Links 5/14/17

Quitting the Silicon Valley Swamp Pando. Fun stuff.

Mohamed El-Erian: ‘we get signals that the system is under enormous stress’ Guardian

US retail sector’s misery — in charts FT

How to Accidentally Stop a Global Cyber Attacks MalwareTech. A digital “police procedural” detective story on “the WannaCrypt fiasco.” May give you a message about DDoS attacks when you click through. Just wait.

Skip the hysteria. What you need to know about the big ransomware attack. Fabius Maximus. It seems that not many paid.

Met Police use of Indian hackers probed by watchdog BBC (WB). WB writes: “Security services outsource to the underworld as a matter of standard operating procedure (recall how the FBI used Jeremy Hammond?). It transfers risk while also enabling plausible deniability. The ditch diggers at the bottom of the food chain often have no idea who they’re working for. Talking to false flag cut-outs who vanish into thin air. This is why attribution is so hard.”

US Treasury to play key role protecting finance IT infrastructure France 24

The untold story of QF72: What happens when ‘psycho’ automation leaves pilots powerless? Sidney Morning Herald


Evacuation of rebel Damascus district begins France24

Africa’s new slave trade Guardian. Obama, Hillary? Take a bow!

Yemen’s Disaster Jacobin


Jeremy Corbyn’s nationalisation policies are grounded in cold, hard economic sense. Europe proves it Independent (MR). ” We do have public ownership in UK rail and energy markets. It’s just that the government ownership is by foreign governments.”

The rise of the ‘Re-Leavers’ points towards a Conservative landslide FT. Good diagrams.

Millionaire Brexit donor targets 140 remain MPs in general election Guardian

Blair allies plot new party to replace ‘dead horse’ Labour The Sunday Times. The subhead: “Donors are standing by…” Indeed!

French Election

‘We All Wish Macron Success’ Der Speigel. Interview with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

Victorious Macron Must Quickly Figure Way to Escape Gridlock Bloomberg

Emmanuel Macron put to test as he takes power in France FT

Why North Rhine-Westphalia Is a National Bellwether Handelsblatt

Is Europe really a sanctuary? Le Monde Diplomatique


Xi says China, Russia play role of “ballast stone” in world peace, stability Xinhua

China is becoming hooked on the opium of the people The Spectator

Who Is Actually Attending China’s Belt and Road Forum? The Diplomat

China invests $124bn in Belt and Road global trade project BBC


Top 7 IT firms including Infosys, Wipro to lay off at least 56,000 employees this year LiveMint

India skips China’s Silk Road summit, warns of ‘unsustainable’ debt Reuters

Nepal finally goes to vote in local polls – first in two decades Asian Correspondent

The trouble with Aung San Suu Kyi Al Jazeera

Exclusive – Indonesian Islamist leader says ethnic Chinese wealth is next target Reuters

North Korea

North Korea fires ballistic missile off its coast, Pentagon confirms FOX

White House says Trump ‘cannot imagine that Russia is pleased’ over North Korea missile Business Insider

Assessing China’s Leadership in the North Korean Crisis 38 North


Doctors Will Help Change Our Broken Medical System Elizabeth Rosenthal, Medium

Trump Transition

Does Donald Trump want to be president? FOX. When you’ve lost FOX?

The Candidates Trump is Considering for FBI Director Bloomberg

Rod Rosenstein has one chance to save himself WaPo

Trump “Could be Impeached Now” Over Comey Firing, Historian Who Predicted His Election Says Newsweek. Allan Lichtman.

WATCH LIVE: Trump delivers commencement speech at Liberty University The Hill. By coincidence, I watched this. My reading: If it’s up to Trump, he’s not going anywhere. That was the very visible subtext. (He also stuck to the teleprompter or, more precisely, if he was ad libbing, I didn’t detect it.)

If Liberals Hate Him, Then Trump Must Be Doing Something Right Charles Sykes, NYT. Epater les liberals is not a new thing, despite the writer’s nostalgia for “principled conservatism.”

Hillary Clinton Returns to L.A. for Dinner Event at Home of Haim Saban (EXCLUSIVE) Variety

The DNC’s elephant in the room: Dems have a problem — it’s not Donald Trump Salon

At 3 a.m., NC Senate GOP strips education funding from Democrats’ districts News & Observer

Guillotine Watch

At LA airport’s new private terminal, the rich can watch normal people suffer Guardian

Class Warfare

Where Health Care Won’t Go Harpers

The painful truth about teeth WaPo. Teeth as a class marker. Good for WaPo.

Hepatitis C rates nearly double in pregnant women amid opioid epidemic, CDC says ABC

Why Are Economists Giving Piketty the Cold Shoulder? Boston Review

Lucy Kellaway: Compared with the girls I met at Oxford, I felt like Johnny Rotten FT (J-LS). I wish that people who feel like that should stay at the FT, not go, but alas.

Winners and Losers of the Recent Nuclear Holocaust McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

Watch Renée Fleming Take Her Final Bow in ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ NYT. “What fate decrees must come, Mignon…..”

Nature Does Not Grade On A Curve Ian Welsh (MR).

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. fresno dan

    Does Donald Trump want to be president? FOX. When you’ve lost FOX?

    President Trump’s eccentric behavior, especially in the past week, raises a serious question: Does he want to be president?
    But it also fuels suspicions that he is indebted, somehow, to the Kremlin.
    His undisciplined tweets give the public contradictory information, and a sense that he wants to run the country via social media instead of democratic debate.
    Bellwether wonders whether Trump actually plans to stay in office for four years. Could he be considering a shorter stay in the White House, passing the baton to the widely respected Vice President Mike Pence?

    Sharp criticism considering its from FOX – Fox, always first and foremost about the money has information that Trump is no longer a ratings cash cow for Fox??
    “Bellwether wonders whether Trump actually plans to stay in office for four years.” Is that speculation or a suggestion?

    1. Jen

      Sounds like a suggestion to me. Last paragraph:

      “Trump is slowly accomplishing his mission. If he plans to walk away from Washington once he feels he has fulfilled his promise to the American people, he should say so. Both his supporters and his growing list of opponents would probably respect his candor, and they might work together to give him what he wants, so he will go away. ”

      That’d be one might expensive go-away pill.

    2. sid_finster

      Ludicrous to think that a guy as supposedly devious and omnipresent as Putin could not find a less squirrelly flunky, preferably one with less obvious baggage.

      A much simpler explanation – Trump acts erratic because he is erratic.

      1. witters

        Stop it with the ‘simpler explanation’ stuff. And stop all the ‘no evidence’ stuff.

        This is a real derangement and its blackly funny to watch. It is the politics of a brain dead polity (brain corrupted, privatised, outsourced, and just generally abused).

    3. jackiebass

      It doesn’t seem possible but I believe Pence would be worse and more dangerous than Trump. Instead of dividing republicans like Trump has , Pence would unite them. They would then steam roll their agenda through congress. I’m sure the bills are already written and held in a strong box somewhere awaiting the right time. As many pages as The Patriot Act was, it was rolled out and passed in a very short time.

      1. fresno dan

        May 14, 2017 at 10:31 am

        You bring up a very good point. As well as the fact that news media profits would dissolve….who in the world would watch a story about Pence?

      2. marym

        Pence would be much worse, calmly focused on the agenda with no distractions. Not only would he unite the Republicans, but the Democrats in Congress would call for national unity in a time of crisis, or some such, and give up even their token objections. The portion of the supposed #Resistance that’s mostly about revenge for being deprived of the Coronation would also disappear.

      3. Marbles

        “I’m sure the bills are already written and held in a strong box somewhere awaiting the right time.”

        Which is what I thought about healthcare.

        1. Ian

          Obamacare was already a “respectable” repub plan with a bit of a softer edge to get it passed. All they could do was sharpen the edge.

    4. craazyboy

      Fox needs to read the MSM. I did, and really didn’t see anything by Trump that indicated he went bonkers, as the headlines would have you believe. I did see indignation, perhaps defensiveness, and a tad of misdirection. Good Golly Miss Molly.

      Truth is, this went on far too long, and if anyone is guilty of sweeping it under the rug, it’s Trump. The DNC and Trump’s enemies just keep dragging it out again. Trump has to put it too bed, one way or another. Even our “intel” has nothing but waffle words about rooskie mafia and Putin.

      They would probably say, “What are we supposed to do? They bank at Citi, same as us. If we snitch, so do they – and expose everyone’s Davos bank accounts!

      1. craazyboy

        Airbelly says he’s tired of all this fake crap. So he wrote a new song.

        Airbelly – The Cajun Real Breakfast Song

        Wants my cocoa puffs! [twang, twang, twang]
        They go fluff enough
        Really be good eatin’ stuff
        Dang, dang, dang!
        Russian noodles be damned.
        Made ‘O shit, puffed
        Wang, wang, whaaaaaaang.
        Mr. Trumpe…, enough is enough!

        P.S- Copywrite and patented.

        1. craazyboy

          Airbelly is ina creative mood today. The Guitar Universe captured his soul and invaded his body, just like in the “Soul Guitar” novel by Pratchert. I perfected using a cheese grater to make the woo woo woo guitar noises in this song. All patents and copywrites apply, as usual.

          “Soul Guitar In Trumpe, Flat”

          What can you do when you Prez the US?
          Can’t do nothing that the press don’t digress.
          You got no power when the say yo birth BS
          Whether Kenya or Hawaii makes no difference.
          Main problem being yo from the Planet Dense!

          [Baptist Choir Chicks, iffen’ they ain’t up to nuttin. Otherwise, fake it.]

          woo wooo wooo
          You don’t knoiw nuthing ‘cept haidoes and golf shoes.
          The country needs something to fight off the blues!
          Yo’ rappen on Twiiter at a million fools
          Gotta bitch slap em’ down and make it yo’ news!
          do do be done, woo, woo woo…!

          [repeat, until tiresome]

          1. craazyboy

            Or, more verses.

            A Bromance with Putin
            We’re led to believe.
            Robbie Mook his experiance
            Will all of us lead.
            This incredible story
            Meets needs of DNC.

            Deb and Donna, and now Tommy too
            Know what takes to screw me and you.
            The country is theirs, share for Donald too.

            woo wooo wooo
            You don’t knoiw nuthing ‘cept haidoes and golf shoes.
            The country needs something to fight off the blues!
            Yo’ rappen on Twiiter at a million fools
            Gotta bitch slap em’ down and make it yo’ news!
            do do be done, woo, woo woo…!

    5. Anonymous

      Fox had been largely pro Hillary during the election. My husband watches it, and only Tucker Carlson, Hannity, and Judge Jeneen have been pro Trump.

      (we were Bernie supporters who don’t watch much TV, used to be Rachel Maddow fans before we had an epiphany and Dem-Exited)

  2. fresno dan

    At LA airport’s new private terminal, the rich can watch normal people suffer Guardian

    The guiltiest pleasure at Los Angeles international airport’s (LAX) new private terminal for the mega-rich is not the plush, hushed privacy, or the beds with comforters, or the massages, or the coriander-scented soap, or the Willie Wonka-style array of chocolates and jelly beans, or the Napa Valley cabernet.

