2:00PM Water Cooler 9/27/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, the post I just put up on the health care debate took much longer than I thought; it’s been awhile since I put on my yellow waders. Please talk amongst yourselves, while I put together some material. Does anybody have any connections in Puerto Rico? –lambert UPDATE 3:51PM Moar!




“Moore Nearly Lost a Statewide Race in 2012. Doug Jones Could Beat Him This Time.” [The Intercept]. “Best known for his work as U.S. attorney here in Alabama, Jones, in 1998, famously re-opened his office’s investigation of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing. Before he left office in 2001, Jones brought murder charges against two of the surviving Klansmen responsible for the attack, ultimately seeing both men convicted and sentenced to life in prison.”

New Cold War

These two stories crosses my Twitter feed with the same time-stamp:

“Our Democratic System Is on the Cusp of Failing Before Our Eyes” [Charles Pierce, Esquire]. “Wisconsin is one of 21 states that, last week, confirmed that there were Russian attempts to hack its voting system.” But–

“DHS Now Says Russia Didn’t Target Wisconsin Voter-Registration System” [Bloomberg]. Attribution is hard. So Pierce can put his pearls down, for now, and wipe off the fainting couch.

* * *

“WPost Pushes More Dubious Russia-bashing [Robert Parry, Counterpunch]. “The article purports to give the inside story of how Facebook belatedly came to grips with how the ‘company’s social network played a key role in the U.S. election,’ but actually it is a story about how powerful politicians bullied Facebook into coming up with something – anything – to support the narrative of ‘Russian meddling,’ including direct interventions by President Obama and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a key legislator regarding regulation of high-tech industries.” And the beauty part is that this makes it hard for Zuckerberg to run for President! It’s a twofer!

Health Care

“With Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson off the table, senators should resume the bipartisan efforts to stabilize the markets that the GOP leadership snuffed last week” [Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times]. Let me know how that works out…

“Yes, Medicare for All is Definitely a Litmus Test for Democrats” [HuffPo].

On my podcast, The Humanist Report, I discussed a town hall that took place in Nevada’s 4th congressional district with newly-elected Rep. Ruben Kihuen. An activist named Amy Vilela showed up to ask Kihuen—a self-proclaimed “progressive” and member of the congressional progressive caucus—why he refuses to cosponsor Conyers’ Medicare for All bill. More importantly, Vilela’s question was accompanied with her daughter’s poignant story. Vilela explained to Kihuen that her daughter, Shalynne, died at the young age of 22-years-old because she was denied basic medical screenings that would have undoubtedly saved her life. Shalynne couldn’t prove that she had medical insurance and was instead told to go get insurance and find a doctor. But Shalynne’s story didn’t resonate with Kihuen, apparently. Not only did he refuse to commit to cosponsoring Conyers’ Medicare for All bill at that town hall, but even got arguably defensive, as constituents kept pushing the issue further. After reporting on the events that took place at this town hall, and how a so-called progressive couldn’t provide his constituents with one good reason why he wouldn’t support Medicare for All, my viewers submitted hundreds—if not thousands—of voicemails to both of Kihuen’s offices, demanding that he cosponsor Conyers’ bill. He still wasn’t moved.

So he got primaried. By Amy Vilela. Good. Great!

Realignment and Legitimacy


Bipartisanship is greatly overrated:

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of September 22, 2017: “The purchase index rebounded 3.0 percent following the prior week’s unusually steep 11.0 percent loss” [Econoday].

Durable Goods Orders, August 2017: “A second straight jump in capital goods leads what is a mostly very strong durable goods report where the August headline rose 1.7 percent. This is only slightly above expectations but not core capital goods (nondefense ex-aircraft) which jumped 0.9 percent vs Econoday’s consensus for a 0.3 percent gain” [Econoday]. “This together with a second straight jump in shipments of core capital goods, up 0.7 percent in August, point to business confidence and strengthening business investment and will significantly lift estimates for second-half nonresidential investment.” The headline is volatile and sporty aircraft, but “the factory sector did not show any initial effects from Hurricane Harvey’s late August hit and, assuming Hurricane Irma’s effects proves as slight in September, appears poised for solid year-end acceleration centered in capital goods. The one missing piece in the factory sector, however, is manufacturing production as measured by the Federal Reserve which has remained stubbornly weak including a 0.3 percent fall in the report for August. Note that revisions in today’s report are minor compared to the factory orders report when capital goods data from the July advance durables report were sharply upgraded.” But: “Our analysis is more negative than the headlines as the rolling averages declined. Civilian aircraft were the main tailwind this month.This series has wide swings monthly so our primary metric is the unadjusted three month rolling average” [Econintersect].

