2:00PM Water Cooler 10/2/2017

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I was slow finishing the post on Puerto Rico, so I’m going to put News of the Wired up, and then be back with more in a bit. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves! –lambert. UPDATE 3:26PM. Moar.


“This year is the fifth anniversary of Russia joining the world trade body. The U.S. has not brought a case against Russia at the WTO, despite trade and diplomatic friction stemming from Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and other interventions in Ukraine” [Politico]. Hint, hint.



“Democrats, Please Get Ready to Lose” [Frank Bruni, New York Times]. I can’t imagine better sourcing on how the Democrats can win back the House in 2018 than Howard Wolfson and Hillary Rosen.

“Democrats [which ones?] have long been terrified that the Sanders-Clinton slugfest of 2016 would set off a prolonged civil war in the party, forcing incumbents to fight off primary challengers from the left in Senate and gubernatorial races. It hasn’t happened” [Politico]. “Democrats have escaped the brunt of their own party’s populist fury largely because they’re heading into the midterms in a defensive crouch, with 10 of their incumbent senators on the ballot in states that voted for Donald Trump. So instead of going after their own senators, progressive activists are focused on gaining Republican-held seats in the House.”

2016 Post Mortem

“Last November, while most of the country was either cheering Donald Trump’s presidential win or making an appointment with their therapist about how to cope with the results, New Englanders in four out of the region’s six “blue” states — Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine — woke up the next morning with four Republican governors” [Politico].

New Cold War

Outside agitators:

Trump Transition

“Promise the moon, deliver tax cuts for the wealthy” [Los Angeles Times]. “It didn’t take long to find the most obvious losers: taxpayers in high-tax states like California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, who would lose the deduction for state and local taxes. All those states went for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, making them easy targets for the Trump administration. But it turns out high-tax states have Republican members in Congress too — many of them from affluent districts where people pay, and deduct, income and property tax bills.”

“White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the day after the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history is not the time to renew a debate over gun control” [AP News]. “Sanders was asked Monday during the press briefing that there is a “time and place” for a debate but that is ‘not the place we’re in at this moment'”

Health Care

Realignment and Legitimacy

“If America’s democratic socialists learned anything from watching Bernie Sanders’ deep run in the Democratic primary last year, it’s that they don’t have to be losers anymore” [Politico]. “They want to win. And to do it, socialists are dispensing with their penchant for symbolic protest votes and their principled disdain for an electoral process they believe can’t deliver meaningful change. Sanders’ ability to run well in primaries across the country, say new DSA members, proved that democratic socialism isn’t destined for the kind of third-party tokenism that bedevils the Green Party and World Workers Party, among others. And it has opened their minds to an electoral strategy that was until very recently considered heretical. ‘The only viable electoral strategy is to work with the Democratic Party,’ says Michael Kazin, the editor of leftist magazine Dissent. ‘There is no viable third party.'” I don’t think a lot of those new DSA members read Dissent, though.

“The GOP’s rabid faction” [The Week]. “On one side are those like McConnell, who uphold Zombie Reaganism, applying to every area of domestic and foreign policy precisely the same ideological formula that has guided the party for the past 37 years. On the other side are the revolutionaries (Bannon has described himself as a ‘Leninist,’ and the term is apt) who have turned Reaganite skepticism of big government against the institutional Republican Party itself.” I wonder if matters are that binary. I’m having a hard time throwing The American Conservative into either the Zombie Reagan bucket, or the Leninist bucket.

“‘A white girl had to die for people to pay attention’: Heather Heyer’s mother on hate in the US” [Guardian]. The article is much better than the headline.

“America might see a new constitutional convention in a few years” [The Economist]. ” There are now 27 states in which the legislatures have passed resolutions calling for a convention that would propose a balanced-budget amendment. The two-thirds-of-the-states threshold for calling a convention is 34. And, as it happens, there are seven states which have not yet called for a convention to propose a balanced-budget amendment, but in which Republicans control both houses of the legislature. The earliest all seven could plausibly make the call is 2019, because Montana’s legislature is not in session again until then.”

