Links 9/28/17

Personality study finds fish have hidden depths France24

Equipping Insects for Special Service Draper Labs (JS). Shades of Theodorus Nitz.

Value of private equity dealmaking at highest level since 2007 FT

J.P.Morgan ordered to pay more than $4 billion to widow for botching estate settlement MarketWatch (Re Silc).

Special Report: Drowning in grain – How Big Ag sowed seeds of a profit-slashing glut Reuters

Iowa farmers make record number of pesticide misuse claims Des Moines Register. Dicamba.

Endocrine Disruptors Corporate Europe Observatory (MT).

Uber-SoftBank Deal Ensures Limits on Kalanick’s Power Bloomberg (DL). Hasn’t this deal been hanging fire for rather a long time?

Uber is closing down its car-leasing program because it was losing more money than expected Recode

God Is a Bot, and Anthony Levandowski Is His Messenger Wired. The Silicon Valley elite are crazypants. Who knew?

Spies, lies and the oligarch: inside London’s booming secrets industry FT (Richard Smith). All about the klept! On BTA Bank, see NC, 2016 and 2014.


Donald Tusk: There’s not ‘sufficient progress’ in Brexit talks to discuss future UK-EU trade Independent

EU lawmakers prepare critical resolution on Brexit Politico

UK treatment of foreign nationals ‘could colour’ MEPs’ view on Brexit Guardian

At last! The subversion of Brexit has begun The Spectator

German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble to be Bundestag speaker Guardian

How to break a revolution Politico. Catalonia.

Donald Trump Urges European Leaders to Sanction Venezuela Venezuelanalysis (MT).

Why Won’t American Media Tell the Truth About What’s Happening in Venezuela? Alternet

Puerto Rico

White House weeks away from formal funding request for Puerto Rico aid, sources say Politico. “The issue is not paying for any of this,” the administration source said. “It’s like: Paying for what?”

Trump administration rushes military assets to Puerto Rico amid growing crisis WaPo

Trump Weighs Waiving Law Barring Foreign Ships From Delivering Aid to Puerto Rico WSJ

Here’s Why Puerto Rico Was Denied The Same Shipping Waiver Texas And Florida Got For Hurricane Relief Jalopnik (DK),

How Waiving the Jones Act Helps Puerto Rico The American Conservative


The Kurdish independence genie is well and truly out of the bottle Middle East Eye

‘Trump’s secret Yemen war’: UK role in US counter-terrorism causes unease Guardian

North Korea

‘US offended by Moon’s offer to North Korea for military talks’ The Korea Times (MT).

Chinese-North Korean Relations: Drawing the Right Historical Lessons 38 North

Poll: Nearly Half Support U.S. Military Action Against North Korea Roll Call. I’m surprised it’s that low.

Would North Korea Shoot Down a US B-1B Bomber? Yes. Could It? The Diplomat


Chinese household assets surge 18pc, debt also soars, survey finds South China Morning Post

China’s Great Wealth Transfer Falls to Reluctant Heirs Bloomberg

Former staff of 7-Eleven Indonesia protest unpaid wages Asian Nikkei Review


Arun Jaitley May Be the Fall Guy, But Modi Is Truly to Blame for India’s Economic Slowdown The Wire (J-LS).

India’s small businesses ravaged by Delhi’s radical policies FT

Stray Dogs Started Turning Blue. Then the Street Mobilized. NYT

New Cold War

Moon station ‘Deep Space Gateway’ to be built by Russia and US Deutsche Welle

* * *

Facebook, Google and Twitter have been asked to testify before Congress on Russia and the 2016 election Recode

Is Foreign Propaganda Even Effective? The American Conservative. “Hey, did you watch RT last night?”

Russia might be running anti-fracking ads too, congressman says Vice. Everybody into the pool!

Trump Transition

Trump Proposes the Most Sweeping Tax Overhaul in Decades NYT

Trump to Dems: Tax Plan Is About Reviving ‘Middle-Class Miracle’ Roll Call

Column Don’t buy the spin: The new tax plan is a huge giveaway to the rich Michael Hiltzik, LA Times

A leopard can’t change its spots: Newest Republican tax framework is what we knew it always would be—tax cuts for the rich. Economic Policy Institute

Democrats talk tough against GOP tax plan – but are willing to deal McClatchy

The middle class doesn’t want a tax cut. It wants better government. WaPo (Re Silc).

Trump (Reportedly) Abandons Plan to Fund Infrastructure Plan With Private Money New York Magazine

DEA Chief Chuck Rosenberg Resigns After Criticizing Trump Remarks on Police Conduct NBC News

Ex-NY Senate leader Skelos gets new trial in corruption case Albany Times-Union

Argument preview: The justices tackle partisan gerrymandering again SCOTUSblog. Lucid summary of Gill v. Whitford, an important case.

Our Famously Free Press

The secret cost of pivoting to video MIC. “Hundreds of journalists have lost their jobs while shiny-object-chasing publishers are no closer to creating cohesive video strategies to replace the traffic those writers were producing.” It’s almost like the publishers want to make people stupid and uninformed…

Health Care

ACA Round-Up: Graham-Cassidy’s Demise, Pressures On 2018 Open Enrollment, And New HHS Draft Strategic Plan Health Affairs

Republicans Should Tell the Truth Twila Brase, CCHF. Critique from the right.

