Links 5/20/18

A plant that could save civilization, if we let it Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (JT McPhee)

Bach at the Burger King LARB

Dolphins are breaking into nets to steal fish thanks to overfishing Treehugger

Politicians posing with re-useable cups won’t solve the plastics crisis New Statesman

Coming in from the Cold n+1

Every bishop in Chile just resigned over the child sex abuse scandal Vox

Cannes: Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘Shoplifters’ Wins Palme d’Or Hollywood Reporter

Health Care


FDA calls out 39 drug companies for allegedly blocking access to generics Stat

Americans distrusting Big Pharma seek traditional Chinese cures Nikkei Asian Review

Are Octopuses Actually Space Aliens? Scientists Reveal Provocative Theory Sputnik News (Chuck L) Octopuses are not aliens, but boy are they a bunch of beautiful weirdos Popular Science

I will not eat octopus again. Sic Semper Tyrannis

Bred to Suffer The Intercept Glenn Greenwald.


CDC prepares to join Ebola fight in Africa The Hill

Trade Tantrum

Trade war averted? China vows to buy more from US, but truce will take time SCMP

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Website leaked real-time location of most US cell phones to almost anyone Ars Technica

Digital journalism’s disappearing public record, and what to do about it Columbia Journalism Review

New Cold War

Making Excuses for Russiagate Consortium News

Labour targets ‘Big Four’ after Carillion collapse FT

Class Warfare

How Baby Boomers Broke America Time

Tucson Draws the Line on Prison Privatization TruthOut

Socialists and Progressives Just Trounced the Democratic Establishment In These Times (Judy B)

A Little Bit of Real People Weekly Standard

Subway Woes? Don’t Blame Workers TruthOut

Who is the freeloader: the working poor on food stamps — or corporations that don’t pay them enough? Vox

Antitrust nearly slew Microsoft. Can it adapt to tech giants like Facebook? San Fran Chronicle

I drove in Los Angeles traffic for 10 years, and Elon Musk’s Boring Company tunnel plan is the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen Business Insider

ISS sides against two Tesla directors, backs split of Musk’s roles Reuters

The U.S. birthrate hits another record low. Even women in their 30s are having fewer babies LA Times


Brexit: betting the farm


Syria Sit-Rep – Liberating The M5 Lifeline Moon of Alabama

Congress to Consider Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights Free Beacon (The Rev Kev)

Israel is at the height of its power after the embassy opening in Jerusalem – but uncritical support from the US will do it more damage than good Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

Letter from Iran: Mr. Trump, you have been served Asia Times (Chuck L). Pepe Escobar.

The US and Other Battle Hawks Are Taking a Big Risk in Iran The Wire

EU promised to save nuclear deal: Iranian negotiator Politico

In a More Rational World, the US and Iran Would Have Full Diplomatic Relations TruthOut

Everything You Need to Know About the Turkish Elections Jacobin

Trump Transition

Republicans claw at each other over farm bill implosion Politico

ICE Is So Out Of Control, The Bush Appointees Are Benchslapping Them Now AbovetheLaw

Giuliani’s Pooch The Baffler

Trump Drives Wedge Between Germany and France Der Spiegel

Very Few Voters Actually Read Trump’s Tweets FiveThirtyEight

Scott Pruitt’s approach to pollution control will make the air dirtier and Americans less healthy The Conversation

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Mel

      We’ve been discussing this for a couple of years at least, surely longer. Long enough that Time has decided that it’s a hot issue, and they can mention it and we will click on them.

      1. polecat

        I’ve got no time to ‘click’ on Time .. wasters as they are !

        I DO enjoy their mag covers however, being the contrary indicators (in a visual sense) of what is actually conveyed within.

      1. Baby Gerald

        Without reading anything but the title of the article, one notices a distinct aroma of ageism around it. Let the millenials get angry at the Gen-Yers, the Gen-Yers can blame the Gen-Xers and they, in turn, can direct their ire at the Baby Boomers. Just another way to make the precariat class blame itself for its situation rather than direct its attention at the true causes- the corporations, their minions in government, and the decades of deregulation- that resulted in the gutting out of the middle class.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          Actually, Brill’s thesis–and Brill is a Boomer–is that there has been an unanticipated impact from the efforts of elite colleges in the 60s and 70s to bring in more class diversity by recruiting bright working and middle class kids. Blankfein and Bernanke, both Harvard Class of ’75 and Winthrop House, would be excellent examples, especially the former. These bright folks, if they were inclined to play the game, were offered access to the tools the rich had been utilizing for decades to protect their power and privilege. They made “better” and more ruthless use of those tools than more secure and perhaps less bright born MIRCs, and they have managed not only to put themselves in positions of power and privilege but they also then increased the protection the system provided to what Brill calls the Protected Class.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            A system does not have to be natural.

            And a system is designed to have certain features.

            Is it a feature, and not a bug, of nature, and not just particular to the current system we have, that education strengthens the status quo, makes the system robust, fortifies the protected class, and amdits the brightest and most contributing into the 0.1%, but does not return them to enrich the middle or lower class they came from?

          2. Lord Koos

            The “protected class” certainly isn’t the majority of boomers. I have heard that billionaire Peter Thiel is one of the main promoters of this meme against baby boomers. Just another way to divide and conquer, I hope younger generations are not suckered by this BS.

          3. JTFaraday

            Well, another byproduct of this expansion of higher ed was an emphasis on career and vocational education more generally, increasingly to the exclusion of any kind of broad based liberal education component.

            This is in potentially catastrophic over drive now with the emphasis on cost-benefit analysis, but it’s been moving in this direction for a long time.

        2. JTMcPhee

          I’m very much a Boomer, right at the bleeding edge of the category,born in mid-1946, nine months after my dad returned from Navy action in the South Pacific. My family was single-income most of my young life, holding on to the ragged lower edges of what I think of as “middle class.” My mom eventually did substitute teaching, and eventually more regular work as a reception person at the local “Trust and Savings Bank.” The bank president, to whom I delivered newspapers every day, lived two doors down, and loved to lord it over my folks, who had frequently to go to him at the bank for what are now “payday loans.” Interest rate back then was 5-7%, for little sums like $125 and $180. Savings accounts, passbook accounts like the one where I deposited my paper route money, paid I recall 1 1/2%.

          We McPhees were part of the “almosts.” Trying to maintain a certain “standard,” participating as best we could in the “middle class white” lifestyle. Requiring recourse to a whole lot of what my parents, who grew up in the Depression of the 1930s, learned from their folks: Eat it up, wear it out, make it do (or make it ourselves) and doing without. My folks were great community assets — did lots of volunteer stuff, helped initiate “Northbrook Days” which is still an annual event, were spark plugs in the Service Club, Mom in PEO like her mother before her (my grandpa says the secret PEO moniker stood for Phoning Each Other).

          All of this life, and the life around us, was based on consumption, of course. And Growth. We lived in what had been a raffish former roadhouse and farm town called “Shermerville,” re-named “Northbrook” to
          ‘[attract a better sort of people,” and which eventually became a noted bedroom community for hemi-demi-oligarchs getting sleeping spaces out of Chicago. My dad did sales and sales promotion for the Wrigley Company. Lots of driving and flying around to sales meetings and such. And a long commute every day, first by train and then (for “freedom”) on the increasingly hostile and compressed and always “under construction due to corruption” Edens Expressway.

          On Memorial Day, we took part in the town’s observances, the parades and speeches by various dignitaries, and we strung up, between two since -dead-of-Dutch-Elm-Disease trees in the front yard, the US 48-star Patriotic Drape flag from my uncle’s coffin — killed by our own military. I was a Boy Scout, I inhaled the heady fumes of ‘50s-‘60s Patriotism and can still instantly recite the Scout Law, the Scout Oath, and that intoxicating helped lead me to insist in the Imperial Army in 1966. My parents were both scoutmasters and a bunch of other stuff, actively involved with PTA and all that. Because there was enough income between one full time job as an executive with Wrigley, and my dad’s frantic after-work little advertising side jobs and mom’s part time work, and they had so dang much energy, they were able to do all this stuff and raise three pretty healthy kids. Who have gone on, in our ways to try to contribute some benefit to what we grew up thinking of as “society.” And now have kids of our own, who get to deal with the struggles that everyone, EVERYONE to one degree or another, are now having. Which as some folks here have noted, are the result of a particular small class of people, and the slicks who aspire to join their rank, who are vastly wealthier and sneakier than the rest of us, who have cooperated over time to take advantage of the weaknesses almost all of us have, for tribalism and for pleasure and NEW! IMPROVED! STUFF, and fatty foods and sugars and salt in everything, and giant-screen TVs putting up Big Brother’s propaganda in virtually all the “content” available.

