Links 11/21/17

Whales switch from right to left-handed when diving for food New Scientist

Before elephants, US loosened limits on lion trophies AP

The long-lived clam and its untimely death Deutsche Welle

Bacteria Gang Together in Killer Biofilms, but Scientists Can Disrupt Gang Communications Scientific American

Amazon is Becoming the New Microsoft I, Cringely (CL). “Tech companies behave this way because most employees are young and haven’t worked anywhere else and because the behavior reflects the character of the founder. If the boss tells you to beat up customers and partners and it’s your first job out of college, then you beat up customers and partners because that’s the only world you know.”

Calpers Needs to Think a Few Moves Ahead Bloomberg

Santander to pay former chief of US subprime auto arm $713m FT

Borrowing Bonanza in Emerging Markets WSJ

America’s Rural-Phone Industry Is Facing a $48 Billion Debt Crisis Bloomberg

Leverage and limited liability: A toxic cocktail VoxEU

Blockchain Gets a Wall Street Win: ‘We Know the Thing Works Now’ Bloomberg

Quantum attacks on Bitcoin, and how to protect against them Arxiv.org

FinCEN fines California card club $8 million for AML offenses The FCPA Blog

Venezuela debt talks: Caracas plays its last cards FT

Puerto Rico

We surveyed 112 Puerto Rican funeral homes to check the accuracy of the hurricane death toll. This is what we found. CNN. Actual reporting from CNN again. Official toll: 55. Deaths believed to be storm-related by funeral homes: 499.

Why Didn’t Puerto Rico Use its “Local Law” Advantage to Reduce its Debt? Credit Slips

Brexit

‘We can’t play Santa for Juncker’: Tory fury after secret Cabinet summit ‘signs off £40BILLION divorce offer to Brussels’ as May makes desperate bid to get Brexit trade talks started Daily Mail

The Brexit divorce bill shows the EU has taken back control The New Statesman

Belief that customs system will be ready for Brexit ‘borders on insanity’ Guardian

The collapse of coalition talks in Germany makes a ‘no deal’ Brexit a little more likely The Spectator

A wobbly Merkel means a weaker Europe FT

What’s Next for Merkel and Germany? Der Speigel

The Beginning of the End of Angela Merkel as Chancellor Handelsblatt

Catalonia: how did it come to this? Cable

Syraqistan

Saudi Billionaires Look for Ways to Protect Assets From Any Government Purge Bloomberg

The Saudi System And Why Its Change May Fail Moon of Alabama

North Korea

Nuclear Stability, Conventional Instability: North Korea and the Lessons from Pakistan War on the Rocks

New Cold War

‘A long winter’: White House aides divided over scope, risks of Russia probe WaPo

Trump Transition

Protect net neutrality and Internet freedom: World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, USA Today

FCC plans total repeal of net neutrality rules Politico

* * *

Republicans’ Sprint to a Tax Overhaul: Public Votes, Private Talks Bloomberg

What You Need to Know About ‘Chained CPI’ Bloomberg

Paul Ryan’s “Cindy” Is A Cruel Figment Of The Capitalist Imagination Shadowproof (UserFriendly).

The Republican War on College The Atlantic

Ports Press Congress to Keep Tax Advantages for Private Activity Bonds WSJ

* * *

The Justice Department is suing AT&T to block its $85 billion bid for Time Warner WaPo

US votes against resolution condemning Nazi glorification Los Angeles Times

The Keystone XL Pipeline Wins a Battle, But Faces a New War The Atlantic

Sex in Politics… Not!

Al Franken won’t resign despite second accuser Salon

Exclusive: NYT White House correspondent Glenn Thrush’s history of bad judgment around young women journalists Vox

Eight women say Charlie Rose sexually harassed them — with nudity, groping and lewd calls WaPo

She Said That A Powerful Congressman Harassed Her. Here’s Why You Didn’t Hear Her Story. Buzzfeed. Conyers.

Newsletter Essential Politics: Sexual harassment issue clouds meeting of California Democrats Los Angeles Times

Health Care

Don’t Nudge Me: The Limits of Behavioral Economics in Medicine NYT

States Face Children’s Health Coverage Uncertainty Roll Call. CHIP debacle.

FDA Raids Florida Stores That Consumers Use To Buy Drugs From Canada KHN

Florida let hepatitis C go untreated in prisons. Now it may cost taxpayers millions. Miami Herald

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Amazon launches a cloud service for US intelligence agencies CNBC

Google will ‘de-rank’ RT articles to make them harder to find – Eric Schmidt RT (KW).

Class Warfare

The Climate Crisis? It’s Capitalism, Stupid NYT

The Blockchain Might Scare the Gig Economy to Death Bloomberg. This:

One day 20 years from now we’ll wake up and all of our interactions and performance will be tracked on the blockchain and will directly determine our income and socioeconomic status, and on the one hand we’ll get pretty good customer service, but on the other hand we’ll be terrified all the time. It is the logical endpoint of the “gig economy.”

So the headline is deceptive; the gig economy will do fine, just fine. The workers, on the other hand, will not.

The Education of Mark Zuckerberg The Atlantic

The “phantom reference:” How a made-up article got almost 400 citations Retraction Watch (CL).

An Interview With James Howard Kunstler The American Conservative

Thoughts about the Job Guarantee: A Reply Modern Money Matters

Antidote du jour (via):

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.

131 comments

  1. allan

    Facing ‘hard decisions,’ health centers plead for restored funding [The Hill]

    Community health centers are scrambling to make contingency plans as they anxiously wait to see if Congress will renew billions of dollars in federal funding that expired on Sept. 30.

    Often situated in medically underserved areas, the health centers provide care to some 26 million of the nation’s most vulnerable people. They’re required to take any patient who seeks care, regardless of whether they can pay. …

    At issue is a fund that ObamaCare created for community health centers, a non-controversial element of a politically charged law. This new pot of money accounts for about 70 percent of health centers’ federal dollars, and in 2015, Congress renewed the funds to the tune of a total of $7.2 billion over two years.

    Although lawmakers from both sides of the aisle support funding health centers, Congress let the authorization lapse Sept. 30. …

    Health centers are the nation’s largest source of comprehensive primary care for medically underserved communities, and if funding lapses, “they’ll just be a lot of hard decisions that health centers will have to make,” DiRossi-King said. …

    File under Health Care / Class Warfare / Bernie Never Did Anything in Congress™.

    Reply
  2. Darius

    Charlie Rose made his view of power relations clear with his fawning corporate centrism and open contempt for people like Bernie Sanders. Rose never met a billionaire he didn’t worship. Except Trump, who is a different pathology.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Or the same pathology. Increasingly one can’t help but believe Trump’s assertion that the crass things he says and does in public are what all his rich friends say and do in private. While some have claimed that a witch hunt atmosphere is developing, the current frenzy may be inevitable in a country where the rich and powerful seem to face no other punishment other than the court of public opinion. They can come up with high flown explanations for bombing third worlders into smithereens but not so much for their penchant for exposing themselves to young women.

      I can recall Charlie Rose on late night CBS back in the 80s talking about the good work being done by those freedom fighters, the Contras. It’s hard to shed many tears now that his career is ending in disgrace.

