2:00PM Water Cooler 3/23/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“The Trump administration has drafted its notification to Congress saying it intends to renegotiate NAFTA, two House aides told Morning Trade — a formality required before a statutorily mandated 90-day consultation period can begin and a sign that the White House is moving closer to fulfilling its pledge to sit down with Canada and Mexico” [Politico].


New Cold War

“House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes apologized to members of his panel Thursday for not informing Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat, before going public with allegations that Trump transition messages were inadvertently intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies” [Politico]. “The apology from Nunes came as congressional Democrats on Thursday slammed him for his perceived allegiance to the Trump administration, questioning whether he is fit to lead to an impartial investigation into possible ties between Trump’s associates and Russian officials.” Ditto Schiff, as emptywheel points out.

Our Famously Free Press

“Wayne Barrett, Donald Trump, and the Death of the American Press” [Tablet Magazine (MsExPat)]. Grab a cup of coffee; this is a long read, but well worth it. One tidbit: “[T]he steady sound of drip-drip-drip is the telltale sign of a political campaign, where items are leaked bit by bit to paralyze the target. Journalists, on the other hand, have to get their story out there as quickly, and as fully, as possible because they’re always worried the competition is going to beat them to it.” And another: “The press at present is incapable of reconstituting itself because it lacks the muscle memory to do so. Look at the poor New Yorker. During the eight years of the Obama administration, it was best known not for reported stories, but for providing a rostrum for a man to address the class that revered him as a Caesar. Now that the magazine is cut off from the power that made it relevant, is it any wonder that when it surveys the post-Obama landscape it looks like Rome is burning—or is that the Reichstag in flames? The Russia story is evidence that top reporters are still feeding from the same trough—political operatives, intelligence agencies, etc.—because they don’t know how to do anything else, and their editors don’t dare let the competition get out ahead.”

Health Care

Whip counts [Political Wire]. “GOP leaders can have no more than 22 defections from Republicans”:

  • CBS News reports that 31 GOP House members “cannot support the bill in its current form.”
  • NBC News says there are 30 who are “against the bill or leaning against it.”
  • Huffington Post says 29 are “extremely likely to be against” the bill.
  • The Hill finds 29 who are still against the bill.
  • New York Times finds 29 “no” votes.

My head says that the votes aren’t there in the House, and if the Republicans get the AHCA passed by turning it into a Christmas tree for the Freedom Caucus, they won’t be able to pass the bill in the Senate. (Our system works!) My heart and my gut say that the Republicans get shit done, they’re feral, and party tribalism will ultimately win the day.

“The fate of the bill now appears to hinge on a planned White House meeting Thursday between Trump and members of the hardline conservative Freedom Caucus, a bloc of about three dozen House Republicans who have long threatened to tank the bill because of what they say are inadequate measures to repeal Obamacare and reduce health care premiums for constituents” [Politico]. “‘If this goes down, we’re all screwed,’ said one Republican lawmaker who requested anonymity.” And then there’s this:

After a day of ferrying between the Capitol and the White House, conservatives secured a commitment from House leaders to consider a proposal that would eliminate Obamacare’s “essential health benefits” — a set of regulations that requires insurers to cover a broad array of benefits. Conservatives have argued that these requirements drove up the cost of health insurance and restricted consumer choice.

Yet after House leaders signaled they were open to that measure, Freedom Caucus members pushed for even more: a repeal of all the Obamacare regulations, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions — a non-starter with most Republican lawmakers.

“[O]ffers to the right to eliminate the “essential health benefits” — the coverage areas that insurers are required to provide under ObamaCare — could cost the GOP the votes of centrists while not winning over every conservative” [The Hill]. If “the right” is the same as the Freedom Caucus….

“Vote ‘no’ on Ryancare: Our view” [Editorial Board, USA Today].

Trump Transition

“David Brock suffers heart attack” [Politico]. “Brock had the heart attack while working in the Washington office of his non-profit groups Media Matters and American Bridge, and was quickly transported to a nearby hospital, where he “received prompt medical treatment,” according to the statement from Bradley Beychok.” If only every American could receive prompt medical treatment like Brock, eh?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“[T]he open-borders left wants to have mass immigration and a higher minimum wage and a generous welfare state, all at the same time. Never mind that the combination of a higher minimum wage, and refusal to enforce immigration laws, would simply create a huge gray market in labor and incentivize employers to pay workers off the books, causing a collapse in tax revenues among other things. Never mind that the taxpayers of any given nation-state will rebel if told that their country is to be converted into a global charity. Merely to raise such practical considerations is to mark oneself as a ‘deplorable,’ an ‘ethnonationalist’ bigot, in the eyes of the cosmopolitan wing of the loony left” [The Smart Set (DB)]. I don’t know what the “cosmopolitan wing of the loony left” might be. But the contradictions of open borders are well urged.

UPDATE ““Write-In or Wrong-In?” Did Electioneering Steal a State Rep Seat?” [Spirit of the River Wards]. Shenanigans in Philly, as only Philly can. Ya know, I call them the Democrat Party for a reason. They’re going to have to earn the “Democratic” label back.

Stats Watch

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, March 2017: “The weakest of the regional reports is now solidly in line with other advance manufacturing surveys, pointing to breakout acceleration for the factory sector” [Econoday]. “Yet strength for the last several months in the advance reports has panned out to only limited strength in definitive data out of Washington. Watch for the durable goods report on tomorrow’s calendar.” And: “The Kansas City region was hit hard by the decline in oil prices, but activity is expanding solidly again. The regional Fed surveys released so far suggest another strong reading for the ISM manufacturing index for March” [Calculated Risk].

New Home Sales, February 2017: “New home sales shot 6.1 percent higher in February to a 592,000 annualized rate that easily beats the Econoday consensus for 565,000 and is near the top estimate of 600,000. Sales appeared to have gotten a boost from builder concessions as the median price fell” [Econoday]. “Today’s report helps offset weakness in existing home sales and keeps the housing sector on moderately climbing slope.” But: “This data series is suffering from methodology issues which manifest as significant backward revision – and this month the revisions were mixed. Home sales move in spurts and jumps – so this is why we view this series using a three month rolling average (rolling averages declined)” [Econintersect]. And: “The inventory of completed homes for sale is still low, and the combined total of completed and under construction is also low” [Calculated Risk]. And: “The median sales price declined to below $300,000 for the month from over $311,000 last year, but there was a strong increase in the average sales price to just over $390,000 from below $350,000 the previous year” [Economic Calendar].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of March 19, 2017: “The consumer comfort index continues to press to highs for the economic cycle” [Econoday]. “Strength in confidence readings points to strength for the jobs outlook and also for the stock market.”

Jobless Claims, week of March 18, 2017: “In mixed results, initial jobless claims rose 15,000 to a 7-week high of 258,000 but the 4-week average, reflecting how low recent levels have been, rose only 1,000 to 240,000” [Econoday].

Shipping: “The [Cass Freight Index Report’s] author, Avondale Partners analyst Donald Broughton, reiterated his thesis that the freight recession is over, adding that ‘part of our growing confidence that the data (both from Cass and specific industries) is showing a turn in trend and is not just a false positive, is the underlying trend in inventories at all levels of the supply chain. At the manufacturing, wholesale and retail levels, inventory to sales ratios have been consistently falling'” [Logistics Management].

Shipping: “Overall confidence levels in the shipping industry fell to a record low in the three months to February 2016, according to the latest Shipping Confidence Survey from international accountant and shipping adviser Moore Stephens” [Moore-Stephens]. “A number of respondents continued to express concern about the level of overtonnaging… Particular concern was expressed about the state of the dry bulk market, with one respondent commenting, ‘No dry bulk business makes any remote sense. There are too many players, too many operators, and too many vessels chasing too few cargoes. Most fixtures are concluded merely to keep the banks happy in the belief that some tiny amount of cashflow is coming in.’ Elsewhere it was noted, ‘Dry bulk is simply at the bottom of the bottom, and actually a little lower than that.’ The need for accelerated demolition was also identified by a number of respondents, one of whom noted, “Scrapping activity is far from sufficient to compensate for incoming new tonnage.'”

“Toshiba Corp., reeling from an impending multibillion-dollar writedown in its Westinghouse Electric unit, has been battered to the point where a possible bankruptcy of the nuclear equipment business is being cheered by investors” [Reuters].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 33 Fear (previous close: 32, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 23 at 11:50am. Still hungover, but no worse.


“Safety experts say there is no time for delay in a state plan to restore the 770-foot Oroville Dam, and they warn California would face a “very significant risk” if a damaged spillway is not in working order by fall, the start of the next rainy season” [AP]. “Water was even seeping from seemingly undamaged stretches of the main spillway, the five-member team found. Only 12 inches thick, the concrete spillway is heavily patched, at some places by clay stuffed into holes below the concrete…. Also Wednesday, the state Legislative Analyst’s Office warned that tens of billions of dollars are needed for repairs and updates for aging dams, levees, wetlands and other projects in California’s flood-management system.”


“There are about two pipeline incidents in the United States every day” [Corporate Crime Reporter]. “Half of those are significant incidents — incidents that kill someone, send someone to the hospital, cause $50,000 in property damage, or spill a large amount of fuel into the environment.”