          And now as the species starts to run up against the physical limits of the planet, people are maybe starting to see how they have been led and coerced and suckered into the current situation, and by whom that has been done. And we all at the mope level are invited to start hacking away at each other, so we can’t do any of the things that might lead to the kinds of awarenesses and self-restraints, and effective group actions, that could lead to all of us “eating only to our real hunger, and drinking only to our actual thirsts,” and break the hold on us that those who have inexhaustible appetites for MOAR, more self-pleasing and vastly more stuff and domination and what-all, have managed to gain over the rest of us.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Speaking from the viewpoint of an amateur genealogist, that is quite a fascinating and telling story that. I could almost visualize it. It was like a family history of the United States in the twentieth century. And yeah, I can see how that all leads into our present situation like you talked about in your last paragraph. And the worse was that it never had to be this way. We could have listened to Jimmy Carter more but went with Ronald ‘Morning in America’ Reagan instead.

      2. Aumua

        Boomers tried, man. They just… dropped the ball. There’s been several movies made about it.

        1. Oregoncharles

          A lot of us are still trying. The lefty demonstrations, most o f them, are still awfully gray.

            1. Andrew Watts

              The massive disparity in the distribution of wealth began before most of the Boomers even came of age. It’s pointless to blame them for our present situation. Which isn’t to say they’re entirely blameless either. The inward turn after Boomer radicals became disillusioned with the world shouldn’t be without condemnation.

              It spawned such travesties as the self-esteem movement and mindless optimism that reinforced the belief that the only validation you need is external and probably comes from an authority figure. It’s a teachable moment for my generation.

              1. witters

                Let Aristotle help with the teaching:

                “For the real difference between democracy and oligarchy is poverty and wealth. Wherever men rule by reason of their wealth, whether they be few or many, that is an oligarchy, and where the poor rule, that is a democracy.” (Politics, Bk. III)

    2. Lee

      Yes, the title is misleading click-bait and breaks the Lambert rule: “generations don’t have agency.” The author does a pretty good job of describing some of the perverse incentives and pernicious processes at work. But he erroneously characterizes the current state of misrule and dysfunction as a historical deviation from a more satisfactory, historically persistent norm.

      1. jsn

        Agreed, the Progressive Era/New Deal that led to the post war settlement was a very unusual period of social progress, pushing distributive issues further than they had been pushed anywhere before to the benefit of popular majorities.

        Even to the extent of imposing this progressivism on our defeated enemies. The rapaciousness of the post Powell Memorandum era is just a reversion to the mean, in both major senses of that word.

        Even so, good to see Brill’s critique on the conservative side ( so of course it blames the hippys ) of the MSM.

        1. John Wright

          I read the entire piece and Brill has no measures of how effective the countermeasures against the currently winning elite can or will be. He posits that some people are fighting the noble fight, but one has no idea if his heroes are only building, perhaps, a 10 foot bridge to span a 100 foot chasm.

          A lot of the piece seems to be suggesting that lucrative “industries” were created out of whole cloth (especially law and financialization) that served to extract income from the rest of society,

          One of his “light on the horizon” suggestions that will bring back America is training people “into middle-class software-engineering jobs”.

          But the BLS at estimates that these jobs will increase an additional 302,500 from 2016 to 2026.

          This is about 30k jobs added per year, some of which might be filled by importing workers.

          Perhaps there are other job classifications that will create additional software related jobs, but with software becoming a world wide pursuit, one expects that USA native grown software professionals will have much competition.

          Brill did not mention a financial transactions tax, medicare for all, changes to the tax code to discourage socially unproductive, but lucrative jobs or downsizing the military.

          Perhaps there could be significant fines for stalling the enforcement of government regulations via the court system?

          He did mention “They need the government to ensure a safe workplace and a living minimum wage.” but offers little to hope this can ever happen.

          Weak tea for the Time magazine readers, as Brill suggests his designated good-guy “achievers” will counteract the current system that the current “achievers” have created.

    3. Carolinian

      Please follow the link before attacking. The Time story is actually a Steven Brill book excerpt that has almost nothing to do with the tacked on headline. The correct headline would be “How Lawyers Broke America.” He is saying that the flood of new lawyers that accompanied the Boomer generation led to the gaming of traditional rules and our current plight. Those lawyers were not particularly Powell acolytes but often liberals like him.

      They didn’t do it cynically, at least not at first. They simply got really, really good at taking advantage of what the American system gave them and doing the kinds of things that America treasures in the name of the values that America treasures.

      And they have invested their winnings not only to preserve their bounty, but also to root themselves and their offspring in a new meritocracy-aristocracy that is more entrenched than the old-boy network. Forty-eight years after Inky Clark gave me my ticket on the meritocracy express in 1967, a professor at Yale Law School jarred the school’s graduation celebration. Daniel Markovits, who specializes in the intersection of law and behavioral economics, told the class of 2015 that their success getting accepted into, and getting a degree from, the country’s most selective law school actually marked their entry into a newly entrenched aristocracy that had been snuffing out the American Dream for almost everyone else. Elites, he explained, can spend what they need to in order to send their children to the best schools, provide tutors for standardized testing and otherwise ensure that their kids can outcompete their peers to secure the same spots at the top that their parents achieved.

      “American meritocracy has thus become precisely what it was invented to combat,” Markovits concluded, “a mechanism for the dynastic transmission of wealth and privilege across generations. Meritocracy now constitutes a modern-day aristocracy.”

      It’s an extension of Frank’s ten percent argument. People like Donald Trump and other oligarchs needed a legion of lawyers to help them work the system and become billionaires. In this country the law itself has become an instrument of oligarchy.

      1. Odysseus

        “Meritocracy now constitutes a modern-day aristocracy.”

        So what are people going to do about it? This isn’t something that just has to happen.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It reads like the Chinese Imperial Examination.

          The highest degree, Jinshi, holders were usually from the rich Yangtze Delta area.

          Once a student scored successfully in the first stage, the initial one held at the provincial level, tuition was free.

          A sort of subsidy for the up and coming meritocats.

          Often even when half could not afford food or rent.

          The outstanding feature of the Imperial Examination System was its reliability – it lasted hundreds of years.

          1. Lee

            I recently talked to a college student about his debt. He works part time, gets some parental support and has some loans. He felt that rewarding students that get higher grades with lower interest rates or loan forgiveness would be the way to go. I pointed out that that was what we did here in CA back in the day by making a good education available for next to nothing, thus skipping the stage of indebtedness completely. Evidently, from his wide-eyed reaction, he had no idea. His shoulders slumped and told me he had to get back to studying for finals.

            The conversation was depressing for both of us. I’ll have that hemlock now. Nah! I still have that bucket list of grudges to work through.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              In fact, I believe Xucai degree holders – those passing the provincial exam – got a stipend.

      2. Lee

        Cue the lawyer jokes:

        Three men fishing from a boat. One of them is a lawyer. Suddenly the boat is being swarmed by a school sharks threatening to overturn the boat. The lawyer stands up. In response the sharks come together at the surface forming a pathway to the shore. The other two men or astonished and one of them asks the other why they are engaging in this curious behavior. The other responds, “Professional courtesy.”

        1. Jean

          Client consults with his lawyer for a few minutes. Pays with a hundred dollar bill. Leaves.
          Lawyer realizes that two hundreds are stuck together. His moral dilemma:
          Does he tell his partner or not?

