Links 5/29/17

Great white shark jumps into Australian fisherman’s boat AFP

BA flight disruption spills over into third day FT. The CEO blames a power supply problem. I dunno…

Route to Air Travel Discomfort Starts on Wall Street NYT

Get ready for the coming business travel crisis ComputerWorld

Britain’s Second Empire (podcast)Tax Justice Network (RS). “We talk to film director Michael Oswald about his new film The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire…. Also, we discuss booming Sweden’s ‘reverse-Trumpism’: its economy grew almost twice as fast as the US last year – and it wasn’t achieved through cutting taxes.”

US consumers’ trust deficit is permanent FT

The addict brokers: Middlemen profit as desperate patients are ‘treated like paychecks’ Stat

The NRA Would Like to Insure You Now Politico (DK).

Army Fraud Crackdown Uses Broad Net to Catch Small Fish, Some Unfairly NYT. A bounty referral program.

Car owners are holding their vehicles for longer, which is both good and bad CNBC

Why Americans Aren’t Hitting the Road This Summer WSJ

Let’s Watch Pittsburgh’s Mayor Slowly Realize Uber Is Not His Friend Vice

Why I think Stocks Won’t Crash Spectacularly but May Zigzag Lower in Agonizing Ups-and-Downs, for Decades Wolf Street. Hedgies as automatic stabilizers for the market? Hmm.

The Zombification of Canada Bond Economics

The world’s most toxic town: the terrible legacy of Zambia’s lead mines Guardian

Innovation Won’t Overcome Stagnation Satyajit Das, Bloomberg


Corbyn project is ‘just beginning’ whatever happens in the election, Labour campaign chief says Independent

Jeremy Corbyn’s Surprising Gains Robert Kuttner, HuffPo

The signs are there – is Jeremy Corbyn going to win? New Musical Express. Ah, the NME takes me back… This is a case for optimism, but such tealeaf-reading often doesn’t work on this side of the pond…

Mystery deepens over Blair’s secret talks with a Labour donor calling for a breakaway party as it emerges former PM’s Downing Street fundraiser ‘Lord Cashpoint’ joined the meeting Daily Mail


China v US: Who needs allies? Lowy Interpreter. The logic applies to Europe as well.

Early China Data Shows Slowdown Biting Amid Credit Tightening Bloomberg

Is China’s economy turning Japanese? FT

Chinese Citizens Want the Government to Rank Them Foreign Policy

In China, maggots finish plates, and food waste France24

In China, Umbrellas and Basketballs Join the Sharing Economy NYT

The great tea robbery: how the British stole China’s secrets and seeds – and broke its monopoly on the brew SCMP (J-LS).


One Thing Modi Hasn’t Brought: Jobs Bloomberg

Loss of Land, Shifting Cultural, Political Terrain Fuel Jharkhand Mob Lynchings The Wire (J-LS).

Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat defends use of human shield in Kashmir, says dirty war to be fought through innovation First Post (J-LS). Ah. “Innovation.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Angela Merkel says Germany can no longer rely on Donald Trump’s America: ‘We Europeans must take our destiny into our own hands’ Independent

Poll Finds Germans Agree with Trump on NATO Global Handelsblatt. “According to the latest 2017 Global Attitudes survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 53 percent of German respondents said Berlin should not take military action ‘if Russia got into a serious military conflict with one of its neighboring countries that is our NATO ally.'”

Germany to decide about troop withdrawal from Turkey by mid-June Reuters

Nation-Building, Nationalism and Wars Alberto Alesina, Bryony Reich, Alessandro Riboni, NBER Working Paper No. 23435. “Starting in the late 18th century, states switched from mercenaries to a mass army by conscription. In order for the population to accept to fight and endure war, the government elites began to provide public goods, reduced rent extraction and adopted policies to homogenize the population with nation-building.”

Kill Me Now

You Can Now Donate to a Mark Zuckerberg for President Campaign Fortune

Hillary Clinton for 2020 ‘not a good question,’ says Rahm Emanuel The Hill. “‘She has to decide whether that’s in her heart,’ he eventually said.”

Wake up, liberals: There will be no 2018 “blue wave,” no Democratic majority and no impeachment Salon. From Salon’s executive editor. Should be a wake-up call to the Democrat establishment, but that assumes facts not in evidence.

The Democrats Need a New Message Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone (voteforno6).

Hillary Clinton is okay. Are you? Carl Beijer

New Cold War

Alternately charming and boorish, Trump plays the role of a lifetime overseas WaPo. Remarkably favorable headline for WaPo.

Trump Submits to Neocon Orthodoxy Counterpunch

Military’s clout at White House could shift U.S. foreign policy WaPo

A Vision of Trump at War Foreign Affairs

The Terror News Cycle LRB

Sec. John Kelly: Intelligence Leaks Are ‘Darn Close To Treason’ NBC

Homeland security chief defends Kushner’s alleged proposal for ‘back channel’ to the Russians as ‘a good thing’ WaPo

“Anatoly, you will not believe what the idiots proposed to me!” (Dramatization) Sic Semper Tyrannis (CL). Important, beyond the hilarious headline.

Trump Transition

Defense hawks gird for budget brawl The Hill

America’s $1.1 Trillion National Security Budget POGO

To keep crops from rotting in the field, farmers say they need Trump to let in more temporary workers LA Times. As I keep saying, immigration policy cheap labor policy.

Donald Trump’s War on Journalism Has Begun. But Journalists Are Not His Main Target. The Intercept

Trump: The Presidency in Peril Elizabeth Drew, NYRB

Health Care

Taking Single-Payer Seriously Jacobin (MR).

The challenges in setting up a California single-payer system are daunting — but not insurmountable Michael Hiltzick, LA Times

California’s Surprisingly Cheap Single Payer Plan Matt Bruenig

Class Warfare

What Will Kill Neoliberalism The Nation. From early May, still interesting. William Darity, Jr.:

Suppose, however, that Marx was correct in his expectation that capitalism, like other social modes of production before it, will wind down gradually, but wrong in his expectation that it would be succeeded by a “dictatorship of the proletariat,” a civilization without class stratification. Suppose, indeed, that the age of capitalism is actually reaching its conclusion—but one that doesn’t involve the ascension of the working class. Suppose, instead, that we consider the existence of a third great social class vying with the other two for social dominance: what was seen in the work of such disparate thinkers as James Burnham, Alvin Gouldner, Barbara Ehrenreich, and John Ehrenreich as the managerial class.

Dovetails rather neatly both with Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal and Glennon’s views on “institutionalized bureaucratic autocracy” (one aspect of which would be The Blob) in Links yesterday.

DeLong: The Future of Work: Automation and Labor: Inclusive AI: Technology and Policy for a Diverse Human Future Brad DeLong

The inevitable future of Slack is your boss using it to spy on you Quartz (CL). This:

[A] Swedish-Swiss industrial engineering company, ABB, says it has a solution: It has given some of its employees a kind of automated “do not disturb” sign: custom-designed traffic lights for their desks.

The FlowLight system evaluates how busy someone is by measuring their combined mouse and keyboard activity against that person’s baseline average. When activity is in the top 9% of their typical range, the light turns red, letting colleagues know that it’s the wrong time to amble over with a funny anecdote or any question that’s not absolutely burning. Non-emergencies can wait until the light is green.

As the article points out:

It’s easy to imagine this turning into an Orwellian nightmare: men and women planted at their desks, frantically typing and scrolling to keep their lights red, red, always red.

But it’s actually worse. The assumption is that when you’re typing, you’re working. When you’re sitting quietly and thinking, you’re not working. Remind me to short ABB.

The sad reason half of Americans don’t take all their paid vacation MarketWatch

The Dumb Politics of Elite Condescension Joan C. McWilliams, NYT

Swept up in city tax sales, Baltimore churches at risk of losing property to California investor Baltimore Sun

The Art and Science of Comedic Timing New York Magazine

World Bankspeak – how to hide the failure of a mission! Bill Mitchell. References this fascinating source: Bankspeak: The Language of World Bank Reports, 1946–2012 Stanford Literary Lab.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Links on by .

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

    “Anatoly, you will not believe what the idiots proposed to me!” (Dramatization) Sic Semper Tyrannis (CL). Important, beyond the hilarious headline.

    So, what is revealed in this Washpost story?

    1. US SIGINT successfully intercepts and decrypts what must surely be encrypted Russian diplomatic communications. You may think it is obvious that this is true but it is not obvious.

    We can decrypt Russian messages….perhaps. We certainly can decrypt the Russian messages Russians want us to decrypt….though I suspect this was merely a leak….

    I would say what is revealed is that at of the title wave of information that hits the news media and decides is worth printing, any story that Trump is “colluding” is front page news…

  2. Bandit

    Hillary Clinton for 2020 ‘not a good question,’ says Rahm Emanuel The Hill. “‘She has to decide whether that’s in her heart,’ he eventually said.”

    What heart?

    1. paul

      The Trump/Russia dirty tricks machine would just launch an astroturf ‘hearter’ movement, demanding the release of X Rays of what lies within the wretched husk.