“Led by cutbacks in China and India, construction of new coal-fired power plants is falling worldwide, improving chances climate goals can be met despite earlier pessimism, [CoalSwarm, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace] said Wednesday” [AP]. “Construction starts for coal-fired plants in China and India were down by 62 percent in January from a year earlier while new facilities starting operations declined 29 percent, according to the report. It said older plants in the United States and Europe are being retired at a record pace.”

“An avian influenza outbreak that may be the worst in seven years is upending the poultry industry in Asia. The human death toll in China is rising and chickens are being culled across Asia” [Wall Street Journal]. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that China’s chicken imports will rise nearly 10% for all of 2017. If that happens, China would become the world’s second-biggest poultry importer behind Mexico.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Special Report : Aircraft carriers, championed by Trump, are vulnerable to attack” [Reuters]. “All told, since the early 1980s, U.S. and British carriers have been sunk at least 14 times in so-called ‘free play’ war games meant to simulate real battle, according to think tanks, foreign navies and press accounts. The exact total is unknown because the Navy classifies exercise reports…. At a naval symposium in 2010, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called into question making such big investments in a few increasingly sinkable ships. Gates said ;a Ford-class carrier plus its full complement of the latest aircraft would represent potentially $15 billion to $20 billion worth of hardware at risk.'”

Guillotine Watch

“The ‘it’ color for private jets these days? Mattherhorn, named for a snowy peak in the Alps” [Money-ish]. “‘Matterhorn is the new white,’ says Viv Diprose, the head of communications for PrivateFly, a company that charters private jets. She says not only are brand-new jets getting the Matterhorn treatment, people who own older jets are refurbishing them with this ‘icy white color.’… Jet owners are going full Matterhorn in a bid to blend in: ‘Post financial crisis, people have a tendency to be less high profile with their jets,’ says Eric Zipkin, founder of private jet company Tradewind Aviation. Owners want to fly under the radar and don’t necessarily want people ‘poking around in their business,’ he says.”

Class Warfare

The value of all the real estate in Ann Arbor, the home of the University of Michigan, is greater than all the real estate in Detroit. The numbers are based on a study by Bridge Magazine. Ann Arbor’s population is slightly less than 118,000. Detroit’s is just below 678,000. Ann Arbor occupies 28 square miles. The similar number for Detroit is 143 square miles: [247 Wall Street]. “One of the contributors to the low Detroit figure has to be the vast portion of the city that is in ruins, with tens of thousands of unoccupied homes. Among the way the local government has dealt with this is by bulldozing these homes. However, that is a job that is far from finished.”

“The troubled demise of trucker Jevic Transportation will have an impact across the world of bankruptcy law. The U.S. Supreme Court handed the company’s former truck drivers a victory, rejecting the tactic known as structured dismissal that put some creditors ahead of drivers for payment claims” [Wall Street Journal].

Another installment of Case-Deaton. Maybe while the Democrats are consumed with gaslighting Putin, the rest of us who are serious about politics can get to work on this:

“Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century” [Anne Case, Angus Deaton, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity]. From the executive summary:

Not only are educational differences in mortality among whites increasing, but mortality is rising for those without, and falling for those with, a college degree. This is true for non-Hispanic white men and women in all age groups from 25-29 through 60-64. Mortality rates among blacks and Hispanics continue to fall; in 1999, the mortality rate of white non-Hispanics aged 50-54 with only a highschool degree was 30 percent lower than the mortality rate of blacks in the same age group; by 2015, it was 30 percent higher. There are similar crossovers between white and black mortality in all age groups from 25-29 to 60-64.

Mortality rates in comparable rich countries have continued their pre-millennial fall at the rates that used to characterize the US. In contrast to the US, mortality rates in Europe are falling for those with low levels of educational attainment, and are doing so more rapidly than mortality rates for those with higher levels of education.

Many commentators have suggested that the poor mortality outcomes can be attributed to slowly growing, stagnant, and even declining incomes; we evaluate this possibility, but find that it cannot provide a comprehensive explanation. In particular, the income profiles for blacks and Hispanics, whose mortality has fallen, are no better than those for whites. Nor is there any evidence in the European data that mortality trends match income trends, in spite of sharply different patterns of median income across countries after the Great Recession.

We propose a preliminary but plausible story in which cumulative disadvantage over life, in the labor market, in marriage and child outcomes, and in health, is triggered by progressively worsening labor market opportunities at the time of entry for whites with low levels of education. This account, which fits much of the data, has the profoundly negative implication that policies, even ones that successfully improve earnings and jobs, or redistribute income, will take many years to reverse the mortality and morbidity increase, and that those in midlife now are likely to do much worse in old age than those currently older than 65. This is in contrast to an account in which resources affect health contemporaneously, so that those in midlife now can expect to do better in old age as they receive Social Security and Medicare. None of this implies that there are no policy levers to be pulled; preventing the over-prescription of opioids is an obvious target that would clearly be helpful.

“New research identifies a ‘sea of despair’ among white, working-class Americans” [WaPo]. “A striking feature is the rise in physical pain. The pattern does not follow short-term economic cycles but reflects a long-term disintegration of job prospects.”

“So the uptick in mortality for white mid-life people in America since the late 1990s is actually the final stage of a decades-long process” [Vox]. “‘[T]he study authors don’t buy the idea that one’s income relative to what one expected is influencing mortality. Rather, ‘It’s the life you expected to have relative to your father or grandfather — it’s just not there anymore,’ Deaton said.” This may also explain the fear and hate of the professional classes: If you conceive of credentials as a claim on future income — that is, a property interest, the basis of all faction, says Madison 00 not just for you, but for your children — and legacy admissions do just that — then you would do just about anything to avoid becoming one of “those people,” and hence almost anything to protect your claims.

“What differentiates Case and Deaton’s paper is this idea that as people get older and their fates deviate more and more from those of their parents, they struggle to keep their lives together. The very act of doing worse than their parents’ generation—what Case and Deaton call ‘cumulative disadvantage’—is killing them” [The Atlantic].

“Researchers who sounded the alarm on increasing white working-class mortality blamed the trend Thursday on economic upheaval that created a web of social issues so tightly interwoven that even successful policies would take years to unsnarl them” [Bloomberg]. Write them off, say I. After all, demographics is destiny. Right?

Readers, I’m sure we’ll have more to say about this (see NC here, here, and here) so please share your thoughts! It would be especially nice to have evidence, or telling anecdotes, that confirm or refute the “cumulative disadvantage” disadvantage thesis.

News of the Wired

“Cricket beyond boundaries” [Al Jazeera]. “[Cricket is] the world’s second most popular game with an estimated 2.5 billion fans worldwide.” Photo essay, including blind cricket (!). ” The ball chimes with the sound of bells as it bounces at least twice before reaching the batsman. The ringing of the bells helps the batsman and fielders who are blind to locate the ball.”

Bug, patch….

“Unpaywall: The Browser Add-on That Finds (Legal) Free Copies Of Academic Papers You See As You Browse The Web” [TechDirt]. Cool!

44% of Tinder users — by far the largest percentage “said they were swiping for ‘confidence-boosting procrastination'” [MarketWatch]. No.

“How to Become a More Positive Person in 21 Days” [Time]. No.

“Smartphone device can test sperm quality, provide results in minutes” [Japan Times]. No.

* * *

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 (CB):

Once on more on apples. As we saw, from Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire, Johnny Appleseed became very successful by seeding the Ohio Valley with appleseeds, creating orchards. And why did the Ohio Valley — well over a century ago, before it became such a prominent part of the Rust Belt — desire apples so much? Hard cider, of course! So, the moral of the story: I view Bernie Sanders as the Johnny Appleseed of democratic socialism, and he plants an orchard every time he makes a speech. Of course, it takes a while for the seedlings to mature. But when they do, you have hard cider! Given a press. We need the press…

Thanks again to CB for the apple pictures!

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.


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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. jrs

      The crazy teaparty folks are again the best defenders of the social programs that we have even though they are trying to be anything but. Proving again how utterly completely worthless the Dem party is.

  1. Jim Haygood

    Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 33 Fear (previous close: 32, Fear)

    Stunning, with the S&P 500 index off less than two percent from its March 1st record high. Likewise, a Reuters article in Links this morning warns ominously that a “Trump Tantrum looms on Wall Street if healthcare effort stalls.”

    Me so scared — not! This is not the psychology that prevails at the crest of an epic bubble. When it really is about to be all over, the only question raised in MSM financial propaganda news will be how much higher it goes — 20%, 50%, 100%?

    A serious decline will be regarded as impossible. If you think I’m joking, cast your mind back to 2006, when a majority of the US population was sincerely convinced that real estate never declines in price.

    We’ll see this psychology emerge in stocks as well, as the relentless rally becomes self-validating. But we’re not there yet. And politics has little to do with it. Keep calm, and keep climbing the Wall of Worry.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Hmm. I take your point, but could there never be a “new normal” in bubble psychology, as there seems to be in everything else? (I’m thinking of the disjunct between survey data and government data though I grant that’s not the market.)

  2. Captain Patch

    4chan predicted a fatal heart attack for David Brock over two weeks ago.
    Nostradamus or wishful thinking? Perhaps he’s outlived his usefulness.

    1. Octopii

      Well he smokes like a chimney, so there’s that. And he’s liable to rage on a hair-trigger. The past few months haven’t been kind to Clinton insiders.

  3. David, by the lake

    Re prospects for white working class and “lower education” populations.