Sports Desk

Everything You Need to Know About the FBI’s Explosive College Basketball Investigation New York Magazine. Hmm. Short Nike?

Rick Pitino’s ouster leaves Louisville dazed from scandal fatigue WaPo

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Compares NFL Protests To American Revolution, Conservatives To British (interview) David Sirota, International Business Times

It’s not about patriotism The Outline. “[Liberal Democrats co-opted] former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick’s [kneeling] protest against police brutality into a symbol of the hashtag Resistance. And as for the goal of fixing the problem that Kaepernick was actually protesting, this is just as damaging.”

It’s True, The Government Paid the NFL to Stand For the National Anthem LawNewz

Class Warfare

Our Open-Plan Office Failed, So We’re Moving to a Towering Panopticon McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

The Cozy, Overcrowded, Keg-Filled Future of Work The Atlantic (Re Silc). And the beer won’t be the only thing you can only rent…

Modern slavery is disturbingly common The Economist

Education Isn’t the Key to a Good Income The Atlantic

Seniors Caught Pushing Pills Are The ‘New Face Of Drug Dealing’; Experts Say CBS (Re Silc).

Can Civilian Nonviolent Action Deter Massacres? Political Violence at a Glance

Massive Iceberg’s Split Exposes Hidden Ecosystem Scientific American

The World According to Modern Monetary Theory The New Inquiry

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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

About Lambert Strether

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


    1. joe defiant

      Thanks for the links. My opinion is that all of a sudden there are a lot of “leaks” trying to discredit the russian collusion story because the investigation has come to a dead end and there is nothing there they can use. They want to slowly get most of the world used to that idea while letting the die hard liberals continue with their narrative because it’s making a lot of $$$ right now and at some point they can use it against the left if needed.

  1. But What Do I Know?

    The tax plan as presented is not a decrease but an enormous increase for the anyone who itemizes their taxes. Why? Because it eliminates the personal exemption and the deduction of state and local taxes. A rough rule of thumb would be to multiply your personal exemptions by $4000 (generally speaking you get one exemption for each of you, a spouse, and each child) and add your state and local income and property taxes, then mulitply the total by 25% (divide by 4). That’s how much extra you will pay under this plan.

    For example, a family of four (two adults, two kids) have a personal exemption of $12,000 and their state and local taxes are $12,000. This family would pay $6000 per year more federal income taxes under the proposal

        1. joe defiant

          For a “stupid orange baboon” that’s a pretty interesting way to help his core supporters in the wallet while taking away some of the donation money the democrats receive.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It’s easy to not notice that, as American military bases are still here…like it was way back, with Fort Sumter.

            “Way too many military bases…and not just in the last few decades.” (Ask the natives out West).

            Likely, when Guam secedes one day, the fort will be still be there.

      1. But What Do I Know?

        If you think about it, it eliminates the mortgage deduction for most people as well, since not too many filers have more than $24,000 in mortgage interest payments–that somewhere around a $700,000 mortgage at current rates.

        My point is that this is an enormous tax increase for households with kids making $100,000-$300,000. If you are in that income range your state and local taxes and mortgage are probably enough to itemize now even if you don’t live in a “high-tax state”–increasing the standard deduction doesn’t gain you much of anything since the personal exemption is eliminated.

        I would urge everyone to dig around for their 2016 federal return. Take your AGI (Line 38) and subtract the proposed standard deduction. If that number is greater than the number on Line 43 of your 2016 return, you’re likely to lose under this proposal. . .

    1. justanotherprogressive

      I looked up my 2015 tax returns. I took a standard deduction of $7,850 and a personal deduction of $4000 (I didn’t itemize last year). Trump’s “standard deduction” of $12,000 isn’t going to do much for me, and I’m betting when most people actually do the math, they will find the same thing. It is just more propaganda for those people who want to believe but won’t do the math themselves……I certainly wouldn’t give away other deductions for Trump’s “standard deduction”.

      And then there are those 3 taxation categories – anyone have any idea what the income limits are yet or are we just supposed to “believe” that they will “take care of us” with that too?

  2. Roger Smith

    Re: Facebook, Google and Twitter have been asked to testify before Congress on Russia and the 2016 election

    Well for all the talk about how unassailable and “the best” our democracy is… how are we so damn incapable and caught in left field over the complete subversion of our system by ‘enemy forces’ using a public search engine and a few public social media platforms? These lines do not add up and i am so tired of this Russia nonsense. We have some serious problems here that we are incapable of addressing.

    Also, fantastic Narwhal picture.

      1. jawbone

        What kind of address is this? I don’t recognize it at all. But then I just probably don’t know enough about new URLs….

        A hint as to where it leads would by, like, way helpful.

    1. cocomaan

      how are we so damn incapable and caught in left field over the complete subversion of our system by ‘enemy forces’ using a public search engine and a few public social media platforms?

      Congress and the people’s representatives aren’t capable. But the NSA and other intelligence agencies have massive facilities and direct taps to vacuum up every online interaction, and as such, it’s going to be easy to figure out what happened with Russia/hacking/DNC/leaking. Someone should just go ask them.

      Similarly, the NRO has satellites watching every square inch of the world. Yet they can’t figure out whether Iran has nuclear weapons or not? Or where North Korean nukes are located? Come on.

