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Links 10/29/17

A Woodpecker Has Been Attacking Car Mirrors in Snellville, Georgia Atlas Obscura

Astronomers Spot First-Known Interstellar “Comet” Sky and Telescope

Ocean acidification research makes a strong case for limiting climate change Phys.org

US oil floated on cheap money FT

In defense of cash: why we should bring back the $500 note and other big bills The Conversation

Apple should shrink its finance arm before it goes bananas The Economist

After a $6 Billion Wipeout, Wildfires Still Imperil PG&E Bloomberg

The Boomtown That Shouldn’t Exist Politico

Puerto RIco

Puerto Rico Is Burning Its Dead, And We May Never Know How Many People The Hurricane Really Killed Buzzfeed

HUD Explores Temporarily Housing Puerto Ricans on U.S. Mainland Bloomberg

Whitefish Energy contract bars government from auditing deal The Hill

Catalonia

Sacked Catalan leader calls for peaceful opposition to direct rule FT

‘Catalonia’s nationalist leaders are well aware their project is fragile’ Guardian

Tension for Catalan police caught up in separatist push The Local

The 1978 system El Pais. From the chairman of El Pais.

Why Greece’s Fate Helps Make Sense of Catalonia’s Gamble The Atlantic (Re Silc).

Misdirection and Catalonia Craig Murray. Did Ciudadanos really originate “as a highly successful astroturf operation, funded and organised by the German overseas security service, the BND”? Murray gives no link.

Brexit

A Brexit transition deal will be harder to reach than Britain thinks The Economist

UK personal insolvencies hit five-year high in gloomy sign for economy Reuters

Used to Afghanistan, Special Operators Suffer From Lack of Support in Africa Foreign Policy. “… a paucity of resources when compared with mature combat theaters like Iraq and Afghanistan…” I like “mature combat theatres” a lot.

Syraqistan

AP ANALYSIS: Saudi promise of ‘moderate Islam’ shifts power Daily Mail

NSA Document Says Saudi Prince Directly Ordered Coordinated Attack By Syrian Rebels On Damascus The Intercept (Furzy Mouse).

I Fought a War Against Iran—and It Ended Badly The American Conservative

India

Beaten, starved, I ate garbage to survive: Kerala woman’s Saudi nightmare The News Minute

Neglected, Starved and Sold: The Uncertain Future of India’s Public Transport The Wire

North Korea

North Korea Rouses Neighbors to Reconsider Nuclear Weapons NYT

(URGENT) Mattis negative about redeploying tactical nukes to Korea, citing global nonproliferation efforts Yonhap News Agency

China?

Xi Jinping’s Theory of (Almost) Everything in China Bloomberg

Could drone that can deliver cargo to islets in South China Sea secure presence in disputed waters? South China Morning Post

When China Leads Project Syndicate

Delaying Chinese Dominance Global Guerillas

New Cold War

The Crooks, the Clowns and the Nazis The Saker, The Unz Review. Interesting, if true, on Ukraine.

* * *

Robert Mueller’s First Charges The Atlantic. Nobody knows anything. Wait ’til Monday, when the indictments will be unsealed.

Analysis: 5 Possible Outcomes of First Mueller Indictments Roll Call

Roger Stone Banned From Twitter After Threatening CNN Anchors Hollywood Reporter

British Involvement In “Trump Dossier” Needs Further Investigation Moon of Alabama

* * *

Decency Lost: McCarthyism Revisited Counterpunch

Black lists matter: the betrayal of democratic liberalism Medium

Trump Transition

AP sources: DeVos may only partly forgive some student loans AP

A Student Loan Nightmare: The Teacher in the Wrong Payment Plan NYT. Sounds like HAMP.

Ryan loses key ally on tax reform after switch on breaks for homeowners Politico

Democrats in Disarray

How To Heal The Left-Liberal Divide Current Affairs. From October 4, that is, before Perez purged Sanders supporters from the DNC and its Rules Committee.

Two Cheers for Polarization Boston Review (Re Silc).

‘It’s just messed up’: Most think political divisions as bad as Vietnam era, new poll shows WaPo

Facebook moves toward revealing political ad backers AFP. “Under the plan unveiled by Facebook vice president Rob Goldman, people will be able to click ‘view ads’ on a page to determine the source.” How bogus. Nobody clicks through. Just put the name of the sponsor under the ad. How hard an this be?

Health Care

Las Vegas Shooting Victims Are Turning To GoFundMe For Help With Medical Bills HuffPo. I propose that Alexander-Murray be extended to provide access to GoFundMe for those unable to write their own profiles, with credentialed GoFundMe “Crowdfunding Assistants” available through the ObamaCare Marketplace for a modest “set-up fee,” to prevent abuse, the balance to be partially funded through tax credits, means-tested on a sliding scale. Services not available in all states, restrictions may apply.

How Big Medicine Can Ruin Medicare for All Washington Monthly. For some definition of “ruin,” but a wonk’s, not the patients. For patients, a fabulously expensive and irrational system that delivers health are as a universal concrete material benefit is preferable to a fabulously expensive and irrational market-based system that does not.

Would ‘Medicaid for All’ Cure What Ails Our Health-Care System? New York Magazine. Another try at the public option, from Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI).

How the Loss of Cost-Sharing Subsidy Payments is Affecting 2018 Premiums Kaiser Health News

CMS to allow states to define essential health benefits Modern Healthcare

Guillotine Watch

Home Security Designs for Billionaires Core77 (Re Silc).

Class Warfare

Stuck! The Law and Economics of Residential Stagnation Yale Law Journal (DK). “Americans are not leaving places hit by economic crises, resulting in unemployment rates and low wages that linger in these areas for decades. And people are not moving to rich regions where the highest wages are available.” Oddly, place, family, friends can be more important than the almighty dollar. What’s wrong with these people? (The author is a “sharing economy” fan.)

Intergenerational social mobility Understanding Society

Why Are Socialists Always Talking About the Working Class? In These Times. A symposium.

How To Be A Socialist Without Being An Apologist For The Atrocities Of Communist Regimes Current Affairs

Socialism is surging on college campuses Vice

Today’s opioid crisis shares chilling similarities with past drug epidemics Chicago Tribune

California’s opioid death rate is among the nation’s lowest. Experts aren’t sure why Los Angeles Times. Via Twitter: “WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED.”

Smoking Marijuana Causes ‘Complete Remission’ Of Crohn’s Disease, No Side Effects, New Study Shows Bloomberg

Antidote du jour. “A 450-pound Seal Sunbathing on the Runway Delayed Flights in Alaska”:

Bonus antidote:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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.

117 comments

  1. Antoine LeDada

    Re: The 1978 system.
    Reminder for my non-european friends (I’m french having lived close to Spain so spanish commentators are welcome to lean in): Juan Luis Cebrián is president of the Bilderberg group, was appointed before El Pais by Franco and has a father who was basically Franco’s head of media control. He leans more to the center than his father, and is basically a highly-credential voice for the pro-Europe oligarchs. So this is in substance and in tone an irritated grown-up call for calm, trying to position himself above the fray but having difficulty hiding his disgust of anything not PP (podemos, independentists, even pro-central government socialists). Basically fuel for the fire, but there you have the oligarchs view.

    1. Marco

      Thank you for pointing that out. Note the few crumbs offered with his half-hearted acknowledgement of the shortcomings of Austerity Forever.

      “…The drives of the nationalists have served as a breeding ground for the incitement to social unrest and the rise of populism, based on increased inequalities after the bursting of the financial bubble a decade ago.”

    2. mpalomar

      Thanks for the background, El Pais has been labeled elsewhere as a mouthpiece for the establishment. Still the “adult in the room” tactic has a persuasive logic.
      The task that the Spanish state has ahead of it to heal the open wounds, modifying what is necessary in our Constitution, promoting laws that improve social equality and that end the rampant inbreeding of the political parties cannot be faced alone by a minority government, one that is even unable to approve the budget, while the left continues to be subjected to the narcissism of its leaders. Much of the social fabric needed to sustain and develop our democracy has been destroyed…Whatever the case, democracy today needs to be saved
      Economic democracy is of course the democracy that dare not speak its name. The perspective from “Misdirection…” by Craig Murray provides a counterweight but his conclusion that TPTB believe, “Catalonian independence must be stopped or it will lead to a sweeping tide of secessionism for regions across Europe.” and that, “These articles never consider that perhaps, if there really is a popular desire for smaller states, it might be good to respect it…Smaller states are not a great danger to anyone,” does not entertain the possible consequence of ethnic cleansing and devolution into balkanization.

