2:00PM Water Cooler 4/24/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso warned on Friday that the U.S. shouldn’t expect that a bilateral trade deal will result in the same concessions Tokyo offered in TPP talks. …. ‘Twelve countries have worked on the TPP, that is why the U.S. had gained something from Japan,’ Aso said. ‘It was on the multilateral framework. If it is on the bilateral, there is no one else to go to for balancing out the gains and losses, so the conditions that resulted in the TPP can get worsened on the bilateral route'” [Politico].

Politico Europe’s Matthew Katnitsching attended the [meetings of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, the IMF’s global economic advisory panel] in Washington and came away with a positive take. He noted [Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin] received loud applause at the end of his address: ‘The warm reception was one of several signals during the IMF’s spring meeting that following a rocky start to their relationship, both the international financial community and the Trump administration are trying to find common ground on issues from financial regulation to trade ahead of the G-20 summit in Hamburg in July'” [Politico].

“If President Trump is serious about strengthening Buy American and delivering on his pledges to create more American manufacturing jobs, he could immediately withdraw with 60 days written notice from World Trade Organization procurement rules with no penalty and invoke his executive authority to reverse all 59 trade pact Buy American waivers.” (On March 13, U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (DWis.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) wrote to Trump calling on him to suspend trade agreement Buy American waivers.) [Lori Wallach, Public Citizen].

“Kenneth Smith Ramos, head of the Mexican Embassy’s Trade and NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) Office, said the two countries aren’t ‘operating in a vacuum,’ and the trade balance frequently cited and criticized by Trump ‘does not reflect the level of supply chain integration’ between the U.S. and Mexico’s agricultural and manufacturing industries. For example, U.S.-produced components are found in about 40 percent of Mexico’s exports to the United States, he said” [DC Velocity]. “What about NAFTA, another frequent Trump target? Smith said the Mexican government’s position is that the 23-year-old treaty would benefit from ‘modernization’ that is based on a ‘fact-based assessment that reflects reality and avoids political rhetoric.’ The outcome of any renegotiation must be a win for all three countries involved, and it must maintain the integrity of the integrated supply chains that NAFTA created, he said.”

“The US Treasury on Friday denied Exxon Mobil’s request for a waiver to exempt it from sanctions on Russia” [Splash 247]. “Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin issued a brief statement on Friday saying that, after consultation with President Donald Trump, it was decided no waivers would be issued to Exxon and the Russia sanctions would be upheld…. Exxon also has revealed that, under the administration of previous President Barack Obama, it received three waivers of the sanctions for limited work with Rosneft.”


New Cold War

“Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they want an independent, non-partisan commission instead of Congress to investigate Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll” [NBC]. “Seventy-three percent of respondents prefer the independent investigation, versus 16 percent who pick Congress. Still, a majority of Americans — 54 percent — believe that Congress should investigate whether there was contact between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, which is essentially unchanged from February’s NBC/WSJ poll.” If we had some sources with names, and some evidence to look at, that would be wonderfully clarifying. Is there a reason we have to wait for hearings, or a commission, for this information?

Our Famously Free Press

“His rise has fractured the once-powerful editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and elevated Breitbart—which enjoys a direct line to the White House, with Bannon perched in the West Wing, and is now struggling with how to wield its newfound power. Meanwhile, Fox News, the network with which Trump feuded bitterly during the campaign, has developed the closest relationship with the new administration of any television network. The result of this overall shift is, in essence, a new branch of the Fourth Estate in which the elites have lost their power, and some of the most central outlets are more closely intertwined with the executive branch than ever before” [Politico].

2016 Post Mortem

“An examination by The New York Times, based on interviews with more than 30 current and former law enforcement, congressional and other government officials, found that while partisanship was not a factor in Mr. Comey’s approach to the two investigations, he handled them in starkly different ways. In the case of Mrs. Clinton, he rewrote the script, partly based on the F.B.I.’s expectation that she would win and fearing the bureau would be accused of helping her. In the case of Mr. Trump, he conducted the investigation by the book, with the F.B.I.’s traditional secrecy. Many of the officials discussed the investigations on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters” [New York Times]. Like everybody who was anybody, Comey thought Clinton would win, so no problemo. Too funny.

2016 Post Mortem

“The Clinton campaign made several strategic decisions that have drawn heaps of scorn from the press. In the pages of Shattered, it becomes clear that their fundamental origin rested in Clinton herself” [Vox]. Starting with the Goldman speeches and privatizing the server with the data from her public office. To be fair, Putin forced her to do that, exactly as he forced her not to campaign in Wisconsin, but you get the idea. More: “Allen and Parnes write that Clinton frequently acknowledged to her aides that she didn’t have the pulse of the electorate or understand the political currents. When she did campaign in Michigan, Clinton resisted condemning global free trade deals, and then drew criticism in the local press for her tepid answers. As easy as it is to mock Mook, he appeared to be in a real dilemma: Why go all out trying to talk to voters and persuade them if you yourself don’t believe your message can win them over?”

Realignment and Legitimacy


“”I think what is clear to anyone who looks at where the Democratic Party today is, that the model of the Democratic Party is failing,” Sanders told CBS’s “Face the Nation'” [The Hill].

“Over 1,300 aspiring campaign managers, field directors, and finance chiefs have so far enrolled in what the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is calling ‘DCCC-University'” [NBC News]. “Like “American Idol” for political junkies, students who show the most promise in each of the cities will be invited to a more advanced course in Washington, D.C.” Gee, I wonder what “show the most promise” will mean, operationally? From a diary at Kos: “You want ‘Change you can believe in’? This is how it looks” [Daily Kos]. Well, process isn’t everything

“Fueled by disenchantment with the traditional institutions of the Democratic Party, the promise of Sanders’ candidacy, and the specter of Trumpism, DSA membership has more than doubled since the election. The DSA now boasts more than 20,000 members and more than 120 local chapters. Sure, you could fit just about everyone comfortably inside Madison Square Garden, but being a socialist hasn’t been this cool in years” [Mother Jones]. I was wondering when Clara would get round to this: “More pressing than its inability to play nice is the movement’s inescapable whiteness.” “Inescapable” why? Were the Black Panthers liberals, for pity’s sake?

“Marches for Science Outdraw Donald Trump’s Inauguration” [Politics USA]. Useful crowd numbers, but I need to think more about this. After all, Monsanto depends on “science,” right?

“The Average 29-Year-Old” [The Atlantic]. “So, how useful that the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published a report on the demographics of 29-year-olds in the U.S. … The impression of young people in the U.S. today is warped: In trend pieces, the word Millennial has become shorthand for ‘a college-educated young person living in a city.’ But this usage elides some critical details, for example that most people born between the early 1980s and late 1990s (a) didn’t graduate from college, (b) aren’t living in a city, and (c) generally hate being called ‘Millennials.'”

“May Hires Jim Messina for U.K. Conservative Election Team” [Bloomberg]. Obama’s campaign manager goes to work for the Tories. Reminds me of Plouffe doing PR for Uber…

Stats Watch

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, March 2017: “The 2 tenths fall in the March unemployment rate and surge in the month’s utility output helped offset weak payroll growth and a sharp drop in manufacturing production to make for a slightly positive reading in the national activity index” [Econoday]. “These results help confirm that March was a slow month for the economy and will be a weak contributor — but perhaps still a positive contributor — to first-quarter economic growth.”

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, April 2017: “The strongest growth of the economic expansion continues apace for the Dallas manufacturing report” [Econoday]. “Delivery times, which in last week’s Empire State and Philly Fed reports showed significant delays consistent with strong activity, also slowed in this report but only marginally.” And but: “Remember that last month, the hard data said manufacturing declined whilst the Fed surveys showed growth. This survey declined but remained in positive territory with both new orders and unfilled orders in positive territory, and new orders improved” [Econintersect].

Credit: “See any reason not to panic?” (charts) [Mosler Economics]. Percent change from a year ago for various categories:

The first one is “Commercial and Industrial Loans, All Commerical Banks.” But all the curves seem to be heading the same direction, don’t they? Why? Banks want to play the ponies instead of doing due diligence on loans?

Credit: “Even young, hip Americans don’t want to use mobile payment apps” [MarketWatch]. “Nearly 40% said cash and plastic cards already met their needs to make a payment.” Sounds like they’ve been reading Clive…

Retail: “The changes e-commerce is forcing on the physical retail world are accelerating. Brick-and-mortar stores are shuttering at a record pace this year, and experts say the rash of closings is only the beginning… Last week, Bebe Stores Inc. BEBE -0.75% and Rue21 Inc. became the latest mall staples to announce they would shut down hundreds of locations, pushing the number of closed stores to nearly 3,000 this year” [Wall Street Journal]. “The growth of online shopping is the primary force behind the trend, but not the only one. Also to blame: a decades-long rush by retail chains to open as many locations as possible, fueled in recent years by record-low interest rates. Some analysts compare the rise and fall of mall staples like The Limited and Wet Seal to the housing boom and bust.” Or all the dumb money that built overcapacity in shipping. And: “8,600: Projected retail store closings this year, according to Credit Suisse, more than during the 2008 financial crisis.”

Real Estate: “Developers can’t build warehouses fast enough. Industrial tenants absorbed 1.7 million square feet in New Jersey in the first quarter, up about 30% from a year ago, despite an 11.7% increase in rent… The insatiable demand for space is being driven by the needs of e-commerce giants like Amazon.com Inc. , which last week announced plans to open three fulfillment centers in New Jersey totaling 2.8 million square feet” [Wall Street Journal]. “[Real-estate services firm JLL] said soaring rents are a “new normal” for industrial tenants. With vacancy rates down to 4%, from 5.9% a year ago, landlords remain firmly in control.”