    Education and credentialing are not synonymous. Back in the day, a whole host of career paths were available via years of apprenticeship plus state board examination, rather than credentials plus student debt load. Engineers, lawyers, GP physicians, teachers, just for a few examples. Perhaps it is time to take a look at reviving the old system. This is one area where I diverged from Sanders — rather than make credentialing free, make it less necessary in the first place.

    1. KurtisMayfield

      The education inflation is really getting out of hand. Today I learned that there is a doctorate in physical therapy, which used to be a 4 + 1 program. Nursing will be heading towards a Master’s requirement from what I hear from people in the profession. Is the rise in credentials really giving us better results, or is this just another route to education debt slavery, I am not sure.

      A colleague of mine once told me that the educational system is a virus. It might be.

      1. jawbone

        I learned at my recent PT sessions that yes, indeed, a doctorate in now required for entering the profession.

        Very expensive and not easy. Science courses are a requirement for applying for physical therapy doctorate.

        1. jsn

          Education/training does not create jobs.

          A universal living wage jobs guarantee, free, universal State public colleges and universal health care along with clean air, water and food are the integrated policies that would end the increasing mortality quickest.

          I can only support this by looking at where it is most closely approximated elsewhere in the world and noting that mortality outcomes, quality of life and health in general is better in those places.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Education does create jobs…teaching jobs.

            It’s conflict of interest for those in the field to push for excessive credentialism. Not sure people outside want it…students are hardly pushing for more.

            ‘You need 2 Ph.D.’s to enter this more-prestigious-than-physical therapy profession.’

            Well, that’s just ego speaking.

      2. loblolly

        The virus is bureaucracy, and the resulting “administrative capture” that results in all institutions becoming bloated rafts of admins building fiefdoms out of processes. What was once an institution that produced something becomes and entity that grows merely to consume all available resources.

        “What was that?”, “A university.” (A hospital, a charity, a manufacturer….)

    2. jrs

      making education free isn’t going to help middle age people that are dying prematurely right and left anyway, except that they might regard even more credentialed young people as their competition (which is not necessarily inaccurate – when they have the double disadvantage of being older and less credentialed and going back to get a degree at 50 really doesn’t buy the same advantages).

      1. neo-realist

        In some cases “the oldsters” have the credentials, but the age can still become strike one, two, and three against your chance for employment vs. a younger applicant, who may not only work for less, but readily drink the company kool aid much more so than an older staff member who’s hip to the hustle.

    3. Arizona Slim

      I’m in favor of credentials that don’t require a four-year degree. And, truth be told, a lot of fields don’t call for that much time in school.

      I’m thinking of business. Do you REALLY have to study it for four years at a university? IMHO, two years at a community college is more than enough.

    4. different clue

      Perhaps do some of both. Make credentialing free where needed. Make credentialing ever less and less needed.

    5. IDontKnow

      I could be wrong but economic signalling, won’t go away. It might be reduced when the cost of signalling is excessive, in this case a tight labour market. If by some effective method use of university degrees was marginalized for signalling, then some other high cost signal would take it’s place.

      Perhaps solution is to make reading of signaling expensive on the reader/receiver. If any job only receives 10 resumes/application instead of 1000, then HR will find using signalling not directly related to job to whittle down applications to 10 or 20 interviews counter productive.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        But surely “10 years on the job” is a signal, too?

        You can argue that HR doesn’t have time to check that out, but Arrow’s argument is that HR doesn’t have time to check out the credentials either. And you can argue that it’s the cost of the credentials that’s the signal, but why isn’t “10 years on the job” regarded as having costs?

        1. IDontKnow

          Yep, one signal will replace another, but the message must be what HR wants. Loaded with debt, desperate, and able to work like a grind might be one message that having a degree offers. 10 years work experience, as someone noted above, may simply mean wise to the game, so wrong signal. I could be wrong.

          1. JTFaraday

            Yes, but it’s also no fun to deal with your young employees’ inevitable disillusionment.

            People need to stop thinking there’s a right answer– the crap you read in the press about “passion” and all that garbage– and learn how to spin themselves.

            Subtlety. That passion sh*t is not subtle. Would you want to work with that idiot?

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This is one area where I diverged from Sanders — rather than make credentialing free, make it less necessary in the first place.

      That’s a very good point.

      That was one of Tressie MacMillan Cottom’s points in Lower Ed. The credentialing wouldn’t be necessary if on-the-job training hadn’t been eliminated, and if working people’s experience was valued as such.

      1. skippy


        Before the term ‘trades’ was used it was called the ‘mysteries’ because most work was a matter of lineage, hence sir names, i.e. on the job training was part and parcel of family life from birth e.g. a person assembling something would have no clue to how the parts were made.

        With the advent of non family training in such endeavors a paradigm was created, you apprenticed. In the beginning such a person would gain skills at a discount in wages or just upkeep with the knowlage that after completion they would either be keep on or need to seek work outside their place of birth or training.

        This works when there is the room to – expand – such activities, after that its death spiral of bargaining power, which imo is acerbated by technology, i.e. think renewable energy and fossil fuels – once dominate skills now become irrelevant as fast as tech grows or capital markets view direction.

    7. vidimi

      making it free will make it less about credentialism and more about the love of learning. free college means you will have more humanities and social sciences grads as there won’t be any cost to studying those programs.

    8. Kramer

      What do you think of a job guarantee that is also a credentialed apprenticeship. This also be could be combined with community college courses to create professional degree programs that pay a living wage while allowing the worker/learner an education without relocation while returning real value to their community.
      I also have a pet peeve with Sanders using the phrase “free education”. This is an oxymoron. An education , whether ivy league or autodidactic, is hard work no matter how much money is spent.

  4. Jason Boxman

    From my personal experience, I’ve gone out with more intelligent, professionally successful women from Tinder interested in a relationship than from any other online venue, combined. Maybe it’s different for the <30 crowd. And yes, most matches never reply. Maybe 1 in 10.

  5. Alex Morfesis

    Pipeline issues twice a day…methinx we need to remove all regulations of pipelines and replace it with a simple single rule…for every barrel of oil (or nat gas equivalent) the entire board of directors and top 25 employees by income get to spend a day at ADX Florence…it is a pleasant little place for a respite…it will help them clear their minds of unhappy thoughts…

    They can do whatever they want as they understand failure has an actual immediate price…max…only max…not the camping…

    It sounds as though david berkebile is an excellent concierge…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Or treat the soil as a person*, like that New Zealand river. Why not?

      * An ancient and wise person, as opposed to a three-year-old sociopathic person motivated solely by greed, as corporate persons, and their human enablers, are.

  6. diptherio

    Report from Rojava, where they aren’t just talking about building a better society in the wreckage of the old, they’re actually doing it:


  7. craazyboy

    “Smartphone device can test sperm quality, provide results in minutes” [Japan Times]. No.

    If it uses the front facing cam for the test – definitely, no.

    Someone please warn Fresno Dan…

    1. Code Name D

      How would the phone get a sperm sample? Or is that a question I don’t want the answer too?

      1. craazyboy

        Think front facing cam = internet microscope.

        Then recall the scene from Woody Allen’s movie, “Everything you wanted to know about sex, but were afraid to go online..”

      2. visitor

        It is actually a clever bit of tinkering.

        The phone is held inside a larger box, which has a slit in which one inserts a small flattish transparent container with the semen sample. That small container is then positioned below the camera and lit by a LED inside the box.

        The phone is not in contact with the sperm or the sperm-container. It serves to take photographic images of the semen sample in rapid succession, which are then analyzed by an app on the phone (basically, it counts the number of spermatozoids and determines how fast they are moving but, importantly, not whether they are malformed), that itself returns an evaluation of the fertility according to standard formulae.

        1. craazyboy

          I could see that possibly working if the LED shines down thru the sample and the little guys then casting their moving shadow on the digital cam. Each pixel would register a flicker from the shadow passing over it and maybe that is enough to be detectable. Then, if you sum up lots of flicker, that means an active population.

          So, maybe…

          1. visitor

            An accurate guess, that is exactly how it works…

            Two major problems:

            1) the system cannot identify malformed sperm;
            2) it cannot distinguish sperm from particles of similar size.

            Its diagnostic should therefore be taken with a dose of salt.

      3. fresno dan

        Code Name D
        March 23, 2017 at 2:48 pm

        All depends on how sexy and nice your phone is….

        1. Code Name D

          I know. I’ll strap it to my unit and have my girl friend keep calling me over and over again.

          What? Oh she is mad at me now because I am supposed to call her for some reason.

      1. craazyboy

        Certainly. Tho I’m pretty sure even the best resolution digital cams don’t have the necessary resolution for the raw image to show sperm size detail. But the goal may be to get a pic of the delivery vehicle and process. I hear iBlackmail is getting popular these days. Or it’s all a hoax.

    1. Vatch

      Once again, I had to look up an acronym — I’m definitely not one of the cool kids! :-)

      Amazon Web Services, I presume?

  8. Code Name D

    Healthcare… I really do get the sense that this bill will fail – because its not bad enugh. The Freedom Cacus are demanding for out-right repeal, a non-starter for those taking lobby donatios.

    PS: where the hell are the Democrats? Oh right, they were probably at the Comey hearings, waiting for Trumps impeachment to get started.