Stats Watch

Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Index, September 2017: “[A]lready running well beyond strength in factory data out of Washington, is accelerating even further” [Econintersect]. “Hurricane effects are evident in input prices, rising 9.5 points to 71.5 and confirming similar strength in this morning’s PMI manufacturing report. This is another 6-1/2 year high as are backlog orders which are likely piling up in part due to the delivery delays. Inventory data are stable…. It’s important to remember that reports like the ISM are, in contrast to government data, based small samples that number no more than several hundred at the very most and all responses are voluntary.” And but: “Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession” [Econintersect].

Purchasing Managers’ Manufacturing Index, September 2017: “The PMI manufacturing report continues to report no more than moderate conditions, much more in line with trends in national data out of Washington than other private and regional reports that have been reporting extremely strong conditions” [Econintersect]. “Hurricane effects are hard to find in the data except for input costs which accelerated sharply to the fastest rate in nearly 5 years. These prices are being passed through to selling prices but only to a limited extent. Another hurricane effect may be delivery delays which slowed the most since February last year.”

Construction Spending, August 2017: “The construction spending report is often volatile and today’s results are an example. The headline is up a solid 0.5 percent in August but July’s decline, initially at 0.6 percent, has been downgraded sharply to minus 1.2 percent” [Econintersect]. “Public building has been weak all year though educational building did rise 3.5 percent yet is still down 2.8 percent from a year ago. Federal spending fell 4.7 percent in the month for an 8.3 percent decline. Overall construction spending shows only a 2.5 percent year-on-year rise despite a very favorable 11.6 percent increase in residential construction. Yet residential starts and permits have been uneven pointing to the risk of slowing in the months ahead.” “Public building…” Too bad Trump’s not going to deliver on infrastructure…. And: “This was above the consensus forecast of a 0.3% increase for August, and spending for previous months were revised up slightly. A solid report” [Calculated Risk]. But: “The headlines say construction spending was up and near expectations. Our view is that this does not factor in inflation” [Econintersect]. “The rolling averages declined.”

The Bezzle: “Want your company’s stock to climb? Consider mentioning “bitcoin” in the press release” [Bloomberg]. “In the late 90s all it took was a dot-com in the name, back in the 60s ‘tronics’ was good enough to double a share price. In 2017, the moniker sure to stoke investors’ appetite is any variation of ‘digital currency.’… Betting that cryptocurrencies will ultimately revolutionize the world just as electronics and the internet did, investors are now casting a wide net to try to find the next Amazon.com — with perhaps not enough scrutiny to avoid this era’s Pets.com.”

The Bezzle: “After initially filing a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) in August 2016, which focused exclusively on the Kardashian/Jenners’ consistent failure to observe federal labeling requirements in connection with paid-for social media posts, Truth in Advertising Inc. (“TINA”) has yet again called foul on America’s most famous reality television family, alerting the Kardashian/Jenners’ legal counsel and FTC” [The Fashion Law]. Influencers have impunity, I guess…

The Bezzle: “Mattel Gadget Listens to Babies, Setting Off Privacy Alarms” [Bloomberg]. “‘The kid tech industry sees kids’ bedroom as an economic bonanza,’ said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a Washington-based policy group that advocates for privacy protections. ‘They can get all kinds of profile information — the kid likes to eat this kind of food, the kid likes to listen to this kind of music, and we’ll have this kind of information that we can share with partners and advertisers.'” Cradle to grave, too. I’m putting this under The Bezzle because this practice ought to be outlawed. I hope Mattel loses a very great deal of money on it.

The Bezzle: “Amazon prides itself on its almost pathological focus on what its customers want, rather than what its competitors are doing. But its new Alexa products are clearly a response, at least in part, to new smart speaker offerings from Google and Apple. Amazon is betting that it can defend its franchise by using an old trick — aggressive pricing — and by finding ways to embed Alexa’s hooks more deeply into customers’ lives” [New York Times]. “Hooks.” Oh.

