2:00PM Water Cooler 6/26/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

I think I’ll add a few more UPDATEs shortly… –Lambert


“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House today, where they are expected to broach a wide-range of issues, including arms sales to energy deals. On the trade side, the question is whether a Trump-Modi partnership will move the commercial needle on the relationship in areas where businesses felt the Obama administration’s “Strategic and Commercial Dialogue” fell short” [Politico]. “”The U.S. is looking for things like stronger intellectual property protections, reductions in tariffs and I think this visit offers an opportunity to advance that trade dialogue and look for opportunities that will enhance prosperity and create jobs for both sides,’ the official said, adding later that India may want better access in the U.S. for exports of its mangoes.” That’s what’s on the table? Mangoes? Really?

“The Trump administration’s move toward imposing steel tariffs on national security grounds is drawing resistance from within the U.S. Senior lawmakers from both parties are raising concerns that other countries could use the same argument to block exports from their states…The warnings include a caution from Rep. Kevin Brady, the Texas Republican who chairs the House committee that oversees trade policy, who joined critics in saying the moves could raise domestic prices for steel and undercut jobs and wages. The pushback from Congress could slow White House efforts to redraw the direction of global steel trade, a pillar of the global industrial economy, by erecting barriers to imported steel. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says steel and aluminum are national security issues, a rarely-used characterization that could set the groundwork for tariffs. For some lawmakers, however, the economic impact of steel shipping may carry more weight” [Wall Street Journal].



“Live blog of orders and opinions | June 26, 2017” [SCOTUSblog].

Health Care

“1 big thing: McConnell’s week of reckoning” [Axios]. A good outline of the moving parts and the challenges McConnell faces. “One person on McConnell’s staff has been telling associates that there’s a 60% chance he can pass the bill. But most folks I’ve talked to in McConnell’s orbit say it’s more like a jump ball…. Planned Parenthood is a sleeper issue: Lisa Murkowski has said she won’t vote for a bill that defunds PP. Susan Collins will likely join her, so all it would take would be one more Republican to sink the bill over abortion alone.”

“Why Dems can’t break through on Obamacare repeal” [Politico]. “‘What we want is for this to be in the headlines, on the front page of newspapers every morning, and it hasn’t been because it’s been such a secretive process,’ Angel Padilla, policy director of the liberal group Indivisible, said in an interview.” I see that Indivisible has picked up the Democrat habit of blaming everyone but themselves. Being unable to focus on health care is the opportunity cost of always focusing on Putin. “Even after 43 disability-rights activists, including many in wheelchairs, got dragged out and arrested outside McConnell’s office Thursday, Padilla said he saw ‘most of the evening news programs still talking about tapes’ of former FBI Director James Comey that Trump initially suggested existed before saying they don’t.” Well, who drove the media conversation away from Padilla’s stunt and toward the “tapes”? Months of propaganda by Clintonites, that’s who.

“Where the Senate Health Care Bill Fails” [Ron Johnson, NYT]. Johnson is one of the five Republican hold-outs: “The bill’s defenders will say it repeals Obamacare’s taxes and reduces Medicaid spending growth. That’s true. But it also boosts spending on subsidies, and it leaves in place the pre-existing-condition rules that drive up the cost of insurance for everyone. Instead, we should return more flexibility to states, to give individuals the freedom and choice to buy plans they want without Obamacare’s ‘reforms.’ And we should look to improve successful models for protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions, models underway prior to Obamacare, such as those in Maine and Wisconsin.” Maine? Huh? Did I not get the memo?

“CBO score sure to add to McConnell’s headaches” [Politico]. “The CBO is poised to tell Senate Republicans this week that their health plan will leave millions more uninsured than Obamacare — with the losses estimated from 15 million to 22 million over a decade, according to a half-dozen budget analysts polled by POLITICO.” Hard to sell the bill if fewer are covered, no?

“HHS Secretary: The Congressional Budget Office Is ‘Not Accurate'” [The Atlantic]. A pre-emptive strike. Price: “The CBO does a great job on budget; they do a relatively poor job of what the coverage consequences of a healthcare plan are. Their ability—anybody’s ability—to predict what human behavior is going to be without looking at the entire construct, is difficult. I would suggest to you that the numbers the CBO had before with the ACA, and the numbers they have now, are not accurate.”

“It’s true (as Trump administration officials have repeatedly pointed out) that CBO greatly overestimated the number who would get government-subsidized coverage through the new insurance exchanges. But at the same time, CBO underestimated the number who would get coverage through expanding Medicaid” [FactCheck].

UPDATE “A side-by-side comparison of Obamacare and the GOP’s replacement plans” [Los Angeles Times]. Though the draft will change….

UPDATE “[S]ome of the measure’s most egregious, harshest provisions are well-disguised. They’re hidden deep in its underbrush or in the maze of legislative verbiage” [Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times]. “States will have more authority to reimpose lifetime and annual benefit caps and eliminate essential health benefits. This may be the most insidious provision of the repeal bill, and certainly is the most deeply hidden. The Senate bill will open the door to states forcing people with preexisting conditions … to pay far, far higher costs than everyone else. It’s buried in changes made to the ACA’s so-called Section 1332 waivers, which are designed to allow states to try innovative approaches to healthcare, especially through their Medicaid programs.”

A hearty round of applause for the Democrat Establishment:

2016 Post Mortem

“Bernie Sanders Investigation Is The New ‘Lock Her Up'” [Above the Law]. A look at the accusations brought by “attorney and right-wing gadfly Brady Toensing” (as publicized in Politico). For example: “Um… welcome to accounting. This account sounds shady, but — without vouching for any specific accounting principles — recognizing revenue in installments even if it’s coming in a lump sum is perfectly acceptable. Again, that’s not saying it was the appropriate way to account for this request, but the way this report reads makes counting funds over time seem like an insane tactic when it’s just not.” Readers know my views on college administrators, and Jane Sanders may not have been a very good one. But if I were keeping a list of which college administrators should get a visit from the FBI, Jane Sanders wouldn’t be near the top.

“Democrats will keep failing until they do their own autopsy” [USA Today]. “Why have a serious examination of what’s gone wrong when you can keep tweeting #Resist, marching in pink hats and cheering on Alec Baldwin?” The writer is a former Bush speechwriters, but it’s hard to say she’s wrong.

