2:00PM Water Cooler 7/26/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I’m going to add some more UPDATEs; I’m still catching up on health care. –lambert P.S. Done, 3:01PM.


“Amid resistance, Trump backs away from controversial trade plan” [WaPo]. “President Trump said Tuesday that his administration is delaying a long-awaited verdict on whether to restrict imports of foreign steel, again punting on a decision that has divided U.S. industries and his own administration, as well as strained ties with some of the country’s closest allies and trading partners. ‘[W]e’re waiting till we get everything finished up between health care and taxes and maybe even infrastructure,” the president told the Wall Street Journal.'”

“Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, setting up a dispute with the U.S., says it is “absolutely essential” a revised North American trade pact includes a dispute-resolution panel” [Wall Street Journal].


Health Care

“Senate Republicans need to aim for the ‘lowest common denominator’ to keep the Obamacare repeal and replacement drive alive, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told CNBC on Wednesday” [CNBC]. “‘What gets us to 50 votes so that we can move forward on a health-care reform legislation … that’s what needs to happen. And that status quo isn’t working out for folks out there in the real world,’ he said on ‘Squawk Box.'” I guess we have to pass the bill to know what’s in it..

“The Senate’s Health Care Travesty” [Editorial, New York Times]. “That committee would hash out a compromise behind closed doors, sending whatever it comes up with to both chambers, which would then vote with limited public debate and no opportunity for amendments. This is far less transparent than the process that produced the A.C.A. and that the Republicans have been complaining about for seven years.” Tellingly, the Times leads with process issues. Adding, maybe if the Democrats had been as ruthless with process in 2009, we would have gotten a better bill? The sooner liberals stop whinging about norms violations, the better, so far as I’m concerned.

UPDATE “Who Knew Senate Health Bill Debate Could Be So Complicated?” [Kaiser Health News]. On the “vote-a-rama” (the orgy of amendments that culminates with McConnell doing whatever he’s going to do, in the final amendment): “According a report by the Congressional Research Service (a nonpartisan research group that provides background briefs to Congress), the Budget Act, which sets the reconciliation rules, ‘requires that all amendments be germane to the provisions in the bill.’ What does that mean? Says CRS, ‘amendments cannot be used to introduce new subjects or expand the scope of the bill.'” So I suppose an amendment that struck all the text of whatever bill is on the floor and replaced it with single payer would expand the “scope,” and hence not be germane? Then again, why play Mr. Nice Guy?

UPDATE “Boehner predicts Republicans will ‘never’ repeal and replace Obamacare” [WaPo]. “‘When it’s all said and done, you’re not going to have an employer mandate anymore, you’re not going to have the individual mandate,’ Boehner said. ‘The Medicaid expansion will be there. The governors will have more control over their Medicaid populations and how to get them care, and a lot of Obamacare taxes will probably go.'”

* * *

“Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican running in a special Senate election in Alabama, said he will not vote to keep Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as majority leader if he wins the race” [Wall Street Journal]. Hmm.

Murkowski via:


“New York Subway Failures Begin to Cost Cuomo Politically” [Bloomberg]. And so they ought to.

Trump Transition

“Questions and answers on Trump’s transgender military ban” [MarketWatch]. I’ll have more to say on this in due course, but for now, let me say that on a personal basis, I’m far more comfortable in a culture with 15 genders, three legally recognized, like Thailand’s (handy chart).

Lambert here, speaking for Lambert: As readers know, I view anything that takes the focus away from universal concrete material benefits, especially for the working class, as a distraction.* (Another way of saying that is that my concept of justice includes ideas like avoiding tens of thousands of excess working class “deaths from despair” yearly. A third way of saying this is asking “Are we really saying that Medicare for All, tuition-free college, a Post Office bank, a Jobs Guarantee, and a Debt Jubilee — just spitballing here — wouldn’t benefit [The Identity of Your Choice]?”) And so, repellent though Trump’s remarks are, building as they do on the stellar work of the reactionaries in charge of the North Carolina Republican Party, they are a distraction, and the liberal Democrat reaction to Trump poking them in the eye with a sharp stick, is an equal and opposite distraction (since they have no positive message to deliver, the “Better Deal” not, apparently, having the firepower to be deployed as a defense). And so we see how liberals and conservatives “work together” against the left. (Republican Establishment figures doing the right thing on this issue also cements Trump’s image as an insurgent figure, so this isn’t necessarily a stupid move on his part, politically.)

* On reflection, though distraction is the right word for the political effect in our bipolar liberal/conservative, it would be better to frame them as “tasks” within the larger, “universal” left project.

“‘Sounds like cowardice’: Chelsea Manning reacts to Trump transgender military ban” [McClatchy]. She’s right!

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “The Democrat tax-credits for job training idea… is so face-palmingly dumb that it’s almost impossible to believe they made the cut. This idea has been popular with Democratic and Republican politicians since the Reagan years, despite a wealth of evidence that this doesn’t work” [Boing Boing]. So much for that aspect of Schumer’s “Better Deal.” (I keep thinking that for the liberal Democrat leadership, it’s more like Baah-ter, Baah-ter, Baah-ter… (And no comments about “sheeple,” please; I said leadership.)

News from Cuomo territory:

“Progressives push to change bylaws at Democratic meeting” [Politico]. “[Sanders supporter] Kelleigh McKenzie, a committee member from the Hudson Valley who was elected last year, has proposed five amendments to the committee’s bylaws that would decrease the influence of elected party leaders over its executive committee and require more input over hiring the party’s executive director.” A keen observer comments (paraphrasing): Two minor rules passed. The leadership will almost certainly fight the remaining three changes in October. There was clearly significant (dare I say “pained”?) effort perform “unity” and play nice. On the floor, there was a lot of support for the changes, even among those who did not support Sanders.

“Teachout gets seat on Cuomo’s Democratic State Committee” [Politico]. “The post is not particularly powerful or prestigious. But it’s a step back into electoral politics for Teachout — who harnessed progressive Democrats and Cuomo antagonists three years ago — onto the governor’s own turf.”

* * *

UPDATE “[O]ne must understand Wisconsin, a so-called purple state with a stark urban/rural divide, if one is to understand the national rage that swept Trump into the White House” [In These Times]. Two books on Wisconsin: Amy Goldstein Janesville, and Katherine J. Cramer’s The Politics of Resentment. This:

Goldstein’s straightforward narrative gives the lie to a beloved neoliberal bromide: that a person’s hard work—no matter the shape or structure of the economy—will guarantee a tolerable standard of living. Lose your job? Get new training. No jobs in your town? Move to another one. When the market self-corrects, the argument goes, workers must self-correct along with it, retraining for new jobs in an ever—changing economy. But what Goldstein’s book captures is the limits of these individual self-corrections: Without a broader social safety net, the citizens of Janesville struggle to stay afloat no matter what type of skills they acquire.

Of course, “social safety net” is itself one of those neoliberal mind-[family blog]s: Why should life be like a tight-rope, anyhow? More:

Goldstein doesn’t editorialize, but the stories she relates inescapably support the left’s conclusion that charity and worker retraining are no real substitutes for the redistribution of wealth. The people in towns like Janesville need a stronger welfare state: Policies like single-payer health care, a higher minimum wage, and some combination of a universal basic income and a federal jobs guarantee would stretch a safety net over the abyss.

There’s plenty more in this perceptive article; and no, working class people don’t hate unions (because they know unions deliver concrete material benefits). Well worth a read.