Concentration: “Elsevier Launching Rival To Wikipedia By Extracting Scientific Definitions Automatically From Authors’ Text” [TechDirt]. “It’s typical of Elsevier’s unbridled ambition that instead of supporting a digital commons like Wikipedia, it wants to compete with it by creating its own redundant versions of the same information, which are proprietary. Even worse, it is drawing that information from books written by academics who have given Elsevier a license — perhaps unwittingly — that allows it to do that. The fact that a commercial outfit mines what are often publicly-funded texts in this way is deeply hypocritical, since Elsevier’s own policy on text and data mining forbids other companies from doing the same. It’s another example of how Elsevier uses its near-monopolistic stranglehold over academic publishing for further competitive advantage. Maybe it’s time anti-trust authorities around the world took a look at what is going on here.”

The Fed: “So the Fed sees all this, and indicates that they are leaning to another rate hike in December, as they continue to forecast increases in inflation that, after many years of similar forecasts, have yet to materialize. And they list every reason for the low inflation indicators, except for a lack of aggregate demand (low spending), when all of the above charts support a low demand story, as does all of the other weak data released last week- personal income, housing starts and sales, etc.” (charts) [Mosler Economics]. “In this 10 year chart you can see how the growth in lending suddenly slowed back in November 2016.”

MMT: “New (free) epub version of ‘The 7 Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy” [Warren Mosler, Google Drive].

Rapture Index: Closes up one on drought. “Drought conditions have gotten worse in the central and North U.S.” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 89 Extreme Greed (previous close: 85, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 65 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 2 at 2:33pm. Wow, that is getting Extreme. Hurricane reconstruction?

Class Warfare

“During the period of steep manufacturing losses from 1979 to 1983, industrial heartland incomes fell to 3.4 percentage points below the national average, but this disadvantage gradually declined to 0.7 percentage points by 1997. During the 2001 to 2010 period, however, the gap between the industrial heartland’s income level and the income levels of the other two groupings of MSAs widened considerably, as shown in figure 5. In 2000, the industrial heartland [Metropolitan Statistical Areas] MSAs had an average per capita income that was 2.4 percentage points below the national average, but by 2007 this had ballooned to 6.8 percentage points. Relative to the other manufacturing-intensive MSAs, the industrial heartland’s income level was more than 8 percentage points lower in 2007. Since 2008, small relative gains in the income levels of the industrial heartland have been realized, but the gaps between the industrial heartland and both the nation and the other manufacturing-intensive MSAs were still large in 2015: 5.7 percentage points and more than 8 percentage points, respectively” [Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland]. Includes a map outlining “the industrial heartland.”

News of the Wired

“Non-interactive proofs of proof-of-work” (PDF) [Aggelos Kiayias, Andrew Miller, and Dionysis Zindros]. This paper is not refereed, and I’m not equipped to evaluate it technically. (Skimming it, I don’t think it’s a parody.) If true, important, for blockchain performance gains.

Zuckerberg on identity (via):


Just in case Zuckerberg ever does run for President.

“The Karl Polanyi 1940 Bennington Lecture series in one go” [Prime Economics]. For more on Polanyi, see NC here.

UPDATE “Can Neuroscientists Measure Free Will?” [Big Questions Online]. “[E]ven if we accept that [University College London neuroscientist Patrick Haggard] has discovered a genuine neural precursor to volitional action, this finding hardly commits us to a deterministic view of free will, or to the view that our conscious minds are merely spectators or troubadours of the brain’s sovereign play.”

* * *

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 (EM):

EM writes: “[B]ees and butterflies working on breakfast.” Happy pollinators!

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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. Synoia

    I’m glad to read Zuck’s comments.

    I have zero identities then, as I’m not on Facebook, and do not have an account.