      Reply
      1. annie

        recall that charlie rose was among the elect who spent christmas at the de la renta estate in punta cana–along with the clintons, the kissingers, barbara walters, and, at least one time, anna wintour.

        Reply
    2. Dr. Roberts

      Yes his show was quite cringeworthy at times, although the extended interview format alone made it more informative than almost anything else on television. His antics were apparently something of an open secret in certain circles. See this clip from ‘The Royal Tenenbaums” Age 24 Publicity Tour:
      PG-13

      Reply
      1. Nixnorb

        Any witch hunt will depose some who are depose-worthy. But I don’t share in the general glee of this wave of McCarthyite blacklisting going on w/o even the fig leaf of due process. The lawsuits have already started, that will really entrench the new style of j’accuse.

        The World Socialist Web Site does the best job so far of diagnosing what’s going on: Viciousness and ignorance: New York Times columnists on the rampage

        I’m all for slaps and sharp rebukes against hands that unwantingly wander. But the distinction between the domestic and public spheres goes back to Aristotle, and Hannah Arendt gave the concept new legs in her diagnosis of totalitarianism. “The personal is political” could only have been coined by those who forgot the only new political form that the 20th century conjured. It’s a slogan that can go up in lights along with “Freedom is slavery.”

        Of course, pleasure in seeing lots of own-petard hoisting. The Clintons pursued sex hysteria as basic modality of governing — e.g., offender registries that are America’s new Jim Crow. And then Hillary lost at the margins because of a wayward sext. Delicious!

        Reply
        1. kareninca

          “Dargis, a film critic at the Times, has apparently composed her piece on sexual misconduct primarily out of personal spite and bitterness. Her article is hardly more than a series of unenlightening complaints and grumbles about Louis C.K. and Woody Allen and their purported relations with or fantasies about young women.”

          I don’t think that Woody Allen’s vile actions were “purported,” nor were they fantasies.

          Reply
    3. Oregoncharles

      He’s 74. Time to retire.

      We stopped watching him a long time ago; he talked too much, sucked up to some people and was contemptuous of others – especially women, I think.

      Reply
      1. Jeff W

        he talked too much

        Yes, never a good thing for an interviewer, particularly someone who is supposedly skilled like Charlie Rose.

        While his toadying establishmentarianism was unmistakable, what always struck me was his obliviousness in interviewing—he wasn’t a particularly good listener (or, perhaps, thinker). I recall an interview with the incomparable Anne Bancroft—she was, as usual, down-to-earth, insightful, charming. She’d say something and Rose would respond with something like, “So if you’re saying x…” and she’d say “…No, I didn’t say that—what I’m saying this…” It happened three or four times. She was gamely trying to laugh each instance off as a little “misunderstanding” between friends but you could tell she was getting a bit exasperated by his utter cluelessness. It made his show, for me, pretty excruciating to watch.

        Reply
        1. tawal

          He’s invited to the Davos-thing every year, and never reports anything about what he hears there.
          He’s a toady for the 0.1%.

          Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      When I couldn’t see all of it, I thought it was a blue peacock’s tail. The similarity in the feathers is striking. Of course, these must be much smaller.

      And yes, gorgeous. No wonder people like to wear feathers.

      An odd footnote: apparently the Native Americans, at least in the south, cultivated and bred turkeys for the feathers. I wonder if any of those breeds could be brought back?

      Reply
  3. Jim Haygood

    From Bloomberg’s article on Calpers:

    The largest U.S. pension fund, Calpers, is considering whether to reduce its stock allocation to as little as 34 percent from 50 percent and discussed it at a board workshop on Nov. 13.

    Reducing its stock allocation by 16 percentage points would mean dumping $55 billion worth of stocks. With the bull market in its ninth year, Calpers should consider carefully not only its next move but the more difficult one after that [buying back in].

    According to Milliman’s 2017 public pension funding study, public funds had a 62.4% weighting in equities + private equity + hedge funds. They had another 8.8% in real estate, which is about 60% correlated to equities. In a severe bear market public pension funds will be hit so hard by their high equity exposure that some will never recover, having lost too much capital to bounce back.

    While current high equity valuations are useless for short-term market timing, they do accurately forecast low returns on equities over the next decade or so — returns in the same ballpark as fixed income. Since equities are riskier than fixed income, equities are not attractive when fixed income returns are competitive.

    Calpers would be wise to take some equity exposure off the table. But for pension funds collectively, an attempt to reduce their overall equity exposure likely would produce the very market decline which they were trying to avoid.

    Thus there’s a first mover advantage to grab a chair before the music stops playing. That’s what Calpers’ board will review in December, with great trepidation owing to the career risk of diverging from the safety of the herd.

    As for the question posed by the Bloomberg writer — when to buy back — the answer is when the slow kids in the back of the pension fund classroom start panic-dumping equities, way too late. That will be the time to back up the truck and holler “Shovel ’em in, lads! Pile ’em high!

    Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    Re US votes against resolution condemning Nazi glorification

    Not hard to figure out why with this one. Any country that is against Russia must be an ally, right? Problem is when countries like Estonia (http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/An-alarm-bell-in-Estonia-393319) and Latvia (http://www.jpost.com/International/Nazi-Waffen-SS-veterans-join-controversial-march-in-Latvia-448126) have hundreds of Waffen-SS veterans march in parade in the capitals of those countries each year. You read that right. Not regular war veterans but actual veterans of Hitler’s SS. You can find clips on YouTube showing them. Could you imagine if veterans of the SS Walloon Legion from Belgium marched down the streets of Brussels every year what would be said?
    And it is no surprise that the Ukraine vote ‘no’ along with the US as there are out and out neo-Nazis infesting that country. Germans were shocked when their TV news showed Nazi Symbols on the helmets of Ukrainian soldiers. Remember the old black-and-white films of Nazis doing torchlight parades before the war? The neo-Nazis do the same right out in the open. That is why the Donetsk and Luhansk regions fight so hard against the Ukrainian army as they know what would happen to them and their families if this lot took over.
    These same neo-Nazi formations are now looking at other portions of Ukraine to bring into line that have either large populations of Hungarians or Poles which is creating flash points with those two countries. Not surprised too that Israel voted with the proposed Russian resolution as both nations know exactly what Nazis are all about. There was actually a third nation that voted along side the US and Ukraine and that was Palau, a Micronesian set of islands of some 21,000 people so somebody must have lent on them. Finally, this was not a one-off vote as the US does this annually and I remember last year when the US voted against this resolution.

    Reply
    1. David

      About half the Waffen-SS, as well as hundreds of thousands of auxiliaries, including concentration camp guards and local militias, were non-Germans who fought with the Nazis for a wide variety of ideological, nationalist and pragmatic reasons. From memory, something like 20 separate nations were represented in the Waffen-SS: there was even a British platoon. There’s a lot of uncomfortable history here.

      Reply
      1. Vatch

        Yes, there were a lot of foreign volunteers, which is shameful, but FWIW, some of the foreigners in the SS were conscripts.

        Reply
      2. Ned

        i.e. Especially Ukranians, who were itching to get revenge on the Bolsheviks responsible for the Holdomor.