      1. Ian

        That comes with a very large assumption that these agencies are not running a political (very very arguably neferious) agenda in the first place and will engage (or even can engage) in a forthright and honest discussion to begin with.

    2. joe defiant

      Because our government and media have been using this strategy for years and at a scale not even comparable to anything a foreign government could have done. $100,000 and a building with “hundreds of paid bloggers” is what they are claiming destroyed “our democracy” and “attacked us at an unprecedented level”. Of course a year or two ago when China was the big threat they claimed the chinese government had “100,000 hackers working in their military”. Both are nothing compared the the corporate media and lobbyist industry that is the real evil subverting our democracy. In my opinion there is only so much they can expose without also exposing their own techniques so this is a big time waste to try to find some criminal charge they can possibly pin on someone like manafort or stone which will most likely end up having nothing to do with russia or putin.

      1. apberusdisvet

        $100 k is miniscule compared to the millions spent by lobbyists to pressure (bribe) Congress critters. Or the many millions donated to offshore accounts in the Caribbean (established by 3 major DC law firms). An interesting distraction via a dog and pony show nonetheless.

    3. Anon

      The better question is how is it that roughly $100k in ads hard counters a $1.3 billion dollar campaign, especially when ads are the least effective way to persuade a person to vote for you?

      1. Lord Koos

        Bloggers aren’t ads, and neither are paid commenters, or twitter and facebook shills. I think that kind of thing can be more powerful than conventional advertising such as a candidate’s 60-second TV spot.

  3. FreeMarketApologist

    RE: “God is a bot…”

    He may be setting up a non-profit as a place to stash cash, patents, etc. so they’re not held in his name, in case he loses some of his court cases.

    RE: Softbank-Uber: from the article “…Kalanick has privately expressed interest in helping the company in some capacity,…”

    Perhaps he could spend a year being an Uber driver, and learn just what the economics of taxi driving looks like to the labor force.

  4. Kevin

    WSJ articles that I am unable to open due to paywall; If I type the article title in Google – I AM able to pull up the exact same article on Faux News for free. …interesting.

    1. joe defiant

      Thanks for this. Rupert Murdoch owns both so I guess they figure the ad money goes to the same place anyway…

  5. Livius Drusus

    Re: Education Isn’t the Key to a Good Income, that was a good article. Unfortunately The Atlantic comments section seems to mostly discuss race and marriage rates rather than stronger labor unions and a higher minimum wage which were also mentioned as important factors in escaping poverty.

    It never ceases to amaze me how much Americans love to talk about culture war issues over economic policy. Instead of discussing very doable policies like a higher minimum wage or making it easier for unions to organize Americans would rather discuss race, culture and marriage which are not as amenable to legislation.

    I wonder why this is the case. I think one factor is that economic policy is boring compared to the hot-button culture war issues that tend to get people riled up and touch something deep in the human mind. Another factor is that the political class and the media promote the culture war narrative so these issues are more prevalent in the media landscape compared to stuff like the composition of the NLRB.

    1. Olga

      Yes – because they have been programmed for years to focus on the cultural divisions. Every person (no high intellect required) has had some experience with race and marriage and so can form an opinion (accuracy/reality need not apply – as so much of this is just emotion). A discussion of economic issues requires some element of knowledge – or even language (“economese” – chuckle). It is very easy to demagogue on economic topics. For example, most folks would likely agree that raising minimum wage would lead to job losses for certain businesses. On the face of it, it seems a logical conclusion. It takes some analysis to think through longer-term consequences (which could actually point to an opposite result). But analytical thinking is not what many in the US are known for. Methinks that this state of affairs suits some folks just fine… (e.g., as they now try to sell you YET AGAIN “lower taxes will spur growth” bs – as if there were no memory of Reagan tax cuts).

      1. justanotherprogressive

        I would argue that those people you claim have “no high intellect” are just as smart as you or I. Perhaps they haven’t been exposed to the ideas we have and therefore cannot “logically” think through some of what we can (on our terms, of course), but that doesn’t make them dumber or more “emotional” than anyone else. If you want to see “emotion”, go look on the faces of those “intellectually” brilliant 1%ers when the stock market drops or banks crash……

        Judging people by their “intellect” is just another method of prejudice where some of us get to define “intellect” and then classify people by our own standard……

        Where does someone who can’t afford a liberal college education learn about economics? From the press, of course. And since we no longer have a free press willing to explain realities to people, where are they supposed to learn about how their economy works? (I don’t think I am stupid because I don’t know what all the medicines do and need a doctor to prescribe for me. I assume that I could learn it if I had the opportunity to become a doctor or pharmacist, though….)

        I would also add that the “intellectuals” in this country have pretty much destroyed the lives of so many people in this country that I would hardly be surprised that they aren’t willing now to follow “intellectuals'” prescriptions for how to make things better…. remember, Trump didn’t win because he was popular, he won because he wasn’t one of those “intellectuals”…..

        It is easy to point out the racism of those who aren’t “intellectual”, but tell me, what percent of “intellectuals” are black or hispanic or……?