Pending Home Sales Index, August 2017: “Existing home sales have been on the decline as signaled all along by the pending home sales index which is down a very steep 2.6 percent in the latest reading which is for August. Hurricane Harvey’s late August hit on Texas didn’t help pending sales in the South which fell 3.5 percent but pending sales show across-the-board weakness: Northeast down 4.4 percent, Midwest down 1.5 percent, and the West down 1.0 percent” [Econoday]. “Pending sales nationwide are down a year-on-year 2.6 percent while final sales of existing homes are down 1.7 percent.” And: “The rolling averages are in positive territory. The data is very noisy and must be averaged to make sense of the situation. There is no signs of a surge in home sales, and the overall downward trends remain in play” [Econintersect].

New Home Sales: “New home sales ended the summer on a very weak note, and it’s time we stopped sugarcoating the truth with this data — the simple fact is that we are severely under-producing housing in this country, relative both to basic demographics and currently high demand from buyers. Inventory is stuck at roughly mid-1990s levels, but the country has grown by more than 60 million people since then” [Svenja Gudell, Zillow]. “What’s missing from the equation is a lack of homes actually available to buy at a price point that’s reasonable for most buyers, even with today’s bump in inventory.”

Chicago Fed National Activity Index: A takedown of Dudley’s spin, with charts [Mosler Economics].

Shipping: “Suspected mass-spoofing of ships’ GPS in the Black Sea” [Naked Security]. On top of yesterday’s story about fake ship registrations…

The Bezzle: “PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) has refuted allegations of its involvement in any quid pro quo arrangement with the ride-sharing service Uber” [The Star]. Of course they did. This is Malaysia.

The Bezzle: “Eight Things Cryptocurrency Enthusiasts Probably Won’t Tell You” [Wall of Numbers]. Prosecution futrues, as Yves said.

The Bezzle: “A close look at ad blocking reveals a surprising lack of public information about the terms of Google’s ‘whitelisting’ agreements with ad blocking companies, agreements in which Google pays to un-block its ads. Two companies—AdBlock and AdBlock Plus—control over 90% of the desktop ad blocking market in the U.S. and Europe and have the apparent power to interfere with billions of dollars in Google ad revenue. AdBlock was purchased in 2015 by an undisclosed buyer, whose identity remains a closely guarded secret” [Capitol Forum]. So the ad blocker business model is basically extortion, then?

The Bezzle: “7 Questions to Ask Founders Before Joining Their Startup” [Cardash]. “8. Will I be asked to commit crimes?”

The Bezzle: “Church used unemployment scam to stoke funds, ex-members say” [AP].

The Bezzle: “ProPublica Seeks Source Code for New York City’s Disputed DNA Software” [Pro Publica]. Important. If “code is law,” we’d better be able to see the code.

The Bezzle: “The most important tech skill, then, isn’t computers or engineering — It’s the art of getting paid to control vast amounts of money. Then you can make programmers build out whatever dumb ideas you like” [Elaine’s Idle Mind].

Tech: “The Top 20 Tech Companies by Revenue Per Employee” [Visual Capitalist].

Five Horsemen: “Techs bounce, as Facebook leads and Amazon lags” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Sep 27

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 77 Extreme Greed (previous close: 67, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 79 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 27 at 2:14pm. Oh, good!


“Corporations Have Rights. Why Not Rivers?” [New York Times]. ” Does a river — or a plant, or a forest — have rights? This is the essential question in what attorneys are calling a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit, in which a Denver lawyer and a far-left environmental group are asking a judge to recognize the Colorado River as a person.” Hoo boy. I understand that water rights are big in Ohio. So if a river is a person, what are water rights? Involuntary servitude?

Guillotine Watch

“How to Build a $60 Million Art Trove While Staying Within Your Means” [Bloomberg]. Step one: Don’t start?

Class Warfare

“A study released Tuesday that looked at six Silicon Valley high schools found that one in six students are either in an unstable housing situation themselves or know someone who is — with most of those couch surfing, separated from their family and living somewhere temporarily with other relatives or friends” [San Jose Mercury News]. “‘I kept asking researchers we are working with, ‘Is this valid?’ [Sparky Harlan of the Bill Wilson Center] said. ‘We want to make sure it holds up. And we found the results are pretty much in line with other studies — one done in Connecticut also averaged 17 percent.'”

“A disconcerting 43% of adults have trouble making ends meet, according to a new survey released Tuesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In the new survey, 43% of respondents said that they experience difficulty paying their monthly bills” [Business Insider]. “More than one-third said that they experienced financial hardship within the past year, defined as running out of food, falling short on rent, or not being able to pay for a medical expense.”