    2. Alex Morfesis

      Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the craziest of them all…and don’t mess this one up either or out the window you go with the rest of…

    3. Benedict@Large

      Considering the main theme of Shattered, I suspect her campaign would be besieged by reporters asking her if she’s figured out yet why she wants to be President.

      1. Arizona Slim

        And her answer will resemble the one that Ted Kennedy gave to “60 Minutes” in 1980.

    4. Ernesto Lyon

      “We have to see if the Seth Rich thing gets any traction” said Rahm.

      If Rich was the leaker and it gets out, that means all the people and organizations pushing the Russia story are liars or dupes: majority of the MSM and DNC.

  3. fresno dan

    Trump: The Presidency in Peril Elizabeth Drew, NYRB

    Though younger and more composed, Kushner is a lot more like Trump than is generally understood.
    Trump has thrust project after project upon him (the only top aide he could trust), and Kushner, who has a high self-regard, has taken on a preposterous list of assignments. He was able somehow (likely through his own leaks) to gain a reputation—along with his wife, Ivanka Trump—as someone who could keep the president calm and prevent him from acting impulsively or unwisely.
    First, for a guy that apparently no one in the public has heard his voice, it is one of those strange things how a “reputation” of being “the adult in the room” or that Kushner acts WISELY gets started and ACCEPTED.

    I have certainly read quite a bit over the years of how Trump himself is a yuuuge leaker.
    But to the extent Trump is in danger, it is probably not “national security” as much as old fashioned grifting, either by himself or by Kushner, acting for Trump OR for Kushner. There are endless possibilities in the age of sanctions to see a situation and decide that if your gonna change a policy, might as well play the markets at the same time. I’m sure Trump is looking at is as: “I was gonna do that anyway – why not take advantage of an opportunity?”

  4. MoiAussie

    DeLong: The Future of Work: Automation and Labor: Inclusive AI

    Refreshing! Something sensible about AI and jobs. Insights but no answers. From an economist too.

    The market economy will fund AI that replaces workers in capital-intensive production processes. Such are large scale and oligopolistic: firms profit from R&D because they capture a significant portion of efficiencies in their value chains. There is no equivalent market force funding AI that assists and amplifies workers in labor-intensive production processes.

    The first is poison for equity and inclusion. The second is gold.

    That second is one thing this NGO institution that surrounds us would be good at doing, and needs to do.

  5. Don Pelton

    “Dovetails rather neatly both with Robert Frank’s Listen, Liberal and Glennon’s views on “institutionalized bureaucratic autocracy” (one aspect of which would be The Blob) in Links yesterday.”

    s/b “Thomas Frank”

  6. funemployed

    Given that the Fed’s had the money hose on full bore for near a decade, and is too captured by wall street to even consider shrinking the debt load through inflation or, heaven forfend, MMT inspired actions. Given further that repeatedly bailing out bankers on the backs of taxpayers is likely to be political suicide in coming decades. I wonder how exactly Wolf thinks gov’ts will be able to keep stanching the repeated crashes he predicts?

    Not sure about the Japan analogy either. 2017 ain’t 1985.

    I’m no expert on this stuff though. Curious what some of the more financially erudite readers here think.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Fed has been trying to inflate with money hose on full bore.

      And the kind of inflation the Fed wants is not wage inflation. My guess is debt-shrinking inflation, absolutely or, in relation to financed assets, relatively*.

      So, yes, the Fed considers shrinking the debt load through inflation.

      *If you borrow $10 to purchase a $20 asset, and it is worth $30 tomorrow, your debt, relatively speaking, has shrunk.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        “*If you borrow $10 to purchase a $20 asset, and it is worth $30 tomorrow, your debt, relatively speaking, has shrunk.”

        But, has it really? So you sell the asset for $30 and pay back the $10 loan. Great, you have $20 to the good. But can you buy a similar asset for $20? Aren’t you going to have to pay $30 for it? So won’t you again be $10 in debt?

        Isn’t this what the housing conundrum is about? You get a loan to buy a house for $200,000, and sell that house for $400,000 – you end up with $200,000 after you pay back the original loan. But you still need a house to live in and the going rate is now $400,000. So you use the $200,000 to buy a new house – don’t you still owe $200,000? Are you really better off?

        Inflation as a way out of debt has always seemed like a trap to me…..

        1. fresno dan

          May 29, 2017 at 12:44 pm

          And who gets to borrow that much???
          Who (creditors!!!), when the game of musical chairs ends, gets the bailouts?
          Seriously, why is that? Economically, why are the creditors bailed out and not the debtors? (morally, weren’t many, if not most, of the creditors imprudent, careless, and even criminal???
          Isn’t “moral hazard” even more of a problem when one considers how much money a banker can swindle, and the incentives to swindle SO MUCH compared to a guy buying one middle class house?)
          Is there really an economic reason? Or is it as I suspect, those with power get to decide.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Who gets to borrow that much?

            Here is who asset inflation benefits:

            Borrow to buy $200,000 house.

            Borrow more to buy another $200,000 house.

            Sell the second, live in the first home.

            Who gets to borrow that much?

            It’s not hard to figure out, for some, inflation as a way out of debt is good.

            “Buy 3 more houses!!!!”

            The Fed can not be said it “is too captured by wall street to even consider shrinking the debt load through inflation.”

            My guess is the Fed is trying for (asset, not wage) inflation.

            And I think it’s bad, because, to clarify, it’s good for some (who can borrow a lot), and not good for many others (you and me).

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The Fed wants asset inflation, not wage inflation.

          And asset inflation is bad, for those in cash or no cash (i.a. asset-less).

          In your example;

          But, has it really? So you sell the asset for $30 and pay back the $10 loan. Great, you have $20 to the good. But can you buy a similar asset for $20? Aren’t you going to have to pay $30 for it? So won’t you again be $10 in debt?

          The case of not borrowing, but keeping that $10 in cash (at what? 1% a year?) is worse than having $20 after selling the asset.

          My guess is the Fed wants debt-shrinking inflation.

          Not that it’s good.

        3. Alex Morfesis

          Actually most usually use only 100k, borrow 300k and burp the other 100k on cars, toys or vacayz that screw up the game instead of saving it…from 1955 – 95 it worked since back then there were not 3 or 4 cars in the driveway…and everyone was not charmed by “once in a lifetime” vacayz or stainless “steal” rolfgang puke dust bunny kitchens with hanging copper pans for events you never have…or orgy glass triple sized showers for a body you have not seen in 25 years and shagging no one wants to do after the tenth time…

        4. UserFriendly

          The only thing in the CPI basket that inflates is the cost of college. That alone has to be responsible for all the inflation we’ve seen since 2000.

    1. jawbone

      Cuomo the Younger has managed to make his father’s name anathema. Alas, poor Mario, we knew ye well, but this son of yours!!!

      1. Procopius

        There seem to still be lots and lots of people in N’Yawk who love him. Mostly Republicans, I think, but there must be grift left over for those who would become Grand Sachems in the Tammany Club.

  7. paul

    RE: Blair’s secret talks

    I think his only plan could be to announce the new party after the election to and get the bedwetters in the PLP to cross the floor to weaken Corbyn, who looks like he’s going to do well enough to stay leader at least.

    Its a bit odd to cross the floor to an entirely new party with no elected members though.

    The idea of him creating a party from the ground up is quite ridiculous.
    We’ve already got the blue tories.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      He probably has MPs willing to join. Blair’s problem is he like so many politicians is a legend in his own mind.

      Its really no different a delusion than Andy Cuomo believing he can be President or Booker’s shock voting against prescription drug importation would hurt him politically. After a time, they believe their Third Way BS.

      “Hillary knows how to win.” Based on her campaigns’ efforts over two elections where they didn’t understand delegate allocation or the electoral college, this is probably not true. This same line was used by Hillary supporters because once she bullied her way into a safe seat where she still won but significantly underperformed Gore on the ballot. There is no evidence Hillary has a clue how to win an election without rigging the game, but its been said often enough people started to believe it, even when there is less evidence for the Clinton political acumen as there is for “OMG Russia.”

      Blair campaigned hard for “Remain.” He’s less popular than Margaret Thatcher in the UK. What constituency could he reach? He can only hurt “Remain.”

  8. LT

    “A newly formed progressive Super PAC named “Disrupt for America” is now accepting donations for their cause: convincing Zuckerberg to run in 2020.
    “We will have to convince the American people to convince Mark,” a spokesperson for the PAC said in an email, noting that 2020 is still awhile away…”

    Pretend to be surprised…

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “We will have to convince the American people to convince Mark,”……

      So, would these be the same american people who are currently being relentlessly regaled with the national security horrors being perpetrated daily by the young, wealthy, politically inexperienced, overly egotistical Jared Kushner?

      Still chuckling at the image of a Trump / zuck “debate.”

    2. edmondo

      The intelligence of Trump, the warmth of Hillary and the physical attraction of Bernie all wrapped up in one package.