      3. Stupendous Man - Defender of Liberty, Foe of Tyranny

        Carolinian, your last comment could easily be taken much further back than President Trump. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon is quoted: “Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of government.”

        Granted, just about any quote offered up by Proudhon could be considered to be “cherry picked,” or of such limited inclusion that context is missing … But a line has to be drawn somewhere, otherwise I/we would have to be quoting entire books.

      4. Robert McGregor

        To “Financial Engineering,” add “Legal Engineering” which has micro and macro sides. The “micro side” is like how someone like Trump uses lawyers to skirt the system on a “micro business” and personal level—avoiding paying contractors and paying off prostitutes etc. The “macro side” is in D.C. where there are 20 lobbyists for every member of congress with the sole purpose of twisting laws in the big corporations’ favor.

      5. Off The Street

        The onslaught of attorneys started in FDR’s New Deal agencies. That looks to many in hindsight like one leg of the Long March Through The Institutions. The FDR legacy is mixed and Americans are still learning about nuances and repercussions.

        1. Lord Koos

          I think it goes a little further back than FDR.

          “First let’s kill all the lawyers” — William Shakespeare

          1. Lee

            And more recently:

            “The one great principle of English law is to make business for itself.”—Charles Dickens

            “In the Halls of Justice the only justice is in the halls.”—Lenny Bruce

          2. witters

            Further back, indeed, than Shakespeare. He was drawing on the words of John Ball in 1381 during the English Peasants Revolt.

        2. jsn

          Two lawyers for Sullivan and Cromwell from before the war, John and Alan Dulles, crafted the illegal US empire from within the FDR administration in pure insubordination to their boss: Truman felt they should have been tried for treason for what they did before and during the war. Instead John became Eisenhower’s Secretary of State and Alan the director of the CIA. So, yes, some lawyers from the FDR Administration, though certainly not New Dealers, have set much of our trajectory.

          The FDR Federal Bureaucracy was one in which results were delivered and people held accountable near the top. You should look at the turnover in leadership at the top under him, generally driven by their failure to deliver popular results. The problem of “the iron law of institutions” did not originate with FDR and the New Deal, but to the extent that Americans want to live in a technological civilization, an institutional complexity is required in government equal to the complexity allowed in the private sector or you end up where we are now where executives in all the huge and increasingly monopolistic private sector bureaucracies that plan the US economy for their private greed and against any public good are entirely above the law.

          That’s not the work of government lawyers, it is the work of private sector ones and the legislators they purchase with their private employers money.

      6. Swamp Yankee

        Thanks for the correction on the headline, Carolinian. As Stupendous Man notes above, this has a long lineage. In Charles G. Sellers’ magisterial The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-46, Sellers, in the course of his argument that the central economic, social, political, cultural, and other questions of this period were a product of the violent and traumatic transition to capitalism in the United States, uses the phrase “the shock troops of capitalism” to decribe the phalanx of new lawyers that arose in this period, acting as foot-soldiers of banks, newly legally protected corporations, and other forces of the market economy. This is, after all, when the critical Marshall Court decisions were written that enshrined the rights of corporations.

        As such, they were objects of popular hatred.

        Indeed, this is observable a few decades earlier, in Shays’ Rebellion as well as smaller crowd actions extending back to the 1760s, in which lawyers and sheriffs, as executors of foreclosures, were physically assaulted. These often took the form of classic 18th century crowd actions, e.g., a crowd of women in an isolated New England town coming together to throw scalding home-made soap on the invading sheriff with his writ.

        Historically, judges and the legal profession have been a conservative force in American life (“the lawyers, Bob, have old John Marshall on their side” — Carl Sandburg wrote something to that effect); it was the civil liberalism of the Courts and the Law in the Sixties that was the aberration, and it seemed many of those idealistic young law students reverted to the historical mean and tendencies of their profession.

        But perhaps the pendulum is again swinging….?

      7. Marley's Dad

        What is conspicuously unsaid is the contribution of one lawyer, Barack H. Obama, who single-handedly gave a pass to the Wall Street Bankers in his meeting with them when he declared “I am the only thing between you and the pitch forks, but I’m on your side”.

        A side benefit of this corrupt cover was the reinforcement of the two-tier legal system where the “nation of laws” only applies to the little people while the big people can get away with everything from crashing the economy up to and probably including murder, at least according to Mr. Trump.

        Once the current comedy show that is the Trump Administration is over I am planning to send a letter to whoever is the current Attorney General to ask that Obama be prosecuted for conspiracy to obstruct justice for his protection of the Wall Street bankers and for the extrajudicial murder of two American citizens by approving drone attacks on them.

      8. JBird

        I checked where the guy members of the Supreme Court got their law degrees and it Harvard and Yale with one from Columbia. So nine people, three universities. I am sure that there are a plenty of good, even excellence, law schools but nobody from those schools has any realistic chance of being one of the Nine. Just how many people have a good chance of going to Yale or Harvard? What is really interesting is that the further back you go in time the more diverse the backgrounds of the justices are. Yes, there is always an emphasis on the Northeast, but nothing like now. There was a range of backgrounds, then.

        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

          It is ridiculous– not so long ago, two Justices had degrees from Stanford (Rehnquist and O’Connor). Not that that in itself represented a huge difference in terms of background or credentials, but at least it’s located in a different region of the country.

          At present, all justices attended either Harvard or Yale (Ginsburg started at HLS and moved to NYC when her husband took up a job there and she finished at Columbia).

          I’ve posted about how ludicrous this is, and also raised the issue whether a justice need even be a lawyer or not– not my hypothetical, btw, but posed by (recently retired) Judge Richard Posner: Barriers to Entry: On Bar Exams and Supreme Court Seats.

    4. ex-PFC Chuck

      Yes, the oligarchs did, and they started when most boomers were still in their cribs or only gleams in their fathers’ eyes. Nancy MacLean’s recent book Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America has the story, which in her narrative begins with the founding of the Mt. Perelin Society in 1947. That’s not to say that some boomers who became wannabe or actual gazillionaires or minions of oligarchs didn’t enthusiastically participate.

    5. Ted

      Thanks for sharing this counter story to Brill’s. After reading both accounts, I am struck by Brill’s lack of education surrounding political economy and basic sociology (not surprising from a corporate lawyer). Brill’s entire account is based on a distinction between (“mostly white men”) who are high achievers, driven to build their own successful stories in a hostile world (Horatio Alger) and a lucky circumstance of visionary geniuses at places like Yale (Inky Clark) who were gonna give boys from Far Rockaway (not exactly Harlem) as chance to earn their place among the “old boys network”. And boy did those achievers achieve something! Too bad for the lazy, uninspired “democratic communitarians” in the country (apparently not achieving white men by Brill’s account).

      Now let me offer a counter tale to Brill’s (from an anthropological point of view). What the prep-school like Deerfield and Inky Clark from Yale were looking for in the 1960s was not “high achieving poorer boys” like Brill. But boys, and later girls, who had so completely bought into the values of corporate culture that they would do anything, make any personal sacrifice, to prove their loyalty to a corporate ethos (this is what people like Brill call “achievement”). They were interested in cultivating youths who fit the image of the Erich Fromm’s “coprorate man” and defined themselves almost fetishistically in terms of this image. Tales like Brill’s would eventually be lampooned in TV series like Mad Men, and the character of Donald Draper, who ends up completely lost, and yet unaccountable to the human mess he had left in his wake of lies and self-indulgence in the “achievement” of the perfect corporate man.

      Brill’s folktale, if understood objectively and with some knowldge of the sort offered by dcblogger’s link above, is one of the organized triumph of the American corporate ethos by a commited group of elites and its complete capture of the federal government (at least), and complete institutionalization in the American school system. It has nothing to do with “achievers” and “non-achievers”, but the triumph of corporate conformists over those with other, more human-focused values.

    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      Time is serving its propaganda marching-orders-giving masters by cleverly sleight-of-mouth bait-and-switcheroo trading the word “yuppies” for the word “boomers”. The yuppies of all generations combine to make the system break their way. So of course they dis-shift their own unique blame onto homeless Vietnam veterans, disemployed steel workers, aging black-lung ex-coal miners, janitors, etc. of the Baby Boomer generation.