      2. joe defiant

        (it seems the auto moderator flags any mention of intersectionality or identity politics) The identity politics culture wars pushed by the democrats and republicans leads to disorganization in the working class. Americans have been completely drained of any class consciousness. For the most part the only people with any idea about class are people who follow international news or are familiar and/or involved with socialism, marxism, or anarchism or sites like this. That is a very small percentage of the american population. The original idea of “intersectionality” was a critique of identity politics and the removal of class from theory. The colleges and democratic thinkers have completely subverted a valid critique and used it to remove all economic criticism of their platform. This is what the original theorists of intersectionality had in mind:

        1. Outis Philalithopoulos

          (it seems the auto moderator flags any mention of intersectionality or identity politics)

          FWIW this is false. We don’t discuss the moderation algorithms in detail, but it’s possible one of your comments was flagged on account of it being a near duplicate of another.

          1. Terry Flynn

            Indeed. I think a lot commenters are not aware that problems ‘at their own end” can trigger automatic moderation. Yves took valuable time in her schedule to explain it to me once.

            If your ISP assigns you to a block of IP addresses previously flagged with some big “anti-spam” checkers as being dodgy (e.g. Years ago i forced my dad to replace a malware ridden old PC that was probably being used as a botnet) then you’re in trouble til you’re “delisted again”. I’ve spent time sorting this but I still have to use the VPN on Opera to maximise the chances my comments don’t automatically enter moderation or just disappear into the ether. Not NC’s fault. Just something that requires some legwork by us commenters.

      3. Pookah Harvey

        You are right about being programmed to only discuss cultural issues. The programming is largely due to our current politics. Nader talked about the two headed snake, Where both political parties had largely the same economic policy and only debated cultural issues. Clinton is the perfect example with her identity politics. Discuss gays, guns and abortion, but stay as far as possible from strengthening unions, free universities, living wages, trade deals etc. Bernie forced her hand.

    2. Huey Long

      I wonder why this is the case. I think one factor is that economic policy is boring compared to the hot-button culture war issues that tend to get people riled up and touch something deep in the human mind. Another factor is that the political class and the media promote the culture war narrative so these issues are more prevalent in the media landscape compared to stuff like the composition of the NLRB.

      The bottom line is that the political class, media, and their big business patrons don’t want us organized.

      Organized labor has been their public enemy number one since the wave of strikes after WWII that ultimately resulted in the passage of Taft-Hartley.

      They want us weak, disorganized, and fighting with each other over culture war stuff. Their worst nightmare is a powerful labor movement.

      Not only would a powerful labor movement cut into corporate profits, it’d give workers real power. I mean, imagine for a second if the teamsters, railroad, longshore, and maritime unions simply refused to handle DoD cargo in a coordinated job action to disrupt the never ending imperial project.

      1. Anon

        If you watched the “History of the World” episode of Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” you watched union workers supporting the imperial project.

    3. tongorad

      It never ceases to amaze me how much Americans love to talk about culture war issues over economic policy. I wonder why this is the case.

      The bosses realized that unions are the greatest challenge to their power. Therefore, unions have been systematically dismantled and discredited via relentless political and propaganda efforts.
      The data might show that most Americans would love to join a union if they could, but I wonder how much we know about our bloody labor history.

      The way things are going, in twenty years or so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the end of weekends, and a return to 12 hour workdays/child labor.

  6. allan

    “Argument preview: The justices tackle partisan gerrymandering again SCOTUSblog”

    For the technically minded, there is a nice discussion of the difficulties involved in formulating objective criteria
    for partisan gerrymandering in this month’s Notices of the American Mathematical Society. [PDF]

    Not that such subtleties will make any difference to SCOTUS’s locked-on-target movement conservatives.

  7. Jim Haygood

    White House press secretary Sarah Sanders:

    At @ricardorossello request, @POTUS has authorized the Jones Act be waived for Puerto Rico. It will go into effect immediately. 8:02 am – Sep 28, 2017

    If suspending the Jones Act does this much good in an emergency, just think how much more good would be done by repealing it forever.

    But Kongress hasn’t gotten around to ending this destructive 1920 law, just as it hasn’t gotten around to ending the National Helium Reserve which once served our fleet of World War I blimps.

    America, comrades: big helium, no blimps. :-(

    1. JTMcPhee

      But Jim, big nuclear weapons also need helium, in the form of tritium — maybe you knew that, here’s a link if you want to read about it:

      Kongress has lots to answer for (and no one to hold them accountable), but unloading on the helium reserve (if you accept the inevitability of a nuclear “stockpile”) maybe is a missed target.

      And of course the Jones Act has its constituency, and raison d’etre, however sick and wasteful it might be, just like “the Pentagon” and Big Corn and Sugar and the rest. Not sure of the logical chain that would establish perforce that turning everything in the shipping realm over to private market powers would “do this much good,” whatever that quantum of “good” might be…

      1. Jim Haygood

        The article’s premise is that the private sector would not supply helium if government wasn’t hoarding and selling it. Strange how that doesn’t happen with hundreds of other industrial gases! :-)

        1. JTMcPhee

          Since the private sector does such a cost-effective job of providing so many things to “the government” to which you attribute so much badness (different badness than I and others would attribute, or at least marginally overlapping sets).

          Oh, and look here! It appears that the Federal Helium Reserve has already been sold off and privatized! Quelle Surprise!

          I’ve not been able to find any information on what the “government” pays, in MMT dollars, to those privatized parties, for that helium that used to be part of the “;commons” created when us Europeans displaced the not-sufficiently-warlike Natives to create the Lootable Continental Go West, Young Man-space…

          1. joe defiant

            Its funny how a lot of the outrage over government owned institutions have already been privatized but keep the old name to disguise the fact. It seems in todays climate that strategy has backfired.