    1. craazyboy

      No doubt with the Official FBI Pizza Code Dictionary in hand, combing thru the transcripts looking for embedded messaging confirming Putin is a Big, Bad Pepperoni and Comey caught him red handed with his fingers in the mozzarella cheese. Comey has Putin by his evil, black olives, and knows when to use the Oxford comma, too!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > where the hell are the Democrats?

      “Never interfere with your enemy when he is making a mistake” — Napoleon (apocryphal).

      Beyond the tactical, the Democrats were very wise to take this opportunity to push for truly universal coverage with #MedicareForAll.

      BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!! I crack myself up sometimes!

  9. JohnnyGL


    Rafael Correa’s Party looks ahead in the polls in Ecuador, and apparently lefties are improving in polls for Mexico and Chile.

    Didn’t Lambert say 2017 was already great?!?!?

    Where’s RabidGandhi? Is Macri crashing and burning in Argentina, or what?

    Also, watch out Brazil….Lula’s coming….

  10. allan

    Strange behavior of New Zealand quake suggests higher chances of ‘Big Ones’ elsewhere [Science]

    A reassuring rule of thumb about earthquakes is breaking down. For decades seismologists had assumed that individual faults—as well as isolated segments of longer faults—rupture independently of one another. That limits the maximum size of potential quakes that a fault zone can generate. But the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck New Zealand just after midnight on 14 November 2016—among the largest in the islands’ modern history—has reduced that thinking to rubble. According to a new study, the heavy shaking in the so-called Kaikōura quake was amassed by ruptures on at least 12 different faults, in some cases so far apart that they were thought to be immune to each other’s influence.

    The quake suggests that scientists may be misjudging seismic hazard around the world by underestimating the possibility that slip on seemingly isolated faults can add up to something far bigger. “I think it’s a wake-up call,” says Ned Field, a seismologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colorado, who leads California’s seismic hazard modeling team and recently upgraded the likelihood of a large quake in the state to account for the phenomenon. …

    The phenomenon doesn’t just increase the maximum size of a potential quake. It also changes the odds: With more faults potentially acting together, there are more ways to assemble big quakes, increasing their likelihood. And that means higher risk for long bridges and skyscrapers, which are more vulnerable to the long-period seismic waves released by very large quakes, Field says. …

    A geophysical equivalent of “In a crisis, all correlations go to 1”.

      1. fresno dan

        March 23, 2017 at 3:19 pm

        no doubt some will say this is pretty shaky, but I say its all due to the Plunge Protection Team….

    1. juliania

      Thanks very much for this link. What was mindboggling to me, and perhaps overlooked in the news that no one was killed or even injured severely in this geological catastrophe, is that the extent of quake occurrence measured something like 150 miles.

  11. Cynthia

    Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman writes the following in his Medscape article entitled “‘I’m Mad as Hell!’: Healthcare in America Today” ( see link below):

    “What kind of logic applies to spending 0.8% of your budget on something that is the greatest threat to the nation’s economy, which is healthcare costs, which are already consuming over one fourth of the federal budget? In other countries, the European Union, Asian countries, Singapore, China, Japan, they are spending from 4% to 12% on biomedical research and development.”

    I completely agree with the good doctor that we, as a country, should be spending 4% to 12%, if not much more, on biomedical research and development, as do most advanced countries do across the globe. However, he fails to mention that the biomedical industry should be paying for all of this research and development on their own without having to ask for handouts from the federal government. At least that is the reason, actually it’s an excuse, that drug industry uses and continues to use to justify overcharging Americans for their meds.

    The truth of the matter is that the drug industry is NOT using the enormous profits they make selling overpriced meds to the American public in order to pay for very costly, yet very vital drug research and development. Otherwise, we, as a country, would already be spending about the equivalent of 4-12% of the federal budget on drug research and development. (According to Dr. Lieberman, that equivalent now only amounts to about 0.8% of the federal budget.) And since we are nowhere near reaching that 4-12% target, then that means that the drug industry is taking most of their profits from selling overpriced drugs to the American people and pocketing these profits for themselves in the form of higher executive pay and higher stock prices.

    Therefore, either we lower drug prices and let the federal government pay for drug research and development. Or, we continue as we are doing, which is to have overpriced drugs but make certain that the drug industry really lives up to their end of the bargain, which is to spend a sizable portion of their profits on drug research and development, and NOT on huge pay raises for their top executives and on huge profits for their shareholders.

    Dr Lieberman and the rest of the American people need to understand that the drug industry overcharging Americans for their meds while, at the same time, asking the American taxpayer to pay for their research and development is corporate welfare, plain and simple. We all must understand that having affordable meds means that the federal government is picking up the tab in terms of drug research and development. And since meds are NOT affordable, NOT by a long shot in fact, as is clearly the case today, then that means that the drug industry has made more than enough money profiting off the American people to pay for their research and development on their own without any support from either the American consumer of prescription meds or the US federal government.

    Needless to say, the drug industry is getting away with double dipping and this has gotta stop! For starters, pharmaceutical companies can be told that it is okay for them to either freeload off the American people or freeload off the federal government, but it’s NOT okay for them to do both. To do both is double dipping, which is nothing more than a commonly-used tactic used by those in the corporate welfare business, who have become experts at the corporate, kleptocratic game of socializing all the risks of innovation and privatizing all of its rewards.


    1. Carla

      I want pharma very tightly regulated, with strict price controls (like in other countries). And I want all medical and drug research to be nationalized and conducted by federal employees, who are employed by the federal government through the National Institutes of Health.

      1. Octopii

        Sorry but NIH is a bureaucratic sinkhole. The amount of money and time it takes to get a single office area renovated is absurd due to all the parties that have to be involved in facility projects. Excessive administrative overhead is common in government agencies and many of Mr. Trump’s deplorables know it — hence they’ll vote for some a-hole who says he’ll clean it all up. But gutting agencies doesn’t make them more efficient. Bureaucracy is the last thing to go. It is also the first thing to expand when responsibilities are added. So, having experienced it, I’m not sure NIH or any government agency is the right place to do drug research. Even democratic socialist countries have private companies doing the research for the most part. But the difference is they don’t allow profiteering, and that’s something we could do quite easily here if there were only the will.

    2. robnume

      Reminds me of the time back in the late 1990’s when I was stopped by a fellow customer at a La Costa, CA strip mall inquiring as to the meaning of my bumpersticker which read, “Corporate Fathers Blame Welfare Mothers.” Some folks just don’t put their “thinking cap” on everyday!

  12. Vatch

    President Trump has withdrawn several pending nominations that were left over from the Obama administration. For the most part, this is understandable. However, one was the renomination of Carolyn Lerner to her post at the Office of Special Counsel:


    Supposedly she has been an effective advocate for whistle blowers:


    Is this true? I’ve seen praise for her from both Democrats and Republicans, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much.

  13. crittermom

    RE: “Mortality & Morbidity in the 21st Century”
    I’m not sure if my scenario relates, but here goes…

    I’d owned a home since 1969. Never rented. Life was good, as I tried to plan for my ‘later years.’
    I’m now 65. Female. Single. Meager SS income. (A point I never see brought up, but since women make less than men, we also receive less when we retire)

    Almost 6 yrs ago Chase Bank ‘stole’ my beloved (most recent) home of 20 yrs, which also included my plans for retirement after I had a B&B approved soon after buying it. I worked toward that goal, investing my money into remodeling in preparation for that, for those 20 yrs I lived there.

    After fighting Chase for 2 yrs & now renting for 5 yrs, I’ve no doubt I suffer from a degree of PTSD, but I’ve tried to struggle on to get a life back after losing everything & leaving all my friends & son behind as I was forced to move to another state with much cheaper rent.

    I was just diagnosed with breast cancer. I go for tests tomorrow (a drive of hundreds of miles to a major city). I don’t have a support group of friends here as I did back home. I strongly suspect the stress of these recent years has been a detriment to me physically, as well as emotionally & mentally.

    My mind is racing thru all kinds of scenarios, dependent upon the outcome of the tests (with more to come, no doubt).

    I now find myself questioning how much I’m willing to go thru medically, to end up back at the sh*tty life I now have? I find my will to live is not as strong as when I had more to live for. My increased age certainly is a major part in my thinking. More suffering just to live…….for what?

    Could that play a part, as well? The decline of a willingness to live after you’ve lost everything & the future appears bleak?

    (My best hope is that a mastectomy, with no chemo or radiation, will get rid of the cancer, & that my son will do a ‘go fund me’ to raise money for a breast reconstruction. Medicare certainly doesn’t cover it)

    I’m unsure if I’m willing to go thru chemo & radiation, taking away another year or so of my life (in addition to my waist-length hair & body parts), just to start again where I’m currently at, with nothing. (No chance of grandchildren in the future, either, as he & his wife decided against having kids. Son turning 41 & doing well in life)

    The will to live is a strong force that is within us.
    What happens when that decreases, as our lives become even more difficult? It must have an effect on our longevity, I would think.

    1. Knot Galt

      I’m a cancer survivor of ten years and I hope for the best. I was 47 at the time and my career trajectory flat lined because of it. I’ve still found work although I’ve had to file for bankruptcy because the hospital I was sent to when I was on Obamcare gave me a septic infection in my kneecap. If I were in a bind again, frankly I don’t know what I’d do. I don’t know if I would have the guts.

      But a yoga instructor glibly said, unrelated, “Or buy a one way ticket to Nepal.”