    It is the iPad that sits on a counter at the entrance, with a typed little note: “Here is a glimpse of what you’re missing over at the main terminal right now.”
    Is it possible that tourist class on airlines are the new coliseum, and that the beatings, decapitations, and passengers fed to lions are merely for the amusement of 1st class passengers, who watch on the video monitors embedded in the seat in front of them?

    1. another

      The guillotine executions of King Louis XVI, Marie Antionette and thousands of others were a popular entertainment in Paris during the Reign of Terror. I imagine the revolution in America when it hits its stride will, in fact, be televised. So things will likely even up eventually in this regard.

      1. sid_finster

        I don’t own a television. I demand that the executions be downloaded to YouTube!

        1. XMidway

          Not to quibble, but, they would be uploaded to YouTube.
          When you watched them, you could either stream or
          download them (if YouTube still allows downloading of content).

    2. justanotherprogressive

      Before I retired, my job required me to make at least 20 round trips/year. So in 8 years I made 160 round trips with 320 trips through TSA. The things I have seen could make a grown man cry, like a mother being told that her 5 and 6 year olds were “bounced” from the plane (overbooking, you know) and that they would have to wait by themselves in the airport for 4 hrs for the next flight, and if the mother didn’t like it, she could “leave” it (she chose to leave it) to a mother who ran out of formula for her baby trying to get a flight home (remember, back then you could only carry so much formula and if for some reason your flight was cancelled or delayed? Oh well!), and every person on that plane wanting to give up their seat for her, but of course that wasn’t allowed (a kind man finally gave her a ride to a pharmacy to get formula – don’t know if she ever got home….) to a 16 year old girl who had to lift up her skirt so that the TSA guy could check the waistband on her underpants to “feelies” of babies that would make a pervert proud and sooooo much more…

      Is this really what the elite want to watch? Does it give them thrills?

      I’m of the opinion that airlines are an experiment to see what people will put up with before they rebel…….

      My kids ask why I don’t visit them more. The answer is: Because I absolutely hate to fly and unfortunately there are no trains…..

      1. fresno dan

        May 14, 2017 at 11:58 am

        You’ve endured more than any airline passenger should ever have had to….
        How did airline travel morph into a technologically advanced version of ordeal by inquisitor of the Holy See???

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          Because our leaders wanted it to. Airline travel today is an exercise in humiliating the middle class in order to keep them weak and ashamed, angry and down-punching. No one hates ‘freeloading’ ghetto-dwellers more than a man who just got bumped from a flight and spent the night in a strange city on his own dime (because he’s contract, not an employee) when he should have been home.

          1. Vatch

            Alfred Kahn and Senator Howard Cannon left a nasty practical joke for the rest of us by initiating the dissolution of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). Admittedly, the CAB had some problems, but instead of fixing the problems, they just got rid of the agency, which is probably what Scott Pruitt and Betsy DeVos want to do with the sections of the Executive Branch that they oversee.

            There’s some discussion here:



            1. Anonymous

              If one reads pilots’ blogs, you learn how airline industry employment has also deteriorated in the past few decades, mainly due to deregulation. Pilots at some of the most highly rated legacy carriers are trying to hang on until retirement, dismayed at the erosion of standards and working conditions.

    3. LT

      Unless I have to travel internationally, I use Burbank Airport. Any extra fees for travel are now even more worth it.
      It’s a small airport, but you’re in and you’re out of there much faster. You’re right by the 5 freeway to take you into all other parts of LA.

  3. fresno dan

    Doctors Will Help Change Our Broken Medical System Elizabeth Rosenthal, Medium

    Have your office manager call and demand price lists. Send me to the least expensive ones that do a good job. In New York State, Vitamin D tests can vary between $7 and $700. Send my requisition to the $7 one and tell the one who’s charging $700 that you’ll no longer be sending blood work its way.

    I have a very tough time believing that doctors WANT price transparency. Having had a number of major medical problems I am a virtual retirement contribution, Bahamas vacations, and endless supply of polo pony feed for these guys.
    I recently got a heart test done by my doctor (who is not a cardiologist)….and AFTER insurance paid its “share” I was 570$ poorer. (any well meaning advice about getting a better doctor is how do I find a doctor that provides price information to begin with???)
    Any inquiry about prices is met with nothing but attitude and the response that “insurance covers it” – which is a purposeful lie, or purposeful ignorance…
    Those 7$ tests are probably contingent upon which insurance company cut a deal with a particular provider. The current system is very lucrative for some – they have no incentive to voluntarily change it….

    1. financial matters

      Yes, insurance should have no role in health care.

      There should be single payer with the power to set transparent price controls.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Interesting photo with the article captioned : Future doctors at Dell Medical School reading An American Sickness in their first book club! via Chris Moriates

      5 women and 2 men.

      Back in the day, when women began to be, grudgingly, given access to professions previously occupied overwhelmingly by men, a conventional “wisdom” emerged: When women enter a field in greater numbers, salaries go down.

      But seriously, are we supposed to believe that doctors are completely unaware of cost disparities among service provider facilities, or the financial constraints under which patients labor when trying to get recommended medical care, or the role doctors could play in ameliorating them?

      Please. This has been the topic of every “healthcare” conversation for decades.

      1. Skip Intro

        When women enter a field in greater numbers, salaries go down.

        Certainly average salaries go down.

      2. MtnLife

        Salaries go down when women enter a field because it increases the supply of workers. If an equal number of men left, I would expect salaries to remain steady (or steadier – yes, there are still sexists who don’t think women should make equal money). The workforce wide salary decreases came as women entered the workforce in droves and men didn’t start becoming homemakers (because of both male and female sexism equating a man’s worth with his paycheck) to offset their numbers. I see this more now. My sister’s husband is a stay at home dad because she makes enough to make that possible. I think going back to a one working parent household (don’t care which one) would be great for the economy, freeing up a decent number of good paying jobs (how many upper middle class workers marry others with upper middle class jobs?).

        1. RabidGandhi

          I agree that one-income households are generally preferable. But why is it that we in the working class always have to adjust our lifestyles to compensate for oligarch-induced deficiencies in the economy? We need to change how many hours we work because otherwise the jobs market will suck. We need to sever solidarity with immigrants or else we will lose jobs/have wages cut. This is just capitalists holding us hostage to force us to act against our own interests and act in theirs instead.

          In other words, households should work however many jobs they want, not because doing so would help the job market. Helping the job market should be done collectively by the community (aka government) on a macroeconomic level, not by individual households.

          1. clinical wasteman

            Yes, yes and YES! And the same goes for all other social problems, structural phenomena, macro-conditions or whatever better catch-all term I can’t think of right now for these systemic (i.e. actually global, however widely the effects differ between places) things. Like ecological devastation, financial looting, for-profit warmongering, police/state near-monopoly of mayhem.
            The idea that entrenched social problems can be fixed by however many acts of individual virtue is, for one thing, a colossal category error. If your town is on fire, leave it to civic-minded families to put it out with one bucket of water per person? (Perhaps with the “incentive” of first claim on whatever is left standing?)
            It’s also always a form of personalized, class-targeted victim-blaming. “You don’t like it? It’s your own fault for not leading by example“. Et family blog cetera.

            1. mpalomar

              Agreed and an addendum.
              As with much else, JFK had the chiasmus ass backwards, it should have gone, ‘Ask not what you can do for your country ask what your country can do for you.’ A far wiser and practical approach to how citizens should look at good government.

                1. mpalomar

                  In the best of all possible worlds, my goodness yes but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

        2. Yves Smith

          You act as if women can freely enter “fields”. This is false. Look at private equity and hedge funds, for starters. I can tell you the lack of women running those funds is not due to the lack of women trying to get into that business.

          Similarly, to get tenure in math or the sciences, women have to have 2.5x as many peer reviewed papers published as men.

    3. Jim Haygood

      In New York State, Vitamin D tests can vary between $7 and $700.

      An herbalist of my acquaintance who often recommends Vit D tests can tell patients exactly which lab to use for the lowest price. Why is this? Because generally her services are NOT covered by insurance. When you practice in a competitive market, you have to (duh!) know the price of recommended tests.

      Many states have a gatekeeper model, in which a doctor’s prescription is needed to obtain a test. It’s part of the cartelized system of capacity controls designed to keep health care profitable and line the pockets of unnecessary middlemen. In federal law this is called “racketeering.” But it’s been de facto legalized in health care.

      Can’t risk letting the unwashed peeps take charge of their own health, now can we?

    4. Richard Jackson

      Employed physicians who promote cost efficiency, as suggested by Rosenthal, will cost their employers money. They will be warned to stop it. If they persist, they will be considered as disruptive physicians, and no longer employed.

      Most physicians are parents and have lots of debt. They can’t afford the personal expense of fighting a corrupt system, especially when available alternative jobs are likely to be pretty much the same.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There is an argument, made here many times, that without the 10%, the elites (the 1% or the 0.1%) would have found it much harder to accomplish their goals.

        The 10% are likely to be parents and have loans to pay off.

        They and the doctors are critical to keeping the system working.

        1. Vatch

          Members of the ruling class or oligarchy can’t do everything themselves — they need assistance. In ancient Sparta, the Perioeci and the Sciritae were intermediate between the Spartan citizens and the low level Helots. In Jack London’s The Iron Heel, the machinists and engineers form an intermediate group between the oligarchs and the powerless majority. There are many other examples from history and literature.

    5. JTMcPhee

      A Kaiser Word on Cost Control: Not an effing word about the much more effective specific remedy, national health care and dismemberment of the UNsurance monster. Nothing about NURSES, one of the other main actual givers of care who struggle mightily to meet the workload that many doctors and the whole system of “markets” impose on them. Both decent caring doctors and nurses, the ones I have known, seem to be wired in a special way, with extra branches on the empathy and honesty bits of their genetic material.

      And why bring up nurses? Yeah, I know, this was an article supposedly advising Young Doctors on how to reduce some costs, depending on their own sense of comity and honor and all and without regard to the incentives to grab all they can to just pay the student loans mortgages on their education. But I’ve seen nurse-doctor teams who actually provide health care and medical procedures where necessary, and control costs as best they can, and wrestle daily with the UNsurance beast (UNsure whether your “provider” is in-network today and will be tomorrow, UNsure what “coverage” you actually have, UNsure what your premiums and other costs are going to be, UNsure whether your maintenance or emergency medications are and will continue to be “on formulary” and at what “tier,” UNsure what “rights” you have as a “consumer of medical services,” etc.) I spent about of a quarter of my time as a clinic nurse chasing down prior authorizations for medications and therapies, increasingly through “utilization management” middlemen paid to work from the presumption of denial of coverage and service. It’s a kind of institutional parcours exercise, figuring how to navigate around cul-de-sac phone trees and apparently automated hang up loops, to get to a human, and then to get to a human who will push the buttons that document a “yes” for the benefit, finally, of the premium payer/”consumer”/patient.

      And so often, the “System” now demands extensive documentation from the physician, who is under pressure from “:markets” to produce, produce, produce, to where many just say “I’ve done enough” and leave the patient to the tender mercies of the UNsurance monster.

      Again, this article is like so many others — off-load the cost control to doctors and their staffs who are supposed to become parcours athletes in the blindfolded-runner/blacked-out course of Bezzle and grift deadfalls and oubliettes and bear traps that is what “everybody knows” that “medical UNsurance” and the leeches that hang, bloated, off it actually is.