      As a very casual observer I don’t see clear answers to this complex situation but I appreciate the perspective offered by those closer to events.

      1. auskalo

        Thanks, Antoine. All true.
        I’d add that El País has gone from being the best-selling newspaper by far since the Spanish transition, to being the loudspeaker of economic powers and Ciudadanos. From center open-minded media to center-right centralist or very right-wing media. From millions of sales everyday, to just one hundred thousand sales.
        A few years ago, Cebrián fired more than a thousand journalists from El País, while he continues to earn more money than the thousand journalists fired together (around 16.5 million euros). Then he used to go anywhere on his private jet giving very expensive lectures normally financed by a bank, basically saying: Journalism is dead!

    3. Oregoncharles

      Can anyone help with pronouncing “independentists”? It’s a useful term, but comes out talking about indie dentists.

  2. dearieme

    “mature combat theatres” is indeed a fine euphemism for ‘perpetual extravagance and defeats’.

    1. allan

      On the bright side: at science funding agencies, when a previously hot field is referred to as “mature”,
      it means that funding for work in that area is going to be drastically reduced.

    2. fresno dan

      dearieme
      October 29, 2017 at 7:53 am

      How long must it be before we start calling them “old, doddering”….SORRY, I mean “senior combat theaters” where the PX stocks metamucil, support hose, and the most popular activity is bingo night….

      1. roxy

        “where the PX stocks metamucil, support hose” and prescription laxatives for opioid induced constipation.

  3. dearieme

    “Back in 2013, a group of my colleagues did a series of wargames on what would happen if Iran and America ended up in a conflict.” If they did it in 2013 they were implicitly assuming that an instinctive warmonger like Hillary would be President in 2020. Trump’s instincts against war are more to my taste. But will his instincts be allowed to triumph?

    1. jefemt

      I haven’t noticed any backing off on military involvement or budgets since Trump got in.
      He might not be as overtly gung-ho! as Hillarity was (past tense– she’s a goner…)- but ‘we’ have not de-escalated or left any theater, arena, or place. The high cost of Empire.
      Watch what they do, try to not listen to what they say.
      The Swamp is in full operational mode, the difference is that Trump has redirected some of it into his own pockets.
      MAGA hats at $35.00 today on his web site. Monetize it!

      1. Richard

        Thanks for the reminder about watching actions rather than words! Nothing is more important to political understanding. It seems obvious, but it isn’t for a lot of people. We have a good size piece of the political commentariat, who really just narcotize themselves with Trump and Russia. What he actually does, and plans to do, they haven’t the stomach or the sense to oppose.
        It’s like they have a hidden little algorythm somewhere, that filters the entire anti-trump universe, and only allows them to act on somehing when their actions will help absolutely no one. Some twitter mess, have at it. Anything for the Russian narrative? Go effblog nuts. Dakota Access or runaway police violence: what? do not recognize as actionable.

      2. Pat

        Are we in fewer wars than when Obama left? No. But we haven’t added any AND we haven’t reversed his largely backing off the Syria Quagmire that Clinton was determined to expand.

        I may be disappointed with Trump’s stance on the Iran treaty, but considering that was another instance where what Clinton said during the campaign differed from her actions as SoS, I am pretty damn sure we would have similar bull shit from her.

        I don’t kid myself that the gung ho bomb every crew has been neutered by Trump. Yet Anyone who thinks we would be better off with the most qualified ever Democratic nominee in office in stead was also not paying attention.

      3. Sid_finster

        Unless and until the Deep State is eradicated root and branch, it matters not who the president is.

    2. jo6pac

      2013 is a long time ago. Iran and Russia are close friends and have signed agreements on helping one another in time of war. Iran has gotten closer to Oatar and works closely with China.

      Yes a war with Iran would end badly for Amerika and what’s left of the middle east including israel.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Au contraire, I think a war with Iran would be extremely good for Amerika, or at least for the segment of Amerika that drives 100% of policy-making. Raytheon, General Dynamics, Amazon, Federal Express, KFC billionaire shareholders will do great. The 99.999% rest of humanity, not so much.

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    By way of anecdotal confirmation of the point made in the Washington Monthly piece re: Big Medicine and Medicare-for-All, my wife has recently become a Medicare recipient. She suffers from glaucoma and has been going to same ophthalmologist for five years. Up until six months ago, he was in private practice in an aging office complex in a racially diverse part of the metropolitan area. Then he joined a corporate chain and joined their office in a slick new office building in an all-white suburb.

    In the old office, while some of the standard glaucoma tests were conducted by an assistant, it was the doctor himself who discussed the results with my wife. He did the pressure and vision tests himself. At each visit, he and my wife discussed the progression of the disease and treatment options for several minutes. In the new office, a new and minimally competent assistant conducted all the tests, never managing to find a sweet spot on the vision test. My wife is so lacking in confidence in the test results that she doesn’t think it’s worth buying new glasses based on the prescription. The doctor did nothing more than a quick pass through, opining that everything “looked fine.” My wife’s complaint that the assistant never did get the vision test right was ignored. This is a doctor in whom she felt confidence and trust previously.

    What seems to happen is that the doctors sell out for some nice up front money tied to bringing in their patients and a workout of some specified number of years. They’re transformed from private practitioners of medicine into corporate wage slaves frantically trying to live up to the conditions of their payout.

    All the patient gets in return for this reduction in quality of care is access to glossy magazines in the waiting room with full page ads for Gucci, Lexus and fancy watch brands I never heard of.

    Big Medicine does reduce what is received in terms of care, and the identity of the payor doesn’t change that.

    And i won’t even go into the anxiety-inducing over-billing games and the rising tax on time of the Part B and D scam markets.

    1. el_tel

      Sorry to hear that. I wrote a long piece which – through my own mess up editing the link to my comment a couple of days ago, not through any NC moderation – was lost so my bad.

      But the jist is single payer is necessary but not sufficient. A monopsonist buyer is only as good as its budget and willingness to exercise real power in dealing with, and if necessary *creating* new generic suppliers etc if it is to force change from monopoly suppliers. The NHS has shown little bottle for doing this (due to funding) so whilst indeed a lot of admin costs are avoided, issues like “how big is the market of interest” intervene. So you get situations like non – optimal doctors and meds that are 50 years off patent but which the NHS won’t challenge the monopolist (price gouger). So the article is a “good start” but only a start.

    2. marym

      HR 676 Expanded and Improved Medicare for All

      Section 103a:

      SEC. 103. QUALIFICATION OF PARTICIPATING PROVIDERS.
      (a) Requirement To Be Public Or Non-Profit.—

      (

      1) IN GENERAL.—No institution may be a participating provider unless it is a public or not-for-profit institution. Private physicians, private clinics, and private health care providers shall continue to operate as private entities, but are prohibited from being investor owned.

      (2) CONVERSION OF INVESTOR-OWNED PROVIDERS.—For-profit providers of care opting to participate shall be required to convert to not-for-profit status.

      (3) PRIVATE DELIVERY OF CARE REQUIREMENT.—For-profit providers of care that convert to non-profit status shall remain privately owned and operated entities.

      (4) COMPENSATION FOR CONVERSION.—The owners of such for-profit providers shall be compensated for reasonable financial losses incurred as a result of the conversion from for-profit to non-profit status.

      The Sanders bill in the Senate does not contain this provision.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        When has any bill ever left Congress in the same shape it entered? People need to stop comparing these two bills for the simple reason that there are almost always two versions of a bill—one in the House, the other in the Senate. The best ones almost always differ in significant details to allow for bargaining room.

        We need to stop comparing them at this point, when they’re mainly intended to provide something for the majority of the voters to look at and discuss. Nothing says the final bill won’t contain that provision, just as it’s likely the final version won’t contain a provision for free and unfettered abortion without question.

        I’m not going to worry about what the final Medicare for All will contain until it’s actually on the floor for debate, because until then the two versions are just a template.

        1. marym

          For years, when people raised issues with current Medicare as a basis for Medicare for All, or concerns about potential issues with any generic proposal for single payer/M4A, I’ve noted where HR 676 attempts to address the issue.

          Thanks to state-level single payer initiatives, and to the Sanders campaign, M4A is finally a mainstream topic. We now have two reasonable bills in Congress; and some pressure for members to co-sponsor, and for candidates to endorse.

          This is the start of the more mainstream debate. I agree that the choices aren’t these two bills. Right now, in practical terms, we have no choices. However, these bills, and some analysis already published, are components of the debate.