        “The Holodomor; derived from морити голодом, “to kill by starvation”, also known as the Terror-Famine and Famine-Genocide in Ukraine, also referred to as the Great Famine, and The Ukrainian Genocide of 1932–33 was a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1932 and 1933 that killed an officially estimated 7 million to 10 million people.”

        From Wikipedia

        Reply
        1. Vatch

          I’m glad that you mention the Holodomor, which was horrible, and is conveniently ignored by many people. However, I believe the current estimates of the Ukrainian deaths are lower. I don’t have Anne Applebaum’s recent book in front of me, but here’s a review:

          https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/aug/25/red-famine-stalins-war-on-ukraine-anne-applebaum-review

          Her estimate of famine losses in Ukraine – 4.5 million people – reflects current scholarship.

          There were many deaths elsewhere in the Soviet Union, but Ukraine and Kazakhstan suffered the worst.

          Reply
        2. JTee

          This “Ukrainian” genocide reeks of “any stick to beat a dog”. If you look at the map on Wikipedia of the vast area where most people suffered, it was populated by millions and millions of ethnic Russians. So, surely they, ie. Russians, must have starved in large numbers as well. Indeed, the Wiki page alludes to this fact, but seems to prefer a story of unique victimhood for ethnic Ukrainians.

          Reply
          1. Ned

            The issue was the motivations of foreign volunteers joining the S.S.
            I know a lot of anti-Communist Russians welcomed and aided the German when they invaded but I don’t think any joined the S.S.
            60 million people died under Stalin, the misery was spread equally among those not running the Communist Party.

            Reply
          2. Vatch

            That’s not true. Western Ukraine suffered badly from the famine along with Eastern Ukraine. And one of the reasons for large numbers of Russian speakers in Eastern Ukraine nowadays is that they migrated there after Ukraine was partially depopulated.

            As a percentage of their population, Kazakhstan suffered worst of all. It wasn’t a coincidence that two regions, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, which had heavily resisted the Soviets, suffered worse than the rest of the country. Normally when there is a famine, the areas where food is grown should suffer the least, because they can reserve some of the limited supplies of food that they grow for themselves. But the reverse happened in 1932-1933: the Soviet government took as much grain from the agricultural areas as they could. They even exported food during the famine. It was similar to the Irish famine of the 1840s when English landowners in Ireland exported food grown in Ireland.

            Reply
    2. visitor

      These same neo-Nazi formations are now looking at other portions of Ukraine to bring into line that have either large populations of Hungarians or Poles which is creating flash points with those two countries.

      One cannot stress enough the fact that these “flash points” are not mere political posturing based on historical demagoguery for internal jousting in Ukraine, Poland or Hungary.

      There are deep divisions and much latent hostility between those countries, going back to a history of bloody confrontations between 1914 and 1945.

      Last year, a Polish movie (Volhynia, directed by Wojciech Smarzowski, 2016) depicted the situation and events in Volhynia during WWII in an unvarnished way: distrust between the various communities (Poles, Ukrainians, Russians, Jews…), occupation by the USSR and subsequent purges, invasion by Germany and subsequent pogroms, all-out ethnic cleansing of Polish communities by Ukrainians, retaliation by Poles, etc.

      Ukrainians, notably the paramilitary organization UPA from the nowadays rehabilitated in Ukraine Stepan Bandera, play a ghastly role — ready to collaborate with Soviets and Nazis, or go it alone, when it comes to eliminate Jews and Poles. The film, based on historic testimonies, shows graphically what happens — and it is hard to stomach.

      The film was well-received in Poland as a belated truth-telling work; it caused a scandal in Ukraine, where it is banned. You may be able to find it in YouTube. From it, I gather that Ukraine and Poland probably execrate each other as much as they both do with respect to Russia.

      Reply
      1. begob

        Sounds interesting. Weddings are rich territory for film makers – saw the Polish film Demon last year, which touches on the buried past as well.

        Reply
    3. bones

      I saw the headline the other day and I thought “despicable.” Today I looked at the story in the LA Times and according to it, ”The resolution calls on all U.N. member nations to ban pro-Nazi speech and organizations and to implement other restrictions on speech and assembly.” Of course the US doesn’t actually care about free speech or freedom of assembly, but as someone who does believe in these freedoms, I find the criminalization of political speech– even Nazi speech–deeply problematic.

      Reply
      1. ewmayer

        Exactly – talk about a blatantly slanted, propagandistic headline – in the 2nd para. the article actually explains why the US *must* vote against any such measure – to vote ‘aye’ it is tantamount tp publicly nullifying the 1st amemndment to the Constitution:

        The resolution calls on all U.N. member nations to ban pro-Nazi speech and organizations and to implement other restrictions on speech and assembly. That is a non-starter in the U.S., where First Amendment protections guarantee everyone the right to say almost anything they want — even praise for Adolf Hitler’s followers.

        But the folks writing these kinds of knee-jerk-reaction-targeting hot-button headlines know full well that only a miniscule fraction of the Legions of the Outraged virally sharing such pieces on social media will even bother to read anything but the headline, so it’s a cheap and easy way to make the administration look bad. You see, delving into the administration’s actual *policies* and publicizing those in order to make it look deservedly bad is way too much work, it requires some arcane long-lost craft called “journalism”. Nobody teaches that anymore, alas.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          If it is all about First Amendment protections, which I strongly agree with, then why is the US allowing laws to be written at home that if you are supporting the boycott of Israeli goods, then that is illegal? Is it not true that survivors in Houston from that hurricane, in order to receive Federal aid, had to state that they will not support any such movements against Israel? Is that not a restriction to First Amendment protections?

          Reply
          1. Vatch

            There was a Texas town that wanted people to confirm that they would oppose any Israeli boycott before receiving assistance. But after a backlash, they removed the requirement:

            https://www.dallasnews.com/news/harvey/2017/10/19/get-harvey-relief-funds-residents-dickinson-must-vow-boycott-israel

            I don’t think any of the Federal bills that would restrict free speech regarding Israeli boycotts and divestments have been passed. Neither of these two bills have passed the House or Senate:

            S.720 – Israel Anti-Boycott Act


            H.R.1697 – Israel Anti-Boycott Act

            A lot of Senators and Representatives have co-sponsored them, though.

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              These things seems to be slipping in the back door through legislation at the State level (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/groups-slam-states-crackdown-israel-boycotts-171024014735793.html). My impression is that the eventual aim is to have anti-Zionism legally equated with antisemitism. Not anti-Israel but anti-Zionism which is a whole other kettle of fish. If that means gutting the protection of free speech in the US then that is just the price the US will have to pay to protect the aims of Israeli’s extremist elements.

              Reply
              1. Vatch

                Your concerns are fully justified. We must remain vigilant against these threats to freedom of speech and to freedom of the press. All sorts of malignant legislation can be passed when people don’t pay attention. Some gets passed even when people are paying attention!

                Reply
          2. bones

            I agree with your sentiment, Rev. I don’t believe the US government has any regard for free speech or freedom of assembly beyond the degree they are forced externally to do so. The US does indeed support fascists in Ukraine (who massacred protesters in Odessa). But in this case, as a supporter of political rights, I am in rare approval of US policy.