UPDATE “How Hillary Clinton’s Loyal Confidants Could Cost Her the Election” [Vanity Fair]. In light of Shattered, this 2015 article is prescient, and worth a read even today. I remember when some set of emails to and from Hillary came out in 2016, and both Yves and I scanned them looking for dirt, but all we came away with was a sense of how amazingly sycophantic Clinton’s inner circle was. In light of the Clinton campaign’s utterly dysfunctional decision making, and Clinton’s remarkable ability to persist in denying all responsibility for her loss (“I take responsibility for every decision I make — but that’s not why I lost” was an instant classic), it looks like that the sycophancy was the dirt. “All the perfumes of Arabia…”

Ossoff Debacle

UPDATE “It pisses me off that I have friends who literally gave Jon Ossoff $5 a week and it was torched (h/t Van Jones) on completely greedy and incompetent consultants who abuse the progressive community online in a manner that makes Donald Trump look kind and honest” [Why Democrats Lose]. “Millions… in March alone” went to “Mothership Strategies.” “I am not alone in my outrage on this and another article estimates that in total they were paid over $4,000,000. For what was at the most six months work.” Nice work if you can get it.

UPDATE Once more on Rodney Stooksbury (D):


UPDATE I’m torn. Zuckerberg running could be really horrible. Or it could be fun. Right now, I’m leaning toward fun:

UPDATE Do Zuck’s props look creeped out, or what?

UPDATE “Facebook to expand its Altoona data center” [Des Moines Register]. Coincidence, I’m sure. I mean, it’s not like Facebook has money to throw away (and do note the tendency to site data centers in colonized areas).

UPDATE “You Can Now Donate to a Mark Zuckerberg for President Campaign” [Fortune]. Why?


“Bernie Sanders isn’t backing Tim Canova in his second bid against Wasserman Schultz” [McClatchy].

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “America is in the middle of a major political realignment [as I’ve been saying…] While the focus is on the Republican party’s internecine fight among corporate realists, political ideologues and the wild-card president, it is a mistake to assume that the Democrats are going to sweep into office in 2018 and 2020 to replace the corroding Republicans. The Democrats are also in a profound struggle over their future” [Guardian]. “Unlike the Republicans, though, who will have to reinvent themselves if they are ever to recover from the damage of the Trump era, the Democrats have the opportunity to heal their differences for an easier transition to a new political era. Establishment Democrats are not wrong to put faith in experience: Clinton, after all, lost the electoral college, but won the popular vote by more than two points. The upstart Democrats who rallied to Sanders are, though, demanding a focus on economic fairness, one that echoes the Democratic leadership of the 1930s….” I’m not sure the author is right on either count. On the Democrats, the Establishment has taken every opportunity to avoid healing: Perez over Ellison, suppressing #MedicareForAll in the astroturf Resistance campaign, now suppressing SB562 in California…

“Why Are Millions of Citizens Not Registered to Vote?” [Pew Charitable Trusts]. “[L]ittle is known about eligible but unregistered U.S. citizens’ exposure to opportunities to register, reasons for choosing not to, or attitudes toward the electoral system and civic engagement, or how many of them are interested in registering in the future.” It’s almost like the political class doesn’t want to expand the electorate…

“Adviser resigns after vote tampering scandal at Vista Murrieta High School” [Press-Enterprise]. “Many of the votes, he said, were made at 10:30 p.m. or later, in 40-second increments, by someone who appeared to be going down a list alphabetically and voting for certain candidates.” Kids there’s a lesson for us all, here…

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, May 2017: “Aircraft had been the strength but is now the weakness for durable goods which, pulled down by a second straight downswing for commercial aircraft, fell 1.1 percent in May. When excluding transportation, a reading that excludes aircraft, orders actually rose, but not very much at only 0.1 percent which falls 4 tenths shy of Econoday’s consensus” [Econoday]. “An unquestionable negative in the report is an unexpected 0.2 percent decline for core capital goods orders (nondefense excluding aircraft)…. This report isn’t all bad but the capital goods readings are a tangible disappointment for the second-quarter outlook, pointing to lack of confidence in business prospects. The data contrast sharply with the ongoing strength in regional surveys. But in actual government data, the factory sector isn’t having a breakout year as some had hoped.” And: “The data overall was relatively disappointing with little evidence of ‘animal spirits’ surrounding investment plans which will maintain doubts surrounding the US outlook” [Economic Calendar]. And but: “Our analysis is more postitive than the headlines as we see improvement this month. Non-Defense and defense aircraft were the main headwind this month. This series has wide swings monthly so our primary metric is the unadjusted three month rolling average which improved” [Econintersect]. “What should be concerning to analysts is the continuing contraction of the unadjusted backlog (unfilled orders) which again declined this month primarily due to capital goods.” Following the bearded on for a moment, I don’t see how you can have a “healthy” capitalist economy without investment in fixed capital. Of course, under globalization, that investment could be anywhere (except resource extraction and services that are geographically constrained) and these stats apply only to the US.

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, May 2017: “A decline in manufacturing production and weakness in employment combined to pull down the national activity index to minus 0.26 in May from a revised plus 0.57 in April” [Econoday]. “This report underscores how soft May really was for a second-quarter that looks increasingly at risk.” And: “The Overall CFNAI data will, however, raise fresh doubts surrounding the US economic outlook which will tend to increase doubts surrounding the second-quarter GDP outlook. Markets will want evidence of a rebound early in the third quarter to underpin confidence in the economy” [Economic Calendar]. And: “Chicago Fed “Index Points to Slower Economic Growth in May” [Calculated Risk]. And but: “The single month index which is not used for economic forecasting which unfortunately is what the CFNAI headlines. [S]ee the three month rolling average for the last 6 months – it had been staying within a very tight range around the trend rate of growth of zero – and last month’s significant deviation from this range has been negated” [Econintersect].

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, June 2017: “In an understandable slowing from unusual acceleration, the Dallas Fed’s general activity index slipped to 15.0 in June vs 17.2 in May” [Econoday]. And: “This suggests solid growth, although at a slower pace than in May. The recent decline in oil prices might impact the Dallas surveys in coming months” [Calculated Risk]. “Though the general activity index is at its lowest level since November last year, cooling in this report is welcome given the unsustainable rates of growth in prior months.” And: “This survey declined but remained in positive territory with both new orders and unfilled orders in positive territory, and both declined” [Econintersect].