      High-functioning sharp-normal millenials and other youngers will ” see what Time did there.” Low-functioning dull-normal millenials and other youngers will echo the Time magazine talking points, maybe even with antiBoomeritic age-racist antiBoomerite comments right here in this thread.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Yes x1000 to the yuppies of all age groups comment above, drumlin! I know millennial yuppies, and would rather hang with a genuine ’68er or punk rocker over their sorry hides any day (am in my mid 30s).

    7. zer0

      I wouldn’t say anything as a Millenial, except for the fact that every other article of generational woes is of how we are:
      live in our parents basements
      care more about our phones than a family
      yadda yadda yadda.

      Doesn’t feel great being on the receiving end huh?

      Let’s be real: the Greatest Generation did most of the heavy lifting, and we are merely their spoiled children fucking things up.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If any Boomers individually advanced the propaganda tropes you catalog in your comment, let them feel your pain on the recieving end for a while. As for the rest of us . . . we are not the droids you are looking for.

        Let’s get real? Let’s get realer. Generation Greatest brought us the Vietnam War, the CIA, the mass destruction of all the trains, trolleys and streetcars in America, and the strictly car-dependent no-mass-transit and no-sidewalks-allowed suburbs. And Generation Greatest fought to keep Black Americans out of those suburbs as long and as bitterly as they could. If we are getting real here…

    1. jax

      Thanks for posting these. I’m now deep into the second part of ‘Napoleon.’ I love historical costume dramas!

      1. dcblogger

        you have to pay to watch Marie Antoinette, but it is worth it. It was not deliberately a send up of Bush43’s Washington DC, but it might as well have been. Lambert and I watched it and roared with laughter. This scene might just as well have been the White House Correspondent Dinner

  1. The Rev Kev

    “In a More Rational World, the US and Iran Would Have Full Diplomatic Relations”: ‘I must admit that I was apprehensive about traveling to Iran as an American Jew’

    I have to admit that I did a double take when I read that last sentence by the author of this article. It just so happens that Iran has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel – about 9,000 to 25,000 people – as well as around 250,000 to 370,000 Christians. The reason that these two groups have a safe home in Iran is that Iran itself has not been ‘freed’ by the West.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I think there is only a small relict population of Jews in Syria now. Most of them went elsewhere years ago.

        There is still a large population of Christians . . . a population which Candidate Clinton hoped to exile or exterminate through her deliberate support of the GAJ and the CLEJ.

  2. Emorej a Hong Kong

    Who is the freeloader: the working poor on food stamps — or corporations that don’t pay them enough? Vox

    Asked and answered in this 60 second music video:

    “Moochers Hiding the Ball”
    Who are the REAL moochers hiding the ball and killing us all?

    And this related article:

    New Anti-Berner Model Test In California’s 15th Assembly District Election (

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Who is the freeloader?

      The candidates should include consumers of non-essentials in those situations. The complete the cycle.

    2. rd

      I find it interesting that nobody is connecting dots back to healthcare insurance. A major advantage of many other countries’ healthcare insurance programs are that they are disconnected from the companies providing employment.

      One of the reasons many people have to hold down multiple jobs in the US is because employers only hire them as part-time employees. One of the reasons for this is that the incremental cost of full-time employees goes up significantly when they go full-time and get paid for vacation, sick leave, and receive employer-provided healthcare insurance. So two employees at 20 hrs per week each are significantly cheaper than one employee at 40 hours per week.

      A Medicare-for-all system, like Canada, would eliminate much of the step-up cost and make full-time employees more attractive. Workers working 40 hours per week would be more likely to stay at a job longer, more likely to get pay raises over time, and less likely to require working two jobs.

      The exorbitant US healthcare costs are continuing to have numerous ripple effects through the economy and are likely a significant cause of lagging productivity.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “The U.S. birthrate hits another record low. Even women in their 30s are having fewer babies”

    I would not be surprised if within the next twenty years or so that the U.S. birthrate will be considered top secret. Certainly the Pentagon is studying the future implications of this.

      1. J Sterling

        I notice that anti-low-fertility science fiction carries a theme “…and men go crazy,” but they never adequately explain the connection. They just seem to need something to make low fertility look like a bad development.

        1. jrs

          only if that low fertility was achieved by abstinence as the method of birth control might men go crazy.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      How are you going to have children when you barely have the economic means you support yourself in this country? If I was a twenty something here in the US I would learn another language and leave.

      1. Wyoming


        This is not bad news it is very good news.

        The last people on Earth who should be having lots of kids are Americans with our horrible climate changing lifestyle – the economics of not providing engines for economic growth with a low birthrate is just a blessing. And if we make it up with immigration then we are shooting ourselves in the foot and the Earth along with our foot.

        Between my wife’s siblings and mine there were 14 kids
        our generation had 15 kids
        our kids generation has had 9 kids so far and only 4 are left who are young enough to expect the possibility of more so the trend is holding fairly well.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I see it as partially good news, as an eternal skeptic.

          In a few years, will we need more young workers from higher birth rate nations with large unemployment to make up for the shortfall?

          1. J Sterling

            “We” won’t need them (there is no such thing as a labor shortage) but the employer/landlord class will, and already do, want them.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Fewer students could mean fewer teachers, fire firefighters, fewer cops, fewer Congress persons, fewer military volunteers, etc.

              1. Bernard

                there are always “illegals” to fill in for the “white” birth dearth. like immigration is going to stop because white people are not having enough babies. the Elites will continue to do what they have always done, like exemplified by Germany’s Merkel and their German birth dearth. Open the borders, welcome in “strangers” from Wars the Empire creates. here we use the turmoil from our Latin America colonies. Look to Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and see how long “civil strife” works. All the “work” force American Business could ever want. That will bring all the new “workers” the US Chamber of Commerce “wants” to exploit. 40 years of tried and true Business friendly Business owned Government has Latins, especially, living deep in rural America where they never were before. That is something that really has changed the face of America.

                Used to be mostly a Black and White America. now the hinterlands are filled with people from all over the world. true integration. leaving the former native deplorables with competition from within along with the sweatshops Business created around the world.

                as if things NAFTA,the WTO, World Bank, the IMF, and etc. haven’t insured immigration from Latin America all along. Business profits are all that matters, apparently. and Business needs white people to buy the fears so they will vote Republican. it has worked for 40 years or so.

                what if the Latins, Asians and other non-whites don’t vote Republican?

                as far as education. i heard Gov. Reagan destroyed free college education in California for residents, lest the poor get ahead along with the white middle class. insuring a supply of low educated and easily fed/ led set of “deplorables”, aka the Republican voter, something Republicans have done since the 60’s. now they fear they will run out of white people! who will continue to “supply” their American rightwing/voting base?

                and, fewer Congressmen means fewer crooks.

              2. J Sterling

                You don’t need the same number of teachers to teach fewer students. You might need the same number of firefighters to protect the same number of houses, but that’s where Baumol comes in: you decide what you want more, firefighters or delivery bikers, and you attract the former delivery bikers.

                There is no such thing as a labor shortage.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Shortfall, not just labor shortage.

                  Most businesses invest based projected national consumption and their marketshares. Fewer people consuming would disrupt that.

                  The same can happen with pension plans if they are underfunded. New members would help until money is located.

                  I believe we can live with a smaller GDP, if it is better distributed.

                  1. J Sterling

                    In the same country with less labor, the production would be better distributed. That follows from Ricardo’s Law of Rent (the extensive margin of cultivation would be drawn inwards)

                    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      We would hope so, though it (wealth distribution) seems to be something to do with keeping the very rich in check.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            If we have less workers, we do less work. We shrink the economy and grow the ecology.

            But we have to shrink the economy at the top of the Overclass and work our way down . . . if we can make that happen.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          American de-fertility won’t work if foreign immigrants are allowed to enter this country and take up the American lifestyle. American de-fertility will only work if people from lower-levels-of-consumption countries are rigidly denied entry.