          IMO we don’t need to start every discussion of a particular issue at square one, without reference to these components if applicable.

    3. Glen

      A large for profit Catholic health care conglomerate has essential bought out or driven out all of the small health care providers in our area. They have also forced the “new employees” to take a pledge to follow Catholic religious beliefs. Many disgusted doctors decided it was time to retire or move on rather than violate their Hippocratic oath.

      Don’t assume your doctor had much of a choice in his change in employment. Health care is being financialized, doctors are given daily patient quotas, fees and bills are going up. All so a supposedly “Catholic” organization can profit from your sickness and death. Well, given their history I suppose that’s nothing really new.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Your community needs to start a PUBLIC hospital and clinic (I’m spoiled in this respect). If it’s worth monopolizing, it has the resources to start a competitor.

        Would be a good political issue.

  5. dearieme

    “a fabulously expensive and irrational market-based system”: I am only a foreigner but “market-based” seems to me to be a lousy description of the American system. Much of it seems more nearly racket-based.

    Of course, I wouldn’t have the damned cheek to suggest how you might modify or replace it. But I will suggest how not to do it: don’t copy the NHS. Look at Switzerland, France, Singapore, Iceland …. but, I repeat, don’t copy the NHS. The result would be salty tears.

    1. makedoanmend

      When I’ve had occasion to use the NHS I have done so without any problems. Zero. I pay my taxes and I receive health care and medication. I don’t fill out endless forms or wrestle with insurers over payments. I do not have to go into debt or, worse, bankruptcy. I thank my carers for their care and attention and go on my way. I never have stress during illness.

      No tears, salty or otherwise.

      By any standard the NHS of the UK has been and continues to be a huge success. Even as the Tories gradually destroy the NHS in order to save it, it is still a shining beacon of social and cultural work as has been accomplished by any nation on earth. The Brits can rightly be proud of this institution.

      1. el_tel

        I generally think the NHS model should be the starting point for a “new system”. It consistently shows huge benefits per pound spent. But some major tweaks are IMO required – sort out the supply side (more money required) to give public providers what they need and stop funneling cash to private providers who compete on “nice fuzzy patent friendly outcomes rather than key clinical ones”.

        Sort out the demand side by taking tips from the Australian system – charge for every patient consultation but link it to tax office bank accounts (cheap to implement). So have “bulk billing” – if you turn up for your consultation then the consultation charge is automatically and immediately credited to your bank account so you pay nothing. If you don’t show – without good reason (like your carer didn’t turn up on time) you pay for it. At my general practice they show on their LED board the number of people who were no shows in the previous month – it averages 170 and at £65 per GP appointment it all adds up. I am in the patient group and have unsuccessfully argued that this means nothing to people – they need to be told “we’d have that extra receptionist you all want if you no-shows had shown up”.

        Plus of course mental health is a national scandal. Major investment needed.

        1. makedoanmend

          You make good points, but I’ll point out we don’t pay to see a doctor in Scotland nor do we pay for medication. Whatever the demerits of the SNP (and to some extent Scottish Labour), they’ve gone to pains to keep transactions out of health care. We this I agree.

          As for appointment no-shows, unless a very good reason is given (and documented?) or the appointment was cancelled within some pre-specified time period, the next time they show up I would charge them £100+ to see a GP. When one has such a simple system (from the user’s viewpoint), then there is no room for abuse of any kind. One has responsibilities when you are the “owner-citizen” of such an institution.

          Of course, rigorous auditing is also necessary.

          1. el_tel

            I think we broadly agree…. it just comes down to how to penalise those who are no – shows without valid reasons. I worry that a “future cost” will cause people to lie when they next turn up and have had time to invent a reason that makes it difficult for a receptionist (under pressure not to allow a potentially “real” problem “this time”) to say” you will only be seen if you pay £x”. The receptionists at my practice are in crisis due to staff shortages partly caused by patients who say they “must” be seen today….. if the receptionist is found to be remiss they lose their livelihood – many are on antidepressants.

            it sounds awful but being on the patient participation group I’ve learnt that a non trivial number of patients are gits who really couldn’t care less about the terrible burdens that are being put on front line staff. I never saw such blatant misuse of the system in Sydney.

            1. el_tel

              I recognise that there needs to be a system whereby everyone has some sort of “National Bank Account” – maybe a version of “National Savings” like we’ve had in the UK or the (old model) TSB would be required.

              But the costs of linking this to your unique Tax File Number were long since solved in Australia. And Australian admin costs are low. Yves lived in Aus for a while too and might have insights…. as might someone like Clive regarding the logistics…. but whilst I am perfectly willing to be corrected, the Aussie system seemed to work well.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                I live in AU now and the system is a dream. Suffered under the US system for 40 years.
                Biggest thing is to get the maximum number of people into the pool, team Obama should have had someone explain “adverse selection” to them. More likely though is that Obama understood adverse selection perfectly and just preferred to line up with the guys who write the bigger checks, billionaire pharma grifters, billionaire insurance execs desperate to acquire that second private island, etc. Bigger post-office speech payments, bigger library contributions, swankier Hollywood parties, Davos etc.

            2. jonboinAR

              You get charged for no-show. No excuses, because their wouldn’t exist a practical mechanism to determine whether you were lying.

        2. paul

          How does it work out at £65?
          Where do all those £65 losses go?

          Due to various pressures, patient attendance in the NHS is viewed a lot like flight overbooking.
          As in that case, the problems start when everybody turns up.

          It ‘s just the way it has developed. Truth is, if you had a lot more GPs it wouldn’t be that much of a problem.
          Charging people for non attendance is ridiculous and unweildy. You could be seeing patients instead of chasing up fines.

          1. makedoanmend

            You don’t have to chase anyone. If patients make appointments for valuable resource time and just can’t be bothered to show up or don’t have the common manners to cancel their appointment in a timely manner, they pay upon arrival for their next appointment. If they never access NHS resources again, they never pay. It’s rather simple actually.

            As for more GPs, maybe you can speak with the Tory party. They don’t seem too keen on the idea.

            As for overbooking, a la airlines, that seems rather unwieldy. I seem to remember reading on this very site about problems some US airlines are experiencing with overbooking.

          2. el_tel

            GPs get money via a needs based capitation formula. When there are empty slots their statistics look as if they have over satisfied demand and their future funding is cut. If you think they over book, with respect, you either have never been embedded in a practice or have been
            embedded in one which is breaking NHS rules. It is NOT like airlines.
            if of course you think I’m wrong please name the general practice that is overbooking. Given the rules on <15 minute patient waiting times Im sure the NHS Executive would be *very* interested to know who's doing this.

            if you think charging people for non – attendance doesn't work can I suggest you look at the actual evidence from Australia. Plus provide evidence that the Australian system doesn't work. I as a health economist having lived in three countries liked it, and Yves has previously been impressed with Australian health care.

            1. paul

              By overbooking, I mean they, in practice,take into account no shows.

              The airlines example was a rough analogy

              GPs in the NHS are paid per on list patient, not per consultation (about £136 per person last time I looked).

              If a person does not show up, the next one is called, the resources are used on those who do turn up.

              Nothing is lost.

              If a patient doesn’t turn up, then they’re probably well enough anyway. One of the arguments for waiting to see a GP is that most things clear up in a few days anyway.

              What’s worse, a voided consultation or an unnecessary one for fear of a fine?
              How much would you like to divert into fine recovery?

              Ok, it might not be polite to fail to cancel, but people aren’t perfect and the system has accommodated that for a good while.

              Richard Murphy,whose wife is a NHS GP, holds the same view as me:

              let me assure you – if some people did not turn up to every surgery medics could never get through the booked work

              Believe it or not they do not sit twiddling their thumbs for the missing ten minutes

              If charging for no shows works in OZ, good for them, I fail to see what benefits it would bring in the context of the NHS. It is hardly a significant problem.

              Its main problems are a minister who has described it as a ’60 year mistake’ and expecting it to thrive on less resources than equivalent economies.

              Incidentally the same minister is very keen on pushing the ‘huge cost’ of non attendance,despite there being SFA in terms of evidence to back it up.

              I think it can be safely put on the list of ‘nice things to do’ when the major problems have been addressed.