    A non-person to Facebook. But not to the IRS. :-(

    1. allan

      We live in an age where yesterday’s dystopian fiction about the near future is tomorrow’s NC post.
      First First Super Sad True Love Story, and now The Circle:


      1. Jim Haygood

        Super Sad True Love Story — yep, ol’ Gary Shteyngart nailed it good.

        Seven years on, reality has become stranger and darker than his dystopian fiction.

        “By reading this message you are denying its existence and implying consent.” — SSTLS

      2. Octopii

        Every time a “lone wolf” kills a bunch of random people we get closer to “privacy is theft.”

  2. Wukchumni

    There are some good things to be said about walking. Not many, but some. Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who’s always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and thus more interesting. You have time to observe the details. The utopian technologists foresee a future for us in which distance is annihilated and anyone can transport himself anywhere, instantly. Big deal, Buckminster. To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me.~

    Edward Abbey

  3. cocomaan

    I commented on Mattel’s “Aristotle” device before with this quote from Aristotle himself:

    A parent seems by nature to feel [philia, friendship] for offspring and offspring for parent, not only among men but among birds and among most animals; it is felt mutually by members of the same race, and especially by men, whence we praise lovers of their fellowmen. We may even in our travels how near and dear every man is to every other. Friendship seems too to hold states together, and lawgivers to care more for it than for justice; for unanimity seems to be something like friendship, and this they aim at most of all, and expel faction as their worst enemy; and when men are friends they have no need of justice, while when they are just they need friendship as well, and the truest form of justice is thought to be a friendly quality.

    — Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book VIII

    Remember that Aristotle wrote the Nicomachean Ethics for his son, Nicomachus, or for his father, Nicomachus also, depending on which way you read the title.

    I also went through to the press release because this is fascinating and awful.

    Unlike other voice activated, AI-driven connected home platforms, Aristotle is designed with a specific purpose and mission: to aid parents and use the most advanced AI-driven technology to make it easier for them to protect, develop, and nurture the most important asset in their home—their children.

    “We are pleased to work with Mattel, which has used its deep knowledge of families and children to create a powerful set of smart home capabilities together to bring safety, monitoring, entertainment and other new benefits in a compact and powerful platform.”

    Hooking your child up to Aristotle is like tossing their mind and soul into an abyss. You have no idea what things are whispered to your kid in the dark. It’s the end of social reproduction (as defined by Nancy Fraser) and the beginning of something vile.

    1. JTMcPhee

      May be related to the reactions of some here to the privations of Puerto Ricans: “Why aren’t the drones being activated to relieve their distress?” Because “tech.” And “au courant-cy.”

      1. pricklyone

        In a scenario where stealth is unneeded, such as disaster relief, what good is a drone?
        I would be looking for big transports dropping pallets of stuff by parachute.
        Where does the magic lie in tiny underpowered, remote controlled aircraft, with very low payload capacity, if no one is shooting at them?
        Use the C130.

          1. ambrit

            After Katrina, my immiserated half horse town got supply deliveries by Vietnam War vintage CH-47 Chinook helicopters.
            See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_CH-47_Chinook
            Several of the ones I helped unload were refugees from the boneyard. One had the most perplexing “bang bang banging” sound as it idled. The crew chief of one told me that flying one of these relics was “an adventure job all by itself.”
            The real bottleneck might be establishing coordination with the people on the ground. Delivery is just the beginning. Next you have to have dispersal of the supplies to where they are most needed. then comes ‘protection’ of the supplies from the larcenously inclined. As Katrina taught, this is going to go on for quite a while.

