2:00PM Water Cooler 12/13/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Net Neutrality

“HOW TO BREAK THE INTERNET” [Battle for the Net]. Not really: “Net neutrality affects everyone who uses the Internet. This protest is for all of us. Here’s a big list of creative ways to “Break the Internet” for the 48 hours before the FCC vote. Go wild and Tweet every 10 minutes until the FCC vote, change your job on LinkedIn to “Defending Net Neutrality” or say you’re ‘Married to the Open Internet’ on Facebook. Do whatever you can to get *everyone’s* attention and drive phone calls to Congress.”

Get access to everything…


“‘Investment Facilitation for Development’ is a Trojan Horse for Investment Rules in WTO, Say Civil Society Advocates” [Public Citizen]. “”Investment is called a ‘Singapore issue’ because its inclusion in the WTO was rejected at the Singapore ministerial in 1996 for a simple reason that still applies today: foreign investment is not trade, so foreign investment rules don’t belong in the WTO. The Multilateral Agreement on Investment in the OECD died in 1998. A new push to negotiate on investment in the WTO was rejected for lack of explicit consensus at the Cancun ministerial in 2003. Now they are trying to re-legitimise the discredited international investment regime using the Trojan Horse of “investment facilitation” for “development” in the WTO. They say it won’t include market access, investor protection and ISDS. But once investment is on the WTO agenda they are bound to reappear.”



“Longtime friendship with Joe Biden pays off for Jones in Senate election” [NBC]. He’s running.


“10 Thoughts After the Alabama Senate Election” [Inside Elections]. One nugget: “The last Democrat to win a Senate race in Alabama was Sen. Richard Shelby in 1992, and he’s now the state’s senior senator as a Republican.” But ’twas a famous victory. Close to the present day: “In the longer term, it puts Democrats one seat closer to the majority in 2019. It was also the most difficult seat of the three-seat gain Democrats need, considering the party has better takeover opportunities in Nevada and Arizona next year. They still have to run the table for a majority, but it’s now easier with the special election victory in Alabama.”


The World Jones Made:

“Democrats now have miraculously added a Senate seat that, truth be told, they have no business having, and it’s one they do not have to defend next year” [Larrry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. Lots of good detail on the electorate here.

“I got this” (1):

“I got this” (2):

“I got this” (3):

As always, beware of monocausal explanations. From the FInancial Times, “Trump suffers setback in Alabama Senate election”:

Immediately after the result, Mr Trump congratulated Mr Jones on a “hard fought victory” but said on Twitter that write-in votes — which totalled 1.7 per cent — had been a “very big factor”.

Ahead of the election, Richard Shelby, a popular Republican who holds the other Alabama Senate seat, urged voters not to back Mr Moore and to write in the name of another prominent Republican rather than vote for either party’s candidate.

“The GOP establishment got behind the deeply unpopular Strange and even convinced President Trump to support him. McConnell’s SuperPAC spent more than $10 million to get him to the runoff, which he lost to Roy Moore” [Washington Examiner]. If not for this interference, it is very likely that Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., a conservative congressman from northern Alabama, would have beaten Moore in the primary runoff. One can thus attribute Moore’s nomination and his defeat as a result of the D.C. establishment trying to pick Alabama’s next senator instead of letting Alabamians do it themselves. And the Republican establishment’s culpability goes even beyond that. Even before the sexual misconduct allegations surfaced against him, Moore was an unpopular and highly controversial figure in Alabama. If even he was able to win a primary by default simply by running against the Washington GOP, that suggests the Washington GOP is doing something wrong.”

* * *

“Sources say Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to be named U.S. Senator to replace Al Franken on Wednesday” [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]. “In selecting Smith, the governor is choosing one of his most trusted advisers and someone who has worked for years traveling the state and building relationships with influential DFLers and business leaders. Smith was Dayton’s first chief-of-staff after careers at General Mills, Planned Parenthood and the city of Minneapolis, where she was chief-of-staff to former Mayor R.T. Rybak.”

Tax “Reform”

“Doug Jones’s victory in the Alabama Senate election Tuesday night does not change prospects for the Republican tax bill, said Brian Gardner of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods in a note Wednesday. ‘We expect the tax bill will probably be passed by Congress before Christmas,’ Gardner said. He noted Jones won’t be sworn in until the Senate receives certification from Alabama. Alabama’s secretary of state estimates certification will be between Dec. 26 and Jan. 3. The election ‘should not impact the tax bill unless some other factor(s) derail the tax bill and push the issue into 2018,’ Gardner said” [MarketWatch]. Dunno. An even tighter margin, even if in the next Congress, has to affect the sausage-making.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Was the Heated 2016 Democratic Primary Rigged for Debbie Wasserman Schultz?” [Alternet]. “Now new evidence of original ballots being destroyed [in 2016’s Wasserman Schultz v. Canova v. and cast ballots not matching voter lists calls into question the results of that election.” Detail: “After almost a year of wrangling with the Supervisor of Elections’ office, we were allowed a ballot inspection on November 1st and 2nd. We arrived to find that there were no actual ballots to be inspected. The county instead insisted on showing us digital scans of ballots. In the subsequent court hearing they admitted they destroyed the originals.” That smells, as Nomiki Konst would say.

“How the GOP Can Hang on to the Working Class” [The American Conservative]. “Conservatism is evolving from its post-World War II origins. Republicans witnessed last year how Trump’s voting base had shifted towards expanded health care access, crackdowns on monopolistic sectors, tax increases for the wealthy, and a prudent foreign policy. They maintain a traditional conservative disposition on social issues, but their economic outlook is more in alignment with the New Deal era than the Republican Revolution of 1994. Preserving this coalition will require an inclusive approach. Working-class regions are geographically and culturally diverse, ranging from Appalachian villages to poor city neighborhoods. Republicans must compassionately respond to white senior citizens who cannot retire, Latino small business owners who struggle to finance their dreams, and African-American families in failing urban school districts.” Let me know how that works out…

“Household Financial Distress and Voter Participation” [William Benedict McCartney, SSRN]. From the abstract: “[H]ighly leveraged homeowners, a ten percent decline in local house prices decreases voter participation by two percentage points. Furthermore, homeowners, especially highly leveraged homeowners, are significantly more affected by house price declines than their renter-neighbors. Back of the envelope calculations suggest that mortgage distress can explain approximately 500,000 abstentions in the 2012 general election.”

