Links 12/1/17

Patient readers: Yves had to cope with some personal matters over the last 24 hours and had to turn in. Hence no original posting from her today. –lambert

Meet Max, the cat who lost the library but won the Internet WaPo (DK). Domesticating the humans…

Scallops have 200 eyes, which focus like telescopes Japan Times

Bird-Brained Behaviour: Pheasant Cognition Animal Cognition

Bitcoin Is Sucking All the Oxygen Bloomberg

World’s biggest bitcoin exchange launches in U.S. as currency nears $10K American Banker

Coinbase ordered to give the IRS data on users trading more than $20,000 TechCrunch (CM).

Report: Wells Fargo may face more federal sanctions over insurance, mortgage practices LA Times. Why are these criminals still walking the streets?

Europe’s chief regulator Margrethe Vestager on reining in tech: ‘This is the biggest wake-up call we’ve ever had’ Recode

Letter: “We write to you regarding the ‘Algorithms: How Companies’ Decisions About Data and Content Impact Consumers’ hearing (PDF) EPIC

Uber’s use of encrypted messaging may set legal precedents Reuters. Just spitballing here, but it’s occurred to me that “eyes on the prize” for the big money backing Uber might not be Uber’s (non-existent) prospect of profit, or even Uber’s shiny narrative, but the prospect of a successful IPO for an outright criminal organization, which would mean that for capital, the abolition of the rule of law would open and clear. Via Snow Crash:

“The Mafia wouldn’t do that.”

“Don’t be a sap,” Hiro says. “Of course they would.”

Y.T. seems miffed at Hiro.

“Look,” he says, “I’m sorry for reminding you of this, but if we still had laws, the Mafia would be a criminal organization.”

“But we don’t have laws,” she says, “so it’s just another chain.”

Just another outlaw predator corporation. The difference with Uber would be that anybody paying attention knew the story going in.

Uber Investor Shervin Pishevar Accused of Sexual Misconduct by Multiple Women Bloomberg. The fish rots from the head.

Uber’s Data Breach Cover-Up Strategy May Be More Common Than You’d Think National Law Journal

Lloyds Bank settles with couple hit by HBOS fraud Reuters


Hickory, dickory, dock: Time’s up Handelsblatt

UK concessions mark slow surrender to Brexit reality FT

How the Irish Border Became Brexit’s Biggest Hurdle Der Spiegel

North Korea

North Korea: “The Missile Program Is Now Complete” Moon of Alabama

The New Hwasong-15 ICBM: A Significant Improvement That May be Ready as Early as 2018 38 North

North Korea missile launch: dictator’s consistent strategy confounds America and allies Richard Lloyd Parry, The Times

China and US step up military talks to prepare for the worst on North Korea South China Morning Post

Trump says China’s diplomacy failing to rein in North Korea Asia Times

He’s got a point:

Big Rocket Man Gary Wills, NYRB. On executive power.


China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Prospects and Pitfalls The Diplomat

Chinese man repaints road markings to make his commute quicker South China Morning Post. The robots aren’t gonna like that…


China pumps billions into Iranian economy as Western firms hold off South China Morning Post

How—and why—to end the war in Yemen Economist

Blackwater founder pitches plan to quell Libya migrant crisis with private police Guardian

US putting off planned ban on its use of cluster bombs AP

B-52s Are Dropping Hundreds of Dumb Bombs in Afghanistan to Literally Shape the Terrain The Drive. Proven technique. It’s how we won Viet Nam. Oh, wait…

Strong Evidence that U.S. Special Operations Forces Massacred Civilians in Somalia Daily Beast. If the goal is blowback, here as in Yemen, we’re doing quite well. Ka-ching.

Who Gets to Speak about Anti-Semitism? “Anti-Semitism and the Struggle for Justice” at the New School for Social Research Tikkun

Tax “Reform”

Republicans rewriting tax bill — with fight pushed into Friday Politico

Republicans’ tax reform drive hit by deficit projections FT

Stoller on the tax bill:

Yves comments:

The overarching goal of the bill is ‘tax reform”. The centerpiece of that is the simplification of corporate taxation and the lowering of corporate tax rates from 35% to 20%.

But doing that requires goring every ox that moves. The US has a very low Federal tax as a % of GDP by global standards, so the deficit hawks can’t be satisfied by cutting programs to make the budget balance. There aren’t enough cuts to be had.

So they have to go after loopholes and other breaks.

Two examples:

1. Under the current version of the bill, private equity gets hurt because a 20% passthrough rate would be higher than the capital gains rate they are generally able to get on the bulk of their income

2. Many multinationals are unhappy with the bill. Recall they typically can get their taxes to a ridiculously low level due to transfer pricing games and for companies with intellectual property, putting that in a low tax jurisdiction like Ireland and charging royalties on it.

Under the new tax bill, we’d go to a quasi territorial system where companies are taxed only on US income as opposed to global income. However, the bill would eliminate being able to attribute income to entities in foreign countries that didn’t have real operations (this is a crude summary, a tax person could explain this better). The net effect is many (maybe even most) multinationals would come out worse.

So, to top it all off, we have elite conflict between owners of different kinds of capital.

Rubio: Offset Tax Cuts By Reducing Social Security, Medicare Benefits Financial Advisor. Remember that Boehner and Obama had a handshake deal on a Grand Bargain, even though it fell through because Boehner was undercut by the so-called Freedom Caucus.

The GOP tax plan is a ‘catastrophe’ that’ll make inequality ‘materially worse’ Business Insider. Says Robert Crandall (!!), ex-CEO of American Airlines.

The Health Coverage Stakes In The Tax Debate: The Individual Market And Beyond Health Affairs

The Senate’s tax bill is a sweeping change to every part of federal health care Sarah Kliff, Vox

Trump’s Tax Promises Undercut by CEO Plans to Help Investors Bloomberg

Trump Transition

How Donald Trump uses tribal loyalty to drive economic optimism Gillian Tett, FT. Important. I can’t help but speculate that this accounts for the well-known divergence of survey responses and Federal data.

Trump Executive Actions a ‘Disruptive’ Lot Roll Call. It would be really helpful if there were some institution — say, a functional opposition party — that focused on these issues. Instead, what we get is gaslighting Russia, Trump’s mental state, pearl-clutching, virtue-signaling, etc.

Experts Are Really, Really Worried About The State Of The 2020 Census HuffPo

New Cold War

“Earth-shattering!” Bah! Humbug! The Power of Narrative

Trump and the Russian ‘Wilderness of Mirrors’ Lowy Institute. New word: Maskirovka. To replace, I supppose, kompromat with the chin-stroking crowd.

Sex in Politics… Not

#MeToo Is All Too Common in National Security Foreign Policy

Kick Against the Pricks NYRB. A useful heuristic:

What’s been particularly horrifying to learn is the seriality of the harassment enterprise, the enormous numbers of victims so many of the sexual exploiters racked up. It’s like they’re on autopilot, programmed to extract sex—or recompense, or humiliation, or something—from unwilling women. Whatever they’re after, clearly no quantity of it ever suffices. Learning about other humans acting so robotically presents a conceptual difficulty. We wish to emphasize the moral agency of the predators, their supposed gains—sadistic pleasure, the glee of getting away with it—which enlarges their monstrosity and distinguishes them from the rest of us. But who would “choose” to be a robot?

Accumulation of the most primitive sort…

Supreme Court’s cake case pits gay rights versus Christian faith Reuters. But cf. John 8:5-9.

Big Brother Is Watching You

Argument analysis: Drawing a line on privacy for cellphone records, but where? SCOTUSblogs

Amazon is flooding the zone with new cloud A.I. tools that translate, transcribe, and track people CNBC

Class Warfare

The Red and the Black Jacobin

An end to ‘want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness’: why the Beveridge report flew off the shelves in 1942 The Conversation

‘You’re right: We’re a threat,’ British Labour leader Corbyn warns Morgan Stanley Reuters. Remember what Obama said to the bankers? “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” If you’re looking to distinguish between the left and liberals, there’s a good heuristic.

Growing up in forgotten America American Enterprise Institute. Chris Arnade. Oddly, or not, AEI and not CAP.

Report: Amazon Warehouse Employees Worked to Exhaustion as Robots Threaten Jobs Brietbart. I really hate to link to Brietbart, but again, why isn’t a story about Amazon abusing its workers all over liberal venues like CAP? (Can’t CAP afford to repackage the original Mirror story, like Breitbart?)

Transit experts propose ending NYC’s 24/7 subway system New York Daily News (J-LS). Don’t worry. There will be shuttle buses.

More than half of U.S. kids will be obese by the time they’re 35, study predicts Los Angeles Times. Ka-ching.

The Great Baby Bust of 2017 Medium

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.


  1. Jim Haygood

    It’s hilarious watching the R party — a social barnacle as ossified and deracinated as the D party — slug it out over Potemkin tax reform in a last-ditch bonfire of the vapidities.

    Senators Bob “Porker” Corker and Flake Jeff Flake comically pose as the last defenders of fiscal rectitude, when they know as well as we do that federal debt is headed to over $30 trillion before the R party’s turn in the Casa Blanca expires.

    As always, cutting spending on the vast value-subtraction military-intelligence complex is off the table. So other means of destroying the last vestige of the middle class must, and will, be found.

    1. allan

      Weirdly, deficit divas Reinhardt and Rogoff have been strangely silent on the
      debt implications of the House and Senate bills.
      It’s almost as if they’re engaging in situational ethics economics.
      Nah, couldn’t be …

      1. L.M. Dorsey

        (heh) A recurring suspicion that:

        Looking for light to the political economists of London, [Robt Owen] was amazed to find them men of no practical experience, who were engaged, as he contended, simply in constructing systems to rationalize the bad practices of the manufacturers. [94]

        Engels held that the theories of Adam Smith and Ricardo, of MacCulloch and James Mill, were fundamentally hypocritical rationalizations of the greedy motives behind the system of private property which was destroying the British peoples: the Wealth of Nations made most people poor; Free Trade and Competition left the people still enslaved, and consolidated the monopoly of the bourgeoisie on everything that was worth having — the the philosophies of trade themselves only sanctified the huckster’s fraud; the discussions of abstract value were kept abstract on purpose to avoid taking cognizance of the actual conditions under which all commercial transactions took place. [140]

        from To the Finland Station

      2. UserFriendly

        I’m sure they are just putting the finishing touches on which excel formula they are going to fudge to get the result they want.

    2. Doug Hillman

      Well put. Circus clown exhibitionists parading their fiscal rectitude is much like Harvey Weinstein endowing the Gloria Steinem chair of Feminist Studies at Rutgers. How can the Onion possibly compete with such living, walking parodies? America’s aristocracy is an epic tragicomedy that will baffle future historians.

      1. Jessica

        Weinstein donating to the Gloria Steinem chair of feminist studies is real. Our elites truly are shameless.

    3. Deadl E Cheese

      I wouldn’t really call the Republican party, unlike the Democratic Party, deracinated. The ethos behind the current budget and indeed Trumpism as a whole has always been the endgame of the Reaganites. Or even conservatism as a whole when you get right down to it.