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of July 21, 2017: “Purchase applications for home mortgages fell a seasonally adjusted 2 percent to the lowest level” [Econoday]. “Applications for refinancing rose 3 percent as homeowners took advantage of a drop in interest rates. Despite the week’s decline, purchase applications were 8 percent higher than in the same week a year ago.”

New Home Sales, June 2017: “New home sales are steady near the best levels of the expansion” [Econoday]. “New home sales at least didn’t move backwards as did Monday’s existing home sales data. Low mortgage rates and high levels of employment are important positives for the sector which, despite up-and-down readings since the Spring, is still a positive force for the economy.” Makes me wonder if there’s a conversion formula between new home sales and their substitute, home improvement (where sales are up, we see below in Retail). But: “This month the backward revisions were moderately down, and the rolling averages significantly declined. Because of weather and other factors, the rolling averages are the way to view this series – and the rolling averages are at the lower levels seen since the beginning of 2016” [Econintersect].

New Home Sales: “Following the housing bubble and bust, the ‘distressing gap’ appeared mostly because of distressed sales. The gap has persisted even though distressed sales are down significantly, since new home builders focused on more expensive homes” [Calculated Risk]. Handy chart:

“I expect existing home sales to move more sideways, and I expect this gap to slowly close, mostly from an increase in new home sales. However, this assumes that the builders will offer some smaller, less expensive homes. If not, then the gap will persist.”

Consumer Confidence (yesterday): “Consumer confidence (soft data) up for the month but retail sales (hard data) continue to decelerate” [Mosler Economics]. Handy chart:

Survey vs data again, one of the many unacknowledged scandals of our times….

Retail: “Americans Pour Record Sums Into Home Improvements” [Wall Street Journal]. “A shortage of new single-family homes across the U.S. is pushing up prices and locking many buyers out of the market. The silver lining: a boom in renovations of existing homes.”

Shipping: “Container shipping’s consolidation is ‘creating an oligopoly'” [Lloyd’s Loading List]. “Speaking in a webinar yesterday, Philip Damas, director of Drewry’s Supply Chain Advisors, said the bankruptcy of Hanjin last year and frantic liner merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the last few years constituted a fundamental structural shift in the carrier base and the competitive forces in container shipping. Most noticeably, he said, this was evident in the reduction of global liner operators from about 20 to 11 in just two years. This restructure would force shippers and suppliers to look for new strategies when doing business with shipping lines, and help lines manage excess supply and, potentially, prices in the coming years. ‘This is a significant decrease in the number of global carriers,’ said Damas. ‘And this, we suggest, will have deep repercussions on the entire industry – on shippers, on suppliers, shipyards and also on the level of competition between the carriers, because the container industry is frankly moving towards oligopoly.’ ‘This will give carriers much more control than they have had in the past.” Martin Dixon, director of research products at Drewry, said[:] ‘We’re forecasting that rates will rise on average by 16% this year – this is on average across all the different trade routes, head-haul and back-haul, east-west and north-south. So it’s quite an unprecedented rise in overall rates.'”

Supply Chain: “Supply chain sector faces potential ‘global talent crisis'” [Lloyd’s Loading List]. “Highlighting the sector’s high recruitment demands in the years to come, Harrington quoted a global study that estimates that demand for supply chain professionals exceeds supply by a ratio of six to one. She said the situation is exacerbated by the exodus of baby boomers from the workforce, up to one-third of the current supply chain workforce being at or beyond retirement age, with the backfill pipeline inadequate to satisfy replenishment demand.”

Supply Chain: “In its report, Alix Partners noted how ‘whether it is making an acquisition, striking a big trade deal with a major brand, or introducing a new product or service, Amazon will never stop innovating or taking risks. Amazon’s assortment and growing list of offerings continue to attract new customers, and its massive infrastructure helps it execute with speed and precision. And we can complain about the financial ‘pass’ it’s getting all we want, but that’s not going to change. Investors are betting on an Amazon future, and customers now expect the services that Amazon pioneered from all their retailers, not just Amazon'” [Logistics Management]. Hmm. It’s almost as if Amazon’s price is being driven by a utopian, totalizing dream

Supply Chain: “President Donald Trump is pledging big changes in Apple Inc.’ supply chain —’big, big, big’ changes. The president told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has committed to build three big plants in the U.S…. a dramatic upgrade on Apple’s plan for U.S. work that would help fulfill his administration’s economic goal of reviving American manufacturing. Mr. Trump said Mr. Cook promised him Apple would build ‘three big plants, beautiful plants,’ but he wouldn’t elaborate on where and when those factories would be built” [Wall Street Journal]. “Apple, which declined to comment, has said it would create a $1 billion fund to invest in U.S. companies that do advanced manufacturing. Apple now depends on contract manufacturing, most of it in China and a small share at three sites in the U.S. In the interview, Mr. Trump said people in states without jobs will have to move to states like Wisconsin, Iowa and Colorado that are adding ‘these massive plants.'” The JFK-style jawboning didn’t work out well with Carrier, so we’ll see how this works out with Apple. Go long American-made suicide nets, I suppose…

Supply Chain: “The Low Pay Commission founding member tasked with enforcing workers’ rights has pledged to jail rogue bosses and investigate failing industries as part of the government’s latest response to workplace scandals uncovered at companies including Sports Direct” [Guardian]. “Other areas under consideration include examining how supply chains as a whole can be made to adhere more rigorously to employment laws, perhaps by mirroring rules in the US where top brands can be made jointly liable for infringements further down the supply chain, including by recruitment agencies, even if they did not directly employ the workers.”

Energy: “Batteries and renewables to start displacing gas in South Australia by 2025” [Mining.com]. “By 2025, wind, solar and battery costs will fall by 15%, 25% and 50% respectively. By then, renewables and batteries could offer a lower cost alternative to combined-cycle gas turbine plants, which are commonly used to manage base load power generation in South Australia.” (There seem to be a number of battery wall projects in Australia, not just Tesla’s.)

The Bezzle: “Blue Apron Shocks Market By Going Almost A Whole Month Before Executive Shakeup” [DealBreaker]. “Lock up your CFO, Blue Apron, these things happen in patterns.”

The Bezzle: “Seventeen years after billions of dollars followed the Pied Piper of dot-com over the cliff, the cycle appears poised to repeat. Only this time, the target is the freight brokerage business” [DC Velocity]. “Money has a short memory. Seventeen years after billions followed the Pied Piper of dot-com over the cliff, the cycle appears poised to repeat, only this time it’s tied to the dubious quest to disrupt freight brokerage. Nary a week goes by that we don’t run one or more stories of logistics IT startups landing significant capital with the mission to bring brokerage to heel using the latest digital tools. … There is room for IT innovation in brokerage, and we don’t doubt that a handful of startups will endure and flourish. But we’re old enough to have lived through the past, and we see it pretty much as prologue to what lies ahead.” And why doesn’t Uber offer services from Ladies of Negotiable Affection directly, instead of through the driver? Surely there’s an app for that?

The Bezzle: “All the signs Silicon Valley isn’t nearly as awesome as it thinks it is” [Moneyish]. Read for the stats, but I found this quote interesting:

And for some — like Ryan Farley, the co-founder or [sic] tech startup LawnStarter— shunning Silicon Valley in favor of Austin was about avoiding the culture there. “I wanted to live in a tech hub, but I didn’t want tech to dominate my whole life. When I visit the Valley, nearly every conversation revolves around topics such as the hottest consumer app, which startup got funded, or what the latest and greatest programming framework is,” he tells Moneyish. “It’s a bit of an echo chamber.”