“Austerity and the rise of the Nazi party” [Gregori Galofré-Vilà, Christopher M. Meissner, Martin McKee, David Stuckler, NBER]. From the abstract: “Depending on how we measure austerity and the elections we consider, each 1 standard deviation increase in austerity is associated with a 2 to 5 percentage point increase in vote share for the Nazis. Consistent with existing evidence, we find that unemployment rates were linked with greater votes for the Communist party…. The coalition that allowed a majority to form government in March 1933 might not have been able to form had fiscal policy been more expansionary.” Important for the next recession.

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of December 8, 2018: “Purchase applications for home mortgages fell by a seasonally adjusted 1 percent in the December 8 week, while applications for refinancing declined 3 percent. Unadjusted, the purchase index fell 6 percent in the week, putting it 10 percent above the level in the same week a year ago” [Econoday].

Consumer Price Index, November 2017: “Higher gasoline prices gave a superficial boost to the CPI headline which managed to meet expectations with a 0.4 percent November gain yet when excluding energy and also food, the core comes up 1 tenth short of Econoday’s consensus and inched only 0.1 percent higher” [Econoday]. “Inflation is just lying around, not getting much push from wages in what is an increasing anomaly of this expansion. Yet however soft inflation remains, the labor market appears to be at full employment which gives Federal Reserve policy makers little choice but to raise rates at today’s FOMC.”

Commodities: “According to the [Glencore-commissioned CRU] study as early as 2020, when [Electric Vehicles (EVs)] would still make up only 2% of new vehicle sales, related metal demand already becomes significant, requiring an additional 390,000 tonnes of copper, 85,000 tonnes of nickel and 24,000 tonnes of cobalt” [Mining.com]. “Based on an EV market share of less than 32% in 2030, forecast metal requirements are roughly 4.1m tonnes of additional copper (18% of 2016 supply). The move away from gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles would need 56% more nickel production or 1.1m tonnes compared to 2016 and 314,000 tonnes of cobalt, a fourfold increase from 2016 supply.”

Energy: “An explosion in Austria highlights the thin band of infrastructure used for natural gas distribution. The blast at Austria’s largest import hub left one person dead and reverberated across Europe…, triggering a state of emergency in Italy and the highest gas prices in 3 years in the U.K. Almost a third of Italy’s supply flows through the hub, and the explosion compounded existing gas-supply concerns in the U.K., coming just a day after a major supplier said it was shutting down an important section of a Scottish pipeline” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “There’s hardly any slack in the slack season at U.S. ports heading toward the end of the year. Southern California’s big seaports are reporting an unusually strong late-season surge in imports.., a sign that retailers boosted by strong consumer sales are restocking inventories at a rapid pace to tap into the resurgent sales demand” [Wall Street Journal]. “Experts say the late surge is being driven by accelerating e-commerce growth, which is driving a big increase in airfreight and ocean shipments across the Pacific. Trade data group Panjiva Inc. says U.S. seaports overall saw a 5.6% year-over-year gain in volume last month. But the growth was far stronger at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together were up 10.6% from last year. More important, their imports jumped 8.4% from October to November to levels closer to the peak season. The containers are pushing more goods to road and rail distribution networks, and to consumers that the retailers hope are still in a buying mood.”

Shipping: “The [Port of Los Angeles’s] November volumes were helped by last-minute shipments of holiday merchandise, as well as by poor weather, which forced some vessels originally scheduled to call the port in October to delay their arrivals until November, according to Phillip Sanfield, a port spokesman” [DC Velocity].

Shipping: “Last year, 185,000 teu were moved by rail to Europe on 1,800 trains and, according to projections from the Chinese government [hmm], this will grow to 5,000 trains in 2020” [The Loadstar]. “More recently there have been allegations that the leadership in Beijing is thinking of cutting subsidies for the [Belt & Road] programme, which would have serious ramifications for users of the service.”

Shipping: “Declaration on shipping emissions signed by 35 nations in Paris” [Splash 247]. “The declaration states shipping must set a level of ambition for the sector that is compatible with that of the Paris Agreement, including a peak on emissions in the short-term and then reducing them to neutrality towards the second half of this century.”

Infrastructure: “AT&T Launches Broadband Over Power Line Project, a Threat to Traditional Broadband” [247 Wall Street]. “The result of success would bear fruit in several ways. Among these is that remote areas that do not have broadband would have access to high-speed internet. This includes, in particular, rural areas and other places that have never been wired or do not have wireless broadband access. More important to the telecom and cable industries, their multibillion investments in wireline and wireless broadband could be eroded by a new form of technology that would be cheap to deploy and, perhaps consequently, less expensive for customers.” I hate to seem paranoid, but the article does mention that this idea has been around “for decades,” and so my first thought was that this was Net Neutrality-related PR.

The Bezzle: “South Korea considers cryptocurrency tax as regulators grapple with ‘speculative mania'” [Reuters]. “In Seoul, after an emergency meeting on Wednesday, South Korea’s government said it will consider taxing capital gains from trading of virtual coins and will also ban minors from opening accounts on exchanges, according to a statement obtained by Reuters ahead of its official release. To be eligible, exchanges in South Korea will need to uphold investor protection rules and disclose all bid and offer quotes.”

The Bezzle: “The voracious appetite for new cryptos, in one mesmerizing graphic” [MarketWatch]. Musical interlude

The Bezzle: “Review Amazon wants a key to your house. I did it, and I regret it” [Los Angeles Times]. “But make no mistake, the $250 Amazon Key isn’t just about stopping thieves. It’s the most aggressive effort I’ve seen from a tech giant to connect your home to the internet in a way that puts itself at the center….. The good news is nobody ran off with my boxes — or burgled my house. The bad news is Amazon missed four of my in-home deliveries and charged me (on top of a Prime membership) for gear that occasionally jammed and makes it awkward to share my own door with people, apps, services — and, of course, retailers — other than Amazon.” That’s not a bug….