      The idea that people like Flake and Corker have someone strayed or devolved is comical. If the expertly-crafted sheepskin rots off of the wolf’s body, that doesn’t mean that the wolf underwent anomie or retrogression.

    4. readerOfTeaLeaves

      As always, cutting spending on the vast value-subtraction military-intelligence complex is off the table. So other means of destroying the last vestige of the middle class must, and will, be found.

      I guess MIC will have to rely on contracts from overseas, since they are cannibalizing the middle class that once underwrote them. Pity.

  2. David, by the lake

    Re the baby bust article

    IIRC the BAU case for the Limits to Growth analysis showed a peaking of global population and a tipping over into decline somewhere in the early 2030s. The BAU case has tracked reasonably well against actual history and this suggests more of the same.

    1. Romancing The Loan

      The writer, as well as having an annoying tic of faux-chumminess (“Guys!”) never gets around to saying why a declining fertility rate is supposed to be bad, exactly. Put it up against all the articles on the critically overloaded state of the biosphere and it looks downright psychotic.

      1. jsn

        Well obviously, it’s bad for groaf!

        I think the neoliberal extraction machine has actually accelerated the BAU curve and will continue to do so as long as it keeps raising the cost of child rearing, which on present trend it looks dead set on.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Got it in one there RTL. Lots of what but never going for the why of it all. Shall we put aside the halving of fertility rates in the past half century as an enhancing factor and go into the nitty grity? How is a young American couple suppose to support and raise children on a wage that has not effectively changed since the 1970s? Or never knows from one day to the next if they are supposed to be working that day or not. Can someone in the Gig economy actually support a family?
        Of course there is another factor and it is this. There are approximately a third of a billion Americans alive today. Is this really the optimal number that the 50 states can actually support or perhaps there has been an overshoot effect going on and the decrease in fertility reflecting this?
        Just for giggles, Denmark had a campaign to counteract the decrease in fertility called the Do it for Denmark and is at if you want to catch it.

        1. Lee

          Lower birthrates in societies with more highly educated women and men, with higher living standards, secular as opposed to religious orientations versus more patriarchal, religious, poorly educated societies with lower levels of economic development, no birth control and higher fertility rates. What could go wrong?

          Now, if it is true that citizens in the better off societies are consuming more than their fair share, and a reduction in their share translates into an increase in the shares of the less fortunate, leading the latter to reduce their birth rates, then global reproductive rates may decrease. So, sending your job to China was a sacrifice you made for the global good. Feel better now?

          1. Enquiring Mind

            Transitions seem to be ignored by economists, yet are faced by people. Lower birthrates in the abstract seem good, but what happens to the out of balance demographic cohorts if not recognized and addressed? Going from one state or condition to another can be problematic, particularly if forcing all considerations through that neo-liberal model where everything looks like a nail to be hammered.

            Some countries like Japan have a more thoughtful transition approach than others like the US, say, in the area of healthcare or eldercare.

            1. Enquiring Mind

              Although the thought of dying alone and remaining there undiscovered for who knows how long, like mentioned in that links comment, isn’t good either.

            2. Lee

              Yes. The gleeful, unqualified embrace of the neoliberal version of “disruption” makes me want to bash the proponents’ bleached teeth.

        2. Brian

          Ranchers don’t make money without cows, subsidies, environmental degradation, pollution, bribes, fees, and a continuing supply of rejected candy to feed the cows in lieu of food.

      3. diptherio

        The “guys” stuff was super-annoying. And I really wish he would have been more direct about what he’s obviously really trying to say: we need to be having more unprotected sex. If he wanted people to read his snooze of an article, he should have made that the title.

        1. JohnnyGL

          This one gets my vote for biggest howler in the entire article….

          “Well, Harper and her husband were enticed to take a few extra vacations by generous credit card rewards programs and super-low mistake fares online, so they used up their vacation time and their disposable income, and so a third kid just isn’t in the cards anymore.” — WTF!?!?!?

          I literally know ZERO people in the history of the universe that have said, ‘well, we’d love more kids, but we just blew it all on vacations’.

          Only an economist could possibly think like this without having mentioned the cost of child care, health care, education, housing or any of the other zillion actual things real humans worry about.

      4. JohnnySacks

        His statistics and analysis were sledgehammered repetitively and I should have taken that as a warning to give up on it. But I just had to continue reading that pile of nonsense to the end to see if he bothered to expend as much effort explaining why population reduction is actually a bad thing. So we’re left to decide on our own – consumer growth feeding the machine. An ever expanding system of consumption in a finite environment, what could go wrong? Full steam ahead.

      5. Merd

        Right!? I actually found this to be one of the most uplifting and hope-inspiring articles I’ve read in a long time. I’m familiar with some of the issues involved in a population bust, but really, in 2017? We’ve got efficiency out the wazzoo, cut the global population to about a quarter of what we’ve got, share the wealth, and earth sounds like a damn fine place to live. I mean, I’m having a good time, but I (as the author) live in “sparsely populated” Kentucky, yet there’s still hardly a flat bottomed holler not already occupied. I lived in NYC for about 4 months, and I did alright, but whoa, that’s some tight quarters. I imagine India and I start to panic. Bring on the low fertility rates.

        1. Vatch

          See my comment about U.S. population and demographic momentum at 10:25 AM.

          In addition, the U.N. projects a world population of 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100. Personally, I think their projection of 11.2 billion people in 2100 is mistaken. Resource shortages, pollution, large scale epidemics, and wars (caused largely by those resource shortages that I mentioned) will prevent that much population growth. The future will be grim.

          1. Wyoming

            The UN demographers are clearly not taking into account the combination of a declining global carrying capacity and the rapidly worsening effects of climate change. There is simply no way to get to those 2100 numbers. They are just looking at carrying capacity in a static fashion – and that is a serious error as carrying capacity is declining exponentially.

            The Limits to Growth scenario projections did not take into account climate change as that was unknown to them in the early 1970’s. The reason their BAU projections are so accurate is for the very reason that we have diligently pursued BAU no matter what. And climate change is just starting to show serious visible effects. It is down hill from here on in.

            The combination of the two exponential factors virtually guarantees a serious and painful population decline which could be projected to start kicking in circa mid-century.

            While I don’t know why the author is so alarmed about a medium level in fertility decline I must say that even that small of an amount is actually cause for celebration. And a sincere holiday hope that it dramatically accelerates. We simply have way too many people.

            1. Oregoncharles

              I consider those projections irresponsible, at least without a qualification. Trying to get there would be hugely destructive and make the resulting crash.

              I agree that the article is totally good news, EXCEPT that the low birth rate reflects poor living conditions for a lot of people. There has to be a better way.

        2. Odysseus

          I actually found this to be one of the most uplifting and hope-inspiring articles I’ve read in a long time.

          Bingo. We need a lot fewer people in the future. Getting there without violence is awesome.

      6. Utah

        re: baby bust and why is this bad
        Declining fertility rates have a number of implications. For example, if you look at Japan, they don’t have enough young people to take care of their aging population. We also lose money to pay into social security and Medicare and state taxes when there are fewer people working than not working. This means we will have to raise the retirement rate because we need people to pay into the system.
        This can be solved with immigration, but god forbid we allow people who don’t “share a culture” into this country.
        Also, I will apologize in advance if this post doesn’t make it as a reply to the topic of conversation. My cell phone web browser can be moody.

        1. Vatch

          Population growth has numerous implications as well. The Earth is finite and our resources are finite. Life in the world’s mega-cities is becoming increasingly dystopian. A few examples:

          Here in the highly populated U.S., we get a lot of our food in the form of meat, which mostly comes from factory farms (CAFOs, Confined Animal Feeding Operations). No rational person wants to live close to one of those horrors. The stench is ever present, and when it rains, the waste lagoons can overflow and pollute the local water supply with huge amounts of sewage.

          These are just a few of the problems caused by overpopulation.

          Population growth in an already over populated world is far worse than a baby bust.

          1. SimpleMarvin

            “Highly populated US”? I guess you’ve never been through “fly-over” country. To anyone who thinks the US is highly populated, I suggest they drive from Chicago to Denver (as one example), or from Minneapolis to Dallas.

            To anyone that wrings their hands and worries about the world being over-populated, I say the solution is close at hand, but you first.

            1. Wukchumni

              If our many splendored acres was in Asia and the ground had been held for thousands of years, there would be 200 people living on our land now. There’s still a lot of empty outside of the Big Smokes, but within them-empty is running out.

              I couldn’t believe how much new real estate in L.A. was put into awkward spaces heretofore deemed unworthy of, in the midst of the boom last decade. Every empty space had the prospect of making money, but only if you put something on it. The same space empty was worth bupkis.

            2. Vatch

              Large swathes of land are unsuitable for human habitation: deserts, mountains, forests, etc. People also need fresh water, and that’s sorely lacking in some areas that already have a lot of people. A huge amount of sparsely inhabited land is required to grow food, and if we were to fill that land with people, many of us would starve. The United States is the world’s third most populous country, and we are most definitely overpopulated. We also use far too many resources per capita.

              Of course, the population problem is even worse in some other countries, such as India, China, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

        2. a different chris

          Our “aging” population is ageing pretty well – as you immediately mentioned with your “we will have to raise the retirement [age]”. So we could continue to work, but if we instead retire we need somebody to hold our hand all day? Not computing.

          I also have missed computing on the problem with old people turning up as desiccated corpses in Japan, link maybe?

          1. a different chris

            Ugh there is a comment and a link “upstairs” were they make exactly that point about Japan. 30K people found dead a year.

            I withdraw my comment. Bigly.

      1. jsn

        Business As Usual
        My point was that in the 70s when The Limits of Growth was penned, it was not yet imagined that erstwhile “democratic capitalism” would evolve into the bald extraction machine it’s become and that that change has foreclosed optimism for all but the lucky few, something of a birth rate prophylactic in the educated industrial world where people are isolated from the means of subsistence.

      2. jsn

        DBTL’s point, I think, is that the macro trend demographically is a pretty close match to what the modelers who wrote The Limits of Growth back in the 70s projected.

        Like Hansen’s climate model, an argument can be made that all the later “improvements” have subtracted more from predictive power than they’ve added.

        I don’t quite buy that arguments, but the original macro arguments have proven stubbornly reliable, if slightly optimistic.

    2. Vatch

      Sure, the U.S. TFR (total fertility rate) is dropping, but thanks to demographic momentum, it will be decades before the U.S. population stabilizes or drops. Here’s the CDC data for 2016:

      3,978,497 U.S. births in 2016

      2,626,418 U.S. deaths in 2016

      1,352,079 new Americans in 2016. That’s 1.3 million new consumers and polluters in just one year in just one country. And that’s not even taking into account the effects of immigration. We’re in very, very deep trouble.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Of course, the Elite have the repressive structures in place, and have jiggered everything so that a “socialist movement” of any strength is kind of hard to visualize and believe in. Bernie is maybe not a Mule, even…

  3. Meher Baba Fan

    Uber. I don’t believe the story about the hackers getting 100,000, and then being ‘tracked down’ and forced to sign an NDA. I hope the Judge requires them to demonstrate the proof of all that. I think its a smokescreen

    Yves: love and healing your way hope all is okay

  4. diptherio

    So AEI pays Chris Arnade to come and give them the photo montage of what the policies they’ve been supporting for the last couple decades have led to. Sadists….