      2. Vatch

        Tritium is a form of hydrogen with two neutrons, it’s not helium. I’m not disagreeing with anything else; helium is needed for many industrial processes, and is probably needed at various stages in the production of nuclear weapons.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          And also, by a strange coincidence, its useful for blowing up childrens balloons. I sent about a cubic metre up in to the atmosphere last weekend (it was… er.. windier than I expected). My little contribution to nuclear disarmament I suppose.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Africa is a long way away (fortunately for Africans). A supply from there could easily be cut off.

              it might also be worthwhile to bring back airships.

      3. Huey Long

        And of course the Jones Act has its constituency, and raison d’etre, however sick and wasteful it might be, just like “the Pentagon” and Big Corn and Sugar and the rest.

        Count me as a Jones Act supporter.


        It protects American jobs in the maritime sector and keeps American shippers in business.

        I’m only in favor of lifting the Jones Act in this instance because of the volume of supplies needed for relief in TX, FL, and PR likely exceedes the capacity of the US merchant fleet.

  8. MDBill

    RE: Is foreign propaganda even effective?

    After all, unless you are getting to paid to watch CTGN, PressTV, or RT—or you are a news junkie with a lot of time on your hands—why in the world would you be spending even one hour of the day watching these foreign networks?

    Can’t speak for CTGN or PressTV, but RT gives voice to American citizens with ideas and points of view that are shunned by the mainstream media. For me, it’s not so much that I “watch” RT. It’s more that I find, on YouTube, RT clips featuring these voices (e.g. Richard Wolff).

  9. Craig H..

    From the Atlantic article about WeWork &c:

    “Human nature wants this closeness,” he said. “The more tech disconnects us, the more people in their hearts will want to be closer.”

    I thought the consensus view was that modern neighbors wanted to have nothing to do with one another. Are we not using our disposable income to go bowl by ourselves any more?

    The McSweeney’s bit is hilarious.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s a good observation about modern neighbors.

      I think it’s because neighbors are not computer-dating matched.

      What flowers do you like in your front yard?

      Do you prefer quite nights or having parties at home after work?

      Cat person or dog person?

      Bright colors or not?

      Before it was modern, people put up with a lot because they had no choice in many things in life, including neighbors.

      Now, we can have friends that ‘match’ or closely match us through the net. We talk to people, through our computers, who agree with us on various subjects and we can ‘like’ them. We can avoid people we know we will ‘dislike,’ so rarely we run into them, electronically, that we hardly have to say say or hit the ‘dislike’ button.

      Neighbors? It’s still random luck. You don’t know who will move in next door.

      1. Wukchumni

        Our neighbors are an interesting contrast, one was a marine in charge of a tank and landed in time to be in the battle of Hue during the Tet Offensive and told me he killed hundreds of people, and if he thinks too much about it he drinks too much to forget it if only for a brief respite. I asked his wife if he was watching Ken Burns series, and she told me doesn’t do war films…

        …the other neighbor went in the Air Force in 1971 as a mechanic and before you knew it we were done with Vietnam, and he was posted peacetime to Hawaii, where he told me everybody had long hair, and wore a ‘short hair’ wig to disguise it under their hats. He related to me that the MP’s always had the best drugs

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    J.P.Morgan ordered to pay more than $4 billion to widow for botching estate settlement MarketWatch (Re Silc).

    A few issues here.

    1. $19 million estate when the husband died. We are talking about a member of the 1%. It’s 1% vs. 1%, for most. For some, they will point out it’s more like the 1% vs the 0.01%. But we continue to think in terms of the the 1%.

    2. $4 billion is not earned income. Or is it? People will rightfully point out to the pain, suffering, stress, etc caused by the bank. That is, stress is part of ‘earning’ an income. Can a hedge fund manager point to the stress (over the years) to declare his dividends, rents or capital gains as ‘earned?’

    1. Wukchumni

      Regarding 1%’ers…

      Has anybody ever brought up the idea that Hells Angels proudly wear this patch on their colors, and the odd significance of who the 1% signified then, and say now.

      From Wiki:

      “The term one-percenter is said to be a response to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) comment on the Hollister incident, to the effect that 99% of motorcyclists were law-abiding citizens and the last 1% were outlaws.”

      Here’s one:

    2. pictboy3

      I haven’t read extensively on this case, but I remember seeing that the $4b is mainly punitive damages, which are calculated solely on the basis of the defendant, without regard to the plaintiff’s circumstances. The whole point is to deter a particular behavior, so all that matter’s is finding an amount that will punish the wrongdoer and deter possible future wrongdoers from repeating the injury.

      I don’t think this is ultimately Constitutional, since the last I read on it in law school, the Supremes consider more than 10x the actual damages in punitive damages to be a violation of the 8th amendment. I think that’s BS, but sadly for me and this plaintiff, I’m not on the Supreme Court. There are maybe some distinguishing factors here, such as the defendant being a major bank for which punitive damages must necessarily be higher for deterrence to be a factor, but it’s going to be an uphill battle, especially with this current Supreme Court, if it even gets that far.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        I always thought punitive damages should go to the government general fund (or perhaps to fund legal aid programs) rather than to the defendant and their lawyers. You get the same deterrent effect without the ambulance chasing and lotto jackpot mentality.