“[T]he FBI’s data points to sharp geographic disparities in violent crimes in American society, with a few major cities accounting for large portions of 2016’s growth in murders and other serious offenses” [The Atlantic].

“Debunking the Stereotype of the Lazy Welfare Recipient: Evidence from Cash Transfer Programs Worldwide” (PDF) [Abhijit Banerjee, Rema Hanna, Gabriel Kreindler, Benjamin A. Olken]. The abstract:

Targeted transfer programs for poor citizens have become increasingly common in the developing world. Yet, a common concern among policy makers – both in developing as well as developed countries – is that such programs tend to discourage work. We re-analyze the data from 7 randomized controlled trials of government-run cash transfer programs in six developing countries throughout the world, and find no systematic evidence that cash transfer programs discourage work.

” [T]he greater Washington area now boasts one of the highest concentrations of wealth anywhere in the United States, much thanks to the ginormous federal bureaucracy and National Security State which has grown exponentially since the 9/11 attacks. As of 2015, fully half of the top 10 highest-income counties in the nation are in Maryland and Virginia, within an hour of the capital. There are probably as many Teslas in Fairfax County as there are in Silicon Valley. None of this, of course, negates the reality that there is plenty of poverty, some of it desperate, right in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol” [The American Conservative]. “If the government should ever shrink, if the financial system should ever truly collapse, or if the military industrial complex stopped turning, this whole region would be depopulated.”

News of the Wired

“Dumb Things The Camera Companies are Still Doing” [DSLR Bodies]. “The 1/4″ tripod socket at the bottom of the camera has been there since our ancestors evolved off into a new species millennia ago…. Most importantly, well designed Arca Swiss plates provide a near solid metal-to-metal bond between our camera and support system. That’s important, because if the bond isn’t 100% solid, you introduce a vibration point in your support system. Trust me on this, I’ve seen so many camera-on-tripod-via-tripod-socket connections that create a vibration point that if I had a grain of sand for each one, I’d own a beach.” Oh, noes…

“The Coming Software Apocalypse” [The Atlantic]. How about some real innovation from Silicon Valley?

In a recent essay, [Bret] Victor implored professional software developers to stop pouring their talent into tools for building apps like Snapchat and Uber. “The inconveniences of daily life are not the significant problems,” he wrote. Instead, they should focus on scientists and engineers—as he put it to me, “these people that are doing work that actually matters, and critically matters, and using really, really bad tools.” Exciting work of this sort, in particular a class of tools for “model-based design,” was already underway, he wrote, and had been for years, but most programmers knew nothing about it.

No more Juiceros. No more Ubers. Heck, Amazon is all about “inconveniences of daily life,” at least in its shipping aspect.

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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 allergic 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 (Re Silc):

UPDATE Sorry for the unrotated image. Apparently, OS X Preview understands EXIF data and rotates the image, but WordPress does not!

Re Silc writes: “Lots of figs in Slovenia alps.” I thought I saw a glint of sun on the mountaintop, but in fact it was a reflection on my monitor. That’s practically Zen.

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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. LZFR

      btw, Kelton rightly brings up the point that m4a could potentially incur contraction, due to job loss, and we could in fact need *tax cuts* to “pay for” medicare for all. good little talking point defenders should use in the future.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Thanks SO MUCH for this, it will be an accessible way to introduce some of the less informed members of the grassroots m4a group I am in to MMT and also provide them with practical talking points.

      Excellent resource!

  1. Doug Wuerth

    Lambert: Thank you for the concise and thoughtful book review you did a few weeks ago of “Personal Memoirs” by Ulysses Grant. I am about 1/2 way through (battle of Chattanooga), and quite surprised at the level of Grant’s intelligence and judgement. It will be interesting to find out why he is judged as being such a poor President.

    Thanks again, and more book reviews, please.

    Doug in Oregon

    1. Adam Eran

      The big reason for his “incompetence,” says Harry Truman was that he looked on the Presidency as more ceremonial than executive. It didn’t hurt that he had one of the biggest scandals ever (“Credit Mobilier”). Of course the S&L scandal and the 70-time-larger sub-prime / derivatives scandals were worse.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Grant when he took over the Army of the Potomac took over a recently purged army by Meade who probably should not have been fired. As Grant advanced in the western theater, it was a bit of a sink or swim environment. Many of the failures weren’t able to lobby politicians for protection because they were dead.

        Not to dismiss Grant, but I think his ability to command was heavily influenced by having a competent officer corp (the South’s early victories can arguably attributed to the old Mexican units acting as units versus any general). When he became President, he inherited people who may have slithered around for too long because the recent crisis was far more pressing than checking for fraud.