Commodities: “Anglo American sold more volumes of iron ore for export in the first quarter than a year earlier.Exports of iron ore from its operations in South Africa rose 7% to 10.1m tonnes, the miner said in a production report on Monday” [Lloyd’s List]. And: “ANGLO American expects to increase thermal coal exports from South Africa and Colombia this year due to productivity improvements” [Lloyd’s List].

The Bezzle: “John Deere just told the copyright office that only corporations can own property, humans can only license it” [Boing Boing]. “The fact that the DMCA felonizes bypassing copyright locks, combined with the proliferation of copyrighted software in gadgets means that companies can turn their commercial preferences into private laws. Just design your gadget so that using is in any way apart from the official, prescribed way requires breaking a copyright lock. Now, anyone who violates your license terms is also committing a felony, punishable by five years in prison and a $500,000 fine. For a first offense.”

The Bezzle: “The chief executive of email unsubscription service Unroll.me has said he is ‘heartbroken’ that users felt betrayed by the fact that his company monetises the contents of their inbox by selling their data to companies such as Uber” [Guardian]. “While he said it was ‘heartbreaking’, he was not talking about the sale of customer data: instead, he said he felt bad ‘to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetise our free service.'” When the service is free, you are the product…

The Bezzle: “At its height in early 2015, social payments startup Tilt had the makings of the next Facebook—and dude, it was going to be awesome” [Fast Company]. “But the hopes embedded in Tilt’s $375 million valuation came crashing down to earth last year. Beshara hadn’t built a business; instead, he had manufactured a classic Silicon Valley mirage. While investors were throwing millions of dollars at the promise of a glittering business involving ‘social’ and ‘money,’ their Mark Zuckerberg-in-the-making was basking in the sunny glow of Bay Area praise and enjoying the ride with his bros. Revenue was not a top priority—a remarkable oversight for any company, and a particularly galling one for a payments company.” “Mirage” seems a little too kind. How about “scam”? Or “fraud”?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 39 Fear (previous close: 35, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 30 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 24 at 11:40am.

Health Care

“Kentucky is moving closer to an overhaul of the state’s Medicaid program Bevin has said is aimed at controlling costs and encouraging more personal responsibility in consumers, changes that include elimination of basic dental and vision benefits for most ‘able-bodied’ adults who instead would have to earn them through a ‘rewards’ program” [Courier-Journal]. “The state proposal also includes a “My Rewards” account where people can accumulate points for activities such as passing a GED exam, completing job training or completing wellness activities such as stop-smoking classes, points that go toward the purchase of services such as dental or vision care. But Medicaid members also would have points deducted from their rewards account for infractions such as failing to pay premiums or “inappropriate” use of emergency rooms up to a negative balance of $150.” First, I don’t see a difference between this and liberal “nudge theory.” Second, the liberal objections to this proposal are not that it’s gatekeeping to a program that should be a universal benefit, but that it’s the wrong sort of gatekeeping.

“American health care is so messed up that a whole industry has been created to help navigate it” [MarketWatch]. “Medical bill advocates and other such third-party businesses have sprung up in the gaps and blind spots of America’s complicated, fragmented health care system. These services make sense of health bills for consumers and even fix errors in them. In the process, these businesses can reduce wasteful health-care spending and possibly even improve health outcomes. Their numbers have exploded. And they’ve become even more important as high-deductible health plans — which put employees on the line for thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses — have increased in popularity. Though confusing medical bills are pervasive, utilization rates for professional help remains low. The ultimate success of these businesses will hinge on how well they use technology to change awareness and access, according to many in the sector.” In other words, ObamaCare’s complexity is, among other things, a jobs guarantee for a wholly new class of professionals. How nice.

Guillotine Watch

“The career of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning creator of the Broadway sensation ‘Hamilton,’ has benefited from grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, one of the government agencies threatened with elimination by the Trump administration. A strong proponent of arts education, especially when it comes to kids in underserved regions of the country, Miranda spoke with Erin Moriarty and ‘Sunday Morning’ about the importance of federal funding for the arts” [CBS News]. As a humanities major, I should feel sympathetic to Manuel on this one. But what Manuel’s really talking about is a jobs guarantee for artists; that’s what those “grants” are. So how come every American doesn’t deserve a jobs guarantee? (I’m thinking here of the wonderful work by Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parls, and Walker Evans, et al., for the Farm Services Adminstration. These were not simply grants to make art, but shared a larger, social purpose that provisioned a wide swatch of Americans, not a narrow one.)

Class Warfare

“President Donald Trump’s hard line against immigrants in the U.S. illegally has sent a chill through the nation’s agricultural industry, which fears a crackdown will deprive it of the labor it needs to plant, grow and pick the crops that feed the country” [AP]. It’s totally OK to ruthlessly exploit your workers as long as you’re not racist about it, right? If “sanctuary cities”-types would be honest enough to admit they’re also advocates for cheap labor, that would be wonderfully clarifying. And while we’re on that topic–

“Instead of allowing a small group of highly skilled workers in to fill positions where no Americans are available, H-1B has become a treadmill for replacing US workers, as well as facilitating the outsourcing of hundreds of thousands of jobs abroad. The end result is unemployed Americans and foreign workers with lower wages, fewer protections, and no clear path to citizenship. “As long as you allow the H-1B cancer to keep growing, you’re hurting everybody except the companies that are getting cheaper labor,” says [Bruce Morrison, a former Democratic Congressman from Connecticut who helped to draft the legislation that created the H-1B system]” [The Verge]. This is why Facebook is letting its employees protest on May 1; it’s all about cheap labor.

“In the aftermath of the Great Recession, labor force attachment declined. However, that pattern has been reversing itself lately. In particular, the labor force participation rate (LFPR) of the prime-age (25 to 54 years old) population, the core segment of the workforce, has been moving higher since late 2015” [Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta]. “While this is good news, the prime-age LFPR remains well below prerecession levels, meaning that there are more than two million fewer prime-age people participating in the labor force. What factors have contributed to that decline? Where did those people go?”

“Although often associated with developing countries, illicit activities or undocumented workers, the informal labor market is much broader than many would imagine. In fact, people from all walks of life participate in a wide array of legitimate business ventures that are part of the informal economy. So, how big is the U.S.’s informal labor market, and who participates in it?” [Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis]. “For example, the Survey of Informal Work Participation within the Survey of Consumer Expectations revealed that about 20 percent of non-retired adults at least 21 years old in the U.S. generated income informally in 2015.2 The share jumped to 37 percent when including those who were exclusively involved in informal renting and selling activities.”

And then there’s this:

It’s clear which country invented Monty Python, no?

“In other words, the poorest fifth of 50-year-old American men can now expect to live just past 76, six months shy of the previous generation. The richest 50-year-olds should make it almost to 89, seven years longer than their parents’ generation” [Bloomberg]. They call it class warfare for a reason. It’s not a metaphor.

“Current Populist Discontent Seems Mainly Driven by a Fear of Change and Uncertainty” [Promarket]. Well, that’s certainly an anodyne reformulation of “deaths from despair,” isn’t it?

News of the Wired

“China is big. Each province starts to develop its own characters, its own system. In Github words, they fork the repo and it becomes a big mess. But in 221 B.C. the great Emperor Qin Shi Huang finally unifies China and wants a symbolic reunification reform: there will be only one, normalized writing system. It’s time for pull requests and merging. A project manager called Li Si makes an exhaustive list of all the characters used in the six unified Kingdoms. Gathered, sorted, filtered, this set is the first official Chinese writing system” [Alex LeBrun].

“[I]n our last two conversations, Riccardo Manzotti outlined a radically “externalist” account of consciousness, proposing that our experience is not inside the head at all, but actually identical to the many objects that our bodies and brains carve out from all the atoms, electrons, neutrinos, and photons around us. In short, our consciousness is the world—or the objects—that we experience. There are no manufactured representations of that world or those objects in the head” [New York Review of Books]. “Such an approach requires a new notion of what we mean by ‘an object.’ An object is not something that exists absolutely, but in relation to the things around it; in our case, in relation to our bodies and brains. So every experience must have an object, simply because the experience is that object. Mental and physical object are one. If I perceive an apple, there is an apple out there that is my perception.”

“May didn’t notice much with the first dose of LSD. She felt good, and she got a lot accomplished, and that was all” [The Verge]. Now that is a lead!

* * *

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 (CR):

CR writes: “Crabapple – NE Ohio.” Readers, it may not be too late to put some trees in the ground! In just a few years, you could be seeing this!

* * *

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. Roger Smith

    Re: Useful crowd numbers, but I need to think more about this. After all, Monsanto depends on “science,” right?

    The methodological tool Science is in the process (I hope it isn’t complete) of being co-opted as a corporate establishment identity tool to be waved in the face of anyone who might ask questions about what that faction of the blob and their misguided shouters in league want. Grade school favorite Bill Nye now shows up on CNN to misrepresent portions of the constitution and whine that CNN is hosting an opposite view point with which he must contend (the guy who we must remember willingly debated Ken Ham). I have even seen him vying for money to defend the planet from large meteorites… the kind I was taught multiple times were “one in a million” (idiom). Trust him, anyone who doesn’t believe in “the science” is a nincompoop who shouldn’t even be allowed to have their viewpoints heard or discussed. As his CNN co-panelists proclaimed, “Science is absolute!” … umm, yea… something like that…

    The degradation of mainstream liberal arguments into, “you are stupid/Russian/Nazi/etc…” should be alarming for the group if they are serious about their own policy initiatives. They aren’t going to win support by calling people “deplorables”, as we’ve seen. The co-opting of science should be even more alarming to all.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, the Rally for Science *filled* Presidio Park, which is just east of City Hall. I’ve never seen that park so packed. Ever.