      Or, rebel. What other choice is there?

    2. Insertnamehere

      My wife just finished chemo/hormone therapy after being diagnosed with two different breast cancers (a stage 3 and a stage 1).

      I am incredibly sorry that you are faced with cancer. I know I am a stranger but if you ever need someone to talk to, you can email me. I’m sure my wife would talk as well.

      Tc_zac [AT] yahoo {d0t} com

      In any case, best of luck to you. Post a link to the gofundme when it is made. My wife and I went from a 2 income household to a 1 income and were fortunate enough to receive help from something similar. It only makes sense to pay it forward.

      1. crittermom

        Thank you for your gracious offer. I’m hoping your wife is now doing well & recovers quickly. All my very best to her!

        I hope for just a mastectomy, as I understand the recovery is much faster.

        I really do wish to live & improve my life, but anxious to ‘get on with it’ rather than spend another year or more suffering before I can continue my pursuit. (I’ve been told by survivors & some currently going thru chemo that lack of energy/tiredness is a huge part of it).

        I’ve also read recent studies that say both radiation & chemo can affect cognitive abilities for up to a year following treatment & I need to stay ‘on top of my game’ to succeed in my endeavors. I’m completely on my own & have been for years, following divorce.

        My hope for any future is in two children’s books I’ve written (so far) using my photographs, that I’d hoped to self-publish this year. I fear the cancer diagnosis will now lose me my original investors, but I’ll search for others if my diagnosis is ‘good’ & I can still see hope in getting them published.

        I’ve spent the past months doing the prepress work while continuing to research all aspects of it.
        I want to own a little log cabin off-grid in the woods once again. Preferably before I’m in my 70’s.

        The prospects of a long recovery will leave me much to think about, otherwise.

    3. clarky90

      Hi CM. FWIW, watch Prof. Thomas Seyfried on YouTube. He wrote the Medical textbook, “The Metabolic Theory of Cancer”. The “Warburg Effect” discovered 100 years ago by real Nobel Laureate, Otto Warburg, found that cancer cells were like primordial cells that could only metabolize fermented glucose. SO, avoid sugar and carbs like the plague. I am 66 and live in a rented house too. Our real homes, for now, are our physical bodies. Get well soon and decisively! Old age is not for the faint hearted. I wish you, so much, well.

      1. crittermom

        Thank you for the recommendation. I had heard that sugar is a major thing to avoid, but nothing about the carbs before.

      2. roadrider

        Eh. That’s confusing cause and effect. No doubt sugar and excess carbs is not healthy but the idea that cancer “feeds on” sugar or that sugar directly causes or worsens cancer is a confusion of cause and effect. Cancer cells grow more rapidly than normal cells and thus take up more nutrients of all types.


        I am also a cancer survivor (prostate)

        1. clarky90

          Hi RR. “Tripping Over The Truth” by Travis Christofferson is good discussion of the issues. If you search ketogenic diet/cancer there is lots of research. I am camping now, sending this from my ph, so don’t know how to post links.

          50% of us will get cancer. It is very much on my mind! Kids, grandkids, friends, neighbors…… Ketogenic diet is 80% fat, 10% protein, 10% carbs. It is what I do. You pays your money and you take your chances!

          So far the pharmaceutical lizards are not particularly interested in using coconut oil you buy at supermarket to starve cancer? I can’t figure out their lack of enthusiasm? A total mystery

      3. Steve H.

        Just skimming the top of the water here, so do follow up with your own research. Cancer cannot metabolize ketones, so a ketogenic (very low NET carb, <30 gm) diet can inhibit growth and allow lower doses of chemo to be effective. This also induces autophagy, which helps clear potential initiators from cells.

        Also, net carbs does not include fiber. Fiber good. Fiber necessary. And a ketogenic diet can have side effects, so about once a week you want a high glycemic burst to pulse your insulin and reset hormone levels.

        All the best, crittermom.

    4. RUKidding

      All the best. A friend of mine, who is yoga instructor and very very picky about everything, developed breast cancer two years ago. She chose to have a single mastectomy with no chemo or radiation. She had to fight a bit to have that happen, but the docs finally agreed. She did have immediate reconstruction. She did have insurance.

      I suspect that mastectomy is the way to go, especially if you’re at an early stage where you can avoid chemo and radiation. Save that for later, which hopefully will be never.

      All the best. So sorry to learn you life story. It does point out how some, no matter how well they plan, can end up in a sh*tty situation. I know several women in a similar plight (including the breast cancer). I think it’s partly that women, typically, earn less than men. But your story does highlight what can happen to any citizen, no matter how well they plan.

      All the best, though. I hope you can find a happy solution. You still have your son and hopefully you can improve your social network where you live.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > no matter how well they plan, can end up in a sh*tty situation

        Why universal benefits are the only solution.

        I think there are probably many in CritterMom’s situation. Wrong!

    5. Jess

      I lost my father to cancer, and although I’m thankfully healthy, I can relate to your situation on multiple fronts. This is NOT the life we were supposed to live. Instead, it is the life mandated upon us by the neoliberal sellouts of the Dem party. It is also the reason Trump won; desperate people do desperate things. I can only hope that you, like the country, endure, survive, and then fully recover.

      God speed.

    6. rojo

      Wow, this really struck a chord with me.

      Although, I don’t thankfully have health problems and am younger (49), I have been mostly unemployed for over a year. I just can’t seem to land a job.

      And I’ve had the same thoughts. I work 16 hours a week at an Amazon warehouse. And I may have to give up on the idea of “real” exempt job and cobble together 60 hours a week at two or three different jobs. And that would probably pay enough to just to take care of rent and bills — maybe

      So, like you, I’m asking what’s the point of such a life. And this leads me to some dark places.

      I would never take my own life. But sometimes I think passing in the night from a heart attack wouldn’t be so bad.

      So the idea of death for me doesn’t come from impulse or an escape from unbearable pain, but as a fairly-arrived-at solution. I’m serious. I methodically way my options and premature death makes the cut.

      My partial solution isn’t to “turn my frown upside down” and DREAM BIG. That doesn’t work.

      Instead I’ve adopted a short-term/long-term approach that cuts out the mid-term. By that I mean that I try to do a few things every day — a short list. Maybe I send out a couple of resumes, check my LinkdIn and scoop out the cat box. And then I try to connect to a possible future beyond the probable bad few months or even years ahead. I make lists, goals, etc…

      I hope that doesn’t sound to0 trite and Oprah-ish. It actually doesn’t involve positive thinking, but that’s impossible now. I’ve never done time, but I imagine that one would cope with a long sentence that way — a workable day-to-day routine plus daydreams about when you get out. A prison sentence is a good way to look at where I’m at now.

      So I say hang in there. “Happy thoughts” are a form of denial and estrangement from you own emotions. But pessimism bias isn’t any more real. The truth is we don’t know the future. Studies have shown that people are really terrible at predicting their own future.

      Be well,


      1. Elizabeth

        crittermom: I’m so sorry to learn of your diagnosis. Try and find a really good oncologist (integrative, if possible), and get as much information as you can about what type of cancer you have, and what options are available. Many doctors want to practice “one size fits all” type of medicine. Understandably, you are in a dark place right now, but please don’t despair. Having a support network is really important, in my NSHO

        As Tony above says none of us know our future, and sometimes life surprises us in ways we never anticipate. I will keep you in my thoughts, and wish you well.

        1. crittermom

          Thanks, Elizabeth.
          I did some research & since ALL of the hospitals are in Albuquerque (I’m in NM), I chose UNM Cancer Center. Teaching hospitals like that are often best, up on the latest research & equipment, & their rating with the Cancer Society is excellent.

          Yes, I will be asking a LOT of questions. (I didn’t hesitate to look at my initial mammogram done elsewhere as soon as I was released from the machine. “My body. I wanna see for myself”)
          I also know a few people who’ve gone there, & all agreed it was excellent.

          I’ve had a few hard balls thrown at me in my lifetime & managed to catch ’em & bounce back, starting over.
          Losing my home took a lot out of me, however, from which I have yet to recover, so I admit to being ‘beat down’ a bit going into this.

          1. Ancient1

            crittermom @ 7:34 pm

            I am sorry to hear of your troubles and the now boarder that has invaded your temple. I share some of your emotions about continuing with a life where living day to day is filled with pain and suffering and with little joy.
            I will share a few things from by tapestry. I lost my wife at a young age to ovarian cancer. It was seventeen months of terror and fight. Her quality of life towards the end was unbelievable. We lost that battle and I was insane with grief. I made a decision that I would not permit that to happen again.
            I am eighty years. About four years ago, I was diagnosed wit follicular, non-hodgkin’s lymphoma of the head and neck. I am a loaner. I reluctantly underwent radiation at our teaching hospital and received excellent care and counseling. In two weeks I will under go another treatment to determine if my boarder is still knocking around. I have decided that I will live with my boarder and do nothing else. But this my message to you. No matter how difficult it becomes. you will always look forward to the rising sun. the breeze and the smell of the roses . I suggest you read the late Oliver Sacks’ last words in the NYT. (I don’t have the link.) Bless you.

              1. UserFriendly

                Sorry I’m late to this. I remember breaking down in tears upon hearing that Oliver Sacks had just died from a news podcast while I was at the gym. That is the only time I think I’ve cried in public. I suppose that has a lot to do with seeing myself in him; a gay scientist with a deep appreciation for hallucinogens who has decided a relationship just isn’t in the cards for most of his life.