Housing: “Freddie Mac: Mortgage Serious Delinquency rate declined in May, Lowest since May 2008” [Calculated Risk].

Debt: “The credit collapse continues” (charts) [Mosler Economics].

Supply Chain: “The projections prepared by the Panama Canal regarding international trade demonstrate the need, within 15 years or less, for a second expansion of the waterway, but climate change appears to present an obstacle to those plans due to its effect on water sources” [Latin American Tribune]. “A fourth set of locks without more water is just a dream,” said Panama Canal Authority (ACP) administrator Jorge Quijano in discussing the plans for a future second expansion of the waterway… A sign that climate change ‘is occurring’ is that already in Panama there has not been ‘as before, continuous precipitation in … May, June and July,’ when – in the past – there ‘always’ used to be rain ‘almost every day.'”

Shipping: “CEVA Logistics has added to the growing list of China-Europe rail freight services by launching a new rail service linking Shilong in southern China’s Guangdong province to Hamburg in Germany via the ‘southern route'” [Lloyd’s Loading]. Interesting to see China running rail freight across the world island (along with turning the South China sea not into a Chinese lake, but land.

The Bezzle: “For the slew of startups targeted in e-commerce consolidation, there is a sober reality to being acquired by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Very sober. Workers at Jet.com Inc. found that one early change after Wal-Mart bought the Hoboken, N.J.-based business last year was that the office booze disappeared.. and that the startup’s regular Thursday evening happy hour was moved out of the office. Those kind of office-culture changes aren’t necessarily noticeable to customers, but they’re getting greater attention as traditional companies use acquisitions to catch up to online commerce trends and run into the free-wheeling, casual practices at startups” [Wall Street Journal].

The Bezzle: “These are the next industries that will go the way of taxis and hotels” [MarketWatch]. WSJ: How is health care going to be Uberized? Arun Sundararajan [a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business]: A whole host of noncritical services—not things like open heart surgery but things like I cut my finger cooking and I need someone to stitch it up for me—can be platform-mediated. You find a registered nurse in your neighborhood. You don’t actually go to an emergency room for a noncritical thing. You instead find a platform-mediated solution. Part of what’s holding us back at this point is that we haven’t built up sufficient trust through platforms for things that are as high-stakes as health care.” Wowsers. After Uber, we haven’t built up “sufficient trust” for calling a cab! (And why not take care of that Registered Nurse with a Jobs Guarantee. Isn’t a Jobs Guarantee “The Ultimate Platform”™?

Five Horsemen: “Alphabet and Amazon continue to lead the pack while Apple languishes” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Jun26

Rapture Index: Closes down one on floods (“The lack of activity has downgraded this category”) [Rapture Ready]. Record high: 189, October 10, 2016. Current: 181.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 53 Neutral (previous close: 52, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 57 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jun 26 at 12:08pm.

Class Warfare

“California’s Wine Industry was Built on Slave Labor” [Daily Beast (Re Silc)]. Primitive accumulation…

News of the Wired

“Eleven” [Haggard Hawks]. Why not Oneteen?

“The US government says you shouldn’t be forced to use special characters in your passwords” [Quartz].

“The Oxford English Dictionary Just Added ‘Woke.’ It’s Older Than You Might Think” [Time].

“Sci-Hub As Necessary, Effective Civil Disobedience” [Bjorn Brembs].

“Forced Context Collapse or The Right to Hide in Plain Sight” [tressiemc].

“How Barbed Wire Changed Farming Forever” [JSTOR Daily]. “To get a sense of barbed wire’s impact, [economist Richard] Hornbeck compared counties with very little woodland—where wood fences were difficult and expensive to construct—with more wooded areas. He found that, between 1880 and 1900, settlement in counties with no woodland increased by 26 percentage points relative to those with 6 percent woodland. At the same time, many farmers in the areas with few trees shifted from hay—which animals might snack on but wouldn’t wreck completely—to crops like corn, which were more valuable but also more vulnerable.”

* * *

And here’s today’s plant (LR):

LR writes:

When a jade plant and a spider plant find true love….
…. Another plantidote from the Central Cemetery in Montevideo Uruguay. Winter is just started down here but still I can find things that are blooming. Although this isn’t a tropical environment, it never freezes and is generally humid all year round. Right now we’re having what’s called Little Summer, the last warm spell before winter.

Not so sure about the “true love” part, but it would be nice to see more plants from other countries (and from expats).

* * *

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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. Altandmain

    On the surge pricing on food, I hope that this blows up in their face. Maybe someone could find a way to game the system.

    I mean the closest things we have to surge pricing are:

    – Electricity rates are highest during business hours
    – Transport with Uber
    – Airline tickets is a big one with “surges”
    – City parking
    – When I worked at a gas station, there were surge prices
    – Amazon itself of course has a very complex algorithm behind the scenes

    You could argue that some restaurants with their “Happy Hour” have the reverse of surge pricing and the movie theaters (not that Hollywood makes much worth your tickets) have the reverse on Tuesday (or Wednesday).

    Where else does this end?
    – Killing net neutrality in the US might make them “surge” prices
    – Jobs for shifts? Maybe they could pay people more? Far more likely they’d pay people less during non-peak times.

    I fear that there will be just passive acceptance. Resentment, like people hating the airlines, but acceptance.

    Oh and the Guardian is saying the same thing:

    I try to do a lot of my shopping at Costco these days:

    Of course they don’t carry everything and not everything can be bought in bulk.

    What else is there?
    – Wal-Mart is a pretty monopolistic company and their labor practices suck
    – Many of the other grocery chains have poor practices too
    – The fast food industry of course is notorious for its labor practices
    – Many of the other eCommerce websites likely have poor labor practices

    It feels a moment where retailers paying living wages are in short supply. I mean they pay the software people well, but nobody else and even there there’s discrimination.

    1. Scott

      There are earlier examples of surge prices. Most notably, AT&T long charged a premium for long distance calls made during business hours. (I think it might have been structure the opposite way – discounts on nights, weekends and holidays).

      Regarding wages, shift premiums have existed for decades to incentivize employees who work night shifts.