      Meanwhile, a few blocks away, the corporatized Earth Day Festival had few attendees. Was it because of booths offering green mortgages? Or the gas utility trying to tell us that natural gas is greener than we think? I don’t know.

      But the contrast between the two events was striking. Made for a very interesting Saturday.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Huge turnout here in Corvallis, too – but then, it’s one of the main local industries, one way or another. Not sure how much good it did (blue town in a blue state, anyway), but it sure generated a lot of solidarity. Very interesting, to hear thousands of people howling like a wolf.

    2. Ernesto Lyon

      Patient: This medicine gave me a seizure disorder.
      Doctor: Why do you say that?
      Patient: I never had seizures before I started taking this medicine, and they started soon after.
      D: You understand that correlation is not causation.
      P: Certainly of course, but I mean, I’ve never had a seizure before in my life, and just after I started taking this medicine they started.
      D: I see. Do you know who made this medicine?
      P: Who?
      D: Scientists! Scientist made this medicine. Do you know who tested this medicine?
      P: Who?
      D: Scientists! Scientists tested this medicine.
      P: Do you believe in science?
      D: You mean, the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence? Yes of course.
      P: Are you a scientist?
      D: No.
      P: Well then. If the scientists have said this medicine is safe and doesn’t cause seizures who are you to disagree?
      D: I guess you’re right. If scientists have said this medicine is safe I have no logical means to disagree.
      P,D (in unison): All hail Science! The truth! The way! All hail and worship Science!

        1. Jake Mudrosti

          Depending on the context, that could be a strawman argument.

          But as I’ve said in previous NC comments, there’s actually been a terrible slide toward blind-eyed “science enthusiasm” in the culture (accelerating since the 1980s), as contrasted with actual science literacy. That has done real, verifiable, measurable harm to a number of fields — to say nothing of trends toward careerism, bad hiring decisions in academic departments, etc., that portend long term wreckage.

          My frequent mentions (in NC comments) of the German Physical Society’s demonstrably false reports on the Karlsruhe Physics Course are just one example. I repeat it, because at some point it needs to be addressed by anyone who talks out of their ass about Science being “true whether or not you believe it.” The fact that the relentless self-promoters Nye and Tyson have had their cultural standing boosted by this march, rather than shattered, is a sure sign that the march was never intended to mean anything at all.

          After the march, just as before, the NSA will continue to be a leading employer of STEM field grads. Lockheed will continue to do what Lockheed does. And there will be lots and lots and lots of excited shouting from march supporters: “Science!!”

          The dynamics behind the march suggest to me nothing so much as these lines from Amarcord:

          1. Jeotsu

            The is also the now completely mad treadmill of “publish or perish”, which has gone up by an order of magnitude since I was last in the academic game (nearly 2 decades ago).

            Now it is all about quantity, not quality. In many fields reproducibility is down and falling fast. Peer review totters in places. (And peer review can have its own very strange politics, especially if you are working in a field where there are very few “peers”, and they are in direct competition with each other. The review process becomes more about sabotage and idea-stealing. Very disheartening. Had it happen to me.)

            So I would agree with Jake, that “science” is now used too much as an “appeal to authority” logical fallacy, while too few who make that call really understand what they are talking about.

            1. Phemfrog

              I have to say that I find the attitude toward science here on NC to be disheartening. I understand full well that many fields of science are being coopted by corporations, but that does not mean that ALL, or even most are. the biggest area of concern is probably in pharmaceutical research.

              Working (previously) in the field of research biology and chemistry, at both a National Laboratory and 2 universities gives me a unique perspective. the vast majority of scientists in all fields that i interacted with worked with honesty and integrity. they had a genuine thirst for knowledge. in all my years there i only know of a single study that was funded by industry. the rest were ALL funded by NIH or NSF.

              it is a different debate to discuss the funding priorities of these institutions, but i would say the largest problem i saw was LACK of funding. it was like 1 out of 30 good research ideas got funded.

              problems of reproducibility are nothing new. it is usually due to a lack of clear, precise instructions in the methods section of a paper. but when it really counts, researchers repeat it with modifications until it is understood. if it really cant be repeated or understood, the idea is dropped and the researchers move on. its not some scandal. if the information learned is solid, then that is used as the basis for a new study. if the base study was false, the follow up study will fail. if nothing could be reproduced, then we would never have made as many advances as we have.

              the scientific method has shown concrete material benefits for a very long time. we cannot forget all the things that we have because of research.

              fighting against corporate takeover of science is paramount. i dont think it does any good to say that ‘science’ itself is bad. just because people like Nye and Tyson like being famous (attention whores) doesnt mean that their message is totally wrong. they are just poor spokespeople for the cause.

              denigrating science because of a few bad actors is cutting off your nose to spite your face, IMNSHO.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                I said “I have to think about this” (meaning the science march) so it’s very hard to see how a pro-science person could be “disheartened” by that, especially given internal conflicts among the march’s organizers.

                You seem to be looking for some sort of full-throated endorsement of “science,” as an abstract entity — as opposed to an enterprise, and especially as an academic and/or corporate enterprise — and divorced from historical and social context. If that’s what you’re looking for, you came to the wrong place.

                To put this another way, to me “art” is a transcendent value. But I would no more unreservedly march for “art” than I would march for “science.”

                1. Phemfrog

                  i understand what you mean. and my reply to you wasnt totally aimed at you…more generally at lots of comments on scientific topics (sorry).

                  i think where i am struggling is the difference between the enterprise of science and the method. i am a staunch supporter of the basic method of science (because when done correctly, it works!).

                  I just dont want to see the method get demonized because of its misuse by corporations/academia.

                  thinking of an analogy…we dont think the concept of banking is bad, but the big banks who are abusing the system are bad.

                  as for NC… i come here for a place to find reasoned discourse. it appears from some of the comments (and i may be wrong…not trying to get in a nasty fight) that lots of good science is receiving snarky comments and getting grouped in with bad corporate science. i would rather see constructive criticism of bad science, so as to point out how that differs from the properly done studies. but that may be asking too much for an economics blog.

                  about being disheartened…i feel that way because i have watched good science get attacked from the right for a long time. NC is a more left leaning community, as far as i can tell, so science getting skewered from this end too leaves little room left for it. i think humanity will suffer greatly without this tool.

      1. a different chris

        Did the P/D get reversed in the middle there? I think this was just “D”:

        D: Scientists! Scientists tested this medicine.
        P: Do you believe in science?

        Funny for sure.

    3. timotheus

      Re the Science march:

      Disdain for what we laughingly call reality did not start with Trump. That said, it was ironic to set out with placards the very day after the NY Times (eagerly pushing its pretentious “TRUTH!” ad campaign) announced it was hiring Bret Stephens, climate denialist, to its op-ed stable. The Times must be really desperate to wheedle its way into the graces of the Trumpoids to put a whack pseudoscientist on its payroll.

      Then, the Times’ demonstrated its slavish devotion to empire Friday with its announcement that all doubts about the civilian deaths from gas in Syria are now erased. Voila! Eric Schmitt & Helene Cooper wrote an article about Trump’s decision to “unleash” the Pentagon brass from White House decision-making that included a line about a general who ordered the firing of “dozens of missiles at the airfield in Syria from which al-Assad had launched a chemical weapons attack.” No sign of the word “alleged” or any of its many synonyms.

      How many of yesterday’s marchers are faithful swallowers of the Times’ monochromatic views, despite their—and its—self-image as noble defenders of “truth”? The Times gets away with its slanted coverage because its readers put up with it. We march against the dangerously loony “alternative facts” trotted out by Trump’s minions, but once the war machine gets its engine running, facts will be subordinate to conquest once again.

    4. cm

      Let us not forget how we got aggressive Africanized honey bees — the stupidity & hubris of scientists.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Just once, there should be a warning:

        “This is only today’s best explanation. Tomorrow, we will have a better one, hopefully.”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Our contribution to this debate could be to argue for publicly funded open source research, and against both the commercialisation of science and cuts to government funding.


  2. Jim Haygood

    Credit: “See any reason not to panic?”

    As Nasdaq 6000 looms in front of our windshield (echoing our brief two-day stay on the “Nasdaq 5000” summit at the crest of Bubble I in March 2000), Kevin Muir attempts an explanation:

    Everyone is looking at stocks and seeing overvaluations and bubbles. Yet stocks are not being bought by some out-of-control crowd suffering from mad delusions. No, the madness is confined to a half dozen central banks with the ability to buy financial assets without the worry of coming up with the capital to pay for them.

    I am by no means dismissing the possibility of a large downside correction. Equities are stupid expensive. They are being held aloft by central bank asset purchases. If central bankers retreat, there will be an air vacuum underneath the market.

    I will repeat my favourite line stolen from Bill Fleckenstein – central banks will continue printing until the bond market takes away the keys. We are nowhere near that point, and it might not occur until private investors finally give up worrying about the downside.


    Don’t worry, be happy” — unlike the original song release in 1988, this time round we all sing the refrain with knowing, polished cynicism, perfectly self-aware that it’s a joke in a hollowed-out, corroding sunset empire whose home front looks as threadbare as the latter days of the old Soviet Union.

    Yet when central banksters can and do buy limitless amounts of financial assets using NSF checks drawn on their empty bank accounts, nothing else matters. Party on into the purple dawn, for tomorrow we die. :-)

    1. David Carl Grimes

      Sentiment-wise, we are still cautiously optimistic. We are still looking at the downside of the stock market. That is a bullish signal for me. It’s only when we forget to think about the downside and enter an exuberant phase that it turns into a bearish signal. That is some time away, in my opinion. Maybe 4 years, maybe even more. I could be wrong, of course.