    2. False Solace

      I’m also reading Grant’s Memoirs! I’m at the section where he goes toe to toe against Lee in the Wilderness. What’s impressed me most is Grant’s deep moral sensibilities, a set of attitudes that read as quite modern. He viewed the Civil War as a form of divine punishment for America’s turpitude during the war against Mexico, a war he served in but viewed as unjust. He also says some rather incisive things about the South…

      There was no time during the rebellion when I did not think, and often say, that the South was more to be benefited by its defeat than the North. The latter had the people, the institutions, and the territory to make a great and prosperous nation. The former was burdened with an institution abhorrent to all civilized people not brought up under it, and one which degraded labor, kept it in ignorance, and enervated the governing class. With the outside world at war with this institution, they could not have extended their territory. The labor of the country was not skilled, nor allowed to become so. The whites could not toil without becoming degraded, and those who did were denominated “poor white trash.” The system of labor would have soon exhausted the soil and left the people poor. The non-slaveholders would have left the country, and the small slaveholder must have sold out to his more fortunate neighbor. Soon the slaves would have outnumbered the masters, and, not being in sympathy with them, would have risen in their might and exterminated them. The war was expensive to the South as well as to the North, both in blood and treasure, but it was worth all it cost. (p. 199 in my edition)

      He also made some points that I hadn’t encountered before concerning the South, with some interesting parallels to today.

      The great bulk of the legal voters of the South were men who owned no slaves; their homes were generally in the hills and poor country; their facilities for educating their children, even up to the point of reading and writing, were very limited; their interest in the contest was very meagre — what there was, if they had been capable of seeing it, was with the North; they too needed emancipation. Under the old regime they were looked down upon by those who controlled all the affairs in the interest of slave-owners; as poor white trash who were allowed the ballot so long as they cast it according to direction.

      … [T]here was a firm feeling that a class existed in every State with a sort of divine right to control public affairs. If they could not get this control by one means they must by another. The end justified the means. The coercion, if mild, was complete.

      There were two political parties, it is true, in all the States, both strong in numbers and respectability, but both equally loyal to the institution which stood paramount in Southern eyes to all other institutions in state or nation. The slave-owners were the minority, but governed both parties. Had politics ever divided the slave-holders and the non-slave-holders, the majority would have been obliged to yield, or internecine war would have been the consequence. I do not know that the Southern people were to blame for this condition of affairs. There was a time when slavery was not profitable, and the discussion of the merits of the institution was confined almost exclusively to the territory where it existed. The States of Virginia and Kentucky came near abolishing slavery by their own acts, one State defeating the measure by a tie vote and the other only lacking one. But when the institution became profitable, all talk of its abolition ceased where it existed; and naturally, as human nature is constituted, arguments were adduced in its support. The cotton-gin probably had much to do with the justification of slavery. […]

      The South claimed the sovereignty of States, but claimed the right to coerce into their confederation such States as they wanted, that is, all the States where slavery existed. They did not seem to think this course inconsistent. The fact is, the Southern slave-owners believed that, in some way, the ownership of slaves conferred a sort of patent nobility–a right to govern independent of the interest or wishes of those who did not hold such property. They convinced themselves, first, of the divine origin of the institution and, next, that that particular institution was not safe in the hands of any body of legislators but themselves. (p. 69,
      70 in my edition)

    3. Wukchumni

      I too read Grant’s memoirs and enjoyed it, Thought it was well written and liked how he described his chess pieces, er generals.

      Some he was quite fond of, others not so much.

  2. gonzomarx

    Jeremy Corbyn: neoliberalism is broken and we are now the centre ground
    ‘No social cleansing. No jacking up rents’ – Labour leader invokes memory of Grenfell Tower in speech to party conference

    Text of Jeremy Corbyn speech to Labour Party Conference (Lambert..hint, hint!!)

    It’s still a novelty hearing this type of critique in a leader’s speech.

    1. Chris

      Thank you, Gonzo. He’s a one-off (in your lifetime) and I get shivers hearing the o JC chant.

      We need a real Labor person here in Australia, our Labor-lite politicians still need to return the $ favors that got them where they are and they forget their working class roots (if they ever had any)

      My hope is Labour’s and the UK’s success in implementing policies for the many will rub off in other countries and we can turn course

  3. allan

    Uber Shutting Down U.S. Car-Leasing Business [WSJ]

    Uber Technologies Inc. on Wednesday confirmed it is shutting down its U.S. auto-leasing business, months after it discovered it was losing 18-times more money per vehicle than previously thought.