So what the heck is “Lawn Starter,” you may ask? (Leaving aside the issue of whether lawns should be started, or eliminated?) Just what you might think: “LawnStarter helps consumers find, schedule and manage lawn care services” (I’m not going to link to the PR drivel masquerading as a blog post on their site.) It’s just like Uber going into the taxi business. Or the grilled cheese start-up. Where’s the margin? How are these technical? What is it with Silicon Valley stupid money, anyhow?

The Bezzle: “Officials arrest suspect in $4 billion Bitcoin money laundering scheme” [Ars Technica]. “Police in Greece have arrested a man wanted in the United States for allegedly running a massive Bitcoin-based money laundering operation, according to the Associated Press. Authorities say the 38-year-old Russian man was responsible for converting $4 billion in illicit, conventional cash into virtual currency.” $4 billion? That’s, er, real money!

The Bezzle (?): “Investors unhappy as Alphabet shells out more to drive traffic” [Reuters]. “Google-parent Alphabet, which has enjoyed revenue growth rate of over 20 percent for the past five quarters, said on Monday that TAC, or traffic acquisition costs, jumped 28 percent to $5.09 billion in the second quarter. That is the highest percentage increase in TAC in nine years and analysts said they expect it to continue to weigh on margins even as the company’s fundamentals remain strong. Traffic acquisition costs were 22 percent of advertising revenue in the second quarter. Net ad revenue rose 16 percent, compared with 18 percent last quarter.” Google, idea: Make your search engine work, and don’t crap up the results page with your ads and those screen real-estate devouring “cards” that I don’t want to see or, worse, already know about. A 1995-style list of blue links will do fine, just fine. Simple, fast, informative, respectful of the user, just as the web was designed to be before corporate weasels infested it. harrumph..

Five Horsemen: “Amazon über alles — it’s about to bust off the top of the chart” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen July 26

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 80 Extreme Greed (previous close: 81, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 74 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jul 26 at 12:21pm.

Class Warfare

“3 reasons so many Americans are getting the hell out of the Northeast” [Moneyish]. “[T]he No. 1 financial fear of people who live in the Northeast is that they will have to live in debt forever; the Northeast is the only region of the country that ranked this as No. 1. (The other regions put retirement as their No. 1.) And no wonder they’re worried. The cost of living across the region is among the highest in the nation.” CoL seems simple-minded to me; surely salaries are much higher, too? I’m filing this here, however, because any seriously — dread word — intersectional class analysis must take geography into account (the difference between, say, a board game and actual warfare).

“n the early 1990s, career advice in the United States changed. A new social philosophy, neoliberalism, was transforming society, including the nIature of employment, and career counsellors and business writers had to respond. The Soviet Union had recently collapsed, and much as communist thinkers had tried to apply Marxist ideas to every aspect of life, triumphant US economic intellectuals raced to implement the ultra-individualist ideals of Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and other members of the Mont Pelerin Society, far and wide. In doing so for work, they developed a metaphor – that every person should think of herself as a business, the CEO of Me, Inc. The metaphor took off, and has had profound implications for how workplaces are run, how people understand their jobs, and how they plan careers, which increasingly revolve around quitting” [Aeon]. “The CEO of Me, Inc is a job-quitter for a good reason – the business world has come to agree with Hayek that market value is the best measure of value. As a consequence, a career means a string of jobs at different companies. So workers respond in kind, thinking about how to shape their career in a world where you can expect so little from employers. In a society where market rules rule, the only way for an employee to know her value is to look for another job and, if she finds one, usually to quit.”

News of the Wired

“If you really love your work and want to do a good job at it, the last thing you should do is sacrifice sleep. In the early 2000s, then-groundbreaking research out of Harvard University found that it is during sleep that you retain, consolidate, store, and connect information. In other words, your mind doesn’t grow and make leaps when you are at work, but rather when you are at rest” [New York Magazine]. “The world’s best musicians, athletes, artists, intellectuals, and entrepreneurs tend to consider rest an essential part of their jobs. They think about rest not as being something that is passive (i.e., nothing is happening, you’re wasting time) but rather as being something that is active (i.e., your brain — or if you’re an athlete, your body — is growing and getting better), and thus, they’re far more liable to respect it.” Maybe I should have filed this under Class Warfare; I’m guessing the precariat has a hard time getting enough sleep, ironic when so many precarious jobs are billed as being “creative,” or (through flex time) supporting creativity…

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allegic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (EdL):

EdL: “In the foreground is a callaloo plant and in the back is a flower that my landlord can’t remember the name of.” If you’ve ever wondered what a callaloo plant looks like — it sounds like something out of Jabberwocky — now you know!

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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. Hana M

      Thanks for the callaloo–I’ve never seen one before. The plant that is blooming in the background is indeed Echinachea, next to it is Cosmos bipinnatus and on the far right probably Helianthus giganteus. The pinkish flower just to the front of the Cosmos is Achillea millefolium (yarrow).

      1. polecat

        The ‘Callaloo’ foliage reminds me of Brugmansia .. (Solanum plant family)
        Are the blooms large, tubular, and hang downward ??

        1. different clue

          Callaloo is genus Amaranthus ( pigweeds, amaranths and such). So the flowers would be basically similar to Amaranthus in general.

  1. NotTimothyGeithner

    “What is it with Silicon Valley stupid money, anyhow?”

    Shades of 1999. What else are they going to do with stupid amounts of money? Give it to the poor? Sports teams are terrible investments especially with the anti-public funding sentiment.

    Politically, if Silicon Valley doesn’t invest in new ideas it will be noticed and is too isolated to not be the targets of a political witch hunt.

    Big Tobacco has interests across many states. Defense loves union employees. Big Tech operates on the promise of “entrepreneurs” providing a convenient excuse to blame the poor for their lot. If they stop, people might notice the founder of a “Hot or Not” website who thinks he is running for President is worth tens of billions of dollars while Americans wait in lines for dental based charities.

    1. tongorad

      …while Americans wait in lines for dental based charities.

      I believe its called “pulling yourself up by your own gums.”
      A post-modern day Horatio Oww!-ger story.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One big new idea: How to grow the next award-winning tulips.

      Either that, or invent Bit-tulips. You grow your Bit-tulips on your computer and get rich fast.

    3. Arizona Slim

      And, as for LawnStarter, what is with people anyway?

      Sheesh, if you have kids, make them do the yard work. Help them with the heavy stuff, but make them do some [family blog] manual labor. They aren’t too good for it.

      They’ll thank you one day, just like I thanked my parents for all the learning experiences I had while I was drafted into their home improvement projects. Heck, I was doing interior and exterior painting and laying bricks while I was in grade school.

      Years later, when I got my own house, those lessons paid dividends.

      1. Aufshor

        I agree with AZ Slim. Learning this at a young age is still paying dividends in my life today. It also gets my kids “unplugged” for awhile from their electronic umbilical cords and teaches them how to do certain things. I had my 12yr old out helping me work on the wakeboard boat teaching him about how things work and which tools to use for different tasks. Someday will come when he will think back to the times he learned from his pops!

      2. kurtismayfield

        Yep, living in a a Northeast suburban debt trap like I do you see that very few people do their own lawns.. nor do they make their kids do anything. My neighbor makes his son put out the trash which is a good thing to see. When I was about 12 I mowed my own lawn, then later me and two boys got together and mowed lawns around the neighborhood for $10-20 depending on the size. I would love to see a neighborhood kid try that today.. the suburban mom’s would *gasp* that their kid was doing manual labor and the dad’s would be do happy.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Funny thing is, I grew up in a nabe that would now fit the description of a Northeastern suburban debt trap. My mother still lives there.