      When does the “groundswell” get big enough to overcome the power of the Owners, to force at least this one Big Fix that would cure so many other ills of the Body Politic?

      Of course we here all know all this, don’t we? And some of us are searching for levers, or failing that, axes, to try to actually do something about the situation, to not just “bend the cost curve” (that a$$ of course did not even say which direction he would bend it) but force a discontinuity, a big drop downward in the level of “market” Bezzlegrift and imposition of pain, moving toward decent and comity…

      1. JTMcPhee

        And speaking of cost control and power and Big Pharma and its pseudopodea:


        Clindamycin was first made in 1967.[5] It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.[6] It is available as a generic medication and is not very expensive.[7] The wholesale cost in the developing world is about 0.06 to 0.12 USD per pill.[8] In the United States it costs about 2.70 USD a dose.[1]

        “Not very expensive.” Hmmm…

        Maybe some of us remember this unauthorized work product that IIRC was generated by a staffer at the Department of Commerce (how dare she! Not paid to do that! Supposed to be working on TRADE AGREEMENTS, fer Cliff’s sake!), on the actual cost of the basic ingredients of a vast assortment of medications, showing the “profit-taking” and Bezzle-class markups of the cost of this or that pill or injectable:

        And of course there were some, “spokespeople” and “accuracy” trolls, who where happy to point out the many ways in which this survey of wholesale costs of ingredients supposedly “mis-led” us mopes on what a “fair price” should be for the drugs we need and have to pay for at CVWagRitePartDFormulary, or from the hospital dispensary, always someone who believes in “markets” and looting to speak for the looters…

      2. Tom_Doak

        Thank you for your comment. Without it, I would not have noticed that the writer for “Medium” is employed by Kaiser Health News and could be just a little bit tempted to lay the blame elsewhere … just like James Baker showing up on Meet The Press and being described as “former Secretary of State,” instead of the more pertinent “lobbyist for X, Y and Z.”

      3. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

        No matter what the field is, the MBA*s are burning out the people who matter.

        Pip Pip

        *More Businesses Annihilated
        re: Jtmcfee’s comment

      4. fresno dan

        May 14, 2017 at 9:14 am

        “UNsurance” – if that word doesn’t go viral and become the new word of the year (or better yet, word of the century) In Webster’s dictionary, we will know the word selection process is fixed…by BIG LEXICON….

        1. polecat

          ‘UN’ is what we practice here at the polecat household …..

          UNto …. the Ferryman’s dock !

          Keep your coin ready for the journey.

      5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And so often, the “System” now demands extensive documentation from the physician, who is under pressure from “:markets” to produce, produce, produce, to where many just say “I’ve done enough” and leave the patient to the tender mercies of the UNsurance monster.

        Small business owners complain about the same demanded by government regulations.

        It seems to be system-wide.

        1. JTMcPhee

          It is not government regs that generate the ppw workload, primarily. It’s the UNsurance companies and their Departments of Denial, where the troops answer the phone, “How may I not help you today?”

          “No meds for you!”

      6. Adam Eran

        FYI, along with the Chamber of Commerce, one of those testifying against SB562 (single payer for California) was…Kaiser. It’ll infringe on their insurance earnings

      7. Toolate

        If this is Rosenthals prescription for our troubles she is nothing but one more distraction.

    6. Pat

      And just think how that coincides with the idea of the patient captive customer as an educated consumer. Not so much does it.

      Once again I point out that one of the reasons the Swiss system ACA is based on actually functions, even though more expensively than other universal systems, is that their medical community is deeply regulated. And that means prices are posted or available and are the same regardless. That it is not that way in America was the big tell that providing affordable health care for the entire population of the US was NEVER the goal of ACA, nor of the most current revision.

      And I hate to say it, but kicking insurers from the majority of the system is only the first step. We also need to eliminate the idea of the sick as a cash cow for investors on all levels.

      1. Brian

        thank you to all above this reply. I want to try to provide an answer
        The US code has numerous laws regarding price fixing, pharma generic price fixing, extortion, not informing a party of the cost, collusion, bribery, acting under color of authority and the list goes on and on. In the 1970’s, perhaps the 80’s, were the last time I heard of a health “company” being charged with any of these crimes.
        Karl Denninger will englighten you, as he has posted dozens of reports about the racketeering aspect of health insurance, pharmacology. Karl doesn’t mince words, and the racket is laid bare for you to see.

    7. John Wright

      The high priced testing business has been going on for quite a while.

      Probably in the late 1980’s I remember my father visiting a hospitalized childhood friend who was known to have terminal cancer.

      As I remember, my dad came back from hospital stating that the doctors ordered a $10,000 test (equivalent to about 20K in today’s dollars) for his friend, probably billed to Medicare.

      He saw this as an attempt to pad the bill, and the friend died several weeks later.

      1. HotFlash

        Interesting. My mother’s doctor sent my mother, who was in extremis from cancer of the everything (after two remissions), 20 miles to another hospital for a CAT scan two days before she died. And to transport her they doped her up with morphine so she was basically unconscious for the day before and the day after the scan. And she died two days after returning. Never thought about the money before (I live in Canada), I only thought they had stolen the last three days of her life.

        Happy Mother’s Day, to my mum and everyone’s.

    8. jackiebass

      Republicans push the talking point choice. The problem that in many cases there is no choice. The number of providers(health care systems) is small and they all operate using the same business model. Like other businesses health care is being consolidated into a few choices.Two in my county of 150,000 people. Also most politicians have never read an insurance policy. With two college degrees I have a difficult time understanding an insurance policy when I read it. Most people would get frustrated and put it down and not read later. If you want to dispute a claim the procedure is usually so complex that most people get discouraged and don’t complain. Where I live all of the independent practices were bought out by one of the two health care systems. The are no self employed doctors anymore. It’s a take it or leave it situation with no alternative. Health care has been hijacked by money interest. They may claim to be non profit on paper but they really aren’t. A solution is a one payer system where the motive is quality not making money. In this country there is a snow balls chance in hell of that happening. We have the best government money can buy. Unfortunately it’s not for the good of everyone.

  4. HBE

    System under enormous stress.

    Something I’ve noticed over the last 6-9 months that I find to be a concerning indicator of an over exuberance, often experienced before a large tumble, is a near mania in the local and regional residential (but not commercial) real estate market.

    I’ve been checking the MLS and riding around the city for several months now and I’ve never seen anything like it. There are more homes than ever for sale and there is an even spread from luxury to small starter.

    The concerning part to me is the fact that across the luxury-starter home spectrum around 85-90% of new listings are on the market for under a month with many under two weeks. I’ve checked property records online, nearly all sales are to individuals, and I’ve yet to see any enter the rental market over this period (institutional buyers have pulled out).

    Two weeks oftentimes, (which seems absolutely insane to me) even a month is short, is a clear indicator these are not considered purchases.

    What I believe is happening is people who are seeing the tail end benefits of what little recovery that’s trickled down since 07-08, are scrapping together everything they have (meaning zero personal reserve) and grabbing the first thing they see, that’s in their stretched budget.

    If this is the case (I strongly believe it is), even the most minor hiccup is going to find a huge number of defaults on homes and likely knock on defaults on the newly popular long term car loans.

    My question is, is this a regional phenomenon or are others seeing similar trends?

        1. sleepy

          I’m surprised a bit about Duluth. I’ve always liked the city but it never struck me as having the kind of economy that would give rise to a housing bubble. Minneapolis, yes.

        2. Katharine

          Do you know what has been going on in your rental market, i.e. could there be some semi-logical reason these people are so willing to buy recklessly? Skyrocketing rents? Loss of rental units to condo conversion, or to mass clearance of substandard housing stock? People may be naive and over-optimistic sometimes, but they don’t act without a motive. There must be more to this story.

          1. HBE

            No real changes in the rental market, other than all the new luxury apartments, but those are in addition to the existing rental market which has largely been price and stock stable over the last 5 years.

            That’s why I find it worrying, the regional real estate market has all the appearances of an irrational mania.

        1. sid_finster

          Similar in Fargo. Realtors are complaining about having buyers ready to buy but nothing to sell.

          1. HBE

            Certainly things are better in Minnesota than many states, I wouldn’t find an uptick in home sales concerning if it was more measured.

            What concerns me is the fact that in less than a years time, purchases have surged, and the speed in which the vast majority of listings are sold is out of the ordinary.

            Homes listed and sold within 2 weeks during the winter is not the norm.

          1. polecat

            Yes, because it’s ALWAYS those dirty Cali folk, right ??

            And what pray tell, of those poor, hapless Oregonian $ELLER$ …. Huh ??

            ‘It would be best if we all hang together, for we will otherwise be sure to hang separately.’ – B.Franklin

        2. dale

          Also in Atlanta, at least in my neighborhood. A neighbor who had been renting a house for five or more years finally managed to persuade the owners (four brothers and sisters) to sell to him. He listed the house the next day for $140 more than he paid. The listing in Zillow says agent has already received multiple offers, will sell to highest bidder by May 13th. Lots of new construction in the neighborhood. MARTA sold a large chunk of a parking lot to developers, now a multistory apartment (condo?) is being built on the property. A lot down the street that sold ten years ago for $100k, re-sold a couple of months ago for $1.1m. Sadly, nearly all the mature oaks, more than twenty probably, are to be felled. The traffic will get much worse….

          1. Anonymous

            We’re in Los Angeles and there is a shortage of homes for sale on the market but the market has never recovered to pre 2008 prices.

            In LA, and So Cal more generally, a certain % of home sales are cash only purchases by foreigners, often Chinese.

            Not sure I’m fully understanding the situation in Duluth, MN. Are you saying there is a lot of turnover, with both many people selling and many buying? Or are you saying there is a housing shortage with not many selling so that listed homes are snapped up immediately due to the housing shortage?

      1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

        Dear Commenters,

        Please remember this is not a local blog for local bloggers*, and on the topic of acronyms:

        I just love acronyms like:

        SEC – Scrutiny Entirely Comical.
        CDO – Crap. Dung. Ordure.
        and the classic for 1970’s(?) Lotus sports cars – Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious.

        However, some of us regulars have no clue at all, and the head-scratch furrows are deep enough already (hair long gone), so please give it to us in full – at least once; we can take it.

        Thanking you all in anticipation.

        Pip Pip

        *Viewers Of The League Of Gentlemen British TV comedy series will ‘get’ the reference. See:

          1. clinical wasteman

            From a cross-hemispheric perspective: ok, but then maybe “pip pip” merits a footnote too?

            1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

              Funny, I was thinking on the same lines myself when I first read it, but I was just too tired to comment.

              Here in Australia. those with private health insurance ponder similar issues – mainly: is it worth it? The consensus seems to be:

              Problems like joint replacements were waits are long in the public system: Go Private.

              The serious stuff: Go Public – they have the volume to really know what they are doing.

              An interesting anecdote?:
              Someone I know (over 60 years old) recently got a heart transplant in the public system about 10 days after moving from Brisbane to Melbourne to get fully into the public transplant programme. She was accepted for the transplant in Melbourne, but not in Brisbane. However, once accepted, she could have had the transplant in a Brisbane hospital. No prizes for guessing why she plumped for Melbourne!

              Every system and culture has its problems. There is no panacea, but it helps if the bedrock ethos is sound.