The Bezzle: Apple in the news again:

The Bezzle: “In February, months before the #MeToo movement erupted, I ran an experiment in which I sexually harassed Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Google Home to document how these digital personal servants—whose names and voices are already feminized—peddle stereotypes of female subservience, putting their “progressive” parent companies in a moral predicament” [Quartz], “‘I’d blush if I could’ is not the response you’d expected to hear when you tell Siri she’s a slut—but it is.” So that’s how Apple is training children…

The Bezzle: “Meet the man trying to catch Google search at its worst” [The Outline]. “There is one group working on a concept for a system that would establish a record of search engine results. The idea is similar to the Internet Archive, which downloads periodic copies of websites, but more complicated since search engines display different results depending on the time as well as the location and history of the user. The solution for tracking such a complicated system is described in a prospectus for the Sunlight Society, founded by a group of 20 researchers under the banner of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT), a nonprofit in Vista, California that conducts research in psychology and tech…. ‘This is about new methods of influence that have never existed before, and that are affecting the decisions of billions of people every day without their knowledge, and without leaving a paper trail,’ said Robert Epstein, a 64-year-old researcher, book author, and former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today.” Sounds like a phishing equilibrium….

Pensions: “According to [Fitch Ratings] report, Illinois’ unfunded pension liabilities amounted to 22.8% of residents’ personal income at the end of fiscal year 2016, compared to a median 3.1% for all states and 1% for Florida, the least burdened state” [Pensions & Investment].

The Fed: “The growing use of the Web-driven comparison shopping that consumers are doing on their smartphones is starting to have a big impact on the basic measures of the economy…, adding new complications to the Federal Reserve’s decisions on interest rates. The problem is that consumer knowledge is keeping a lid on prices that retailers can charge, and that’s become a growing factor holding down inflation in advanced economies” [Wall Street Journal]. “Central bankers want inflation to rise to an annual rate of around 2%, considered a healthy level. But recent research suggests online price competition may be subtracting as much as a tenth of a percentage point from core inflation.”

The Fed: “Expect the Fed to Stand By Its 2018 Outlook” [Tim Duy, Bloomberg]. “The Fed is likely to continue to point toward another 75 basis points of tightening in 2018 when it releases the next Summary of Economic Projections. To be sure, the minutes of the last FOMC meeting painted a dovish outlook as participants fretted about the inflation picture. But these concerns need to be weighed against the outlook for growth, which improved throughout 2017, and the implications of that accelerated growth on unemployment.” We’ll soon know!

Five Horsemen: “The Fab Five sputter as the broad market sails higher on end-of-year autopilot” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Dec 13

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 62, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Dec 12 at 4:36pm.


“World’s third-largest insurer to divest from oil sands and pipelines” [Mining.com]. “AXA SA, the third-largest insurer in the world, announced today that it will divest about $822 million from the main oil sands producers and associated pipelines, and will stop further investments in these businesses. The move could affect companies such as TransCanada, Enbridge and Kinder Morgan. In a media statement, the French giant said its decision is based on the fact that oil sands are an extremely carbon-intensive form of energy and a serious cause of environmental pollution.”

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Surveillance firms spied on campaign groups for big companies, leak shows” [Guardian]. “British Airways, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Porsche are among five large companies that have been identified as having paid corporate intelligence firms to monitor political groups that challenged their businesses, leaked documents reveal. The surveillance included the use of infiltrators to spy on campaigners.”

Neoliberal Epidemics

“A Nasty, Nafta-Related Surprise: Mexico’s Soaring Obesity” [New York Times]. “[T]he Ruizes have become both consumers and participants in an extraordinary transformation of the country’s food system, one that has saddled them and millions of other Mexicans with diet-related illnesses. It is a seismic shift that some nutritionists say has an underappreciated cause: free trade.”

“OPINION: For-profit financing of health care is bad for our nation’s health” [Citizen Times]. “Humans have a very elaborate and effective physical and emotional system for dealing with life threatening stress which is known as the “Fright or Flight” response. The downside of this system is that when fear and anxiety become chronic and unrelenting, the chemicals produced begin to break down normal tissues and we are more likely to become ill, both physically and emotionally. The result: The “status quo” profit driven financing of health care is literally causing our citizens physical and emotional illness, driving up the their need for services which they already know they cannot afford.”

Guillotine Watch

“We finally have proof that visionary founders make the worst CEOs” [Quartz]. ” Firms led by the people who founded them were 9.4% less productive, on average, and on average had consistently lower management scores—which typically rose once the founder-CEO was replaced.”

Class Warfare

“Executives in Politics” [The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation]. “[B]usinessman politicians generate large benefits for their firms. We find that an average firm in our sample adds more than $390 million to its stock value around the time when its executive wins a federal election. Furthermore, some of these firm-level benefits accrue to executives directly, via personal stockholdings in their firms. An average businessman politician in our sample experiences a more than $540 thousand increase in the value of his or her holdings upon winning the election. We also find similar effects when Congress passes legislation introduced by former corporate executives. Thus, it appears that the stock market expects businessman politicians to generate large private benefits for their firms (and perhaps for themselves.” Ka-ching.

“Changes proposed by the Department of Labor on Dec. 5 would allow employers to legally pocket tips that servers earn at restaurants. The change, which would repeal part of a 2011 ruling that said employers could not pocket their workers’ tips, is meant to level a growing disparity between what tipped employees like servers make compared with back-of-house employees like cooks. After the changes, employers could take all tips earned by servers and redistribute them to employees that are not tipped” [MarketWatch]. “That sounds like a fair plan, in theory. However, there is no guarantee employers would redistribute pooled tips and critics say economic models show they will likely pocket them instead.”

“IN DEFENCE OF THE LABOUR THEORY OF VALUE” (!) [Stumbling and Mumbling]. “As I approach retirement, however, I’ve begun to change my mind. I think of major expenses in terms of labour-time because they mean I have to work longer. A trip to the vet is an extra fortnight of work; a good guitar an extra month, a car an extra year, and so on. When I consider my spending, I ask: what must I give up in order to get that? And the answer is my time and freedom. My labour-time is the measure of value. This is a reasonable basis for the claim that workers are exploited. To buy a bundle of goods and services, we must work a number of hours a week. But taking all workers together, the hours we work are greater than the hours needed to produce those bundles because we must also work to provide a profit for the capitalist.” Concluding: “By the (low) standards of economic theories, perhaps the LTV isn’t so bad.” Ha.