          One of Mom’s favorite themes: “Why do so few kids play outside? Slim, when you were a kid, I had to order you to come back inside!”

        2. jo6pac

          Yes my friends and I would do stuff like that around the neighborhood but sadly parents today would be arrested and have to pay fine for allowing underage kids working and with no business license.
          I wish it was snark;)

          1. polecat

            Yes, and just who allowed those social ‘service’ folk the absolute power of seizure of your kids … for ANY unREASON ??

        3. CanCyn

          Or they wouldn’t allow it because it’s not safe! I have a friend who tried to find a neighbourhood kid to cut her lawn, there were several families on the street with kids the right age. Not one parent would allow it, they didn’t believe it was safe for kids to operate a lawnmower.

      3. jonhoops

        Just thought of a new app-ortunity. With new AR Kit in iOS we can create a gameified lawn mowing app to get the kids back on the lawn mower. With a bluetooth enabled lawn mower kids can chase after fleeing pokemon and as a side benefit the lawn is mowed. I smell a Unicorn in the making!!

    4. allan

      “LawnStarter helps consumers find, schedule and manage lawn care services”

      Which, by recursion, should lead to

      “LawnStarterStarter helps consumers find, schedule and manage services
      that help consumers find, schedule and manage lawn care services”


      “LawnStarterStarterStarter helps consumers find, schedule and manage services
      that help consumers find, schedule and manage services
      that help consumers find, schedule and manage lawn care services”

    5. PKMKII

      Ideology trying to justify itself. Techlords need to deliver on their TED Talk rhetoric that they’re going to innovate the world into a new industrial revolution so the VC money keeps coming, not to mention the government cash going into the higher education tech programs that provide so much of the intellectual capital they exploit for their private profits. So stupid money cashing after the dream of the paradigm shift.

    6. jrs

      “LawnStarter helps consumers find, schedule and manage lawn care services”

      so it’s a business to hire illegals.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Because American adults couldn’t possibly do their own yard work! Nor could their precious offspring!

        1. Richard

          Hah! When I was a sprat (back in the 70’s, Twin Falls, Idaho) and had one of my first summer jobs as a graveyard shift custodian at Kmart, my dad was horrified, HORRIFIED to find me sleeping at noon and 1 pm, which would seem to follow, dad, but whatever.
          He immediately got me a job with the landscaping/lawnmowing company who mowed our lawn, which I myself had done quite poorly a few years before. My lack of entry skills didn’t seem to caution dad at all.
          Anyway, it was a great idea. I had a much better experience in the sunshine with the younger crew (my co-worker in the graveyard shift was in his 60’s, and slept a lot). We also got high with the owner, an added benefit that my dad wasn’t aware of! His nickname was Snuffy, and he was one of those Cali transplants that made life more tolerable for Southern Idaho teenagers. Hmm, “coastal elite snob much Richard?” Yes, well I’ll stand by it anyway, and this has been my Old Codger Moment.

        2. polecat

          Well Arizona Slim, if that’s the case, then I guess I haven’t aged past what .. 16 for the past 50+years …
          That’s one long adolecence !

          1. polecat

            p.s. I have yanked out every lawn that went with whatever house that I and the mrs. polecat bought, and the property we currently own never had one.
            I • Detest • Turf … except for timber bamboo, which I liken to ‘Bermuda Grass for Liliputes .. ‘;]

  2. Herky

    Is it simplistic to think that an oligopoly in the container shipping industry could actually have a beneficial impact on US-based manufacturing, as higher rates would serve as a de facto import tariff on foreign goods? I’m assuming the answer is ‘yes’, but happy to tap the perspective of others here to better understand why.

    1. Vatch

      Wouldn’t it also create de facto export tariffs, as well? However, since the U.S. imports so much more than we export, that might not be very significant.

      1. Synoia

        The US exports lots of used, empty containers.

        And many containers filled with scrap of all forms.

        Unfortunately, we have found no market for used US politicians.

        1. ocop

          Sadly we do have a market for them amongst the hallowed halls of the 1% for lobbying, consulting, and corporate board type positions.

          Technically thats probably a market for current politicians though. Just with payment deferred to a later date.

  3. diptherio

    There’s a good piece in ROAR Magazine about the “Municipalist” movement. If you’ve been paying attention to what’s been going on in Barcelona and Rojava, this is that:

    In the midst of this milieu, a small constellation of civic platforms have emerged with the purpose of transforming how US cities and municipalities are actually run. Blurring the lines between social movement and local governance, these municipalist experiments organize on the basis of existing municipalities or districts, demanding socially just and ecological solutions to issues that concern the community as a whole. Yet their common agenda extends far beyond electing progressive parties to local office. Patiently, through a combination of political education, grassroots mobilization and reform, municipalists seek to place decision-making power back in the hands of citizens. Municipalism is not simply a new strategy for local governance, but rather is a path to social freedom and stateless democracy.

    The term “municipalism” itself derives from “libertarian municipalism,” coined during the 1980s by social theorist and philosopher Murray Bookchin. By claiming the label “libertarian,” Bookchin invoked its original meaning from nineteenth-century anarchism. In his view, essential concepts like “liberty” and “freedom” had been wrongly subverted and appropriated by the right wing, and it was time for leftists to reclaim them. Nonetheless, the label “libertarian” has been dropped by many of the new municipal experiments. Most recently, the Catalan citizen’s platform Barcelona en Comú (Barcelona in Common) has popularized municipalism as part of its political project in Catalonia, Spain. Their version of municipalism also ties closely to the theory and praxis of the commons, which they marshal to defend the city against runaway tourism and urban development.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I have heard that the same sort of “constellation” emerged in Detroit over the last twenty or thirty years. Lots of System D, lots of “gift economy,” nothing to do with the nonsensical renaissance of gentrification — and a good deal more resilient. I’d like to understand more about that.

      1. diptherio

        I don’t know much about the situation in Detroit. Jackson, MS is the epicenter of the movement in the US right now. They’ve started a couple of co-op enterprises (a farm among them) with plans for many more, and they just won the mayoral election:


        Other projects moving in these directions are the Participatory Budgeting projects going on around the country. They are generally pretty small, but they give people a taste of what could be, and provide some real agency for community members in deciding what their community will become.


        1. Carla

          Shown in the video: Paper ballots, marked by hand — I like that a lot! Next step: counted in public! (I’m guessing these ballots are.) It could teach people what to expect, and demand, in all our elections.

          In addition to getting community-chosen projects done, of course.

      2. bezoff

        Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of gentrification happening around downtown and midtown Detroit. Currently, the biggest catalyst is the construction of Little Caesar’s Arena (set to open in the Fall). Of course, further out, there are urban farms and other forms of pioneering happening, but mostly in the shadows of the big developers. What’s worse is that the mayoral campaign features Coleman Young IV (son of the longest serving mayor in Detroit history). He’s of the school that believes in “innovation” and startup culture and other BS neolib solutions to intransigent social and political issues.

        1. Carla

          Much of the gentrification of Detroit is courtesy of Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans, who’s also owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, so here in NE Ohio, he’s busy ripping off some of the poorest taxpayers in the country by grabbing admissions tax $$$ to fund hundreds of millions in renovations to the Quicken Loans Arena. Billionaires are always experts in spending OPM.

  4. Jim Haygood

    Fedsters! [exhales in exasperation]:

    The Federal Reserve on Wednesday said it will start to reduce its massive $4.5 trillion pile of government and mortgage debt “relatively soon.”