  11. Vatch

    How Waiving the Jones Act Helps Puerto Rico The American Conservative

    I have a question about something in this article, which quotes from another article:

    Under the law, any foreign registry vessel that enters Puerto Rico must pay punitive tariffs, fees and taxes, which are passed on to the Puerto Rican consumer.

    The foreign vessel has one other option: It can reroute to Jacksonville, Fla., where all the goods will be transferred to an American vessel, then shipped to Puerto Rico where — again — all the rerouting costs are passed through to the consumer.

    I don’t understand how the foreign vessel can avoid the tariffs and fees by rerouting to Jacksonville, FL. Won’t the tariffs and fees have to be paid when the goods are transferred to an American vessel? The need to reroute seems to be completely unnecessary, since the tariffs and fees are going to paid in either case. Can anyone explain what I am missing?

    In these scenarios I’m assuming that the foreign vessel’s origin is a foreign port. If the foreign vessel’s origin is a U.S. port, I do understand how the Jones Act would be harmful to Puerto Rico, assuming there aren’t enough U.S. vessels to transport goods from mainland U.S. ports to Puerto Rican U.S. ports.

    1. nippersmom

      It may be related to the fact that the Jones Act was already waived for Florida and Texas following Irma and Harvey.

      1. Vatch

        Oh, I see. I didn’t think of that; I was just thinking about business as usual. Thanks.

        My objection would still make sense if a foreign ship were to go to a port such as New York or Charleston, since they didn’t get waivers. But not Florida, Texas, or Louisiana.

        1. Bill Smith

          The tariffs, fees and taxes will still be paid on any foreign goods that are entering PR from a foreign country.

          The thinking is that some foreign owned and crewed ships can be pressed into service between the US East Coast and PR.

  12. Jim Haygood

    Venezuela has been victimized by a number of factors outside of its control, but especially a precipitous drop in the price of oil, the country’s main source of revenue.‘ — Alternet article

    The obvious flaw in this claim is that among several dozen oil producing nations, only Venezuela has plunged into triple-digit inflation, food shortages, medicine shortages, and soaring infant mortality.

    Today’s bolivar rate is 28,434 to the dollar, up numerically (meaning weaker) from around 9,000 to the dollar the week before Madouche-o’s constituyente vote, which nullified the democratically elected Assembly.

    While Alternet beats the drum for the tired old right-wing bogeyman theme — which still plays to USians whose knowledge of South America is frozen in the military dictatorship days of the 1980s — Venezuelans are fleeing across the border into Colombia to escape, and hopefully to eat:

    The economic and political crisis is putting pressure on Venezuela’s neighbor as around 25,000 people cross the Simón Bolívar International bridge each day to reach the Colombian town of Cucuta.

    “I’ll return when Maduro goes,” Jeferson José Gutierres, who is jobless after fleeing Venezuela with his wife and three children a month ago, told the BBC. “He’s a president who spends money while his people die of hunger.”

    Madouche-o is the Mugabe of the western hemisphere. #FAIL

    1. Wukchumni

      The math is a little stifling, as there have been many revaluations and nuevo bolivars and the like since this 1965 quarter-sized silver one bolivar coin was in circulation in Caracas and elsewhere:

      It contained about 1/8th of an ounce of silver and is worth $2 currently in silver value.

      It would take around 60,000 current bolivars to buy it, but figuring in all of the revaluations and renamed bolivars, etc. Reality is something closer to 5 million bolivars.

      Weimar is the poster child for hyperinflation, but it only lasted a couple years, whereas, Venezuela has had it constantly since 1983 (Black Friday) and so did Mexico from the late 70’s to the early 90’s, and look at how things have turned out there.

  13. diptherio

    Here’s an article that I think will resonate with folks around here.

    Cast Down Cancel Culture: Elitism in Millennial Social Justice Movements

    Instead of listening to another worldview, many deem it appropriate to listen for a buzz word (homophobia, patriarchy, feminism, etc.), decide if they agree with it, and act accordingly (even if all they have to offer stops at memes circulated through social media). These terms claim to give language to a silent oppression but are often being used to privilege those who can follow along with them in a conversation.

    For instance I was recently a part of a conversation between two Black American men, an Asian American woman, and a Black American woman. The two Black American men were inquiring about the term “people of color” and who was included in such a term. They expressed their confusion with Asian cultures being included because of the relationship often seen between the Asian American and Black American communities in low-income urban areas (i.e. nail shops, take out places, liquor stores, and hair stores). The Asian American and Black American women proceeded to scold them for their ignorance about the inclusivity of oppression, using words such as “problematic,” “intersectionality” and “silencing.” This conversation left the two Black men more confused about the subject rather than leaving them with an understanding of the women’s point of view. They felt ostracized by the language used and worse, completely misunderstood by the two women. This was in a space that claimed to be about “collective liberation.”

  14. Matthew G. Saroff

    Thank you Mr. Strether for the ear worm.

    That picture put the “Narwhals” song in my head.

    Shoot me now.

  15. Fec

    Thanks so much for listing Rebecca Rojer’s article, which is the best thing I’ve read regarding Modern Monetary Theory.