      1. Altandmain

        Agree on the shifts part, but I think that it will get a lot more sophisticated.

        Back then they didn’t have machine learning algorithms.

        I fear that they will also try to use that for job salary offers as well.

        1. David Barrera

          “I fear that they will also try to use that for job salary offers as well”
          it’s already done to the most powerless contractors and subcontractors-and it is not Uber

          The surge pricing is another manipulative tactic using the so-called markets as justification. Think about it. Regardless that now-a-days there are a large array of work schedules/shifts, the obvious evidence is that a big majority of people can not do their groceries from 7am to 5:30pm Mondays to Fridays, therefore highest demand takes place roughly from 6pm to 8pm weekdays and certain hours on weekends. Therefore one is being penalized for having a regular work schedule,work which allows one to make money to buy at the supermarket, supermarket chain which in turn charges one more for having that work. More circular market gouging. So, those with tight budgets will need to change their life habits, i.e go to supermarket at 5:30am-and the floor prices at low demand times won’t be as flexible as the peaks during high demand.
          Years ago, the mere surge price tactic suggestion in England would have been unthinkable. This is how things have devolved.

          1. Sue

            Don’t despair. If enough people do groceries at times like 5:30 am the market will find its equilibrium. The free markets are good. The free markets love ya!!!!!!

      2. Carolinian

        ATT was highly regulated and everyone knew at the time about those rules. The laws against deceptive pricing–i.e.honoring posted or marked prices–came into being for a reason: to keep customers from being cheated. Many people probably don’t even notice what they are charged when items are rung up at the cash register.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I intend to put on my best running shoes, and get my exercise in, when I go grocery shopping.

          You never know if you can save 50% of the surge while in store.

          For sure, I will be thirsty and hungry when I get home.

        2. bdy

          If by “highly regulated” you mean “price gouging monopoly,” sure. Talking to someone in another city was bought and sold as a luxury miracle for the rich, or one of the higher costs of doing business to companies who required it. And calls during business hours were prorated in the extreme — ostensibly to keep circuits open. Never had too much trouble getting through even when competition started driving down prices, aside from having to dial 2 or 3 times on major holidays.

          I still remember when Sprint hit the market with $.10/min., and what a significant savings that was. My monthly half hour conversation with mom or dad (dual custody divorce) went from almost $20 a pop to $6 overnight. The AT&T breakup might have been the American State’s last helpful deed.

          1. Carolinian

            I don’t disagree although changes in technology were bearing down on their copper line monopoly in any case. Interestingly one early craze among technology geeks was how to hack the phone system.

            But the flip of that are disruptors like Bezos who like to play fast and loose with the law. Still all this speculation about surge pricing is surely overdone. If anything he would be more likely to offer “flash deals” like he does on his site–the Amazon version of blue light specials. I’m not sure there’s any law against charging less than the posted price.

            1. reslez

              > changes in technology were bearing down on their copper line monopoly in any case

              It was federal regulation that forced AT&T to allow those technologies. If not for that we would not have a popularly-accessible internet, it would still be universities & DOD only.

        3. beth

          What? Are you saying that ATT does not have deceptive pricing? I beg to differ. There is no walk in store and what the reps tell me on the phone is never the same as the bill I get once a month.

          And with no rhyme or reason I get rate hikes sometimes 3 months in a row. And seldom are these rate hikes less than 2 digits.

    2. MtnLife

      I dunno. While I personally think it amounts to gouging, I almost think surge pricing could be in the common persons interest – we just haven’t taken advantage of it yet. A plumber rolls up to a mansion with broken pipes – surge pricing! Whole paycheck wants their parking lot plowed while it is snowing – surge pricing! Someone needs their grass cut or house painted so their HOA doesn’t fine them – surge pricing! Lots of people seeking reservations at an exclusive restaurant- surge pricing!
      A quick round of that to remind the elites that they don’t do jack for themselves (even if they did the labor costs for their massive estate(s) make doing it alone prohibitive) and I bet we see the process outlawed.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe wives can price-surge their husbands.

        Likewise, girlfriends and mistresses.

        1. craazyboy

          Yes! A Kissing Booth in the driveway. Fresh bright red lipstick, reapplied JIT, and $20 a pucker!

          Pucker Power!

    3. Altandmain

      Now here’s a scary one: What if hospitals and pharmaceutical companies figure out how to make the most money with surge pricing?

      1. Lee

        Express Scripts states on its website and customer service reps confirmed that prices vary and do not necessarily conform to what is posted on their site.

    4. kurtismayfield

      Surge pricing only works if everyone does it. Why would you go to someone charging 9.99 for ice cream at 4pm on a 35C day when market basket sells the same ice cream for 4.49 all the time? You would need every store and market in the neighborhood wired in. Plus you would need the merchandisers cooperation. It just sounds like a complicated way to screw people.

      1. Altandmain

        This isn’t as crazy as it sounds.

        There are only a few major grocery companies in the US. It’s more like an oligopoly than anything else.

        1. craazyboy

          Yup. Even when they have sales, they are within pennies of each other.

          Walmart used to impress shareholders with the operational plan of going around to competitor stores and collecting pricing. They claimed a state of the art IT system back then and could tweak regional store pricing to “market” level within hours.

        2. Altandmain

          There is also the matter that Wal Mart has been buying ecommerce companies and Amazon has gone on a spree too.

          I doubt that Trump would enforce anti trust laws, so that means that the existing groceries will be more concentrated in a few firms and soon to be fewer firms.

          1. HotFlash

            I don’t shop Amazon, and I don’t shop WalMart. They can just eat each other’s hearts out.

            Got some lovely rhubarb at the farmer’s market today, the coop AGM is Wed. I spent 4 hours chopping roasted beets and celery for the feast — yay! My home-grown currants are ripening, and I am foraging garlic mustard for pesto, mulberries are coming in and, woohoo, elder blossoms for champagne.

    5. marieann

      We already have different prices for our electricity rate, it’s called “time of use ” pricing. It’s cheapest during the night and most expensive 11am 8pm.

      How will surge pricing work at the grocery store with the sale ads that come every week to get you into the store. They have to honour the ad, or will they be a thing of the past.