                Very sorry to hear abut your diagnosis and I wish you all the best with whatever decisions you make. Your point about struggling with the will to live really resonates with me. Ever since middle school I can remember long stretches of my life where I felt ambivalent about death; not suicidal, but just not so sure I could muster the desire to jump should I find myself about to be hit by a bus. Most of the time I managed to get through with a combination of meds and the knowledge that if I worked hard I could secure a decent life for myself. After graduating in 08 with my engineering degree, $120k in student debt, and no job; I still kept telling myself once the economy turns around I’ll be fine. Even when I did get my job 3 years later and it paid about $12k/yr less than what I was expecting when I signed my loans, I was just so happy to finally be on the right track that I just ignored it. After 4 years with decent raises and still having about 65% of my income going just to make minimum payments on my debts, while the remaining 35% was not enough to meet basic living expenses requiring me to go further in debt; the light at the end of the tunnel went out. I don’t see any way the rest of my life doesn’t suck completely. If I could take the cancer for you, I would do so gladly.

      2. crittermom

        Tony, I encourage you to hang in there, as well.

        When I’m at my lowest I turn to the one thing that puts me ‘in the moment’ & allows me to forget my troubles for a time. That’s my photography (& nature).
        It nourishes my soul & lifts me up when I’m at my lowest point.

        When I got the phone call confirming I was definitely losing my home, I grabbed my camera & sat outside filming birds for an hour.
        That, & my dog (my ‘support group’, whom I had to put down in November in his elder years) were the two things that saved what little sanity I had left after dealing with the lying bank & govt.

        I’ve shot a couple GB of pics since getting this diagnosis, as well.

        I also do some crafts when I’m down. It forces me to concentrate on something other than my troubles.
        That resulted in me taking 57 gemstone bracelets I’d made (during an especially ‘down’ time!) to a new store that just opened this week, to put up for sale.

        I try to create some beauty with my photos & crafts, to erase the ugliness & hopelessness I may feel at the time.
        It helps.

        I hope your life improves soon, & that you may find your ‘outlet’ (other than cleaning your cat box) to offer you some relief from your struggles.
        Nature has much to offer, sometimes dwarfing troubled thoughts if you stop to admire the beauty it affords.

        You will be in my thoughts, as well.
        I’m not giving up yet, & I hope you don’t, either.

    7. ChiGal in Carolina

      I am so sorry to hear your news, Crittermom. From your comments over the years I know you have already been through the wringer.

      I have no advice, no ready answers, except to say there are no wrong answers. You will do what is right for you and yours.

      You are in my thoughts.

    8. Eclair

      Oh, crittermom, I am so sorry to hear of your troubles; and, I am certain that the stress of losing your house was a factor. Damn Chase!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Of course it was. The people who put houses into the investment box are dangerous fools, and not merely because a house isn’t necessarily a good investment. A home isn’t an investment at all!

    9. SpringTexan

      I agree wholeheartedly that my will to live has been MUCH less during bad periods of my life. I think that’s reasonable. How much you have to lose is different depending on that. I’m sure it’s affecting population longevity.

      Hopefully you will get back to having a better time but this certainly cannot help. I think you are spot on in suspecting the house stress as a cause. (It never rains but it pours.)

      I timidly (and if your mileage varies, I respect your decision) would suggest you might want to think twice about breast reconstruction (and not because of the finances). I always thought that was something I would want if I had breast cancer. But now I’ve known several people who had it. It has meant a LOT more hassle with the medical system lasting months and years — more surgeries, usually REPEATED and lengthy surgeries, more pain, sometimes problematic results such as discomfort that required yet ANOTHER surgery. It changed my mind and though absolutely if I could snap my fingers I’d absolutely want reconstruction, now that I’ve seen all the surgeries, doctors’ visits, problems women I know have had that otherwise would long before have been finished with breast cancer treatment, I’ve changed my mind about wanting it. (This is not to say that my friends felt the same way and again whatever they wanted for themselves I’m fine with — but it’s my take.) So if you do choose it, check into the non-financial costs it involves. (So far I’m only aware of one person I know that had breast reconstruction where only ONE surgery was required.)

      Some chemo is not too bad, but I understand your hesitation. Radiation from what I’ve watched is worse than chemo. Good luck with ALL your decisions, and may some causes for happiness and joy come your way as soon as possible!!

      1. crittermom

        I hadn’t heard that side of reconstruction before. Yikes.
        I do know of a local woman who had a double with reconstruction because she carried the gene leaving her very vulnerable to cancer.
        Apparently, she has had some pain as nerves ‘reconnect’, but no other surgeries so far & back at work.
        I believe she went to the same hospital I’ve chosen.

        Not sure if I’ll find out tomorrow if that’s even an option yet, but still leaning that way if it is (following MANY questions, of course).
        Thanks for sharing that side of it. Much appreciated as something to consider & question.

        I’m trying to find the bright side of all of this, in the fact it was discovered before Trump has a chance to take away any of my benefits!

        1. DDTea

          Hi crittermom,
          As mentioned avoid carbs, sugars etc and consider a ketogenic diet. Avoid shellfish as well and ask the doctors at the clinic you’re visiting about possibly chelating copper out of your system (Cu is an essential nutrient for tumors).
          My wife’s been struggling with brain cancer since 2011. She’s a statistical outlier as she was given 2 years to live. As of 3/1 her MRI showed a recurrence so we’re figuring it out again.
          Hang in there.
          (First post to NC, but long time lurker.. your post hit a nerve)..

    10. Annotherone

      I’m so very sorry you have to go through this crittermom – atop your other problems. Life sometimes throws much worse than lemons – rotten eggs! I hope, as someone earlier suggested, that you will post a link to any gofundme …and more than once in case I miss it. Years ago, I lost everything I owned in an horrendous fire; at that time my work friends and colleagues held a collection to help me out – I’d like to help now.

      As to how to face the future – the best advice I received when facing a scary major operation, long ago, was to “keep putting one foot in front of the other, live one day at a time” and as Desiderata advises “be gentle with yourself”. (((( )))

    11. SpringTexan

      However, according to this page, you are mistaken about Medicare not covering breast reconstruction. I am pretty sure it will:

      The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 requires all group health plans that pay for mastectomy to also cover prostheses and reconstructive procedures. In addition, Medicare covers breast reconstruction, while Medicaid coverage can vary from state to state. Government- and church-sponsored plans are not necessarily required to cover reconstruction, so you may need to check with your plan administrator.

      Even if you’re covered, it’s still possible to run into problems, especially in certain situations: for example, maybe you’ve chosen a newer type of reconstructive procedure, you’re having surgery to create a more balanced appearance, or you need a complete correction of a past reconstruction. Coverage also can be an issue if you want to use a plastic surgeon who is outside your health insurance plan’s network.

      1. crittermom

        Wow! That’s good news. I thought it only covered a prosthetic.
        Thank you!
        I just checked the Medicare site again & it says it does cover it. (I swear when I checked it before it didn’t indicate that!)
        I also read the link you sent me.

        Now really hoping that’s an option for me.

        1. robnume

          Please try to hang in there, crittermom. My heart just breaks for what you’re going through and what you have yet to go through. If there’s any help you might need, through crowdfunding or whatever, please let us know. We ain’t got much, but I’m sure willing to share what little I have with you. I like to think we are all a community here. Take care and get better. My thoughts are with you.

    12. Fiery Hunt

      I’m sorry for your troubles. So hard…

      My girlfriend is a breast cancer survivor (stage 3, single mast. with reconstruction).

      Her best advice: Stop looking at “what ifs” and worse case scenarios. You’ll make yourself nuts. Find a good team you trust (and you will) and let them do their thing. It’s a very simple and common process…yes, there will be multiple surgeries probably, radiation is worse than chemo, etc… but you’ll make it.

      Focus on your mental state. Be as positive as you can be. It will help. It might be the only thing that you can control. And know no one is alone.


  14. Tvc15

    Guillotine watch, private jet users wanting to fly under the radar and painting their jets “Matterhorn” white to blend in.

    How about we add a “Crimson” circle where the passenger seats are?

  15. toshiro_mifune

    Wayne Barrett, Donald Trump, and the Death of the American Press

    That was a very good piece

    1. flora

      Yes. An excellent analysis of ‘how the press got here.’ Important. Thanks for the link. Thanks, also, for yesterday’s link to the Foreign Affairs magazine article.

    2. ChrisPacific

      Yes, thank you. I think I will share it with some friends who have been getting caught up in the current media hysteria (and should really know better).

      You’ve probably never seen the phrase “seeming to imply” in the lede of a story in a major American newspaper before—a news story. So did Trump imply, or seem to imply? How are readers supposed to parse “incorrectly” if the story is about the reality of riots in a place where Trump “seemingly” “implied” there was violence? So what’s the point—that Trump is a racist? Or that Trump can see the future?

      Through most of this election cycle and the start of the Trump administration I have been mystified as to how many news organizations with supposedly strong reputations have been able to consistently write such crap, in the apparently genuine belief that publishing it is an act of journalism. This article goes a long way as to explaining why.

  16. Vatch

    The Senate voted to rescind an FCC privacy ruling by a completely partisan vote 50-48. Naturally, the Republicans voted for the giant internet corporations against internet users. For a change, Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp voted for the people.