    1. Arizona Slim

      At least he is getting paid. I can think of many organizations that would ask the artist to pay all the costs of mounting the exhibit and then speak for free.

    2. Kevin

      Sadists is right!

      I’m sure tickets are selling like wildfire (NOT)

      perhaps Mr. Arnade has something on someone high up at AEI….

  5. Altandmain

    I”ve been thinking about free trade a lot more.

    Eamonn Fingleton has a good article – the rest of the world is practicing mercantilism, while our elite have put a ball and chain around our necks.

    Now let’s consider Myth 3, the suggestion that in the new post-industrial era America no longer needs manufacturing. Some of the more outspoken proponents of this thesis hold that not only should America exit manufacturing but the U.S. government should simply throw in the towel on efforts to stand up for American manufacturers in export markets. Many of these thinkers lionize the information-based economy, but, as recent history shows, it is far from a panacea for America’s problems.

    One problem is that it creates a bad job mix—lots of jobs for the small university-educated intellectual elite but few for anyone else. Another is that post-industrial services are generally labor-intensive, which means that low-wage nations such as India and Russia will increasingly enjoy a competitive advantage as these industries mature.

    A key question here is how post-industrial services fare in world trade. The answer is: badly. Most post-industrial services do little exporting and many none at all. Certainly the export prospects for computer software writing, financial services, and entertainment are hardly a match for the export prowess of the old manufacturing industries of America’s heyday. Further, many post-industrial products are vulnerable to illegal copying, particularly rampant in such important markets as China. Thus revenues flowing back to the United States are greatly curtailed.

    Service jobs tend to create a small elite on top and a large number of low paid minimum wage or near minimum wage jobs. Temp jobs, jobs with no benefits, the “gig” jobs are now the norm.

    The problem I see is that the top 10% have thrown their lot in with the 0.1%. They benefit from the complete destruction of the American middle class. What’s disturbing is that this is not out of ignorance. Actually the 10%ers often see their credentialism from prestigious schoools as a source of superiority over us lowly peasants who are not from famous schools or less famous ones. This, like the 0.1% is out of pure greed.

    This is the end result:

    Mexico City — Auto worker Ivan Flores spends his days transporting parts for U.S.-bound Audi SUVs at a plant in central Mexico, but he laughs when asked if he could ever buy one of the $40,000 Q5 SUVs the plant produces on his $2.25 per hour salary.

    In other words, they have screwed over people in both the developed world who aren’t upper middle class or rich along with the developing world on slavery wages.

    I’ve heard around 20% or less of a car is the labour costs before.

    In other words, outsourcing is just to squeeze the most on that – and perhaps on nations with undervalued currencies.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Good stuff.

      Nothing is more disingenuous than the argument that America needs to donate its blue collar jobs to developing countries because it helps poor people in poor countries.

      Helping poor people was never the intent and it’s never the result.

      1. Wukchumni

        In some ways the hollowing out of America resembles the aftermath of WW2 in the fatherland-both utterly wrecked, although the shell of the former remains intact, poortemkin villages emptied out.

        It was probably easier to rebuild from scratch-advantage Germany.

      2. cnchal

        When Americans donate blue collar jawbs to developing countries, it’s to help the rich people in those poor countries.

        There is also the part where American blue collar jawbs are transferred directly to Japan, after Boeing did the R&D on their carbon fiber wings, which was subsidized by you know who, the tooling and processes were transferred wholesale to Japan, as a trade for some plane orders. I suppose no Boeing executive had the guts to tell Japan, “here is the price for our best product, do we have a sale or not?” No? OK, then fly that 20% thirstier plane from the competition”.

        This part is frightening: Boeing factory in China.

        Boeing, of course, could have held tight to its no-foreign-factories rule. But Chinese airlines may spend $1 trillion on passenger planes in the next two decades, and any attempt to stand up to Beijing would have risked losing out on the biggest sales boom in aviation history. Also, Boeing’s top executives are incentivized via stock options to prioritize the short term over the long term, and thus Boeing’s cave-in is easily understood.

        No matter how you slice it or dice it, globalization is a disaster. Not for a few Boeing executives though, before it all goes down for the rest.

        A trillion bucks worth of Chinese planes flying around, what could go wrong?

    2. a different chris

      >outsourcing is just to squeeze the most on that

      It’s not even entirely that. It’s the return of feudalism, in that you just can’t be sure you can maintain the level of Lording over the workers in the US that you can in countries that are long used to being Third World. It’s not just that Mexicans/whoever are cheaper, they are* easier to push around.

      Once you get to a certain level it’s just a game, and the psychopaths that are winning it care way about this stuff more than how fast their Bugatti can go.

      *or were, now Americans have dropped to that level too which I’m sure was the hope…. the new problem for Americans are that they are now as a group badly overweight and addicted to one thing or another when compared to offshore workforces, so no reason to bring the factories back.

  6. diptherio

    Send that Amazon story around to all your lefty friends who love their Prime accounts…and all the lefty organizations that have decided to be shills for Bezos in exchange for a pittance of a kickback from the Walmart of the internet. (I’m looking at you, Jimmy [waves]).

    You know something is seriously f’d in this country when supposed progressives can convince themselves that providing advertising for the world’s biggest retailer is “hip” and totes in line with their values. It’s even crazier when you point out the paradox of the situation and have a famous progressive tell you “I used to work in a warehouse, it’s not that bad.” I really wonder how long people on the left are going to be able to deal with the cognitive dissonance: greedy multinational corporations bad; Amazon good.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I just saw a book that I would like to buy. Instead of ordering it from Amazon, I am going to get out of my chair, walk a few blocks, and order it from a locally owned and independently operated bookstore.

      Take that, Mr. Bezos.

      1. Wukchumni

        Oftentimes on the ‘zon a very worthy tome is available for a cent, and shipping is $3.99. I’d prefer it the other way around.

      2. diptherio

        Also, many publishers have a website that you can order their books directly from. Cut out the middle man. You don’t even have to get out of your chair or interact with another human!

        1. diptherio

          Irony of ironies, I posted a book review today that contained an Amazon link. I dutifully searched out the publishers website only to find…a link to Amazon.

          I think a lot of small presses are deciding to essentially outsource the distribution side of things to Amazon. Understandable, but still crappy. Especially when Collective Copies (a worker-owned cooperative) does print on demand…

      3. Merf56

        Be careful. My local independent bookseller will order books for you as well……. from Amazon!! I was pretty upset to find that out. I now try and do what diptherio suggested – see if I can order it directly from the publisher….

          1. Mike

            Don’t know what your experience is, but in Philly and other big cities, the library systems have been divesting themselves of books by the ton. Rare book rooms survive, but what is becoming rarer is a volume of non-fiction covering something else beside alt-right blather. Small town libraries are under pressure to stack everything Fox-and-compatible authors produce – culture war stuff, basement economics, fear-mongering predictionism – and, for the fiction crowd, horror, zombies, and aliens that kill.

            Anyone for Mars? Intelligent bacteria abound, I hear.

        1. Vatch

          That’s really weird. Perhaps your bookseller will only do that for some titles that come from an obscure publisher? Another possibility is that the bookseller does that for out of print books, but not for books that are still in print.

        2. Fiery Hunt

          My favorite online source for books:

          I was a rare book dealer (bricks and mortar shop) back in the day…

        3. Elizabeth Burton

          My local independent bookseller will order books for you as well……. from Amazon!!

          I can think of several reasons for this, including the one already posited, which is that the book is only available from Amazon. From Amazon’s self-publishing unit, Createspace, to be precise. A lot of the “indie authors” don’t want to go through the hassle of signing on with Ingram’s Lightning Source—they have to pay a hefty service charge for publication plus a small annual “distribution fee,” and the net on sales is around half of what they’ll get from Createspace because LS charges for the printing and Createspace doesn’t.

          Ironically, it may also be less expensive for an indie bookseller to buy the book from Amazon rather than ordering a single copy, especially if they have a Prime account and so don’t pay shipping. In my experience, most wholesalers/distributors not only hate shipping single copies (other then print-on-demand) but may refuse to do so. The bookseller then may have to hold that sale till they place their next order, thus making the customer wait.

          Order it from Amazon, get it in two days, happy customer, and a couple bucks in the till because of the discount. Or, if there’s no discount, at least a satisfied customer, thus making that purchase an investment. And should the customer never pick up their order (which happens often enough a lot of bookstores refuse to sell books that can’t be returned for credit), Amazon will happily take that book back.

          Not pertinent to that discussion, but on-demand printing isn’t conducive to allowing returns, so we tiny publishers who use it exclusively have to rely mostly on online sales for paperbacks because the booksellers won’t touch them for shelf stock. I’m currently discussing with another on-demand printer the possibility of their handling orders for print from our website, which will be nice if the net works out at a decent rate. Then, all we have to do is drive traffic.

      4. bronco

        You know he is just going to get it from Amazon right? Walking is good exercise though , carry on.

      5. wilroncanada

        Reply Slim 8:34 AM

        Good idea. I look up book titles, and look at some reviews on Amazon. For used I look at ABE Books. Then I will buy the book from the independent bookstore in the small town 15 kms away, even if they have to order it, and even at a premium. That same bookstore took my wife’s cookbook on consignment and sold a couple of copies.

        If the book is older I will try the local library first, using their inter-library loan function if necessary. It allows me access (sometimes after a substantial wait) from libraries, public and university, from all of British Columbia. I don’t understand the comment below which urges people not to use the public library.

        If the book is used, but not available from the library, I will use ABE to find a source, and then attempt to order the book directly from the source. There is a used bookstore in Victoria, for example, that has hundreds of thousands of titles.

        1. David Crosby

 works well, then decide between Biblio or Alibris or whomever you prefer from the results.

    2. cnchal

      . . . Just spitballing here, but it’s occurred to me that “eyes on the prize” for the big money backing Uber might not be Uber’s (non-existent) prospect of profit, or even Uber’s shiny narrative, but the prospect of a successful IPO for an outright criminal organization, which would mean that for capital, the abolition of the rule of law would open and clear.

      The world has been punked. That successful IPO for an outright criminal organization has already happened. Did you see that chart the other day? Revenue climbing in a parabolic curve, net income flatlining. The repeated stories of Amazon systematically destroying third party sellers, the hinky deal with USPS, where USPS loses money on each delivery, the super cheap shipping from China, subsidized by who knows, the ultra abusive working conditions, the warehouse location shakedown, and on it goes.

      . . . Employees, he claims, exist barely above the level of the machines they service, not even allowed to sit down at any point of the day, regardless of the pace required or progress made. Rather than hiring more people to reduce the ten-hour shifts and to make the workplace manageable without ambulance support, Amazon has taken an approach that seems to derive inspiration from Apple partner Foxconn’s iPhone factories in China. To keep up with their shifts, some employees are forced to sleep in tents or under bridges in between.