      What could go wrong? The kids at the DNC are dreaming about the paychecks.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I can’t speak for the Zuck’s inner circle. Who knows what they believe? I suspect much of the noise is simply a grifting operation.

        Zuck is way to weird to ever run for office, but there is a Facebook alumna who has charisma and has written an inane book, Sheryl Sandberg. She won’t go anywhere either partially because Hillary already took up much of token candidate oxygen and relied on nostalgia to win the primaries.

        “No, no, no, Im not the right person to run for office, but my friend Sheryl, who has read every Harry Potter book, has always inspired me.” -Zuck 2018

        For many of the neolibs of the world who don’t have a handle on the pulse of the electorate (nominating Hillary was a disaster after all), they see a wide open 2020 race especially with a non-politician in the White House. Many of these people don’t quite grasp what retail politics is actually like and won’t simply be able to win in New Hamshire and Iowa where you don’t need much money to run.

        1. Pat

          Oh, dear god no. Between her women’s help book “Lean In” and her current “my life sucked for awhile but I want to make more money off it by pretending my experience is universal” book about grief and moving on I have had enough of Sandberg to last a lifetime, and that was just from listening to her talk about them.

          I hope you are right about Clinton and the token oxygen, because I do get you are right about the charisma. Although Booker still works a room better than she does.

  9. roadrider

    re; The inevitable future of Slack is your boss using it to spy on you

    The 4+ years I have left until retirement can’t go fast enough …

    1. funemployed

      Have you considered minesweeper? I think a red leave me alone feature would be a wonderful minesweeper feature. Also sporkle quizzes are fun if you need keyboard activity. Maybe alternating? New games could/will be designed to beat this. The designing of some will likely light the magic read light. This is an eminently beatable technology.

      1. Michael

        Not really. Doesn’t it compare your current rate against your historical rate? So if you’re doing Sporcle quizzes, the light is going to be green whenever you are doing actual work.

        To really beat it, you will have to go much slower than you are able for the first few years on the job. But that’s really the way to beat jobs these days anyways.

  10. Alex

    The interesting part about the paper about mass warfare leading to mass welfare (sorry, couldn’t resist) is whether the switch back to professional (=mercenary) armies leads to negative consequences. Probably too little time has elapsed to make conclusions but it would be interesting to examine the difference between the countries that have clung to the draft and those that have done away with it – would we see the decrease in the power of working class, civic participation and stuff like that

  11. voislav

    RE: automated “do not disturb” sign

    Actually it’s the other way around. The key feature is “When activity is in the top 9% of their typical range, the light turns red”. Working harder will compress the typical activity range, making it harder to turn the light red.

    Eventually, 100% becomes your typical range and the light never turns red. Unless you are somehow able to continuously keep increasing the level of performance. It’s kind of a employment treadmill, it keeps going faster and it’s just a question of time before you fall off.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Great catch. The way those pesky percents work keeps gettin’ in the way of all them brilliant new ideas.

      1. clinical wasteman

        Quite. But it never seems to stop them. In one sense this is the decades-old doctrine of ‘kaizen/continuous improvement’ [] reduced to its essential absurdity. It also reflects the managerial obsessions with ‘excellence’ (a word they like because it has no particular meaning except that the onus is always on workers to ‘improve’) and ‘disruption’ (i.e. doing a job well the same way for an extended period = ‘slacking’), and in a way something similar is already in use by companies employing ‘freelance’ care workers, plumbers, electricians etc. who gps-track the workers’ vehicles and rank them by time number of jobs per day, with the lowest-ranked losing their ‘freelance’ jobs. (Sorry no link: I know this from talking to people directly affected.)
        But what strikes me as most telling about this particular tracking system is the part where every worker can consult her colleagues’ ‘score’ at any time: i.e. it’s a particularly nasty way to set up constant competition and undermine solidarity between workers. Which, come to think of it, is also just like the other examples mentioned. Even in ‘kaizen’, which at companies like Toyota involved an element of intra-group co-operation, small groups or ‘teams’ of workers, or whole departments, would effectively be competing with one another.

        1. clarky90

          Man, I must be caught in a time loop! I thought it was 2017- Nope, it is “the New-1935”

          Stakhanov – Stalin’s Shock-Worker Supreme!

          “The brave, new communist world needed hardy shock troops to man its industry, and heroes to offer moral leadership….

          On August 31, 1935, Alexey Stakhanov, a thirty-year-old miner working at the central Irmino Mine in the Donetsk Basin, hewed 102 tonnes of coal during his six-hour shift. … the Party launched the Stakhanovite movement. The Stakhanovites… applied new, innovative techniques to achieve stupendous results. They called for the general adoption of these techniques and, to bursts of applause, thanked Comrade Stalin for, as Stakhanov put it, “the happy life of our country, the happiness and glory of our magnificent fatherland”.

          Output above the norm was remunerated at higher rates of pay according to a progressive system. In this way, earnings reached dizzying heights. Some conference participants indicated what sort of consumer goods they would buy with their earnings. Stalin captured the upbeat mood of the conference when, by way of explaining how such records were only possible in the “land of socialism”, he uttered the phrase, “Life has become better, and happier too”. Widely disseminated, and even set to song, Stalin’s words served as the motto of the movement.

          …..Advertisements for perfume in the “Stakhanovets” magazine, articles about Stakhanovites on shopping sprees, photographs of Stakhanovites sharing their happiness with their families, news footage showing them driving new cars – presented to them as gifts – and moving into comfortable apartments ……Ghostwriters often constructed such narratives as testimonials to Stalin’s wise ‘genial’ leadership and the achievements of Soviet socialism.

          1. clinical wasteman

            Kia ora Clarky,
            we seem to disagree on several other points, but please accept my applause for hitting this particular nail so squarely on its head.

            1. clarky90

              KIa Ora clinical wasteman

              I have spent most of my life, “mistaken” (temporarily confused). A disagreement, a discussion, a sharing of wisdom/experience are opportunities for me to find better “ways”! I have learned so much from the NC commentariat over the years. So, thanks, greetings and salute to you!

  12. PlutoniumKun

    Is China’s economy turning Japanese? FT

    Well worth reading, a very good overview. Interesting comments BTL too The parallels between China now and Japan in the late 1990’s are striking.

    The comparisons have felt more compelling as the warnings of a China bubble — or a concoction of inter-related bubbles — have intensified over the past four years. “China has halved its growth rate and doubled its debt over the past eight years,” says Fraser Howie, an expert on the country’s financial system. “It’s not a great correlation.”

    There are all sorts of similarities, not just in terms of debt, but also indicators of bubble economics, such as the purchase of western art at grossly inflated prices.

    The only real difference seems to be that China is not allowing the Yuan to rise relative to the dollar, as Japan did with the Plaza accord. Another point made in the article is that about 2/3’s of Chinas internal debt is essentially owed by government entities to other government entities. So in that sense it is theoretically manageable (although in truth the Japanese system wasn’t too dissimilar, and much of the internal debt was either ignored or, over time, monetized away).

    One obvious question for non-Chinese is who they will take down with them if they hit the sort of wall Japan did. Australia is an obvious one – it may already be in recession. And the link above:

    The Zombification of Canada Bond Economics

    Is another obvious candidate.

  13. PlutoniumKun

    China v US: Who needs allies? Lowy Interpreter. The logic applies to Europe as well.

    I’ve always wondered why so few in the US policy establishment don’t ask the obvious question as to why having ‘allies’ all over the world is so important. The Chinese seem content not to have any overt ‘allies’ and the Russians, while having a number of quasi client States (or usually, specific regimes), only seem to do it as a ‘defensive’ act.

    Alliances are not always strategic assets, and sometimes they are clear liabilities. It all depends on the circumstances, and in the circumstances of Asia today, China doesn’t need alliances to achieve its strategic goals. And whether America does depends on how you define its goals.

    Let’s start with China. The argument that China needs allies to fulfil its ambitions to lead Asia is based on the assumption that Chinese regional leadership would have to work just the way America’s has done. But their situations are very different. America is not an Asian power, so its position in Asia has always depended on projecting power into the region from the Western Hemisphere.

    Allies in the Western Pacific have been essential for that, because of the bases they provide. Those bases have made it possible for the US to sustain a preponderant military presence in Asia. Without them, America would not be Asia’s primary power.

    But China is a local power in Asia. It has no need to project power across the world to lead in Asia, because it can sustain a strong military presence throughout the region from bases at home. So it does not need allies to support it.

    The usual answer of course is ‘trade’. But its very hard to see how the US has benefited from having allies and control, except with weapons sales, and that is a double edged sword – a country that spends big on US weaponry benefits the US, but it also gives that country a lot of influence in US domestic policy (just look at the Saudis).

    The Chinese in particular seem to recognise that trade will operate fine so long as everyone has something to sell. US propagation of ‘allies’ in the Middle East doesn’t stop oil and gas going to China and Japan, and it doesn’t stop the Saudis cooperating with Russia in Opec. People all over the Pacific Rim are as likely to buy Chinese mobile phones as iPhones. The US establishment always seems to forget that every country has interests, and they can see becoming a US ally as a means of exerting control over US policy as much as vice versa. Just witness how the Gulf States can manipulate the US into fighting their wars (and may well succeed in doing this with Iran). Nobody seems willing to do a cost benefit analysis of this, which is probably because too many people are making money from it.