    In May the Fed said it would begin to wind down its balance sheet later “this year.” The latest statement points to the central bank launching the effort by September or October.

    The bank aims to whittle down its collection of bonds over the next several years, though the Fed said it’s unlikely to restore its balance sheet to pre-recession levels of around $800 billion.


    NO economic theory whatsoever defines what a proper level of central bank assets should be. Households are often advised to keep three to six months of expenses on hand. This logic doesn’t apply to central banks, whose liabilities are irredeemable.

    A decade ago, the Fed’s assets were about 5% of GDP. Now they’re close to 25% of GDP. Why not 10%, or 100%? There is no basis for saying other than POOTA (Pulled Out Of Their Ass).

    With a nod to the cautious conservatism that governs physicians (“First, do no harm“), the simple and obvious procedure would be “don’t fix what isn’t broken.” Normalization was a total failure after the Civil War in the US and WW I in Britain. “Repeg where you are” would have saved tens of millions from abject misery.

    If some adult doesn’t restrain these kiddies playing with live grenades, they’re going to inadvertently repeat their predecessors’ gross error of 1937. For those who weren’t watching, the Fedsters thought (just like today) that inflation — running at 2.2% in early 1937 — needed to be taught a lesson. So they whacked it with the one-two punch of a discount rate hike AND a reserve ratio increase … putting the lights out on a five-year recovery.

      1. David Carl Grimes

        Yellen does not want Trump to get re-elected. But maybe Gary Cohn will resume the asset build up once he becomes Fed Chair.

        1. Jim Haygood

          As a central bankster, J-Yel probably sincerely believes in normalization, though it has never produced any result other than deflationary depression.

          What would utterly appall the PhDs of the Board of Governors is Gary Cohn’s sole academic qualification: a BA in Biz from American University. No PhD; no Econ dept; no Ivy League pedigree.

          Truly the barbarians have stormed the Fed’s shining tour d’ivoire of enlightened rule by decree.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I have an idea, let’s pretend that the price of money can be managed Soviet top-down command-and-control style by an opaque and omniscient Central Committee, they will meet periodically and determine exactly how many shoes people will buy in the future and this will tell them precisely how many cows need to be raised for the leather.

            “I have seen the future…and it works!”
            – Harry Dexter White, architect of the world’s monetary system, quoted in 1936 after he visited that new model of all future societies the Soviet Union

    1. Arizona Slim

      And if your drone crashes in my yard, you’re not getting it back, you Big Fat River, you!

      1. different clue

        What if you were the kind of computer wizard who could inject some kind of malware into the Amadrone’s little electronic brain and memory? Such that when it got back to base it would spread that malware or worms or viruses or whatever into the Amazon Computer Hive Mind Network?

        If you could do that . . . would you give it back then?

    2. Art Eclectic

      If said drone also cleans my bathroom and mows the lawn, I’m open to negotiation.

  5. Savonarola

    Plants in the back look like purple coneflower and cosmos (not blooming yet). I think I also spot some sedum.

  6. a different chris

    >….traffic acquisition costs, jumped 28 percent ….Net ad revenue rose 16 percent,

    …followed by….

    >even as the company’s fundamentals remain strong

    Once upon a time, money in minus money out was pretty much the most “fundamental” thing ever with a company. But apparently now we can spend 128 bucks to up our net revenue to 116 bucks and that’s OK since it isn’t fundamental to the business.

    And, since the business is a Bezzle, I guess it really isn’t.

  7. Jim Haygood

    CoL [Cost of LIving in the northeast] seems simple-minded to me; surely salaries are much higher, too?

    They are. But high progressive income taxes, high house prices, high property taxes, high cost of commuting (a cruel tax on time as well) create a treadmill effect: you have to keep earning as fast as you can, just to stay even. Lose your six-figure job, and you’ve got a horrendous nut to cover.

    The current Summer of Hell for NJ Transit and LIRR commuters is going to be the breaking point for some of them. One bad summer doesn’t even begin to address the region’s neglected infrastructure, which is still rusting in the rain. Or the coming meltdown of public pensions in NJ and CT in the next recession.

    North of NYC, the new Tappan Zee Gov Mario M Cuomo Bridge [a forced choice because the old 1955 bridge had exceeded its design life] is a rare example of new cross-Hudson infrastructure. But there’s a nasty catch:

    Although the state has not released an official number, the toll is expected to rise over its predecessor.


    Gotcha! In the northeast, every silver lining contains a black cloud. Toll on the George Washington Bridge 13 miles to the south, whose east end is in Manhattan, is an eye-popping $15 (eastbound only).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > you have to keep earning as fast as you can, just to stay even.

      But surely that’s true everywhere? I mean, the whole point of things as they are is to make that true.

      1. diptherio

        Yes, it’s true everywhere, for most everyone.

        Of course, the standard of living that constitutes “just staying even” varies considerably, but things are arranged so that everyone constantly feels that they are just on the verge of not being able to keep up. This makes people much more willing to work unreasonable hours and do unreasonable things to other people, whenever it suits the boss man that they do so.

    2. Arizona Slim

      One of my workday friends is from NYC. Complete with the N’Yawk accent.

      Guy’s in Tucson because his daughter and grandson are here, and he can whiz into town in, oh, 20 minutes tops. He doesn’t miss NYC commuting at all.

    3. alex morfesis

      about the george washington bridge toll…it was originally 50 cents each way and now is 15 bux one payment from jersey…15x growth…the grey lady cost 2 cents in 1932 and now requests a tribute of $2.50 for the honor of attempting to properly fold the paper judiciously on public transportation…an increase of 125x…

      the bridge toll did not go up for over 40 years…

      the red can cola company had its small bottle of 6.5 ounces at 5 cents for almost 70 years (1886-1959) finally moving up to 10 whole cents ??…today the 7.5 ounce can is usually bought in an 8 pack for about 40-50 cents each…a grand increase of only about 8-10x…

      and as to all the moving to florida stuff…most folks don’t absorb the level of population down here…it is actually more dense(in more ways than one) than california…more folks per square mile…florida can maybe…maybe…absorb another 5 million people before it starts losing its capacity to be somewhat enjoyable…

      despite the best efforts of the economy crashers of the acela “judge dredd” corridor…there is life beyond the walls…but not as much room to grow as many imagine…

      forgetting global flooding…the land is not conducive to large taller buildings…not much bedrock and many water wells hit pay dirt only 50 feet below ground…

      oh and back to the bridge…it was to have been paid off by the late 1950’s…


      but then someone decide to do a bail out of a private company and then…
      the wondrous path system was born…

      1. RUKidding

        The bridge sounds somewhat like the PA Turnpike. I don’t have any financial figures, but I recall back in Ye Olden Days of the ’50s the tolls weren’t too bad, and the original notion is that the Pike would be paid off at some point in time.

        Of course, they are still collecting tolls on the Pike, and they’re pretty high, last time I paid for one.

        I have no idea who’s making out like a bandit on that manuever, but someone is, I’m sure. I guess it’s filed under “we need it for ongoing maintenance” or something. Tolls never go away, and since about the ’70s they’ve just gone up, Up, UP.

    4. polecat

      So a fastfood worker, or other low wage earner, would have to work 2+ hours just of pay the toll …. not counting the personal weekly, monthly, and annual costs (auto, maint., insurance, and fuel) of commuting.**
      Better raise that minimum wage higher !

      ** on the assumption the low wage shlub doesn’t reside in the city proper.

      1. Carla

        No minimum wage worker in the NYC metropolitan area owns a car. It’s mathematically impossible.