      1. Art Eclectic

        I think you already see a bit of surge pricing in grocery in the produce department. When Cherries first come into season they are very high priced. Mid season they are reasonable. When they are close to being at the end of their sell-able period the price drops dramatically because the store either needs to move the product or take a complete loss.

        Buy a first generation of any electronic item and you’ll pay the Early Adopter Premium. Wait a bit and the price drops.

    6. Blennylips

      LA Times business headline: “California’s electricity price skyrocketed with the heatwave. Should power officials have called the alert?”

      Cal-ISO (California Independent System Operator) is blamed for issuing an unneeded alert (transformers the problem, plenty juice available) which caused Mr Market to have a sad, is the term, I believe:

      On Tuesday, for example, electricity prices shot from the typical $50 per megawatt-hour to $200 to $300 per megawatt-hour as the wholesale market reacted to news of anticipated increased demand. Some of that difference will ultimately be passed on to consumers.

      meanwhile, back at the ranch

      Even as the mercury climbed, consumers used 44,184 megawatts Tuesday — 3,656 fewer than the forecast. But the system can generate about 71,000 megawatts, which means there was 38% unused capacity. That’s well above the 15% reserve required by the state for emergencies.

      So, consumers did as asked and yet are stuck with the surge price.

      In California, the juice surges you!

  2. dcblogger

    Bernie supporters are about to learn what Clinton supporters have known for years, we have a corrupt, partisan FBI which investigates Democrats.

    1. TK421

      Well, let’s be clear: the FBI didn’t investigate Hillary Clinton because it’s corrupt or partisan, but because she keeps breaking the law.

      1. bdy

        I will believe that when Cheney gets indicted for war crimes, or Jamie Diamond for Sarbanes-Oxley.

        1. sid_finster

          By the same logic, both HRC and WJC are also war criminals, as are Obama and Kerry. All of the aforementioned belong to Team D, and all are running loose as we speak. (For the record, yes, Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, also are war criminals).

          I think there’s more to it than a “mean FBI picks on defenseless little Team D members”. In the case of HRC’s violation of the Espionage Act, it was an open and shut case.

          Even Comey admitted that if HRC were one of the Little People, she would go down. Then there’s the whole spoliation of evidence.

    2. perpetualWAR

      So, the FBI can find time to investigate Bernie, but they couldn’t find time to investigate Wall Street?

  3. Roger Smith

    I see Planned Parenthood is repeating their Election 2016 political gaffes. PP needs to be in the industry of health care, not politics (especially because they suck at it–leveraging their ability to provide any services for 3% of their services). This kind of nonsense is why they deserve to be under the knife and why their clients/members should be at their throats too instead of getting hypnotized by their anti-Trump saber rattling.

    As PP exists at least partially because of a dysfunctional health system, I am surprised they ever backed CA single payer.

      1. Albacore

        He’s pulling in people who want to hear what he has to say. Best thing you have got going for you in the US in my opinion

      2. Benedict@Large

        First, turn Medicaid into Single Payer.

        [I was on Medicaid for 4 years for advanced cancer, and it functioned exactly as you would want single payer to. I went to the doctors I had to, took the tests I had to, and underwent the treatments I had to, and never saw a bill. If that’s not how you would want single payer to operate, something is wrong with you.]

      3. ocop

        At least there’s an angle of defending a government program. The distance from “Save Medicaid” to “Expand Medicare” is much shorter than that from “Save confusing, unaffordable policies from state-wide exchanges”

        1. footnote4

          Medicaid is arguably the better program, as Benedict@L notes above.

          We should jump right to ‘Medicaid for all’

      4. funemployed

        Spending energy on saving Obamacare is like trying to save a bomb with a longer fuse because the one with the shorter fuse will blow up sooner. Besides, no Democrat will vote for AHCA, and no Republican cares how many Clinton supporters try to call their offices or how many clever insults are dreamt up by huffpost contributors.

        Best strategy, IMO, is to press the dems to support something people don’t hate and also need.

    1. Ranger Rick

      The same could be said for all “healthcare” bills that focus on health insurance. Even insured, you are not guaranteed to be able to afford healthcare.

    2. TK421

      Sorry! I’m too busy checking the cupboards for Putin to talk about minor matters like health care.

  4. Jim Haygood

    Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass have I slain a thousand men.

    And so it was in Basel yesterday, as William Dudley Do-wrong of the New York Fed flapped his jawbone:

    “Monetary policymakers need to take the evolution of financial conditions into consideration. When financial conditions ease—-as has been the case recently—-this can provide additional impetus for the decision to continue to remove monetary policy accommodation.”


    Various Federal Reserve and private indexes of financial conditions exist. All of them incorporate longer-term Treasury yields, either directly or as the anchor of a credit spread. Regard, if you will, a chart of the 10-year T-note yield:


    When the Fed hiked its overnight policy rate on Dec 14, 2016, the 10-year yield was 2.54%. Two more hikes, in March and June this year, produced not a rise, but a DROP to 2.12%. Nothing frustrates central planners more than a refractory bond market which refuses to dance to their dictates, easing monetary conditions at the long end even as they throttle the short end like a doomed chicken.

    We’ve seen this unedifying movie before, when then-n00bie Fed chair Ben Bernanke carried on Greenspan’s campaign of cranking short rates higher till the yield curve inverted in early 2006, signaling the recession that would commence the following year.

    While Fedsters insist that inflation will rise to hit their 2% target, Treasury investors — who historically have demanded a yield averaging about 1.5% more than inflation — obviously do not think so. Indeed, apparently they expect another another financial crisis during the 10-year term of their T-notes. “2008 deja vu” would drive inflation to zero or below, leaving 2%-coupon T-notes the only asset in town offering a positive return.

    I’m saving Do-wrong’s deluded outburst for some tailgunning when recession re-emerges in the next couple of years. His damning speech will suffice to (1) annihilate his last shred of credibility and (2) precipitate his bodily ejection into the gutter outside 33 Liberty Street, where passersby may observe Do-wrong piteously flapping his skinny eclownomist arms whilst croaking self-exculpatorily, “But that was Yellen’s deal! That was Yellen’s deal!

    1. craazyboy

      Yeah. Dudley should spill the beans and tell everyone the Fed owns 25% of the Treasury market and has them squirreled away in Janet’s walk-in closet. Some women like shoes…..