    1. John Wright

      I remember a Japanese quoted in the run-up to the Iraq War I of Bush Senior as Washington was pushing Japan to join the “coalition” to fight Iraq War I.

      He commented, “we don’t care who owns the oil, as long as they sell it to us,:

      This was a very pragmatic response.

      In my view, oil producing countries around the world act similarly, that is, always selling oil to the oil market, sometimes benefiting their citizens, sometimes only the elite

      This seems to be independent of their form of government..

      I believe US military action is partially in response to Madeleine Albright’s question of Colin Powell
      “What’s the point of you saving this superb military for, Colin, if we can’t use it?

      Cost/benefit analyses are not something to be done by the US MIC.

      Having “allies” around the world may have meant the USA converted a lot of ancient deposits of hydrocarbons into military hardware/actions to the detriment of the world and the USA..

      But downsizing the military does not seem to be an option as new “threats” always seem to surface.

      1. LifelongLib

        The U.S. could be just as pragmatic about the Middle East — “As long as we can buy all the oil we want, you can do what you like.” But our connection to Israel makes that impossible.

        1. Expat

          Oil is fungible. If Saudi wants to sell to someone else (i.e. boycott the US), then that will displace oil around the world. But as long as Saudi wants to sell oil, everyone who wants some will get it one way or another. Prices might shift around but overall levels should not rise once the initial shock is past.

      2. LT

        “But downsizing the military does not seem to be an option as new “threats” always seem to surface…”

        The only “threat” the military has been policing for over 100 years now is any country that decides they want to run their economy in a way the USA wants it to.
        From that, other threats grow from the destabilization which you can always count on when the MIC apparatchiks start writing and talking about going to “stabalize” a country.
        Straight up serious: when you hear “stabilization” that’s newspeak for “destabilization” whenever a military is involved because the main military strategy, no matter what country really, is divide and conquer and all other manuevers flow from that.
        If you ever hear the USA is going to “stabilize” a country by using diplomacy, then you would have a chance at stabilization. “Marshall Plan” for Europe after WWII has more elements that lead to stabilization than “counterinsurgency” or whatever in the ME.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Qing China needed ‘bases’ in Korea and near the border with Vietnam. Before that, bases were maintained along the old Silk Road as early as 2,000 years ago., with farmer-soldiers.

      The present day Chinese leaders are not so exceptional as to be immune from America’s folly. Historically, she had been a regional power (the region was believed to the entire world, with China in the middle, as the Middle Kingdom, and reality was what you, me, or ,n this case, what they believed to be).

      The British and the US have shown the way.

      And the next go-around, the aim will be to be a global hegemony, including owning the exclusive right to issue the global reserve currency, a fiat one at that – as, that will give it unlimited firepower*.

      Maybe the rest of the world can check their hegemony by asking them to back their new global reserve currency money with gold, or silver, in order to constraint their might.

      * A precedent has been set, and the theoretical work done.

    3. XXYY

      In the post WWII period, I think “ally” has come to mean “some other country whose internal and external politics can be dictated by the US to at least some extent.” Japan and England are “allies”; Iran and Russia are not. A willingness to host US military bases may be part of being an “ally”, but is not necessary.

      So “allies” are countries who are willing to do the US’s bidding on most matters. The colloquial term is “butt-boys.”

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The problem is of course that its a two way street. Some (like the other Anglo countries) are indeed b-boys in so many ways. But it seems to me that the US has been neatly manipulated by many different ‘allies’, from Israel to the Gulf States to Japan. All those countries have been very good at getting more out of the deal than the US intended.

    4. JTMcPhee

      Don’t forget to give special mention to “our staunchest democracy ally in that area, Israel.” Which unlike the Saudis, does not have much oil, and we pay them to buy MIC production. And yet the Israelites somehow have a yuuuge and malign leverage and “influence” on that set of behaviors so inappropriately styled as “foreign policy.”

      1. John Wright

        In keeping with your theme, my response whenever someone mentions “we have to support the only democracy in the Middle East” is to ask “Exactly how does having a democracy in the Middle East benefit the typical American?”

        I then point out that I doubt they grew up in a truly democratic family, run their own family as a democracy, go to a democratically run church, work for a democratically run company or serve in a democratically run military.

        Plus we have a sizeable percentage of eligible USA voters who don’t bother to vote in USA elections.

        37.7% did not vote in 2008, 42.5% did not vote in 2012, 42% did not vote in 2016

        Perhaps “democracy” is unimportant to many USAians?

        This suggests to me that whether or not a remote country has a democratic form of government is not of great consequence to many people in the USA as they worry about health care, employment, housing and a safe place to live.

        1. Christopher Fay

          The democracy crescent in the middle east would run from Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and then to Iran. It depends on where you put Iraq, is that a staple democracy?

    5. fresno dan

      May 29, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Allies….are they like friends?
      If you had a “friend” and you told me that when you two went somewhere, you had to pay the entrance fee, or buy the meals, or ALL the beer, and pay the gas and parking…or bus fare, I might wonder if your “friend” was really much of a friend – indeed, I would feel bad that you had to have such a “friend.”

      I’m sure the people making the deals and collecting the grift act like the US is a “friend.” Is Saudi Arabia our friend? Is Pakistan our friend? Is Afghanistan our friend? (what is the actual casualty count of US forces in Afghanistan by enemy combatants versus Afghani, or dressed in Afghani uniforms)
      How many Europeans died in Iraqi I and II?

      What percentage of our Asian “allied” populations would actually fight the Chinese? – versus fighting for the Chinese….. Hmmmmm…..

  14. PlutoniumKun

    Jeremy Corbyn’s Surprising Gains Robert Kuttner, HuffPo

    The signs are there – is Jeremy Corbyn going to win? New Musical Express. Ah, the NME takes me back… This is a case for optimism, but such tealeaf-reading often doesn’t work on this side of the pond…

    Things are looking really good for Corbyn now, even though I think that closing the gap in 2 weeks, even with all that momentum, would be almost impossible – I don’t think there is any precedent for that sort of switch in the polls.

    But ‘victory’ can take all sorts of forms. I think a Labour majority would probably be a pretty bad thing – with Brexit and what seems a likely major economic dip in the next 2 years, it would be a miracle if a Corbyn government was anything but a chaotic mess – not least because he would face an extremely hostile media, financial industry and establishment. It would be much better to see the Tories forced to deal with the disaster they have set in flow. There would be a much greater chance for a realignment in 4-5 years time.

    Corbyn is fortunate in that the media has been so hostile to him and his original position was so weak, than anything less than a major wipe-out can be seen as a victory. If he can get within 50 seats of the Cons, that can be seen as a very significant win, which will certainly silence the Blairites for now.

    For me, the best case scenario is that the Tories win, but with a reduced majority which makes May vulnerable to any rebellions, and possibly dependent on the likes of the Northern Ireland unionists. This will seriously constrain their room for manoever and minimise the damage they can do, while giving Corbyn a real platform to attack them. And it will strenghten the hands of the Scots and Irish nationalist parties with Brexit coming.

    The key problem though is that the pollsters seem confused about how to deal with changes in society. There is a much greater gap now between young and older voters now, so a lot depends on whether Labour can get the youth vote out. Another big uncertainty is the issue of marginal constituencies and tactical voting – the Conservatives have proven very effective in the past in winning target constituencies (as have the Lib Dems), but their strategy has been knocked awry now. And we don’t know if Corbyn can turn his personal support into an old fashioned machine to knock on doors and drive voters to the polls in the right places. We could well see an election where the number of seats won bears little relatinoship to overall votes, but its hard to see which way that would swing. We all remember how HRC was supposedly the only one who knew how the electoral college worked.

    1. Brian

      Morning Plu; Alas, there is neer a tomorrow in politics. The people of GB haven’t had a choice, or a person/party acting on their needs, for a long time. I recently watched “Charles III”, the Shakespeare take on a future modern Britain. King Charles disagreed with eliminating a free press and ordered parliament dissolved. The people rioted as a result of this meddling to protect their rights.
      So choose well, for give up one freedom and the rest will be taken. Corbyn is offering to help those being stomped in to poverty. Those people don’t usually vote because of despair at the options. But they are millions.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes – one interesting question will be whether those working class voters who went to the UKIP will go back to the Tories or to Labour now that the kippers are combusing. I suspect it will be the former.

    2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      I agree, although it is sad for the inevitable victims, but perhaps there are many that still need their noses thoroughly rubbed in it before they realise the true nature of the beast. I know of persons who will be voting Tory who will most likely live to regret it.

      It is only a suspicion, but post election it would not surprise me if she were to backtrack somewhat on Brexit, if allowed by the Euro skeptics. I do not think she would want to remembered for being caretaker to a break up of the Union & I believe she could be playing Brexit for the votes. We shall see….probably just my imagination.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think May could only backtrack if she won a really decisive victory. I think if weakened she won’t be able to – anyway, I suspect thats not how she operates, she seems to be a bit of an oil tanker in that when she is set a task, she just keeps going.