      Globalization is a disaster, no matter where the peasant lives.

    3. wilroncanada

      Question, not sarc
      How many days each week do Amazon “fulfillment centre” workers do ten-hour shifts?
      If five, and if at regular wage, isn’t that breaking labour law in many jurisdictions? It is here on Canada’s left coast.
      As for the fallen, I presume that Amazon’s assumption is that there is another humanoid robot to take its place, like infantry getting gassed in the trenches in WW1. Eventually the real robots will mean all the pseudos can be discarded. Jeffie can probably even get a subsidy for that.

      1. human

        He does. It’s called capital depreciation. He gets to write off the cost of the robots over a short period of time, usually a few years, against his (corporations’) taxes. Just another example of socialism for the rich that we mopes pay for.

  7. ambrit

    Comrade Jim;
    The chart just about says it all.
    What I’m wondering is, when “The Bust” comes, how will the downward profile look? A mirror reverse? With the performance of the ‘Barbarous Relic’ being what it has been, the downside of the CF might be surprising.
    “Consider ye the nuggets in the vault. They waste not, nor do they rust.”
    Thanks for the work involved.
    ambrit the lesser

    1. Jim Haygood

      When the time comes, C*****man Fund [Skynet don’t like this word] will shift into Treasuries.

      We aren’t going over the waterfall if we can help it.

      1. ambrit

        It might look like snark, but it isn’t; whose countries Treasuries? CRIIS? (China, Russia, Iran, Irak, Syria.) [What I like to call ‘The Persian Rug Belt.] Add Turkey and we have CRIIST, which is not a goer for that region, I’ll admit.
        I realize that the U.S. Treasuries are considered rock solid, but, how long can the looting go on without serious repercussions?

        1. Jim Haygood

          Long term, the outlook for US Treasuries is poor, as the 2020s are more likely than not to be inflationary.

          But when a flight to safety bid emerges during an asset crash, the long term don’t matter. Like Marlboros in a prison camp, Treasuries turn into the de facto currency of the realm until the blood recedes from the streets and the banks are bailed out again.

          1. Wukchumni

            Doesn’t Belgium buy a bunch of our treasuries, and seeing as their GDP is a lot smaller than Mexico’s, wouldn’t it be easier just to sell them to Mutual of Tijuana instead?

            1. Jim Haygood

              Headline on CNBC, 11:30 ET:

              US Treasury prices spike as investors go for safety in wake of Flynn report

              … as stocks plunge to earth.

              p.s. BTFD — Buy The Fabulous Dip :-)

          1. ambrit

            Ouch! I never suspected that the Fed and sundry might be run along Kabbalistic lines! ‘Illuminati’ here we come!

          2. Jim Haygood

            Reorder the letters to RIISC and RISCIT

            Sounds a bit like “Russki,” comrade. Speaking of which, the RuSI (Russia Saudi Iran) index was off slightly this week, shedding -0.28%. By comparison, SPY (an S&P 500 tracker) tacked on 2.02%. Chart:


            Since Dec 31, 2015, RuSI has gained a cumulative 31.2% as Brent crude more than doubled off its Jan 2016 low, while SPY returned 34.7%.

            During 2017, Iran’s TEDPIX index has been the best gainer, up 11.64% year to date. Iran — inaccessible to USians — has a 20 percent weighting in RuSI. Russia, with a 50 percent weighting, is up 1.45% YTD, while Saudi Arabia with a 30 percent weighting has gained a fractional 0.72% YTD.

        2. whine country

          “how long can the looting go on without serious repercussions?” —

          …until morale improves.

          1. abynormal

            saw that…not as much fun as when the CAME added cheese mold to their ticket, but a trades a trade and figuring how to short mold was a high of my day!

            you watching the yaun gain deeper tractions in Africa?…

            1. abynormal

              CME, damn auto
              We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.
              Douglas Adams!!

    2. Wukchumni

      March 11, 1933:

      “Hoarded gold flows back into banks on threat of exposure and arrest. Over $100,000,000 has returned this was in the past two days. Mostly in large cities. One man in New York City is reported to have returned $2 million in gold.”

      March 20, 1933:

      “The time limit for returning hoarded gold has expired but it seems that the threat of punishment or publicity was mostly a bluff.”

      April 5, 1933:

      “President Roosevelt issues an order forbidding any person to hold more than $100 in gold or gold certificates. Any amount above this must be taken to Federal reserve banks.”

      The Banksters of the era cleaned up on this deal…

      How so?

      A $20 gold coin has just under 1 troy ounce in content, and the combination of FDR revaluing all that glitters to $35 per ounce, while having the public return the very same for the face value, allowed for a very sweet 70% return on each and every coin they could get their mitts on, which were then shipped to Europe.

      Arbitrage macht frei money…

      Ever since the end of WW2, the old country has been the happy hunting ground to find these, as that’s where they seemingly all went, ending up mostly in Switzerland.

        1. Wukchumni

          If an individual had held them and arranged to sell them in Europe and got them there somehow, I don’t see why not?

          It more than likely probably didn’t happen much, if ever.

          Later in the 1930’s the law was laid down that an American could own as many pre-1933 gold coin as their little heart desired. In essence-everything the U.S. Mint ever issued over 140 years prior.

          The buy/sell on a $20 in the 1950’s or 60’s would have been $40/45 or thereabouts.

  8. Wukchumni

    B-52s Are Dropping Hundreds of Dumb Bombs in Afghanistan to Literally Shape the Terrain The Drive.

    We had to bomb the terrain in order to save it.

    1. whine country

      Actually the mission is to save the US economy. Those useless bombing missions increase GDP. Never forget, it’s all about groaf.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Does a bomb go ‘Ouch!’ when it explodes?

      When you prick a bomb, does it not bleed? Maybe not. I don’t know. I’m not a bomb.

  9. Marco

    AAGM (as a gay man) I’m a big fan of “Gay Cakes”!! But still find the couple Craig and Mullins a bit annoying in the way I find most single-issue upper-class gays who are oblivious to plight of their lower order homo-proles brethren. They couldn’t find a Gay Cake Baker to make them the biggest baddest Gay Cake? Uh…most cake bakers are gay? The couldn’t find one so the just had to give their money to some bible-thumping dork?

    1. Marco

      Oops…darn iPhone mangled the last sentence…

      THEY couldn’t find one so THEY just had to give their money to some bible-thumping dork?

      1. Hana M

        Yes, seriously! And they were getting married in Massachusetts but they had to buy their cake in Colorado? How were they planning on shipping this thing? it It sounds like a deliberate set-up, as if the couple went out of their way to find someone who would refuse them simply to create a case. If the cake baker was a committed and thoughtful enough Christian that he refuses to make Halloween pastries I’d say the baker has a pretty good chance of prevailing.

        1. Jeff W

          …that he refuses to make Halloween pastries I’d say the baker has a pretty good chance of prevailing.

          I’m not so sure it’s the sincerity or the consistency of his beliefs that’s at issue. The law doesn’t say that it’s impermissible to discriminate (e.g., make a distinction between Halloween cakes and other cakes) based on your religious beliefs, it says that it’s impermissible to discriminate in certain ways (e.g., against some groups of people) even based on your religious beliefs.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I have always wondered at the “wisdom” of demanding that people who hate you be forced to cook or bake for you.

      Many moons ago I was in a group of high schoolers being hosted by another group from a rival school during an intensely competitive sporting event. The brownies they served us were delicious. They were also laced with Ex-Lax.

  10. todde

    Really bah humbug and Infraguard.

    Just attended a conference with a hacker who works with Infraguard.

    He hacked into everyone’s mobile device within 30 seconds

    1. todde

      He took over the wireless router and did a ‘man in the middle’ attack.

      Yes, infragard. The funny thing was he would switch from saying ‘hackers will use’ to ‘we use’ quite often until he caught himself doing it.

  11. Wukchumni

    Mirror, mirror, on the wall
    Who’s the next ex cabinet member
    …is the helmsman’s tiller about to fall?

  12. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: B-52s Are Dropping Hundreds of Dumb Bombs in Afghanistan to Literally Shape the Terrain The Drive. Proven technique. It’s how we won Viet Nam. Oh, wait…

    I’m currently reading a book about the Vietnam War by Nick Turse ( called Kill Anything That Moves.

    “Area denial missions” sound remarkably similar to what, according to Turse, was called “harassment and interdiction” (H&I) fire in Vietnam. Here are a few quotes from the book, published in 2013, with regard to H&I:

    “While theoretically based on the gleanings of American and South Vietnamese intelligence, H&I often amounted to little more than the regular firing of shells into random areas simply to keep the enemy in a state of unease.
    They explained that “the targets were chosen by local South Vietnamese officials who gave grid coordinates to American artillery officers who had only a vague idea what they were shooting at. Sometimes the targets were villages whose farmers had not paid taxes to local government bureaucrats or were suspected of being sympathetic to the VC.” (….) “Most shelling took place at night and it made the peasants crazy with fear.”
    Even more extreme, as the New Yorker magazine reporter Jonathan Schell noted, were policies dictating that artillery be fired at regular intervals regardless of any military justification. An artillery battery commander explained, “The ammo kept coming whether or not we had targets for it, so the batteries fired their allotments every opportunity they had, whether there was actually anything to shoot at or not.”

    The similarities don’t end there, including the “humanitarian” (from the link) ” practice of dropping bombs near inhabited buildings in order to chase people out before another strike flattens the structure. As if the only casualties come from direct hits on what used to be your home, and for the heinous crime of simply existing there.

    The evil is so pervasive and insidious. As an american, I am profoundly ashamed.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Nick Turses book is very much a must-read. Its very shocking.

      The problem with having vast stockpiles of weapons is that sometimes its easier to come up with a use for it rather than dispose of them when they are out of date. The area bombing of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos (only of of these countries was supposedly at war) was at least partially motivated by having lots of ex nuclear bombers (B-52s) with nothing to do and a vast stockpile of bombs stored up since WWII rotting away. I doubt if many officers really felt it was a useful policy – apart from the USAF who as always wanted to prove they could win a war by themselves. And who knows how many countless nameless innocent villagers died who’s lives were never counted. As anyone who’s been to the region knows, those forests and mountains are surprisingly densely populated.

      But those missions in Afghanistan seem the very definition of futility. Spending vast amounts of money to blast away outrops of rock just because it might be cover for Taliban? Absolute insanity.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        And, judging from today’s Daily Beast link on u. s. “special ops” murdering civilians in Somalia, Afghanistan will not be the only repeat performance.

        One wonders if a domestic overstock of deadly chemical defoliants suggested the next location that global “terrorism” would rear its ugly head, existentially “threaten” the homeland and require our “humanitarian” intervention.

        1. wilroncanada

          Probably Yemen through their proxy, SA. And post-Afghanistan, IraqLibyaSyria.