    2. Carla

      I had a very positive experience in an Italian ER, where, despite what this profile reports, a tourist received quick, competent, courteous and free care: http://international.commonwealthfund.org/countries/italy/

      Taiwan is the country that most recently changed to a single payer system (in 1995), so we might want to study their transition and system carefully:
      http://www.pnhp.org/news/2015/march/tsung-mei-cheng-on-the-success-of-taiwan%E2%80%99s-single-payer-system

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The Taiwan system was actually explicitly modelled on Medicare (as existed in the mid-1990’s), the only difference being it was extended to all citizens. Although chronically underfunded, its a very successful system, simple, cheap and effective. I’ve seen figures for the total cost as being somewhere between 6-8% of GNP, which is per capita significantly less than nearly all European systems and much less than half the cost in the US. In many ways, its a more appropriate model than even Canada for the US as there are so many similarities to how it works and Medicare.

  6. Wukchumni

    My father immigrated to this fair land in 1952-right in the heart of McCarthyism, and he’d seen the double feature of fascism and communism up close, so he knew a thing or 2 about tyrants.

    Richard Nixon never knew it, but my dad deserved to be on his enemy’s list-as he despised him, and I doubt many of your fathers threw an impromptu celebration party on August 8, 1974, like we did.

    He saw how Nixon had clung to McCarthy’s goat tales, by deploying lies and innuendos with a slathering of slander and a pinch of truth.

    Not much different from how the communists had taken over his country…

  7. fresno dan

    Henry Moon Pie
    October 29, 2017 at 8:10 am

    I can’t help but comment – I volunteer at HICAP (health insurance counseling and advocacy program) – and I just dealt with two individuals with eye problems.
    BTW, see this link – and BE AWARE, its Medicare.GOV NOT, NOT, NOT Medicare.com
    https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/when-can-i-join-a-health-or-drug-plan/when-can-i-join-a-health-or-drug-plan.html

    First, whether the drug your being treated with is in your health plan’s formulary can have profound affects on your out of pocket heath care costs. One beneficiary brought up how is it possible that drugs are so, so, so much cheaper with one plan than another. The idea so much time and effort goes into having to pick a drug provider doesn’t address how are you suppose to know what future illnesses you will get???

    Second, the idea that there are “appeal” mechanisms if one’s prescribed drug is not on a formulary is one of those things that my trainer (a young, and not yet seasoned enough by reality) that drives me insane – as one beneficiary noted, his doctor didn’t want to spend the time in a paper chase debate with an insurance company about why a drug was necessary for a patient – easier and more profitable (writing letters is un-reimbursed time for physicians) just to say the drug really wasn’t all that important. Or in your case, why waste valuable physician time when using a physician’s assistant is so much more profitable.

    I bring it up because there was a posting just a couple of days ago about “over utilization” versus “under utilization” in health care and my own two cents is that, the “market” does what in theory its advocates claim – make everything the MOST PROFITABLE UTILIZATION. And that is great for everyone who provides health care services….but not for the patient. There are a plethora of articles about why markets and health care are incompatible, but just like we stay in Afghanistan, we are going to make the square peg of health care fit in the round ideological hole of market based health care….
    efficiency and effectiveness be d*mned when there is money to be made.

    1. Moocao

      This is a statement I can fully support. Profit over people is now what I see. Although individual providers might do the best they can, the system is quite tilted against the patient. Information assymetry and profit seeking makes patients feel like they have little choice in their own medical care.

      1. Chris

        Thanks Dan and Moocao, agree – corporations are the problem, as they appear to have more power than people and we seek no other social obligation from them, other than the right to make profits as they see fit.

    2. mpalomar

      “how is it possible that drugs are so, so, so much cheaper with one plan than another. The idea so much time and effort goes into having to pick a drug provider doesn’t address how are you suppose to know what future illnesses you will get?… a great for everyone who provides health care services….but not for the patient.”
      There are of course a lot of the precariat working in the low end of health care services that are getting screwed too but yeah, the informed consumer bs about picking the best policy for their needs and win win market outcomes is in fact a bad gamble that conforms to how the entire economy presents to the bottom 80% of the population.
      We are to spend our lives combing through pages of the fine print of contractual situations for vital services like health care and pension plans that the other side has hired a team of lawyers to compose. Typically the result is profound consumer whipsaw with no recourse in sight, i.e they get you coming and going and everywhere in between.

    3. subgenius

      The best plan seems to be to go full anarchist and take personal responsibility. Yeah I know it’s tough…but for us peons there are no easy choices.

      I live in hope of change, but all the signs are of people refusing to step up :/

      In light of that, there is this:

      https://fourthievesvinegar.org

  8. Wukchumni

    Here in the western world, whenever societies collapse they leave a trail of money in it’s wake, as you can’t take it with you…

    You can acquire ancient Roman coins about the size of cent for $10, with all the details intact, and you can easily make out the emperor’s name, and the exact era it came from, say 1776 year ago.

    And the same applies to all duchies and the like later on~

    Another sure-fire way to see how things are going for a given era, is the artistry of money.

    Our current banknotes are in a word, horrid.

    They have to be though. You know why they have all of those awkward color schemes?

    It’s to thwart color copiers from being able to reproduce them, as certain colors together do the trick.

    Getting back to money…

    This is the art of money in Greece, circa 420 BC

    http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/usercontent/images/article_images/Attica_Silver%20Tetradrachm_c440-404BC_image00506.jpg
    ~~~~~~~~~~~

    The art of money in Rome, circa BC/AD

    https://www.ancient.eu/uploads/images/display-1036.jpg
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The art money in Rome, circa 250 AD: This is a copper coin that was struck by the empire & silver washed, to give it the appearance of being the real thing. The silver wash is coming off and you can see the brown showing. Their version of fiat paper money, for lack of a better descriptor.

    http://www.forumancientcoins.com/dougsmith/4tradec.jpg
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The art of money, Byzantine Empire, circa 550 AD:

    https://www.coinworld.com/content/dam/cw/news/2015/December/120715/Ancients-Today-Early-Byzantine-gold-solidii-coins/CNG-97-lot-750.jpg
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The art of money, Dark Ages, circa 776 AD

    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f0/96/20/f09620bb284401fbf7eb365b3e1630d2.jpg

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Chinese bronze knife money (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knife_money)

      There are several stories that attempt to explain how knife money was introduced but it is not certain if any or all are true.[1][page needed] In one of the stories a prince who was running low on money to pay his troops allowed them to use their knives as a form of currency to barter with villagers and the medium became so popular that it became generally accepted. In another story, the same prince began accepting knives as payment for small fines in the place of the current legal ring money. Knife money may also have been brought in by sea traders from the Indian Ocean.

      They also had ‘Spade’ coins, and ‘Ant Nose’ coins.

      From Wiki:

      Hollow-handled spades (Chinese: 布幣; pinyin: bùbì) are a link between weeding tools used for barter and stylised objects used as money.

      Here, it seems that weeding tools were used for barter, then (as in, later in time) coins were made to look like them.

      Barter before money???

      1. Wukchumni

        All kinds of things have been utilized as money, including playing cards in Canada, coins made out of bibles in Holland and coins made out of cannons in Ireland, and a ton of weird angles for money in Africa.

        Here among the indian tribes, there was no money per se, but an exchange for whatever the other tribe had, the tribes on the east side of the Sierra had obsidian, which was tons better than arrowheads made out of locally sourced chert here on the west side, and also pinion nuts, whereas we had acorns from 4 different kinds of oak trees, and the tribe around giant Tulare Lake had tule reeds, which were perfect for thatched roofs, and the Chumash had sea shells-maybe the most desirable item, and whose value only went up the further away from the ocean. A commerce not really all that different than in pre-industrial times, every place played to their trading strength. The difference being no fungible money in different denominations of standard weight, making for trickier transactions.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Shell money.

          From History of Chinese Currency (Wiki):

          The use of shell money is attested to in the Chinese writing system. The traditional characters for ‘goods’ (貨), ‘buy/sell’ (買/賣), and ‘monger’ (販), in addition to various other words relating to ‘exchange’, all contain the radical ‘貝’, which is the pictograph for shell (simplified in China to 贝.) However, the extent of the circulation of shell money is unknown, and barter trade may have been common.

          The imaginative might say that that is one more piece of evidence the Chinese discovered America before the Europeans (but after Siberian Asians and Siberian Europeans).

    1. JTMcPhee

      So Amazon, that supranational thing of many, many growing parts, gets to “fail upward” because so many of us hope, or have figured out how, to ride along, despite absence of “profit” and presence of “loss”?

      Does the author of the linked piece have the phenomenon of apparent quarterly losses right? asks this mope who can’t decipher financials? And as Denninger asks, why is this structure and its manifestations and effects not getting more widely noted and discussed? Lots of attention to other nastinesses — maybe attention ought to be paid by all of us to what Amazon’s corporate essence is up to, right before our eyes?