        Anyway, I think its too late for that. I could be wrong on this, but my reading is that the Germans and French have made up their minds – they have decided there is nothing to be gained from trying to persuade May to compromise, they have baked a hard Brexit into their calculations. My guess is that the negotiators have been told to take a hard line.

  15. RenoDino

    Angela Merkel says Germany can no longer rely on Donald Trump’s America: ‘We Europeans must take our destiny into our own hands’ I

    How dare you treat us like the globalist-loving conquered vassal state we are? And, on top of that, how dare you demand current and back payment tribute for the Empire’s guaranteed protection.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      Mutti laments uk & us wont be useful idiots anymore…demands parliamentary committees find new chumps…

    2. craazyboy

      Ha! Well, in the interest of fairness to ourselves, I wonder if the Fed has finished shipping back all Germany’s gold Germany lent the Fed for “safekeeping”? I think after some mumbling about some difficulties in shipping huge amounts of gold on short notice, The Fed officially responded it needs to schedule re-payments out over a few years! [they need to carefully rummage around all 6 corners of the large Fed_Gold _Vault to find it all…IoTies doing the searching…looking at futures markets too…also, they say Gold ETFs and their reserves at JPM are fully there and under the wokefull scrutiny of Jamie Diamond.]

      Last visit Trump handed Merkel a bill for overdue NATO bill collections. Came as a shock to Frau being such a large and easily verifiable sum, and simple NATO Treaty arrangement to Das Boot, also, too, as well, ka-ching, dumkopf!

      Trump may instruct the Fed to ship the remaining gold to the Treasury? The tax cut program needs funding?? Our future NATO funding [which may be close to the entire nut at this point] could be better spent on buddies-in-arms Saudi and Israel?

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Hmmm…interesting idea…thought “mato” (Mediterranean Atlantic treaty org) was not such a bad idea…but now you have inspired


        (Mediterranean Atlantic Redsea treaty organization)

        Since suez is such an important pincer point…

        Or even expand it further to


        (Mediterranean Blacksea Atlantic Redsea treaty organization)

        sadly would probably need to even further expand Arlington…

        1. craazyboy

          I much prefer pursuing To-mato – Getting To the point: To pay the bills due already and in the future, should we come to the sad conclusion the US needs NATO for something…and even sillier, the Euro project, of 800 million, can’t afford the bill, if they decide it’s so important to them and Eastern Europe.

          Besides, get Eastern Europe to pay too. They got extra time and money to muck around on this side of the pond. Drain that swamp, and we can supply a few expats for potato peeling duty too!

  16. craazyboy

    The “7 Eyes” Tentacle People – The Right Stuff

    Byline: 7 Tentacles – That’s It!

    Mankind continues his push into space. Conservative Libertarians know we need to get a male and a female out there, and with the weightless grace of God – they will procreate and sing and dance the human race to The Stars.

    Other powerful groups aren’t so sure. They note the history of the failed 2017-2024 Healthcare Plan. These people are just bad with details, they decry. Besides, whenever they use “God” in a sentence, it’s a sure tell they are winging it!

    Also, the CBO projected the cost of the Plan at $7.4 Trillion to populate the Universe with humans the Conservative Libertarian way. That assumes no maintenance cost in the out years, nor any Galactic Recessions – which are sometimes severe and may need safety nets and shock absorbers for the space craft. Krugman did a paper on it.

    A Rogue Family is out front on this one, reports Twitter API global repeater sources. Donald Orange of Orange intends to re-create the Middle Ages in outer space, eugenically breeding a Master Race. He plans to avoid the obvious long term failing of in-breeding by capturing a selection of both Checko and Slavic sex slave women. “I looked at the DNA of a large sample thru a microscope.”, he says. “Lots of tiny corkscrew thingies. We can mix it up fine. This is gonna be Great!”

    A corporate entity is in the running. Well funded, but lacking imagination, and most employees are Deplorable, making them unsuitable as feedstock for an improved Galactic Human. Lacking creativity, they built their Plan [they even call it a biz plan!] on the retail sales model. Because only management is eligible for the Plan [also called – The Healthplan – by a serious Deplorable in HR], they are grappling with how to gain the critical mass they need to blast into outer space and procreate with statistical numbers on one’s side. Being sales oriented, they realize customers are the key to success, and if you build it they will come. They voted on what “It” might be, and “It” turned out to be an Quantum coupled extension to the Internet and home shopping network. Customers!

    That brings us to the 7 Tentacles – the largest and most powerful force on Earth, by a large margin of error. And the errors keeping multiplying – possibly at a amplitude unstable fibonacci sequencing rate. Krugman did a paper on it. Being a large group, they are always mired in argument, scandal, mafia hits, in-fighting, family feuds, and too much time spent on reality shows. The Conservative Libertarians are forever making this observation, and conclude for us this is why we can’t have good government, and need to shut down anything worthwhile they may do for us. We gotta kill it so anything seems better, say the Cl folks!

    One necessary thing still on the official docket is to select a Dear Leader. Dear Leader has suggested placing a crown on her head which would send a message things are official now, and we can all move forward, and more and more forwarder.

    A conglomerate of Fashion Designers fashioned the crown of the finest velvet, dyed a wonderful royal purple color. The dye was made by an ancient secret process developed in India. A rare species of oyster, long extinct but the DNA preserved and enhanced, has his balls pressed in a torturer’s thumbscrew until they turn bright purple and pop, yielding one drop of the precious purple fluid.

    During the oyster diety seance, Dante’s Circle Of Hell music plays loudly, in pentatonic scale C major, with a chorus of devil women chanting and screaming woo-woo-woo and argh!, argh!…like this ball crushing is happening to them! [Rumor has it this may be why the pop singers from the Turtles left and joined Frank Zappa – they just couldn’t take it anymore!]

    It takes 666 oysters to make enough dye to dye a crown, thru and thru.

    The other important thing on the public agenda is Chelsea wants pink maid hats for all the hand maidens in the Royal Court, assuming they will bring hand maidens. [Note – run that past the legal guys for proper legal interpretation of the wording – will we need to bring hands too?]

    Another is where to deploy Hillary in the tentacle “hierarchy” tho it doesn’t really have one.

    The population of the Tentacle Ruling Class may undergo a severe collapse, of natural causes. If everyone agrees on everything then we know what the future holds for all. If not, then collapse of the Tentacle Ruling Class happens in an eye blink. But that just clarifies who’s in charge – Dear Leader! A 15 minute interlude of fame, whilst Dear Leader reminds everyone whom is in charge. She lets loose a massive lightning bolt thru the Internet Of Baby Tentacle Things (IOBTT) and delivers a shock knocking everyone on their collective asses.* ‘Nuff said. Krugman writes an environmental impact paper on it.

    At this time, Hillary executes Plan Consolidate. Her brain is transplanted into Zuckerberg’s pet HP bio server with iSucktioncupper Internet sockets. No cord! It is the central email hub for the 7 Cells of Tentacle, and a little like a brain! At neuron level, anyway. CrowdStrike handles Admin tasks remotely from the 7th Cell of Ukraine.

    Carly Fiorina has been reinstalled as Security Chief at HP Headquarters. A fine example of Tentacles reaching across the aisle in harmonic grappling and blissful submission. A beautiful thing to witness. The compound is surrounded with razor wire and a battalion of trained Rottweiller Hell Dogs commanded by Anubis patroling the grounds – 100% up time 24X7.

    The complex is powered by a nuclear generator, so it’s safe too! All 7 Tentacles plug in using the same patented connector technology from their respective countries and CrowdStrike spoofs their IP addresses to be geo-located in downtown Moscow in the basement of the Kapersky Headquarter building. Kapersky Intel has determined conclusively that glass skyscrapers are unsafe – just watch “The Omen” movie again and you will believe it! The Devil de-capitates using the sharp mirrored glass slabs!

    Then, Voila! – 7 Eyes Wide Open. A painting commissioned by Andy Warhol’s weird kid has been commissioned. He paints weird looking eyes with big fake eyelashes. It will look impressive in HP’s Royale Ballroom Hall and Finger Foods Bar.

    Plan B is in the works as well. This assumes the “No Collapse Scenario”, and seeks to bond with the voting populace using the tried and true gambit – A Rock Concert! The Hell Angels are deemed capable of handling concert security, and Tick Master does quite well scalping tickets for awesome coin. Kushner is commisioned to do the Tick Master merger deal with Clinton Foundation Charities, Inc, and find a more peon friendly name for it.

    Fake Royal Purple Tie-Dye T shirts are sold at the gates – mandatory, but please be advised if you bring your own it will be confiscated, re-dyed, and donated to the Clinton Foundation Charities, Inc, and appropriate or not tax deductions taken.