    2. Barmitt O'Bamney

      They could try to make life a little more pleasant, less stressful and easier to afford for the majority of citizens if they saw low birth rates as a problem. But why would they do that when they can just import millions of non-citizens from the third world and effortlessly achieve year over year expansion in the sales of Big Macs and toilet paper without having to worry that the new Americans will expect democracy or a living wage or any of the other irritating demands of native born workers? There is no shortage of cheap labor if you have no borders. It also makes the problem of democracy go away.

      1. Lord Koos

        That may be the case where you live, but in fact millenials outnumber boomers. If only they would vote…

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          They could vote to abolish Social Security. Then their Boomer grandparents could all move in with them or die on the streets by the millions.

    3. David

      You might want to take a look at the paper behind the article. It has several interesting graphs. They show,

      – The number of births has been relatively flat since 1980. Between 3.5M and 4.2M-ish births per year. Back in 1975, the number of births was down near 3M.

      – Over the last twenty years, 15-19 year old birth rates have declined (60 per 1,000 in 1990 to 19 per 1,000 in 2017). 20-24 year old have decreased. 25-29 y.o. rates have stayed steady. 30-34, 35-39, and 40-44 y.o. birth rates have all increased.

      All good news, IMO.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘The number of births has been relatively flat since 1980.’

        Just as a coincidence, US wages have also been flat since about 1980.

    4. rd

      The US and Canada are completely populated by immigrants, so future immigration is the easy solution to this.

      Every foreign university student in the US who can pass an FBI background check should have a green card stapled to their graduation diploma. We can strip mine the brains out of much of the rest of the world. Young women from many other countries would come to study if they could then stay and have a career.

      1. tegnost

        strip mine the brains of the rest of the world? Really? And you can get that foreign spouse now without too much trouble, finding one who wants to live in the us may become more difficult. Also First nations are not immigrants, they were here when we barged onto the scene

    1. Pookah Harvey

      My favorite part:

      Eastman has run on a far-left platform, promoting tired, unappealing messages like repealing the Republican tax bill and establishing “Medicare for All.”

      But at least he didn’t mention “ponies”.

      1. Andrew Watts

        The fervent support of, or lack thereof, initiatives like Medicare for All is a clarifying moment that reveals who your allies are and who your enemies will be. How can anybody honestly expect to win if they aren’t aware of who their enemy is and the obstacles they will have to overcome?

        Politics is merely war without the bloodshed after all.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      What an execrable oped. Reads like a thinly veiled threat to sic AIPAC on those who don’t toe the Clintonite party line –

      Nonetheless, Tuesday’s primary results revealed that the party still tends to favor more progressive candidates, and thus those who will inevitably be weaker candidates in a general election. For instance, in Pennsylvania’s 1st district, Scott Wallace, a 66-year-old businessman and grandson of former Vice President Henry Wallace, defeated moderate 33-year-old Navy veteran Rachel Reddick in this month’s primary.

      Shortly after his victory, it was revealed that Wallace, who is a prolific philanthropist, has donated to several groups in favor of the BDS movement, which has proposed boycotts, sanctions, and other actions against Israel and has been dubbed an anti-Israel organization. This association complicates Wallace’s chances of winning the seat in the November race against Republican incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick.

      “It might cost him the election,” said Burt Siegel, the former leader of the Philadelphia Jewish Community Relations Council. The district is widely considered a toss-up already, making it imperative that the Democrats to do all they can to hold on to the seat, and Wallace’s win certainly does nothing to help the cause.

    3. Big River Bandido

      What is poor Schoen going to be able to say if Kara Eastman and the four DSA women in PA win their races in November?

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Doug Schoen is dogwhistling to all the Bitter Clinters within range of his dogwhistle . . . to vote against the progressive Dems who won their primaries. His goal, the goal of all True Clintonites, is to MAKE the no-Clinto Dems lose in order to be able to accuse them of being losing candidates.

      ProgressoDems should be ready for this sort of Clintonite aggression and conspiracy.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          ” They have the Iron? We have the Rust. And we’ll see who laughs last.”

  4. cnchal

    > How Baby Boomers Broke America: Time. The title should have been “How Lawyers Broke America”.

    Did Brill write the title? Typical lawyerlie misdirection. Blame an age cohort when a class cohort is culpable.

    No mention of fraud when describing the meritrocious financial inventions praised by the author. But they have their all important moats.

    I remember as a kid in high school, a teacher telling the class to not read Time magazine, which of course made me curious to read it, but I cannot remember the last time I actually spent a buck or two on it. Must be decades now. I see it hasn’t improved. I didn’t even buy it when it had the three men who saved the world on it, Summers, Rubin and Magoo.

    1. Carolinian

      Hey Luce’s lingering legacy has provided this excellent Brill article. Maybe they aren’t all bad.

    2. dcrane

      Good question. It is common for editors rather than authors to control the selection of a title for an essay.

    1. jo6pac

      I just got done reading that and was going to post it. Thanks

      It’s long but a must read I say.

    2. Hamford

      Thanks for the read. However, once MMT gains footing and the elite buy in (as perhaps they covertly have- ahem quantitative easing) it may not help inequality. From article: why the “super-rich” should like MMT

      “Because if we don’t have to worry so much about how much these programs cost, then there is no pressing need to raise taxes in order to pay for them.”

      This is not true, many MMT purveryors realize that the purposes of taxation is three fold: Curb inflation, force value to fiat currency as people have to use the currency for taxes, and reduce (or contribute to) inequality. This article mentions little of the latter two. The taxation faucet must be turned on for the super-rich. If not, the 15 dollar jobs money will eventually find its way to stagnate at the top. Running deficits does not necessarily reduce inequality, as a quick plot of post 2008 deficit vs. share of top 1% would show.

      Not to mention that the US Dollar’s value as a Fiat currency is contingent on our access to resources- often from the “developing” world. Surely Haiti cannot make living wage jobs for their population even if they started printing more fiat currency. In MMT resources are what matters, this is an important omission- if the US (and eurozone) lost all their multinational access to resources- could living wages for all be feasible?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Purposes of taxation

        I recent watched Moore’s Where To Invade Next, and he showed that in France, every pay check comes with a detailed breakdown of what your taxed euros pay for.

        I was screaming, at the TV, silently, the French are wrong. Taxes do not fund anything.

        In the film, in another country, I think, maybe Italy or France still, a native said they didn’t mind paying more, because the got many good services and products back.

        ‘Wrong!’ I said to myself again, to those happy souls in Moore’s depicted happy places.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            How do they control inflation via taxation then?

            Some taxes will go back to the source to be destroyed if that’s necessary.

        1. Plenue

          The taxes of the EU member states do fund things, just as the state and local taxes of US states do. The basic funding problem with the EU is that the ECB could just create the needed money to make up for any budget shortfalls of member states, and just….doesn’t. Greece could be fixed up if they would just make the required money, but the EU is dominated by Germany’s insane economic illiteracy and anti-human moralizing gibberish.

    3. VietnamVet

      It is Interesting that the article appeared in Verizon’s Huffington Post. Globalists apparently have accepted MMT can pay for their never ending wars and access to commodities. The word is getting out. Corporations like their tax cuts. Democrats pan tax reform but don’t have an alternative to help the dwindling middle class. Trillions of dollars added to the national debt. Despite what the article says, if there is job guarantee, wage increases could cause inflation if resources are limited like the 1970’s oil crisis. One way to control this is to tax the rich to increase energy efficiency and decrease waste. This is a discussion media moguls avoid. It is still profitable to exploit the environment and the little people. Placing us further in debt. Until, it isn’t.

    1. ambrit

      I thought that these were a kingfisher variety. We see an American variety regularly down along the highway that crosses the Pearl River Delta. Those big beaks are a giveaway.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “CDC prepares to join Ebola fight in Africa”

    I’ve read that the reason for the response team is that whereas previous infections were in isolated places that could be isolated, this one is on the Congo River which is like that region’s highway system. It can be spread through this transport system to the major cities and from there it is only a short air flight to the rest of the world. Story talking about this at-

    Good catch identifying that bird, Judith. I couldn’t find it.