    The ride-hailing firm on Wednesday began informing employees of the decision to close down the business, known as Xchange Leasing, which will affect some 500 jobs, representing roughly 3% of Uber’s 15,000-employee staff. It marks Uber’s first mass layoff in its eight-year history. …

    Sad news which calls for an appropriate musical accompaniment.

  4. shinola

    Is Puerto Rico about to get “Greeced”?
    When Trump prominently mentioned PR’s debt to Wall St. & the big banks, it did not give me a good feeling.

    1. rd

      Not being eligible to provide votes in the Electoral College may be a key factor.

      Business Insider posted a list of entities that are providing aid in Puerto Rico: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-help-puerto-rico-hurricane-maria-2017-9

      I don’t think Puerto Rico has long before dysentery and possible diseases like cholera and typhoid fever become significant given the destruction of wastewater collection and treatment and clean water supplies. Effectively 3 million people are on a backpacking trip on the island except they aren’t prepared to go backpacking. This needs to be an all hands on deck relief effort by the US military since there are no areas of Puerto Rico spared unlike Florida and Texas.

      1. jrs

        so our ability to vote (us in U.S. states) counts for something afterall, they will kill us slower rather than faster. Still it’s something.

      2. UserFriendlyyy

        While I wouldn’t put it past Trump to skimp on the PR aid there is a HUGE difference in getting aid to an Island whose main airport sustained major damage (to its radar if I remember correctly) and was out of power and also only has one main port; compared to FL and TX where you can just drive the aid in.

  5. dcblogger

    there is a possibility of a major upset in Alabama this December

    From Sept 11 2017 A new Alabama Senate poll released again had Roy Moore with a double-digit lead over U.S. Sen. Luther Strange in the Republican primary runoff.

    from today
    Roy Moore Nearly Lost a Statewide Race in 2012. Doug Jones Could Beat Him This Time.


    1. Vatch

      Roy Moore has some disturbing extremist opinions, and it would be bad for the country if he were to be elected to the Senate. But if people don’t donate to the campaign of Doug Jones, Moore will probably win. I hope we don’t see an imitation of the Estes win over James Thompson in Kansas.

  6. Jim Haygood

    While no one was looking, today the small cap stocks of the Russell 2000 index launched like a Saturn V rocket, gaining nearly 2 percent at 3 pm to a record high. Chart:


    In the Russell 2000 are companies ranked 1,001 to 3,000 in size, below the large-cap stocks of the separate Russell 1000 index.

    Private equity and junk bonds tend to be correlated with the Russell 2000 index as well, since smaller companies are less likely to have investment-grade credit ratings.

    Meanwhile the large-cap S&P 500 index has reached a record 2,510 in the final hour of trading.

    1. Synoia

      I wonder who will supply the pin for the markets this time?

      Last time it was Leaning Bros, following Bare Sterns down the sewer.

    2. Chris

      Thank you Jim. The SP500 is very overweight the tech giants, yes?

      One wonders how much higher the stock market is because of Fed QE?

      At the height of crash our own All Ords was around 6400. We are still around 5700 and have traded in 200 point range for almost a year iirc.

      That is a big one day swing for the small caps.

  7. Oregoncharles

    Speaking figs (and pursuant to a discussion months ago): I’m just now starting to harvest the second crop on one variety of my figs. They all froze to the ground a couple of years ago, when it went below zero, but this year I had enough to dry. Only certain varieties successfully ripen a second crop here (Willamette Valley). These are yellow, and I’ve forgotten the name. I scavenged the plants from a client’s years ago – every new shoot stuck in the ground over winter will root.

  8. Huey Long


    Some folks I work with have family in PR. What would you like me to find out for you?

    -The Kingfish

    1. Chris

      Reports from on the ground Huey.

      BTW most people I know couldn’t point to PR on a map, let alone know it is a protectorate (lucky them) of the US rather than a country in its own right (which is where it should be).

      What do PR’s people want – apart from quick disaster relief and resources to rebuild??

    2. rd

      Who is actually helping that can use a donation?

      Business Insider posted a list yesterday: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-help-puerto-rico-hurricane-maria-2017-9

      Are some of these better than others? Are there others?

      The level of destruction in Puerto Rico appears to be off-the-scale. I plan on focusing my donations there and US Virgin Islands instead of Texas and Florida that have much more resources to tap into. But it is not clear who is going to be effective in delivering actual aid on the ground to those who need it since it appears to be a logistical nightmare.

      1. ArcadiaMommy

        Try St. John Community Foundation. It is run by people living on the island. They post lots of information about the recovery on Facebook.

      1. jo6pac

        Please do not help 5 former potus help PR it will turn out like how old bush and bigdog help Haiti. That wasn’t anything but scam of old potus 1 and Haiti citizens 0.