    Only one band is deemed necessary – The Tentacles – and they play night and day like demons. Featuring endless variations of the Pentatonic Scale, the singers belt out a writhing cacography of shrill screams, being all they can manage with beaks and the vocal cords of fish. Accompaniment by gongs, bongos, a kettle drum and many high distortion out of tune Stratavarious self-playing guitars.

    Chelsea is Acting Producer of the concert and is awesomly excited over the prospects. Her new hubby is helping too and is sure it will be a fun time for the entire family!

    *[BTW: Krugman sold his 100% stake in the NYT to Fitty Cent for an undisclosed sum. They let Krugman show up at work and write stoopid drivel anyway.]

    1. ambrit

      Everything old is new again.
      Something on the order of “The Polling of Erich Zann” would do.
      Flo and Eddie would be perfect “spin” musicians for HRM HRC. “Happy together” comes to mind.
      Andy Warhols “wierd” kid, er, he had a normal one? I just watched “Factory Girl,” about Edie Sedgwick and Warhol’s “Factory” system of producing art. Now that I think of it, HRM HRC does come off as a Warhol like production. Minimalist politics, hmmm, that’s the way Forward.

      1. craazyboy

        Ya, “Happy Together”. Flo and Eddie did “The Mudshark” with Frank at the SF Filmore, very appropriately, and got a huge cult following. This got the attention of the Clinton Foundation back before they really knew what they were doing, and the album went Platinum, with a bullet, and the Clinton’s paid too much. They learned after that – no more money for stuff, either on the buy side or the sell side. That’s what iSucktioncupper people are for.

        Also, a bit of Pop Trivia: Reported in Hustler and US News Mag, Anubis was Andy’s weirdest kid’s pet dog, but Hillary stole it disguised as a Goldman Girl. Her first successful heist! In NYC no less! Wags say Mr. Goldman helped, however. Rumors always swirl around the Clintons?!

        Richard Branson was in the market for an experienced Hell Dog – they are hard to train effectively – but had second thoughts and backed out fearing for his own safety when his Bentley started tail gating window pane delivery trucks. When the Bentley began veering towards cement bridge abutments of it’s own volition, Richard panicked and had the Bentley compacted and buried in hallowed ground at the local cemetery.

        He has never thought about Hell Dogs since, but developed a dependency on robust, youngish vintage, Chilean Special Private Order Red Wine of the late 70s bottling… Pares well with deep fried octopus…

  17. jefemt

    re: Taking Single Payer Seriously.
    Perhaps the answer to the job displacement is linking Health Care to other equally pressing issues facing us in US. Short list, anyone?
    I’d argue moon-shot low carbon re-tool of energy— green electrons from roof top or small solar farms, wind, micro hydro. Local food production, added-value local food ‘processing’, intermodal transportation improvements. Not for me to judge ‘worth’ of work, but it would seem that being a paper pushing admin to a parasitic industry that adds little social value would be far less self-actualizing than positively affecting the atmosphere, the health and well being of your community. Could Aetna and Blue Shield re-tool to be green energy companies and purveyors of good local eats? Why the heck not? They sure as heck have some cash on hand to fund the re-tool!!!

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Same “problem” as trying to dismantle the war industry–“jobs” will be lost.

      That the u.s. chose to hang its economic hat on two of the most unsustainably expensive, predatory, and ultimately unproductive and destructive “industries” will surely be a head-scratcher for future historians.

      That we continue to double down, careening at top speed toward the inevitable brick wall is a head-scratcher for me now.

      As if there are no other jobs for millions of americans to do that would make things better instead of worse.

      1. DanB

        David Grabber on BS jobs, “…we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations.”

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Good point, the UK got single payer in 1948 when the economy was flat on its back and jobs were not a problem because there weren’t any. But the military could be sent home to build roads and bridges and hospitals and water systems in Kentucky instead of Kabul

    2. marym

      It was encouraging to see the Jacobin article acknowledge that some single payer proposals have at least made a start on addressing the issue of the insurance industry workforce. As you and Katniss Everdeen point out, it’s not as if there isn’t lots of work that needs to be done.

      Here’s my short list.

      Infrastructure (bridges and roads, broadband, local and long-distance public transportation); alternative energy; health/child/elder care; social and rehabilitative services; housing the homeless, expanding and improving public amenities (parks, bike paths, campgrounds); restoration of public educational, recreational, and cultural programs and facilities devastated by austerity and privatization; a post office bank; adequate user services and problem resolution staff at all public offices.

      Along with universal healthcare and a plan for salary continuation and training, if we were moving toward universal benefits like publicly funded tuition, or some form of medical and student debt forgiveness, maybe some of these workers would retire, or quit to raise a family or pursue some other career or educational goal.

      It merits analysis in assessing the impact of publicly financed and administered single payer

      1. JTMcPhee

        “Not going to happen, no way, never. ”
        I hope I and Her Blobness are both wrong…

  18. XXYY

    It’s easy to imagine this turning into an Orwellian nightmare: men and women planted at their desks, frantically typing and scrolling to keep their lights red, red, always red.

    Technology to the rescue!

    You can actually buy a “mouse jiggler”, which plugs into a USB port and injects imperceptible but constant mouse movement signals into the operating system. The original goal is/was to keep the PC from going to sleep or the screen from locking when unattended, but it looks like you may soon be able to use them to earn raises and promotions, at least at ABB. Or at least to keep your light red most of the day and avoid annoying interruptions.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Britain’s Second Empire (podcast)Tax Justice Network (RS). “We talk to film director Michael Oswald about his new film The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire…. Also, we discuss booming Sweden’s ‘reverse-Trumpism’: its economy grew almost twice as fast as the US last year – and it wasn’t achieved through cutting taxes.”

    By itself, an economy growing twice as fast as the US doesn’t tell us much.

    The US economy has grown since 1980, and yet, that economic growth (cumulative growth) has not made the Deplorables’ lives better.

    As for cutting taxes, when there is too much money in the economy, the policy is to tax the excess money. If there is not enough money in the economy, presumably, the policy will be to lower taxes, and not more government spending*.

    *Something is not quite right with the following:

    Too much money in the economy – you taxpayers’ money will be taken away.
    Too little money in the economy – the government should spend more.

    Why not the other way around:

    Too much money in the economy – the government should spend less
    Too little money in the economy – money should be returned to the taxpayers.


    It’s as if, heads, you lose; tails, i win.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The great tea robbery: how the British stole China’s secrets and seeds – and broke its monopoly on the brew SCMP (J-LS).

    From Wikipedia, History of Tea:

    “Camellia sinensis originated in southeast Asia, specifically around the intersection of latitude 29°N and longitude 98°E, the point of confluence of the lands of northeast India, north Burma, southwest China and Tibet. The plant was introduced to more than 52 countries, from this ‘centre of origin’.”[5]

    That would just tea going home, if the British brought it back to India.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      A few years back in Manali, in the Himalayan foothills of northern India I met a really interesting guy – a Frenchman who had converted to Sikhism, who was spending weeks travelling the foothills between the 1500-2500 metres contour looking for seeds and cuttings for his organic tea and herb farm in Sikkim. He said there was an amazing variety to be found and he was convinced that agriculturalists had only scratched the surface of all the localised varients of tea and other crops to be found in that region. Given the enormous number of micro climates and isolated farm communities, I’m sure he’s right.

      1. ambrit

        I’ve read that the Andes are full of potato varieties, not to mention “outsider” grains.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s not surprising.

        In the original homeland, there is, I think, usually more genetic or linguistic diversity.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Donald Trump’s War on Journalism Has Begun. But Journalists Are Not His Main Target. The Intercept

    ‘Journalists’ have been warring on journalism.

    So have media corporations.

    Not satisfied with one mere front, they have been warring on Trump, even before the pre-inaugural meeting in Trump Tower in New York.

    1. clarky90

      The MSM “journalists” are acting like a hoard of tweenies (12 – 13 yo) ganging up on the new kids in the class. This nonstop bullying is being orchestrated by last year’s “popular kids” (Soros and Clinton).

      “eeeeeehhh, his hair is soooo orange”. “Yukky, his hands are sooo little!” “No one likes you, Ivanka. You can’t sit with us”. “Can you believe how much she spent on that stinky/ugly dress?” “Go away, we hate you, hate you, hate you!”

      “Did you hear? Smelly-pants Donald is talking with that creepy kid, Vlad, who EVERYBODY hates”! eeewwwwwwhhh yuk

    1. olga

      From the article: “When Vernamonti and I had written up our two reports, we concluded that Brzezinski had been deliberately and systematically misinforming and misleading Carter in his policy memoranda. He withheld evidence; mistook or misrepresented what other officials and their agencies were saying; and manipulated the decision and action tails of his memoranda, so that Carter would think he had little option but to do what Brzezinski told him to choose. Our job, Carter had told us when we commenced work, was to spot the fox in the hen house, and warn him before there were fatal consequences. He had been a Navy officer and a submariner; also the Georgia State governor. So he knew about the pathologies of command and control; he also knew about fatal consequences. But neither he nor we anticipated that the fox would turn out to be Brzezinski, nor the chicken turn out to be Carter himself.”