          Douglas Valentine covers some of the same ground as Nick Turse in his book, The Phoenix Program, 1990. This year he brought the programs of the US MIC and Intel up to date and into US domestic policies with his book, The CIA As Organized Crime.

    1. diptherio

      Carnivorans are a diverse group of mammals that includes carnivorous, omnivorous and herbivorous, domesticated and wild species…

      …so they’re pretty much every mammal. Seems pretty broad…

      But I don’t buy the neuron number or density = intelligence argument. It’s about quality, not quantity. And mainly, it’s about the individual animal, not the species, in my experience. There are definitely some cats and black bears out there that are more intelligent than some people…just sayin’…

      1. Wukchumni

        Black bears have a sense of smell 7x that of a dog, but counter it by having awful eyesight.

        I’ve had close to 1,000 encounters and have always been impressed by their intelligence, a different brand of smarts compared to a domesticated dog.

        1. Lee

          During my misspent youth I worked for a season at the Ahwahnee hotel in Yosemite. One evening I was approaching the rear (servant) entrance where a guy was hosing down the elevated loading dock with steaming hot water. He was directing the stream of hot water into a dumpster below and laughing. All of a sudden a large black bear leaped out of the dumpster balancing perfectly on the rim before stepping onto the loading dock. The dumb shit guy dropped the hose as the bear, with slow deliberate steps advanced. The guy stumbled backward until he was against a wall. The bear made two quick swipes with each front paw, missing the guys face by a whisker, then turned away and calmly walked away. An exquisite display of proportional response.

          1. Wukchumni

            Sometimes watching the humans watching the bears is more fun…

            From late October to mid November, the bruins need to put on weight for denning, and all you need to do is drive the Generals Highway and look for stopped cars usually-as the beasties are munching on acorns just off the road, the most bears i’ve ever seen in such a manner being 9 in one day.

            So one time we’re stopped on account of a nice pair about 75 feet away from an Australian woman tourist in her 50’s, and she’s inching along with her eye firmly placed against the camera she’s chronicling the encounter with, and I know what’s coming, a bluff charge-where the bear goes about 28 feet in 2.6 seconds and then stops abruptly and goes no further, but said Antipodean doesn’t know that, and i’m pretty sure I saw a record for a middle-aged Australian woman running back to her car, ha!

            1. Lee

              Having spent some time in Yellowstone, I’ve seen such things. I once had my scope on a grizzly. I looked up to see a line of cars had formed and soon there was a line of people wanting to see what I saw through my scope. One mom with a young boy, they had a Nebraska plate on their junker car, told me I had made their whole trip worthwhile. We both teared up. Strange and wonderful things happen in such places

              1. Wukchumni

                The longest encounter I ever had with a bear was 45 minutes, you’re lucky if one is 45 seconds usually.

                A cinnamon colored 4 year old was systematically stripping a hillside of bitter cherries in no particular hurry about 30 feet away from the boulder on which I was perched, and could care less about me or other tourists not too far away from Tokopah Falls.

                About halfway into the encounter, a gaggle of Swiss tourists in their 20’s and 30’s came over and asked if it was safe to be that close, and I told them no problem, and they hung out for the remainder, and I asked one of them if bears were still in the wild in Switzerland, and he told me “not for 100 years” and I mentioned it was funny that a good many Cantons have bears in their heraldic shields, countered by him mentioning the grizzly bear on our flag. We called a truce over missing animals in our respective realms, and enjoyed watching the bear eat lunch.

                1. Lee

                  Have you read Herrero’s Bear Attacks, Their Causes and Avoidance? The title and cover art are misleadingly sensationalized, probably to promote sales in places like Yellowstone. It’s a very thoughtful work on bear behavior, with particular attention to the differences between black bears and grizzlies. One thing that really stuck with me was that black bears without cubs are only rarely aggressive but if you find one showing interest in you, it may be starving and intending to eat you.

                  1. Wukchumni

                    Haven’t read that one, but would recommend Speaking Of Bears, by Rachel Mazur. She was the wildlife biologist here for many years.

                    You’ll hear of a black bear killing somebody 3-5x a year in Canada or NJ or wherever, but nobody’s been killed by one since the 19th century in California.

                    The only bear encounter that was a little sketchy, was when 3 of us were @ Rock Creek on the east side of the Sierra and did a food hang, and I woke up to a food pinata, with a bear on his tiptoes upright swinging a leg at the next week’s sustenance, and shooed him away and in the process woke up my friends, and then the bear retreated about 60 feet away and started growling at us, and it so unnerved us, that we broke camp @ midnight and walked to the nearest site with a bear box a few miles away.

                    1. a different chris

                      Haha must have been a lot of fun loading the food into your packs, and trying to not think about how you were painting a (scent) target on your backs… bet that type of situation is exactly where the “I don’t have to run faster than the bear, just faster than you…” joke came from.

        2. diptherio

          One figured out how to open our big rolling garage door, scattered the trash about and left and “present” in the middle of the floor. He knew exactly what he was doing…

          1. Lee

            I’ve read that wolverines get up to similar purposeful mischief. That is one of a number of critters I’ve never seen in the wild. I assume you may have some up in MT. Have you ever encountered one?

            1. diptherio

              Saw one wander through my front yard a couple months ago…no grizzlies around here, thankfully, but plenty of black bears who really like apples and pears, of which this town is full.

              1. Lee

                Watching through scopes at what grizzlies do to their prey, has made me quite terrified of them. I admire them from afar. Had one run up a hill in my direction. He was criss-crossing through the sage looking for elk calves. He didn’t notice a group of us on the hilltop watch a wolf kill until he was maybe a hundred feet off. He stood up sniffed and surveyed the scene. We were all clutching our Bear Guard and holding our breaths. Thankfully, he detoured around us.

                I met a well known conservationist in Yellowstone who lives in part of Alaska with a lot of g bears. Up there he goes for hikes with a 12 gauge loaded loaded with slugs. I was surprised given who he was. He shrugged and said he could save more bears if he were alive than if he let a grizzly kill him.

      2. mpalomar

        ” It’s about quality, not quantity.”
        Yes and about what intelligence is. There is an argument that human intelligence is not ultimately beneficial nor particularly intelligent. See the state of the planet.

        Humans still don’t know what composes 95% of the universe. If we could only ask the scallops with all those telescoping eyes what it’s all about.

      3. nippersdad

        Re: “There are definitely some cats and black bears out there that are more intelligent than some people.” As a long time fan of Darwin Awards books, I can say with confidence that I have never read about a clam who won one. I think you are being a little generous there. There are, unfortunately, an awful lot of people who are just too stupid to live. There are bacteria out there that are smarter than some of our so-called Homo Sapiens.

        And virtually all of them are on my Congress-critters’ Facebook page.

  13. Merf56

    Re : Stoller on the tax bill. So true. Our daughter and spouse just bought a small ( 1,300 sqft) twin home an hour commute from each of their work because the price and taxes were substantially cheaper. One is a middle school teacher in a relatively poor district. He has heavy student loans as his parents both lost their jobs for almost a year each just as he was preparing for college. He buys huge amounts of supplies for his classroom as his district is money strapped all the time. His new contract just upped his share of health insurance by a huge percentage and my daughter’s is similar in price ( yes he is a ‘do gooder’ who feels he is doing important work for ‘his’ kids. Please no comments about about how stupid he is for entering teaching. We hear enough of that from my money grubbing extended family! Spouse and I are very proud of him).
    My daughter is also massively in debt from grad school for her PhD. We paid her undergradute education fully and she worked as well but frankly we did not have the money to pay seven more years though we helped her with cars, insurance etc.She is now finally a tenure track teaching professor at a small private college and does OK salary wise. We all live in a fairly high tax state – PA. They each do anything extra at work that pays extra – coaching, running a club, sitting on committees etc. she teaches all summer sessions and he works all summer at a local business. They are already planning exactly what will happen to their financial position if the tax bill passes in all its glory. And just told us they will likely have to sell their house and go back to renting as their wages likely not going up much and soon enough to make home ownership and all it entails financially safe for them….. they seem financially typical of many of their friends not outliers. I cannot imagine another housing crash not being in the cards if this monstrosity becomes law. …. The idiots running and the greedy business movers and shakers in the US are making me mentally exhausted and physically ill with worry and disgust…..
    sorry for the novel….
    Please tell me how removing affordability of owning the most modest of homes for two college graduate fully employed people helps the economy prosper?

    1. diptherio

      Anybody who says that going into teaching is stupid, is themselves being a bit on the dense side, if you ask me. All of my teachers have been complete idiots, is quite an interesting assertion for a person to make.

    2. mpalomar

      Perhaps a false narrative about making the country’s economy prosper.
      Housing bubble bust? Elite interests understand now each bump the economy hits provides new opportunities for bargain acquisitions, consolidation and QE & or bailout money.
      Good on your kids for choosing education of young minds. In a decent society….

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      First, they upped his share of health insurance by a huge percentage.

      Then, hers similarly.

      Then, this last straw.

      We look at the last straw, when we chould also say, “Thank you, Obama and Democrats.”

    4. Eclair

      No need to apologize, Merf56. Thank you for telling your story. Our son and daughter-in-law are in their 40’s and still paying off their grad school loans. What causes me to worry, is that they accept this as ‘normal.’

    5. Kokuanani

      Has your daughter’s spouse looked into as a source for some of his school supplies? It’s an organization that receives, then evaluates & posts requests from classroom teachers for a wide range of materials & supplies. It “posts” each classroom’s story on its site so folks can donate. We’ve contributed to projects there for a number of years.

      Unfortunately the site takes a percentage for its work, but it’s a great way for teachers to get both mundane & exotic supplies. Take a look.

      Finally, Christmas is a PERFECT time to publicize one’s DonorsChoose project: ask folks to make a donation to one’s pet project instead of purchasing a worthless Christmas present. And the donation is tax deductible.

    6. Elizabeth Burton

      As the parent of two teachers, and someone who, I’m embarrassed to say, discovered late just how the oligarchs and their government employees have gutted public education, may I ask you to please tell your kids “thank you” for me?

  14. L

    MMT got a shout out in the tax debate from MarketWatch. They now have a video up (which I have not had the time to watch) breaking down the bill from an MMT perspective here

    1. Bugs Bunny

      That’s Stephanie Kelton! MarketWatch bill her as a “public-policy economics professor”. Perfect. This is a great video. Promote the link.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A couple of strategic choices from the MMT perch:

      1. Just cut taxes for the rich. Don’t worry about the deficits. Besides, cutting taxes means more money in the system, in case we have deflation.

      2. You can cut taxes without reduce spending on Social Security, Medicare, etc. Think of the Little People you can save.

      In neither case, military spending is cut.

      Perhaps it’s even possible to spend more under either scenario. And that would be like, “It’s OK the bad guys are starving people to death everywhere. We will just have more babies.” At some point, you have to say no to starving people or bombing people, period. And when you do, you will have the money you need for Medicare-for-All.

      That money has to come from drones. It can’t be “more MMT money for this or that social program, and let those people be bombed.”