      And “it’s all not illegal,” apparently.

      “It’s too big… and getting bigger…” Looks like grey goo… https://science.howstuffworks.com/gray-goo.htm

      1. cnchal

        Amazon has morphed into the Uber of retail, and AWS plays the role of the Saudi investors in Uber, in that the cash margin made from AWS is used to subsidize the retail goods sold. Now to the tune of almost 20%

        It’s a two fer. The more you buy from Amazon, the more you hurt them.

  9. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: Apple should shrink its finance arm before it goes bananas

    If bond markets dried up, Apple might struggle to issue so much debt and have to bring home funds, incurring a big tax bill.

    I’m confused. Again. Doesn’t Apple have the ability to have their cash-rich foreign subsidiaries buy corporate bonds issued by its US corporation? So, when Apple-US makes interest payments, those payments go to Apple-Ireland (or wherever) which then, in turn, gets reinvested by their finance subsidiary, Braeburn Capital, perhaps in more Apple bonds.

    1) If so, isn’t this akin to QE where the Fed buys T-bonds and the treasury makes interest payments to the Fed which then sends most of that back to the treasury?

    2) If the above is true, then what is the point of all the blathering and concern in the Economist about how Apple is hurting itself by shuffling all this money about? They’re not helping anyone else, I suppose, but it doesn’t appear as if Apple is hurting Apple.

    1. John Zelnicker

      @WobblyTelemores – You’ve got exactly the right idea, except maybe a detail or two. All the dollars owned by Apple and any of its subsidiaries that are available for investment are handled by Braeburn Capital, and it’s all in US bank and securities accounts, regardless of the location of the subsidiary. The money managers do their thing according to whatever investment plan they have and the tax accountants, separately, figure out how the interest and profits are accounted for in the books of the various subsidiaries, onshore and offshore.

      And yes, the Economist is way off base. Their criticisms are ultimately based on several evidence-free assumptions about Apple’s future behavior.

  10. Croatoan

    On “Smoking Marijuana Causes ‘Complete Remission’ Of Crohn’s Disease, No Side Effects, New Study Shows”

    FAKE NEWS!

    Sloppy work on vetting that article. I already knew about this three year old study (so not a new study) which the article does not even link to. So I am guessing it is astroturf being put out by the corporate cannabis lobby. It did not cause remission, it had some “benefits”. Also, you cannot do a double blind study with weed because the participants will know when they are taking it, something which the study pointed out.

    PMID: 23648372 DOI: 10.1016/j.cgh.2013.04.034

    Conclusion: Although the primary endpoint of the study (induction of remission) was not achieved, a short course (8 week) of THC-rich cannabis produced significant clinical, steroid-free benefits to 11 patients with active CD, compared to placebo, without side effects. Further studies, with larger patient groups and a non-smoking mode of intake, are warranted.

    And a study one year later showed it might actually make Crohn’s worse:
    doi: 10.1097/01.MIB.0000440982.79036.d6

    CANNABIS IS A DRUG. It is no better than any other drug. It can be good and it can be bad. I have seen the bad it has done to some of my friends who think it is nothing but good.

    1. Wukchumni

      So I wake up thinking, wow, if I get Crohn’s somewhere down the line, everything will be jake, and now you’ve dashed the prognosis into the scorned field.

    2. subgenius

      Every ingested substance can be considered a drug…it’s a bad descriptor.

      Additionally, any given organism is likely to show a variation of the response by related organisms…the concept of the ‘universal man’ used in medicine is a joke (on that, note the absence of a universal woman until very recently, and that this, also is a joke…doubling down on prior stupidity).

  11. jsn

    Stuck:
    Those areas with jobs have been optimized to consume the entire wage delta in rents. Enough of the aspiring have moved for these jobs only to discover they sink into debt faster with a lot more stress in these “lands of opportunity”, word has gotten out

    1. Kurtismayfield

      Nevermind that the costs of moving to these areas are going higher and higher. Try to hire a moving company or rent a truck around the first of the month and you will see. If you are working in these low wages areas you can’t save enough money to gamble it on a move.

  12. user12312312

    Aw, kitty in a box!
    Regarding facebook policy listing ad sponsors- Bravo. I’ll click to get that info.
    However, it should be pretty straightforward to set up a PAC to function as a clearinghouse / anonymization layer to completely defeat this policy – something already in place today.

    Anonymous billionaire anywhere on earth -> US based charity or corporate subsidiary -> PAC. The concept that you can selectively prevent $$ from entering politics doesn’t strike me as realistic in the Citizens United era.

  13. fresno dan

    Stuck! The Law and Economics of Residential Stagnation Yale Law Journal (DK). “Americans are not leaving places hit by economic crises, resulting in unemployment rates and low wages that linger in these areas for decades. And people are not moving to rich regions where the highest wages are available.” Oddly, place, family, friends can be more important than the almighty dollar. What’s wrong with these people? (The author is a “sharing economy” fan.)

    ===================================================
    I have brought this up before: Unless you have moved recently, I doubt most people understand how expensive and frustrating it can be. I am pretty well off, but first and last month’s rent, security deposit, all in advance, and 11 page financial disclosure forms (SERIOUSLY, the forms I filled out were more comprehensive and intrusive than the background check for a top secret security clearance I got when I joined the Air Force and ended up working at NSA, albeit that was about 40 years ago) make moving a daunting task. The fact that I had to fill out forms almost as onerous for getting utilities (EACH utility mind you – a lot of duplication) as for renting, one can see how difficult it is to move. And I am a person with a sterling credit history – if you had credit problems, would you NOT get water??? electricity??? an apartment???

    AND, finding a vacant apartment in Fresno, a city that I never suspected had an apartment shortage. As I was going to buy a house, so I wanted a month to month pay scheme (even if I was prepared to sign a year long lease, I would have had to wait a couple of weeks before ANY apartment was available), and it took me a couple of weeks (and apartment hunting is ALL I WAS DOING), all the while I am staying in a motel – and even though it was a cheap motel, it adds up and was pretty expensive.

    People aren’t moving because in many cases, they CAN”T AFFORD TO.

    1. ambrit

      Not to be too crude about it fresno dan, but trailer parks are the designated subsistence points for anyone with less than stellar social credentials today. The trailer, or its’ earlier variant, the shotgun shack, were always tasked with this function. Now, an entire new segment of the population has fallen back down into proletarianhood.
      All of the indignities you mentioned connected to finding a place to live are basic methods of social control.
      It reminds me of how C.S. Lewis described H— in his magisterial “Screwtape Letters.” H— was a giant bureaucracy.
      Well, there’s always your summer place just offshore of the Oregon coast.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Re Screwtape Letters — H*** and the demons that run that vast bureaucracy gain their sustence from eating, actually consuming, the souls that get suckered into the behaviors proscribed by the jealous-and-angry part of the Great God Almighty.

        Lewis posits that the life of the demon is uncomfortable, because if said demon fails in its offerings of temptations to us mortals (who for some reason are seen as individually valuable to the Living God, a mighty leap of faith)to bring in enough “‘eat what you kill, and pay your vig to the Big Kahunas, it gets eaten by the more successful demons higher in the organization chart. And the overall quality of life (sic) amongst the Demonate is getting lousier as time goes by, because the quality of souls is going down — the sins that send one to H*** keep getting crapified and diminished, not enough growth in the really evil ones that know what they are doing is right in the face of the Almighty… “C’mon, you subsidiary tempters and demons out in the field! We Need More Groaf!”

        Sound familiar, at all?

        And we find the answers to all these vast questions and uncertainties, we are led to believe, in the Book of Job…

        1. ambrit

          Oh my! A new schism. The Book of Jobs.
          Neo-Liberalism, a once heretical sect, has become the Dogma Economica.