  22. kurtismayfield

    RE: Uber and Pittsburg

    This should surprise no one: Peduto didn’t require Uber to sign any contracts, obtain any licenses, sign any memoranda of understanding, or otherwise lock in anything for the city: “There is no formal agreement,” Peduto told The Washington Post in September. Sunday, the executive director of National Association of City Transportation Officials told that predicting that a large corporation would take advantage of the power imbalance it had exacted over a mid-sized city was “101”-level college civics.

    First of all, the mayor is a moron for not getting anything signed. He should lose any election for just this. But he can still save face by kicking Uber out, since they are definitely running against local laws for livery/taxis.

    1. Tom_Doak

      I was pretty surprised to get a new flyer from American Express to inform me that one of their new high-end card benefits is $15 per month credit with Uber and automatic VIP status.

      Clearly the big money is still pulling strings for them even as the news reports continue to question the enterprise.

  23. Bugs Bunny

    The comments to “Why Americans Aren’t Hitting the Road This Summer WSJ” are a devastating critique of both the piece and the US infrastructure. I’ve driven plenty in the developing world (I have a death wish) and the experiences sound similar.

    1. ambrit

      Being a curmudgeon means that when I google the headline, “Why Americans…”, every link in the first five “pages” of results redirects to the paywalled WSJ site.
      I don’t know about the article, but anecdotal evidence gathered from observations and conversations from the ground level suggests that financial insecurity is stopping the once “middle class” of Heartland America from making expenditures outside of “necessary” categories. As another link mentions, people down here are keeping their cars longer too.
      One young man whom I work alongside in Retail H–l is preparing to sleep in his mid sized truck bed for the summer months, it having a “topper.” Rent has become too high for him to afford, even while working. He was making lists of campgrounds and state park campgrounds with pricing to use for those nights when he would want a shower and “utilities.” Otherwise, several church parking lots were his preferred venues. Remember those public parking lots around Los Angeles that organized “sleepover” zones for the homeless with vehicles? A civilized metropolis would at least offer such “rough” accommodations, with security, to stave off social discord. The Hobo camps from the Great Depression years will make a comeback. Then, the Great American Bonus March 2.0.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        Leet-man, an old term destined to make a comeback after a few centuries of neglect. In between freedman and slave, somewhat like the situation many face today.

        “Nor shall any leet-man, or leet-woman, have liberty to go off from the land of their particular lord, and live any where else, without licence obtained from their said lord, under hand and seal.”

        1. ambrit

          The idea is sound, but what shall replace the former need for tillers of the soil that drove the earlier “Human Enclosure Movement?” The neoliberal dispensation seems H— bent on making the “surplus” population marginalized literally to death. Something like “Gattaca” stares us in the face.

          1. Enquiring Mind

            Debt peonage is pushing many toward their leet subsistence. In place of one master, now there will be several with different means and similar ends.

            1. ambrit

              True, no man can serve two masters, but, a dozen masters? That would indicate syndicality.
              Well, in honour of the holiday, we’re off to play Bingo (run by a local charity.) It reminds us that there are those worse off than us who need some help. Does that make us feel better? H—no! We want to win some money!

              1. ambrit

                Our experience; Bingo has been crapified. No more cardboard cards with slide “windows” over the numbers. Lots of “side” games, and, worst of all, a long row of computer screen spots where people paid up to a hundred dollars each to electronically play four or five hundred cards at a time. This threw the odds off so much that the olde tymers like Phyl and I felt distinctly exploited.
                A bad time was had by all.

        1. ambrit

          It’s ironic that it is the poor amongst us who hold up ethics as a public good in and of itself.

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    One Thing Modi Hasn’t Brought: Jobs Bloomberg

    Always, two tricks, the same everywhere:

    1. No jobs after promising them

    And when jobs do come

    2. No living wages after promising them

  25. hemeantwell

    Re the Bankspeak article, yes, the linked piece by Moretti and Pestre is valuable. Moretti has been publishing similar work at New Left Review for a while. Here’s the lead-in capturing the semantics of the technofinancial perversion of development economics soooooo well. “We’re not so interested in building, we just wanna see the prerequisites of financial flows and value theft established.”

    And yet, behind this façade of uniformity, a major metamorphosis has taken place. Here is
    how the Bank’s Report described the world in 1958:

    The Congo’s present transport system is geared mainly to the export trade,
    and is based on river navigation and on railroads which lead from river ports
    into regions producing minerals and agricultural commodities. Most of the
    roads radiate short distances from cities, providing farm-to-market communications.
    In recent years road traffic has increased rapidly with the growth of
    the internal market and the improvement of farming methods.

    And here is the Report from a half century later, in 2008:

    Leveling the playing field on global issues
    Countries in the region are emerging as key players on issues of global concern,
    and the Bank’s role has been to support their efforts by partnering
    through innovative platforms for an enlightened dialogue and action on the
    ground, as well as by supporting South–South cooperation.

    It’s almost another language, in both semantics and grammar. The key discontinuity, as we
    will see, falls mostly between the first two decades and the last two, when the style of the Reports
    becomes much more codified, self-referential, and detached from everyday language.
    It is this Bankspeak that will be the protagonist of the pages that follow

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I loved this footnote:

      When a word becomes so pandemically frequent, its uses multiply out of control, and before long no one knows what it means any longer. Here is the chief economic commentator of the Financial Times, Martin Wolf, writing on the Indian elections on May 21, 2014: ‘[Modi’s] motto—“less government and more governance”—has caught the public mood. Yet it is not clear what this will mean in practice.’ And Robert Zoellick, himself a former president of the World Bank, writing on Chinese policy in the same newspaper: “The reforms will focus on economic governance and modernisation. These terms may seem ambiguous to westerners…” (June 13, 2014). In a delightful twist of language, the term brandished by the World Bank to chastise developing economies is now used by those very economies as defensive camouflage against Western scrutiny.

      Its a fascinating article, well worth a read through.

  26. dcblogger

    If you want to know who will be the Democratic nominee in 2020, watch the endorsement primary. Watch who is invited to campaign for candidates.
    Also, watch the war between the DCCC and Our Revolution. Any candidate endorsed by Bernie and/or Our Revolution, or Brand New Congress will not get $ from the DCCC, candidates will have to go with one of the other.

  27. funemployed

    The advertisement that I was showed next to the “What Will Kill Neoliberalism?” article in the Nation. Buffet’s sideways smiling face. Text: “Glide[in an orange non-symmetrical heart]. “18th annual #PowerOfOneLunch” “CHANGE THE WORLD START WITH LUNCH” “BID FOR LUNCH WITH WARREN BUFFET AND SUPPORT GLIDE” “Learn more” “ebay”

    Advertisement worth a thousand words I suppose. Lunch. That should do it. Eating lunch….with a rich guy.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      “Eating lunch….with a rich guy.” ……and paying for it……

      Why doesn’t Buffet just give GLIDE money? Oh, yea……that’s HIS money…..

  28. heresy101

    The following is what happens when those horrible Rooskies lose and the advanced forces of “the market” are able to modernize a whole country. That Russian stooge Sukarno was replaced by the CIA and progress has ensued ever since!

    “The tragedy is not only devastating Kalimantan, but almost the whole of Indonesia. This is what has been happening to this country with a deep and ancient culture, and enormous natural beauty, ever since the 1965 US-sponsored coup, and re-introduction of savage capitalism, feudalism, and unrestrained corruption.”

    Being a climate sceptic, I’m not worried about CO2. We can use renewables to replace coal and oil, but the total destruction of the earth, nature, and animals will come from the worship of “the market.”


    1. different clue

      Being a climate sceptic, have you considered buying land in coastal Florida, Louisiana, or other coastal seaside areas? Being a climate sceptic, you surely realize how silly the climate believers are going to feel 50 to 100 years from now when the sea level hasn’t risen the way the climate believers all said it would. When they realize it, they will sheepishly want to return to the coastal areas they fled from, and your heirs and descendants will be able to make a New Dynastic Family Fortune selling to them all the seaside coastal land you had the foresight to buy, based on your superior prediction of seaside events thanks to your being a climate sceptic.

    1. Louis

      As the old joke goes: when Democrats have a firing squad, it’s always in a circle.

      1. Marco

        Because Tea-Party primaries against mainline conservatives had absolutely no sway or influence on the Republican Party?

      2. willf

        Manchin has been firing on his own troops long enough. About time someone fired back.

      3. John k

        I wish. That would mean the party would drop dead.
        The real situation is that dem elites have both a terminal disease and the guns, shoot blanks at reps and real bullets at progressives.

        Or… dem elites shadow box reps and kick box progressives.

  29. Tom_Doak

    Re: Route to Air Travel Discomfort Starts on Wall Street

    The scariest thing I’ve read all day is that Wall Street considers Spirit Airlines a success story! Three of our kids have taken flights with them in recent years to save money getting home, and every single one of them has vowed not to make the same mistake twice. So, of course that’s the model all our airlines should try to emulate.