    This hasn’t passed the House of Representatives yet, but if it does, the internet providers will be able to continue selling their customers’ browsing data and other information without permission.

    1. Roger Smith

      Do you know how this is different than the browsing data companies already have access to in order to tailor ads to me?

      1. Vatch

        You can set your browser to Incognito or Private mode, which will keep the web sites from being able to track you. But even if your browser is set to such a mode, your ISP still knows where you’ve been.

  17. Darius

    Open borders wouldn’t be such an issue if NAFTA GMO corn wasn’t flooding Mexico and displacing millions of farmers and the US weren’t forcing murderous criminal regimes on Central America.

    1. different clue

      The Trump Group doesn’t have a multilayered understanding of political economy or the body political-economic which would allow them to understand the benefits of equal protectionism for all. Or even to understand the concept. Their primitive vision is limited to the Zero Sum balance with the Screwer getting the Good Deal and the Screwee getting the Bad Deal.

      Equal protectionism for all would call for totally vacating NAFTA and setting the three countries free to re-protectionize their separate economies to whatever extent they desire. Mexico, for instance, would get to ban the import of petrochemical GMO shitcorn and restrict its own internal corn market to GMO-No MO’ shinola corn grown by its own restored-to-bussiness peasant corn-growers. Maybe some of America’s NAFTAstinians might go back to Mexico if they had a restored living to go back to.

  18. Toni Gilpin

    En re the Case and Deaton study it needs to be underscored that the heightened dangers facing the working class (and by that I mean all of them, whatever their gender, race or ethnicity) are not only those related to despair that develop over time. The decline of union protection on the job and the deregulation of industry has increased the very real and immediate risks faced by workers every day, as evidenced by this devastating Bloomberg story on the auto parts industry in Alabama: “The pressure inside parts plants is wreaking a different American carnage than the one Trump conjured up at his inauguration. OSHA records obtained by Bloomberg document burning flesh, crushed limbs, dismembered body parts, and a flailing fall into a vat of acid. The files read like Upton Sinclair, or even Dickens.” Everybody should read this story — it is sickening and in a better world it would trigger an outpouring of outrage that would afford these workers some greater measure of protection. But instead no doubt OSHA will be cut back further under Trump, unions will be further weakened, and while we are distracted by stories about scary Russians more people will be maimed or killed every day in their workplaces.

  19. sierra7

    Re your Apples photo……Ohio Valley:
    An entertaining book our book club read in 2016:
    “At the Edge of the Orchard”
    Tracy Chevalier
    At least we learned how to make hard cider and what “spitter” apples are/were.

  20. Paid Minion


    What a stupid atticle. About 99.5 percent of bizjets have been painted Matterhorn or Snow White since day one in the business

  21. Tomonthebeach

    Interesting that the spin on real estate values in Ann Arbor vs Detroit focuses on post Great Recession ruins rather than touching on the fact that university teaching, the dominant industry in Ann Arbor, pays very very well.

    I say this as a retired scientist with a PhD; as long as Washington continues to blow smoke up the nation’s butt about how critical a college diploma is to success, oases like Ann Arbor will continue to thrive relative to the “real world.”

    1. Arizona Slim

      I was a University of Michigan student during the 1970s. Ann Arbor was overpriced back then.

      To the point where my teacher mom would take me shopping for school supplies in our hometown. Reason: Those supplies were MUCH more expensive in Ann Arbor.

      Nowadays, I can’t bear to visit Ann Arbor for more than a couple of days. Place is too much of an ivory tower for my taste. And don’t get me started on what things cost there.

      1. clarky90

        I believe that “Ivory Towers” are usually painted “Matterhorn White” to blend in with the Bilderberg Gang. (also Matterhorn White).

  22. gepay

    About cumulative advantages and disadvantages (I’m in rural VA) – diet – at the supermarket I can detect a definite correlation between how healthy (or unhealthy) people look by the number of sodas in their carts (and other like food). middle class or upper middle looking people are much more likely to have food selections approved by food nazis. bad american diet > obesity and unhealthy looking skin. Those having the “bad carts” are more likely to talk to cashiers and other workers suggesting similar class incomes and backgrounds.In the past these people usually had gardens or relatives with big gardens
    I visit the local library and middle class and upper outnumber working class types 5 or 10 to 1 especially those with children – lower income looking types are only found in majority at the computers available to everyone but even these do not look like typical working people.I know that of my own upbringing in the 50’s, in my family, reading was encouraged which definitely helped us do better in school even though we were poor.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      And if Honkala hadn’t messed up her candidate filing, she wouldn’t have had to run as a write-in, right? Not that this excuses the Democrat Party, but the point is to win….

  23. Altandmain

    The Senate just voted to allow ISPs to sell your browsing history:

    In a 50-to-48 vote along party lines, the U.S. Senate decided to kill FCC rules blocking your ISP from selling your browsing history to the advertising industry without permission. Should the change pass the House, as is expected, the likes of Comcast and Verizon will be able to make money disclosing what you buy, where you browse, and what you search from your own home, all without asking permission.

    In an immediate signal that the vote will only benefit monied corporate interests and not the roughly 70% of Americans with a home broadband connection, the Internet & Television Association trade group gloated over their congressional victory

    The EFF further warned that without the FCC protections, ISPs would not only be able to commodify your browser history, but “[hijack]their customers’ search queries and [redirect] them to a place customers hadn’t asked for” and “inject ads into your traffic based on your browsing history.” Should Republicans succeed in dismantling the Obama-era rules through this action sponsored by Sen. Jeff Flake, the FCC would be barred from ever reestablishing such consumer protections in the future.

    I think that it may be worth looking into getting VPNs at this rate.

    1. craazyboy

      I settled on PIA VPN. Large worldwide network, make your IP appear anywhere, encryption, and they claim they don’t keep server logs. All for $40 a year. Easy install, been working trouble free. Also 5 device licenses included. Android too.

    2. Octopii

      Not saying the bill is okay, but lots of web traffic is encrypted at this point, and if passed this bill will drive that further. DuckDuckGo (and Google) searches and most anything you’re signed in to are secure — look for the lock in your browser. Perhaps NC should be as well?

      Oh, and your VPN traffic is all readable by your VPN provider, so it’s not entirely safe (unless you’re on a secure website).

      1. craazyboy

        Very true. So you still want to hide from your VPN too, and use https connections where available. Like banking.

  24. allan

    PwC Settles Midtrial in MF Global Accounting Malpractice Case [NY Law Journal]

    The multibillion-dollar fight between the bankruptcy administrator for MF Global and PricewaterhouseCoopers over accounting for European sovereign debt has been settled midtrial.

    The settlement was reached late Wednesday and the parties informed Judge Victor Marrero Thursday morning. Terms of the deal were not disclosed and there is no indication how much PricewaterhouseCoopers paid to settle accounting malpractice claims for its role in advising the doomed MF Global and its then-head Jon Corzine on how to book the purchase of the debt of five European countries in 2010 and 2011.

    The settlement came just over three weeks into a trial in which Corzine, the former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs and New Jersey governor and senator who was called in to turn around MF Global in 2010, testified before the jury in Marrero’s courtroom (NYLJ, March 9).

    Corzine said MF Global relied on the advice of PricewaterhouseCoopers every step of the way and it was market turmoil and a crisis of confidence that sank the company. He implied in his testimony that revelations that MF Global was using off-balance-sheet accounting, endorsed by PwC, helped finish off the company in October 2011. …

    Is there a German word for wishing both sides to lose?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Is there a German word for wishing both sides to lose?

        From Google translate, I’m not Sterbenlust is that word (and I can’t find one).

        I did find these words, though:

        Verschlimmbesserung: a supposed improvement that makes things worse. Useful for discussing crapification

        Backpfeifengesicht: a face that cries out for a fist in it. Many such, but Paul Ryan springs to mind for me.

  25. diogenes

    Owners are always ready to write off labor in exchange for more money. In America, on paper, laborers are also citizens with a say in their prospects.

    Owners have never stopped hating that, and undermining it.

    One nifty little game they’ve played in America is to make sure POC labor has it a little worse than white labor. Now that the race to the bottom is approaching the bottom, white outcomes are matching POC outcomes.

    We can certainly have oppression without racism – current China, medieval England come to mind. OTOH, racism is sure a handy tool to mask the real game, which is the only color that eventually matters is green.

    I wonder if the reason social democracy got a toehold in western Europe was that it a was lot easier for labor to see who the enemy was.

  26. flora

    re: Case Deaton links and the comment, ‘ This may also explain the fear and hate of the professional classes: If you conceive of credentials as a claim on future income — that is, a property interest, the basis of all faction, says Madison 00 not just for you, but for your children — and legacy admissions do just that — then you would do just about anything to avoid becoming one of “those people,” and hence almost anything to protect your claims.’

    No doubt. That certainly could be why Frank Rich and others are quick to throw les deplorables under the tractor. The strength and well being of the professional classes rests, finally, on the strength and well being of the working classes below them; not on the strength of their skyhook tosses to the billionaire class above them. Their fear and hate of deplorables is an inverted recognition of the weakness of their own positions and weakness of the economy in general. imo.

    1. flora

      From the Tablet article link “…the Death of the American Press.”