              Live long, and vote People.

              Pip Pip

              1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

                In: Funny I was thinking the same thing

                I was referring to fresno dan and UNsurance. – JTMcFee

                Pip Pip

            2. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

              Re: clinical wasteman & pip pip

              “Pip Pip” (as I recall) was the closing epithet in Private Eye magazine’s Grovel column. Grovel ran out of pips in 1993 according to Wikipedia. Unfortunately all my favourite back copies had to go to recycling when I moved to Australia, so I don’t have access to Grovel anymore.

              For many Brits, if you haven’t been pejoratively mentioned in Private Eye, you are a nobody.

              Private Eye is basically neutral as far as I’m concerned, but if your thing is unfettered power, it ain’t!

              From Wikipedia: “Grovel” – a “society” column, featuring gossip, scandal and scuttlebutt about the rich and famous, and probably the section that gave rise to the magazine’s largest number of libel claims.

              Private Eye is famous for its covers: One of my favourites is “New Threat from Osama Bin Laden”. Check it out via Goober Images and ponder on the near-death-of-money crisis of 2008.
              Goober: Private Eye cover 1058. Date: 12 July 2002.

              Check out also:



              Pip Pip!

          2. HotFlash

            Hi AMTN, sorry for the confusion. MLS is US and Canadian (maybe Mexico, too, dunno) for Multiple listing service, helps real estate agents to match buyers to sellers sort of thing.

            I am often flummoxed by the acronyms, I find helpful.

            Just call me HF ;). And cheerio.

    1. Uahsenaa

      Even the first housing crisis was a regional phenomenon, where some areas (Miami, Las Vegas) were hit much harder than others, while, for example, where I live in Iowa City, the housing market didn’t really change much at all. That said, within the past few years there has been a glut of condo building around here.

      Point being, even if limited to certain areas, there can still be systemic effects, if there’s the same level of imbrication that we saw with derivatives and mortgage backed securities. It only takes one domino to knock down the rest.

      1. sid_finster

        North Dakota was similar. In part because of the “wouldn’t be prudent” mentality of the locals, in part because North Dakota law is not lender-friendly (all residential mortgages are strictly non-recourse, non-waivable rights of redemption, no non-judicial foreclosure, etc..)

      2. sleepy

        I live in Mason City IA and checked out some stats. Housing prices have gone up only 28% since 2000. I don’t know whether most of that increase occurred from 2000 to 2007 and has since dropped or plateaued, but the overall increase probably ranks near the bottom for most places. Plenty of houses are available for sale for $70,000 or so.

        At the same time, the median rent here is c. $750/month which is about a 100% increase since 2000. You’d think buying would make financial sense, but I’m guessing that with a declining economy and population base most folks are looking to get out of dodge and would rather lose a few bucks on rent than invest longterm in a house.

        I’m surprised that Iowa City hasn’t suffered wild swings in housing. Seems like a college town would be front and center for bubbles.

        1. Uahsenaa

          Price increases have been pretty modest here, low single digits year over year, in part because new construction has mostly kept pace with demand. Yet, any house that goes on sale, generally sells within a week or two, especially if it’s >$200K. Rent has been pretty flat as well, about a 10% increase over the past ten years. Most renters here are college students, and they don’t magically have more money to spend on housing. There’s also the downward pressure of all the new student housing the U has built in the past few years, so the demand for housing off campus has kept level/been suppressed a bit.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, house prices are way up. And I can’t figure out why. Our local job market is still lethargic and incomes aren’t that great.

    3. Cocomaan

      Reporting in from Philly area, where i work. Seeing the same thing. The amount of new building is crazy.

      Things feel feverish.

    4. ambrit

      There has been a decided upswing in houses on the market here in Southern Mississippi. Prices appear to have stabilized around a somewhat lower average price than those seen over the last two to three years. These prices are still not bargains. New house construction is generally limited to “growing” areas; suburbs, exurbs, and the gentrified parts of Downtown. Even in these areas, the new housing is spottily distributed. As for the downtown area here, a man I met and spoke with at length who is part of the lower level “power elite” says that refurbished downtown condos in mid and high rise buildings sell out quickly, while commercial spaces on the street level are languishing. Small businesses are dying off at what he described to me as ” the fastest rate of quick failure I’ve seen in over thirty years of doing business in this town.” He continued, “anyone prepared to open and run a small business around here is either delusional, has deep pockets backing them, or is (money) laundering.”
      I’m not in the high priced housing cohort, but “starter” homes are going up for sale with regularity. Prices are reasonable for fifty year old and older structures, (although still overpriced at the ask stage,) but, as a young single mother down our block is finding out, if a bank is involved, a “home inspector” is called in to make a list of required repairs before the money is disbursed. The woman I mentioned had a list of almost a hundred “fixes” handed to her at a meeting with the realtor. Things like protruding nails, mysterious drips, GFI electric outlets in kitchen and bathroom, missing strips of soffit, etc. etc. This list, (I saw it while I was repairing her water heater,) looked like a home rehab wish list, more than anything else. If the young woman had done all of the things on this list before listing her house, she would have raised her asking price.
      Several would be rentiers who bought and renovated homes to rent out I have met are still sitting on empty properties. One woman recently described it to me as a very hard and bitter pill to swallow. She sees rentals in her area as meeting a solid wall of a plain and simple inability of the available renting population to pay the rents asked. A large part of the local central and near suburban residential areas are de-gentrifying. It is exactly the cohort that should be moving into their own homes that finds itself locked out. As the woman facing the rentiers dilemna bemoaned, “I’ll eventually rent it out for much less than I wanted too, really, close to a break even point, and I’ll lose any hope in bettering myself this way. Then I’ll let the place run down and become a slum lord.”
      A PBS video about exactly this, see:

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Sounds like your area may have peaked earlier than some of the others people are describing. If nothing is done to curb prices in my area, I suspect the same thing will happen in a few years that you are describing. Pretty clear that we’re at the high end of this latest stupid speculative market cycle, and a lot of suckers are going to be caught holding the bag.

      2. RabidGandhi

        Always appreciate Ambrit’s perspective, especially when it comes to the on-the-ground reality of the housing market, which plumbers know as well as anyone (even if Ambrit is a northerner and a damn yanqui).

        As recently as two years ago, my plumber brother in law here in the real south was generally booked two months solid. He told me it was because of the then government’s housing programme (PROCREAR) whereby families would receive a government subsidy to build or improve their first home. Housing projects and new neighbourhoods shot up in the suburban areas, and here in the city centre midrise buildings with 1-3 BRs transformed the cityscape.

        Two years and a government change later, the PROCREAR programme has been “adjusted”, with the new administration eliminating the subsidies (to applause from the IMF) and replacing them with private bank mortgages– ka ching (here about 90% of houses are paid for in cash; others have loans of up to approx. 5 years). As a result, in a province of about 700,000 families and a large percentage of under-housed, a mere 133 PROCREAR house plans were formalised last year. BIL and his fellow plumbers felt the results immediately; not only has his workload screeched to a grinding halt, but more importantly for me personally, he has stopped inviting us to his weekly BBQs because meat is now a scarcity in his house. Needless to say, his children (my nieces/nephews) feel these deleterious changes much more acutely than I do.

        Of course this is sort of off topic– because the southern housing market isn’t the northern market, and never the twain shall meet– but the underlying point does hold true: if the people don’t have money, they can’t support housing prices. Said prices can of course be buoyed by credit bubbles and Chinese capital flight, but that only works till it doesn’t.

        1. ambrit

          I guess I should have kept in mind that I, from the North American Deep South, (EEUU-S,) would be a “Dam Yank” to the real southerners. I’m surmising that Ambrose Bierce got much further South than Mexico.
          RG’s anecdote encapsulates the pernicious effects of the Chicago School and fellow travelers. What’s good for the banks is almost certain to be bad for the people.
          We hope that you and yours get along well in the upcoming winter. How’s that wood heater project coming?

          1. RabidGandhi

            Thanks for asking. This will be our second winter without heat in the house, and its turning out to be livable so long as we’re bundled up. Thank Pachamama we live in a warmer area in the North (Arg-N) and not down in Buenos Aires where the cold can be brutal (not to mention those suffering in icy Patagonia).

            Of note with regard to the Chicago Boys, the first item on the IMF’s structural adjustment list for every country is to cut gas subsidies. I guess it never gets cold in Chicago.

            1. ambrit

              Speaking of Patagonia, there are Welsh communities there, the result of a “venture” of the mid nineteenth century. It being so cold there in winter, I guess people already used to the cold would settle there. There are lots of Russians and Central Europeans in Argentina.
              Really, Argentina looks to be more of a “melting pot” culture than monolithic Spanish culture nation. How do you see diversity where you all reside? Big deal, small potatoes, or “eh” so what?
              As for the Chicago Gang, I’m guessing that the warm very sub-tropical currents of the lower Lake help keep Chicago warm during the winter. Otherwise, why live there?

              1. RabidGandhi

                I’ve only heard anecdotally of the Welsh presence down south, but the Russian/Eastern European influence is huge in the northeast in what is known as ‘Mesopotamia’ on the Brazil/Paraguay triple border. One of the best examples of this is the local Chamamé music, which is an odd mongrel of autocthonous and Spanish folk music mixed with a Romany-sounding violin intro to a very polka-ish accordion jam, all accompanied by local percussion and bandoneón, for example:


                In my neck of the woods, the predominant race is Spanish/indigenous creoles with a fair smattering of Italian descendants and a sizable number of Jewish last names. This is in contrast to Buenos Aires, which is one of the whitest cities on the planet: Descendants of Northern Italians, Jews, Basques, and others fleeing from the old Russian and Austrian empires.

                As a whole the country was very much a melting pot (for the Old World exodus in the early XXth Century, the two main destinations were NY or BA), but as the US became the destination of choice, things became much more homogeneous here. So with most of our Old World immigration now in the distant past, what we have is a population with a wide variety of ethnic roots, but which is now very homogeneous culturally.

                1. ambrit

                  I’m getting an understanding of how and why groups like King Crimson are so popular in Argentina.
                  Wonderful link.

      3. Dan

        You bring up an important point. Zoning; this prevents people who need homes from moving into storefronts and commercial spaces that could provide huge amounts of housing.

        1. Adam Eran

          First of all, you are referring to “use-based” zoning: commerce here, apartments there, light industry yonder…etc. This pseudo planning can only work by accident. The categories are decided often decades in advance of actual development, and changes are routine in whatever jurisdiction adopts this designed-to-fail method of “planning.”

          The alternative: “form-based” zoning: Build the little buildings here, medium ones there, and big ones yonder. Let the market decide uses. This could actually work, but is seldom the planners’ preference (it’s too clear, and the priesthood of planners isn’t always necessary).

          Meanwhile, Houston has minimum lot sizes and road standards, but zero (use-based) planning. I would defy anyone to find any significant difference between Houston’s sprawl and a “planned” city’s sprawl.