“Karl Marx was so broke in 1859 he couldn’t afford the postage stamps to mail off his new manuscript, leading the philosopher to lament, ‘I don’t suppose anyone has ever written about ‘money’ when so short the stuff'” [MarketWatch]. “He was probably right about that. However, the most famous book about money written by someone strapped for cash wasn’t ‘Das Kapital’ or ‘The Communist Manifesto.’ It was ‘A Christmas Carol.'” Always good to see literary criticism in MarketWatch! Fun piece, eorth a read.

Class and gender and power:

“Robots are being used to deter homeless people from setting up camp in San Francisco” [Business Insider]. “The K9 robot circling the SF SPCA has drawn mixed responses. Within the first week of the robot’s deployment, some people who were setting up a homeless encampment nearby allegedly “put a tarp over it, knocked it over, and put barbecue sauce on all the sensors,” according to Jennifer Scarlett, president of the SF SPCA.” News you can use!

News of the Wired

“Vast and Protean, Unimaginably Hungry” [blckdgrd]. R.I.P. William Gass.

“Internet protocols are changing” [APNIC]. “The newest change on the horizon is DOH — DNS over HTTP. A significant amount of research has shown that networks commonly use DNS as a means of imposing policy (whether on behalf of the network operator or a greater authority). Circumventing this kind of control with encryption has been discussed for a while, but it has a disadvantage (at least from some standpoints) — it is possible to discriminate it from other traffic; for example, by using its port number to block access. DOH addresses that by piggybacking DNS traffic onto an existing HTTP connection, thereby removing any discriminators. A network that wishes to block access to that DNS resolver can only do so by blocking access to the website as well.” Readers?

* * *
Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, pleas s e place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (RW):

RW writes: “Coastal cholla cactus in San Diego (National City).”

Readers, I’m still running a bit short on plants, although thanks for the photos you have sent so far. Buttoned-up gardens? Fall foliage? Forest fires?! First snow? Those happy snaps from the summer you never had time to look at? Thanks!

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Mark Gisleson

    Neoliberal Gov. Dayton is replacing neoliberal Senator Al Franken with a former Pillsbury executive who has an MBA from Dartmouth.

    I sincerely hope Franken reneges on his promise to resign. This seat will be lost next fall if this goes through. Minnesotans are deeply divided and offered a chance to vote on two Senate seats in one year will almost certainly split their vote, reelecting Klobuchar and whoever the Republicans nominate (assuming it’s not Norm Coleman). Gretchen Carlson or Tim Pawlenty would be, imho, unbeatable as the DFL, like the DNC, does not know how to win elections.

    1. UserFriendly

      The real reason he is picking his Lt. Governor is because the (GOP) president of the state senate automatically gets bumped up to be the new Lt. Governor should she vacate. Which would bring the chamber to 33D, 33R. It isn’t clear if there would be a special election for the vacated state senate seat, but even if their was it isn’t a very competitive seat. it has gone 66:33 Gop:Dem for the last 3 or 4 elections; but we are in wave territory and that could be the only shot at a D trifecta after the 2018 election because while the state house is all up for election in 2018 the senate isn’t till 2020.

      It’s also stupid and risky since Governor Dayton has been battling prostate cancer and if he dies then we would have a GOP trifecta till 2018; which would for sure lead to the state preempting the $15/hour min wage we finally won in Minneapolis… That is if our new republican in DFL drag of a Mayor doesn’t find a way to nix it first on the behest of the developers who donated a few hundred thousand to elect him.

      Even with all that I would have been ok with it if she was just gonna be a placeholder… But good old Schumer, who leaned on Franken to resign, now is pressuring Dayton to make sure whoever he appoints runs in 2018 to keep the incumbency advantage. Which turned out well for Strange in AL… After all why should the voters get a say in who represents us when we can just have them picked for us. Democracy smockrocy.

  2. nowhere

    Does it make a difference if Siri’s voice is male (which is an easily set option)? Why would Siri be considered childhood training in any sense?

    It can be a very tricky thing to try to program any computer system to respond socially appropriately from the outset, especially with a sticky wicket like natural language processing. But like many things in software, it is an iterative project.

  3. dcblogger

    “Surveillance firms spied on campaign groups for big companies, leak shows” [Guardian]. “British Airways, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Porsche are among five large companies that have been identified as having paid corporate intelligence firms to monitor political groups that challenged their businesses, leaked documents reveal. The surveillance included the use of infiltrators to spy on campaigners.”

    I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that these groups could sue the corporations in question on Racketeering charges in a conspiracy to violate their rights under the first amendment.

      1. todde

        there are provisions for when private entities act like States to deprive you of your rights.\

        Probably doesn’t fit in this case tho

      2. Rosario

        Yeah, that is kinda the problem today. The first world state is becoming less a threat in that department along with many other human rights issues. Our legal protections are becoming antiquated. Maybe it is time for us to demand a separation of capital and state.

  4. petal

    Funny, in ski racing, DFL had another meaning(dead familyblog last). Now every time I see “DFL” (like above), that original meaning pops into my head as I read. Had to look up the proper meaning.
    And dem friends are crowing like mad today about Jones beating Moore. Cheers.

  5. diptherio

    Re: anti-homeless K9 robot

    Well, better a bot getting covered in BBQ than a hapless, underpaid, security guard I suppose :-D

    1. Marco

      If I was homeless in SF and continually harassed by a robot i would be smearing more than just barbecue sauce on those sensors.

      1. nowhere

        In another story on this they mentioned other angry citizens had smeared bodily secretions onto the robot’s sensors.

  6. diptherio

    Apologies if I posted this already:

    Credit Union Sues Donald Trump to Save the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

    December 5, 2017 – This afternoon, the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP (ECBA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union against Donald Trump and Michael Mulvaney. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan.

