw this.

    Well, before a storm, it’s nice to know that government has

    1. lots of drinking water in case
    2. lots of food for the emergency
    3. lots of tents, and other necessities.

    to be GIVEN to the people.

    Now, before a financial storm, shouldn’t the government have prepared

    1. lots of money
    2. lots of cash
    3. lots of coins

    to be given, yes, given, to the people, when the financial storm lands?

    Yes, buildings or banks will fall or fail, but the government will take care of the people.

    Well, that’s my dream anyway, instead of saving buildings or oil refineries and letting people cope with their own New Orleans.

    Maybe the idea of giving money equally to the People is just too radical.

    “My God, won’t the serfs stop wanting to work?”

  17. heresy101

    Rather than spending more on the “too expensive F35” or other lame American jets that don’t work, the US could just buy jets from Russia that work and cost much less. To get an idea of how much money is being wasted, check this out:

    The additional $1 Trillion (with a T) on welfare for the F35 military contractors could be used to provide something useful – free college education for all! At an estimate of $62 Billion for college costs, the additional $1T could provide FREE college education for all for the next 16 years. Amazing!

    Students need to occupy their Senator’s and Representative’s offices until they sign the pledge:
    No more money for the F35 and that money must be used for Free College Education.

    If students and parents unite, they are much more powerful than Grover Norquist’s (the leg breaker of the 1%) no tax pledge. Maybe organizing for an April 15 occupation of the politician’s offices is in order.

    1. tegnost

      I think an important way to look at boondoggles like the f-35 is that they are basically patent mills and R+D on the public dime. The failures in the f-35 will and have undoubtedly found a way to the bank.

  18. Torsten

    Re: Stanford Data Journalism SQL Assignment and Medicare Fraud.

    Having not done the mid-term, it’s not entirely clear to me what Lambert found amazing about the Medicare fraud story. To those who have not had the dubious pleasure of working with large databases of raw public records data, the linked lesson should be eye-opening. The inherent noisiness of public records data is, IMHO, the single most worrisome aspect of the Patriot Act. The noise fairly guarantees that innocents will suffer more than criminals.

    As was perhaps the case with Dr. Weaver. The WSJ’s Pulitzer Prize-winning story, Taxpayers Face Big Medicare Tab for Unusual Doctor Billings, was published on 9 June 2014. Two weeks later, on 22 June, the WSJ published a story, FBI Probes Medicare Billing at Los Angeles Clinic, reporting that

    The FBI investigation started after antifraud contractors working for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that administers the federal health-insurance program for the elderly and disabled, sent a file highlighting the clinic’s billing pattern several years ago to the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. OIG referred the case to the FBI, this person said.

    So, contra the implications of the Stanford assignment, the WSJ did not receive its Pulitzer Prize for an investigation it initiated, but for publishing a tip it received from unnamed “antifraud contractors” with the face of black doctor, whom the WSJ was accusing of fraud, plastered in the lead.

    What might be amazing to some, but certainly not to NC readers, is that the WSJ neglected to report that Dr. Weaver is a graduate of Cornell Medical School, that the American Journal of Cardiology found that with the procedure he prescribed “there was a significant decrease in severity of angina class (p < 0.001), and 72% improved from severe angina to no angina or mild angina".

    There might be a Medicare fraud story here, but given the high incidence of heart disease in African-American populations and the fact that the FBI has apparently not yet obtained an indictment against Dr. Weaver, I think budding journalists would do well to look for the truth elsewhere than in public records data. Assuming its the truth they're looking for. . .

  19. TedWa

    I haven’t seen 1 post talk about how only 20% of the black and hispanic population in the US even know who Bernie is. That will change. HRC is getting the vast majority of black and hispanic votes at the polls at present and that is why she’s leading, that will change as more Democrats of color become aware of Bernie and realize that Bernie is the only one that can bring them the change they and we need.