        As bad as the red kross

        Sad, PR should have Russia and Cuba for help

    3. Huey Long

      OK, I just spoke with my boss. His father in law is in PR, has no water and no power but is safe for the time being. My boss hasn’t spoken with him directly as the cell network is kaput, and nobody knows the status of his dwelling.

      Apparently a relative called him and reached out with this info. I’ll keep querying folks as I see them on the job.

  9. jp

    A friend’s mother-in-law lives in PR, a few miles from the Arecibo Observatory (which, though hit, appears to have made it through). Her house was untouched, though some in the same town had a lot of damage. She considers herself lucky to have made it through, but there’s no power, water, or communication. (My friend learned of this through someone that saw her house and briefly talked to her).

  10. Kim Kaufman

    This might be of interest to some here, I haven’t listened to it but there are interesting speakers http://brokeassstuart.com/blog/2017/09/26/experts-laymen-asked-universal-basic-income/:

    Experts and Laymen are asked about Universal Basic Income

    “A new podcast is asking people ‘what would you do if you were given a basic income’, ie if you didn’t HAVE to work? The project by upstreampodcast explores that question by asking people they find all over the bay area, including economic experts and basic income recipients. In upstream’s words:”


    Juliana Bidadanure – Assistant Professor in Political Philosophy at Stanford University
    Doug Henwood – Journalist, economic analyst, and writer whose work has been featured in Harper’s, Jacobin Magazine, The Nation, and more
    Rutger Bregman – Journalist and author of ‘Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders and a 15-hour Workweek’
    Kathi Weeks – Marxist feminist scholar, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at Duke University and author of ‘The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries’
    Eric Richardson – A recipient of basic income
    Evelyn Forget – Economist and professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba and Academic Director of the Manitoba Research Data Centre

    pt. 2

    Erik Olin Wright – Marxist scholar and sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison
    Kathi Weeks – Marxist-feminist scholar, associate professor of Women’s Studies at Duke University and author of ‘The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries’
    Matt Bruenig – Writer, researcher, and founder of the People’s Policy Project
    Richard Wolff – Marxist economist, economics professor Emeritus University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Founder of Democracy at Work, and host of the weekly radio show Economic Update
    Doug Henwood – Journalist, economic analyst, and writer whose work has been featured in Harper’s, Jacobin Magazine, and The Nation
    Martin Kirk – Co-founder and Director of Strategy at The Rules
    Rutger Bregman – Journalist and author of ‘Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders and a 15-hour Workweek’
    Manda Scott – Novelist, columnist, and broadcaster
    Juliana Bidadanure – Assistant professor in political philosophy at Stanford University
    Sofa Gradin – Political Organizer and Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University of London

  11. Jim Haygood

    Ruh ro!

    Kentucky’s General Assembly will need to find an estimated $5.4 billion to fund the pension systems for state workers and school teachers in the next two-year state budget, officials told the Public Pension Oversight Board on Monday.

    KRS [Kentucky Retirement System] recently adopted more realistic financial assumptions about its investment returns and the state’s payroll growth. Those new assumptions made KRS’ numbers look far worse literally overnight.

    Total employer contributions for KRS in Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020 would be an estimated $2.47 billion each year, up from $1.52 billion in the current fiscal year. Nearly $995 million of that would be owed by local governments. The remaining $1.48 billion is what the state would owe.


    A 66% hike in pension contributions from municipalities is gonna sink some of them. They don’t have that kind of money, and it would take eye-popping hikes in sales and property taxes to get it.

    America’s Soviet-style Potemkin economy, whose military might conceals its hollowed-out, bankrupt pension schemes, is gonna smack the wall hard in the 2020s.

    Places like Kentucky, Chicago and Hartford, barely hanging on even during an economic expansion, are the vanguard of a large army of pending casualties.

    Just wait till GASB Statement 75, requiring government employers to report unfunded OPEB (other post employment benefits) in their financial statements kicks in for next year’s reporting on their current July 2017 – June 2018 fiscal year. No one could possibly have foreseen this calamity! /sarc

    1. rd

      One of my comments to my legislators on the Trump’s tax plan will be to expand the state and local taxes to allow all of them to be deductible but eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, the reverse of what they are currently proposing.

      The rationale is simple:

      I think states and local governments are going to need to step up and fund more directly themselves which will increase their taxes. As they step up to the plate, tax collections would reduce at the federal level as the claimed deduction increases. I think many of the “low tax states” have simply been postponing expenditures and a day of reckoning is coming on pensions, infrastructure, health care etc. Allowing the deduction means that the higher earners will be less likely to set up their primary residence in a different state.