    2. justanotherprogressive

      Actually, I wonder how much of that stock shopping is being done on margin……..

  3. cocomaan

    Dare I ask how the US healthcare system can get any more byzantine than it already is? Should I not tempt fate?

    “American health care is so messed up that a whole industry has been created to help navigate it” [MarketWatch].

    This is why arguments about how expensive single payer can be are pointless (see Ted Cruz debating Bernie and talking about the expense of single payer). The amount of overhead and waste in our current system is so enormous that a radical reform makes any cost estimate based on the current system all but meaningless.

    This article is about the third party billers, but the entire medical billing and coding industry is pretty pointless if everyone is in the same pool.

    Also, love this part:

    The mission of these businesses will hinge on data and technology, and how well they’re used to communicate with and engage consumers.

    Can you find a more meaningless statement?

    For example, “if I’m contemplating surgery, there may be indications in my claim data that triggers a flag,” and sends a push notification to the patient about decision support services, Marcotte said. Other data triggers could prompt similarly personalized information and resources, he said.

    Ah. Pushes and email reminders. Great, we need more of those!

    1. Ivy

      The way that healthcare jobs (Jobs, I say, Jobs!!) are created and spread around reminds me of how defense contractors spread around their jobs, too. By giving everyone a piece of the action, Catch-22 is everywhere now.

    2. Tom

      It’s an exciting time. Due to the number of new companies offering Medical Bill Advocate services, I’m creating a new company to help patients sort through all the options so they can find the right one for their unique situation.
      A possible tagline is, “If you like your Medical Bill Advocate, you can keep them.”

    3. Art Eclectic

      Byzantine systems are where the looting is best. The fewer steps and greater transpancy the less profitable. All our systems are about the Bezzle.

      1. Paid Minion

        Its going to be almost impossible to get a single payer program. Too many people’s six figure paychecks depend on continuing the current system.

        The problem is in the process of fixing itself. See “Deaths of Despair”. As noted numerous times, killing off the baby boomers early and en masse (while sucking up the last cent of their net worth) solves a bunch of problems. The biggest problem being: doing it with out having a guilty conscience. See “Blaming the Victim”.

    4. Jim Haygood

      From the article:

      ‘Hospitals are trying to make medical billing better and more affordable, said Tom Nickels, executive vice president of government relations and public policy at the American Hospital Association. He said they’re working on tools for better price transparency and that they “pledge to work with patients” on billing issues.’

      HA HA HA HA. This is like mob hitmen, promising to make executions more painless for their victims by using better aim, more lethal bullets, and setting up counseling services for their bereaved families.

      Price transparency is achieved by the simple act of posting prices, not ‘working on tools’ to create an illusion of price transparency.

      If you believe even one scrap of the preposterous, childlike corpgov propaganda dished up by the MSM every day, it means your brain has turned to mush and your reasoning ability has been reduced to the nematode level. Lower actually, since nematodes don’t have an MSM to misinform them. Nematodes are evidence-driven invertebrates. :-)

      Smash the healthcare cartel.

      1. Knot Galt

        Ding! ding! ding! Give the man a prize! Before Obamacare, I could go to my doctor and he would say, “Oh, I see you have an infection.” And he would take care of it right there. I had a $20 dollar copay and I had a follow up check up two weeks later. And I was healthy.

        Last year, I developed a puffy leg and went to my doctor, who sent me to a clinic to have some tests done. The doctor told me he was not equipped to deal with ‘this’ and that it could be serious. The first clinic didn’t have the right equipment so they sent me to their affiliate across town. The second clinic, in turn, referred me to the emergency room at the hospital. After a 6 hour wait, I was finally let in and they took my blood pressure and I waited for the doctor. The emergency doctor came in, scratched his chin, and said I should go home and keep it raised. If it got worse in three days or did not change, I should come back in.

        Six days later, My knee couldn’t bend without it becoming very painful. And now instead of being just puffy it was all red. I went through the same steps as last time but this time I ended up in the hospital for four days. A surgeon was finally called in on a Sunday morning where he removed the Sepsis that was just over my kneecap. (Yes, similar to the sepsis that had killed Patty Duke just two weeks earlier.) I surmise that I most likely got it on my first forced visit to the hospital but no one wanted to admit that. I was relieved to have it taken care of but I was worried about how much this was going to cost me because of deductibles and what not. At the time, I was self employed and I had been diagnosed and treated for cancer 9 years earlier so I knew my plan was not a stellar one.

        Sure enough, after 5 months, I was able to get my share of the costs down to just around $14K. The hospital just kept sending me the same bills over and over. The doctors that were called in and that were not affiliated with the hospital but came in to see me? They billed me separately. I had to negotiate with them when my insurance denied the claims. So when you say ha ha ha ha, you aint kiddin’ bub!!

      2. Marina Bart

        If the ACA worked the way it was claimed it would, none of this would be necessary. Why are so many patients receiving so many bills directly from hospitals, that have to be renegotiated? Why aren’t the hospitals dealing with their insurance companies? Isn’t that what health insurance is supposed to be for?

  4. Altandmain

    Cornel West: The Democrats delivered one thing in the past 100 days: disappointment https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/24/democrats-delivered-one-thing-100-days-disappointment

    The Next Generation of Democratic Socialists Has Started Winning Local Elections

    Trump is also shutting down the EPA self reporting service:

    Speaking of Trump, a new poll shows that Clinton would still lose if the election were held today:

    Glenn Greenwald, who I feel is always worth a read has a new interview with a campaign adviser from the Bernei Sanders campiagn:

    Speaking of Greenwald, one his latest Tweets:

    New WP/ABC poll has Trump at record low, but also has this alarming view of Dem Party & “concerns of most people”


    Apparently according to the Washington Post the Democrats are more out of touch than the GOP and even more so Trump.

    1. Vatch

      Regarding the EPA service: this dialog appears when one browses to the site:

      The data on this Web site will continue to be available past April 28, 2017.

      Of course, we don’t know how long it will continue to be available past April 28, 2017. Also the message says nothing about new data appearing on the site. It’s possible that nothing will be updated, and the site will gradually become obsolete. I guess we’ll eventually find out. . . . .

    2. jerry

      Good to see the nation article, this change is going to come from the ground up, not top down. Somewhere in the middle is where the pitchforks will be brandished, I would assume.

  5. Jim A.

    NB a “Knocker Up” was somebody who went around knocking on peoples windows to wake them up for work in the days before alarm clocks were common.

    1. Mark P.

      “Knocker Up” was somebody who went around knocking on peoples windows to wake them up for work in the days before alarm clocks were common.

      Sure. Unlike ‘artificial fish colourist’ and ‘electric bath attendant,’ this was a perfectly serious job description and had nothing, nothing at all I tell you, to do with the fact that ‘to knock up’ in British slang means ‘to make pregnant.’

      1. River

        And if the local knocker up is caught that’s when a call is made to the local emasculator. Then a new “Knight of the Thimble” is born!

        That list brought much joy. I could hear the Monty Python skits.

        1. Ivy

          Our English hosts enjoyed telling us that they’d knock us up in the morning, and then showed up with a tea tray!

      2. HotFlash

        “to knock up” meaning “to get pregnant” is US and Canadian slang usage, but *not* British. My English houseguest shocked my Canadian and American friends with her request to be knocked up in the morning, but my Scottish friends couldn’t figure what was funny.

    2. wilroncanada

      I think the phrase was used by Conan Doyle in one of his Sherlock Holmes novels, maybe “Study in Scarlet?” I’m not sure.

  6. allan

    About this Kentuckian Karnage:

    …First, I don’t see a difference between this and liberal “nudge theory.”…

    It would be entertaining to get Prof. Nudge to try to explain the difference.
    And while he’s on the line, the missus can explain that whole Libyan slave market thing.

  7. fresno dan

    Work, Work, Work. On this date in about 1801….

    I’ve done most of those jobs, although I am proud to state that I have been an imbecile for going on 61 years…although being an examiner of midget turnip shepherds underclothing was the most challenging….

  8. Foppe

    Related to your remark about the DSA inclusiveness issue, Glen Ford, 2007:

    Regarding the white Left: It is they who have no real solidarity with the other groups, primarily Blacks, who make up the majority of what is “left” in the United States. I told the board and staff of The Nation as much, when I spoke before them in early 2005. Solidarity means, at the very least, sharing resources. Because of historical white privilege, even the white Left has vastly more resources than African Americans, whose politics are the most consistently progressive of any group in the nation. That’s why the white Left have The Nation, In These Times, Mother Jones, The Progressive, and lots of other political publications, and Blacks have…none. This extreme dispartiy weakens the “left” as a whole, creating vast imbalances. We, Blacks, vote “left” in concentrated numbers that equal or surpass the white Left’s scattered electoral presence. Yet the white Left actually believes that they are at the center of the action. What Eurocentric madness!!

    More than a decade ago, The Nation did a cover story purporting to show a political “map” of the U.S. Left. There were all kinds of “alternative” white tendencies, from organic food boosters to open-source computer tinkerers to gender groups of all kinds…the whole counterculture. But no Blacks. I knew then that whoever commissioned the cover story was out of his/her mind, hopelessly caught up in alternative Whiteness, and not a progressive at all.”

    (One forum that at least tries — going by the presentations I’ve found on YouTube — is the Left Forum.)

    1. different clue

      Does the Black Left support the re-legalization of cannabis? Good. Maybe there is a basis for solidarity.

      Does the Black Left support keeping cannabis illegal? If so, then f*ck the Black Left.

      1. jrs

        It’s an important issue and frankly one any black left probably would support (just due to discrepancies in sentencing alone, drug laws target blacks and other minorities and this is well known), but why have a litmus test issue?

