2:00PM Water Cooler 6/21/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“President Donald Trump tasked Republican lawmakers on Wednesday with finding a way to crack down on Chinese telecom giant ZTE that doesn’t limit his negotiating power with China. Trump didn’t offer a specific legislative alternative during a White House meeting on the issue but seemed to signal the administration would accept barring ZTE from business with the federal government if the firm is allowed to operate in the U.S. commercial market, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said” [Politico].



“2020 DNC Host Finalists Narrow to 3 Cities” [Governing]. (DNC = Democratic National Convention.)Houston, Milwaukee, Miami. “Cities culled from the list were Atlanta, Birmingham, New York City and San Francisco.” Denver withdrew. You can forget about Milwaukee. The Democrats are never going to visit Wisconsin, ever.

“Sanders: Stop the Separation of Immigrant Children and Families” [Bernie]. April 4, 2016.


“Michael Bloomberg: Why I’m Supporting Democrats in 2018” [Bloomberg]. “As we approach the 2018 midterms, it’s critical that we elect people who will lead in ways that this Congress won’t — both by seeking to legislate in a bipartisan way, and by upholding the checks and balances that the Founding Fathers set up to safeguard ethics, prevent the abuse of power, and preserve the rule of law. And so this fall, I’m going to support Democrats in their efforts to win control of the House.” Wait. He’s not even a real Democrat.

“Democratic candidates vow to dump Pelosi” [Politico]. “A trend that started in earnest with Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), who won a special election deep in Trump country, has spread rapidly to encompass a growing cadre of candidates — many in must-win districts for Democrats — that threatens Pelosi’s nearly sixteen-year grip on the party’s leadership.” I think by “must-win” we mean Blue Dogs? Yep: “Eleven of the candidates already are on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program, a list of top-tier candidates in highly targeted races.” So Pelosi would be hoist on the petard of refusing to expand the Democrat electoral base.

WV-03: “WV-03: Why a District Trump Won by 50 Points Is at Risk for GOP” [Cook Political Report]. “A coal country district that voted 73 percent to 23 percent for President Trump might sound like mission impossible for Democrats. Yet this race could turn out be one of the wildest of the cycle. A new Monmouth University poll shows Trump-voting Democratic state Sen. Richard Ojeda leading state Del. Carol Miller 43 percent to 41 percent for the seat Rep. Evan Jenkins vacated to run unsuccessfully for Senate.” Note that Cook suppresses any mention of policy, mentioning only Ojeda’s (positive) role in the teacher’s strike, and focuses extensively on Ojeda’s military background and general bad-assery, in keeping with the Democrat Party’s increasing candidate militarization (i.e., it’s not just the CIA).

NY-14: “If You Want to Be Speaker, Mr. Crowley, Don’t Take Voters for Granted” [Editorial Board, New York Times]. “This is the second primary debate in which Mr. Crowley was a no-show. A spokeswoman for Mr. Crowley said he had scheduling conflicts that wouldn’t allow him to attend the two debates, inevitably leaving voters to wonder — what are we, chopped liver?”

* * *

So you don’t have to…

“The Bipartisan Backlash That Spurred Trump’s Reversal on Family Separations” [Governing]. “Facing intense pressure — including from state and local officials of his own party — President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday that ends the practice of separating children from their families at the border…. GOP Govs. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland each announced this week that they would withdraw troops from the border. [On troops at the border, see here.] Other Republican governors, including Bruce Rauner of Illinois, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire and Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, also expressed varying levels of opposition… On the Democratic side, the governors of Colorado and New Jersey signed executive orders this week barring any state funds from being used for programs that separate families…. The actions that were taken by the governors were largely symbolic…. Still, the bipartisan rebuke from governors was loud enough — along with condemnation from members of Congress, the religious community and others — for Trump to make a rare policy reversal.”

“Trump Backed Down, But the Crisis at the Border Is Far From Over” [Time]. Check out the cover. Personally, I thought “Maddow Wept” was the market top, but no doubt the issue will continue through the mid-terms, with no solution on offer, legislative or otherwise. It will be interesting to see if and when Maddow returns to Russia! Russia! Russia!; her pivot was executed with remarkable efficiency. Perhaps in September, as the Mueller report is released when the election season really begins.

“Border Patrol will stop referring migrant parents who cross into the U.S. illegally with children for prosecution, official says” [WaPo]. “The U.S. Border Patrol will no longer refer migrant parents who cross into the United States illegally with children to federal courthouses to face criminal charges, a senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection official told The Washington Post on Thursday.”

“Melania Trump visits with immigrant children at Texas border” [The Hill]. “The shelter currently houses about 60 kids, ages 5 to 17, from Central America. Six of the children were separated from parents, and the rest arrived as unaccompanied minors, according to a senior administration official…. The administration has not set up a formal process to reunite the more than 2,300 children in detention facilities with their families.”

“Ryan Doesn’t Know If House Republicans Can Pass Any Immigration Bill” [Roll Call]. What, Paul Ryan can’t deliver on legislation? Yes, that’s why Trump went the Executive Order route [bangs head on desk].

“Forty Questions” [Harpers (DG)]. From 2017, still germane. “Before the immigration crisis was declared in the summer of 2014, minors were given approximately twelve months to find a lawyer before their first court hearing. But then, the Obama Administration created the “priority juvenile docket,” which reduced that window to twenty-one days. In real terms, the priority docket grouped together the cases involving unaccompanied minors from Central America and moved them to the top of the list of pending cases. For the children involved, being at the top of the list was the least desirable outcome — it accelerated deportation proceedings by 94 percent.” The post goes through the workings of that docket in detail.