            1. Procopius

              One problem is the helicopters have to be found and then somehow transported to the island. Cargo ship is best, but slow. The Air Force has a few mammoth cargo planes which can carry like a dozen tanks and a couple hundred men, but there’s no place they can land in Puerto Rico now. The distance is too much for them to fly unless they are outfitted with in-flight refueling systems, which would take more time. How many aircraft carrier groups do we have in the Atlantic? Can they be diverted from their current mission? The big problem, from what I’ve read is the complete destruction of the road network in the interior, complicated by the complete destruction of communications. Then you’ve got to find the stuff, the food, the bottled water, the clothing, and move it to the island, where they don’t have functioning seaports yet. Good people are working hard to solve all these problems, and actually it was probably better that Trump went and played golf in New Jersey. The damage turned out to be a couple orders of magnitude worse than anticipated and dozens, if not hundreds, of people are dying every day and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

    2. PhilM

      Ah, the irony on all fronts.

      A Platonist would laugh: “Aristotle” is just doing what Plato suggested in the Republic: allowing children to be raised by everyone and no-one at the same time. This will give them the values they need to become good consumers. Well, sure, OK, Plato used the word citizens; but nobody even knows what that word means any more, so I’m going with consumers.

    3. Craig H.

      neal stephenson Diamond Age

      It has been a long time since I read it. As I recall the computer is a lot more powerful than Aristotle, the kid totally raises hell with it, and the ending of the novel was untidy.

      1. Mark P.

        It was untidy. But it worked better than any other Stephenson ending I’ve read, in that it stayed in the reader’s mind. This one’s, anyway.

      1. Procopius

        I only know about it in relation to language teaching, but the studies I saw back in the ’90s were pretty unanimous that sleep-teaching simply does not work. Probably because while you’re asleep your brain is working on other vitally important stuff. We really don’t know what’s going on. Why do we dream, for example? But we know dreaming is vitally important, because if you prevent people from dreaming they soon go crazy.

  4. rd

    Symphyotricum (formerly Aster) novi-belgii – an excellent plant native to the eastern US and Canada. Plant breeders have created numerous cultivars in different shapes, sizes, and colors.

    S. novi-angliae is similar, but tends to be lighter in color, with the natural species often appearing almost white. There are fewer cultivars of this species.

    Both are very valuable fall flowers for the end of the pollinator season of nectar and pollen collecting, They typically flower at the end of the goldenrods and later. Both plants are really tough and grow very large (up to 6 foot tall) in wet meadow conditions and shorter in drier settings.

    There are some Lepidoptera species that use asters as larval food during the summer and the seeds get eaten by birds, so they fill multiple ecosystem roles. http://www.lepidoptera.se/foodplantgenus/aster.aspx

    1. Kurt Sperry

      I’m actually a little bummed they changed the name or reclassified those asters. Symphotricum scrapes. Taxonomists are scary as a group.

    2. Darius

      Symphiotrichum oblongifolium is shorter with lots of blooms, and a few enhanced cultivars. Not the purple pillow in the plantidote, though.

    3. Edward E

      Thank you so much, I’m determined to plant some now around some ponds in my area. Found some places to order seeds.

  5. Wukchumni

    “White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the day after the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history is not the time to renew a debate over gun control” [AP News]. “Sanders was asked Monday during the press briefing that there is a “time and place” for a debate but that is ‘not the place we’re in at this moment’”

    One would think a good many of the victims were republicans, based upon stereotyping country western music fans political leanings, but now is not the time to talk about your constituency.

    1. RUKidding

      IOW, there is NEVER EVER going to be a time – good or bad or indifferent – to discuss rational gun control.

      Money talks. Nothing else matters.

      The Stock Market ROSE after the carnage. Everything else is collateral damage.

      For the sociopaths who are “in charge” in Versailles on the Potomac, 58 dead rubes simply don’t matter no matter which “party” they affiliate with or how much or little money they have.

    2. polecat

      Read a headliner over at the zhedge, that a vp lawyer @ CBS was fired today for making disparaging comments on ‘$ocial media .. regarding how glad she was that all those mostly ‘trump repub country music fans’ got their comeupance in being killed or injured at that venue.