            Reply
  5. el_tel

    re: Behavioural economics in medicine

    I think a major part of the problem here is the failure to take on board intrinsic patient attitudes. Thus a former PhD student of mine identified the “St John’s Wort effect” whereby a significant number of patients dislike the idea of prescribed medicines, thinking them to be “unnatural”, “stigmatising” etc, but they’re quite happy to go to the health food shop for St John’s Wort. In a lot of studies patient attitudes towards “medicines” are now evaluated and I’d be curious to see results stratified by such variables. I won’t reference myself but I’ve found similar effects in end-of-life care but it adds to an increasing body of research that recognises the effects of patient attitudes towards prescribed medicines. They (rightly or wrongly) can have certain strongly held views on these which are a strong predictor of their concordance (which is the PC term these days for whether the patient adheres to a treatment regime).

    Reply
    1. Dr mike

      Yeah I think a lot of these studies completely miss the question “why don’t you want to take your medication?” There’s an assumed irrationality or moral failure. After a heart attack particularly, people who considered themselves healthy are usually prescribed 4 new medications on discharge (aspirin, beta blocker, ace-inhibitor, statin). Throwing more reminders at people (I love the technological solutions in particular – smart pill bottles! Smartphone apps!) don’t address many people’s ambivalence about this, like you said

      Reply
      1. el_tel

        Yes! This “moral failure/irrationality” assumption (which is common in both economics and medicine) is key – it completely misses the point that it’s not about *preferences* but about *attitudes*. You will often have a hard time changing preferences if you don’t understand/address underlying attitudes that ultimately influence/form preferences.

        There is a need to better understand attitudes – what they are, why they are formed, etc. Once you do that, you may be able to alter them….after all the media/marketers etc routinely upweight/downweight people’s attitudes when getting them to buy/vote certain ways and in response to certain stimuli. As usual, more interdisciplinarity is required. Behavioural economists don’t talk to the right people, so it’s no surprise they’ve fallen on their faces.

        Reply
      2. Oregoncharles

        My father-in-law was prescribed aspirin and died of a brain hemorrhage a short while later. At least he went very quickly.

        Those drugs do have “side” effects (digression: there is no such thing. Drugs have effects, some desired and some not.). Patient resistance may be justified by their own experience. Not addressing that is an example of medical self-righteousness.

        Full disclosure: I take 5-hydroxy-tryptophan every day. as well as saw palmetto. They help.

        Reply
        1. el_tel

          Oh indeed – attitudes can be formed and changed due to experiences….and “other” effects of drugs can certainly do as you say.

          Your full disclosure implies (to me at least) a very good knowledge of the pharmacology and how there are, *in certain instances* things people can buy over the counter that do pretty much the same as prescribed medicines. Whilst I don’t have a problem with this, the problems lie with people who (unlike I am assuming you to be) don’t tell their doctor when a serious medical issue arises with a serious potential drug interaction with something they bought over the counter. Thus cases of “serotonin syndrome” among people who never revealed they are on St John’s Wort etc. So to sum up, there’s nothing wrong (and potentially a lot good with) an attitude that “I can get the particular medication via a supplement I buy in health food shop”….the key attitude to concentrate on is the importance of the patient being up front about any of these they take due to potential for serious interactions. There’s also – going back to your aspirin example – the problem of patients who follow MSM media “recommendations” and get in trouble. It took a stomach bleed for my mother to stop following the aspirin-a-day “recommendation” – now at least she listens to me (on NSAIDS/pain meds, not on mental health *smacks head*).

          Reply
    2. Moocao

      Which is why I do NOT like guidelines based medicine and the application of paying physicians to adhere to those said guidelines – it robs the provider the ability to assess the patient’s socioeconomic status, ability to pay, attitudes to interventions, personal beliefs, and how the medication/intervention would affect them.

      Evidence based medicine is great, it beats non-evidence based medicine. At some point though, our society have to think about the cost/benefit of straight jacketing patients and physicians/providers into specific treatment algorithms, with patient compliance as an afterthought

      Reply
      1. el_tel

        No disagreement from me. I like EBM but I recognise its limitations….I was pleasantly surprised recently to read UK NICE guidelines on a number of medicines. Whilst the “EBM stepped care” model was the “desired path”, it seemed to go out of its way to allow physicians to “ignore this” if patient preferences meant it was unlikely to work.

        Of course UK physicians are not paid fee-for-service and so flexibility on prescribing etc is much more acceptable…..in theory….in practice in these days of austerity, restrictions at the local level due to cost are beginning to appear again, negating the whole “postcode prescribing fiasco” that was meant to be solved 10 years ago.

        Reply
    3. Dr. Roberts

      It was amusing to compare the Behavioral Economics classes at my American and German Universities. The German class was all about how behavioral psychology demonstrates that we are not homo economiki and classical economics is therefore wrong in systematic ways. The American class was all about how we can use the idea of homo economicus to explain and guide human behavior. The whole field in the US is absolutely insane.

      Reply
      1. el_tel

        Sad to say it doesn’t surprise me….the UK is similarly enamoured of homo economicus.

        The Germans have their IQWIQ (spelling?) system for funding/provision which is not that well known to me apart from the fact it’s flexible. All seems exactly in line with your experience.

        Reply
  6. Jim Haygood

    From the American Conservative’s interview with James Howard Kunstler [in which Kunstler gives a shout-out to Naked Capitalism]:

    JHK: My view is that we’re heading into profound systems failure and the outcome will be a reset to a far less complex human condition. We’ll be lucky, when the dust settles, if we can land back in an early 19th century level of activity, but we could go full medieval, or worse.

    At the moment, we can’t construct a coherent story about what is happening to us; and therefore we can’t make any coherent plans to act in the face of it. Our current politics reflect this sad state of affairs.

    Declaring “We can’t …” doesn’t get us anywhere; we have to try. Surely part of that coherent narrative must be the vast value subtraction imposed upon us by a voracious national security state, operating totally unfettered by the Potemkin democracy of a petrified 150-year political duopoly.

    The corporate toady Lamestream Media isn’t going to write about our collective march into weaponized neofeudalism, so others will.

    Reply
    1. Croatoan

      We don’t have to build a narrative. In fact, we shouldn’t. The narrative is already built in and exists absent of thought. It is all the thinking and planning that gets us in trouble.

      Reply
    2. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      November 21, 2017 at 8:22 am

      Kunstler is a Democrat, albeit an angry, disaffected one, and among his previous journalism gigs is a year as an editor at the liberal Rolling Stone magazine. Yet his rage at debt-driven consumerism is no less conservative than Russell Kirk’s denunciation of the automobile as a “mechanical jacobin.”
      ===============================================
      I look at all the freeways constructed in Fresno in my lifetime, ofttimes to save no more than 5 or 10 minutes – people, nothing that important happens in Fresno. This is a flat city with mild weather (well, hot in the summer – but shade trees COULD be planted) yet despite all the yammering in CA about environmentalism, the paucity and poor design of bike paths kind of gives the lie to the delusion of fit, active, environmentally concerned Californians….