    1. Wyoming

      I polish my guillotine once a month as I want it to be ready to use at the first opportunity. I’ll even offer you a lesson on how best to use it. For a small extra fee I will even bring a suitable test subject….

  6. bayoustjohndavid

    The big question is whether Time magazine came up with the baby boomers headline because anti-boomer headlines get more clicks than wealth inequality headlines, or because Time’s editors are part of the obvious effort* of corporate funded think tanks to use generational divide-and-conquer tactics to divert attention from class issues.

    I took a quick glance at the article last week and had a blog post (even though I haven’t blogged in years) worked out in my head with an obvious title based on the author’s defunct magazine: Brill’s content to have us blame his generation for the country’s problem if it protects his class interests; Brill’s content (in the article) sucks. When I had time** to read the article, I saw that the content was remarkably similar to an article Yves or Lambert linked last week:

    I couldn’t find a way to comment on Time’s website, or anemail address for Steven Brill, but Time should really be called on the carpet for the headline and Brill should be forced to comment on it. I will be curious to see what the print headline says next week.

    A quick note about having a blog post about something worked out in my head before I had even read it carefully. Took a quick glance at the article when I got back to my desk a few minutes before my lunch break ended, thought about what I saw (mailny the headline) while walking home, only went back to read it because I actually considered writing about it. Most readers wouldn’t have read past Brill’s personal anecdotes to see that it was a criticism of “meritocracy.”

    Full disclosure: I became a baby boomer at some point in my thirties, but I was well into my forties before I realized it. I missed the generational gerryander when it happened:

    *just one example:

    1. Carolinian

      While we all here seem to agree that the headline is misleading I for one–a Boomer–do believe generational arguments can have merit. Human nature may be fairly constant but circumstances among generations–nurture–can change. The ww2 generation wanted their kids to have a better life and sent far more of them to college. Liberal arts graduates often struggle to turn that education into a living with graduate law school being a frequent next step. There have been studies showing that the difference between lawyer density in the US vs, say, Japan is huge. To a lawyer hammer every problem looks like a lawsuit nail and we have a lot of lawyers.

      1. Fraibert

        Most American lawyers don’t do litigation at all, and I suspect the numbers would show that the majority of legal positions relate to helping a person or entity comply (whether in good faith or cynically via loopholes) with written requirements in statutes, regulations, or contracts.

        I agree with the earlier commenter that there hasn’t been a full reckoning with the legal consequences of the administrative state starting with the New Deal. Government keeps adding new statutes and regulations to address the many problems arising from complex modern society. However, the total sum of this constantly growing body of law, though well-intentioned, becomes unwieldy and forces the creation of experts in various niches.

        I suppose what I’m saying is that our extensive amounts of law cause our large pool of lawyers. Legal simplification has long been a dream but as soon as you start down that path someone seems to raise new arguments for why the rules need additional exceptions, considerations, etc. and you end up re-complicating the law over time to fit reality.

        Interestingly enough, Tocqueville noted that Americans were uniquely inclined to turn to the courts to resolve the major issues of the day. So perhaps the American cultures tendency is towards a certain legalistic approach, and that would also explain why Japanese outcomes are different.

        1. Carolinian

          I seriously doubt Japan is a country that has a regulatory light touch compared to America. My understanding is that they have laws covering just about everything.

          So while it’s undoubtedly true that the New Deal brought an increase in regulations and therefore laws, what Brill seems to be saying is that this vast body of US lawyers is as much concerned with gaming the laws as with complying with them. After all when Trump was challenged on his business practices he said “everything I did was legal.” This seems to be the new American morality–propped up by appeals to the supposed sanctity of the Constitution and lawyerly duty to uphold (the standard Dershowitz line).

          I’m not a lawyer myself, but Brill is and is not just some nobody but rather a legal journalism heavyweight. It’s possible his analysis is on the money.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Interesting that. Tonight’s story “Trade war averted?” mentions that ‘China has agreed to buy more US agricultural and energy products’. The Chinese may bend to US demands and buy more stuff that they need in any case but I seriously doubt that they will redesign their economy to US wishes the way Trump has demanded. That would be nuts. Would love to be a fly on the wall of those negotiations. Or better yet, to be a fly on a bucket of popcorn.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        From the Chinese perspective, a yield but not bend strategy is the most optimal long term. She is still ascending and growing. Neither Rome nor the Great Wall was built overnight.

        From this side of the ocean, it is years overdue that we have manufacturing jobs, that we again make products currently made in China. And we may not get another opportunity. As it is way overdue, it will take time, and likely not be painfree. Years earlier, it would have been a less painful operation.

  7. Eustache De Saint Pierre

    The Intercept slow torture & eventual massacre of the innocents article.

    Dear Universe – please do not allow chimpanzees or similar primates the capacity to upgrade their intelligence, unless horror shows are an unfortunately essential part of some great & mysterious plan, that will eventually make it all this hell worthwhile, through the delivery of karma & justice to every living being.

    1. neighbor7

      Re Letter Served on Trump:

      I didn’t know about The Memory Hole Blog, which seems to serve a valuable purpose. I did find that it is operated by James Tracy, fired from a tenured position at Florida Atlantic University ostensibly for nonfiling of papers regarding exterior employment, but more likely because of espousing conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook shootings. Curious about these theories (which I hadn’t paid attention to), I tried to follow a Wikipedia footnote link to a newspaper article and got this:

      You don’t have permission to access . . .

      Another memory hole?

      1. pretzelattack

        i should have phrased it differently.
        the sandy hook conspiracy theories are not credible.

  8. Brian

    Weaponizing Music; This has been going on a bit longer than the story suggests. In the 90’s, there was a new rage called the “mosquito”. It was a preprogrammed sound track that used a mosquito like sound set that can be heard by children, but very seldom by adults after some very minor hearing loss. Only at the very top end of the audible spectrum of human hearing. Very popular at music stores, record stores, convenience stores, malls and etc.
    Country Music, hard rock music, rap music, all is easily used to target an audience you don’t want. The Mosquito was subtle, some of the others, not so much.
    Another thing about this is the source; Use a crummy speaker, make the volume too loud so that it distorts and no one is going to want to listen to it.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Ah yes…this is popularly known as “teen repellent”. Usually a tone between 16kHz and 20 kHz, in the range of hearing that all of us lose as we enter adulthood.

      But at least it’s not actually music.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Man, I love some of the stuff that he mentioned in that story, especially Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ and even Handel’s ‘Water Music’. Baroque music can be great and some of its effects have been noted. It can induce alpha waves in the brain to bring a calming influence that relaxes people and alleviates stress. Whatever. I just find it great to listen to – except of course if pumped out through a crummy speaker as Brian noted.

  9. Jason Boxman

    RE Musk’s transit system, in Orlando the I-4 expansion project is a similar scheme in that it provides dedicated variably-priced toll lanes, so rich people can avoid dealing with traffic. I find such schemes disagreeable.

    1. Lord Koos

      In Bellevue WA, a tony suburb of Seattle that is handy to Microsoft and other software outfits, they recently created what I like to call “Lexus lanes” on interstate 405. Two lanes are now toll lanes, used by those that can afford them (for a daily commute, they are far too expensive for most folks). This has the added bonus of squeezing the traffic of regular working people into the other three lanes, so it makes their commute worse. It is infuriatingly un-democratic and I wonder who was bribed to make it happen, as these are federally funded highways.

      1. SerenityNow

        Congestion pricing, when applied evenly is not undemocratic–one might actually be able to argue that it is more democratic because, by revealing the actual cost of using a highway at the volume and rate of speed for which it was designed, it helps people make better decisions about using road infrastructure. Would we call it undemocratic that the electric utility charges us more for electricity during peak hours of the day, or if the water company charged higher rates during a drought? If any of us, rich or poor, actually had to pay the true cost of our dependence on the easy convenience of private automobiles, the comfortable American system would be revealed as the disaster it is very, very, quickly. Contrary to what everyone seems to believe–no one has a right to be able to drive their car on freely provided highways (once called “freeways” for a reason) at low cost and minimal traffic whenever they want. It’s just not possible. Infrastructure costs money to build, and then it costs more money to use.