      1. cgeye

        Numbnuts. If she gave a damn about the law, she wouldn’t celebrate the eventual crackdown of even what little privacy one has in LV, next time she attends a bachelorette party there.

        However, if someone was able to bring it that many long guns into a hotel suite, in the most surveilled leisure area on Earth. what good is any talk of gun control? There was nothing holding this excrescence back from using true WMD, as long as he was ready to die himself.

  6. Wukchumni

    The Bezzle: “Want your company’s stock to climb? Consider mentioning “bitcoin” in the press release” [Bloomberg].

    I hear that in lieu of quoting the price of a barrel of oil anymore, they’re using Bitumen Coin instead.

  7. Jake Mudrosti


    “Hayley Geftman-Gold, wrote on her Facebook page that she was not sympathetic to victims of the shooting because, she claimed, most country music fans are Republican.”

    I wonder if anyone might recall a documentary which might have appeared on U.S. PBS stations a couple decades ago, about modern China. In particular, I’m trying to track down a particular segment with a young man who became choked up on camera as he recounted his own brutality. The incident involved an old man in a village who had a heavy wooden sign hung around his neck by a crowd, to punish and shame him for his lack of support for the then-current politics. As the thin metal wire cut downward into the skin of the old man’s neck, the young man felt pity — but during the incident, the young man viewed his own pity as a sign of mental weakness and insufficient enthusiasm for the political cause, and steeled himself to resist the intrusion of such unacceptable feelings. The passage of time left him haunted.

    1. JBird4049


      Another variation of the “deplorables”. let’s not keep dehumanizing everyone who is not exactly like you. It’s not that hard

    2. Annotherone

      Oh my! Another one trying to fit us all into convenient boxes. I’m a country music fan, was before I ever set foot on these shores, as it happens. I bet I’m further left, politically than Ms Geftman-Gold is, has ever been, or ever will be. I like Cracker Barrel too- but Cracker Barrel’s also thought “Republican” isn’t it?
      She also has said, “I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans often are Republican gun toters.” Really? I can say, hand on heart that I have never even seen a gun close up, nor touched one even using just finger tips.

      Sometimes I despair. Is there any wonder that things are as they are in this vast, so beautiful but often so misguided nation?

    3. Ed Miller

      This is all consistent with what I am reading this week in “The Unpersuadables” by Will Storr. It’s not what you think (all about those right winger against climate change and other science), but more about how we are all seriously flawed. Group pressures can make us all mad, and most double down on their errors to justify in their minds that they are normal. See in particular, Chapter 6, the invisible actor at the centre of the world. The book isn’t perfect but it is thought provoking.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Farewell Tom Petty.

    You belong among the wildflowers
    You belong in a boat out at sea
    Sail away, kill off the hours
    You belong somewhere you feel free

    1. RUKidding


      Guess Tom Petty is truly “Free, free fallin!” now.

      RIP and sympathy to his family and friends. Sad to hear this news.

  9. Jonathan Holland Becnel


    Never heard of dissent.

    Of course I haven’t been in the “leftist” movement very long…

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Well it wouldn’t hurt you to pick one up and read it! Lots of the same discussions you might come across here but with more citations to French Theory IIRC.

  10. Wukchumni

    How long can they keep up the ‘fatuous for being fatuous’ facade?

    The Bezzle: “After initially filing a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) in August 2016, which focused exclusively on the Kardashian/Jenners’ consistent failure to observe federal labeling requirements in connection with paid-for social media posts, Truth in Advertising Inc. (“TINA”) has yet again called foul on America’s most famous reality television family, alerting the Kardashian/Jenners’ legal counsel and FTC” [The Fashion Law].