    2. arty

      You don’t have to be poor or have bad credit to be denied access to housing. People who intentionally don’t use credit are in the same boat.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Second that. Had a real hassle buying, (well, getting into mortgage debt with the “right” to live in and maintain and improve the lender’s property interest as long as I pay the P&I and taxes and utilities), as a person with no “recent credit history,” my little 2 br 1ba cottage. The interest rate is twice what the then going rate was, for “demonstrably creditworthy individuals,” and on a 30 year loan that I seriously doubt I will live anywhere near long enough to pay off the note. All because I was following the advice they used to give, only buy for cash and have no debts. Having twice before dug myself out of an easy-credit-induced hole… but such is the lot of us mopes, and I am lucky to be in the position I am in. Though constantly aware that some twitch-and-grab by FIRE could dislodge me and my dear ones in a nanosecond…

    3. pricklyone

      Here’s another. In my case, I own my home outright, having purchased in 1989 for the princely sum of $37,000. My only costs to stay are real estate tax at $1600/year, and maint. cost.
      Utilities I would have to pay anywhere, regardless of rent.
      If I were to move to say, Texas, to work, what would it cost in rent?
      Would any job I took (no professional qualifications or degree) provide me with an income that would cover my expenses, and provide for silly stuff like food, clothing and transport?
      People like me are too old to change venues, and unemployable on either end, as well…
      Might as well stay here and die slowly.

    4. dk

      Punchline: Yale can’t figure it out. Why?

      Aggregate demographics don’t reflect the range of real scenarios, they’re not really supposed to (and of course, trimming outliers for curve-fitting doesn’t help either). And this is not to say that statistical research is not important valuable, it is. But it can’t be taken as a complete picture. And it is not insurmountably difficult or expensive to collect outlier data to enrich and improve policy. Broad success of policy is worth a lot.

      Outlier collection and integration is an unloved art. It’s not actually that hard to automate, similarly to regular data collection methodologies. Open questions (text entry, usually limited to 25-40 chars) are collected, then summarized to condense different wordings into discrete data points. After the first summary, top issues can be added/integrated to standard questions, while open collection continues. Such data points can then be cycled into following surveys and be considered to improve platform and policy creation.

      I’ve used such methods on campaigns to identify regional issues (like garbage collection or water quality) that press and pollsters may not pick up on, or recognize the extent of concern. Engagement, from politics to policy to the public, can be significantly enhanced.

      Significant opposition comes from funders/donors who want (“we’re paying for it, so we get to decide the questions!”) easy/convenient/un-challenging answers and cookie-cutter policies that can be administered with minimal (or less) outlay, and as well from commercial interests and academics who come into the project knowing their answers/conclusions in advance, as may be the case in this paper.

  14. Wukchumni

    I’d mentioned the increase for commercial entry into the National Park was going from $75 per van-to a proposed $325 per van, on my friend’s sightseeing tours, and here’s his hit based on 2x 15 passenger vans with no more than 12 people and usually around 10 per vehicle.

    His go time is the summer, and both of those vans are going everyday, so here’s the math for any old month:

    31x $150 = $4,650

    31x $650 = $20,150

    A tidy little $15,500 difference…

    1. pricklyone

      Wukchumni, when your friend’s tours start, where are all the cars from the patrons parked?
      Do they start from well outside of the park proper, or do they all converge at the entrance?

      1. Wukchumni

        Mostly customers are picked up in town here outside the NP @ motels or AirBnB rentals, etc. I’d assume the cars are parked wherever they get picked up. Some tours start in the NP proper and get picked up and dropped off there within the confines.

    2. David

      According to the proposal, the rates for 15 person passenger vans will be between $60 and $185. Where is your number coming from? The commercial tour entrance fee has not been updated since 1998.

      As all entrance fees are being increased, including private vehicle fees, can’t your friend find a price point where he can make money? Or is the fee increase in general that you don’t like?

      1. Wukchumni

        That was the number I was told by him, and it turns out he was on the low side, as the peak rate happens during summer, and instead of $325, it’s $370 per van, as per your link.

        So, he’s looking at coming up with nearly $20,000 worth of extra income per month, just to break even.

        From $75 to $370, that makes a mockery of the inflation is always 2% mantra, no?

        1. David

          Thanks for the correction. I missed that section.

          It looks like your friend might want to trade the two vans in for a larger vehicle. The new fees seem to favor the larger operators.

          Good luck to your friend, I hope he can make it work.

          1. Wukchumni

            The rates are rather draconian right on down the line, regardless of how big the vehicle. And bigger vehicles don’t work on our twisty and curvy mountain roads, so it’s a no go anyway.

            He’ll have to raise the price of tours about 50% next year, just to cover the increase in entrance fee. That’s harsh.

      2. JTMcPhee

        David, of what import is your observation that park entry fees “have not been increased since 1998”? How are national parks funded, again? And who among us is supposed to benefit (in the spiritual and hedonic sense) from national parks? The neoliberal model is to collect rents (“user fees”)” on every “public good” and service and amenity and what used to be a thing us mopes thought of as “the commons.” Your argument, that the ‘vendor’ ought to just ‘price’ his business to ‘make money,’ sounds like a lot of what passes for Homo econimicalus dogma. No doubt his intention is just exactly that, like everyone else who wants private gain from “public spaces,” and his patrons are likely toward the upper end of the socioeconomic spectrum — or are among the large number of “foreign tourists” who flock “our” national parks. But I personally am hardly offended that the entry fees for those parks have not been “updated.” That’s just, to my mind, more evidence of the insinuation of neoliberal thinking (“Got to pay for what you use, as much as the traffic will bear”) into all our discourse.

        1. David

          Before I get tarred with the neoliberal brush, part of MMT talks about using taxes to “reduce aggregate demand”.
          We’ve been told that the NPs are struggling with peak season crowds and some of the parks have become parking lots in the summer. If these fees help reduce traffic and encourage people to see the parks outside of the peak season, I could support the increase.
          Also note that annual passes remain at $80 and individual entry would be $30 (peak season), $10 – $15 (reg. season). So the parks still remain very accessible to the public.

          what import is your observation that park entry fees “have not been increased since 1998”?

          The 1998 observation follows my thought that the fees are used to adjust demand for the parks. The last demand adjustment was ~20 years ago. If the parks are overcrowded during peak season, how should that be managed?

  15. PlutoniumKun

    Misdirection and Catalonia Craig Murray. Did Ciudadanos really originate “as a highly successful astroturf operation, funded and organised by the German overseas security service, the BND”? Murray gives no link.

    I find that very hard to believe. The BND is not exactly known for its competence, and I would have thought that politically being active in another EU member country would be considered an extremely high risk activity. And not least because the CDU in Germany is allied to the PP in Spain (both members of the European Peoples Party). Maybe they gave some money to encourage a political party that they saw as useful, but its hardly news that a lot of right wingers saw the need for a populist right wing movement to counter Podemos so the notion that its a creature of the German intelligence services sounds very far fetched, especially as it would be a rival to Merkels friends in the PP.

    I like Craig Murray, but he does have a tendency to leap to conclusions a bit too rapidly.

    1. Strategist

      Craig Murray isn’t 100% reliable (he is a diplomat after all), but he does know a lot of interesting things. He’s very far from being any old internet loony and I wouldn’t read anything into there being no link to something else on the internet. Murray is very often an original source, not a reporter.
      The key point is that Ciudadanos was conceived and pushed as an astroturf operation. To add that it was a German secret service-funded or supported operation seems a bizarre thing to do, if nonsense.
      One of the things Craig Murray often says to people who deny on a knee-jerk that x or y security service might be involved in z or a dirty tricks operation is, what do you think these well-funded, well-staffed organisations are there for, or do all day?
      It’s an interesting fact that the Germans changed policy to do operations abroad to project their power and protect their interests, and Spain in its post-crash condition was 100% ground zero for the future health of the German and European banking system. Podemos had to be stopped. And I find it very difficult to believe that, having decide to do this kind of thing, the Germans wouldn’t do it well.

    1. allan

      The article you link to states,

      The Intercept has exclusive publishing rights and an exclusive hold on the content of the Snowden leaks, of which this newly released document is a part.

      This is simply false. Numerous media outlets have published articles based on the Snowden files:

      Within months, documents had been obtained and published by media outlets worldwide, most notably The Guardian (Britain), Der Spiegel (Germany), The Washington Post and The New York Times (U.S.), O Globo (Brazil), Le Monde (France), and similar outlets in Sweden, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Australia.[101] In 2014, NBC broke its first story based on the leaked documents.[102]…

      1. Linda

        I have no comment on the Syria case, but just for information, Greenwald (The Intercept) did have control over all of the docs. The Washington Post and NYT received only a portion of them in the initial disclosure, but not all of it.

        Beginning only last year, Greenwald opened up the full archives to selected journalists in order to have help reviewing the docs. The outside reporters are reviewing them with The Intercept reporters and legal staff. There is so much, it will take more years to go through it all. Even saying that, it sounds like there are still some docs that are considered unsafe to disclose and are in Greenwald’s care.