      Neighborhoods, actual interaction when walking or biking – but Americans prefer their atomized, isolating, impersonal cars… I came back after 30 years away, and I would have thought that their might been some minor attempt at encouraging pedestrian ism, some desire to restrain sprawl, but no.

      Reply
    3. JTMcPhee

      Oh, for a workable organizing principle… one that successful people, including JH and Obama and even Putin(who seems to maybe actually have one) could coalesce around… one based in eating only to one’s actual hunger, and drinking only to one’s honest thirst… building stuff that lasts, eschewing consumption via extraction and combustion…

      But humans, or enough of them, are family-blogged, now aren’t we? Enough to take the rest of us down with them? Could one hope that the Ragnarok takes down the Thiels and Zuckers and Soroses and Obamas and Clintons before the techies perfect perpetual life and space travel for the effing Few? Gleaning, if they gain that last success of beating mortality, the last bits of wealth off us mopes by monetizing suicide, like in the movies?

      In the meantime, we here at NC can collect and study and debate all the places and conditions and movements that seem to add up to confirmation that Futilitarianism is the only sensible means of understanding and acceptance. We’ll go down, but not without knowing full well how it’s happening, and for those of us skilled in profiting from the processes, a last bite of the apple, that putative fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and of course evil…

      Reply
    4. Andrew Watts

      At the moment, we can’t construct a coherent story about what is happening to us; and therefore we can’t make any coherent plans to act in the face of it. Our current politics reflect this sad state of affairs.

      Arnold Toynbee thought that people could be divided into four different groups in any collapsing civilization. The obsession with Elon Musk and his techno-futurist dreams are those that idealize the future. In a similar vein there are nostalgic people who idealize the past. The people who bought into the political slogan “Make America Great Again!” are probably members of the latter group. There are also those that try to detach themselves from the reality of our predicament. None of these individuals are capable of articulating a vision of the future as they are unable to grapple with the realities of the present.

      The final group are those that attempt to rise to face the challenges of a decaying civilization. Toynbee believed these people would forge the beginnings of a new civilization after the old one had died.

      But, uhh, they seem to be in short supply.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth Burton

        I disagree. I just think they’re too busy working to waste time tooting their own horns, and heaven knows the corporate media aren’t going to publicize anything that would help abate the massive level of despair and helplessness it’s been helping propagate for the last half-century.

        There’s a reason the Democratic Socialists of America went from 8,000 members to more than 30,000 (and growing) in the space of a few months after the election. And they’re just one organization. The only way to really have a handle on what’s happening is to sign up to get newsletters from groups like Our Revolution and Brand New Congress and Blue America. And yes, it means putting up with almost daily pleas for money, but they are, after all, trying to change the country without letting the plutocrats in the game.

        Reply
  7. The Rev Kev

    Is it a matter of we can’t construct a coherent story about what is happening to us or more a case of we won’t. Personally, I think that future historians will come to call the age that we live in as the age of cognitive dissonance.

    Reply
    1. bronco

      The joke is on you Rev , there won’t be any future historians , we are going to take the whole thing down to the atomic level.

      Reply
  8. Marco

    “Detroit the most exciting city in America” via NYT

    Oh goodness I don’t know where to start. I am in Detroit for the holiday and come back enough to visit family to know this is an obvious marketing ploy by city business elite in an attempt to keep a floor under their real-estate holdings. Vast swaths of the city are still utter wastelands of despair. The tiny downtown core has staged a turnaround but still seems extremely dysfunctional. A friend of mine purchased a home near the historic “Indian Village” neighborhood and yes has seen a nice bump in home value (isn’t this true everywhere?) but has noticed an accelerating deterioration in housing stock. Also all the razed homes are releasing lead into the environment approaching Flint levels. I can go on.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      I recommend Anton Daniels’ YouTube channel. He explores the ruins of Detroit area icons like the Packard plant. His commentary is entertaining and heartbreaking.

      Reply
    2. flora

      ” in an attempt to keep a floor under their real-estate holdings”

      an aside: prolonged zero-interest rate policy by the central bank coupled with de-industrialization and de-contenting the service infrastructure in rural US, driving rural population shifts to cities, why….

      … one could imagine the US’s current “industrial policy” is designed to keep a floor under real-estate prices in the higher priced metro areas… in order to benefit the FIRE sector.

      Reply
      1. flora

        When he’s right, he’s right.

        From a 2005 Krugman column:

        “I used to live next door to a Russian emigre. One day he asked me to explain something that puzzled him about his new country. “This place seems very rich,” he said, “but I never see anyone making anything. How does the country earn its money?”

        “The answer, these days, is that we make a living by selling each other houses. Since December 2000 employment in U.S. manufacturing has fallen 17 percent, but membership in the National Association of Realtors has risen 58 percent.”

        http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/Krugman-In-real-estate-economy-safe-as-houses-1920308.php

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Before:

          I cleaned my own house. You cleaned yours.

          GDP contribution: zero.

          Now:

          You clean my house for $100. I clean your house for $100.

          GDP contribution: $200.

          Reply
          1. ChrisPacific

            I use this example with childcare, as a demonstration of how ridiculous it is that we don’t consider it work (unless it’s paid by a third party).

            Reply
  9. fresno dan

    WHOO HOO – I am now certified as a volunteer HICAP (i.e., medicare) counselor (well, if the accreditation site would accept my password. Now I can say authoritatively and officially “I don’t know.” )
    I can’t say I ever thought work was all that great….but now that I am retired I find that simply surfing the porn tubes and spending any left over time at wine bars isn’t enough. I never would have thunk it…..
    Of course, I wonder if I am depriving someone of a paid position by working for free. Of course, if the volunteers weren’t there, its not like they would take care of those who need help…

    Reply
    1. Toske

      Yeah, I’ve heard plenty of stories of people who held the idea of a leisurely retirement as one of their chief motivations to get up for work every day, only to find retired life boring, purposeless and depressing. Glad to hear you’re staying busy and doing something fulfilling. Maybe if society were structured in a more sane way, you would be depriving someone of a paying job, but sadly, that’s just not the case right now.

      Reply
    1. fresno dan

      Kevin
      November 21, 2017 at 8:39 am

      I would be interested in seeing the chart you reference, so I went to “361 Capital” and I can’t find it. Need a link or a specific title. Thanks

      Reply
      1. Urbanite

        Under the post titled “Go Long Food Coma” search for “Time to stop humming your favorite commercial jingle”

        Reply
  10. hemeantwell

    If the boss tells you to beat up customers and partners and it’s your first job out of college, then you beat up customers and partners because that’s the only world you know.”

    Assuming that quote reflects the article, I’ll throw the TooStupidDidn’tRead flag, it assumes a cultural hegemony that does not exist, at least at this point in time. We need to keep track of our opposition resources.

    In your first job out of college you are uncertain of your “worth” to the “market” and are more inclined to do what you are told. Fear rules. Before the ordeal of the First Job, most everyone has lived through a variety of institutions and cultural fields that gives them a repertoire of available options, some humane. It’s one of the main tasks of the tertiary socialization process that is Bizworld to trim away those more humane options as infeasible.