  11. pricklyone

    Re: The Bezzle …Bitcoin…
    The very rich have their tax evasion schemes, shell companies and tax havens.
    They have now sold the idea to the middle/upper wage earners. Bitcoin and the other crypto”currencies”
    are the tax evasion scheme for the masses. This will help to keep shifting the ‘tax burden’ ever downward, onto those with no ability to pay.
    The MMT founders prescriptions are useless in the face of an ‘anti-government government’ which has no desire to either spend nor enforce tax law.
    Lambert refers to crypto-coins as “prosecution futures”, but who will prosecute, in light of the move to kill off the IRS, and pack courts with no-taxes libertarian types?
    They may well get their wish of drowning the gov. in a bathtub. Except of course the MIC.

  12. Darius

    The only upside to the balanced budget amendment is that it would accelerate American decline to light speed. We’re terrible at wielding power. The collateral damage is enormous. I don’t know if a multipolar world is safer, but I’m becoming terrified at our superpower behavior. And it didn’t start with Trump. Although he’s doing a fine job of screwing up the world.

    The balanced budget amendment is dogma triumphant over reality (see MMT, Stephanie Kelton, etal.). The US would be in permanent depression. It would enshrine class warfare in the Constitution, and lead to permanent social unrest at astronomic levels, creating the perfect environment for outright right-wing totalitarianism. And I’m sure they would game it to exclude the MIC from spending restrictions.

    This would be more than a turning point. It would be a self-inflicted coup de grace.

    1. pricklyone

      I used to like reading Kelton/Wray/etc. on NEP and others. Unless you can wade into academic pubs, it seems everyone has gravitated to twitter and facebook. I am not gonna go there, so I lose out on all the discussion, which is how I was able to clarify questions I had about the material they were putting forward.
      Am glad for NC occasionally linking to specific conversations on Twit, but can’t really folllow anyone without becoming part of the Soc/Media universe.

  13. Wukchumni

    The shooter doesn’t appear to have a motive, and could have been a gambler ruined by the casino, with a vendetta. He was a $100 a hand poker player, that’s rich wagers for an accountant.

    I was in Lake Tahoe when a bomb blew up a casino there, in this case in 1980, a $3 million dollar extortion attempt by a disgruntled gambler.


    1. cgeye

      Howcum we’re at the ‘huh? motive?’ stage, when this man’s entire betting history’s stored somewhere?

      And if LV casinos aren’t conducing private risk management studies on which bettors might Have a Problem, Violence-wise, why not? Last I heard, they don’t have on-site SWAT, which means any person with superior firepower could stop the Strip cold — and, I think we’ve built in the country men who, when stressed, don’t even fear the established criminal order’s potential for retribution. Now, *that* is scary.

      1. Wukchumni

        There’s plenty of people with gambling problems, they’re tomorrow’s take on the daily ledger the pit boss keeps, chasing the last bet and not so much craving winning, but being in action.

        The casino could ask them to just write a check in the amount they expect to lose in lieu of them doing it in person, but where’s the fun in that?

  14. Wukchumni

    Kind of the Bitcoin of 400 years ago: in this case, the silver bit of it was replaced by base metal, resulting in coin hyperinflation, which is usually seen with paper money, not coins.

    From Wiki:

    “Kipper und Wipper (German: Kipper- und Wipperzeit, literally “Tipper and See-saw”) is the name given to a financial crisis during the start of the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48). Starting around 1621, city-states in the Holy Roman Empire began to heavily debase currency in order to raise revenue for the Thirty Years’ War, as effective taxation did not exist.

    The name refers to the use of tipping scales to identify not-yet-debased coins, which were then taken out of circulation, melted, mixed with baser metals such as lead, copper or tin, and re-issued. Often the states did not debase their own currency, but instead manufactured low-value imitations of coins from other territories and then spent them in yet other territories as far as possible from their own lands, hoping that the resulting damage would then occur to the economy of those other regions rather than their own. This worked for a while; but after a time, the general public caught on to the manipulation, resulting in pamphlets denouncing the practice, local riots and the refusal of soldiers and mercenaries to fight unless paid in real, non-debased money. Also the states began to get back their own debased coins in taxes and customs fees. Due to these problems the practice largely stopped around 1623; however, the damage done was so large that it created financial disarray in almost all the city-states in the area.”