    5. FreeMarketApologist

      $15 all the time if you’re paying with cash.
      $12.50 peak hours with E-Z Pass
      $10.50 off-peak with E-Z Pass
      So, you do get something for handing over your surveillable data.

      And it’s all surveilled on GWB these days, as all license plates are scanned (they mail you the toll bill).

        1. FreeMarketApologist

          Semi-ironic. I have worked in the financial industry since 1988, hold securities licenses and professional certifications, and generally believe that acts of capitalism between consenting adults are just fine (I am not a salesperson or trader). I believe that the industry provides real financial solutions (from the simple to the exotic) for people (from all walks of life) who need them, but I’m deeply cynical about many of the means and methods used, particularly in the way risks are transferred, costs are assigned (rents sought), and regulatory jurisdictions are arbitraged (or legislated into ineffectiveness by purchased elected officials). I’m horrified at the level of innumeracy in the general population, and the marketing of products and services by financial organizations to that disadvantaged population, as well as the general ethos of ‘make a quick buck with no work’ that pervades our culture, which the industry has encouraged.


    On Cuomo: You don’t ride in, proclaiming the MTA to be a mess no one is willing to take responsibility for, say you’re the sheriff who’s going to bring order to it, and then immediately turn around and say, “It’s the other guy’s responsibility!” Not sure if it’s pure hubris that’s driving Dear Governor on this, or just plain bad propaganda planning.

    On Apple & on-shoring: suspect that whatever it is they’re planning to set up stateside, will largely be about the optics rather than serious production. Have 95% of the iPhones built overseas, then the last 5% is done in some Midwest plant just so they can say it’s “Made in America.” Perhaps eyeballing some Buy America requirements on government contracts? Kawasaki largely does the same thing with their plant in Plattsburgh.

    1. Arizona Slim

      What the heck? This guy is governor of NEW YORK, for [family blog’s] sake.

      Start stomping into Manhattan and chewing people out, Andrew. Tell ’em to get this MTA thing fixed and NOW!

      So says Slim, who is the child of a couple of New Yorkers. They were very good at hollering at me in order to get things done.

      1. cocomaan

        AZSlim, you know better. This generation of politicians knows that they can just send some emails to get things done. That’s how Obama did his entire 8 years.

        A strongly worded email is listened to every time.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Cuomo is a kid of a powerful man who now his daddy’s job. I don’t blame emails. Cuomo has behaved as countless others before him, rising on the family name and not able to act when he encounters power independent of his inherited name. The City of New York isn’t some back water grateful to be noticed by the state capital.

          On the flip side, Cuomo has made a career out of thuggery. Its likely he doesn’t have a clue how to cooperate to achieve any goals. My guess is he thinks he can pull his usual show, say Im andy CUOMO and be rewarded.

      2. Jim Haygood

        > Tell ’em to get this MTA thing fixed and NOW!

        The Power of Now, as ol’ Eckhart Tolle wrote: too bad it don’t work with complex public infrastructure like mass transit.

        To upgrade the 1930s block signals in the subway would take billions of dollars, years of time, and unthinkable service interruptions. Maybe the prolific Elon Musk will invent a new wireless signal system that we can just switch on without having to muck about in dusty old tunnels.

        Gov Cuomo taking public credit for the Second Avenue subway (a project first proposed 98 years ago and under construction for 45 years) fulfills a well-worn cliché about public infrastructure: politicians love building it [shiny new things], but quickly lose interest in maintaining it.

        The insidious illusion of cash-basis public budgeting underlies this chronic blind spot. Depreciation isn’t merely a non-cash charge — it doesn’t even feature in cash-basis budgeting! That is, if we ignore it long enough, maybe it will go away. :-)

        I wish the real world would just stop hassling me.” — Real World, Matchbox Twenty

      3. Darius

        How can Cuomo tell ’em how to fix the MTA when he’s the one who let it get this way in the first place? Blas isn’t blameless. Politicians in general don’t use transit so don’t give a [family blog] about it or the people who use it. Even though New York will be paralyzed when the system collapses.

        But Cuomo by far has had the the most authority to maintain the system. Instead he has systematically robbed it to fund other priorities. Only people who drive cars matter to him.

  9. Lambert Strether Post author

    I just started The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, and he is indeed a fine writer; supple and clear. Here is an amazing true fact from page 2:

    [My grandfather Grant] worked for, and lived in the family of a Mr. Brown, the father of John Brown — “whose body lies mouldering in the grave, while his soul goes marching on.” I have often heard my father speak of John Brown, particularly since the events of Harper’s Ferry. Brown was a body when they lived in the same house, but he knew him afterwards, and regarded him as a man of great purity of character, of high moral and physical courage, but a fanatic and an extremist in whatever he advocated. It was certainly the act of an insane man to attempt the invasion of the South, and the overthrow of slavery, with less than twenty men.

    (I did quick Google on this, and the connection does seem to be supported by other sources.)

    I guess the moral is that you never know how the example you set may echo in future years.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Another fun fact: Mark Twain, who was no fan of the publishing industry, acted as Grant’s publisher. Because Twain wanted that book to get out there.

    2. clinical wasteman

      If that’s true of the writing, it’s all the more impressive given that — at least according to his friend Mark Twain, in his own posthumously published Autobiography — Grant refused for years to write any sort of memoir, then wrote these volumes very fast (possibly with some help from Twain) more or less on his deathbed, specifically as a way to provide for his family after his death.
      Admittedly almost all of the little I think I know about Grant as a person comes from the wryly partisan Twain and from Gore Vidal (critical politically but not without sympathetic human interest in the character); but the Brown family connection is indeed an amazing new detail (or at least one I had forgotten). Other readers will be able to judge better, but perhaps the ‘insanity’ of John Brown’s guerilla-type raid was more than a detail for Grant when he opted for a campaign of colossal human attrition as the ‘sane’ way to invade the South?
      Tangentially to all that but less so than it might seem, Noel Ignatieff (co-founder of the now defunct ‘Race Traitor’) has a new magazine called ‘Hard Crackers’, dedicated to stories of everyday working-class American life. (Sorry no link, for same computer-defect reasons mentioned recently, but easily found with a DDG search combining Ignatieff’s name and that of the magazine). This self-proclaimed ‘white supremacy abolitionist’ has long been a furious critic of ‘post-racial’ smugness and those upholstered-liberal beneficiaries of white supremacy who chide ‘deplorables’ for their imputed racism. Since long before it was a media talking point, Ignatieff and co. have addressed race and class from the standpoint of workers who are also, in the prevailing terms (which they want to abolish but know they can’t wish away), ‘white’.
      I haven’t explained this well at all, but from what I’ve seen of the limited web version of Hard Crackers and from the work of Ignatieff & comrades
      elsewhere (notably at Loren Goldner’s ‘Insurgent Notes’), I do think this publication could be of interest to a lot of NC readers. I’ll try to post the link and the print magazine details later tonight if the computer allows.

      1. Richard

        CW, I use Vidal as a historical resource as well! When some of my coworkers were postulating on US history after seeing Hamilton last year, I would counter with Vidal’s Burr, my all time favorite.
        And thanks for giving us the tip about Hard Crackers; I think I’ll look that up.

        1. clinical wasteman

          Thanks WobblyT for the link and Richard for the comment.
          I should have made clearer, by the way, that the word “stories” doesn’t — at least for the most part, & as far as I can tell — mean fiction, but first-hand accounts of real life, without the managing hand of the sociologist or journalist.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            Took about 4 seconds of browsing for me to think of Studs Terkel. Good stuff.