        Greenwald May, 2016


        Consistent with the requirements of our agreement with our source, our editors and reporters have carefully examined each document, redacted names of low-level functionaries and other information that could impose serious harm on innocent individuals, and given the NSA an opportunity to comment on the documents to be published (the NSA’s comments resulted in no redactions other than two names of relatively low-level employees that we agreed, consistent with our long-standing policy, to redact). Further information about how we prepared the documents for publication is available in a separate article. We believe these releases will enhance public understanding of these extremely powerful and secretive surveillance agencies.

        The other innovation is our ability to invite outside journalists, including from foreign media outlets, to work with us to explore the full Snowden archive.

        From the start of our reporting on the archive, a major component of our approach has been to partner with foreign (and other American) media outlets rather than try to keep all the material for ourselves. We have collectively shared documents with more than two dozen media outlets, and teams of journalists in numerous countries have thus worked with and reported on Snowden documents (that’s independent of the other media outlets which have long possessed large portions of the Snowden archive — the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Guardian, ProPublica). This partnership approach has greatly expedited the reporting, and also ensured that stories that most affect specific countries are reported by the journalists who best understand those countries.

        But allowing other journalists full access to the archive presented security and legal challenges that took time and resources to resolve. We now feel comfortable that we can do so consistent with the responsibility demanded by these materials and our agreement with our source. We have begun to provide archive access to journalists from Le Monde and other media outlets in collaboration with The Intercept’s editorial, research, legal, and technology teams. We are excited by the reporting this new arrangement will generate. 

        There are still many documents of legitimate interest to the public that can and should be disclosed. There are also documents in the archive that we do not believe should be published because of the severe harm they would cause innocent people (e.g., private communications intercepted by NSA, the disclosure of which would destroy privacy rights; and documents containing government speculation about bad acts committed by private individuals (typically from marginalized communities), the disclosure of which would permanently destroy reputations).

        1. allan

          Well, back in 2013 immediately after the leak, the British government seemed to be under the impression that the NYT were in possession of copies of 58,000 of the Snowden documents
          having to do with the GCHQ.

          UK asked N.Y. Times to destroy Snowden material [Reuters]

          That might only be a small fraction of the total Snowden cache, but it does make the language in the Mintpress article seem dubious.

  16. Ned

    Re dangers of cashless society.
    “Cash only” signs are appearing on many businesses near the California fire zone as the payment system is either compromised by absent towers, wires and infrastructure, or even if the electronic payment systems works at the merchant’s end, a long of people waiting for essential products is 100 deep and won’t tolerate the minutes long delay for a card to go through. Especially the person in front of them.

    Wait until The Big One hits and tens of millions of people have useless credit/ATM cards and attempt to buy food and water, where briefly available, or, stuck where they are by an empty gas tank, attempt to gas up at a cash only station with generators running until the pumps run dry. Those lazy plastic-dependent pansy app dependent techbros are going to have their families throwing rocks at them when the children are hungry and screaming and their credit card or Applepay appis useless.

    What the author of the article doesn’t mention is the onerous and parasitical credit card/ATM skim of percentage points added to the price everyone pays to cover the 4 to 6% the card companies withhold in payment to the merchants for their “service”, as well as the $900 or so for the new chip readers that don’t work half the time. A small business with a 5% profit margin makes nothing off a customer using plastic hence “cash only.” You’d think the “efficiency experts” and “free marketeers” in economics would cheer and legislate for the acceptance of cash only.

    Recently at a hardware store a long line of 14 people waited to pay at one of the four registers. I was number fourteen. A voice called out “anyone paying cash”, I jumped the line and gave them all a broad smile and a thumbs up.

    Some high quality food stores require waiting in line to pay for items with a prepaid at the register receipt, or a using a credit card at the deli, to order drinks or deli food. I refuse to tell Visa every time I eat or drink something, hand them as well as my local police etc, my geolocator and give interest payments to a credit card company.
    Solution?
    Buy for cash, a prepaid store gift card for $100 bucks and use that, thus saving time, guarding privacy and providing more of a profit to the merchant, not the card company.

  17. DJG

    Up top: The woodpecker dealing avian havoc on cars in Snellville, Georgia.

    [Good summation, mid-article:
    Another, Kevin Morrisey, found the side mirror of his Explorer smashed. His responses, he recalls, included “son of a biscuit” and, when the vandal was unmasked, “my God, I got taken in by a woodpecker.”]

    Working on a couple of different projects, I discovered the woodpeckers are among the more intelligent birds, and as we learn more about birds and their adaptability, a woodpecker (like a crow) has a kind of consciousness. Just not a human consciousness. The interesting thing here is that the bird figured out that each object (car) had a rearview mirror that he had to destroy. That takes planning.

    And speaking of the gods, woodpeckers were sacred to the early Latins and related peoples. There is a story that the Piceni (who lived in what is now Umbria and Le Marche) believed that they were descended from a woodpecker king. Or that a magic woodpecker led them to their lands. Their name lives on as the town of Ascoli Piceno.

    So: Don’t mess with birds. (The current stress on bird populations from climate change, habitat destruction, and “outside” cats is terrible. So maybe the Georgia woodpecker is extracting revenge.)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From Wikipedia, on the founding myth of the Shang people of China:

      Sima Qian’s Annals of the Yin begins by describing the predynastic founder of the Shang lineage, Xie (偰) — also appearing as Qi (契) — as having been miraculously conceived when Jiandi, a wife of Emperor Ku, swallowed an egg dropped by a black bird. Xie is said to have helped Yu the Great to control the Great Flood and for his service to have been granted a place called Shang as a fief.[7]

      Birds were worshiped, but to see one venerated as the founder of a people… Only the above 2 instances I can recall.

    2. Ned

      Two old socks stretched over the mirrors defeated our crows. Of course, our neighbor with the shiny black reflective car hosted a hilarious bird attack that lasted for hours as the critter jumped up and scratched the S out of his new car. Another reason not to wash your vehicle.

    3. mpalomar

      “a woodpecker (like a crow) has a kind of consciousness. Just not a human consciousness. The interesting thing here is that the bird figured out that each object (car) had a rearview mirror that he had to destroy. That takes planning.”

      My encounters with them in the woods supports your contention re: woodpeckers or at least the kind around here. They drum on the side of our house in the spring for the resonance it adds to their mating habits. All birds seem to have a consciousness and it’s all their own. For instance I suspect the woodpecker destroying mirrors are not after the mirrors but the other, likely male woodpecker, living in the mobile glass home that seems to be everywhere you look.

      1. barefoot charley

        I had a female western bluebird attacking her reflection in my sliding glass doors, almost every day for months. Her mate hung around 6 feet behind her, obviously embarrassed. Yep, they’re conscious of something.

  18. Jason Boxman

    Growth stupidity in Florida is bi-partisan. When Obama won his first term, even Democrats voted against amendment 4 on the ballot that year, which gave locals a vote on local growth plans. Because GROWTH!

    I don’t miss Florida, ever.

  19. DJG

    Thanks to Resilc for finding The Atlantic article posted above by Stathis Kalyvas on the parallels between Greece and Catalonia. Kalyvas is no conservative, yet he has to report plenty of bad news. The article is a must-read.

    Why?

    I hesitate to pull rank and go on about how I’m some ancient barnacle among the commenting groundlings, but I notice in yesterday’s thread about Catalunya that Yves Smith had to step in and point out some facts about the referendum (also mentioned by Kalyvas) and draw comparisons to Greece.

    I recall the commentariat during the Greek events. Of course, we supported the plucky Greeks. They were out in the streets getting tear-gassed. There was the famous anarchist dog that marched against austerity.

    And the Catalans are a nation: We can’t dispute that. There is the long, glorious history with some remarkable medieval kings. There is the accomplished and insightful literature. May the Black Madonna of Montserrat preserve them.

    But the comments over the past couple of days about the post on defining neoliberalism brought up the metaphor: We are like fish in water trying to talk about water. Neoliberalism barely has a name even though we are awash in it.

    And just as Greece wasn’t able to revive the drachma, marshal the banking system to make a change (Yves and Clive explained why), and exit the euro, which is one source of its problems (much like Italy), Catalunya economically–part of the neoliberal plan–simply cannot claim sovereignty. It has less to do with Spanish constitutional issues than with a fact that we should be discussing: The economic system of neoliberalism has destroyed our ability to make decisions for the commonwealth.