        Though it’s more wide ranging and specifically affects black it’s about like asking “does the black left support easy access to abortion? If not screw em”. It makes no sense for any type of building a coalition to address specific issues.

        1. a different chris

          No but the religiosity of the black community in general can make *a lot of things* uncomfortable for the regular Left.

          Consider the recent discussion about how there are “too many people”. If I was black, and I was told to “cut out the breeding”…. um, I would NOT take it well.

          And I can see that even though I’m one of the “cut out the breeding” people. I of course want it applied across-the-board but why would a person of color trust me for even an instant?

        2. mle detroit

          jrs: “It makes no sense for any type of building a coalition to address specific issues.”
          Cat: “We’re all mad here.”

      2. neo-realist

        Does the White Left support equal disbursement of property tax revenues to support good K-12 education everywhere, regardless of how poor or rich, black or white a neighborhood is?

        Does the White Left support the end of redlining and other discriminatory measures that prevent black americans from obtaining access to loans that readily enable home ownership.

        Does the White Left support the aggressive use of testers to prevent discrimination against black americans in employment and housing?

        Does the White Left support affirmative action to remedy discrimination in college entry (and offset legacy admissions that primarily benefit whites.)

        1. a different chris

          See what I mean? Yeah I would say on balance the “White Left” does support all those things* but no good telling neo-realist that. His/her suspicions are maybe not justified but certainly understandable.

          *There darn well *are* school programs, home ownership programs, discrimination (prevention) programs, and affirmative action. Who do you think brought those on, flawed as they may be? Without the “White Left” there would be nothing. That’s not good, but it’s just the way it is. 12% of the least wealthy section of the population under our Constitution written by and for wealthy (not “rich”, “wealthy” — see Chris Rock) aren’t going to accomplish sh*t unless somebody in the in-group lends a hand.

          And as pathetic as they are they are used as clubs against the entire left. What exactly do you want the “White Left” to do?

          1. neo-realist

            *There darn well *are* school programs, home ownership programs, discrimination (prevention) programs, and affirmative action. Who do you think brought those on, flawed as they may be? Without the “White Left” there would be nothing.

            You have to admit the NAACP, the Urban League and King’s SCLC (lets throw in SNCC and the Black Panthers for good measure) in league with the white left helped on these issues. Coalitions really helped, they weren’t one team victories. But there’s been backtracking since the Reagan administration on these issues. Maybe the White Left and the Black Left can come together to get people elected to further the causes of racial as well as economic justice which we’ve been back sliding on.

  9. Tim

    I just had a brilliant idea for a startup:

    Develop end to end solution for converting front facing retail space to back facing warehouse space.

    And as a growth opportunity develop logistics conops services for small scale localized warehouses for specialized retailers with smaller inventories close to consumers instead of mega centralized warehouses popping up in the middle of nowhere.

    1. a different chris

      Oh yes, and then you could sell to smaller groups of consumers! As business increased, you could, I dunno, allow people to come in and, well, um, “shop”. And you could set up a person or two with a cash register, and…

    2. justanotherprogressive

      Apparently you’ve never heard of the “Just in Time” inventory movement that has been going on in this country in the past 20 years. Its purpose was to have the the inventory ready “on demand” and eliminate those small warehouses…….
      a different chris nailed it – you really cannot go back in time……

  10. Alex Morfesis

    John Deere and the motion picture patent corporation…just because your tall building law firm uber school grad is friends and former classmate with the chief aide of some key senator doesnt make case law go away, unless someone is going to torch all the law libraries…

    (ne/le & we/le 2me are corporate leaning in their search options)

    1. a different chris

      No but application of enough $$$ allows it to be twisted into complete unintelligiblity, just needs a Scalia and I have no doubt Gorsuch can fill the role now.

      Again, I am sickened by the law profession and its unwillingness to fight for anybody but the “rights: of corporations.

      1. Alex Morfesis

        There are yes, one too many bad unfeeling cold blooded attorneys, but there are plenty of attorneys who fight the good fight…they are just not as organized or as evil as most tall building law firms…but the practice of law is in a bad space and place today and certainly in upheaval…

        There are really no national law firms and those who do have multiple state operations are almost always representing corporate interests…

        Even the multistate personal injury firms who might in theory be focused on the average schmoe get caught up in doing too much back scratching with insurance firms to get much into a truly pro carbon based life form advocacy mode…

        The two main law database firms really twist their information away from cases that would not be beneficial to the corporate world…

        Now if you said the bar associations across this country only fight for the fortunate 500…could not disagree with you on that…

        Sadly…it seems the only right we may soon have left is the right to remain silenced….

  11. grayslady

    Re H-1B visas: My stepdaughter is currently teaching at a neighborhood, religiously-affiliated nursery school where her two children (one now in college, the other now in high school) once attended. All her 3-4 year-old students are Indians–children of families here on H-1B visas. No one else can afford to send their children to the nursery school anymore.

  12. Goyo Marquez

    Re NAFTA
    “The outcome of any renegotiation must be a win for all three countries oligarchs (involved), and it must maintain the integrity of the integrated supply chains that NAFTA created, he said.”

    Fixed it.

    1. pricklyone

      Mnuchin just finished up his presser with a statement that there are no “pay fors”. The tax cut will be offset by GROAF.

    2. a different chris

      Sigh. The -only- hope is that Hillary would have baffled us with 10,000 pages of crap that would effectively do what Trump is intending to do, and with Trump it’s just out there for everybody.

      It’s all we got I think.

    3. Jim Haygood

      The Reagan analogy which I’ve proposed since Trump’s election is looking good.

      Despite their anachronistic “fiscal conservative” image — which was last actually true in the 1920s as Calvin Coolidge ran surpluses and paid down WW I debt — post WW II Republicans are big-spender war socialists, just like their D party evil twins.

      Ronald Reagan gave us David Stockman’s “$200 billion deficits as far the eye can see.” G. W. Bush’s idiotic wars added trillions of federal debt, making LBJ look like a miser by comparison.

      Trump may well blow past both of those R party reprobates in expanding federal debt to the far reaches of the solar system. $30 trillion (vs today’s $20 trillion) is a lock by 2024. We can do this, comrades.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It seems to be a rogue version of MMT.

        “A country can’t go bankrupt borrowing in its own…”

        Sanders has a really opening here to put Free Medicare for All on the map…if he wants to bring MMT into the national fiscal discussion (We have to start the conversation at some point in time).

        1. Marina Bart

          Except — if I finally do understand the basics of MMT correctly — both the Rs and the Ds are letting tons of tax money that should be paid by corporations and the wealthy leak and pool offshore (metaphorically; I realize the United States is now a major tax haven).

          That undermines MMT functionality, doesn’t it?

            1. Marina Bart

              I know. And I realize I should read about it in more depth than I have.

              But I thought a key feature of a fiat currency was that the taxes are collected in that fiat. If huge amounts of that fiat are NOT being paid back as taxes that should be, isn’t that a problem?

              1. skippy

                There are two basic dynamics which are economically fundamental regardless of fiat or taxes, upper or lower bound inflation.

                Per you question on taxes, its a tool to manage the two basic dynamics w/ the characteristic of driving demand for soverign fiat and attendant FRN such as treasuries.

                Just remember that we don’t export dollars, its an accounting identity.

                I suggest you read the LSE link and expand on its context, wrt as YS has been at pains to remind, that the markets are tightly coupled and stuff like the shadow sector is not as well understood – as it should be.

                Disheveled…. this does not diminish the potential MMT has to offer policy formation, except for ideological reasons.

      2. a different chris

        haha good post, I would just reword it slightly to say “their equally evil D party twins”.

  13. MtnLife

    Great article on micro dosing. It helps me hit a flow state when working much more easily, helps with big picture analysis, and facilitates problem solving, often with novel approaches. I find it also helps cut down on mental background noise. I compare it to working on a chalkboard that has been erased multiple times and is covered in a chalk haze to one that was just washed with a sponge – it just takes less mental energy to process what is in front of you. I like to make it a once a week thing when I can but availability can make consistency difficult.

    1. George Lane

      I can well see, sometime in the (not so) distant future, a commercial, brought to you by Bayer, about how wonderful microdoses of LSD and psylocybin are for treating depression. Taglines would be: natural! No side-effects! Throw away your dirty SSRIs and anti-depressants, ask your qualified health professional today about LSD!

      Already I’ve heard of people, not just creative silicon valley techies, but cubicle drones too, taking microdoses to get through the drudgery of alientated capitalist everyday life.

      1. jerry

        As a cubicle drone, I can tell you that any dose of LSD or mushrooms is going to produce an anti-capitalist spiritual tirade on my end that gets me forcibly removed and fired before the other drones hear too much.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Without going into specifics, what is the general nature of the source — peer networks; dark web; Phish concerts?

      1. MtnLife

        Mostly 1 and sometimes a variant on 3. I know a lot of hippies. I usually just put the word out through some trusted friends and it finds me e.g. someone random acquaintance drops by or I see someone at a party. No traceable trail that way and I don’t have any usable info for the authorities. Also, at 1/10 or 1/20 of a dose (my optimal micro dose range) and doing it once a week it’s not an undertaking that has to be done often.

      2. Octopii

        Yes, that seems like a high barrier. Any source would be sketchy by definition, no? Not a world I’m familiar with. But I’m interested in trying the microdosing.

  14. Tim

    This just in. Kentucky to be the first sports free state.

    Given the fact that sports tend to result in a higher than average probabilities of injuries, the high loss rate of Medicare points for those who have a sports lifestyle has become cost prohibitive for all but the most wealthy. Therefore in the interest of keeping things fair Kentucky will no longer have any government (aka school) related sports programs which have by their very nature become “class selective.”

    just kidding, maybe…

    1. polecat

      What about all those soon-to-be unemployed stallions and steeds of noble lineage …. what of them ??