    1. Julia Versau

      I so agree, Fec. Clear, concise … perfect. I have posted it to my social media outlets because everyone should read it. Especially since the GOP tax plan is already eliciting screams about “the deficit.” The tax plan sucks, but the so-called deficit is the least of it (if it’s anything at all).

      If people understood how money works … well, it’d be a brand new (economic) world.

  16. L

    With respect to Puerto Rico at some point we have to start asking about the P word: planning.

    Right now the Puerto Ricans are stuck asking for help and the professional Trump Opposers are angrily demanding that ships be sent. But it is not like Maria was unforseen. We had warnings, they had warnings, FEMA was staging things clos(er) to Huston long before landfall. I am actually surprised that noone (at least so far) is asking why things were not loaded and ready to go. After all pre-disaster prep is supposed to be what FEMA does.

    To my mind that is actually a more damning problem than the NFL tweeting. One suggests a serious lack of interest in preparing for the inevitable, wholesale incompetence (which was not an issue for Texas), or simple racism. Perhaps the Trump administration are among the 50% who don’t know Puerto Rico is part of the U.S.

  17. joe defiant

    If the Russia/Putin influence story is true the logical conclusion would have to be in 2020 campaigns would hire russians to run their social media platforms. Putin/Russia did with pennies what the Democrats couldn’t accomplish with billions.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We know Russians can build weapons for pennies (maybe a little bit more) that would cost the MIC billions.

      Maybe we buy their gadgets to defeat the North Koreans.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Thanks for the reference to the Glass Bees and Ernst Junger. Sounds like an interesting book and author to search out.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      The recent thriller “Eye in the Sky” had a scene where a drone the size of and which looked like a large beetle was sent into a home to scout. Some critics of the film questioned the feasibility of a drone like that. Battery life was the issue.

      1. mle detroit

        The battery in my hearing aid lasts 5+ 16-hour days. It could fit easily inside one of the cockroaches I shared a Manhattan apartment with several decades ago…and there was always more than critter.

  18. John Merryman

    I think the article on MMT needs to add a few points. Especially the role of government debt in storing wealth, rather than taxing it.
    Logically if there is excess money in the system, it is in the hands of those with an excess, yet they have the ability to resist taxation and so the only way to keep this excess from being inflationary is to borrow it back out.
    Ref. Volcker didn’t really cure inflation with higher interest rates, since that also slowed economic activity and reduced the need for money.
    Inflation didn’t come under control until 82, by which time the deficit topped 200 billion. This and the resulting Keynesian spending is what brought the money supply in line with the economy.
    Better to blame inflation on unions than the wealthy.

    1. Wukchumni

      I find it kind of funny that the one group of union workers that most of us come into contact with-grocery store checkers, are still paid much more than a checker @ say Target, for doing the same exact thing.

    2. Oregoncharles

      ” cure inflation with higher interest rates” – no, you can’t really do that, because interest is itself both a price and a cost, so the higher level propagates through the system even while throttling it. It’s self-defeating.

      I would have thought that was painfully obvious, but nooooo…

      1. Oregoncharles

        PS: ” The questions become: What sort of society do we want? Do we have the physical resources to support that society?”

        The short answer is no, and that’s the underlying problem that Keynesians avoid.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Further: “A sovereign (you, in this scenario) becomes a money creator not by figuring out how to carve their faces into a coin, but by having the strength to enforce taxes denominated in their own coins.”

        True as far as it goes, but denies the initial conditions of fiat currency, which is quite new. It was introduced not ab initio, as the example suggests, but into complex modern economies that ALREADY depended on money. Hence, it is based just as much on the government’s role as enforcer of contracts; so when the government says that, say, a sales contract is complete, it is indeed completed. That’s the “fiat”: money has value because the government says it does. Taxes are merely a special case of that, albeit one where government power is very explicit. But if you take goods without paying for them in some form acceptable to the owner, you face the very same government power.

        This is a matter of emphasis and might be a distinction without a difference. But for policy, where it matters, taxation and the psychology behind it is MMT’s biggest problem (that I can see). I don’t think “regulating the money supply” will motivate taxpayers the way “paying for government services” does. It also regulates economic behavior, and that might be a stronger sell. But I suspect this is a big reason for the political resistance to MMT – that, and its progressive policy implications.

  19. Wukchumni

    So, this really interesting fellow owned a little 8,000 acre spread here and called the place home. Somehow, this adventurist managed to live about 6 lives in the space of one. He’s slipped through the cracks of history, in that we’re not so keen on military exploits, and the wars against various African tribes isn’t up there either, but he was one of 3 survivors out of 37 men in the Shangani Patrol, a Little Big Horn-like event for the British army, in that pitted against them were 3,000 Matabele warriors.

    …and that’s just an appetizer course of a remarkable life

    read his Wiki:

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    God Is a Bot, and Anthony Levandowski Is His Messenger Wired. The Silicon Valley elite are crazypants. Who knew?

    A religious organization has nice tax advantages, for itself, and its priests.

    But this is more important – the realization that God doesn’t speak to us directly (99.999999% of the time), but through his messengers.

    That’s one sign of God-ness.

    In a way, kneeling is acting God-like. You don’t say much. The purpose is mysterious. Your messengers do the explanation, at the time or later.

  21. Oregoncharles

    From “God is a Bot:” ” “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence.””

    Frank Herbert, “Destination Void,” 1966.