      The mortgage interest deduction mainly goes to the upper class in high house value locales. With low interest rates, we should be able to phase this deduction out over the next few years without a major impact on the housing market.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Google ‘towns for sale.’

      The first hit is ‘Be your own mayor: Six towns for sale now.’ (That was May, 2016).

      Is China allowed to buy our towns?

  12. TroyMcClure

    I enjoyed the “Elaine’s Idle Mind” take on tech-job advice. It’s worth noting that contrary to her intimation that most students are taking on huge debt for what amounts to degrees in “fun things to do,” Freddie DeBoer has shown conclusively that over 50% of all undergrads are enrolled in some kind of business degree.

    That’s right, there are currently more business majors in college than all other degrees…combined.

    Love to be in the business industry!

      1. The Rev Kev

        President Calvin Coolidge said “the chief business of the American people is business” back in the mid-1920s so I guess not much has changed.

  13. Dan

    Re: Revenue Per Employee.

    Apple? How much of that is due to outsourcing the bulk of their manufacturing?

    Facebook and Alphabet appear to be just printing presses – makes you wonder how much money was formerly going to mainstream media.

    Verisign, really? Something smells there – there sure isn’t much along the lines of value.

    1. polecat

      I got a stiff neck looking at that image, and unfortunately, when I turn my tablet to view it correctly, my device ‘flips’ the image back to it’s original orientation.

  14. Arizona Slim

    Big scandal here in Tucson:


    Color me not surprised.

    When I worked on the University of Arizona campus during the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were rumors about the basketball players having very nice cars and other things that the average student couldn’t begin to afford. Where was the money coming from? Well, wink-wink, nod-nod. That’s where.

    I’d also like to ask why the players aren’t getting paid. I mean, come on. They make millions of dollars for their universities. What would be so horrible about cutting them in on some of it?

    And, as for the scholar-athlete thing, it’s time to put this fiction to rest. They’re providing specific skills and talents. Just like I did when I was an employee.

    And, guess what, as part of my benefits package, I could get greatly reduced tuition. What a concept. If athletes want to get a degree while they play for the Big U, include that option as part of *their* benefits package.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Those collegiate athletic programs should be taxed as for-profit enterprises.

      And, coincidentally, now is a good time to kneel for bribery-free recruiting.

    2. sleepy

      College basketball has been as dirty as can be for decades, and the Ncaa–not an independent organization btw, but one set up by the schools themselves–has been complicit from day one.

      1. Tvc15

        Pay the athletes. Add the NCAA to all the other corrupt unjust organizations discussed on NC.

        If interested, watch Schooled, a documentary on Netflix that critiques the “student/athlete” myth and value of the education received in lieu of pay.

        From IMDB, “A documentary that examines how college sports in America became a billion dollar industry built on the backs of its unpaid athletes.”

  15. Ned

    Re Tripod sockets…

    If you think ever present Nikon 1/4″ sockets are bad, French move cameras have a very short tripod socket with NO BOTTOM and the soldiered control mechanism for the trigger is right there. =”CRUNCH”…Worst designed machinery in the world is from France…

    The Kenyan election can’t be recounted because the French voting machine company needs six months to recalibrate their machines. We had a Neopost postal machine that caused more maintenance and cost overrun problems than hundreds of other printers, computers, shredders, faxes in the office combined. Hundereds of hours wasted before the contract expired and we got another brand.

    1. Chris

      Worst designed (and engineered) machinery in the world…

      There will be exceptions, but my 9 yo (heap of scrap) peugeot 207 springs to mind…

      But, there’s all those airbuses, they seem fine, most of the time

        1. MichaelSF

          Ned, there are lots of precision moving parts in a lathe or milling machine. The large solid pieces in them like the chassis are normally cast iron which wouldn’t make a very good sword. A machinist friend of mine is a serious German/Swiss/Italian tool snob and he was thrilled to finally find and purchase a large Cazeneuve manual lathe that he’d lusted after for 30+ years. I don’t think any country is incapable of making either quality or crap products.

  16. Big River Bandido

    My partner (Mr. BRB)’s employer has a warehouse/retail outlet in San Juan which has been closed since the hurricane. For several days Mr. BRB was unable to contact any of the employees for lack of cell communications; he finally managed to get a call through to the manager, who had stayed at their facility overnight (an hour from his home) because he could not find any gas for his car. (Most service stations were closed and the few that were open had 1979-style gas lines.) Mr. BRB spent an hour on Saturday trying to book hotel rooms for the stranded employees; that didn’t work because he couldn’t get calls through to hotels and neither could online booking agents. Ultimately he arranged for the employees to charge it to the company. This info is now 4 days old — sorry that I don’t have anything more recent to report as I e been on the road.