    The lawsuit challenges President Trump’s recent, illegal takeover of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), in which he installed his at-will White House employee, Michael Mulvaney, to be Acting Director of the CFPB. The CFPB protects millions of Americans from unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices in the financial marketplace. Mr. Mulvaney has called the CFPB a “sad, sick joke.”

    “We support the CFPB as a protector of our low income members’ financial rights, and fear that the appointment of an Acting Director beholden to the White House could result in upheaval and ultimate dissolution of this critical agency,” said Linda Levy, CEO of the Credit Union. “Having experienced the devastation that the 2008 mortgage crisis wreaked on our low income members, we need the CFPB to protect communities targeted by financial predators.”

    1. Alex Morfesis

      The cfpb is a sham…it does not protect consumers…the occ has used the cfpb as a hand wave to approve bank mergers for rules they have yet to create and pass on properly…the fed and occ used cfpb refusal to enforce discrimination laws to hand wave two mergers(2013 & 2017) by a mew york city area bank that has the wonderful history of not being able to find one black person to ask for a home loan in the bronx…not even an application, but they found plenty of white folks in Pennsylvania well outside their branch bank area..even some loans in California…

      HMDA data easily shows discrimination, but it appears occ has taken the position if cfpb does not say discrimination exists the underlying facts are irrelevant.

  7. Livius Drusus

    I thought this was an interesting article. Apologies if this has been posted on NC already.

    A stunning 33% of job seekers ages 55 and older are long-term unemployed, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. The average length of unemployment for the roughly 1.2 million people 55+ who are out of work: seven to nine months. “It’s emotionally devastating for them,” said Carl Van Horn, director of Rutgers University’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, at a Town Hall his center and the nonprofit WorkingNation held earlier this year in New Brunswick, N.J.

    Full article: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobs-are-everywhere-just-not-for-people-over-55-2017-12-08

    1. Wukchumni

      Starting when I was mid centenarian, AARP began sending me luggage tags, and pleading with me to join the club. I must’ve gotten a dozen of them, and am wondering when they’ll get around to sending me round trip air trip tickets, if they want me to go on a voyage somewhere?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          For their faults, they have defended Social Security and Medicare against Shrub and Obama and helped turn both into lame duck Presidents shortly after their reelections.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yet another neoliberal epidemic, since the “emotional devastation” no doubt translates into real health effects (embodiment).

      “Emotional devastation” sounds empathetic, and may even be so, but its disempowering to leave the matter at f-e-e-l-ings, and not go on to mordity and mortality (unless you’re a liberal wonk yammering about “economic anxiety,” in which case it’s not empathetic in the slightest but a mere piece of special pleading).

  8. el_tel

    re: Net neutrality

    Your example is a classic subset of a choice experiment (called, somewhat misleadingly conjoint analysis in north america). It won McFadden the “nobel” (note quotes) in 2000 and is used very successfully in various fields, when done properly.

    It’s a shame it’s not a subject within the purview of NC (as YI have been told) but which I’m going to discuss with some “mainstream” UK NC commenters in the new year (as applied to a different topic – BREXIT)….however (to play devil’s advocate), I *do* understand that the NC team have effectively 28 hours’ worth of work to fit into a day – you guys can’t cover every angle on everything but I’m just glad I got a chance to make contact with some people who want to discuss it more with respect to a(nother) big issue.

    1. el_tel

      And to expand on this – work of those of us who have worked in choice experiments in the last 10 years means I can answer questions like the following:

      “What exactly, are you willing to pay for sites w, x, y, z per month at your optimum ISP speed?” (With all others slowed to be 10% speed)

      I could do this for YOU as an individual. Companies die for this kind of data but (generally) don’t realise it is (now) collectable.

  9. voteforno6

    Re: Broadband over Power Lines

    I wonder if this is similar in concept to powerline networking that already exists within homes. If so, then there might be something to it. After all, it’s just copper.

    1. foghorn longhorn

      Most power lines are actually aluminum, the telephone cables are twisted copper.
      Seem to recall talk of broadband over power lines some 20 years ago, seems mighty slow getting deployed.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Two friends of mine started a company to do this 15 years ago (one of them has a patent on the technology, same guy has a couple of patents on cable modems, fwiw). They were able to get some funding, but the problems just never seemed to go away. The bare cabling acts as an antenna, radiating all over the frequency spectrum to the point where active notching is required to appease one community or another (amateur radio buffs are quite opposed to broadband over power, for example). The data rates aren’t that impressive over distance. Much like DSL, the longer the line, the lower the data rate, so lots of repeaters have to be installed (and powered). Installing the repeaters, as well as having to bridge around transformers can be expensive as well. In the end, 4G/5G is arguably a better way to go for rural communities.

        1. Yan

          Thank you for the explanation. I think PLC is being thought of for internet of s*** networks in cities, along with some sort of hybrid solution be bridge those pesky transformers. Also, some utilities are developing insulated cables that would reduce interference and distortion. There is a test being made for broadband to the Amazon region doing this.

  10. Jean

    “Here’s a big list of creative ways to “Break the Internet” for the 48 hours before the FCC vote….”

    Let’s get serious folks. Spread to word to all your uninvolved friends and people you meet that if they watch Netflix, Amazon or other forms of entertainment, to and including gaming, they are going to be presented by Comcast or AT&T etc with either
    A. Paying a seriously higher monthly fee
    B. Atrociously slow connections
    C. The opportunity to watch exclusively Comcast or AT&T originated content at the original low price+the movie access cost.

    I repeat, you will not be able to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime videos without paying way more.

    1. Summer

      And AT&T’s bid for Time Warner is still in the works.
      Along with Disney buying Fox Entertainment content.
      So I would expect other studio mergers to make them favored by ISPs for content or additional content.

      The only thing that has me wondering is this…Netflix and Amazon claim they expect to continually invest billions in content. That program is still young.

      The big studios developed their enormous over decades of investing. Some studios are around 100 years old.

    2. Code Name D

      The story of killing the goose that laid the golden egg comes to mind. I still remember when congress ditched slandered def for all digital TV. The thinking was they would make billions replacing the inventory of old TV sets with new digital units and receivers.

      It didn’t happen like they hoped it would. They did sell, because consumers had no choice. But no where near the numbers they were hoping. But many just switched to cable. But most just gave up the habit all together. The networks have been struggling ever sense.