    3. voteforno6

      Indeed. Grant, as I recall, had some rather pointed observations about what became the C.S.A. in the run-up to the Civil War.

    4. Darius

      USG keeps you in suspense over how the Civil War is going to end.

      He actually respects some of the rebels, though disagreeing strongly with their cause. Others he skewers with a dry wit, for example, holding Jefferson Davis in minimum high regard.

      1. craazyman

        He must have known it would be over when people read the book. They don’t make em like U.S. Grant anymore. It’s kind of weird to think he stayed with his buddy John Mosby over in Hong Kong after he sent Mosby over there to get away from all the Virginians who wanted to kill his asss. Can you imagine? Every time you think you understand a situation, then think of that. How much can change in a few years? Holy Smokes.

    5. VietnamVet

      Grant’s writing is amazingly clear. When I returned in 1970 from overseas, I felt like a “Stranger in a Strange Land”. I got the phrase from Robert Heinlein’s title but Grant used it earlier to describe the young professionals who never done a day’s work in their life who during California’s Gold Rush ended up forced to do manual labor or lounging about restaurants and gambling houses for the free lunches. It appears to be just as appropriate for today’s twenty-year-olds.

  10. alex morfesis

    oh…billion…like with a “b”…so much 4 the vacation in ellas…a russian was arrested in chalkidiki on a warrant from american officials who suggest 4 billion dollars of bitcoin were used to launder proceeds…it is speculated the person is alexander vinnik of BTC-e


    oh well…at least he got to enjoy it for a while…


    live fasterer…

  11. Tom_Doak

    I’m thinking more people in the Northeast fear for their financial future because they get to see the acceleration of inequality on an everyday basis: it’s pretty easy to tell whether you’re part of the elite or not living right among them. In the Midwest, even if things aren’t as good, you see your neighbors struggling, too, and not so many multi-millionaires to drive home the problem.

    Even a lot of people working on Wall Street probably worry about their finances, wondering whether they will ever get to make a $5 million bonus before the whole game collapses. And they’re probably deep in debt trying to keep up with the neighbors.

    1. steelhead

      “You cannot be serious”. Props to John McEnroe. I know of least 7500 families in Nebraska and Iowa who have $8-12 figure wealth (Not including “Uncle Warren”). Mostly from inheritance and stock grants/options. Get real…

  12. allan

    Don’t run biomedical science as a business [Nature]

    … Resetting the trajectory of the scientific enterprise requires multiple, difficult actions. Politicians must understand that job creation is not — and furthermore, should not be — a primary goal of the NIH or any other science-funding agency. Funds should be distributed on the basis of merit alone, not geopolitical considerations and interests. Institutions need to realign their mentality with their original academic mission, and reduce soft-money positions. Publishers should care less about publishing flashy stories and more about disseminating solid science. Individual scientists should emphasize excellence and rigour over stockpiling more and more papers and grants. …

    Crazy talk.

  13. keithmo

    The neoliberal philosophy of employment seems to explain the growing drop in consumer satisfaction with many goods and services (United Airlines, Comcast, etc.). A company filled with so-called “CEOs of Me” willing to quit at the drop of a hat might not be a dependable service provider. There are direct links between employee turnover and customer satisfaction.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      “scumbag opportunist Cory Booker, hugging McCain”

      McCain hugs Shrub
      Obama hugs McCain
      Leiberman hugs Obama
      Michelle hugs Shrub

      WTF??? Damn hugging-est generation of politicians I’ve ever seen.

      1. Carla

        Why not? They’re all working for the same people*, so they have a lot in common. Why not be BFF’s?

        * hint: and those people ain’t us.

      2. John k

        Hill hugs shrub… he’s got a lot of soul mates among those elite dems…

        Who loves ya man? I couldn’t of invaded better…

    2. RUKidding

      Eh? I was never a McCain fan, and I’ve never regretted that decision.

      All this crap about how Maverick-y he’s alleged to be is horse hockey. He votes straight GOP all the time. And he’s as crooked as a dog’s hind leg. And then there’s Palin, and now this.

      A worthless SOB IMHO.

  14. Left in Wisconsin

    UPDATE “[O]ne must understand Wisconsin, a so-called purple state with a stark urban/rural divide, if one is to understand the national rage that swept Trump into the White House” [In These Times]. Two books on Wisconsin: Amy Goldstein Janesville, and Katherine J. Cramer’s The Politics of Resentment.
    [Actually, article is in The Nation]

    Always good to see people taking flyover seriously. But, while much food for thought, I found the article less than enlightening.
    1. The GM plant closing in Janesville in 2008 was only a surprise to locals because Janesville had always rated near the top of GM plants in efficiency and so had been spared in previous bouts of downsizing. IMO, this led to a certain amount of “this can’t happen here” among the workforce and city fathers. The point is that GM is a shell of its former self and downsizing will always gore some, the only question is which. And when your number comes up, it is always grim.
    2. The story of Janesville 2008 has been written multiple times over the last 40 years. Ruth Milkman’s Farewell to the Factory about the Ford plant in Edison NJ was written in the late 1990s. I have now forgotten the name and author of the best book I ever read in this genre which was about a tool & die shop in Buffalo that changed owners multiple times in a series of buyouts and financial deals before it was shuttered. That one was written in the early 1980s, I think. The author of The Nation article might be correct in saying the closing of Janesville was influential in recent Wisconsin politics but, if so, that is only because, like many, those in Janesville were less interested in and moved by the same processes as they affected others. To anyone who could see the big picture, nothing that happened in Janesville was remotely surprising.
    3. I’m starting to think the Cramer book has jumped the shark. I haven’t read it cover to cover, only excerpts and news articles, but everything I’ve read suggests to me that it, or the coverage of it at least, is based on a fundamental mis-premise: that the kind of small-town male retirees that meet regularly for breakfast or coffee have some sort of wise understanding of rural life and how everyone else misunderstands them. As far as I can tell, there are NO young people in the book at all. I am quite sure that conversations with younger residents of these towns would yield much different conversations. Also, in the excerpts I’ve read, the conversations reveal one false impression after another of what people and life are like in Milwaukee and in Madison and lots of “facts” that are simply not true. There is certainly plenty of misunderstanding between “city” and rural in Wisconsin but my guess is that rural misunderstanding, again at least among this cohort of mostly retired rural “village elders,” is actually worse.
    4. The article’s author fails to square the circle of these two books. The Cramer book, taken at face value, suggests a rural/urban divide that simply cannot be bridged – in large part because the people she talks do really do hate Milwaukee-ans (poor, lazy and black) and resent Madison-ians (disproportionately privileged, also weird). Which is why I don’t take it at face value. Likewise, the Janesville book demonstrates, once again, what happens to a small city when tens of thousands of $50-100k jobs are lost all at once. It’s not pretty but the notion that Dems have some program to speak to the remainers in these cities is wishful thinking.
    5. The one thing that does square the circle is the desire to go back to an earlier (and in some ways imaginary, but that is another conversation) time when there were good middle-class manufacturing jobs in lots of the small cities and towns of Wisconsin. These jobs are now mostly gone – the factory jobs that are left are mostly low-wage, low-skill non-union jobs and they tend to be located in exurban industrial parks, not small towns. (Yes, geography!) Thus the attraction of Trump.
    6. But I guess Foxconn will save us!

  15. Plenue

    “I’ll have more to say on this in due course, but for now, let me say that on a personal basis, I’m far more comfortable in a culture with 15 genders, three legally recognized, like Thailand’s (handy chart).”