  15. JacobiteInTraining

    Does someone who understands the arcane language of trading (and with a passing acquaintance with Bitcoin) have a moment to take a look at this twitter account….and scroll through his/her series of tweets lately?

    Its fascinating if true – seems as if an exchange is able to magically make a construct called ‘tethers’ appear out of thin air, then exchange them for BTC, then get cash, and finally buy more BTC thus causing at least some of the wild BTC price increases of late.

    Disclosure: I have no stake in BTC nor any other cryptocurrency. Although a computer geek, I am uber-retarded when it comes to anything financial beyond just making payroll and – hopefully – insuring all bills are paid in full at the end of the month. :)

  16. rjs

    you missed the story about dying in Japan…

    Thousands of people are dying home alone in Japan, rotting for weeks before they’re found | South China Morning Post: The stench of flesh rotting on a sultry day fills the air as cleaner Hidemitsu Ohshima steps into a tiny Tokyo flat where a dead man lay decomposing for three weeks.
    The man, believed to be in his 50s, died alone in a city he shared with tens of millions of other people but no one noticed, making him the latest victim of “Kodokushi” or “dying alone” – a growing trend in ageing Japan.
    Decked out in a white protective suit complete with rubber gloves, Ohshima lifts up a futon mattress soaked with the dead man’s bodily fluids, only to uncover a writhing mass of maggots and black bugs.
    “Ugh, this is serious,” he says. “You wear protective suits to defend yourself from bugs that may or may not be carrying diseases.”
    Kodokushi is a growing problem in Japan, where 27.7 per cent of the population is aged over 65 and many people are giving up trying to find partners in middle age, opting instead for a solitary existence.
    Experts say a combination of uniquely Japanese cultural, social and demographic factors have compounded the problem.
    There are no official figures for the number of people dying alone who stay unnoticed for days and weeks but most experts estimate it at 30,000 per year.

    1. Wukchumni

      I know an American fellow that died in the very same manner. He was only 57, but to look at him the way he shuffled his feet and moved, you’d think 87.

      Life dealt him a bad hand in that he got the short stick in terms of health in the family, but the fact is he just gave up on living a long time ago and when his curtain call came, he was found expired in the bedroom of his apartment when he was slow on paying the rent, and the only person that cared was the apartment manager-as he wanted to get paid.

      The apartment was a curious shamble, in that the deceased seemed to go out and buy new clothes every week, wear them for a week, and then throw them on the floor and repeat the process. There was 3 feet of barely used clothes on the floor of his bedroom along with 15 sets of sheets-he obviously didn’t believe in washing. There must’ve been 500 movie CD’s, around 300 of them unopened and new in the box. Looking at credit card receipts, he ate out for every meal. There were bags of candy everywhere, although the kitchen was almost bereft of food.

      A partially assembled new bicycle was on his balcony, it had been there a few years.

      The only thing he really had left was his ability to prove he could consume, as he had largely cut off ties with his family and was a shut in.

      He was my brother.

      1. s.n.

        wow. without doubt the most emotionally-moving comment i have ever read on a chatboard. Time for me to take a few hours pause to contemplate the meaning of existence.

      2. L

        I am very very sorry to hear that. I don’t even want to imagine how painful that was, is. For what its worth you have all my sympathy.

      3. a different chris

        Wow and I was just bothered by myself being the one who was “Wrong On The Internet” about Japanese deaths alone in the earlier posting. Sure puts it in perspective. Sorry to hear about your brother.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Kick Against the Pricks NYRB. A useful heuristic:

    What’s been particularly horrifying to learn is the seriality of the harassment enterprise, the enormous numbers of victims so many of the sexual exploiters racked up. It’s like they’re on autopilot, programmed to extract sex—or recompense, or humiliation, or something—from unwilling women. Whatever they’re after, clearly no quantity of it ever suffices. Learning about other humans acting so robotically presents a conceptual difficulty. We wish to emphasize the moral agency of the predators, their supposed gains—sadistic pleasure, the glee of getting away with it—which enlarges their monstrosity and distinguishes them from the rest of us. But who would “choose” to be a robot?

    Is it prevalent in other countries?

    So far, most reported incidents are American.

    Is it because victims are more free or more protected to speak up (but not before in the same country, though)?

    Is it because we are too ‘over-sexed’ as the Brits complained during WWII, when we were ‘over there, over-paid?’ Something unique about our country, something exceptional, though the over-paid part we have ‘worked hard’ to remedy, so only a few still are.

    Are we still over-sexed?

    (For sure we’re still over ‘there.’)

    Perhaps foreigners can better observe us and answer this question.

    1. Annotherone

      “Is it prevalent in other countries?” – I wouldn’t say it’s prevalent in Britain, but it happens regularly. When I worked on the admin. side of the Employment Tribunals, for around 25 years, mid 1970s to end of 1990s, we received a constant dribble of cases involving sexual harassment in the workplace. Bearing in mind that in comparison to the USA, UK is tiny – comparable to just one good-sized US state, the proportion of complaints in normal times might be considered similar. Just now in the USA we’re seeing a glut of accusations, the floodgates having been opened by the Weinstein stories.
      There are some harassment cases in the UK among those mentioned here:

      “Are we still over-sexed?” “Something exceptional?” From observation, I’d say men in general in the USA are just prone to more exaggeration than British men – lots of hyperbole goes on here. Exceptional? No…sorry! :)

      1. Angie Neer

        Keep in mind that “over-sexed” in that context did not mean getting a lot of sex, it meant obsessed with it.

        1. Annotherone

          Yes, there’s that, a form of addiction, I guess. Are men in the USA more prone to that? The instances we read about are mostly “celebs” of one sort or another, and the USA has lots of those. Whether ordinary, everyday guys in the USA are more prone to it than ordinary men in the UK, is anybody’s guess.

      2. a different chris

        >UK is tiny – comparable to just one good-sized US state,

        No, it’s got twice the population of our biggest state, California. Barely falls short of our biggest three states put together. You Brits need to restiffen the upper lip. :)

    2. c_heale

      I think it’s probably around everywhere, and the number of repeat offenders is probably a certain percentage in every country dependant on the culture (for example India seems to have a major problem with this, if the news reports are to be believed). It seems possible that a small minority (this certainly seems to happen with burglary) is committing a large proportion of these crimes, and if these people were treated then the number of incidents would diminish drastically.

  18. Steve H.

    “So, to top it all off, we have elite conflict between owners of different kinds of capital.”


    “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.” – Zuzu

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      And multinationals and private equity are losing by quite a bit.

      The winners, from what I understand, are corporations, unless, as mentioned above, such corporations are multinational corporations.

      That is, it favors not-multinational corporations. Is that right?

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      This pertains, I think, to some of the issues in the FT link: “How Donald Trump uses tribal loyalties to drive economic optimism”. The rank and file within his preferred tribe isn’t going to do well under Trumponomics; they are going to do a tremendous faceplant in the next few years (before dying young). But, there is a discrete leadership caste they suck up to who are going to do quite well indeed. The upper 10-15% within their subculture will be living the life of Riley as well.

      The part of our upper class who are gleeful about Trump are, roughly, the flyover elite. Who still derive considerable income and prestige from “traditional business” activities. The oil patch. Other extractive industries. Some farming industry. Professional service provision for these industries. Contract work for the military/intelligence/security state, and provision of goods and services to various factions within it. Residential and commercial construction, and transport.

      There are a lot of loud, swaggering welfare cowboy types who will make out real well in Trump’s America. Their economic optimism is probably grounded in an accurate view of the situation. They don’t need actual bulk consumer spending to increase in order to do well in comparison to the poor sods around them. Just as the haughty tech-elite in Palo Alto don’t notice the those living in beat up, 30 year old RVs along all the back roads on the peninsula, the McMansion and coal rolling pick up elite in, say, Oklahoma City aren’t going to notice the increasing poverty of people a few miles away, who never did show up in the economic stats anyhow..

      As near as I can see, “consumer confidence” surveys never have tapped the real U.S. population accurately or effectively. They alway reflected the sentiments of a pretty well off subset, which is why they can be so skewed by propaganda.

      1. Mike Mc

        ^x1000. Having spent most of my 60 plus years in flyover country – albeit the college towns or the urban oasis – this describes the Trumpists in my locale to a T. They usually own or manage small to medium businesses that have managed to thrive in the Dodgeball economics of the past couple of decades as described.

        Convincing them that the 0.1 Percent or 1 Percent are ruining the nation (and world) will be a tall task. Since they’ve made it into the 10 Percent, most of them figure they might just make it to the Land of The 1 to 0.1 Percent if they let the GOP and Trump have their way. I think they’re dead wrong but don’t know – I’m an IT fossil working for Big Ed at a state U slouching towards retirement… in other words, handy when their computer needs fixing but otherwise ignorable and disposable.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Republicans rewriting tax bill — with fight pushed into Friday Politico

    Republicans’ tax reform drive hit by deficit projections FT

    I’m not necessarily comforted by the fact that the R’s are not invoking MMT here. They could actually make corporations even happier.

    1. djrichard

      The only redeeming value of this tax cut bill is that it finally breaks from deficit orthodoxy. The GOP has thrown caution to the wind, how about the dems? Nope, they’re going to stick with that ol time deficit/austerity religion they knew and grew up with. Them and a few GOPers apparently, who must now be appeased.

      My biggest concern is how this is going to play out down the road. We haven’t heard the last of the orthodoxy; this is an existential crisis for them (and for their owners). They’ll need a crisis that they can glom onto, to bring this to a head, in the hopes of forcing the non-believers to back down. Even better, to get the non-believers to confess to heresy and re-sign up for that old time religion. At which time, they won’t take it out of the hide of their owners to reduce the deficit. No, they’ll take it out of the hide of the little people. Just like their owners want.

      1. todde

        “The president had promised to cut taxes, and he did. Within six months of taking office, he pushed a trillion dollars worth of tax cuts through Congress.

        But O’Neill thought it should have been the end. After 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan, the budget deficit was growing. So at a meeting with the vice president after the mid-term elections in 2002, Suskind writes that O’Neill argued against a second round of tax cuts.

        “Cheney, at this moment, shows his hand,” says Suskind. “He says, ‘You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter. We won the mid-term elections, this is our due.’ … O’Neill is speechless.””

        Deficits only matter when a Democrat is President

  20. Louis

    The Financial Advisor article reveals what should have been obvious all along: most Republicans don’t have the guts to admit they oppose Medicare and Social Security, so they use nonsense like this tax bill as cover to force spending cuts—if not outright elimination—to these programs without having to go on record as being against Medicare and Social Security.

    1. abynormal

      “Politicians are like diapers, they need to be changed often and for the same reason.” ~Mark Twain, 1903

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Matt Stoller

    This tax bill is a fundamental re-plumbing of the American economy. Getting rid of homeownership as a policy goal. Eliminating a whole swath of the safety net and government in blue states. Ending taxation on concentrated capita


    Getting rid of homeownership would be to abolish Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    Eliminating home mortgage deduction will hurt homeownership, but maybe there is a case for it.