    Chile is / was a big test case. Greece is another. In the United States, where culture and neoliberalism have worn down social solidarity and a sense of community, we are seeing deaths from despair, rising suicides, self-caused deaths by confrontations with the police (isn’t that what the gunman did in Las Vegas?), the disposability of black people, and neglect.

    The Greeks have a strong sense of self, which led to the continuing rebellion. Likewise, the Catalans, who consider themselves, justifiably, unique in the world. Another rebellion. But neoliberalism doesn’t care much for sovereignty. And rebellions can be squelched. Neoliberalism wants a strong and pliant government that will enforce certain contracts that the big corporations and banks insist upon and that will participate in the looting.

    1. JTFaraday

      Aren’t there really two big issues here?
      1). Neoliberal privileging of global trade and, significantly, global finance over national governments, and
      2). The EU, which is a badly structured federal government, but a government nevertheless. The EU is informed by a hefty dose of neoliberalism as are most major national governments over the past 30+ years, but it is also riven with other ideological tendencies, which have manifested in EU policy.

      To this last point, in the case of Brexit, I am really not sure that Tory Bexiteers are not in fact objecting to these other regulatory tendencies– ie., that the EU is not neoliberal enough. Tendencies that neoliberalism associates with nation states. So, when the British talk about taking back their country, it’s just completely incoherent to me. And given the way that inter-state competition works under neoliberalism, it seems to me that their idea here is that Britain is going to win the global race to the bottom. Again, I find this sort of flabbergasting, and entirely contrary to the broadly sympathetic notion of taking your country back, even if there were a way to win such a race, which I kind of doubt.

  20. Wukchumni

    Interesting anniversary coming up, with the original protestant named Martin Luther having nailed his theses on the wall 500 years ago…

    This one # 86, resonates today in an NFL team owner holding their city hostage unless they build them a stadium, fashion,
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?”

  21. Ned

    Re the Amazon loss leader:

    “TANSTAAFL”

    Yes there is. Go to any AmassWhole Foods and make yourself a sandwich, using only the finest organic ingredients, (if you can find any), get a drink and consume them, then abandon the loaded cart and walk out.
    It’s your patriotic duty!

    I advise all homeless people to do this. In California, any theft under $750 is a misdemeanor.

  22. Lord Koos

    Re: cashless society — I find the arguments for getting rid of the $100 bill to be ridiculous. Today’s $100 buys what a $20 bill did in 1974, and a $500 bill today would buy roughly what $100 did then. The $100 bill hardly qualifies as a “large denomination” at this point.

    http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/

    1. Tom_Doak

      More importantly, the $100 bill funds whatever purchases the wealthy do not want to show up in their data record.

      But they have to weigh that convenience against the knowledge that controlling the currency electronically seems to be the key factor in holding down revolutions in Greece, Catalonia, etc. Which of those is the bigger imperative depends on how high up the food chain you are.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      The high priestess and ultimate God-like decision-maker of TMWAFTU (The Manna We Are Forced To Use) Janet Yellen would be shocked SHOCKED to learn there is inflation out in the world.

  23. Kim Kaufman

    re How To Be A Socialist Without Being An Apologist For The Atrocities Of Communist Regimes Current Affairs

    The article really articulated a lot of things I’ve been thinking, most particularly what to do with: “Instead, the lesson is about what happens when you have a political ideology that contains a built-in justification for any amount of horrific violence.”

    This is more the vision I have:

    “The next economy will be defined by the struggle to get there.” Kevin Zeese

    A few years ago I was on a listserve which Zeese also participated in. I grabbed the above quote from something he said and used it under my email signature for a long time. In one posting I made, Zeese wrote, “Did I say that? That’s pretty good.”

  24. Elizabeth Burton

    When has any bill ever left Congress in the same shape it entered? People need to stop comparing these two bills for the simple reason that there are almost always two versions of a bill—one in the House, the other in the Senate. The best ones almost always differ in significant details to allow for bargaining room.

    We need to stop comparing them at this point, when they’re mainly intended to provide something for the majority of the voters to look at and discuss. Nothing says the final bill won’t contain that provision, just as it’s likely the final version won’t contain a provision for free and unfettered abortion without question.

    I’m not going to worry about what the final Medicare for All will contain until it’s actually on the floor for debate, because until then the two versions are just a template.

  25. Olivier

    “mature combat theaters” is indeed simply succulent: you roll it in your mouth like a delicacy.

  26. Amfortas the Hippie

    1. re: the las vegas go fund me thing, and your excellent snark(“…with credentialed GoFundMe “Crowdfunding Assistants” available through the ObamaCare Marketplace for a modest “set-up fee,” to prevent abuse, the balance to be partially funded through tax credits, means-tested on a sliding scale. Services not available in all states, restrictions may apply. ..”)
    I think it’s instructive that it took me a minute to figger out it was snark…I live in Texas; it sounded pretty good,lol.
    Wife is a teacher, and can’t afford the insurance the school makes available, and we’ve never done this, so rickfuckingperry’s kinbaku hogtie of Navigators is a real disadvantage in “the Marketplace(tm)”.
    The boys are covered with Chip(so far…), and I finally snagged into the tattered net of SSI and Medicaid(one can be thankful for something and still criticize it mercilessly)
    (Healthcare is a Right, or we’re not a Real Civilisation)

    2. to wit: on the CMS and states defining “essential”…medicaid (in Texas) means that a doctor friend suggested(in seriousness) that in order to get my ankle fixed(ennervated bag of gravel), I would have better luck if I were to have an “unfortunate chainsaw accident” when I knew an orthopedic surgeon/bone guy was on call at the nearest ER. Such people do not otherwise accept medicaid(I cold called every such doctor in the state when the medicaid contractor provided me with a list containing no doctors who accepted medicaid who could do the surgery(!!!)). After six and a half years of slogging through the Kafka on Qualuuds nonsense that is Texas’ disability system(before all my work credits withered away and I was no longer eligible(!!) and ssi caught me), I am reluctant to begin a new offensive in order to try to access what I paid for out of every damned paycheck I ever earned. I have learned to live with the pain, and work around it.(this, of course, makes me ill suited for showing up on time, if at all, to any of the jobs on offer way out here)
    we’re stupid when it comes to healthcare. We’re doing it all wrong.
    …interestingly, in my informal feedstore symposia, and otherwise prodding of the billions of guntoting teabilly rubes that I interact with on my maybe twice a week forays among the Mundane…it turns out that many of those people reckon the gooberment needs to get on the stick and “get us some decent healthcare”.
    Any irony you may detect in this phenomena is totally lost on them, of course.

    3. Finally, on the yale thing about how “certain people” just can’t understand why people like me can’t “just move to where the jobs are”(and maybe don’t really want to, either)…
    I noticed this meme/thought virus among the more clintony dems a couple of years ago…the first specimens I mistook initially for Libertarians(Randian subspecies)…
    as a Country Hippie, I have determined that I can’t live in town(even the tiny only “city” in my county(3500 in town, 5000 in whole county). It’s better for everyone if I’m on a dead end dirt road in the middle of nowhere.
    The third way focus on meritocracised professionalism is anathema to anything that would do any good for usns out here.
    Big Ag was written in as background long ago by those folks.
    We’re just supposed to accept it, and move to the big city.
    It feels like the final nail of the Enclosures that started the whole mess, some 400 years ago. Require us to sing for our supper, while forbidding the music book and instruments and even foot tapping.

  27. Plenue

    >I Fought a War Against Iran—and It Ended Badly The American Conservative

    ‘Regime change’ in Iran would probably be the definitive turning point in American empire. The actual conventional war probably wouldn’t last too long; Iran has something like 1% of our military budget (though Serbia certainly showed American technical supremacy can be substantially countered simply by hiding your equipment). But then we’d have to occupy a country with more than three times the population of Iraq in 2003, and which is the exact opposite of the foreign mandated fake composite countries that make up much of the modern mid-east. Iranians have a sense of cultural unity and identity stretching back thousands of years. Better and more capable countries and leaders than us have tried to subdue Persia. It’s still here, and those enemies aren’t.

    1. Oregoncharles

      And they’ve had some 20 years to prepare, AND they’re now allied with Russia. Plus their missiles can reach our bases – and our ;bizarrely expensive aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf (now, why do they call it that?)

      In fact a sign to watch for would be all American warships leaving the Gulf and going well out in the Indian Ocean. Of course, that would make them none too useful in a war against Iran.

  28. chuck roast

    re Medicare:
    I just got the Medicare bill for my annual “wellness test.”
    Ear wax removal (rinsing both ears with warm water) – $188.
    Enough said…

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