      ‘In January, Bannon told the Times that the press doesn’t “understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.” But the Times had already acknowledged its blunder in a letter to its readers after the election. However, neither Bannon nor the Times seemed to grasp the logistical reasons for the failure—it wasn’t because the paper of record slants left, or because it was too caught up in its own narrative. It’s in large part because it had long ago cut the regional bureaus in the South, the Midwest, etc., that would’ve forced reporters to speak to Americans outside the urban bubble and thereby explain to readers what the world looks like once you wander off the F train.‘ (my emphasis)

      It’s possible the Frank Riches and the coastal credentialed classes are unaware of problems in flyover country and have forgotten about the people who live here; the deplorables aren’t real people but an unknown ‘them’ to the Riches and bubble denizens. Surely if “those people” are real then the NYT and WaPo would have been reporting the regional problems all along, right? And the credentialed classes would know about it the way they used to know about the civil rights marches in the South, the factory strikes and farm prices in the Midwest, the shipping news, and how all the parts of the country fit together. The credentialed classes read the paper. Even so, they don’t know what’s happening in the country because the papers have stopped reporting on the country outside of the coastal areas. Hillary’s losing must have been a thunderbolt shock. The state of the country is not what’s been reported in the press for many years now. People voting for their childrens’ futures and their economic interest is not deplorable.

      The NYT and WaPo and others are now starting to look at these once prosperous and now blighted areas of the country, if only because these areas show they still have electoral clout.

      this comment is turning into an inchoate ramble.
      great links in the water cooler today. thanks.

      1. flora

        “Readers, I’m sure we’ll have more to say about this (see NC here, here, and here) so please share your thoughts! ” (since you asked, I’ll go on. )

        ” “Researchers who sounded the alarm on increasing white working-class mortality blamed the trend Thursday on economic upheaval that created a web of social issues so tightly interwoven that even successful policies would take years to unsnarl them” [Bloomberg].”

        The press can approach this in several ways. Two that come to mind are: 1. a superficial tourist’s look at the poor benighted people and communities “time and technology” have left behind. nothing to be done. too bad.
        2. a deep dive into the complex of offshoring govt tax credits and Wall St. pushing to offshore, combined with a look at the effects this has had on individual workers, communities, states, and the real economy of the country, not just the Wall St. stock prices.
        Offshoring has nothing to do with first order technology, imo. It has everything to do with political favors and second order technology – using technology to escape environmental, labor, and tax laws. think Uber. My personal take is that the govt decided to throw communities and workers under the bus to increase stock prices. That may not be true. Good, in depth, disinterested reporting would be very welcome.

        We will see which way the press decides to approach is important issue.

        1. flora


          given that 4 years ago, 2013, Russia was still our best bud, was it in our national interest to send our high level technology to China simply to achieve fatter stock prices?

          ok. this is really my last comment du jour. ;)

      2. Carolinian

        Re the Tablet…that’s a good article. Doubtless one can exaggerate the degree to which a previous press corps had high standards–after all dissatisfaction with the media during Vietnam was the reason publications like the Village Voice and Ramparts existed–but at least back then news and opinion were not supposed to freely mix. The current bigs seem unable to even deal with the objective fact that Trump is president much less whether some of his policies might have merit. The factionalism is off the scale. And if indeed rightwinger goals are cause for panic then such panic should have been taking place long before this.

        Blame the state of the media not just on the internet but also on television, on the influence of cable news and the changing culture of broadcasting. Even back in the 70s–the heyday of the Voice–the debate was in full swing and gave satirical oomph to James Brooks’ Mary Tyler Moore show where the long suffering old timer Lou Grant had to deal with the airhead on air talent, Ted Baxter. They’re all prima donnas now….

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Ted Koppel and Nightline, and then Ted Turner. CNN was always a dumpster fire.

  27. Oregoncharles

    ” ““Write-In or Wrong-In?” Did Electioneering Steal a State Rep Seat?” ”

    the notorious big-city machines of the 19th and earlier 20th centuries were almost all Democrats. Apparently they never really went away, at least in Philly and Chicago.

  28. Jim Haygood

    Annual census estimates for counties have been released. Cook County (Chicago) topped the list of losers, shedding a net 21,324 people. Setting aside more births than deaths and positive international migration, a stunning 66,244 Cook County residents fled the crime wave and imminent financial meltdown.


    Wayne County (Detroit) and Baltimore came in second and third in population losses.

    On the groaf side of the ledger, after taking a hard hit in the housing crash, Maricopa County (Phoenix) pipped Harris County (Houston) by adding 81,630 residents vs Harris County’s 56,587. Clark County (Las Vegas), also smashed hard in the housing bust, came in third, gaining 46,375.

    The top ten gainers are all Sunbelt locations except for King County (Seattle), while the top ten losers are all Rustbelt locations except for San Juan County (Farmington, NM).

  29. Ed

    Look at what happened to jobs in America. You used to be able to retire with a pension by working at a grocery store for twenty five years. Now everyone is told almost every job like that “isn’t meant to be a career you are supposed to get experience and move on” except where are you going to move to after working at a grocery store or Wal Mart? A corner office at Goldman Sachs? They never explain that part its just a fact all these jobs that once provided a life and even a lifestyle are now just places people spend 28 hours a week wishing they weren’t.

    “It has to be that way cuz they ain’t running a charity!” I am sure that is what their Congressman from the Freedom Caucus tells them if anyone asks them why everything has deteriorated.

    1. sd

      Also, the grocery store will more than likely only hire you part time to avoid paying benefits. So even if your career dream job was at your local grocery store, good chance it’s just not possible.

  30. Fiery Hunt

    To Lambert’s call for anecdotal confirmation of the “cumulative disadvantage” thesis:

    Absolutely true in my world. Current sitch: mid 40’s white guy with heavy drinking and smoking issues. Self-employed, some college no degree, no health insurance, no retirement. How I got here is the definition of “cumulative”. Single non-credentialed mom raised 2 kids on a pretty good income that was 60% of her peers. Couldn’t help with college…so I took my first student loans 28 years ago. Destroyed my credit at 20 with dental bills (which also crashed my credit cards..leading to more credit carnage). Mom got chewed up and spit out by corporate America (still working part-time at 70) so no help with house buying…been a renter in the Bay Area all my adult life and there’s no way to get ahead to save for that down payment…started my 1st business, (book store…yeah, just when Amazon started back in 1997..) lost the lease over a triple net lease increase of 300%…got married, went back to school…more student loans, started a new business with the wife, couldn’t pay the nearly 40% income tax rate of the self-employed…filed bankruptcy (13)…but neither my $45,000 in student loans nor my accumulated back taxes were discharged (Thanks Hill and Joe!)… got divorced…but still own the business.

    Over 60% of my gross income has gone to student loans and taxes these last 2 years.
    Just paid off my first student loan from 1990. It was originally for $7,500.

    Work 16 hours a day, 6 days a week to barely stay on top of my debts, let alone get ahead. The work is physical: I’ve got 2 herniated disks (one that hurts a lot and one that has left my left thigh numb for the last 4 years).

    The grind, nigh 30 years now, has been and is brutal. I drink heavily, I smoke way too much, but I’m still pushing…and I still believe the girlfriend and I will find the escape hatch.

    Glad I’m not in my buddy’s shoes though.
    He’s got a very similar tale of woe…

    But he’s got a kid.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      the tl;dr version:

      Every single state and federal policy has been to my disadvantage. From CA’s Prop 13 pushing the housing crises/inequality… to national bankruptcy laws…to higher education costs… to tax deductions for home ownership and employer based insurance…every one of them is aimed at someone other than me.

      And my life has been made harder by them.

    2. Kramer

      I went to college in the mid nineties. I almost went to med school. I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted to do and it was clear that the system intentionally makes med school entry a pain in the ass to keep supply limited. The cost was huge and it would have been 6 years before I had any real income to show for my investment. At the time, it seemed to me that some type of government intervention to control costs was inevitable. I feared I would be starting my career nearly thirty with huge debt at the same time that physician pay was being slashed by socialized medecine. Twenty years later, I’m doing ok but not nearly as well as I likely would have done as an M.D. The lesson to me is that we live in a society that expects teenagers to make the most important decisions of their lives and punishes the hell out of most of them. Then we glorify the merits of the winners. I can envision the day when we actually praise the dedication of the guy who never stopped investing in the pick-5 until it finally paid off.

  31. Ptolemy Philopater

    Re the suicide rate of the working class.

    Because markets: go die. This is not just a cute aphorism, it is being implemented. The ruling class no longer needs an American surplus labor force, they have one in east Asia. Now Perdue Pharmaceutical and the Sackler family have provided the solution, the final solution, Oxycodone. Because the markets: go die! Three million doses of Oxycodone in Kermit West Virginia a town with 300 residents. If only Hitler had known that genocide could be so profitable!

    This is no joke. For every overdose one less person to collect social security, medicare. The ruling class has found a way to bypass Congress and solve the “Entitlement” problem and make a hefty profit. At 14 billion dollars the Sackler family are #14 in the Forbes list of psychopaths.

    Since the invasion of Afghanistan opium production, once eradicated by the Taliban, is now at record levels. What was the CIA really up to in Afghanistan? Much like the crack epidemic in the 90’s during the Contra War. What happened to Gary Webb who made that connection in the San Jose Mercury News? Suicide? It is time to take off the Rose colored glasses and admit we have a genocidal ruling class, and you are next!

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