    *I assume this is what is meant:

    Getting rid of homeownership = policy goal. (Here, you don’t want any people to own homes at all)

    And not

    Getting rid of one particular policy goal (where goal = homeownership). (Here, you take government out of homeownership. People may still own, but it’s their business).

    1. Louis

      There is definitely a case for eliminating, or at least reducing, the mortgage interest deduction as it inflates home prices. There is also that fact that if you can claim it beyond your first home it’s no longer a middle-class break but rather a tax break for the upper-middle class and wealthy.

      Very few people think we should get rid of homeownership. However, some question the extent to which the government should be involved (if at all) in housing policy, as things like the mortgage interest deduction and federally guaranteeing mortgages, especially for larger mortgages, have often resulted in perverse unintended consequences.

      1. JTMcPhee

        All so complicated. “Home ownership” (itself a misdirection term except for “all-cash” buyers or the few who have “burned the mortgage”, the actual situation is “allowed to live in and maintain and improve a building as long as you pay the monthly mortgage rent, and taxes”) is supporting the expansion of the slurb and all the consumption and waste that goes with it, the gatedness and garage-door fronts and crapified construction and demand for public services and feeding the G-D- REALTORS ™ and “developers,” paving over huge swathes of the planet and auto-dependence. Maybe there’s a case to be made for discouraging and penalizing and ending certain subsidies ?(but not for Rich Folk, of course).

        But then, think about how “property” is actually owned in the US and so many other places, and who actually controls the infilling and out-building and concentration of actual ownership and collects the rents, all in service to enriching the Elite and impoverishing and immiserating the Mopery. What case can actually be made for forcing poorly paid people, pushing loads like student loans and other debts that “the culture” sort of forces on the Hopeful Entrants, up an almost vertical hill, urged on by the goads of willing overseers like banksters and ‘debt collectors’ and of course “the government,” into almost Dickensian “housing choices” that are not really “choices” at all? And how about all those recent foreclosures (since 2008), and who bought up the “Stock?”

        Here we go aga-ainnn:

        PS: I thought the Dems once again threw away a potent bit of meme during the first Reagan presidential race, and the second also — “Annie” was very au courant first as a stage production and then as a movie — could have played very well on this song and dance by substituting “Ronald Reagan” for “Herbert Hoover,” it even scans the same. But the movie left this catchy song right out of the script. Wonder why?

        “It’s so very complicated. But if you are really smart, or lucky, you can get rich off the misery and dispossession of others…”

      2. Lee

        As a homeowner (with the bank still owning about half the equity), I gotta say that residential housing strikes me as something of a capital sink. There is all this putative value just sitting there keeping the weather off my back, transporting energy and clean water in and transporting wastes out. How would one calculate the utility value and does it indeed equal the market value? These are not rhetorical questions; I really have no idea.

        I have come to the conclusion that for my progeny’s sake, I’m going to keep the place to ensure that they have a foothold in the town in which they were raised and could not now afford to buy, should they wish to keep it.

      3. Montanamaven

        Debt is one very big perverse consequence of home ownership. If we had much more affordable rental or communal options, who needs the headache of home repairs, painting, mowing and a big debt. If you have a mortgage, you do not have “ownership” of your home anyway.

        1. Louis

          I agree on all accounts, though I would argue that the reason rental options are so bad is, in large part, the result of how biased U.S. housing policy is towards homeownership. Homeowners get tax breaks and, in some cases, federal guaranteed mortgages, whereas renters cannot deduct their rent, nor is their much in the way of guaranteed rent.

          I think what it comes down to is that renters are viewed as loser and undeserving of help, whereas homeowners are viewed as hardworking and worthy of help. I’m not saying this is a fair perception–most renters are hardworking, responsible people–but that is the perception in both policy as well as on the part of the NIMBY crowd who fight rentals tooth and nail, even if it’s market rate.

          Renting is not a moral failing in my mind, nor do I think renters are any better or worse than homeowners; however, many seeing things differently resulting in the dysfunctional housing policies we have today.

          1. Montanamaven

            Totally agree with the perspective that you mention of renters as “losers” in suburbia and small town America. But when I lived in Manhattan I lived in a rent stabilized two bedroom two bath penthouse for $400 a month in 1976 and $800 a month in 1987. But in 1987 the co-op craze began and the number of great rentals started disappearing. NYC had it right, but went the way of neo-liberalism instead of sensible policy. Downhill ever since.

      4. wilroncanada

        Home ownership for the working and middle classes has been a stated US policy for at least 70 years. Even those on the fringes could “own” mobile homes. The US has for virtually all that time had the highest percentage of homeowners of any country in the world. The change will be dramatic for those who have descended out of the middle or working classes into that fringe group, and for those who are still clinging to their mobiles and haven’t traded them in for camper trucks or vans to hit the road to the various Amazon campsites.

        I believe house prices in both Canada and Australia, and perhaps other countries, are higher than the US, though Canada, I know, has never had mortgage interest deductability.

  22. JTMcPhee

    How many of us recall from “history,” or were ever even exposed to, the part of medieval society called the “Robber Barons?” (Much less the much more recent set of Robber Barons of the late 19th-early 20th, and late 20th-early 21st centuries?) Local tolls were a “feature” of the “Great Interregnum,” and were supposed to be levied only under sanction from the Holy Roman Emperor, except mostly not. At least “we” have “progressed” to where the imperial power center sanctions and encourages stuff like what’s described in this link, the “absorbing” of the “seized property” of us mopes — many other examples of which have appeared in NC:

    Looks like America is well on the way to a renascence of all the features and benefits of feudalism, without even the very questionable “benefits” of a “Renaissance” and “Enlightement” at the end of the tunnel. This being just one, among so many other indicia…

  23. diptherio

    Re Wells Fargo: Did any regulators ever follow up on that In re Jones case from a few years back? You know, the one where they admitted that their accounting software mis-amortized people’s mortgages on a systematic basis…and then refused to fix it. Yeah…didn’t think so.

    1. diptherio

      …and the fines mentioned in the article are once again cost-of-doing-business sized wrist-slaps. No word of any individuals being held in any way accountable.

  24. Sutter Cane

    I have been wondering about this, too. Disaster fatigue seems to have pushed concerns about the housing market to the back burner. What with so many other more pressing problems, real estate seems to be doing fine. But I can’t help but notice that

    1. Housing keeps getting more expensive (in the cities that have jobs, anyway)
    2. Wages have not increased at the same rate

    I’m no expert but it seems like that can’t go on indefinitely.

    Of course, new normal, permanently high plateau, etc.

    1. Roland

      Here in Vancouver, BC, people are crowding up to afford rents. It is now common for mature non-relatives to be long-term room-mates.

      We are also getting semi-formal shantytowns. What happens is that the “temporary” homeless camps get so big, and stay so long, that eventually the authorities have to allow some sort of water supply and waste disposal.

      It seems that the outcome is simply that the living standards keep falling.

  25. Olga

    China pumps billions into Iranian economy as Western firms hold off South China Morning
    No doubt the downfall of the west will come about – in large part – because of its inability to think long-term.

    1. Wukchumni

      China quite simply has no shackles of past history to stop them, unlike the colonial wrest of the west.

      1. Olga

        Depends on how one looks at it – China does have a rather keen memory of “the century of humiliation” (i.e., 19th cent.) – which – I am quite sure – it never wants to repeat. Offense is best defense…

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        All the tax farmers under the Mongol Rule in China, from the time they defeated the Jurchens and their Jin dynasty in North China, to when they captured the Southern Song dynasty, were Persians, who got very rich, so rich – and this is my theory – they sponsored the Blue and White porcelain production in Jingdezhen, when the so-call Zhizhen prototype first emerged during the eponymous reign.

        Nothing so beautiful had been fired in a kiln before. Those Persians’ wealth and the taste for blue (the Islamic color) and white (the Mongol’s ancestral color) probably had something to do with the choice. And the faces of figures painted on them often appear Persian, because, again my theory, Persian artisans were there, who brought with them the so-called Su Ma Li blue, cobalt from Persia.

        Luckily, little animosity against Persians exists in China today. More likely forgetfulness – they would like to forget Persians’ role in what Mao said was one the three great inheritances of China – porcelain being one of them. And today’s Chinese would not be alone. Chinese in the last 600 years refused to think Mongols could have fired them, and all Yuan blue and whites were labelled Early Ming, or provincial wares.

    2. Objective Function

      Iranian foreign trade is pretty much controlled by the Republican Guard, a vast conglomerate combining organizational elements of the SS, Cosa Nostra and Knights Templar. So any dealings with them are problematic, no matter how long a view you choose to take.

  26. LaRuse

    Re 2017 Baby Bust – I have real difficulty seeing why a reduction in fertility in the US is something to be alarmed by. With the degradation of the job market, the increase in automation, the crapification of social and public services, why in the world do we a) need more people and b) who even wants to bring a child into a world with a pretty bleak looking future?
    We have one child by very much pre-planned choice, and I love my kid, but you couldn’t pay me to have a second child.
    Even back in 2007, I had no economic power to be home with my baby for more than 6 weeks; my husband had to be back to work before I was even home with the baby. I went back to my cushy state job with severe post-partum depression and a nasty and lingering painful fungal infection picked up from the hospital. It was hell. Lucky me, my insurance was good enough to get me on good anti-depressants that just made me kind of numb for a few months.
    I can’t now and couldn’t then afford child care. We are lucky my mother was interested in serving as a caretaker while my husband and I worked (and she lives with us full time now in a mutually beneficial arrangement).
    Even though my kidlet is on an “Accelerated” program for gifted kids, because of our address, she is still in one of the worst schools in our county and we have had no possibility of getting her into a better school of any kind. We are saving for college, but I always affirm to her that if college doesn’t work out, having a real skill or trade can be just as good. Will we be able to get all the money we have put into that “tax advantaged” program back if she opts out of college??? We aren’t sure.
    My kid is a girl and so I ponder what further regressions in her rights and available opportunities we will see in her future if politics remain on the track they are.
    All things considered, given our economic position, we have been fairly lucky as a family with our childcare and opportunities. We are generally in the lower middle class economic bracket (though even lower since my husband was laid off in October), but fortunate in general. But I would still NEVER consider having another child; our luck (and finances) would dry up pretty fast.
    Why on Earth would anyone want to have lots of kids in our current socio-economic environment unless they just really felt a deep rooted religious or hormonal need to make more kids???

  27. Byron the Light Bulb

    “New Cold War” is a bit histrionic in light of the Flynn indictment, the Russian Affair is turning out to be an old-fashion bribery case. When faced with de rigueur coercive pressure from the Chekists, the well-worn amygdala of President Elect misfired with an impulse to shakedown the Putin regime for some gelt in exchange for restoration of banking privileges, playing a nation-state “no, you are, but what am I?” game. Was it Jared or Ivanka’s idea to use the fired head of the DIA as a discrete go-between? With secrets to cash in, Flynn was practically glowing from all the electromagnetic radiation the IC’s prophylactic surveillance was putting out, not to mention the SVR’s SOP load-out. When Flynn and Kisylak shook hands, the audio feedback must have been epic. Like a JAMC show.