      But they could sell ’em, then there would be more.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Wait until they hit 100% of the float like the Japanese have, for the last 6 days there have been *zero* bids for the 10-yr JGB, its price frozen in time like some kind of museum piece clock locked in a glass case that has stopped ticking.
        Only a deeply delusional and certifiably insane central banker could convince themselves that this is somehow a reasonable, normal and tolerable state of affairs, the very lifeblood of our entire financial system, now in a hibernated and fully zombie state.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          Only a deeply delusional and certifiably insane central banker

          Question: Is that all of them?

    2. John k

      Might not have to wait so long. Credit growth crashing… took 9% credit growth to get GDP growth to 2%, now overall credit growth down a third or so and falling. And. 2q growth turning down.

  5. Altandmain

    A set of other general interesting reads:

    Apple, Microsoft and Other Tech Names Take Hit as Supreme Court Allows Parts of Trump’s Travel Ban

    DNC Chair Tom Perez Already Facing Pressure to Resign

    Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff

    Lies That Capitalists Tell Us

    Michigan has more annual opioid prescriptions than people

  6. bsg

    I can’t give you anything other than anecdotes, but the biggest reasons why people cancel their voter registrations are privacy concerns and not wanting to be called for jury duty. Names, addresses, and phone numbers of registered voters are public information and some people don’t like googling their names and seeing this information come up.

    1. mirjonray

      I admit the thought to not vote has crossed my mind for these very reasons. Even worse is when you read about these studies where researchers determine that people are more likely to vote if they think that letters will be sent to their neighbors informing them who voted (and didn’t vote) in the last election.

    2. Arizona Slim

      I agree with what Bernie Sanders said during his campaign. IIRC, it went like this:

      “When you turn 18, you’re registered to vote. Period. End of discussion.”

      1. ian


        How is it unreasonable to demand at least a little effort on the part of the prospective voter?

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Which citizens do you hope to discourage with your busywork?

          I think the bureaucracy could accommodate the citizens in this case.

        2. JTMcPhee

          Yeah, that’s good, that leaves the door cracked open so the fog of voter suppression and other electioneering diseases can creep in on little cat feet… can’t be having too much hope of change all at once… though “democracy” is naught but a chimaera, if one looks hard.

          “A choice, not an echo…”

        3. funemployed

          Because it’s always unreasonable to make people do completely unnecessary work.

  7. Roger Smith

    ““I have no idea about Tim Canova, I honestly don’t,” Sanders said when asked if he plans to support Canova’s second bid against Wasserman Schultz. “I know nothing about Tim Canova.”

    Uh… what? Then why did you campaign fully endorse him last year? Presumably it was at the behest of Weaver or someone else, but this just looks weak and fickle.

      1. Roger Smith

        I am not sure what I am missing. That Our Revolution may or may not chip in at a later date? Or is it the politically sensitive Seth Rich mentions? The uphill battle? I just find Sanders’ quote odd given the recent interaction his campaign had with Canova, at least without the context of the situation in which it was delivered. I was not so much drawing issue that he won’t support him again, just the fact that it almost sounds as if he is unsure Canova exists.

        Speaking of existence, Stooksbury 2020!

  8. mirjonray

    From the Politico article talking about trade talks between India and the U.S., “…adding later that India may want better access in the U.S. for exports of its mangoes”

    Kind of reminds of the “nukes for mangoes” negotiations that took place circa 2006.

  9. allan

    And so the Macron-sterity begins:

    France to make public spending cuts as 2017 deficit to exceed 3 percent: finance minister [Reuters]

    France will make new public spending cuts across the board to meet the 3 percent EU deficit target in 2017, its finance minister said on Monday, after broadcaster TF1 cited national audit officials as saying it would overshoot estimates.

    Former President Francois Hollande’s government had predicted 2.8 percent earlier this year, which would have respected the European Union target for the first time in a decade.

    However, TF1 said that national audit officials, who will publish a review of estimates on Thursday, anticipated the deficit would be at 3.2 percent in 2017.

    “We shall see on Thursday,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told the broadcaster’s evening news bulletin …

    “France has been drugged by public spending. We have to reduce public spending because it’s a question of national sovereignty,” he said. “We … will make a number of proposals concerning all public spending.”

    We had to subsume the national sovereignty to Brussels in order to save it.

  10. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Ossoff Debacle

    The new issue of Harper’s had an article by Andrew Cockburn touching on the campaign, written prior to the election, which speaks to the overall cluelessness of Ossoff and the Democrat party. The concluding papragraph of the article:

    She [activist Jen Cox] recalled how Ossoff wonkishly informed her that “the data” decreed yard signs ineffective. In response, she told the candidate that if he didn’t “reach us up here on an emotional level and give us hope, we have a hard time getting engaged. If you put signs out, we feel that someone is paying attention, and that our voice matters and our votes matter. We haven’t seen yard signs that weren’t Republican in decades.” Gearing up for the June runoff, Cox said, “The energy here is electric.” Her message was clear: “We are here. And no Republican seats are safe.”

    Amazing how hard this clown had to be pushed to actually campaign, and did so very reluctantly. And yet they still wonder why they lose….

    Side note: Harper’s does seem to be getting over the anti-Trump hysteria and back to doing some good journalism again. This month’s issue was the best in a while, the somewhat shrill Rebecca Solnit editorial notwithstanding.

    1. JustAnObserver

      If the DNC is going to cram a neolib ‘droid down our throats could they – pretty please Mr. Perez – at least shell out some of those donor $$$ for a real Nexus-6 instead of that pitiful mockup.

    2. Tim

      Ossoff wonkishly informed her that “the data” decreed yard signs ineffective.

      Maybe it doesn’t take much in political consulting fees to set up a yard sign operation? Therefore cost for making signs could potentially have come out of the consultant’s cut, and that would just have been a tragedy.

      Still shocking considering all the articles quoting “most expensive campaign in history has left no stone un-turned”

      Typical liberal mind of being stuck it its mind, not realizing that conservatives are stuck in their surrounding of what they can see and touch…like yard signs.

      1. Harold

        As an average dummy, when I don’t see signs for him or her, I assume a candidate is highly unpopular or doesn’t care about winning over this particular electorate. But I am from another era, probably.