    Perhaps it’s possible to read too much science fiction; I certainly tried.

    OTOH, Frank Herbert was truly astonishing.

  22. Oregoncharles

    There is only one right way to deal with a secession movement: hold a referendum, and if necessary, kiss them goodbye.

    Horribly fascinating though it is, I can’t quite face reading about Spain’s devolution into civil war – again.

    So soon they forget.

    1. Massinissa

      I’m kind of surprised it hasn’t spread to other parts of Spain yet. When are the Basques, for instance, going to rekindle their secessionist dreams? They had them as recently as a couple decades ago. Honestly, maybe the reason Catalonia is the focus of so much suppression right now is that the heads of the Spanish state realize the Catalonians might not be the last ones wanting to secede…

      EDIT: Apparently a bunch of Basque separatist militants did a big handover of their weapons to the government a few months ago. What strange timing, they gave up their guns right before the Catalonians decided to get serious about independence.

  23. CalypsoFacto

    re: WeWork Atlantic article…

    I spent about a year and a half (2014-early 2016) living this life, more or less, as a remote tech worker based in Seattle, which already has plenty of the dorm-style apartments with communal kitchens under the pleasant term of ‘microapartment’. I spent a significant (more than half) of my time traveling and the other renting desk space at various shared workspaces around town. My thinking was that this would save me a bit of money (Seattle’s housing market is insane) and since I wouldn’t be home much I wouldn’t care that it was <200sqft.

    These places are already effectively tenements or overflow student housing. And they're not cheap either – 900$ for a box (and I had to have a big expensive storage unit for all my junque that wouldn't fit in my abode). The coworking spaces racked up too – 300-500$/mo if you need a dedicated desk or assured seating (hot desk). All together I would have been better off renting a big studio or junior 1bdr as close in as I could have found at 1800$/mo and not felt like I was living in degrading and substandard conditions.

    I ended up leaving Seattle for a slightly cheaper city (Portland) but the housing prices have also spiked here, as I mentioned in the Gentrification thread the other day. The WeWork article again reiterates the mantra of ‘moar density’ and, cynically, I can’t help but think that insistence on density sure helps out what is effectively a commercial real estate developer’s bottom line. This article from the longer series I linked in the earlier comment offers an alternative option that I’d love to see more discussion on, as it directly contradicts this ‘moar density’ view.

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Chinese household assets surge 18pc, debt also soars, survey finds South China Morning Post

    Maybe they will feel differently the morning after, but right now, with assets surging 18pc, it’s easy for people in Beijing to imagine grandiose water projects.

  25. Jim

    The Rebecca Rojer article on “The World According to Modern Monetary Theory” raises many important issues.

    One of the big ones is “An understanding of modern money and its relationship to sovereignty…”

    This can be examined both on the level of language as well as on the level of history.

    First, looking at this issue from the level of language Rojer states: “If sovereignty lies with the people, money can be used to serve the common good. If people lack formal political power, more democratic layers of sovereignty may be possible in the shadow of the official sovereign, provided the means of production exists within a community.”

    It is intriguing that Rojer says “if people lack formal political power, more democratic layers of sovereignty may be possible in the shadow of the official sovereign…” Wow, “may be possible– how about starting with a concept of democratic sovereignty that includes how sovereignty operates once it is established as well as the process of establishment itself, thus there will then be nothing inconsistent in noting that the sovereign has to precede sovereignty at the moment of institution while coming under its democratic rubric once it is established.

    The Rojer statement seems to point to a self-created paradox of sovereignty at the level of language. For Rojer says “…the sovereign steers the ship…” which seems to conceive of the sovereign as falling both inside the State (for purposes of evoking compliance) and outside the State (in accounting for how sovereignty and sovereign money came to be established in the first place) by the ruler.

    But it also seems important to recognize that this paradox of sovereignty is not immediately given or generated by the notion of sovereignty itself, rather it results from an arbitrary act of conceptual slicing geared in a certain way by Rojer and many MMT advocates.

    The MMT concept of sovereignty seems,by choice, to cut the horizon of analysis quite narrowly, close to the moment of institution. According to Rojer “…a sovereign becomes a money creator …by having the strength to enforce taxes denominated in their own coin.” through the threat of violence.

    What is crucial to notice is that their is always a choice or decision made by Rojer and many other MMT advocates, or myself, as to what stage to begin a conceptual discussion of sovereignty.

    This conceptually antecedent choice on where to cut the concept of sovereignty is arbitrarily, for MMT, perhaps, in order to situate the problem most persuasively to highlight the power of the state in its relationship to creating, circulating and destroying sovereign money.

    Historically speaking, what are the conditions under which democratic states evolved in a direction that tried to separate military, political and economic interests?

    Was one of these situations the creation of sophisticated economic organizations outside the control of the State?

    In order for democracy to exist do capital and coercive interests have to be somehow balanced?

    1. Oregoncharles

      Bitcoin poses a problem for the theory, since millions of people are accepting and using it. Where is the sovereign?

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Personality study finds fish have hidden depths France24

    What options are left for pescatarians? Crustaceans?

    “No that fish with a nice personality, chef!!!”

  27. Daryl

    > Russia might be running anti-fracking ads too, congressman says Vice. Everybody into the pool!

    Well between this and making Zuck look like a chump, keep up the good work Russia.

Comments are closed.