        However I would join you in condemning converting some public highway lanes into tolls and leaving others free–this does make things look like a two tiered system.

        If we want to get rid of traffic, the best way is to do congestion pricing on all lanes at all times, and then let people decide if they really want to drive at the times when prices are high. And then people (and municipalities) might begin to understand that living in a single family home from which you drive to and from work every day doesn’t make much sense, and is very unsustainable in the long term.

        This almost always triggers an argument about inequality: making people pay to use road space will disproportionately affect the poor. Well, there are two quick answers to this: 1) Congestion pricing should not be about generating revenue, but about regulating space through prices. So, theoretically the highway authority could simply collect tolls all year and then reimburse them to drivers at the end–people would be out temporarily, but ultimately they would get their money back (In this scenario, the tolls paid would really just serve as tokens of how many resources people wanted to allocate to highway use at any given time). 2) We don’t make food free for everyone because that would be helpful for the poor, instead we let prices determine the cost of food (generally speaking) and then provide extra assistance to those in need to operate within that market. It would be easy enough to provide some sort of voucher credit to the people most in need, just like we do with food assistance programs.

        I am not some neo-liberal PPP-loving capitalist here, but I feel obligated to bring some of these things up every time someone makes a demand for “free” use of highway space (and also when someone complains about traffic). Yes we paid for the roads, but unless we pay for the use of them with money (which people can exchange), we will end up paying for the use of them with traffic (which is essentially paid for in time, which people cannot exchange). Traffic is the result of too many commuters trying to use a limited good (highway space) at once–the only way to address it is by managing highway space (not widening lanes, adding other types of transportation, or hoping peoples’ behavior will change). And I get it, people have to commute 2 hours into Seattle because the only place they can afford to live is 75 miles away. Well, if people actually had to pay the true cost of fossil fuels, roads, and single-family homeownership, I guarantee you that it would be impossible to live 75 miles away from daily employment. But facing that reality would mean that cities would have to allow for denser development. And people might not be able to own 4 cars per family. And not everyone would be able to expect the luxury of a single family home with a large lot and a yard…

        1. oliverks

          Good post

          Can you explain your thinking a bit more about how the refund of the tolls would work in your suggestion?

          People might get much more excited about building out public transportation if they had to pay to use the road.

          I would also suggest charging for all roads is important, not just the freeway. People will leave the freeway and use surface streets, bringing yet more problems, if they can avoid the charge.

          1. SerenityNow

            Thank you for your reply.

            The toll refund would presumably rely on something like EZ-pass, and everyone would recieve or pay in a set number of units (or dollars, or tokens, or whatever. The symbol doesn’t matter as much as the limited quantity that would force people to make decisions about allocation). Throughout the month, or year, or whatever tolling period, drivers would periodically draw from their account to pay for tolls which would vary based on existing traffic–for example at rush hour it might cost $10 to drive, at 9pm it might cost $1, the prices would be set to only allow the number of vehicles on the road that would ensure a speed of say 60mph. Maybe you give everyone the exact same amount of credits based on some parameter in the system. At the end of the tolling period, the highway authority could simply return the credits to each driver’s account for the subsequent cycle, and they would again have another period to choose how to allocate their credits within that timeframe—somewhat like a poker game with plastic chips.

            Under a system like this, people who must use the road for daily commuting at certain hours would likely use all of their credits each month, but they would also be incentivized to combine rides with others (carpool) drive less overall, or try (if possible) working hours outside of 9-5 (not as available to people with inflexible employment, but they could still use their credits daily). People who might have previously used the road for less-critical trips (such as to drive to a place you could walk, or drive to buy a bag of chips at 5pm) might be less likely to do so, because that convenience would now have a cost attached to it.

            I know this looks a lot like a “prices solve everything!” neoliberal scame, and I cannot say I am an expert on congestion pricing by any means. But Singapore prices their roads and they can guarantee any vehicle travelling on the highway can go 55 miles per hour no matter what time of day–drivers simply have to be willing to pay for it. I believe Singapore is also one of the few places where the subway system actually turns a profit (again I am sounding like a capitalist, but most american subway and streetcar systems came into being initially as private ventures, so we are what we are…).

            The one thing that was discovered when Singapore initially set up their system was that when it started they used a sort of EZ-pass with no display, so that people couldn’t see how much their travel cost them–the result was traffic problems and huge bills at the end of each billing cycle. Once the system was amended to require that drivers see a display of how much they were about to pay to enter the road infrastructure, it began working as intended.

            As long as we let road space be consumed to capacity with no tradeable costs involved, we are always going to have to pay in time and uncertainty, which is traffic.

            Think of an office with free donuts (or some snack that everyone loves) in the breakroom–people will always eat them all and there will never be “enough”. The company incurs the cost of donuts every day, plenty of employees eat donuts that they might not have eaten if they weren’t free, and some people might eat 2 or 3 donuts while others get none. If you start charging for donuts in the breakroom, the people who want them will pay, and the people who don’t won’t. And overall there will probably be fewer donuts consumed.

            1. oliverks

              So the idea here is that everyone gets the same number of credits and once they are used up, they need to wait for the next cycle before they use the roads again?

    2. oliverks

      Congestion is really bad for the environment and a great time waste for everyone. The problem with road usage right now is it is a communist system. You just need to be willing to queue long enough to use a road. A road usage charge would be an cost effective, environmentally friendly way of solving much of the road congestion, while raising revenue at the same time.

      There are of course real problems with a road tax. It would likely be very regressive, as younger and poorer people living further out get penalized more as they need to drive further to jobs. People with lower income would find the cost much more painful. This might be mitigated with good policies, for example through a tax credit system based on need and their commute for work.

      Overtime, it may cause cities to start planning for less road use, as it now costs their citizens money.

      There could be other better proposals, but just building more roads doesn’t seem to work very well (see LA). Public transportation is really bad in many of the car centric cities on the west coast of the US (see LA, SF bay area). Attempts to build public transportation just seem to get derailed.

      I think people should propose solutions to the road congestion, as it is a problem that needs addressing, and I argue a road use charge would be an effective way of dealing with the problem.

      1. SerenityNow

        I agree with you, road expansion basically does nothing for driving except increase supply of road space, which generally results in a rise of demand to that new level. It’s like a fat guy buying larger pants–is that going to make him less fat, or simply just enable him to get even fatter?

        Public transportation is never going to be competitive with driving because driving is just too convenient and too cheap. Say there is a cafeteria where a delicious, filling burger is $2, and a healthy but bland salad is $4. What are most people going to choose? It is the same with driving–even a lot of the people who vote for lightrail or other forms of public transit often still drive because it is simply umatched in terms of convenience and access/time to destinations. To get people not to drive less, don’t subsidize public transit, simply stop subsidizing driving!

        Unfortunately, driving subsidies are built in to almost every level of government, and people hate to lose their subsidies…

  10. J Sterling

    The plant article reminds me of a science fiction story George R. R. Martin wrote before his Game of Thrones days. A bioengineer keeps being brought in by the leaders of a Pro-Life planet on the brink of starvation, and he keeps “saving” them with another new engineered plant or animal. And they keep making new people.

    It’s Jevons’ Paradox in action. You can’t save the world by making the new consumers okay. You have to make it not okay to create the new consumers.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Interesting story.

      Is there a simliar story about a not Pro-Life planet next to it, that nevertheless has the same starvation issue, because they compassionately let in refugees from the starving Pro-Life planet to rectify their past abuses of the Pro-Life planet?

      We are speaking about fictions here, of course.

  11. Big River Bandido

    re: Bach at the Burger King. This gives me yet another reason to feel terrible for my favorite art form…music used to be such an integral part of life, and such a key part of American culture. Now, in the wake of the neoliberal “hollowing out” of education, music has been completely commoditized, “monetized”, and even “weaponized”. These processes hurt us all.