    Reply
  11. Eustache De Saint Pierre

    It is nice that Howard gave Yves a mention & much of what he says could be applied to England & probably elsewhere. He sort of reminds me of grumpy old Jonathon Meades in terms of his criticism of our architectural environment.

    Reply
  12. Jim Haygood

    China’s so-called BAT cult stocks (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) are starting to give our US-based Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse a run for the money.

    Tencent (which I’m prone to confuse with the rappah 50 Cent) now has passed Facebook in market cap, while Alibaba is coming up right behind it. Chart:

    http://tinyurl.com/y7f56le3

    Tencent is not included in the NYSE FANG+ index, but Alibaba and Baidu are.

    Are we bubbling yet?

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      All major US stock indexes — S&P 500, Dow Industrials, Nasdaq Composite — busted out to record highs this morning.

      Even the beleaguered Russell 2000 small-cap index is almost back to a record.

      So much for the ominous Hindenburg and Titanic omens of recent days. If this is the Titanic, we’re on the stern of the ship … and I feel fine. ;-)

      http://tinyurl.com/ybp52xvt

      Reply
  13. olga

    Another reason to avoid google: “Google will ‘de-rank’ RT articles to make them harder to find – Eric Schmidt RT (KW).”
    If ever this poem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came_…) applied, now is the time:

    “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

    Reply
    1. Ned

      Use DuckDuckGo for an alternate search engine. They do not track you or place ads. Gets about 95% of the same resources as Google without the fancy graphics and the datamining.

      Various free email programs are available to avoid becoming a human commodity whose data is parceled out and whose eyeballs endure ads, specifically tailored to the keywords you used in your last Gmails.

      Reply
      1. Spring Texan

        And in the not-free category I can recommend startmail — you can send both encrypted and anonymous emails or use aliases. I use it to set up social media accounts or an account for yelp reviews, of course you can also send credit card numbers and such too (encrypted).

        Reply
    2. cocomaan

      I used to get RT over my TV bunny ears on 35-4 here in the Philly area. However it’s now been pulled, along with France24 and NHK (Japan).

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Anyone with a Roku can get RT, for the moment at least. There was a brief span of time when it wasn’t streaming, but it’s back.

        Reply
  14. FelicityT

    Re: Jobs Guarantee

    In general it would seem that folks advocating for this have drank too much of the puritan work ethic kool-aid.

    A good chunk of the population should not be engaging in work which is directly linked to some income. Rather much of an individuals work should be divorced from income. And the method to do so is obviously a Universal Basic Income.

    This type of work — divorced from an income — already exists. It comes in many different forms — parenting; family food prep; volunteering; caring for a sick/elderly family member; etc — just currently it is completely uncompensated.

    Promoting and expanding this type of work has numerous benefits including: less resources used; less individuals utilizing roads and other infrastructure (thereby less wear and tear and less maintenance required); more free time for all; greater community engagement; less labor alienation; and so on.

    A jobs guarantee simply further entrenches the unsustainable and unreasonable work & survival paradigm that currently exists.

    We have millions engaging daily in not only useless jobs but ones that directly and indirectly eacerbate the real problems faced by all inhabitants of this planet. A citizenry forced to toil excessively and struggle needlessly to survive is one that is more easily manipulateable and less focused on longer term goals.

    This is the way forward if we desire true progress, a more just and equal world, a kinder and fairer society. And we have the tools necessary to achieve it: the monetarily sovereign federal government which can never run out of dollars.

    An easy criticism, also mentioned in todays link article, is that many will never go for it, will simply see it as some taking from others, being lazy, that they require a job in the traditional sense tohave meaning in their lives, and so on. This is simply the internalized propaganda speaking. It is precisely such attitudes that must be shattered; destroyed; not accepted. Just as one would not accept any of a number of toxic ideas held by generations past.

    Reply
    1. Bugs Bunny

      Felicity – with all due respect and I mean that – IMHO, for the vast majority of people being unemployed sucks – really, really sucks (see e.g. the post from yesterday here). A job allows one to meet people, do things that mean something to others and have dignity in what you do. Plus you get paid for it!

      I get the philosophical and feminist criticism that you touch on but I can’t believe that most people would agree to be stuck at home no matter how fulfilling society eventually agreed that it was.

      Reply
      1. j84ustin

        On the one hand, if I didn’t have to work, I would probably work, albeit it extremely part time. But on the other hand, VOLUNTARY unemployment is something I see as desirable. I understand INvoluntary unemployment is miserable, as today’s post attests. But I don’t see why we can’t have a universal basic income AND a universal jobs guarantee.

        Reply
        1. FelicityT

          Yes, a good point. Having one certainly doesn’t mean the other cannot exist. Public employment in a more just world should increase since more key services and production should be excluded from the corrupting influence of the profit motive. I’m not sure if this type of argument is ever a part of the JG support though, I always see it touted as an employer of last resort or some such. Happy to be proven wrong however.

          Reply
      2. FelicityT

        I’m sorry, I likely wasn’t clear. I always try to avoid essay-length comments but a consequence of doing so is that assumptions will be made that depending on the reader can make the points less clear.

        I was not trying to make an argument for a mass hermit movement. We already have far too little community involvement and engagement, even more is certainly not the solution.

        Thanks for that link, I had missed it. But I don’t think, for me at least, it adds much to the arguments that have not already been said previously.

        It is not surprising in a world where the food has been locked up, access to shelter and healthcare require dollars only accessible through labor, and so on, that indiviiduals see unemployment as a bad thing and experience a whole host of negative emotions. The fact that many (most?) have internalized these negative attitudes and will look at those not engaging in wage labor as parasites certainly doesn’t make things better.

        Unpaid work in many cases fulfills two of the three items you list (meeting others; doing meaningful things). Paid work as it exists today for many only fulfills two of these three items as well (meeting others; getting paid) and depending on the job may only fulfill one (getting paid). And getting paid is really only a desirable goal if all of the tools required for survival exist behind a paywall.

        Personally I feel great pity for those who feel like they require a job (in the traditional sense) to provide meaning in their lives. They are victims of what I view as an extremely toxic ideology, one which inflicts great harm on great numbers. As members of a social species we do require connections to others, do desire meaning, but these desires have been perverted and are being used against us to entrench existing power structures that will have to be brought down if we wish to tackle injustice.

        50 years ago much of this would not have been seen as radical and unlikely as it is seen today. Even the likes of Nixon, Rumsfeld, and Cheney were on board with parts of it, certainly not great leftist icons by any stretch. We must produce less, must engage in degrowth, and this is quite a sensible and equitable way to do so. It is only an additional 50 years of propaganda which has allowed such ideas to be viewed so negatively again.

        Reply
        1. Henry Moon Pie

          Well argued.

          I cannot understand this infatuation some have with wage slavery in a Capitalist economy where so many jobs are either destructive to humanity and the environment or Bullshit Jobs that do nothing more than put people in a supervised situation for 40-60 hours a week. As you point out there is even a very significant cost on human and Earth well-being just through the process of getting to and from these wonderful jobs.

          Until somebody explains to me who is going to decide what these guaranteed jobs are going to be, what workers’ rights will be in those settings and what the penalty will be for not taking one of these jobs, I’m not interested.