      If they go through with this, I suspect many will just abandon the vices all together. No one seems to like facebook any way.

  11. Synoia

    AT&T Launches Broadband Over Power Line Project…

    AirGig is a first-of-its-kind system. It could one day deliver internet speeds well over 1 gigabit per second

    If pigs had wings they could fly.

    The power companies won’t deploy this technology and take the revenue? This seems foolish for AT&T.

  12. JCC

    “AT&T Launches Broadband Over Power Line Project, a Threat to Traditional Broadband”

    The idea has been around for decades,and has been squashed for a number of reasons, the primary ones being that it is not as reliable as a dedicated line and it is extremely noisy from an RF (radio frequency) perspective. In other words it has a tendency to add lots of noise to standard radio comms such as police, fire, amateur radio, and other types of radio communications.

  13. allan

    “Austerity and the rise of the Nazi party” —>>>

    More Economic Mistakes Made By The Obama Administration [PPP]

    … Just a few years after bungling the stimulus, the Obama administration agreed to a sequester arrangement in 2011 that promised to slash government spending by $1.2 trillion between 2013 and 2023. This agreement was struck at a time when the black unemployment rate was an eye-watering 15.7%. By the time the austerity plan hit in 2013, black unemployment was still north of 12%. …

    Those who say Obama did a good job of managing the economy often say things like “Obama had 8 straight years of month-over-month job growth.” This is supposed to be an impressive statistic, but when viewed correctly, it is really an indictment of his economic mismanagement and the excruciatingly slow recovery it delivered. Good economic policy would have resulted in massive job gains over a brief period of time after Obama came into office followed by fairly stagnant job numbers after full employment was reached. Instead, the Obama economy only delivered modest job gains each month, so modest in fact that after 8 years in office, we were still not at full employment. …

    1. cnchal

      You are describing the balance sheet, and wages are accounted for on the income and expense statement as expenses. The answer to your question is, no.

      The criteria used to define value is a source of the conflicting thoughts. What is value, in economic terms? Is it possible to define it only in economic terms?

      Endless debate, and fuel for an array of bullshit jawbs.

      Stumbling and Mumbling’s version of looking at his own value criteria and deciding what his labor is worth in terms of what it will buy brings the economy to a personal level, and thinking in terms of daily expenses and income, and where you “create” first, the value for your subsistence, and then the surplus value for capital can be confusing, enraging, or enlightening.

  14. Wukchumni

    The Geminids will peak in the wee hours tonight, with as many as 120 every 60 minute stanza. I find that a hot tub is the perfect platform to watch the action overhead.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks for the reminder.

      Only 200 years old, according to Space dot com.

      “Look to the southwestern sky for the radiant.”

  15. visitor

    The problem is that consumer knowledge is keeping a lid on prices that retailers can charge, and that’s become a growing factor holding down inflation in advanced economies

    I thought that this was exactly the virtuous, automatic process supposed to take place in perfect markets where consumers, armed with complete knowledge, hunt down for the lowest unit prices and bring the supply-demand curves to equilibrium.

    And now it is a problem? Markets are a problem because they are operating towards an optimum in textbook fashion???

    No thanks whatsoever for confirming, again, that it is about a game of “heads I win, tails you lose” and not about a well-functioning economy, not even according to some doctrine.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Ever since the era of 3 percent CPI inflation and 5 percent T-bill rates ended a decade ago, the Fed has been in a tizzy. They quintupled their balance sheet, but nothing happened to the CPI (although asset prices went parabolic).

      Low inflation is a problem for central planners because it has defied their efforts to raise it — just as the tides maliciously refused to obey King Canute. Doesn’t inflation know who we ARE?

    1. ChrisPacific

      Barkley says that Democrats need to do better for black people and poor people. Perez agrees that the Democrats have sometimes taken voters for granted, especially in communities of color, and… what was that other thing Barkley said? Rural communities? Oh wait, I know – millennials! Rural communities and millennials! That must have been it.

  16. dcrane

    Humans have a very elaborate and effective physical and emotional system for dealing with life threatening stress which is known as the “Fright or Flight” response.

    They probably mean “fight or flight”.

    1. bob

      Cuomo becoming prez was the only hope New Yorker had get rid of him

      Now, we’re stuck with him. He’s just getting stronger. His father would be jealous of his top to bottom hold on NYS.

  17. Daryl

    > He’s running.

    Having a surfeit of cookie cutter Democrats is probably a good thing for Bernie’s prospects, no? All the Very Serious people will split their votes among the Bidens and Bookers and so forth.

    1. Marco

      Catch his hallmark sensitive-dude-display with Meghan McCain on “The View”? Am I a horrible wretched creature in my old age to find it cringe-worthy? I guess out-of-sight private grief just ain’t gonna get ya noticed these days.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m really tired of Biden milking his grief. It’s the equivalent of McCain’s “straight talk” persona; the press eats it up with a spoon because it lets them write lazy stories.

        1. Julia Versau

          Precisely, Lambert. The preference for sentiment over rationality is like the dominance of identity politics over policy. We’re fed this nonsense daily.

        2. Alex Morfesis

          At the risk of sounding (family blog) evil…beau died the slow death he deserved…he pulled a sham deceptive trade practices act lawsuit against MERS to prevent private parties in Delaware from suing by claiming the usual cover story of “potential criminal charges” to prevent private parties from obtaining useful discovery, then with a nod and a wink, allowed the statutes in Delaware to be adjusted to fix the robo signer problem with the non stock non profit Delaware status of MERS…

          he died too fast…

          should have had a few more years of pain and suffering as the families he allowed to be destroyed with his fiduciary theater will be feeling the stress Biden allowed to fester for generations to come…

          Hey look…I was born evil…
          I just find it (family blog) boring…
          I never said I was a nice guy

  18. The Rev Kev

    Re An explosion in Austria highlights the thin band of infrastructure used for natural gas distribution.