    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Or the Brachteate, issued before a trade fair by the local prince, required for transactions. Built-n velocity kicker, as they were valued at 75% of original at the next year’s fair.

  15. Oregoncharles

    “. ‘The only viable electoral strategy is to work with the Democratic Party,’ says Michael Kazin, the editor of leftist magazine Dissent. ‘There is no viable third party.’” ”
    This feels like a poke, but I’m not going to rise to it beyond saying that I think major changes are likely, but I don’t think what we say here has much to do with them, nor organizing efforts like DSA. They will come from the electorate in ways we can’t or wouldn’t predict; more like Catalonia or Brexit than the Sanders campaign.

    Maybe I’m just getting old, but then, my take reflects a lot of experience.

    1. ambrit

      I’m feeling the same thing here in the American Deep South. People are preoccupied and short tempered in a way I haven’t seen in my lifetime. Almost no hope among the “deplorables” population.
      Unfortunately for Mr. Kazin, the existing two parties aren’t ‘viable’ for the vast majority of the citizenry either.
      In other words, change is possible now in extra-electoral ways.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I’m feeling the same thing here in the American Deep South. People are preoccupied and short tempered in a way I haven’t seen in my lifetime.

        Can you expand on this? Who is “people”? What circumstances? Short-tempered about what?

  16. The Rev Kev

    Re: America might see a new constitutional convention in a few years
    They better be careful what they want – they may just get it. Conservatives may want to assemble to pass a balanced-budget amendment and I am sure that that is a good idea – just like the 18th amendment was. However, after that is done, they might say ‘Hey, as long as we are here and we have the power, where is that shopping list of things that we want to change about America. Let’s do this’.
    John Michael Greer wrote a book not long ago called “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” that featured a constitutional convention which got out of hand and passed a proposal to dissolve the United States outright which passed. It will not go that far but imagine what the deep state and corporate interests would want added as constitutional amendments. The temptation is there.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I agree with that sentiment. That is why I suggested that it would be as good an idea as the 18th amendment which banned booze in America – and look how well that idea turned out to be.

  17. rjs

    re: Construction Spending, August 2017: “The construction spending report is often volatile and today’s results are an example. The headline is up a solid 0.5 percent in August but July’s decline, initially at 0.6 percent, has been downgraded sharply to minus 1.2 percent”

    true, but very misleading…July construction spending was originally reported at a $1,211.5 billion annual rate, and it was revised up to a $1,212.3 billion annual rate, while June construction spending was revised up from a $1,221.6 billion annual rate to a $1,226.4 billion rate…
    the June increase means that growth in 2nd quarter GDP was underestimated by a tenth of a percent…

    however, i figure that real construction for the 3rd quarter fell at a 9.24% annual rate from that of the 2nd quarter, or at a pace that would subtract about 0.55 percentage points from 3rd quarter GDP…

  18. Edward E

    Yves was talking a little bit the other day about Hillary’s commodity trading windfall. I had almost forgotten about some of this, is accurate. Only that Jackson Stephens did a lot more to get Bubba back into the Governor’s Mansion, he helped make most of the enduring families of Arkansas into what they achieved.
    Bill Clinton and the Chicken Man


    If I were smart I’d totally shut up about what I know about the drug Barron’s of the past and not so past. They’ve certainly ruined most of my life for what the dumb ____s told me.

  19. FiddlerHill

    Re: The Fed and “no signs of inflation.”

    I just got my schedule of new co-pays from my medical insurer:

    Max out of pocket: Up 12%
    Doctor visits: Up 50%
    Hospital stay per day: up 18.75%
    Drugs: up 50%
    MRI: up 38%
    X-ray: down 12%

    And a gallon of 91 octane gas at my local station was around $2.93 last winter. Now it’s $3.41.

    But I guess certain necessities of life like medical care and fuel are not in the “basket” used to calculate inflation.

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