    2. JeffC

      I grew up in Kentucky, where the dominant religion is basketball, even at the high-school level in the tiniest town. Sports will not go away in Kentucky.

  15. Oregoncharles

    “Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso warned on Friday that the U.S. shouldn’t expect that a bilateral trade deal will result in the same concessions Tokyo offered in TPP talks. …”

    Why would we want a bilateral “trade” deal that duplicates the TPP? We most certainly do NOT want that.

    This illuminates the essential fraud of “trade” deals: there is already a great deal of trade between the US and Japan, with the result that we already owe them bajillions of $. No “trade deal” required – actually, I imagine there are all sorts of “deals” already in existence. “Trade” deals aren’t really about trade, which goes on regardless and always has.

    Stall all you want, Mr. Aso.

    1. craazyboy

      Aaaarg. He walked back the J&J Band-Aids to a 2 cents and we gotta work the price back to $10? That’ll take forever!!

      Then there were those Davy Jones and the Monkeys albums. Collector items, they are…..

    2. Kurt Sperry

      The Japanese-US trade deficit is second only to the US’ with the PRC, what possible leverage could Japan have to extract any concessions from the US? I suppose certain sectors with disproportionate political influence could be targeted by Japan, but realistically any protectionist sabre-rattling from the Japanese side inviting retaliation in kind is in the end only going to strongly favor the US–assuming both sides are striving for their own country’s over-all best economic interests rather than just playing politics.
      The US is naturally in a completely dominant position in bilateral trade negotiations with large net exporters like the PRC, Japan, or Germany. Why not put the screws to them, if they foolishly want to play hardball?

      1. craazyboy

        It’s all about patents, extending copyrights, and opening up “export” markets for “financial products” and med equipment products. Whatever they get hurts us domestically, too. Also, outside of Wall Street, there be no jobs in them items thar. Aaaargh, matey.

  16. craazyboy

    Looking at the data today, wholistically(sp), I think I have noodled out what Dem Pol(l) Strategists are concerned about. (if not the public, per that fake news poll. Whadda bunch of sheep dip.)

    It’s flagging sales of IoT Juicing Spy Machines.

    Employing Begat Analysis, Juicers begat fruits and a few tech jobs, fruits begat Green Card “immigrants”, and tech jobs begat geeky Silicon Valley programmer flakes, immigrants and flakes begat biz loans, car loans and retail spending, and all together it begats a national security apparatus to watch over us and a Wall to keep us from running away from banksters.


    Then the public doesn’t think this is important?!

  17. different clue

    About John DeereCo Incorporated claiming only a Corporation can own Licensable Digital Property . . . that deserves to be fought and undermined head-on by every person who thinks they have an idea about how to do that.

    At the same time, since the assertion does not appear to be extendable to strictly analog items of property, perhaps people should ( and perhaps some will), buy and use the strictly analog alternative wherever it exists. I don’t know what mega major agribiz farm operators can do about the digital lamprey inside their tractors . . . but I believe that mini farmers and micro farmers still have strictly analog tractors available to them. The more people who buy food from analog-tractor mini-micro farmers, the more money the analog-tractor companies can make. Perhaps the analog-tractor companies might get rich and powerful enough to where they might dare to dip a toe into the midrange farmer and mega farmer market for digital tractors by coming up with a middle-to-big analog tractor of their own.

    I would just about bet all these Big Bud tractors are as digital as possible.

    What if Analog Tractor were to eventually be big enough and rich enough to dare to make a Big Dumm Bud? Or if merely using the word “Bud” in Big Dumm Bud is some kind of infringement, what if they were to make such a tractor and call it Big Dumm? And promise every buyer ” You Buy It- You Own It. It’s Yours – Even to Fix”.

    Meanwhile, I am secure in the knowledge that my dumm chipless books and shovels and digging forks and cans of sardines and shirts and socks and shoes and pants and etc. really are mine.

    1. craazyboy

      Yeah, they can keep the silicon glass engine, drivetrain and suspension too! And the vinyl Elvis album space saver spare.

    2. PKMKII

      About John DeereCo Incorporated claiming only a Corporation can own Licensable Digital Property . . . that deserves to be fought and undermined head-on by every person who thinks they have an idea about how to do that.

      There’s an argument in open source circles that software, fundamentally, is nothing but a collection of mathematical functions. Mathematical functions can’t be copyrighted, so ergo you can’t copyright software, so the argument goes. I don’t know if such an argument would work in court, but it does speak to the need for the courts to better distinguish what parts of software are unique, essential, and proprietary, and what parts are just performing routine, universal functions. Current law treats code too much like a black box that gets an all-or-nothing treatment from the law.

      1. polecat

        Tell THAT to the supremely bought-n-paid for Supine Court ……

        From the Black Robes that brought you ‘Corporations are People Too’ and has given you ‘Money is Speech, for Some”

        I need to go vomit now !

      2. a different chris

        I suspect that I personally am capable of ripping out a John Deere “digital” module and putting in a better, also “digital” module. I don’t really have need (or room!) for a JD Combine but…

        The problem with the “analog” solution is it isn’t a solution at all, the parts are patented (and like the other guy noted, software actually has a group of really smart people against copywriting) so what exactly are you envisioning here? You’re pretty much stuck until things go out of warranty whether it is analog, digital, or a mix of punch cards and vacuum tubes.

        1. Praedor

          Would LOVE to see a computer company come along, calling itself “Jon Deer Electronics”, specializing in removing stock John Deere computers/software from farm equipment and replacing it with open source systems.

          Go with the slogan: “Making what’s yours REALLY yours again”. Computers with software that Farmers are free to alter or have tweaked by 3rd parties. Leave John Deere by the wayside and watch them scream impotently. Rinse and repeat for Ford, Chevy, etc.

        2. different clue

          Well . . . if the multi-part analog machine-in-question is simple enough that you are able to fix it, you buy a patented part from a parts supplier, don’t you? Isn’t that what people used to do in the Analog Age? The part being patented means only the holder of the patent can make the part. But it didn’t use to mean that the owner of the patent refused to sell anyone else a copy of the part in order to stop them from using it to replace the broken copy of the part, thereby fixing the machine. Spark plug makers didn’t embargo the sale of spark plugs to do-it-yourself car-owning replacers of spark plugs, for example.

          So why would analog thingmakers and partmakers do such a thing nowadays?

    3. Binky

      Digital fuel injection is critical to meeting air quality standards for emissions, so an analog tractor is likely not going to be manufactured even with Trumpmagic(c) deregulation. One of the problems with having every position all at once is the problem of reality conflict, which we are in right now.

      What is more likely is a state by state right to repair clause and the use of an open source project like MegaSquirt for engine management. http://megasquirt dot info/

    4. hunkerdown

      Sounds like some green tractor company really wants their firmware images audited for GPL violations.

  18. Oregoncharles

    “Clearly, people have been lying on their census forms for a long time.”

    Actually, most of those hilarious jobs probably were real. “Emasculator,” for instance, applies to livestock.

    A few had to be a joke.

    A few years ago, I met a young woman who described her job as designing bridal veils. She was dead serious, but it’s not a typical occupation for a Green Party member, nor one I’d ever imagined. The young woman next to her was a naturopath, a more familiar category..

  19. cat's paw

    Clearly, if I’m being honest, my profession is that of a “fatuous pauper.” However, I tell people that I’m a “turnip shepherd;” a hardy and respectable if not particularly well-compensated line of work.
    On my brightest days, when all seems right with the world and I can still believe, I aspire to being a “beef twister.”

    –One must never give up one’s dreams

    1. montanamaven

      Well, first you should be a cow banger and that leads to beef twisting once said cow is banged on the head.
      I think fish bending sounds more like a hobby.

  20. L

    With respect to Mnuchin’s popularity with the IMF, that should not be surprising to anyone. If you look at what he has actually pushed for it is Austerity, plain and simple.

    Austerity across the board, massive cuts in spending on education, public welfare, and public spending paired with corporate tax cuts and likely some form of privatization. That is exactly the kind of public flagellation that the IMF ministers, if not their actual research, support.

  21. allan

    GOP House Candidate Evokes Church Slaughter While Posing With Gun [Courthouse News]

    A Republican House candidate in South Carolina is being condemned for political ad in which she criticizes the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds a knee jerk reaction to the Charleston church massacre while holding an assault rifle in her hands. …

    Definitely someone concerned about widening inequality.
    Probably keeps a copy of Capital in the Twenty-First Century on her bed stand.
    Along with her AR-15.

  22. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for the link to Alex LeBrun’s blog under your “News of the Wired” and his post about China’s creation of a single writing system in the wake of unification of the country thru military conquest by Emperor Qin Shi Huang over 2200 years ago.

    Last weekend I was privileged to visit a traveling exhibition of a few of the thousands of terra cotta soldiers and their weapons that were buried with Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang and are presently on loan from China to the city of Seattle. Besides being a fascinating example of the seemingly eternal human quest for immortality and afterlife, the display included samples of ancient Chinese weaponry, chariots, pottery and bronze bowls and urns, small models of palace buildings, and coins used during the emperor’s reign. I was particularly struck by the attention to facial characteristics, physical positions, protective gear, and other details given to the individual sculptures by the artisans who created them.

    Brief related article:

    1. John k

      Wapo thinks of left and right, but melanchon and Le pen are both anti austerity, both want to spend big for jobs, both want to bring back the franc. She’s more obviously anti immigrant, but those out of work are quick to blame immigrants whether they self identify left or right.

      Le pen needs to remind everybody macron used to ne holland finance minister.