    5. jefemt

      When I am lucky enough to land it, my work takes me around the high plains and rockies. The disparity of communities is stark: resource-based boom/bust communities are really hurting: foreclosures are up, unemployment is up, listed houses are up, buyers are few and far between. Meth use is again raging- palpable ghost towns in the making. Travel down the road to a blue river/blue mountain community with good transportation links (airports, highways, rail), and they can’t build enough housing, population growth rates are off the charts. In these towns, it seems like the work is either restaurant or construction- NOT natural resource extraction, but amenity-based ‘lycra-and-down’ lifestyle. I can’t help but wonder that BOTH ends of the spectrum are houses of cards and on fumes. As to the quality and age of the autos, the hurtin’ towns have rainbow colored cars with replaced and unpainted panels, rust, duct-taped windows— but are probably owned lien-free, whereas the booming towns have a lot of late-model cars, shiny– no idea if they are owned or not. Short answer long- I’d say it’s regional, and that there are a few pockets of prosperity, but there are a load of places that are really hurting. It showed at the polls, when folks bought a story of empathy and a glass full of promises.
      One thing I can say about the impact of our new President and transition: world-view and perspective has been whacked more than a few degrees off of Top Dead Center. Personally, my Dixie cup of American Exceptionalism kool aid is empty and the stark reality oof ‘the human condition’ looms large.

    6. Jen

      What strikes me the most about my rural college town market is the sheer number of houses for sale with 1M+ price tags. They aren’t selling. Overall, prices seem even more ridiculous than before the last market crash. I live in a cow town that’s becoming the new “affordable” place to live. Almost anything under 300K flies off the market.

      And cars? Every dealership lot in the area is full.

      1. petal

        This spring, our local institution has been pushing seminars(with them and Coldwell Banker I believe) about how to transition from an apartment to a new home, learn about the buying process, etc, etc. I don’t remember these being held in years previous. They hold a sizable amount of real estate in town so maybe things are slow and it’s out of self-interest. I don’t know. Seems like there’s a home buying seminar held by them every week over the past month or so. Of course they pay me so little there’s no way I could ever buy a home if I continue to work for them.

    7. lyman alpha blob

      Same in my area in Maine – housing prices are going through the roof again (so to speak) and developers can’t seem to build fast enough. The city keeps changing its zoning to allow for more development which allows for lots of speculation and at the same time the city council wrings their hands about the lack of affordable housing, seemingly oblivious that its their own actions that play a large part in the real estate frenzy. We even had one particularly greedy developer try to make the argument that the city was doing harm to potential builders by not changing the rules while interest rates were so low and that by delaying, families would be subject to larger mortgage payments when rates went up. That particular argument didn’t get too far but the city changed the rules anyway.

      Home prices once again have gone up to the point where they are higher than what the prevailing salaries in the area can realistically afford. One anecdote that I heard last week that confirms rumors I’d been hearing that it isn’t locals buying the property at these inflated prices. One prominent real estate agent told my wife that in the last year alone he had sold 50 local properties to people from Brooklyn, who find $400-$500 thousand dollar homes or condos cheap compared to NYC prices. Having just visited NYC and seen the gentrification going on in some areas there, that sounds about right. These people telecommute so they are able to bring their NYC salaries with them while driving up prices and eventually driving out those stuck with Maine salaries.

      1. Altandmain

        The situation is similar on the Canadian side of the border. Actually we are deep in a housing bubble.

        Salaries cannot possibly be driving up the prices because they are stagnant. It has to be foreign buyers and the rich playing games.

        A lot of people have been screwed. Rent is also sky high so most people have difficulties saving up money.

    8. jackiebass

      I live in upstate NY on the Pa boarder. A friend has had his home on the market for over a year. It’s a nice well kept house in a good neighborhood of similar houses. The price he is asking is below the assed value. He has had only three people look at the house. None showed interest in buying it. At least in my area the housing market is very slow.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I think the difference is suburban/urban vs. rural. There are places in northern Maine where houses can be had for a song as the towns have been completely hollowed out by the loss of the mills.

        The exception is if your rural town has been deemed ‘quaint’ by the upper classes looking for a getaway from the areas they destroyed. Then you’ll be priced out of there too. Basically the increasing inequality has made it so that anywhere the upper class goes is unaffordable for everyone else.

        Tip for rural inhabitants – don’t let your town start looking like a Ben & Jerry’s container. Keep your cows dirty and the manure pile high.

    9. Jess

      Here by the beach in SoCal, prices through the roof. House four doors down, on a relatively busy residential corner, just got an offer at the asking price of $1,049,000. House when new in the mid-80’s went for the low to mid $300K range. Resold about eight years ago for low-mid $500K. Not atypical. Million dollar properties are all over my area, and many of these are 2,200-2,400 sq ft properties on tiny beach lots with no front yard and backyards hardly big enough to set up the ping-pong table. (Although I must say, some high-end houses are now sitting on the market longer and having to accept offers under asking price because the owners got just too greedy.)

      1. craazyboy

        A friend just sold a 1500 sq ft rental near Lake Elsinore for $266K in one day. Also had a special water bond for $600/month! Plus HOA payment.

        Buyer did have a pre-approved loan.

    10. Adam Eran

      Same story in California’s Central Valley. The shortage of homes comes as rents are rising as much as 50%. Builders weren’t building during the early years of the Great Recession, so that shortage is going to take a few years to build out.

  5. Uahsenaa

    re: Lucy Kellaway

    Hanging around elite institutions, if you don’t come from that world, can be psychologically draining on an almost daily basis. It’s like the class equivalent of micro-aggressions: everyone around you assumes the world is one way, when you know it’s actually many different things to many different people.

    Case in point: there was a scholar of medieval manuscripts visiting from Leiden who asked the people who were ferrying him around where a K-Mart was. He wanted to buy his sons a bunch of American toys they wanted. The woman leading this expedition insisted on taking him instead to this swanky boutique shop near campus that doesn’t sell any of the things he wanted. Eventually, my spouse, who’s a friend of his, had to step in and drive him to K-Mart herself, because none of the others could even countenance that this is what the guy really wanted.

    It’s exhausting having to translate your experiences into something the cloistered can understand. Eventually, you reach a point where you just want to check out and do literally anything else.

    1. ambrit

      “Cloistered” is exactly the right word. I’m waiting for the modern equivalent of the marauding bands of Vikings to show up and sack a few “Abbeys” of privilege.
      As far as “checking out” is concerned; what if the food supplies for the “holy” ones were embargoed for a while? Say, a trucking strike stopping food shipments into various “exceptional” areas? I’d love to see the reactions at Table to MREs.

          1. polecat

            Indeed, but only the ‘money’d’ cloistered …..
            Those of us who are trying to build-up our little-Gaia survivorstead abbeys should be left in peas.

            1. ambrit

              Beware of mendelsome monks. And do not be app-peased, since that leads to empty calories. Stick to the “pulse” of life; it being the proper vocation of human-beans. As the adherent of the “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” replied when I asked him about his sects teachings on something or other, “That’s strictly up to the Pastryarch.”
              While the ‘money’d’ cloistered makes me think of living off of the “fat” of the landed.

              1. polecat

                the COTFSM is really a front for Cthulhu and his minions … and that’s not really starch and pasta sauce your eating, regardless of what colander your wearing !

                1. polecat

                  The Money’d Elite …

                  The Non-Matrix is telling my brain that they are dry … and UNpalatable,
                  …. and need to be disposed of …. in like say, a swamp, or something.

                  1. ambrit

                    But, but, we’re always being told to drain the Swamps.
                    Where else do the minions of the Dark Ones have to lurk?
                    What’s a Squishy to think?

  6. Kalen

    A wonderful map of US imperial decline at

    “Who Is Actually Attending China’s Belt and Road Forum? The Diplomat”

    One can clearly see how US alliances are cracking in EU and south Asia.

    China unites what can truly be called international community but unfortunately with the same ulterior imperial motive as US had via different means and tools namely demographic offensive.

    After reaching labor cost on par with the west the only way for growth of Chinese elites wealth is world economic expansion (export of capital more than goods and let the world work for Chinese wealth under Chinese management a.k.a imperialism) that soon will be supported by Chinese military backbone.

    All those suppose alarmists who warn us now that we are living in nuclear times more dangerous than in cold war have a point. If those neocon psychotics do not act now in 20 years the W.H. will be bulldozer to make room for the extension of Silk Road from Lisbon to DC after they purchase nuke suitcase and button from another used car salesman president.

    1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

      Sort of apropos:

      Britain’s navy “ruled the waves” when its empire bought up big on British manufactured goods, and shrank drastically when the empire had run its course (the US said “No”, but the writing was on the wall anyway). From what I recall, the really rapid shrinkage came about when the brightest were lured away (along with the capital) from manufacturing by the governing ethos of the 70’s and 80’s.

      Navies are mainly about protecting merchant shipping, so my question is:

      Is the US Navy protecting Chinese, Korean and Japanese shipping (worldwide – not just in the pirate hot spots), so that Walmart and the rest, can undercut US manufactured goods?

      If so, that would be just peachy!

      Pip pip

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Navies exist in theory to protect the shipping.

        The US Navy protects the US navy. Like all bloated bureaucracies without sufficient oversight, it exists to beget itself. There is no strategy beyond “finding” “needs” for the Navy. Carriers are stupid, but the carrier wing of the Navy doesn’t want to lose their jobs or their position. If carriers lost their importance in our defense structure, admirals and officers attached to those white elephants would find their careers stunted as others took over.

        Patton and his lackeys after World War I. Patton was a known crank and was dispatched to what the brass a considered a fad: tank development. When it was obvious tanks were the future, not horses, the civilian powers promoted Patton’s lackeys (Patton was crazy; he can move an army from point A to point B, an important skill) Ike and Bradley because they had tank experience. They jumped guys with a great deal more combat experience. Anyone in a dinosaur area of the military risks being jumped.

        Bureaucratic rot is actually the plot of Star Trek VI. The military wing of Star Fleet and aspects of their old enemy, the Klingons, were able to work together to prevent the dismantling of military outposts. Scientific and exploration would be unaffected.

      2. Synoia

        From what I recall, the really rapid shrinkage came about when the brightest were lured away (along with the capital) from manufacturing by the governing ethos of the 70’s and 80’s

        Interesting point. At that time, when at University, my sister was on the London Stock Exchange, and I knew the people in her office reasonable well.

        Their view of manufacturing was that they never invested in it, never recommended it and did so because of its labor (union) troubles.

        As I was taking an engineering degree, I decided that manufacturing in the UK was not where I was going to go and work.

        1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

          Ah, Synoia: labor(union) troubles…

          My old man worked at a Massey Ferguson tractor plant in the 80’s (no longer extant, but the French one still is). He was known to wear a tux whilst operating a fork lift truck.

          A fellow worker – a union man wrote: Working at Massey’s – a book which was prompted by another book about factory life called Working For Ford.

          As I recall it when MF (not MF Global) – now AGCO, was low on tractor orders for a while, it used to pull the unions’ chain and they reflexively went on strike. It was very much the ethos as depicted in the classic movie I’m All Right Jack (late 1950’s – dated, but still a must see).

          What do I take from it all? Bad management ethos created the union movement and its bad behavior. It could have been sooo different – study Germany’s manufacturing sector and union relations. Although I follow the French scene, I don’t know how they keep their trans-national manufacturing sector. I suspect that they get out the Mapa*.

          Blame the victim as usual? But, when the plant got the chop, so did the management(?)

          Pip Pip!

          *Mapa – a generic brand of rubber gloves, ideal for intimate searches at the international airport terminal.