    1. 3.14e-9

      Agreed. And he knows it. He mentioned it in his speech yesterday at the 2015 Presidential Justice Forum at Allen University in Columbia, SC. Incidentally, at the end, BET Networks, one of the sponsors of the event, held a straw poll of participants, who chose Bernie 65%, Hillary 23%, O’Malley 12%. Maybe if Hillary had been there, her numbers might have been higher, but I guess she figures she has the African-American vote sewn up.

      Also interesting to note that the African-Americans for Bernie Sanders Facebook Page has 6,270 likes, while African-Americans for Hillary is a closed group with 347 members.

      1. Massinissa

        Lol closed group. Typical of Hillary supporters. I wouldnt mind the 347 members thing so much, but the closed group part just smacks of elitism.

      2. trinity river

        But…but…but are any of these 6,270 AAs Aunt Marys in their respective AA churches. Those are the people who matter. Does Bernie know that?

        Sorry I don’t have the link to the previous article on this website. Can anyone help here?

      1. 3.14e-9

        BET is a subsidiary of Viacom geared toward African-American viewers, so this conference was a major opportunity for exposure, with little cost to the campaign. I mentioned BET above, because they conducted the straw poll, but the main sponsor of the event was 20/20 Leaders of America, which describes itself as “a diverse, bipartisan group of black mayors; city, county and state officials; prosecutors; defense attorneys; political strategists, police chiefs and other law enforcement from across the nation.” These people are well-positioned for political organization in their communities.

        I don’t have the time right not to research it, but there probably are poll results out there showing the change in name recognition among various ethnic and gender groups. This data often isn’t reported in the media. You have to dig into the original polls to find it.

  20. craazyboy

    The Changing Composition of Productivity Growth The Growth Economics Blog. Post-2009, productivity increases because of reduced input per worker, not increased output per worker. “But an economy that is shedding inputs rather than expanding output sure seems like a different animal. What does it imply for asset prices, for example, if we are actively letting capital stocks run down?”

    Dang robots. First you pretend to pay them, then they pretend to work.

  21. Lambert Strether Post author

    I think the total is believable, and what, $21 million? Not dead broke, but not very much, by squillionaire standards.

    I’d be more comfortable if there were a methodology. I’m seeing a screen shot of a spreadsheet, but I would want to be able to check each line of the it, which I can’t see a way to do.

  22. different clue

    So, the word ‘disemployment’ is going mainstream? Good.

    Now we just need to mainstream the word ‘jobicide’ and ‘mass jobicide’.

  23. different clue

    I have read/heard recently . . . maybe here and certainly on NPR . . . . that the one demographic group in America which is seeing its life expectancy go down and its death rates go up is middle-aged and above White men without highly market-valued or snobs-climbing-the-ladder-valued educational credentials. Do their lives matter to the Black Lives Matterizers? I suspect not. In which case, why should Black Lives Matter to the StormTrumpers?

    This is one of many problems the Left can only dodge for only so long. Another being the problem of Law Enforcement Officer pleasure-killing of White targets, like that recent rancher out West. Black Lives Matter appears to care about those killings more than the Left cares about them. Black Lives Matter may be closer to understanding the problem of police “cop-ism” against citizens than the Left is to understanding it.

    I think I remember reading some Leftist snark about how very fast Comey got the FBI involved in that recent LEO rancher-killing. Those snarky Leftists are playing their familiar role as Proud White Ally Social Justice Warriors taking a bow for their racial sensitivity. I myself think Comey got the FBI involved right quick for another reason. That reason being that the Rural West has thousands of times more gun-owing ( including rifle-owning) citizens than gun-toting Law Enforcement Officers. And if the DC FedRegime permits a million or so armed Western ruralites to become deeply unhappy campers, then the DC FedRegime will discover what all those guns are really for. The DC FedRegime doesn’t want to take a chance of a million Western ruralites practicing successful “area denial” of the sort once described by Ian Welsh over an unavenged shot-dead rancher on his own land.

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