      2. Arizona Slim

        Here in Tucson, there was this guy named Frank. During Bernie Sanders’ campaign, Frank was our #1 local signmaker.

        All he did was find plastic yard signs that had been used during previous campaigns — I gave him some of mine — and re-paint them. Then he’d apply his stencil set and create his own messages.

        Frank’s yard and street corner signs attracted quite a bit of attention. They were 100% free and could only be obtained from Frank. And ISTR hearing that, at one point, he even had a waiting list.

    3. Benedict@Large

      Ossoff wonkishly informed her that “the data” decreed yard signs ineffective.

      That has got to be one of the stupidest statements on campaigning I’ve heard. For one thing, Jon, this is a special election, and the signs help tell people that an election is occurring. Second, repeat, repeat, repeat. If you want people to vote for you, they have to remember your name. No better way to do this than for voters to see your name every 3rd or 4th block. … And that’s just for beginners.

    1. Vatch

      Very funny! I was expecting the scene from the Spinal Tap movie; this was a nice surprise.

    2. marieann

      Haha. That’s what I was thinking also.

      I had a taste of that when I was still working and they added voice recognition to the phone system. I was trying to get the X-ray department….and no it never did figure out what I was saying

  11. Swamp Yankee

    Re: barbed wire. The best treatment of this issue that I know of is in Walter Prescott Webb’s magisterial The Great Plains. Surprised Gerson (the JSTOR author) didn’t mention it.

  12. Jim Haygood

    Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 53 Neutral (previous close: 52, Neutral)

    Another measure of fear vs greed is the put-call ratio. With legions of legendary investors declaring imminent doom, punters have been gorging on put options (which pay off on a decline in stocks) at the highest rate since January 2016, compared to call option volume. Chart:


    To review, on Jan 20, 2016 the S&P 500 had slid nearly 12% from its Nov 3, 2015 level, as crude oil crashed to $26.55 a barrel. A deflationary collapse was a distinct possibility.

    Today, the extreme put-call ratio exhibits nearly the same level of fear … with the S&P 0.6% off its record high of last Monday, and crude oil at a feeble but hardly catastrophic $43.49.

    That don’t compute. Contrarianism 101 tells us to expect new upside fireworks by July 4th or soon afterward. Mr Market will do whatever hurts and baffles the largest number of participants. :-)

    1. visitor

      No, I did not, but I can very well believe it. But, alas, we do not see any of those where I live. Perhaps four varieties, one from Pakistan, and the rest from Latin America, sometimes from Africa.

    1. John Wright

      As I remember, there was a story that Trump knew the Syrian government did not use Sarin, but had to do something to pacify the neocons of both parties.

      Per the Guardian “Syrian officials said at least seven people were killed and nine wounded in US missile attack.”

      Nine Syrian jets were destroyed

      Given 59 missiles were launched, the attack did not kill kill many people or destroy much property.

      Hawk Hillary Clinton responded to Trump’s effort stating she would have bombed more targets..

      This is American foreign politics, where “ready, fire, aim” frequently rules.

      Trump may have actually “aimed” this response to avoid casualties while getting the media, neocons and humanitarian hawks off his back.

  13. 3.14e-9

    Eleven, “Why not oneteen?”

    Because “Ocean’s Oneteen” and “Twoteen Monkeys” would make lousy movie titles?

    The article makes a good point about the decimal system, but then fails in explaining why earlier systems were duodecimal. The first comment fills in the gap. Even before proto-humans saw the Monolith and started down the path to woke, they likely had some idea about how the sun and moon regulated cycles like animal migration, rain, tides, etc., so by the time humans developed numbers, they were used to thinking in twelves.

    BTW, in French, the “teens” don’t start until 17. Starting with ten: dix, onze, douze, treize, quatorze, quinze, seize, dix-sept, dix-huit, dix-neuf, vingt. Don’t know how to explain that. What gets really tricky is the compound numbers from 70 and up. Seventy is soixante-dix — “sixty-ten.” From there, it’s “sixty-eleven, sixty-twelve, etc. Eighty is “four-twenty,” and ninety is “four-twenty-ten.” I arrived in France just as MS was releasing Windows 98. Somehow I found it hilarious that the translation was Windows four-twenty-ten-eight.

    1. visitor

      The French system for 70, 80, 90 apparently goes back to an old Celtic way of counting based, if I remember correctly, on a base-20. Till the 17th century or so, there were further numbers like 300 as “quinze-vingts”, i.e. fifteen-twenty (whereas 80 is “quatre-vingts”, i.e. four-twenty).

      But no worry. Modern French, as spoken in Belgium and Switzerland, has a much more streamlined way of counting: septante, huitante, nonante.

    2. polecat

      Ocean’s 11 was, in my opinion, an awful film ! …. so yeah, Ocean’s ‘Oneteen’ would suffice.

    3. Tom Allen

      The French mixture of decimal and vigesimal is kind of weird, but at least one doesn’t also have to do fractions. In Danish, 20, 30, and 40 get their own names, but 50 (“halvtredsindstyve”) is “2 1/2 times 20” while 70 is “3 1/2 times 20”.

      And come to think of it, English used to count by the “score” as well — “four score and seven years ago”, “threescore years and ten”.

      1. visitor

        So Danish also exhibits the remnants of a base-20 counting system. Interesting. Anybody knows what the counting system for proto-Indo-European was supposed to be?

          1. Outis Philalithopoulos

            No. One through ten are securely reconstructible. So are twenty and one hundred, although both are derivatives of the word for ten.

            1. marym

              Persian “teens” 11-19 all have the form -ten (dah). For all but 14, 17, 18 the “ones” form of the number changes to have a z-sound before the dah: 1 is yek, 11 is yaazdah, 9 is noh; 19 is nuzdah.

              20 is bist, 100 is sad.

    4. Outis Philalithopoulos

      On the teens in French, actually they are all “teens” but they come from two different chronological strata.

      French onze is from Latin undecim, i.e. unus ‘1’ + decem ’10.’ Similarly for douze through seize. On the other hand, dix-sept, dix-huit, dix-neuf are a more recent French formation, that places the “teen” (10) part first.

      On the other hand, this still in some sense just shifts the problem. Why did French create new forms for 17-19 but not the others? I’m just speculating here, but part of the reason was maybe that 18 and 19 didn’t fit the general pattern of the teens in Latin.