      3. ambrit

        If the U.S. Navy “protects” mercantile shipping, then the shift in the “ownership” of the world’s merchant fleets tells us clearly that the U.S. Navy is a force projection tool of an Internationalist philosophy. This is one of those subjects where the late lamented “conspiracy theory nutcases” were on the mark, and their opponents were running interference for the very “cabals” the “nutters” were trying to expose.
        The core conundrum of someone like Trump is that he articulated a clear case for Nationalism, while being part and parcel of the International Oligarchic class. Not being one to practice “doublethink” at a professional level, the competing demands are whipsawing him. So, as many others have commented before now, watch who he surrounds himself with.
        Next we get to the subject of “force projection” itself. Who reaps the ultimate rewards from any “force” projected shows the “hidden” influences at play.
        Luckily for one and all, none of these “empire builders” seems to be very efficient; otherwise they’d be dangerous.

    2. jackiebass

      According to Larry Wilkinson on an interview for The Real News network, this area of the world is going to be in constant war. It is the clash between who is in control, China or the Us. He was chief of staff for Colin Powell and seems to be very knowledgable and a straight shooter.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Being the issuer of global reserve currency, we can always export more capital than China.

      Their art of war hinges on undermining that, with gold probably.

      So, even if we think gold has no intrinsic value, we can’t freely give all the Fort Knox gold to the Chinese.

    4. Alex Morfesis

      As soon as I hear some street merchant on some non oecd side street say they will accept yuan as well as US dollars, THEN I might give chin/middle kingdom $ome deep thought…

      Hardly anyone aspires on some dusty road outside Marrakech to illegally immigrate to Qingdao to make it big and bring over their family to start a new life…

      The middle kingdom is 25-50 years out to posing any serious threat to the hegemony of the shamans at 33 Liberty…

      That is a million years in the modern world…remember, there was a need to bring in troops from out of the area who could not communicate in a local dialect to end the “fuss” in tiananmen in 89…

      The red army can not overtly project military power much beyond its borders…never has…never will…

      If truman had not withdrawn arms from Chiang and his band of thug/warlords, that yalee mao & his fielding mellish krewe would still be hiding in some mountains somewhere…

      1. ambrit

        I read a very good history book about Stilwell and his experiences with Chiang and the Nationalist Chinese, also one about the associated Burma Campaign. Short version was that, no matter how hard Stilwell tried to influence events, Chiang and the competing warlords never accepted the idea of a unified China. Divide and rule as a policy doomed the Nationalist Chinese leaders to failure in their contest with Mao and the Communists for control of the future of China.
        Also, why would the Chinese need to project land based force outside of their Middle Kingdom? Economic forces are doing a pretty good job all by themselves. The Politburo Old Guard is probably well versed in Marxist theory, and thus, understand well the death wish inherent in Late Stage Capitalism. Pekin is not just giving the West all of the rope it needs, but is selling it to us!

        1. Biph

          Stilwell in China by Barbara W Tuchman.
          I’ve read all her books.
          Her Vonnegut are the only two authors with more than a couple books I can say that about.

        2. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

          Re ambrit and the provision of rope, perfect for the scaffold, communist, (maybe single-use only) :

          When you go to buy do-it-yourself tools made in China (maybe single-use only, but, hey! – maybe you are not going to do-it-again this decade), and they are so astonishingly cheap that you can hardly believe it, you’ve got to start asking yourself about the nature of the “free lunch”, and how it is going to be paid for.

          What do the power-elite have to say apart from: “Tool? What’s a tool?”?

          Are we going to be like the cheap tools: Landfill-in-waiting?

          What I know, is that it is possible to play the long game.

          Pip Pip

          1. ambrit

            Fractious felicitations Abate.
            Second hand anecdote, but the source was good and solid, as in a direct participant in the shenanigans. There once was a commercial project run by and for an American Government department. Said project supplied all of the hand tools for the workers. This category included moderately expensive electric hand tools, such as drills, saws, pipe threaders, and so on. Not your cheap stuff, but top of the line merchandise. When the job was winding down, the general demanded all of the tools back. Lists had been kept, so pilferage was guarded against. Some of the more experienced hands, knowing that the project had obtained the tools “at wholesale,” as a function of volume buying, asked to buy their tools from the project. At the prices the project had paid, the tools would have been a bargain. Alas, the word came down from on high, “NO!” So, a large pit was dug by the backhoe, and all of the tools were buried under six feet of North Mississippi mud.
            The de-industrialization of America is the “free lunch” payback.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Prison breakout:

    BOSTON — A year ago, Kyle L. Gathers, a gang member and longtime drug dealer, was sitting in prison. On Saturday, he was sitting on the stage for his graduation from vocational school, where he was the student commencement speaker.

    Mr. Gathers, 31, spent 10 years in and out of prison on convictions for shootings, extortion and selling cocaine and marijuana. He was in solitary confinement for two of those years.

    When he was released from prison, in June, he entered a program called College Bound Dorchester and enrolled at Benjamin Franklin, where he specialized in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning technology. On Saturday, he graduated magna cum laude and sat on the stage with the institute’s officials.

    With his just announced reversion back to maximum charges and mandatory minimum sentences, Ku Klux Jeff Sessions means to prevent unfortunate examples of African-Americans like Gathers escaping from the pipeline to prison that Sessions and his private prison buddies have thoughtfully constructed for them.

    As the White Citizens Council [Trump’s cabinet] is fond of saying, the Jihad on Drugs must go on!

    1. Jim Haygood

      Excerpts from a new statement by Families Against Mandatory Minimums:

      FAMM is gravely disappointed with the new charging memo issued today by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

      We know how this story ends. At the beginning, we are told that mandatory minimums will be reserved for the “worst of the worst”—cartel leaders and kingpins, and violent gang leaders. But then we will watch prosecutors demand and get mandatory life sentences for people like Evans Ray and 15-year sentences for first-time offenders suffering from addiction like Mandy Martinson.

      Even under the Obama administration’s Smart-on-Crime initiative, federal prosecutors secured a 10-year mandatory sentence for Robyn Hamilton, a young mother of two, whose case was called “the poster child” for mandatory minimum sentencing reform.

      The simple fact is that 93 percent of individuals who receive mandatory minimum sentences played no leadership role in their offense. Crafted purportedly for sharks, mandatory minimums catch lots of minnows.

      A quarter century of advocacy by FAMM on behalf of hundreds of thousands consigned to the Gulag barely made a dent, except under the brief four years of the Holder memo.

      Like the Roman policy of throwing prisoners to the lions, the Jihad on Drugs is for public entertainment and private gain. Some folks have to get crushed under its chariot wheels … for the greater good.

      1. polecat

        ‘public entertainment’
        Whose entertainment ?? … Oh, right … waves to the tony spectators carousing up in the lofty $box$ Colosseum seating ….
        Which way will Emperor TANG’s thumb point ??

  8. lyman alpha blob

    RE: US Treasury to play key role protecting finance IT infrastructure

    Is their some rationale behind this other than more neoliberal corruption? Having read Flash Boys as well as many articles linked to from this site, Wall Street has been neglecting its IT infrastructure for years as the massive investment needed to upgrade its systems would cut into short term profits.

    So due to their negligence, taxpayers are on the hook once again. And here I thought there wouldn’t be any more bailouts…

    1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

      re lyman alpha blob & US Treasury to play key role protecting finance IT infrastructure.

      It all hangs on COBOL – and from what I read, a dying art. Anyone got any news?

      pip pip

  9. Sluggeaux

    The complete lack of agency in the Guardian’s description of Libyan anarchy is both chilling and offensive. “The country’s slide into chaos following the 2011 death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi and the collapse of the government,” is a complete misrepresentation of the role of the Queen of Chaos and NATO: “We came; We saw; He died.”

    The West bombed government centers, armed extremist rebels, and condoned (if not oversaw) the savage murder of the president. Our governments caused this humanitarian crisis, and I am both ashamed and disgusted.

    1. John Wright

      One should remember HRC’s Libyan position in

      “But, in speaking with Clinton’s closest aides and advisors, it’s clear that she has already formulated a detailed defense. Clinton, they say, does not see the Libya intervention as a failure, but as a work in progress.”

      Why should the Guardian mention Clinton in this piece?

      Clinton’s efforts in Libya (or Syria, or the Ukraine) were wise and good, it will simply take more time before that is obvious to the unwashed (like me)..

      1. Alex Morfesis

        What a pathetic empire we have become… two presidential choices were a failed casino owner and a crazed female bully…

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      “The Guardian” was a cheerleader. Hillary wasn’t alone. There are many hands with blood on them. Libya was supposed to be a glorious war of Western imperialism everyone could get behind. If anyone is at fault, it’s the Libyans themselves.

  10. DJG

    The Harper’s article on health care in the Black Belt of Alabama: I read the article last night in the paper edition of the new Harper’s. I recommend the article if you want to be truly appalled at conditions here in the U S of A. The focus is on the single doctor in a town of 3,400. You’re talking third-world ratios and third-world diseases–except that it isn’t the “third world,” and people are being made to suffer by design.

    The Washington Post article on dental care in the U S of A as related to class reinforces the meanness of the system.

    Yet most Americans live in a fantasy world of “free markets!,” the benevolence of corporations (they’re people, tool!), and religious fatalism (baby Jesus will fix my teeth).

    And neither of the two zombie political parties in charge is willing to consider single payer as the necessary reform of health insurance, a real jobs and industrial policy, enhancement of Social Security, and free Medicare (instead of the absurd system of insurance gaps and supplmental required policies).

    1. Katharine

      The worst insurance gap story I heard recently was of someone whose Medicaid (I think) included coverage for one annual dental check and cleaning, who was therefore told that a city program for indigent patients would not treat an abscessed tooth: this program is for uninsured patients and you have insurance, and you should be ashamed of not getting that tooth fixed, don’t you know that in the upper jaw it could lead to brain infection? Nothing like terrifying and insulting the people to whom you deny care. I believe extreme diligence finally turned up a source of treatment, but there is no reason people should have to go through such struggles.

      It is wonderful that there are dentists who participate in those free clinics like the one in the Post story, but how much more wonderful it would be if they could just stay in their offices and take whatever patients needed care.

  11. Hana M

    The Quantas Flight 72 story is terrifying.

    A realisation of their predicament has dawned on Sullivan. The flight control computers – the brains of the plane – are supposed to keep the plane within an “operating envelope”: maximum altitude, maximum and minimum G-force, speed and so on. Yet against the pilots’ will, the computers are making commands that are imperilling all on board.

    In a conventional aircraft without flight control computers, pilots are responsible for keeping it within the bounds of safe flying. In a passenger jet like the A330, the computers have unfettered control over the horizontal tail – 3000 pounds per square inch of pressure that can be moved at the speed of light. It enables the aircraft to descend or climb. For reasons unknown to the pilots, the computer system has switched on “protections”. “The plane is not communicating with me. It’s in meltdown. The systems are all vying for attention but they are not telling me anything,” Sullivan recalls. “It’s high-risk and I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

    1. Katharine

      Yes, that was horrific. I couldn’t help wondering, though, to what extent wacko computers might wreak havoc in cars. They may not yet control enough, but they will. What happens if self-driving cars run amok? Somehow, being glad I haven’t flown in the past decade is not quite enough.