          Reply
          1. Toske

            “I cannot understand this infatuation some have with wage slavery”

            The base human desire for the status conferred by being gainfully employed is much stronger than the higher-level desires to feel free or to feel that one’s work actually benefits anything. Of course, the relationship between wage slavery and status is purely cultural and can be changed.

            I agree that a job guarantee could very, very easily be done very, very wrong.

            Reply
    2. marym

      We need to start from the perspective of what work needs to be done, from small local projects and services, to regional and national needs. This would include work that’s not getting done, work that isn’t meeting the stated public purpose, and the kinds of uncompensated care you mention.

      It’s inspiring to look at the long list of projects of the New Deal as a starting point, and update to 21st century needs.

      Then there needs to be a commitment to organize and fund this work, provide appropriate pay, training, workplace protections, and safety net (healthcare, retirement provisions, etc. Workers at every level – scientists, engineers, teachers, manual laborers, artists, professional caregivers… would have an opportunity to make a lasting contribution to their families, communities, the country, and the environment.

      The number of people who would then need a guaranteed income, or a guaranteed but meaningless drudge-work job, would be small, and the discussion would have a very different scope.

      https://livingnewdeal.org
      https://livingnewdeal.org/map/

      Reply
      1. FelicityT

        Thanks for the links Mary, I’ll have to check them out.

        I agree with much of what you say but would like to highlight the one point of disagreement. I don’t think we would ever be in a position where a guaranteed income should not exist. A universal basic income to me would seem to be an irreplaceable foundational part of any just society.

        To not provide such a benefit, or to means test and restrict to a few by whatever metric would seem to defeat one of its primary benefits: providing space and resources to allow individuals to do work whose value can never be properly quantified; work which may or may not be seen as worthy of compensation/doing by a majority of the population.

        Reply
        1. marym

          Yes, it’s important not to consider an UBI as a means tested welfare program. As you suggest, it should be based on a better vision for a just society, the common good, and our mutual obligations. I have no idea what that design would be, of course!

          However, if we start with the first question being “what kind of work needs to be done” and answer that with, say, universal healthcare, publicly funded college, public transportation, social services …. we all have our lists…. then the answer to how much personal income is needed for a basic, decent life is much more manageable.

          Reply
    3. Jef

      If we ever do have some form of basic income it will be given out in order to continue payments to the rentier class/extractive economy.

      Reply
    4. Saddam Smith

      Absolutely.

      An anecdote from Germany from today’s papers: A recently widowed man placed an ad on a wall in a supermarket asking to join some family somewhere this Christmas now that he’s all alone. A woman took the ad home, blanked out the name and number and posted on Facebook how this sort of loneliness should not be allowed to happen. There is now a hub for widowers and other lonely people to hook up with willing families who are all getting together for Christmas. (The woman who took the ad home is hosting the man who kicked the whole thing off.)

      That’s real work right there. That is social contribution and belonging at its finest. A UBI would allow this sort of work to flower democratically as determined on the ground by local people who know their lives and troubles and potentials intimately.

      Reply
      1. FelicityT

        Both sad and beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

        People want to contribute in truly meaningful ways. The current structures of our societies do nothing but channel these desires into non-socially beneficial endeavors. The focus on competition further severing our real connections to each other and replacing them with business transactions. It is always inspiring to see those willing and/or able to swim against the current.

        Reply
      2. Chris

        Yes, Saddam, but a UBI would (could) not be selective. It would permit psychopathic as as well as benevolent pursuits.

        We sometimes fall into the PLU trap of thinking that the world consists of ‘people like us’. Not all UBI recipients would be NC readers.

        With a jobs guarantee, society can agree in some manner to determine what jobs would be provided, and the social care that Felicity mentioned should be within the scope.

        Reply
        1. FelicityT

          Re: Promoting psychopathic pursuits.

          Isn’t that what we have now, without a UBI?
          UBI certainly won’t usher in some kind of perfect flawless society on its own but it seems to offer far fewer incetives for harming others (humans, non-humans, environments, etc). Under the current setup, if its legal, but morally debatable (or clearly immoral) you’re likely to find enough people to do it (even if they disagree, find it reprehensible, etc) as long as you can pay them because its do that or not eat (or have a home, an education, etc).

          UBI is a tool like a hammer. I could build you a house with it or I could bash your brains in with it. Seems a poor reason to not have hammers though.

          Reply
        2. jrs

          on the other hand there is a very limited number of jobs you actually want psychopaths to do. You certainly don’t want them taking care of grandma. But they would also be sadistic in any management role. Sometimes you don’t even want them as your coworker. It is not so clear that society is better off with them working or not.

          Reply
        3. FelicityT

          Adding to the above…

          I don’t think the type of care and unpaid work I discuss should be directly linked to some sort of income or JG-esque job in all but rare (hopefully) circumstances. It still seems to replace genuine social connection and interaction with a business transaction.

          Though maybe I’m just opening the door to accusations (perhaps ccurate, perhaps not) of being an unrealistic purist.

          Reply
          1. Spring Texan

            Gosh. I agree about nothing’s perfect but would reverse what would be more appropriate now (especially because I think a UBI will only be used to cut all other benefits, but also because so MANY jobs not valued by capitalism desperately need doing).

            Reply
            1. Saddam Smith

              I would swap the word “jobs” for work, assert that any solution whatsoever can be implemented badly (including a JG), and add both that implementing any radical idea is fraught with difficulties and that the transition away from capitalism/perpetual growth – to be healthy and lasting – must include new understandings and cultural definitions of work, value and productivity (among other core concepts). A jobs guarantee just doesn’t do that.

              Reply
              1. FelicityT

                I think this particular thread highlights a limitation of the medium we’re currently interacting via and touches on some themes mentioned by both you an I in this thread.

                We can’t do anything piecemeal. It won’t work and in many cases we simply do not have the time available any longer. But it is extremely hard to craft, disseminate, and debate that vision in a comment forum, even if one had the time, ability, and inclination to do so.

                Reply
      3. Spring Texan

        Well, yes. OTOH some of us single people are very happy we don’t HAVE to join others at Christmas and Thanksgiving, and only do so occasionally or want to. Call me Scrooge but I love my (mostly) alone holidays (though I am, exceptionally, going to a friend’s for Thanksgiving this year, but it’ll be a small party . . . three people)

        Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      Will this ghastly old biddy never shut her pie hole?

      Frankly the pending sexual harassment lawsuit by four women plaintiffs against Hillary’s consort “Bill” strikes one as a shakedown.

      But it’s the kind of bad karma the Clintons attract to themselves by refusing to shut up, go home, and gleefully count their ill-gotten millions.

      Reply
    2. flora

      sigh….
      ‘ “In a couple of places, most notably Wisconsin, I think it had a dramatic impact on the outcome,” Clinton said of voter suppression.” ‘

      Hillary didn’t visit Wisconsin even once during the general election. The Wisc. local Dem party begged her to come visit. They told her it was slipping away.

      She’s a smart woman with huge blind spots.

      The general election for US president is a contest to win 50 geographic territories – states – by votes. (electoral college). It is not a contest like a state primary, where most votes in total in a single geographic territory – a state – win. She ran the general like a primary and she lost. She’s known about the electoral college and the importance of winning states for a long time. And yet, she didn’t visit Wisconsin – a key state – even once. Blind spot.