    Isn’t it curious how conservatives, who always claim to be about freedom and individuality, get absolutely pissy when people exercise that freedom and individuality in ways that don’t conform to right-wing ideas about how things ‘should’ be?

    1. ChrisPacific

      I have been pondering how to explain gender identity to my four year old son, who frequently mixes up his pronouns when referring to people. It’s more difficult than you might think. I have come to the conclusion that it’s almost exclusively a cultural construct. Defining it in terms of anatomy is technically correct but useless in practice, since you can’t exactly ask to have a look. You can focus on physiological differences, but that only works some of the time, and they aren’t that pronounced for young children anyway. Failing that, all you have left is cultural markers like clothes, hairstyles, names and so on. Even that is not reliable 100% of the time, for example if parents are encouraging their children not to be bound by stereotypes.

      It’s tempting at this point to wonder why we should care at all, particularly since we aren’t supposed to be segregating activities by gender for kids these days. The practical answer is that the language forces you to make a call one way or the other whenever you want to refer to somebody by a pronoun.

    2. clinical wasteman

      Sure is, although not without a certain semantically familyblogged-up internal logic: “libertarians” of that sort and the liberal-Communitarian half of their tag team both take it as self-evident that “liberty” pertains to property rights alone. Or in the immortal words of the blogsultant in a short story by Hari Kunzru a few years ago: “remember, only stuff is private”.
      What both halves of this unholy pincer movement want is to get policing out of ‘economic activity’ and into unproductive types of social life. (Perhaps the liberals would like discreetly weaponized counselling while the conservative-libertarians would rather stick with traditional death squads, but it amounts to much the same thing.)
      A single individual indulging in the wrong sort of freedom may escape with an online tarring-and-feathering or a court-mandated 12-step program, depending on his/her financial status and ‘race’, but what both kinds of the righteous really hate is when a lot of economically low-yielding individuals all act that way together. That’s known, among other things, as “urban blight”, “dependency culture”, “drugs crisis”, generational decline” and “anti-social behaviour”, and once any of those labels stick, it’s open season on the downscale deviants concerned.
      One important point that readers here seem generally to get but media at large sure don’t is that the policing of personal ‘behaviour’ is always class warfare, and vice-versa.

  16. marym

    Republican Sen. Steve Daines to make Democrats vote on single payer

    Sen. Steve Daines is proposing an amendment to the Republican healthcare bill that would implement a government-run, single-payer insurance system in the U.S.

    The Montana Republican doesn’t support single-payer healthcare. But in a bit of political gamesmanship often seen in Congress, Daines wants to force vulnerable Democratic senators running for re-election in red states in 2018 to take a position on the liberal healthcare policy, which is gaining currency on the Left.
    Daines’ single-payer amendment is a carbon copy of one offered in the House by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Accidents happen all the time.

        This would be a good accident.

        “I accidentally got free health care.”

        A funny* thing happened on the way to Obamacare repeal.

        *funny in a good way, because laughing is good for the health…healing.

    1. Richard

      Oh my. I was considering adding Lambert’s idea from yesterday into my Scrapbook of Great Crackpot Ideas. Except now….
      It does not sound the least bit crackpot to force the libs to actually take a position and put it on the record. Excellent!

      1. John k

        Agreed. Lib dems will fade at thought of confronting major donors… not the correct single payer… could there be an accident? Not likely, how is this different than if Bernie proposed it?
        Course, some reps see they’re in a box here, why not approve and let the house veto?
        But would trump sigh, anyway? Course, he’s in the same box…

        Pray fo accident.

  17. Darius

    Democrats could have gotten the Shadowproof transition to Medicare for All from this morning’s Links in 2009 using the same reconciliation process McConnell is using. Except they wouldn’t have had to hide it in the shadows like McConnell is doing. Instead they hid themselves behind calls for bipartisanship. Worthless cowards.

  18. ewmayer

    o “In the early 2000s, then-groundbreaking research out of Harvard University found that it is during sleep that you retain, consolidate, store, and connect information.” — Ah, those Haahhhvidites … back in the mid-1980s I recall writing a term paper on “Sleep, Dreaming and Memory Consolidation” for my Psych 101 class, based on readily available publications of the time. (I was actually a hard-science major but took said class because of teh babes – my study-buddy was a stunning and smart tall flaming-redhead – think the Italian SPECTRE babe in Thunderball, but without the mass-homicidal tendencies – whose father, interestingly enough, was – IIRC – an Episcopalian bishop. But I digress :)

    o These Job Trends in Silicon Valley, San Francisco Bay Area Will Hit Real Estate, the Economy, Municipal Budgets & Hype | Wolf Street

    Really nice collection of charts and analysis in this one.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Note how, in several locales, the job creation peaked during the fall of 2014. And it’s gone steadily downhill since then.

    2. a different chris

      Sure about the lack of mass-homicidal tendencies? No reason she would share them with you. :)

  19. alex morfesis

    oh well…it seemed like a good idea at the time…another LNG project gets shelved…Petroliam Nasional Bhd and its partner are allowing their 26 billion dollar (yes bee) project in british columbia to gather dust as it has joined other projects put on hold with the continued glut and price levels making this and other projects currently unworkable…


    well at least the parties were great…

    maybe we can recycle some of the presentation slides…

  20. Carolinian

    At Consortium Dennis Bernstein interviews the great Diana Johnstone on Trump’s visit with Macron and other topics.

    Diana Johnstone: Well, first of all, it is clear that Emmanuel Macron has seen an advantage in being the only friend of the friendless Trump. It is clear that this can strengthen Macron’s hand in dealing with Germany, the main part of his mandate being to influence Germany in changing EU policy.[…]

    DB: Give us your analysis of this Russia-gate madness.

    DJ: Well, I am not a psychiatrist, but seen from over here in Europe, it’s unbelievable. I just saw Tucker Carlson’s interview with Max Boot on Fox News. This raving maniac on foreign affairs is on the Council of Foreign Relations, when he ought to be undergoing psychiatric treatment.[…]

    To try to criminalize and ban any contact at a more or less official level with the Russians goes beyond what is diplomatic practice even in war time. I think that the real problem in Washington is that there is a real War Party who welcome a nuclear war with Russia if that is what it takes to prevent them from becoming as strong as we are.[…]

    Macron was put in by the establishment to save the European Union. It is clear that Macron’s mission is to persuade the Germans to shift the policy to one that will allow other countries to grow economically instead of being strangled, which is what is happening now. I don’t know whether he will succeed at that, but this is one reason why he wants Trump and Putin on his side, to replace Merkel as the dominant figure in the EU.



  21. wittgenstein's nephew

    “Why should life be like a tight-rope, anyhow?”

    Just the latest in your very welcome attention to the actual language that hypnotizes us into impoverished imaginings. “Safety net,” indeed!

  22. different clue

    For those interested in The Archdruid and The Archdruid Report . . .

    The Archdruid Report blog is still listed on Search Engines even though the blog itself has been erased. Its “URL” is still listed. That “URL” can be used to find the fossilized archives of the Archdruid Report posts at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. The few posts I read did not include the discussion comment threads at the end of the posts. So I think none of the posts contain the discussion threads.

    Back before John Michael Greer was “the Archdruid”, he had a website project called The Stormwatch Project. It was a “bad future predicted” website and it offered many links to various kinds of other websites and information dumpsites about how to do various lo-tech survival stuff. It is also findable on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and a very briefest inspection shows some of the preserved links to still be active and clickable. So here is the exact URL to put into the Wayback Machine search rectangle.


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