      I didn’t predict trump victory, I said it would be close, especially EC, similar to gore, even though all my friends predicted big Clinton win.. I think French election much closer than media expects.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Given the references to LePen’s economic populism, I’ve been wondering how different their positions really are. The only article I’ve seen on the subject was behind a paywall. Not that it matters now.

        And you have a point: if she can hang Hollande around Macron’s neck, she has a shot.

  23. DJG

    –But what Manuel’s really talking about is a jobs guarantee for artists; that’s what those “grants” are.

    Sorry, Lambert. You are way out over your skis here. For one thing, in the video, Miranda is talking about programming. He makes that clear over and over.

    Most arts funding in the USA in the form of grants goes toward programming, as in This Play/ The Rembrandt Retrospective sponsored by Sara Lee, or toward general operating expenses, as in paying for the lights and rent and such. Some goes for capital campaigns, although most arts organizations have a hard time getting foundations to give to capital campaigns (unless their name is on the new wing of the museum).

    Very little in the form of public monies goes toward individual grants, especially after the famous NEA Four. And if the money is forthcoming, it goes toward an individual project for a limited time. I know: I received a National Endowment for the Arts individual grant. It amounted to $20,000 for one year. Hardly a jobs guarantee. It amounted to a buyout of time–in the sense that it freed up time from my day job (people in the arts usually have one or two or three) and paid for some travel. Your tax dollars at work.

    Miranda is a highly unusual case: He is likely making more as a playwright right now than any other playwright in the country. The Book of Mormon goes are raking it in right now, too. Temporarily. For a few years. Most playwrights make less than $10,000 a year off their work.

    And do you know how much non-Equity Actors make? There are still theaters in Chicago trying not to pay actors anything at all.

    So I’m not buying your assertion of jobs-for-life at all. Governments have always subsidized the arts and public architecture. Check out Titian’s career.

    1. Marina Bart

      Miranda is the child of a major Democratic Party hench, who went to an elite school. He was ideally positioned to extract valuable funds from the NEA for his personal use. I knew Harvard grads who ran the same scam (this was decades ago, though, before the changes). TBF, it’s possible that “benefited” weasel wording reflects that his work was produced by the Public Theater. He might not ever have gotten a direct grant. But if anyone could, it would be him.

      It is so, so unsurprising that of all the aspiring young dramatists in America, the one the NEA significantly helped produced Hamilton.

      I didn’t play the video. I just can’t stand what a phony Miranda is. Your dad worked for Hillary Clinton, Lin. I’m pretty sure you don’t need to go on CBS to make your case to major political figures. Doesn’t your dad have the cell number of the head of the DNC in his contacts? Does the Democratic Party now has so little power it’s better to go on CBS? What does that say? Or is this just you doing PR for your brand?

      The Democratic Party has been facilitating the destruction of the public school system, which is how most children used to get arts education and why they now do not. Again, Lin, have your dad sit down with whoever is the actual leader of the Democratic Party is and maybe explain this problem to them directly, if you really care.

      And I’m in favor of federal funding of the arts. But there’s no point in addressing it right now. First, we need to get people food and health care. Any additional funding now would just go directly to well-connected cronies, like Lin-Manuel Miranda.

      Oh, wait…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think you’re confusing form with substance — unless you think there can be arts programs without artists, it’s a jobs guarantee, whether the delivery mechanism be individual grants or some other mechanism.

      On Titian, yes, I’m culturally literate. I just don’t think that working people should starve in ditches* because they don’t happen to be a dab hand with a brush.

      * That’s what regulating the economy by throwing people out of work does. Actually. The JG is a more humane approach, and more productive as well.

  24. allan

    Trump to issue new order calling into question two decades of national monument designations [WaPo]

    President Trump will sign an executive order Wednesday instructing the Interior Department to review national monument designations his three predecessors have made over the past 21 years, according to administration officials and GOP lawmakers, a move that could upend protections that previous presidents have put in place in Utah and elsewhere across the country.

    Presidents of both parties have invoked their executive authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to provide safeguards for federal lands and waters. But some of these moves — including Barack Obama’s designation of the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in December and Bill Clinton’s 1996 declaration of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, both in Utah, have sparked fierce criticism from Republicans. …

    The Ammon Bundy wing of the GOP is now running public lands policy.

      1. Mel

        If they were running agricultural policy so that price levels let ranchers survive without free grazing from Uncle Sam, then that would be a different thing.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think weather has turned warmer since inauguration.

      And if you subtract those marching for Economic Science, which is not really scientific, the number is smaller.

      Even smaller if you don’t count those for social sciences.

  25. Gareth

    According to The Nation, Gloria Steinem, once a CIA recruiter, was one of the founders of the DSA. Does this mean it was a cold war CIA startup?

  26. allan

    Obama lifts lid on post-presidency career with civic engagement forum at U. of C [Chicago Trib]

    …”People don’t have some of the same habits of being together on a common project that they used to. We’ve become a more individualistic society,” he said. …

    A common project. Like Occupy Wall Street? Or a labor union?
    Too bad those DHS fusion centers were used to crush Occupy
    and it’s a real shame that card check got thrown under the bus.
    Anybody remember who was in charge back then?

  27. jrs

    Zero says bland cliches post-presidency. Zero IS a walking talking bland cliche, the banality of evil.

    But bland cliches in a good looking package make the Dem party loyalists swoon. He did say unions as a common project, just don’t expect any help there from any Dem administration.

  28. NoOneInParticular

    “If I perceive an apple, there is an apple out there that is my perception.”

    I think therefore it is.

    1. Mel

      A stunning testament to the power of logic. If you perceive an apple, then of course there must be an apple. If you perceive a picture of an apple, then there must be a picture of an apple. If you perceive a wax model of an apple, then there must be a wax model of an apple. And so on, into the night. It’s related to the idea that if you know something, it must be true, because if it weren’t true then you couldn’t know it; you could only suppose it, or imagine it, or something.

      A thing I really like came from Chuang Tzu, which I copy here from a Wikipedia article:

      Zhuangzi and Huizi were enjoying themselves on the bridge over the Hao River. Zhuangzi said, “The minnows are darting about free and easy! This is how fish are happy.”

      Huizi replied, “You are not a fish. How do you know that the fish are happy?” Zhuangzi said, “You are not I. How do you know that I do not know that the fish are happy?”

      Huizi said, “I am not you, to be sure, so of course I don’t know about you. But you obviously are not a fish; so the case is complete that you do not know that the fish are happy.”

      Zhuangzi said, “Let’s go back to the beginning of this. You said, How do you know that the fish are happy; but in asking me this, you already knew that I know it. I know it right here above the Hao.”

      You ask “how do I know”, so of course you accept that I know. You’re just asking about the mechanism. I was astonished that this trick worked in Chinese, just like in English.

    2. witters

      And the reverse – It is (there), therefore I perceive it (there). I think that the point of calling it ‘externalism’. (In the end externalism here may simply be a denial of what Thomas Reid called “The Way of Ideas”, and an affirmation of a direct realist account of perception.)

  29. Mel

    Retail: “Also to blame: a decades-long rush by retail chains to open as many locations as possible, fueled in recent years by record-low interest rates.”

    Another theme that Wolf Street is covering is the way the Finance Industry seized retail chains and squeezed out every gram of cash they could squeeze. The operating businesses were left with the great gaping sinkholes full of debt. They were in no shape to survive any kind of setback at all. Analogous to American families that won’t weather a car repair.

  30. allan

    Ex-Goldman ‘flash boy’ wins right to appeal his conviction [NY Post]

    The nearly eight-year legal odyssey of former Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov is not over, after New York State’s highest court agreed to review his reinstated conviction for stealing high-frequency trading code. …

    The order came nearly three months after an intermediate appeals court in Manhattan voted 5-0 to revive Aleynikov’s conviction on one count of stealing Goldman code as he prepared to join a Chicago start-up, Teza Technologies.

    That vote reinstated a May 2015 jury verdict that was later overturned by the trial judge.

    A spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Goldman outside counsel Cyrus Vance, whose office prosecuted persecuted Aleynikov, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday. …

  31. skippy

    @Lambert and YS, et al….

    Shadow banking has become a systemic pillar of global finance. A typical map shows a complex network of shadow entities such as highly levered off-balance-sheet vehicles, broker-dealers, private equity firms, money market funds or hedge funds. Yet (large) regulated banks also moved in the shadows, driven by a combination of yield, regulatory and tax arbitrage in order to engage in securitisation (or transformation of loans into securities that could be traded) and repo markets (wholesale markets where financial institutions raise funding using securities as collateral).

    Shadow banking has proved to be extremely dangerous. Between 2007 and 2011, it wreaked havoc with global finance and the fiscal sustainability of the nation-state. A solid consensus now connects the Lehman crisis and the European sovereign debt crisis to runs on shadow banking. Yet the growing literature on shadow banking – spanning from economics to law and political science – shares three blind spots: the state, inequality and the politics of economic ideas. In a recent interdisciplinary forum we tried to speak to these critical but ignored facets of shadow banking.

    Bailing fake angels who starved the beast

    The growth factors of shadow banking are to be found at both ends of the social inequality spectrum. At one end is a narrow population of cash-rich actors spawning giant pools of money and seeking safe returns. At the other end one finds a growing demand for credit by a cash-poor general population experiencing downward mobility and/or stagnant incomes. In this world, shadow banking institutions are allowed to behave as rentiers, as central bank policies extending financial safety nets to shadow banks amount to a form of regulatory rent. These safety nets are, then, not the apolitical, straightforward mechanisms economists cast them to be. Instead, they are problematic forms of institutional layering generated by specific political choices about how to manage state–market relations in general and credit allocation in particular. The most effective economic solution to redress this structural imbalance is not so much the better regulation of shadow banking (an increasingly elusive task given global arbitrage opportunities). It is macroeconomic policies that redistribute wealth on a massive scale.