      Reply
      1. Vatch

        Hillary didn’t visit Wisconsin even once during the general election.

        Absolutely! Her campaign in Michigan was pretty bad, too:

        https://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/michigan-hillary-clinton-trump-232547

        Inexplicably, she spent a lot of time in Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina, and she lost all three. I can see the possibility of winning Ohio and Florida, but North Carolina? Resources wasted in that state should have been redirected to Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. For a discussion see:

        https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/trump-clinton-electoral-college/506306/

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Presidential campaigns appearances aren’t about much except to move potential volunteers to volunteer especially with Hillary Clinton as she’s been around for 25 years. A corpse with a (D) next to its label would get 55 million votes in a Presidential elections.

          North Carolina was won in 2008, but the destruction of the DNC and the to do of OFA not helping work against that hideous proposition the evangelicals pushed caused set the organizing efforts back. Hillary wasn’t the candidate to win, but eyeing North Carolina wasn’t a terrible idea in of itself especially with the young and minority populations which could be organized for other races. Hillary had $1.4 billion to drop after all. The incumbent President can work magic by virtue of being the big cheese.

          Resources are one thing, but a vaguely competent Clinton would be President today. She would be the former President already if she was, so there is a natural incentive to expanding the potential gains especially in a place like NC. Yes, resources were wasted in safe states and safe districts with no potential for future statewide gains.

          Reply
      2. Dita

        That’s a gentle way to put it, blind spot. “Delusion” and “hubris” are the words I favor in relation to her. It was the longest campaign cycle I can remember and she couldn’t be bothered with the Wisconsin etc beyond using these states as pass throughs for the cash. Words may fail me, but Hillary’s backhoe of bullshit trundles on…

        Reply
  15. Enquiring Mind

    The blockchain story makes me think of scene in the movie The Matrix where humans (ab ovo) are grown in pods on towers for their electricity-generating potential, and then flushed like the character Neo if there is any short-circuit or other fault. When every bit of humanness is extracted via blockchain or whatever other neo-liberal hellscape mechanism, what humanity is left?

    Blockchain to me seems like an endgame of some extraction of what economists used to call consumer or economic surplus (e.g., all that Uber-able equity in your wasting asset car, all that spare time to spend on hold in healthcare crapification exercises) expanded to sweep in anything that could be sought by humans to acquire or enjoy. The nasty flipside is inclusion of anything that humans might pay to avoid, for example, how much would you pay in cash or in kind to not have something bad occur.

    “Say, nice life ya got there, shame if anything was ta happen.”

    Reply
    1. Ned

      Here’s a real howler from that article:

      “Elsewhere in dystopian blockchain fiction, here is a story about doomsday preppers who are hoarding bitcoins against the apocalypse.”

      So how does bitcoin work in a long term power failure again? I’d say cashing in those bitcoins and buying some good hand tools and open pollinated vegetable seeds would be a better hoard.

      Reply
  16. Antoine LeBear

    To fill up the Big Brother Is Watching You Watch section, we have two great candidates today:
    Google collects Android users location even with location services turned off
    Basically, Google had an experiment: collect all location data of all android users since January 2017, and they promised to cut it as soon as it was reported. They pinky swear it was not stored (not the raw data anyway). I’m guessing the experiment was to know how long they could get away with the surveillance, and also lots of fun stuff with billions of tracking data. That settles it: my next phone will not have a GPS.

    Next we have this:
    Session replay scripts are everywhere
    Session-replay script is the new name for keyloggers. Well, and mouse movement logger. It’s a script usually installed by a third-party for advertisement tracking/site enhancement purposes that records everything you type and do on a site. Supposedely to help site owners identify confusing pages etc. No doubt it’s used for tracking and data is resold extensively or requested by three-letters agencies, but also no doubt Facebook has that for all its users (remember if you are logged into facebook almost every sites has a script loaded from Facebook for “sharing” purposes that will track you too). I know some years ago it was revealed Facebook tracks all you enter in the login box, so for sure they expanded this to encompass the entire site. And with these “session-replay” scripts, the entire web.
    News you can use: the latest Firefox browser has a feature called First-Party Isolation that should get rid of those scripts (to be confirmed).

    Reply
    1. Grebo

      my next phone will not have a GPS

      As I understand it Google was tracking cell towers in your vicinity not GPS, so your next phone should have no phone in it.

      Reply
  17. Alex

    Re Job Guarantee, I wonder has anyone analysed the effects of such a program on migration. The first country that implemented a JG would find itself a magnet for economic immigrants and it would have to deal with them somehow. Accepting them and granting them JG rights would be obviously problematic. Accepting them without granting them JG would produce a two-caste society. Not accepting them isn’t easy and would require pretty tough measures

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      Elsewhere in Africa:

      In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Somalia against an al-Shabaab camp on Tuesday, Nov. 21 at approximately 10:30 a.m. local Somalia time, killing more than 100 militants.

      https://www.africom.mil/media-room/pressrelease/30111/u-s-conducts-airstrike-in-support-of-the-federal-government-of-somalia

      Later we’ll find out how many of the hundred “militants” were women, kids and old folks. Angered relatives of the deceased will sign up in droves to fight the yankee occupiers … as they should.

      Reply
  18. Rates

    “Tech companies behave this way because most employees are young and haven’t worked anywhere else and because the behavior reflects the character of the founder. If the boss tells you to beat up customers and partners and it’s your first job out of college, then you beat up customers and partners because that’s the only world you know.”

    So all those education is useless then. Basically nothing can save us. Monkeys will be monkeys forever.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      ‘Those education is useless.’

      Lack of life experience.

      Fool me once…

      Some of us learn after one time. Not all of us, on all encounters, though…

      Learning never stops. The young, though, are most vulnerable.

      That’s why it’s an interesting strategy to go after ‘young voters.’ Especially, when you can’t keep existing customers (i.e. past believers) happy.

      Young voters and new comers (from other countries).

      We have to ask why certain politicians go after them, these newbies, and ignore decades-long loyal voters.

      Reply
  19. Andrew Watts

    RE: Amazon launches a cloud service for US intelligence agencies

    Yeah, we already knew that. Does anybody else think it’s funny that the Pentagon was collecting comments from Youtube videos for the PlayStation 4 game The Division for it’s open source intelligence program?! Madness!

    Open Source intelligence (OSINT) is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Nor is it as invasive to privacy as other forms of collection. There is a huge disparity in the noise-to-signal ratio but it consists of random people and various sources who voluntarily post stuff on the internets.

    But that doesn’t mean they aren’t almost totally reliant on it.

    Reply
  20. Yves Smith

    Dear patient readers,

    I apologize for ripping out a thread in which one Alf bitched about comments and also left bogus e-mail addresses. This is the second time in two days. That leads to automatic blacklisting and expungement. Unfortunately, when we have nested comments, we have to delete all follow-on comments too or the nesting breaks down for all later comments to the post. I am sorry that we had to remove unoffending and even helpful comments to deal with a persistent problem commentor.

    Reply

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