      1. visitor

        I think that DIA is Defense Intelligence Agency and SOP Standard Operating Procedure, but the remaining acronyms (IC, SVR, JAMC) are a mystery.

        1. Byron the Light Bulb

          IC = Intel Community [US], SVR = Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki [Russian Foreign Intel Service], JAMC = The Jesus and Marychain, a legendary Scottish band, sounds like the unholy lovechild of The Shangri-La’s and a Stuka siren.

        2. Vatch

          JAMC is the Jesus and Mary Chain, a Scottish alternative rock band.

          SVR is the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.

          IC is Intelligence Community.

          I had to look up two of those.

      2. geoff

        JAMC = The Jesus and Mary Chain, Scotland’s finest noise rockers! Byron, I was lucky enough to see them just a couple weeks ago, and you’ll be happy to know they’re still quite feedback-tastic : ) Awesome reference, sir.

        (They may be most famous for the end song in Sofia Coppola’s “Lost In Translation”, their Ronettes meet The Stooges “Just Like Honey”.)

        1. c_heale

          The JAMC are one of the greatest bands to ever come out of the UK. I grew up listening to their early albums and they have never been bettered.

    1. fresno dan

      Byron the Light Bulb
      December 1, 2017 at 11:17 am

      I tend to agree with you, and if there is anything to the Trump Russia connection, it was all about Trump making a buck. I think Trump leveraging government sanctions to make money was simply irresistible to Trump.
      I think Trump stood a chance of surviving if the only charge against him was “collusion” – a rather nebulous term, and with many examples of president nominees and elects…conspiring, consulting, contacting –
      whatever word you choose – foreign governments on any range of issues. But trying to make a buck is something Trump’s base will understand and I think, not support.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A good lawyer can get anyone off with the Twinkie Defense.

        And it would be hard to find jurors not knowing his mental instability.

        I think he beats this, and afterwards, he recovers to beat the impeachment attempt.

        “It was only temporary. I’ve given up on Twinkies.”

  28. Vatch

    I noticed something in the most recent Senate roll call vote on the tax bill. A procedural motion by Sen. Stabenow was defeated 55-45, and 3 Democrats joined the Republicans: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Manchin is also one of the Democrats who voted for the reconfirmation of Ajit Pai as an FCC commissioner. All three are up for reelection in 2018 — I hope they are all challenged in their primaries. I know that Paula Jean Swearengin is challenging Manchin; I don’t know whether the other two have challengers.

  29. JohnnyGL

    Great clip of Bernie making a fool out of Senators Rubio and Toomey regarding Medicare and SS cuts. He calls out Rubio for the quotes listed above in the links today. He then calls out Toomey for only guaranteeing “no cuts” for “current retirees”.

    If there’s one area where Bernie’s always been on his game over the years, it’s when the congress tries to jam through tax cuts. Recall he did an old-school filibuster on Obama’s legislation to make most of the GW Bush cuts permanent.

  30. crittermom

    RE: Wells Fargo
    “Why are these criminals still walking the streets?”
    Because, just as with MERS & the mtg fiasco, doing illegal business is much more profitable even after paying the fines, than doing legit business, & ‘our’ govt has no guts to fully prosecute banking criminals.
    IIRC, the fines imposed upon the banks for all their illegal practices only amounts to roughly 10% of the profits they made by their illegal activities. At least that’s what happened with their illegal practices regarding HAMP from what I read. And of course, none went to jail (with exception of one low-hanging fruit meant to appease us–Lorraine Brown).
    In short, it’s because it’s no longer a govt ‘of the people, by the people, FOR the people’.

    I love my country but remain disgusted with ‘our’ govt.
    I’m ready for a Kickstarter campaign to send those at the top (both Rep & Dem) to be the first to explore Mars.

    1. Wukchumni

      Right around the time the various Unabankers were paying hefty civil fines that were mere dollops compared to largess lavished on them, I got caught doing 10 mph over the limit, and with traffic court fees, etc, it was $450 out of my wallet, and I forget which bank had paid what and how much, but it struck me that they paid a similar fine in percentage to that of my moving violation if I was earning an average annual income.

      In my defense, I asked the court for $45,000 cash in a brown paper bag, and told them they could take what they needed out of it, but the judge didn’t buy my Unabanker imitation, so I wrote a check.

  31. John k

    Tax bill would seriously worsen inequality…
    Well, of course. That’s the point of the exercise.

    Harassers never get enough, just like nobody can ever have too much money.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Once a critical mass is reached, a small clump starts to pull into other smaller chunks. That’s how planets formed, for example, when the driving force is gravity.

      A system, any system, after a while, will see concentrated centers. That seems inevitable that there might be a general physics law behind it.

      We can hope it is not so, because we would like to feel we have the choice of acting to prevent it.

      It’s not completely hopeless if it is not so, though. The option then is for system reset. But we have to recognize it.

    1. a different chris

      It’s not just low. I ordered some electric gizmo from China once (I really, really avoid Amazon). It was something roughly palmsized — I honestly can’t think of what it was at the moment. Anyway, it was $5.99, with free shipping. From China. And it showed up in like 4 days.

      How does this make any sense at all?

      1. georgieboy

        State support. Many of China’s companies are in fact owned by municipalities, provincial govts, military units, etc. They keep people working (often at a loss) to reduce social conflict.

        An easy view of this is to go shopping: Chinese cities have department stores that are staffed like Nordstrom’s in the 1980s.

  32. Wukchumni

    Flynn turned chicken Kiev when caught lying to the FBI about contacts with the Russians, and plead guilty and is cooperating with the Feds.

    Look for the reign of error to start a war somewhere, soon.

  33. hemeantwell

    Re The Red and the Black at Jacobin, an excellent article for anyone interested in a market socialism option to capitalism, with that option being considered both as a freestanding model and how it might be transitioned to without severe economic disruption. After reading it, the only serious argument for the infeasibility of socialism is that capitalist elites would rather exercise a Doomsday political-military counter than allow it to happen. Better Dead than Red.

    1. Grebo

      Thanks for flagging that up. It deserves much more prominent billing than it got. Recommended for anyone wondering what an alternative—but not centrally planned—political-economy might look like and how it might be reached.

  34. Summer

    “In his remarks, Mr. Arnade argued that the greatest divide in the country is education. His photo presentation revealed how kids who grew up in the “front row” — those who are mobile, are well-educated, and have large social networks via colleges and careers — have experienced a vastly different America than kids from the “back row” — those who stay in the town where they are born, usually lack any education beyond high school, and generally view their lives as worse off than their parents’…”

    It’s being deeply explored why people stay. However, is education and job opportunity all that is keeping the “front row” kids from returning to the home towns? What would really keep someone from returning to a place they felt an affinity for and knew that they could help?

    1. MichaelSF

      If your parents were mobile, you may not have a home town to move back to. My father (rural poor kid in OK during the Depression) was the first in his family to graduate from college (GI Bill). We’d lived in two states (OK, IA) before moving to CA where I started school, then midway through 5th grade we moved again to NM where I went through university before moving to LA for almost two years, then to Los Angeles for about the same amount of time, before finally ending up in San Francisco midway through 1979. SF is now “home” but before then I guess it would have been NM where my mother/sister were except my father by then was in NV, so if I’d needed to move back in for help there would have been two options, with ABQ the more “home-ish” of the two.

      That’s a lot different than if you are second or third generation in your family to live in the same neighborhood (my wife is 4th gen San Franciscan who couldn’t picture us buying a house a couple of miles away in Daly City (just to the south) because “no one lives there.”) :-)

      Social safety nets are where you find them, but after a couple of generations of people being very mobile (not to mention families splitting up and merging with other split families) I’d guess that a lot of people don’t have an “old home town” with sufficient friends/family to which they can look to for certain refuge. And there may not be a lot of family feeling in an extended family where those in the next generation have always lived states away and have been seen for only a few hours several times as they were growing up.

      On the other hand, I like the idea that friends are the family you get to choose. True friends may very likely be more reliable than family that have either grown distant or that you were never all that close to even if you grew up with them. Some people are quite happy to leave dysfunctional families behind them.

  35. Norb

    Re: North Korea and the completion of their missile program.

    One of the links provided by a commentator to the MOA article was a New York Times/ Nicholas Kristof interview in North Korea. It is refreshing to see the North Korean official cutting off Kristof as he tries to begin the interview with self-effacing rhetoric. The official tells him to cut the pleasantries and ask your questions- to get on with it. He then proceeds to answer questions in a stark, straightforward manner that totally disarms Kristof and leaves him speechless. To my mind priceless and delivered in a truthful frankness that is sorely needed in the west. It is no surprise that the video is edited to include a voiceover that concludes/ interprets the official’s language as “vitriolic” instead of the sane, rational answer to the questions posed.

    What we are witnessing is the rapid collapse of American Empire. We are reaching the point where it is almost happening in real time. The political leadership in America has spouted lies and falsehoods for so long, they are incapable of seeing that no one is buying their propaganda and BS any longer. As time goes on, Americas military dominance alone will no longer protect our interests overseas and if the worst does happen, a larger uncontrolled war, chances are many will not side with the US is the opportunity arises.

    It is painful to watch the American elite trying to keep failed ideologies going. The rest of the world is moving on and desperately trying to resist American Empire and find alternatives. North Korea being an example of a long standing policy finally coming to fruition.

    Americans are indeed a lucky people. But until the those same people wake up to useless destruction our Nation dishes out around the globe, I think time will turn Winston Churchill’s famous saying on its head, ” Never in the field of human conflict was so much LOST by so few to the detriment of so many”.

    Surely, there has to be a critical mass of SANE people left in government to avert such a calamity as a nuclear exchange. But this once again points to the fact that TINA requires that no alternative can ever appear to win.

    The crazies need to be driven from government, and that begins here at home.

  36. Oregoncharles

    “But who would “choose” to be a robot?”

    I don’t think we choose our sexuality. This is actually an argument that many, certainly the serial offenders, have mental problems. I’m not sure I buy that; there’s such a thing as taking advantage. Some people have very poor self-restraint. Rivera’s indiscreet comment that an erection “doesn’t have a conscience” is to the point. It’s the head, the person, that’s supposed to.

    However: did anyone else notice that James Toback, in particular, sounded pathetic? Not to his victims, of course, but all of that just so he could masturbate in front of a witness? He really wasn’t getting much.

    In fact, both Toback and Louis CK have a well-known syndrome: they’re exhibitionists. It’s a compulsion, so yes, robots. Toback gets no sympathy; he was aggressively taking advantage of his position, without regard for the women he shocked. Louis is a bit different: he was treating it as a kink, and asking, because that’s what you’re supposed to do with a kink. There are a couple of problems with that; probably the biggest is that the payoff is the shock effect, and he was getting that just by asking. Also, out of the blue is not how you’re supposed to propose a kink. I saw no reports that he was taking advantage of actual power over them, and I think I read most of them. Basically, he was being really rude.

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