    Redistribution through the fiscal channel is complicated, however. The main reason, again, is shadow banking, which shrinks the state’s fiscal arm. The majority of shadow banking entities are registered in or register entities in tax havens, and, thus ensconced, they can alter the magnitude, timing and character of corporate and individual tax exposure to state power by changing what, where and even whether a tax is levied. Those arguing for austerity should first contend with the fact that the other choice is to progressively tax the great wealth legally recycled via shadow banking’s conduits into tax havens.

    The state as factory of safe assets for shadow banking

    The state appears in another guise in shadow banking, as a consequence of the efforts during the 1980s to create a strict separation between monetary and fiscal policies. While the state withdrew from economic life, privatising state-owned companies and banks, and putting macroeconomic governance in the hands of independent central banks, its role in financial life grew bigger. Government debt evolved into the cornerstone of modern, market-based financial systems, used as benchmark for pricing private assets, for hedging and as safe asset for credit creation via shadow banking. – snip


    1. craazyboy

      “highly levered off-balance-sheet vehicles” – Could be it. hahaha.

      We give banks the power to create debt via the money multiplier, AND the power to create base money, in essence, because the balance sheet IS off budget for a reason – the assets are dodgy or 100% certain to be no good – where the money put in circulation cannot be “destroyed” some day when the maturity date of the financial instrument comes due. Then they can attract liquid deposits being a tax dodge – and maybe pay lower rates to depositors which means we put into play “The Bad Drive Out The Good” lenders when it comes to making even simple interbank loans, let alone longer term, riskier loans.

      Then, being “off budget” and essentially unregulated, assets, liabilities, and capital ratios are not being audited by regulators. Then who knows what liquid required reserves are? No one is watching and they also are using repos which may be using longer term, riskier non-cash paper as callable collateral.

      What’s not to like? It’s pink cotton candy, all the way up, run by blood sucking cuckoos all the way down.

      1. skippy

        Whats this royal we thingy….

        disheveled…. reconcile that and the rest might be forthcoming….

  32. Jerry Denim

    “If “sanctuary cities”-types would be honest enough to admit they’re also advocates for cheap labor, that would be wonderfully clarifying. ”

    Amen Lambert!

    That’s my biggest beef with the DSA and my local chapter in particular. Instead of keeping their focus on universal socialist programs that could most benefit the largest number of working Americans they keep pushing to preserve and expand the protections afforded to illegal, surplus labor emboldened and succored by the very un-socialist Sanctuary Cities. My local DSA chapter has protested any attempts by authorities to enforce border and immigration controls. I’m not saying the Democratic Socialists should be out in the streets baying for immigrant blood and preaching ethnic hatred, that’s all wrong and that’s not what I believe. But by pushing a neo-liberal immigration agenda, like porous borders and no immigration enforcement, the DSA is pushing a anti-worker agenda that creates a surplus labor pool that feeds a unregulated black market labor pool that starves the government of tax revenue for services and undermines all of the nice things Socialists are supposed to want; workplace regulation, 40 hour work weeks, mandated breaks, healthcare, decent wages, minimum wage laws etc. If the DSA wants to be the party of angry, indebted, white millennials with liberal arts post graduate degrees and illegal day laborers they are on the right track. If they want to be a national party with a broad appeal to ALL working class people, (a party that could win elections) they need to bring their stance on unchecked immigration more in line with Marxist dogma.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, Marxist orthodoxy would be “workers of the world, unite!” And while we can help by taking actions like not purchasing products made by slaves, or donating time or money or labor to worthy causes, institutionally that unity is very, very far off (though one might womder if the Teamsters organizing the supply chain would have some effect). The best we can do now, I think, is take the nation-state as a given….

      1. Jerry Denim

        Workers of the World Unite! – Agreed. I support this, but that also means workers in the developing world uniting and taking actions to improve living working conditions in their own countries instead of crossing borders and setting up shop below the radar in a sanctuary city. When I said ‘Marxist dogma’ I was thinking of early Marxists and their interest in keeping the pool of surplus labor in check. I don’t think the DSA should come out swinging as ‘anti-immigrant’, I just think their efforts would be better appreciated and less conflicted if they focused their energy on encouraging union drives and providing legal/political assistance to left-wing worker movements in Central America rather than supporting illegal immigration and a black market work force here in the States where those workers just end up under-cutting the native born low-skill workforce. ‘Low skill’ isn’t’ most accurate word as people who work in the construction trades are often very highly skilled, they just don’t have credentials that were obtained at great cost from an accredited universities.

        Just as ubiquitous, cheap, eastern European handy-men from the poorer EU countries were an animating force for native-born, working class Brits when it came to the Brexit vote, the abundance of cheap, cash only, undocumented, no-tax, no-insurance, construction workers here in Los Angeles rankles with native born citizens who play by the rules and have a hard time making ends meet in the manual trades. These workers are certainly well-acquainted with, and highly dissatisfied with the injustices of neo-liberal capitalism, but I can’t imagine them having any interest in the DSA as long as they rightly perceive the DSA to be advancing a neoliberal immigration agenda. The bigotry and xenophobia of Trumpism, while having no legitimacy or intellectual underpinning, will still remain more attractive to native-born working class Americans than this privileged elite version of Democratic Socialism that promotes illegal immigration and a large, desperate, black market pool of low-skill surplus labor.

        This is part of the “whiteness” problem first mentioned in your original post. The “indebted, white millennials with liberal arts post-graduate degrees” that I referenced in my comment are happily joining the LA chapter of DSA in droves because to them illegal manual laborers earning a living in the black market economy are the guys that are tending to their parent’s back yards, cleaning the pool and building pergolas and add-on sun rooms. They don’t see themselves in competition with illegal immigrants because they have no desire to turn a wrench or swing a hammer. Those aren’t the jobs they’re after, and that’s not how they want to make a living. Solidarity with illegal immigrants for the high-born, indebted, underpaid and credentialed is an easy sell because of the simple fact they are not competing for the same jobs. Socialism merely for those on the very bottom who aren’t even citizens and those born towards the top, but who are currently frozen out of the lucrative careers they feel entitled to, doesn’t seem like a winning formula for an organization attempting to offer an alternative to the existing Democratic Party. They’re certainly not going to be peeling off many Trump supporters with their current politics. In fact LA DSA politics sounds suspiciously like a tweaked version of California Pelosi-ism to me. The main difference being policies geared towards benefiting upper-middle class millennials instead of upper middle-class boomers.

        I’ve never attended a LA DSA meeting so I’m probably out of line criticizing them. My impressions come from time spent checking their webpage for local events that sound Marxist enough to interest me, and scheduled at a time that doesn’t conflict with my own work obligations. I’ve seen a lot of DSA events and material geared towards identity liberalism like LGBT issues and feminism and I’ve seen a lot of events and material about protecting undocumented/illegal residents/workers but not as much towards old-school, lunch box, Marxist socialism. Things like union drives, job actions, universal health care, Social Security expansion-protection, Tobin taxes, fin-reg, etc. Maybe I’m just an old, white, heterosexual, bigoted, insensitive jerk, but I think my criticism has merit if the DSA is interested in attracting the broadest possible cross-section of the working class.

    2. jrs

      I’m not sure immigrants actually matter that much, so in short the DSA might be right. Yes immigrants (illegal immigrants, H1Bs etc.) can and are used for cheap labor, but there is a question of the magnitude of the effect, I’ve certainly heard arguments that it’s relatively trivial. Things like globalization and outsourcing seem to have a much larger impact on employment than immigrants ever have. (And yes I think I would write off a few industries as even being viable without immigrants, mostly agriculture, but it could be done via guest workers of course – personally I am an advocate of keeping some food production in this country so …).

      And if immigration is not a very big player anyway in adding to unemployment etc. humanitarian considerations for immigrants (ok illegals really here) could be argued to win out.

      1. Jerry Denim

        “…but there is a question of the magnitude of the effect, I’ve certainly heard arguments that it’s relatively trivial.”

        Your comment reminds me of the old joke that goes; ‘What’s the difference between a depression and a recession? A recession is when your neighbor loses his job, in a depression you lose yours.’

        The “relatively” part of of your ‘relatively trivial’ remark is in the eye of the beholder. To certain people that I know who constantly employ undocumented labor for projects around their homes, it’s relatively regrettable, but ultimately trivial they can’t hire the legally-documented construction guy that pays his taxes and provides his workers with health insurance. They simply aren’t willing to pay the few thousand dollars more it would cost for the same construction project. In these instances, the legally documented business owner, who lost the job, who is attempting to run his business above ground and comply with all the rules imposed by the state- losing that job really sucked. He needs the business. But for the native-born guy who worked for the legit business owner that loses his job after his boss had a bad week of being outbid, the matter is anything but trivial. It’s a very big deal to him, and don’t think for a minute these people don’t know they are being undercut by people making use of undocumented, black market labor. They know and it makes them angry to see the law enforced against them, but conversely never when it should be on their side. Trivial is a matter of perspective.

  33. Adamski

    Mosler’s charts: so the rate of new loans has halved lately? Shame they don’t go further back than 2016 to see how long it’s been falling. Because following Hyman Minsky and Steve Keen, even a *fall in the rate of increase* of private debt could be enough to cause a recession, if the ratio of private debt to GDP is high, which it still is.

    Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, where Minsky worked, just published a medium term look at the US economy, two scenarios, baseline is weak growth continues, alternative one is a big recession. (But caused by a correction of the recent stock market high, combined with new deleveraging) http://www.levyinstitute.org/publications/the-trump-effect-is-this-time-different

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