      18 was duodeviginti and 19 was undeviginti, i.e. “two from twenty” and “one from twenty” respectively. So the new pattern represented by dix-huit and dix-neuf was in some sense more consistent with the other teens.

      Not sure what happened with 17, though – Latin had septendecim along the pattern of the other earlier teens.

      1. 3.14e-9

        Interesting. Thanks, Otis.

        By that logic, can’t we say that eleven and twelve also are “teens,” as explained in the article? Eleven is derived from “one left after ten” and twelve from “two left after ten,” but isn’t that just the Germanic language family version of “one plus ten,” “two plus ten,” etc.?

        Also interesting to note that Spanish starts the “ten plus” system at sixteen rather than seventeen. Same with Portuguese. Maybe the French would have started at sixteen, too, if “dix-six” wasn’t so awkward. Same with Catalan. Italian, meanwhile, is more equivalent to one-teen, two-teen, etc., up to sixteen, then they switch to the “ten-plus” pattern.

        Those are the Romance languages I’m familiar with (not fluent; just familiar), so I checked to see what others are on the list and found … Romanian. Fancy that. And, as it turns out, Romanian is the one that’s consistent. They start at “one-teen” and end at “nine-teen.”

        1. Outis Philalithopoulos

          Thanks for providing the comparisons across Romance languages.

          On 11, 12 in Germanic, yes, although the details are a little different in that the pattern seen in 11, 12 (as far as one can tell) never extended even to 13. One curious fact about 11, 12 is that although it is generally agreed that they go back to a paraphrase of the form mentioned (number + “left over”), the suffix is hard to reconstruct and there are several competing hypotheses for where it came from.

    5. Jeff W

      The article makes a good point about the decimal system, but then fails in explaining why earlier systems were duodecimal.

      Earlier systems might have been duodecimal but somehow the Sinitic languages developed counting systems that are models of decimal simplicity. Mandarin and Cantonese, for example, use just their numbers “one through ten” to make the rest of the numbers to 99: eleven is the Mandarin/Cantonese equivalent of “ten-one,” twelve is “ten-two,” 20 is “two-ten,” 31 is “three-ten-one” and so on. Could not be easier.

  14. allan

    File under Health Care/Zeitgeist: uber-Villager Judy Woodruff asks Warren Buffet whether we should have single payer and he essentially says yes. The fact that she even posed the question indicates that reality is beginning to dawn on the Acela class. The video and transcript aren’t up yet, but should be posted later.

  15. Jeremy Grimm

    E: SciHub Civil Disobedience and from Links: “How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists” — Between the high cost of subscribing to Scientific Journals and their arcane and I believe deliberately obscure and obtuse jargon and writing style I wonder that anyone — even specialists in a particular area — bother to read Scientific Journals. I maintained a subscription to Science Magazine for a while after long ago giving up on Scientific American. I like Science very much and feel we are on the edge of great discoveries in many fields. I quit my subscription after some years — finding it impossible to keep up with even a small part of the flow of papers.

    Each issue included journal articles and research papers and “translations” of the most important of those papers. I decided these “translations” were evidence of a problem. They may have been intended as help to laymen such as myself but I started to wonder how many laymen bothered to read Science Magazine and I wondered whether the “translations” might be intended to help non-specialists in an area gather some understanding of papers outside their specialties. I have heard the arguments that special knowledge requires special words as tools for manipulating new knowledge. But that argument wears thin after wandering through word jungles on paths leading circularly to relatively small results or big results resting on small supports. In any case “It’s all Greek to me.”

    At a time we most need their Wisdom our Scientists speak gibber and withdraw into their Ivory castles (if 10-yeared) or into their poor cottages otherwise.

    1. Terry Flynn

      The principal funding bodies in the UK all require researchers to provide a lay summary of their proposed study. The official report of results generally must too. Some journals also require bullet point summaries written in such a style.

      Unfortunately, whilst this is now the norm in health services research (where I worked for almost 20 years) I go mad when having to read stuff from other disciplines which still seem to regard ‘academicese’ as a good thing. Mainstream economics is a particularly serious offender…. probably because highlighting key assumptions would make the average reader realise they’re actually reading a religious paper ;-)

  16. BoycottAmazon


    Is Peter Schiff give an accurate statement on how the jobs stats are created, particularly his claim that a person getting two part or more part time jobs is scored the same as if two or more people got the equivalent number of full time jobs?

  17. Nathan

    That “Above the Law” article is terrible and I wouldnt recommend posting anything from that guy in the future. He doesnt have a clue what he is talking about.

    Here are the facts we know about the Jane Sanders case so far:

    1. Sanders claimed the University had $2.7 million in pledged contributions.
    2. One of those pledges was listed as a verbal commitment to donate $1 million. Per accounting standards, a verbal pledge is NEVER allowed to be recorded by the accounting department, so this is very suspect.
    3. Another one of those pledges was listed as six annual installments of $150,000 with a seventh annual installment of $100,000 totaling $1 million. However, the donor has stated that she never made any such agreement and only committed to donating an unspecified amount upon her death. Again, this was a verbal commitment, it is disputed by the donor, and even if the donor had agreed to this, a pledge based solely on a claimed inclusion in a will is NEVER recorded by the accounting department as a pledge.
    4. Yet another donor has stated that he donated $30,000, but that the pledge spreadsheet lists him as pledging another $30,000 which he claims he never made.
    5. One of the members of the Board has stated that the Board was informed that one of the $1 million donors was “terminally ill” and thus the donation would be coming very soon.

    In my opinion this doesnt look good for Jane Sanders.

    Some major questions are:

    1. Why did the accounting department of this university record these pledges that did not meet basic accounting standard?
    2. Why did the bank and the Vermont bond association not notice that 75%+ of the claimed pledges came from two sources and neither had any written documentation supporting them?
    3. Given that one of the reasons given for Sanders being fired was that other employees at the University claimed she was overbearing and difficult to work for, did she exert undue influence on the accounting department in order to get these pledges recorded?
    4. How many of the other pledges are not actually supported by written evidence?

    Not that I think she will end up getting charged for anything, because we are talking about a Senator’s wife, but the fact is this case shows, at minimum, grossly incompetent behavior, if not outright fraud.

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