    1. Tom_Doak

      The funniest thing today: reading Carl Beijer’s characterization of Hillary Clinton as “a bourgeois Uncle Rico” [a reference to the movie Napoleon Dynamite].

  30. Susan the other

    Good Das on how innovation can’t overcome stagnation, like Fricke yesterday, we are just blowing bubbles. But I think our stagnation is deeper because we mistakenly think our once booming industrial economy was good when, in fact, it led us to this impasse. It is now well on its way to making us all stupid and extinct. We don’t need more innovation, we just need sanity.
    Good Hiltzig on California’s Single Payer effort. It sounds difficult – but encouraging.
    Super good Bill Mitchell on Bankspeak. Nice bit about Stiglitz at the World Bank.
    And the antidote – it’s Socrates.

  31. Jasper Smith

    From the excellent Bankspeak article:
    “Working, providing, sharing, strengthening, boosting … All extremely uplifting — and just as unfocused: because the function of gerunds consists in leaving an action’s completion undefined, thus depriving it of any definite contour. An infinitely expanding present emerges, where policies are always in progress, but also always only in progress. Many promises, and few facts … All change, and no achievement. All change, and no future.”
    Like the Dems’ “fighting for…”, “standing with…”…
    And in the “about us” section on zillions of corp, NGO, foundation, start-up, etc websites these days. It’s the language of the hustler, the scammer, the ones who over-promise and never deliver, and their marks. I guess one option for those who have no future is to seek refuge in the present, especially if it seems to be never-ending.

  32. Vatch

    Wake up, liberals: There will be no 2018 “blue wave,” no Democratic majority and no impeachment Salon.

    Well, there won’t be a blue wave if the Democrat leaders continue ignoring the Bernie Sanders inspired candidates such as James Thompson in Kansas. Yes, non-progressive Jon Ossoff might win in Georgia, but around $10 million has been donated to him. Will the Democrats be able to raise $4.35 billion for House of Representatives elections in 2018? We know what the answer is: No Way! But if they nominate candidates like James Thompson, and actually donate a couple of hundred thousand dollars to each one, the Democrats will gain some seats in 2018.

    As the article points out, gerrymandering is a huge problem, and it overwhelmingly favors Republicans. So even with good candidates like James Thompson of Kansas, the Democrats will have difficulty retaking the House. According to page 879 of this article in the Univ. of Chicago Law Review, there are no states in which there are more than 2 extra Democratic Representatives as a result of gerrymandering, despite some weirdly shaped districts in Illinois and Maryland. These states have an excess of 3 or more Republican Representatives dues to gerrymandering:

    North Carolina
    New Jersey

    There is a similar advantage for Republicans in state legislatures (page 882). The Koch brothers spent their money very effectively following the Citizens United decision in 2010.

    1. WeakenedSquire

      The Democratic Party is dead as a doornail outside of big cities and POC communities. One consequence of this is that the Senate has way too many Dems. WV, MI, OH, IN, WI, MO, MN, ND, MT, FL all still have Dem senators and Dems should lose quite a few seats in these states in 2018.

      1. Vatch

        There are too many corporate Democrats in the Congress. They, and some of the Republicans, need to be replaced by progressive Democrats.

        1. John k

          How about progressives, no matter what brand?
          It’s not just reps that are anti progressive, it’s dems, too.
          A pox on both their houses.

          1. Vatch

            If a progressive Republican exists, he or she would deserve one’s vote. Can you provide the name of a progressive Republican politician in 2017?

    2. Massinissa

      I’m starting to think the Democratic party has to lose a bunch of seats and basically die at the federal level before there can be any kind of progressive change inside the party.

  33. allan

    Egypt’s Sisi ratifies NGO bill restricting human rights groups [Reuters]

    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi signed into law a bill regulating the work of non-governmental organizations that has been widely criticized by rights groups, a presidential decree showed on Monday.

    Human rights groups and activists say the law in effect bans their work and makes it harder for charities to operate.

    The bill restricts NGO activity to developmental and social work and introduces jail terms of up to five years for non- compliance. …

    Non-political charities say the bill restricts them at a time when subsidy cuts and tax increases have made it harder for Egyptians to make ends meet.

    Surely ALEC can get started on a U.S. version of this. If it hasn’t already.

  34. UserFriendly

    Chinese Citizens Want the Government to Rank Them Foreign Policy

    Holy crap that is right out of Black Mirror. I cannot recommend that show enough. Every episode is stand alone (like a movie) so some are hit and miss but this was a great one and I found the full thing on youtube.

  35. Optimader

    Hillary Clinton for 2020 ‘not a good question,’ says Rahm Emanuel The Hill. “‘She has to decide whether that’s in her heart,’ he eventually said.”

    What does that mean actually.. need to power up the universal bullshit interpreter.

    Ah got it!…she needs to find $500M worth of once is ignorance twice is stupidity donors!

    But but won’t it be Rahm’s turn??

    1. Pat

      I think you might be missing a donation cycle in there. Don’t forget the 2008 primary, another election lost in large part to not understanding how the winner is selected.

      So ignorance thrice perhaps.

  36. cripes

    With David Frum and other luminaries of the conservative movement talking about single payer, while democrats build a wall to block any attempt by their own base to achieve it, I would like to share an anecdote from John Kennedy, recalled by Max Freedman, journalist, in the Kennedy Center archives:

    “His criticism of what he used to call rather contemptuously the “professional” or the “ritualistic” liberals is that they‟d much prefer the grievance to a solution of the problem.
    They were only interested in the barricades provided they could cut an attractive figure while standing on them. He wanted to win the battle. He was not interested in gestures or in passion for the sake of public display.”

    And so, 57 years later, the democratic party still preens around, scaremongering republicans in a vain quest for diminishing votes, while pandering to their wealthy donors.

    Whatever else JFK was, he was not stupid.

  37. HotFlash

    The key to prospering during times of inflation is to buy one house, live in the basement, rent out the upper floors until the mortgage is paid, then buy a second house to rent out, until it is paid off. Then you can leapfrog your houses, take your profits as they come and still have a place to live.

    Hard to do? Lots of people from the former Soviet satellites did just that in Toronto, doin’ fine these days, thanks. Can be tough on your tenants, though. Could that happen these days? Not likely, at $ 1 million average price.

  38. Plenue

    >The great tea robbery: how the British stole China’s secrets and seeds – and broke its monopoly on the brew SCMP

    British (actually mostly English) tea culture is actually downright horrifying once you understand the history of it. Today it’s viewed as the butt of jokes; as some charming English custom, but Britain literally didn’t have tea until it was introduced from China by European traders. The desire for a constant supply of dirty leafwater drove the English to turn the entire Indian subcontinent into a heroine factory, and China into a heroine market, both at gun point, to keep the Chinese goods flowing.

    Compare this to Russia, which has just as much of a tea culture, but which as far as I can tell was adopted through genuine mutually beneficial trade via Mongolia.

  39. makedoanmend

    A flotsam of tea boxes floated past an island off the West coast of Ireland in the nineteenth century. A couple of islanders captured several of the boxes and brought them ashore. Upon opening them, all they found were dried leaves. They were mightily disappointed in their haul.

    However, one enterprising woman, who had worked with herbs, decided to experiment, and she boiled the leaves in water. She found the water turned brown/black and came up with an idea.

    She took some newly spun cloth and soaked it in the water and, presto, she had lovely died black cloth with which to make clothes. The rest of the islanders applauded her entrepreneurial spirit.

    True story. It wasn’t until a mainlander of some considerable relative wealth happened to visit the island and heard the story that he was able to relate that if one was civilised one would drink the dirty water.

    So much for innovation.

  40. VietnamVet

    It is not happenstance that several of today’s links point out the throwing of the working class under the bus and the rise of a new western managerial aristocracy of the 10%. The rise of NAFTA, EU and multi-national corporations all come back to the invention of nuclear weapons and obsolescence of mass armies. Conscription of educated healthy little people became pointless. War, education, shelter, food, toll roads and healthcare became money extraction schemes. The 90% are the new Dalit. The loss of status and well-being is not being taken lightly; no matter how hard the corporate Information Operation tries to hide it.

    1. makedoanmend

      It’s interesting that you include the EU in your assessment. I would have thought the EU (EEC) pre-dated the rise of neoliberalism and globalism. Or maybe it was a precursor to neoliberalism and globalism? It certainly was initially based upon trade and so fits nicely in with NAFTA et. al. But, then again, the united of the states of North America (barring Canada and Mexico) might also be a precursor or a platform for neoliberlism and globalism. After all, manifest destiny (for any country or continent) ain’t no good if one run’s out of new territories to incorporate. Yes, interesting.

      1. VietnamVet

        Yes, I associate the European Union with the Big Grift. It was part of the elite’s scheme to outsource jobs, rationalize logistics, cut labor costs, reduce taxes and enrich themselves. “The free movement of money, people, goods and services”. The middle class was conned. While advertisements sang “I’d like to buy the World a Coke”, people were overwhelmed with debt and global corporations seized control. The European Central Bank is more powerful than the Wehrmacht. The Troika brought Greece to heel.

Comments are closed.