    When I heard this I wondered perhaps if this was sabotage at work. Where the explosion took place was at the worst possible bottleneck at the worst possible tie of the year. If this sounds like tinfoil hat territory, remember that it is documented that the CIA set up a booby trapped piece of software that led to a massive gas line explosion (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1455559/CIA-plot-led-to-huge-blast-in-Siberian-gas-pipeline.html) in Siberia back in 1982 to “disrupt the Soviet gas supply, its hard currency earnings from the West, and the internal Russian economy”. I suppose that now the Russians can argue that the completion of Nord Stream 2 in the Baltic Sea is vital to stop this shortfall happening again.

      1. P Hicks

        There is no witch hunt. Only some long overdue accountability for unacceptable demeaning behavior that should have been called out long ago. I have no doubt that the stories that have been made public recently are only the tip of the iceberg. It amazes me that are still so many clueless men willing to downplay and defend despicable behavior in other men. Apparently we still have a long way to go in eliminating sexist actions and beliefs in our society. I hope this is just the beginning for holding men accountable for behavior that they’ve gotten away with for far, far too long.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s very good information. Now if the Democrats would stop whinging about mean Republicans and make voter registration a 24/7/365 core party function. Of course, that might end up expanding the base, and who wants that? Especially the strategists and the donor class….

  19. Indrid Cold

    regarding The Net generally,

    Ever since AOL people suddenly got dumped in there with those of us who were busy using the net for research and what-all, the push has been to turn the thing into a toothless shopping mall.
    When they opened the network up to those without institutional affiliations, they had to have been annoyed at the propensity for disruption to centers of power that it posed. I’d love to see the “internal record” (as Chomsky likes to put it) on this. But ever since the music industry got it’s butt kicked around in the early 90s, there’s been the full court press to rein in the dionysians and make the whole thing safe for TBTB. Considering how much money the deep state pumped into stuff like Google and Apple and Microsloth, it’s not any wonder that these big boys are working overtime to find new ways to centralize, centralize, centralize.

  20. flora

    Did you think the Equifax hack effects were over and done? Did you freeze your credit reporting after that hack? Do you buy ACA/Obamacare insurance thru the Healthcare.gov website?

    ” Americans have just three days left to enroll in health insurance plans for 2018.

    “But millions who want to enroll in plans under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) for the coming year may be locked out of the Healthcare.gov website if they froze their credit history following the Equifax hack earlier in the year.

    “That’s because Healthcare.gov, where Americans can choose their health insurance plans, uses your credit history to verify your identity.”


    There’s a work around, sort of. Buy why in heaven’s name is this so complicated? Gov website identity verification tied to your private company credit reports? That have been hacked? Requiring fees to freeze and unfreeze to protect one from identity theft? #MedicareforAll

  21. anonymous


    “Time magazine has bestowed its Person of the Year 2017 honor on “The Silence Breakers,” i.e., those who have come forward to allege sexual misconduct….By its action, Time has simply confirmed the fact that the #MeToo movement has the official backing of important portions of the American ruling elite.”

    “….Why has this thoroughly compromised publication decided to honor “The Silence Breakers”?
    As far as some of the more politically sensitive sections of the American ruling class are concerned, the current sexual misconduct scandals have two principal benefits. First, the purge of prominent figures in Hollywood, Washington and elsewhere on the mere say-so of accusers is another step on the road to authoritarian rule and the destruction of elementary democratic rights. Justified for nearly 20 years by the “war on terror” and other “national security” concerns, the assault on constitutionally guaranteed rights is far advanced. Individuals have been detained and tortured, drone missiles launched, “kill lists” drawn up, wars organized, and entire countries devastated without legal authorization and behind the backs of the American population.
    The “gender cleansing” taking place, in which familiar and even popular personalities disappear (literally) overnight, McCarthyite-style, without having the right to defend themselves, often on the basis of anonymous accusations, has to be seen in this anti-democratic framework. One of the aims of the new repression is to create a climate of fear and intimidation. “Sexual predators”—and even “serial daters”!—may be the target at the moment, but in the longer term, the authorities have political dissidents and left-wing opponents of the status quo in their sights….”


    1. sleepy

      I think it’s also a useful tool to distract from the ongoing efforts of nascent political movements to focus on income inequality. Gender equality, practiced within a context of neoliberalism, doesn’t threaten the status quo nearly as much as holistic change aimed at the basic social and economic rot at the heart of our system.

      For example, it’s often been said that the best protection women could have in the workplace would be strong unions. Any dems pushing that?

    2. P Hicks

      Defensive commenters like you and articles like the one you provided a link for just keep pointing out what many women on the left have long known; that men on the left are often just as sexist and unenlightened as right wingers. No, what women have long been forced to endure is not trivial or “a distraction” from “real” issues. It is possible to care about class injustice, war, imperialism, and the treatment of women in our society. They ALL matter.
      Thankfully at least a few men are facing some accountability for their actions. It is long overdue and I hope it will continue.

  22. Wukchumni

    Bitcoin heads towards an ungodly sum
    I fought John Law and John Law won
    I fought John Law and John Law won
    I avoided cybermoney and I had none
    I fought John Law and John Law won
    I fought John Law and John Law won

    I laughed about it and it feels so bad
    Guess my race is run
    It’s the best investment that I ever could have had
    I fought John Law and John Law won
    I fought John Law and John Law won

    Investors armed with monetary apparition ammunition
    I fought John Law and John Law won
    I fought John Law and John Law won
    I had my chance and lost out on the fun
    I fought John Law and John Law won
    I fought John Law and John Law won


  23. Plenue

    “And if Democrats can win in Alabama, we can — and must — compete everywhere.”

    Just have to make sure every opponent is a child rapist. Then the Dems can scrape out a few wins.

    1. djrichard

      Surely there’s a way the dems can convince other states that the only way to redemption is through them.

      1. Eureka Springs

        @ DJ Considering the super majority of Americans are neither pedophiles nor Democrats, thus need redemption like a hole in their head, good luck with that.

        @ Sleepy centrism is 1.5% better than child molestation.

        That’s a keeper!