      1. ambrit

        What worries me is that so much of our basic infrastructure is run by “wire” today. It doesn’t need a CryingInsideLaughingOutside 3.1 virus to wreck things. Simple entropy is good enough for the job.

      2. Bugs Bunny

        Lots of cars (mostly luxury models) are already drive by wire and this is a real possibility.

    2. Synoia

      the computers have unfettered control over the horizontal tail – 3000 pounds per square inch of pressure that can be moved at the speed of light.This sentence is complete nonsense:

      “3000 pounds per square inch of pressure that can be moved at the speed of light.”

      This might be correct:

      3000 pounds of control surface that can be moved very quickly.
      3000 pounds of pressure that can be directed up or down very quickly.

      “the speed of light.” nonsense.
      “3000 pound per square inch of pressure.” On an Airplane? Not in your dreams.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Maybe the reference is to the hydraulics that move that tailplane, which often run at 3,000 psi, and are now controlled (apparently sic) by electronic controllers controlled by code and sensors, linked by wiring that carries electrons and information at near the speed of light. This ain’t no DC-3 world any more. “I’m sorry, Sullivan, but I can’t do that… It would compromise the mission…”

    3. Montanamaven

      This story is terrifying. And why Airbus is still allowed to manufacture aircraft is beyond me. I have talked to pilots who agree that Airbus’ computer system is f**ked. Airbus design was rushed in order to compete with Boeing. And one pilot who toured the factory in France and was really turned off. I thought it was because the computer doesn’t allow a pilot to take manual control. But this article says that the computer will fight the pilot’s control. That is really awful. I personally have tried to keep a journal of flights on an Airbus. In my experience, they Have rockier flights and landings than Boeing jets into Denver. So instead of banning laptops from carry on luggage, maybe we should ban Airbus.

  12. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

    Regime-change– sounds nice and snappy in a press conference; just two words – same as blow-back (which never, never occurs).

    Pip Pip

  13. XXYY

    From the Salon elephant-in-the-room piece:

    Some would argue that the implosion of the DNC is a welcome development since it paves the way toward multi-party options. But as I argued prior to the November elections, as long as we are locked in a two-party system, destroying the one viable platform to thwart the Republican agenda is dangerous business. This means that there are good reasons to want to hold the DNC accountable to its ideals rather than cheer as it heads over a cliff.

    It’s a nice idea that a third party can just “come along” if enough people get sick of the R/D duality. However, there are major structural features of the US and state governments that make a two-party system virtually inevitable. The fact that most jurisdictions require 50%+1 of the votes in the jurisdiction to take any kind of office means any party that’s not within striking distance of 50% (e.g. a new or minority party) will be locked out of power and quickly wither. It’s extremely difficult to go from “zero” to 50% in one election cycle, and it’s difficult to sustain momentum across multiple election cycles when your candidates are continually being beaten by other parties. It’s also (of course) difficult for a “new” party to confront established parties who are well funded and have tremendous, practiced access to donors, the media, government, and the business community.

    Another gigantic factor is the difficulty of getting on the ballot at all if you are not a D or an R. Ballots (and thus access to the election) are printed by the government itself, and most jurisdictions have diverse, complicated and difficult rules and qualifications for getting on the ballot if you are not a D or an R (D and R parties, in contrast, are “automatically” on the ballot in every jurisdiction). Of course, the established parties can be relied on to make things as difficult as possible for challenger parties here. The fact that there is a complex maze to navigate in every county means that you will have to devote substantial effort to this project to run at the state or national level. Ralph Nader had very interesting comments on this after the 2000 election; his team was continually having to fight fires all over the country just to ensure his name would appear on the ballot. Obviously this alone gives a huge, perhaps insurmountable, advantage, to our existing parties.

    I have no doubt these factors (and others!) are what led Sanders to temporarily assume the persona of a Democrat when he decided to run for national office, quickly reverting to his normal Independent status afterwards.

    I read one fascinating proposal for a way forward out of this dismal situation by blogger Seth Ackerman. His idea is to create a third party as a “brand”, which would have it’s own staff, platform, funding, outreach, and other normal party apparatus. However, candidates associated with this psuedo-party would register and run opportunistically as “regular” party candidates, D’s or R’s, greens, independents, the brand itself, or whatever else would give the candidate ballot access in each jurisdiction. However, the candidate’s materials and fundraising would be clearly associated with the “branded” party. Interestingly, this approach is made possible by the fact that candidates can now receive unlimited outside funding as a result of Citizens United. This idea and approach seems very worth exploring and fleshing out as a way to break the grip of the existing parties.

    1. Jeff W

      His idea is to create a third party as a “brand”, which would have it’s own staff, platform, funding, outreach, and other normal party apparatus. However, candidates associated with this psuedo-party would register and run opportunistically as “regular” party candidates…

      The Justice Democrats (and maybe similar groups) have their own “brand”—essentially, not taking corporate money—and they have their own staff, platform, funding (individual donors) and outreach. They’re not a third party (for the very structural reasons that you mentioned) but are running opportunistically as Democrats. Their stated goal is not to “work with” but to replace the corporate Democrats. I’m not sure how much difference there is between a third party running opportunistically as Democrats or an insurgent group (that might otherwise be a third party) positioning itself opportunistically within the Democrats. (Perhaps Bernie gets more latitude as an independent running “as” a Democrat?) In any case, it’s a real-life example of something that seems similar to what Ackerman is suggesting. (And, incidentally, I think Seth Ackerman, who writes for Jacobin, comes up with some brilliant stuff.)

      1. ChrisPacific

        I was thinking something similar the other day. I envisaged a coalition of like-minded Democrats and Republicans who would agree on common policy in certain areas (say, financial regulation, corruption or campaign finance reform) while leaving others to a conscience or party vote (abortion and all the usual wedge issues).

        1. Jeff W

          There are six representatives (four Democrats and two Republicans) in the House who do not take PAC money. Of these, two (Rep. Ro Khanna of California and Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas) do not take Leadership PAC money. O’Rourke will be challenging Sen. Ted Cruz for his Senate seat in 2018.

  14. PlutoniumKun

    Sobering article here on how the Vietnam War is still killing people in Laos.

    When Barack Obama visited Laos, as US president, in September last year, he pledged $90 million in aid to Laos for clearance. It seems not to have been paid yet, due to disagreement between the United States and Laos about how to spend it. Also, $90 million doesn’t sound quite as impressive when you realise that the US was already paying Laos $15 million a year for clearance.

    $90 million is of course the approximate cost of the cruise missiles hurled at Syria a few weeks ago.

  15. MoiAussie

    There was some discussion yesterday of how the software industry, particularly MS, puts out faulty products and then engages in a demand-driven cycle of patching and updates as “issues” are discovered and reported. These “issues” are caused by poor designs, failure to think things through, poor implementations, and inadequate testing. Business imperatives dictate that customers should be the unpaid final testers of the product, whose quality and fitness for purpose is not warranted.

    The situation is not really so different in aircraft control software, save that testing is far more extensive, and quality and fitness for purpose is warranted by certification. However, that does not prevent poor design decisions, inadequate implementations, and, most importantly, failures to anticipate how these complex systems made up of many components and subsystems will behave when their parts fail in ways that were not themselves anticipated.

    Design goals for aircraft software typically require the probability of catastrophic failures that could prevent continued safe flight and landing be less than 1 in a billion per flying hour. But it is technically impossible to bench test such software systems to validate these assurance levels – it would take tens of millennia! Thus, although new aircraft designs go through a lengthy process of live testing before release to customers, there can be no guarantee that unanticipated failure modes will not arise for the first time even many years after aircraft go into service.

    There have been two A330s which crashed with the loss of all on board, one during certification testing, and the second in service in 2009. The latter crash was attributed to a failure of airspeed sensors causing the autopilot to disconnect and leave the plane in a mode where a stall was possible, contra the expectations of the pilots. The previous year an A320 crashed during a test flight when a different type of sensor failed and the pilots missed a single warning on their instruments that should have alerted them that the plane’s flight computers were not working normally and that they should fly it manually.

    A final issue is more about design philosophy. Modern aircraft software is designed to prevent pilots taking actions that imperil the aircraft, and younger pilots have come to rely upon the aircraft “flying itself” and preventing their mistakes. When things fail, pilots are often slow to realise that they must intervene, prevented from intervening effectively, unfamiliar with how to fly the plane in a degraded control mode, or simply swamped by alarms, readouts and fault reports unlike anything they have ever seen.

    There are lessons here for those who look forward to the wonderful world of autonomous road vehicles. The difficulty of testing them adequately is probably worse than for aircraft. Owners will be the unpaid testers, and automakers will rely on the same process of patch and update to deal with issues as they are reported and analysed. People will die, due to poor designs and implementations, and unanticipated failure modes that prevent drivers intervening effectively. Economics dictates that it be so.

    1. Altandmain

      I assume you are referring to the Airport France 447 and XL 888T crashes? What is the third incident?

      Automation has also been blamed for the 2013 Asiana Boeing 777 crash in San Francisco.

      1. MoiAussie

        The first was “Flight 129“, where among the reported causes were lack of visual indication of autopilot mode, crew overconfidence in expected aircraft response, and slow crew reactions.

        Also for A330, the serious QF72 pitching incident in 2008 is a software problem.
        Report here. Key content:

        Although the FCPC algorithm for processing AOA data was generally very effective, it could not manage a scenario where there were multiple spikes in AOA from one ADIRU that were 1.2 seconds apart. The occurrence was the only known example where this design limitation led to a pitch-down command in over 28 million flight hours on A330/A340 aircraft, and the aircraft manufacturer subsequently redesigned the AOA algorithm to prevent the same type of accident from occurring again.

        It’s a perfect example of a software design fault that took many years to show itself.

    2. Anonymous

      Any pilots on this blog?

      From the Quantas article:

      the Captain said: “how can the plane stall and over-speed at the same time? The aircraft is telling him it is flying at both maximum and minimum speeds”

      I believe this occurs in a high altitude stall. At high altitude, if the air speed increases beyond a certain point, the plane can enter “coffin corner.” A mach buffet can occur and the plane loses lift and stalls.

      I think this occurred with AF 447.

      The San Francisco Asiana crash was not due to automation. It was due to the pilots’ inability to manually fly the plane. The Captain was ignoring warning signs and, for cultural reasons, the subordinate officers were loathe to point this out.

  16. justanotherprogressive

    Why are economists giving Piketty the cold shoulder?
    Great article!

    I think the answer is obvious. The economics world is currently controlled by neoliberal theology and of course, Piketty is heresy.

    It is interesting that there are some economists using Piketty’s ideas but not actually giving him credit for it. Maybe they are just afraid that their careers would be destroyed if they openly support Piketty?

    1. Enquiring Mind

      Piketty, Hudson, Black, many others face what is essentially a no-platform policy among standard neo-classical blogs. I’ve attempted to get discussions going but the comments go down the memory hole quickly.