  17. Elizabeth Burton

    Nice of Hillary to take credit for the New Hampshire win. Those must have been some mighty powerful postcards.

  18. Tim

    “What’s missing from the equation is a lack of homes actually available to buy at a price point that’s reasonable for most buyers, even with today’s bump in inventory.”

    What’s really missing is a breakdown of land cost relative to home building costs relative to the pace of MEDIAN wage growth.

    That would tell us everything we need to know. Is available land the main contributor to housing un-affordability, or is it building prices and how do both their growth rates compare agains the growth of median household earnings.

  19. Altandmain

    The System Failed:

    Jacobin has a pretty good indictment of the Establishment’s failures.

    Key passage:

    If I had to sum up the 2016 election in one sentence, it would be this: the Republican Party was too divided and discredited to stop Trump, the Democratic Party closed ranks to block Bernie Sanders, and, as a result, Trump was the only alternative in November to the hated Wall Street–funded status quo represented by Hillary Clinton. I do have more than one sentence, however, so let’s dig into how we got to that explosive point.

    I’ll leave you to read the article if you are interested in this explosive, but accurate point.

  20. allan

    Equifax CEO Richard Smith Who Oversaw Breach to Collect $90 Million [Fortune]

    The CEO of Equifax is retiring from the credit reporting bureau with a pay day worth as much as $90 million—or roughly 63 cents for every customer whose data was potentially exposed in its recent security breach. …

    Equifax (efx, +0.43%) said Tuesday that as a condition of Smith’s retirement, he “irrevocably” forfeits any right to a bonus in 2017, an amount that under normal circumstances would have totaled more than $3 million—the bonus he received in 2016—according to the company’s retirement policy.

    But the CEO is still set to collect about $72 million this year alone (including nine months’ worth of his $1,450,000 salary), plus another $17.9 million over the next few years. That’s when the rest of Smith’s stock compensation hits a few important milestones or “vests,” allowing Smith to essentially put it in his bank account. Altogether, it adds up to a total potential paycheck of more than $90.1 million, according to Fortune’s calculations based on Equifax securities filings. …

    And even if Smith is ultimately fired for cause, he’ll still get to keep much of the paycheck he is owed anyway. …

    Well, Equifax’s cybersecurity might be lacking, but its golden parachuting is best-in-class.

    1. Jen

      Be cool. Stay calm. And get paid.

      I would rant about rewarding failure, but if one believes that every system accomplishes perfectly what it is designed to do…it would seem failure is not what’s being rewarded here.

  21. wilroncanada

    Did Trump actually tweet “shooting up” in his endorsement of his candidate Luther Strange in Alabama?

    1. Edward E

      He’s also very, very unhappy over HHS Sec Tom Price’s taxpayer-funded plane travel, it must have somehow ruined his taxpayer-funded golf games.

  22. Edward E

    May Hugh Hefner rest in peace. Wonder what his funeral is going to be like, if it’s at all possible to go to his funeral just for the articles?

  23. Jen

    On campaign fliers in Georgia’s sixth district:

    “Ossoff’s ads seem to have been produced by a team asking the question: “What do political ads typically look like?” Handel’s people, by contrast, seem to have asked themselves: “How do we crush this little worm into the dust?”

    The Ossoff/Handel propaganda contest reaffirms that Democrats continue to fumble in their quest for an actual message, and for a reason why voters should support their party. Republicans have a very good story, one that has both a positive and negative side: you are hurting, we will fix it, the Democrats caused this, they will hurt you further. Democrats, on the other hand, keep going for: Republicans are bad, while we are competent. Missing are (1) an understanding of voters’ needs and (2) a plan to address those needs. Karen Handel’s flyers promise to expand the military to keep the country safe, to repeal Obamacare in order to improve your health, and to cure breast cancer. (Leave aside, for the moment, what nonsense all of this is.) Jon Ossoff’s flyers promise to implement GAO recommendations for the consolidation of various data-collection facilities at the federal level. Sometimes it barely seems as if Democrats are trying.”

    Fun stuff.


    All through September and October of last year, my PO box was clogged with campaign fliers. Democrat Maggie Hassan’s message: “my number one priority is to defeat ISIS and keep New Hampshire safe.” She served as governor for 4 years. One would think that experience would provide a useful tutorial in the needs and priorities of the citizens of the granite state. Prior to her senate campaign, I was unaware that my biggest concern should be encountering a pack of jihadis in the White Mountains. Who knew?

  24. Wayne Gersen

    Bipartisan Efforts: The Greatest Hits
    Add NCLB and ESSA to the list… and both have the privatization of public education as the endgame…

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