  24. Paul Cardan

    Marx got a lot of things right, but the Labor Theory of Value (LTV) wasn’t one of them. There are many problems with the theory, perhaps the most important of which is that the theory by itself does not explain commodity exchange ratios – according to Marx himself. He’d written manuscripts for Volume Three of Capital prior to finishing the first edition of Volume One (where the LTV is first introduced), and he’d argued, in what became Volume Three, that commodities in a capitalist society exchange at what he called their prices of production. Prices of production are not labor values. So, he needed a way of deriving prices of production from those values, or, in other words, transforming values into prices of production. His failure to successfully do so led to what has come to be called the transformation problem. There’s over a century of literature on this problem at this point, with numerous Marxists proposing an assortment of solutions. The trouble with all these solutions is that the problem they are meant to solve only exists if we accept the LTV, but the LTV isn’t needed to account for exchange ratios. There’s a very simple way of explaining those ratios that doesn’t rely on the notion that there’s some substance that society as a whole somehow puts into commodities (i.e., the value stuff that’s somehow generated by socially necessary labor time, whatever that is); it doesn’t rely on the armchair theorizing of amateur psychologists (i.e., neoclassical economists) either. This simpler, alternative approach is found in the work of Piero Sraffa. Using this approach, Marx’s basic insight regarding capitalism is actually deepened. The insight is that capital is a social relation. On the Sraffian approach, exchange ratios depend on the manner in which the surplus generated by the entire economy is divided between those who work and those who own. They depend, in other words, on the state of play in class struggle.

      1. Paul Cardan

        Yes, that’s an excellent analogy. Arguably, focusing on relations between things (rather than things considered independently of those relations) is a hallmark of 20th century scientific thought. Function, not substance, as Ernst Cassirer would have said. Not just in physics but in biology and sociology too. Marx was ahead of his time in this regard. But he didn’t go far enough, partly because, like physicists before Riemann, he lacked the requisite mathematics.

  25. knowbuddhau

    Two things about that Neoliberal Epidemics/Citizen Times article on the stress of needing health care you can’t afford even though you pay premiums you also can’t afford for health “coverage” you can’t afford to use, all in the “greatest and most wealthiest country evah.”

    1) Am there, doing that, and yes, it sucks.

    2) There’s a new formulation for the old ‘fight or flight.” IIRC it’s “freeze, flight, or fight,” in order of response likelihood. Couldn’t find where I first learned that. Most are saying it in the wrong order. (And we’re even adding “fright” these days it seems.) And every time it is, another learning opportunity is wasted. Sad.

    Fright or Flight? Huh? Where’s the Fight? What’s wrong with ordering it verbally the way it’s ordered psychophysiologically?

    Also, harrumph.

  26. marym

    WaPo: This poll gave Americans a detailed case for and against the FCC’s net neutrality plan.

    On the eve of a pivotal vote that would deregulate the broadband industry, a fresh survey from the University of Maryland shows that large majorities of Americans — including 3 out of 4 Republicans — oppose the government’s plan to repeal its net neutrality rules for Internet providers.

    The survey by the university’s Program for Public Consultation and Voice of the People, a nonpartisan polling organization, concluded that 83 percent of Americans do not approve of the FCC proposal. Just 16 percent said they approved.

    …rather than asking survey-takers their opinion on net neutrality without much prior context, PPC prepared respondents ahead of time with a policy briefing laying out the case from both sides of the debate. The survey content was reviewed by experts in favor and against the net neutrality rules, including by a government official who represented the administration’s position, according to Steven Kull, PPC’s director.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      RE: Net Neutrality

      Starting with Washington state, it appears that states will have to take the lead in pushing back against the FCC and the feckless feds, as states begin to create standards that ISP’s must meet in order to access state contracts.

      FWIW, Washington state has at least 150,000+jobs that are directly tied to the Internet, and over 10,000+ companies who rely on the Internet. (Every insurance agent, realtor, health clinic, and pharmacy that I deal with has an Internet component of their business. And that doesn’t include public safety or education.)

      Given the constraints on state budgets, having to fork over additional money for fire, police, education, and every other public service to use overpriced telecomm is probably not going to be popular with any governor or state Attorney General.

      From Washington State Gov Inslee’s Medium page:

      Washington’s AG Bob Ferguson, who successfully led opposition to Trump’s Muslim ban, is also helping drive this at the state level.

  27. knowbuddhau

    And on that Market Watch article on DOL changes allowing employers to pool tips. We do that where I work. It works great.

    Upton Sinclair applies, though: it pays for my position as Chief Ambiance Officer aka Janitor Extraordinaire. Still, it really is better to give all the cleaning to one person, especially if that person happens to love putting things in order, than try to have 20 people do it here and there, now and then.

    As the janitor, people who speak in market-based terms say, it invests me in the guest’s experience. It’s incentivizing, they say. How crude. As if I do what I do because I might get a few more coins. What’s wrong with being in it for the hospitality first, and let the chips fall where they may? Why not just go ahead and make things beautiful, and see what happens? What, am I supposed to invoice my every damn action?

    On the whole, I like it. It’s a realistic way of recognizing that a whole lot of work goes in to having a House to Front in. And it does make for a less individualistic, more team-based context. When I need to speak in those terms, I tell people it’s obviously in my interest to have Front of House maximize customer service and go ahead and leave the mess for me. I’d rather have them knock themselves out, giving the greatest hospitality anywhere ever, than holding something back so they have the energy to clean up afterwards.

    Let me tell you a story about my crack. It’s about four feet long, only a scant half inch wide, with well worn wood on one side and a short slope of some sort of gritty, epoxy flooring on the other.

    The wood is Front of the House. The slope is Kitchen. When the House is thought of in terms of divisions, the natural tendency is not to cross the line. Everyone stops just shy. And then we ignore that and blame the others for not doing their job. So the crack grows wide and black. Pretty soon, the crack in the system is big and bad enough literally to kill someone.

    OTOH, if everyone extends their arms just a wee bit more than they technically have to, we’ll still have cracks in the system, but they’ll be cracks we’ll be proud to show in public.

    Also, fresh hop ale, mmm.

  28. Michael C.

    “How the GOP Can Hang on to the Working Class” [The American Conservative].
    Yes, since the Democratic Party has become the Republican Party by dumping the working class, the Republican Party might as well become the Democratic Party if it is smart since it appears the Democrats are fighting tooth and nail to not change.

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