      1. chuck roast

        Indeed, an interesting and much needed wrap-up. Note the complete absence of the word “monopoly.” “Uncompetitive” is the operative word here. I suppose it keeps people reading.
        Of course Baran and Sweezy discussed this ad nauseoum a couple of generations ago. But mentioning this would be a ever so unkind. Any discussion of Monopoly Capital back in the day was cut off with the rejoinder, “Yes, well, the discipline of Economics is value neutral!” So, we wrap-up all of our narrative in the limited, conventional language of neoclassical marginalism. Aren’t we nice!
        Any mention of the crushing of organized labor since Taft-Hartley is off the table as well.
        So, this is progress?
        Well, f**k them!!
        The only thing of real interest here was the “substitution” of low-cost capital for the declining marginal productivity of capital. This should be of interest to the commenters above about the vicious, and seemingly unstoppable, gentrification of all of our urban areas.

    1. Katharine

      I’ve always thought taking libertarian thinking to its logical conclusion would return us to some sort of Hobbesian state of nature.

      1. Synoia

        I must disagree. The Libertarian mind set was instrumental in driving us to the depths in the dark Ages.

        I see no distinction between Libertarianism and absence of the Rule of Law. Not even warlords could be that bad.

        1. ambrit

          Warlords popped up because “it” was so bad. Someone had to step in and impose some sort of order.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Can I make another pitch for a series of articles that appeared in NC a while back, under the general title “Journey Into a Libertarian Future”? Looks like a lot of what those articles portend is part and parcel of what the libertarians that have managed to accumulate wealth/power have saddled and hobbled and strangled us mopes with… It’s in six parts.

    2. alethiea33

      i was thinking of moving to oregon, actually i’ve thought of it more than once over the years. recently i did a little deeper research than just looking at home sales and demographics. when i discovered how few towns in oregon have public libraries, i decided to forget about oregon for the time being.

  17. visitor

    ‘We All Wish Macron Success’ Der Speigel. Interview with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

    It is actually Spiegel. Speigel in German means something like “puke-gel”.

    It is interesting that the cover title of the Spiegel edition (with a large portrait of Macron) is:

    Teurer Freund: Emmanuel Macron rettet Europa …und Deutschland soll zahlen.

    Which in English gives

    Dear Friend: Emmanuel Macron saves Europe …and Germany shall pay.

    The adjective “teuer”, as the English “dear”, means both “close to our heart” and “expensive”.

    Which gives an idea of the Germans’ disinclination to alter current policies in the EU, even if changes would be to their advantage.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      The Doctor Strangelove interview begins with herr finance minister pointing out that macron, instead of having the French La Marseillaise playing as he steps to the podium, plays “ode to joy”…

      for those not as krazypants anti gnatzee as me, one might not realize the value of the good doctor starting the interview by concluding…

      ” a very powerful symbol…macron is our ally”…

      Ode to joy was “mein dummkopfs” favorite song, insisting it be played for his birthday and at the climactic moment of the Reichsmusiktage

      It’s probably all just an unfortunate coincidence…no malice or evil intent in this sad reality…

      1. ambrit

        Isn’t the “Ode to Joy” the unofficial “anthem” of the EU? That sends a really powerful message.

      2. Carolinian

        C’mon it’s a catchy tune.

        Also the climax of one of my movie faves–Immortal Beloved.

  18. Alex Morfesis

    Happy mothers day to all the momma bears in nc land…we were all baby bears once…May you have a stress free and peaceful day….and to the lady bears who may not have directly been momma bears…it is your day too…you probably emotionally were somebodies momma bear along the way…peace and prosperity…

    1. alethiea33

      ty alex. i was very surprised to be handed a carnation by the cashier at my local supermarket today. since i didn’t raise children of my own, it was the first time anyone ever wished me happy mother’s day. i was surprised by how touched and pleased i was. the young cashier was clearly enjoying that part of her job.

      i passed the carnation on to a lovely lady who is often out walking downtown. i saw her walking in small circles in the park, head down–she has good days and not so good days. her face lit up. i did not say happy mother’s day.

      we all need to momma bear one another, all the time. that is what sanity looks like.

  19. craazyboy

    Airbelly wanted to make a song about Fallen Angels working as Airport security bouncers. But I convinced him I got one already.

    Shrike – 60 Ton Fallen Angel

    You think you be flying
    High in the sky.
    Country below you
    Driving right by.

    Next thing you see,
    A Shrike down the row.
    Head scrapping the ceiling
    A 60 ton troll.
    Nowhere to run to
    And everyone kno/..oh..oh…ohws

    The Shrike he does grab you
    Out the door you do go
    Passengers waving
    Goodby to your toes.

    Down to the ground
    Ever faster in tow.
    To the Earth force we know as
    The fault of you’re ow..oh.oh.ohn.

    You breath slips a…wa..ayy.

    Have a bad…da..ayy.

    You hit the ground tumbling
    A white flash you will see
    Impaling your body
    The Shrike thorny tree.

    The Thorns they are Roman
    Many more than just
    Why am I here?
    The Shrike watch over me.


  20. Kim Kaufman


    Report: sealed indictments issued against Donald Trump, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn
    By Bill Palmer

    “The indictments against Manafort, Flynn, and others are ostensibly aimed at demonstrating their guilt to the public, and thereby helping to further demonstrate Trump’s guilt by association. But unlike Trump, the others can indeed be arrested and tried for crimes they conspired with Trump to commit, so the indictments can also be used to get them to flip on Trump and provide further evidence against him – sealing his fate even further.”

    1. Alex Morfesis

      Even if true, grand jury paperwork today is not worth the used toilet paper it is written on…what was designed originally as a citizenry based capacity to police govt corruption or the refusal of law officers to do a fair job by selective enforcement has devolved into a newshole theatre to promote govt officials into higher office…

      It began with congressional changes to rule 6 in 1946, reducing and removing effective citizenry control of the process to the point today where prosecutors and law enforcement openly lie, withhold and mislead grand juries knowing there is zero penalty for such fraud…

      One could convince a bunch of sharia loving shia mullahs that pork was halal and lamb was haram in a grand jury setting in america today…

    2. Yves Smith

      This is a completely unreliable site.

      And there is no way there are indictment.

      Comey said the Russia investigation was stalled for 2 reasons:

      1. He asked the DoJ for help with subpoenas and warrants. That means they are still doing spadwork.

      2. He said certain things couldn’t go forward with no deputy director. Rosenstein arrived 2 weeks ago.

      There is no way they are close to indicting anyone, let alone Trump. This is a complete fabrication.

    3. Yves Smith

      This is a completely unreliable site.

      And there is no way there are indictment.

      Comey said the Russia investigation was stalled for 2 reasons:

      1. He asked the DoJ for help with subpoenas and warrants. That means they are still doing spadework.

      2. He said certain things couldn’t go forward with no deputy director. Rosenstein arrived 2 weeks ago.

      There is no way they are close to indicting anyone, let alone Trump. This is a complete fabrication.

  21. paul

    Sorry to bump this,but I think its important

    Monsanto gets worse: Don’t know if its been linked before

    Sherman County may be issuing a Court Order on May 22, 2017, to quarantine Azure Farms and possibly to spray the whole farm with poisonous herbicides, contaminating them with Milestone, Escort and Roundup herbicides.

    This will destroy all the efforts Azure Farms has made for years to produce the very cleanest and healthiest food humanly possible. About 2,000 organic acres would be impacted; that is about 2.8 times the size of the City of London, England, and 1.5 times the size of the city center of Philadelphia that could be sprayed with noxious, toxic, polluting herbicides.

    The county would then put a lien on the farm to pay for the expense of the labor and chemicals used.

    Large scale organic farming, this must not stand!

  22. Jen

    “In the United States, our approach to solving Appalachian poverty doesn’t differ substantially from our approach to solving African poverty. In both cases, outsiders came in to exploit resources and left generations of poverty in their wake. While the process was substantially more extreme, racist, and violent in Africa, in both cases conservative political leaders think those left behind economically should just make better decisions and stop being poor. That approach will not work in either instance. Neither will sending food and secondhand clothing. And don’t even get me started on the idiotic and theologically-flawed thinking that leads fundamentalist Christians to think they can solve poverty by evangelizing the poor folk.

    When my mother died, she had fifty-six cents in her bank account. Had someone told her they really needed that fifty-six cents, she would have given it to them without a second thought. She lived in a world that led her to understand the importance – no, the necessity – of helping others.”

  23. voxhumana

    In 1989 I made my “official” opera debut at the Spoleto Festival (having just graduated from the Met’s Young Artist Apprentice program) as “Count Almaviva” opposite Renee Fleming’s “Countess.” We were both no-name youngsters at the time… one of us retained that distinction over the years, and for good reason. Mine was a bright timbred and quite lyric baritone, well suited to the intimate Dock Street Theatre in Charleston but not likely to find much work on the big and important venues of the opera world. Renee, well, I’ll never forget the first rehearsal, all jaws on the floor, as we marveled at her remarkable singing and wondered why she wasn’t already famous. I sang 16 performances with her in two seasons (Charleston and Italy) before the business finally noticed the astounding artistry of this woman destined to be one of history’s great sopranos. Indeed, the critic for the NYTimes (I’ll spare him the embarrassment of saying who) gave her a poor review and even said that Renee’s voice sounded “damaged” (how did he keep that job for so long, huh?). Remember that the next time you believe anything you read in the long-compromised paper of record.

    Needless to say, it is all quite a memory for me and you’ll perhaps forgive the immodesty if I mention that, running into her years later, she told me I was her second favorite “Count” after the great Englishman, Sir Thomas Allen. Quite a compliment and one she needn’t have given but for her warm and gracious personality. I salute Renee with love, respect and great appreciation and feel quite privileged to have shared the stage with her, albeit briefly. Hers is one of those one in a million voices that come along every 100 years or so and if you had the opportunity to see and hear her live you may not even know how lucky you are, as were we all.

    1. ambrit

      That must have been something to experience. That she is a Master at her art, and a nice person gives hope to the rest of us. We do not have to cave in to meanness and evil to navigate life.

  24. oho

    cue the Judean Peoples’ Front. Or is it the People’s Front of Judea?

    But now, there’s a civil war brewing among Reddit’s anti-Trump communities.

    The MarchAgainstTrump subreddit, which has more than 54,000 subscribers, is being accused of deploying bots—non-human accounts—to spread spam throughout Reddit. Not only is that one of the site’s more significant breaches of protocol, it also could undercut the real organizing work being performed by real humans, say the members of the subreddit AntiTrumpAlliance, which has some 2,351 subscribers and the subreddit r/esist, which boasts nearly 85,000 followers.

    “MAT [MarchAgainstTrump] is a wart in the anti-Trump community. We need to dig it out and eradicate it before we’re smeared,” reads one post from a leader of the AntiTrumpAlliance.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Sounds a lot like the kind of stuff that goes on between the warbands and gunmen in that place we call Syria, and Yemen, and other “combat venues” in the great world-spanning, network-centric, interoperable Battlespace conjured up by our Imperial overlords and their contractors… “A Guide to the Many Groups Fighting in Iraq and Syria,”

      Dated information, article from 2014. All this reminds me of a joke I can’t remember about the differences that caused the Third Baptist Church in some southern town to schism off from the Second Baptist Church. Not much ecumenism left in our sorry human-mangled world any more. Maybe the only stability and longevity is in the form of small groups… But that presumes stability and longevity, and maybe comity and commensalism, are in any way significant human goals…

    2. different clue

      I wonder if that is behind some of the “Putin Diddit” snarky-poo captioned photo-meme type anti Trump pictures I have been seeing on Reddit.

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