    Beethoven and Chuck Berry have to be rolling in their graves at how music is being stripped of all its value. (Note: the most salient part of this link is the paragraph on the destruction of music education in schools.)

    1. Balakirev

      I’m not sure how Mozart keeps “vagrants” down outside a business, or Beethoven moves assaults elsewhere–assuming his music does. This is a woefully unverified piece, from the perspective of the music. And I didn’t notice too many quotes from people who think the whole idea is nonsense. It could be a paid-for ad by the CMCBD. If it isn’t, the writer probably figured it was an easy sell based on its unusual premise, with no need for piddly shit like facts.

      I’m also curious which Vivaldi harpsichord selections they’re using, since he didn’t write any keyboard music that’s been recorded. (His own personal instrument was the violin, which it was said he played with great agility but poor tone.) And Bach wrote many Suites No. 1, depending on the instrument. Sure, if you know in advance, it’s the Cello Suite No. 1, but it’s usually identified as such.

      I guess it could be a parody piece. That would be the only redeeming interpretation I could give to it.

  12. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for your thoughtful omission of links to the British royal wedding. The Telegraph (UK) has devoted nearly the entirety of their online edition to that event this morning. While I wish Meghan and Harry all the best, I appreciated the observation today by an American reader in a British newspaper: “They have royal weddings, we have kids’ funerals.”

    1. tongorad

      I’d like to drop my trousers to the Queen
      Every sensible child will know what this means
      The poor and the needy
      Are selfish and greedy on her terms
      – Moz

    2. JamesG

      On Saturday morning I clicked on all the television news channel and every single one was broadcasting the wedding.

    3. Ford Prefect

      I find it bizarre that Americans are so interested in British royal weddings. However, this wedding does open up a unique opportunity for the U.S.

      Harry is sixth in line for the British throne and falling fast. However, he is now married to an American which will make it much easier, even with Trump as president, to emigrate to the US. Once here, he could become an American citizen. Americans, who are clearly desirous of having a monarchy, could then make him King, solving the whole Electoral College thing.

  13. Big River Bandido

    Vox article on “who is the freeloader?”:

    So Sherrod Brown and the Senate Democrats are behind a bill to tax companies that don’t pay their workers enough. Woo hoo. How many people actually believe those tax dollars will go toward social programs? Congress could easily route those tax revenues right back to the Pentagon and no one in America would be the wiser.

    This is exactly the kind of virtue-signalling [familyblog barnyard epithet] that Democrats love. It’s complex, complicated, technocratic, it looks and sounds great, and it allows Democrats to preen while actually making things worse.

    If they were the least bit serious, a simpler solution is readily apparent: raise the minimum wage.

  14. JCC

    Not sure where this one belongs… but eventually I suspect it will end up in Class Warfare. Who knows, maybe it will be a contributing factor to real warfare.

    Median debt levels cited range from $16,000.00 to $24,000.00 with median debt in collections status ranging from $7,000.00 to $10,000.00

    Looking at the May BLS report on wages and sorting on the Median Wage column, things aren’t looking good for a lot of these people, even if they do graduate with a 4-year degree.

  15. Montanamaven

    Highly recommend “A Little Bit of Real People” by Matt Labish about the Detroit journalist Charlie LeDuff. Just when I’m ready to just quit any kind of hope for USAians, along comes a story of a gritty journalist who is working at a Hot Dog stand instead of working for “the man” aka the local Fox News station. He has fallen into “The Hole” that he has been writing about for years. I just ordered his book that is published tomorrow.

  16. Doug Hillman

    Thank you for Daniel Lazare’s “Making Excuses for Russiagate” on Consortium News. The title seems to imply that this is merely a scandal, perhaps a “misguided” propaganda campaign we’ve grown accustomed to tolerating. But Lazare then methodically exposes it for what it really is: a criminal conspiracy of calculated lying, public mass-deception, illegal surveillance, and criminal espionage by key people in America’s top law enforcement and intelligence orgs — the FBI, CIA, DHS, and DNI. This was not misguided, the obvious self-contradictions are not laughable at all. It was conducted in order to maintain control of America’s foreign/military policy and paint Russia as America’s most dangerous enemy du-jour. This is criminal conduct and poses serious military risk in falsely demonizing and provoking a nuclear power as an adversary, the core people involved people represenr a clear and present danger to America’s national security.

    Unforrunately, it appears to have been successful. Rather than the promised de-escalation of wars, changes in Middle East policy, and diplomatic rapprochement with Russia, the Neocon-Israeli agenda is proceeding seamlessly under the Trump regime.. Whether or not a few of these American traitors (including Clinton and Obama), ever experience minor discomfort in the hot-seat as a result before retirement is probably irrelevant. Undoubtedly our Ministries of “law”, “security”, “intelligence” and “defense” have much more leverage on Trump or any White House resident than we can ever imagine.

  17. Altandmain

    Consortium News has a good article about this Russia-gate madness:

    As Jacobin notes, they are going to use it against the left someday:

    What the Democrats will never admit is that their neoliberalism is what lose Clinton the election and her own incompetence, along with her corruption. Nobody forced her to accept money from Goldman Sachs, delete State Department emails, or spend too little time in the Midwest and in many states, not show up at all.

    1. John k

      She shouldn’t have had to do anything, we owed her the position ever since we gave it to Obama’s.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Well I think that the photo in that article finally establishes just who the Russian mole was in the US 2016 election.

  18. Brooklin Bridge

    Congress to Consider Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights Free Beacon (The Rev Kev)

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but I find this positively breathtaking. The idea that the US congress is openly debating declaring the Golan Heights to be part of Israel because – ahem – it makes “strategic sense” is mind boggling. So now we can openly re-map the globe and assign whole regions to whom ever we choose?

    Arrrg, gaggle, choke, splutter, flump, fzzz…

    1. pretzelattack

      i hereby declare, by the powers vested in me, that i own mars. elon musk can negotiate with me if he wants to.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Maybe he can assign the whole of Siberia to Amoco Corporation. Cut out the middle men of governments.
          Hope that your molar is much better for you by now and that the pain has subsided. Time to find a better dentist in the meantime in case of future emergencies.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Ha! Quick thinking.

        In the unlikely event you need to initiate a law suit, you apparently will have standing if you are wearing an “American” flag and, are standing.

    2. Daryl

      > So now we can openly re-map the globe and assign whole regions to whom ever we choose?

      Isn’t that what a map is after all?

  19. The Rev Kev

    “How Tech Can Turn Doctors Into Clerical Workers”

    This sort of story has come up before and it is notorious in how it stuffs around both doctors and patients for no discernible reason. In thinking about it, there is a discernible reason and that is what the doctors are doing. They are basically unpaid workers putting together a huge medical database for our tech overlords to monetize so this is yet another example of the tech titans trying to monetize our lives at our cost and to their benefit.
    The main trouble is that Silicon valley is basically incompetent doing stuff that does not fall within their narrow window of expertise. You can see this in doctor’s complaints how the way that the system is designed and how the questions are set up just do not match the real world. A bit of effort might have turned out something that would have been useful but Silicon Valley cares what Silicon Valley cares about – the fast bucks. Probably find that they botched the design of the system due to self-imposed deadlines to meet that quarter’s financial goals.

    1. tooearly

      i can say for sure that they botched the designs…been using variety of em for 20 years now. And it is dreadful. A real waste of time and a huge interference in the doctor patient relationship. Often the culprit is afailure to understand what doctors are trying to do, but sometimes it is due to understanding too well that these are designed to bill well.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Syria Sit-Rep – Liberating The M5 Lifeline”

    The Homs pocket was completely cleared out about a week ago and it looks like the ISIS pocket south of Damascus is also falling. Six buses carrying ISIS fighters and their families left there yesterday heading east for the Syrian desert. That may refer to that isolated pocket of ISIS past Palmyra that is due to be cleared out ( The pace is picking up fast now as the Syrians are taking back their country. For the remaining Jihadists, I wish to dedicate the following song-

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