“Violence keeps Central Americans coming to US despite Trump” [Associated Press]. “The rate of violent death in El Salvador is still higher than all countries suffering armed conflict except for Syria, with a murder rate of 99.7 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016, according to the most recent global study by the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey. The number of people displaced in the nation of 6.5 million by turf battles between the country’s two biggest gangs, MS-13 and Barrio 18, skyrocketed last year to 296,000, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council. In neighboring Honduras, one of Latin America’s poorest and most violent nations, adding to the sense of insecurity is the country’s role as a major transit point for South American cocaine as well as the political turmoil and civil unrest that have followed hard-line President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s re-election last November amid allegations he stole the vote.” Of course, it’s not like the United States was involved in picking a President for Honduras. Oh, wait… Or is involved in El Salvador in any way. Oh, wait

2016 Post Mortem

“Obama cyber chief confirms ‘stand down’ order against Russian cyberattacks in summer 2016” [Michael Isikoff, Yahoo News]. “The view that the Obama administration failed to adequately piece together intelligence about the Russian campaign and develop a forceful response has clearly gained traction with the intelligence committee. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the ranking Democrat on the panel, said in an opening statement that ‘we were caught flat-footed at the outset and our collective response was inadequate to meet Russia’s escalation.’ … That conclusion was reinforced Wednesday by another witness, Victoria Nuland, who served as assistant secretary of state for Europe during the Obama administration. She told the panel that she had been briefed as early as December 2015 about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee — long before senior DNC officials were aware of it — and that the intrusion had all the hallmarks of a Russian operation.” OMG. OMG. OMG. “Reinforced” is doing rather a lot of work there, no?

Realignment and Legitimacy

The most disheartening comment thread I’ve read in quite some time:

Handle this toxic material carefully, and refrain from commenting until you’ve had time to think. (I’d welcome some bright spots, frankly). From alert reader DG:

Well, Lambert, I don’t know how to thank you for the Tweet (a platform I abstain from).

First, though, I suggest that you post figure 3, the individual states, for the commentariat. I can’t explain, other than general weirdness, why Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa aren’t in figure 3. But then, I can’t quite figure out why Illinois and Wisconsin haven’t been as touched by suicides and opioids. Relatively speaking. Maybe there is more work here. Maybe it is from eating so much dairy.

But Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, Oregon?

Figure 2 indicates that all groups are heading toward lower birthrates and that the white birthrate, which is below replacement rate, is stable there. That is the long-term demographic trend. Further: Hispanics arrive and family size gets smaller. Black birth rates are declining much like white birth rates.

As to the comments section, well, I’ve known Stanley Crouch for a while. His byword: Whenever Americans get near race, they go crazy.

Recommending a book: Jörg Rüpke, Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion. Princeton University Press. He rethinks the idea of temple, cult, and religious rites. Fascinating.

Here is Figure 3, as DG requests:

Maine is easy; we were de-industrialized when the mills were shut down. These are deaths of despair, after we got stomped in the Crash. Now retail is shutting down.

UPDATE “Fight Trump’s family separation policy. Don’t lose your mind in the process.” [The Week]. “The administration’s critics are amply justified in their revulsion at its immigration policies. But it isn’t strict adherence to consistent moral principle that is motivating the reaction to them. It is the selective application of moral principle to a situation that people sense or hope will prove to be politically advantageous.”

UPDATE “The Deportation Machine Obama Built for President Trump” [The Nation]. From 2016, still germane: “In his first two years, newly appointed Director of the Office of Homeland Security Tom Ridge expanded the purview of his department to include an immigration enforcement plan that sought to achieve a “100% removal rate” of the undocumented population in the United States by seeing to the drafting of a document that came to shape the next 15 years, “ENDGAME Office of Detention and Removal Strategic Plan.” … Instead of reversing that architecture and disavowing that plan, President Obama turbocharged it. To pay for the ballooning enforcement-first approach, the budget for immigration enforcement grew 300 percent from the resources given at the time of its founding under Bush to $18 billion annually, more than all other federal law-enforcement agencies’ budget combined. Before the end of his first term in office, the Obama administration had taken a small program developed in George W. Bush’s last days that aimed to turn local police into “force multipliers” and expanded it by about 3,600 percent.” Looking for “norms”? I’ve gotchyer norms right here. Same was true for warrantless surveillance and financial regulation.

“How Identity, Not Issues, Explains the Partisan Divide” [Scientific American]. “To paraphrase anthropologist John Tooby, forming coalitions around policy questions is disastrous because it pits our modest urge for truth-seeking against our voracious appetite to be good group members. If Americans slide into seeing all policy debates as battles between Us vs. Them, we stop selecting policies based on their actual content. Ironically, this would lead to choosing policies that don’t match our personal values, because the content and evidence would become less important than the source. In short, seeing politics as a battle may worsen things for everyone.” Note how SA carefully qualifies the study.

* * *

UPDATE “DSA: We’re Coming After More Trump Officials” [Daily Beast]. Note that this is Metro DC DSA, not DSA per se.

UPDATE Metro DC DSA statement:

Families, families, f-a-a-m-i-lies. Who wrote this press release? Some Blue Dog consultant?

“Democratic Socialist membership in Pioneer Valley skyrockets” [Greenfield Recorder]. “So what does socialism mean for DSA members? A purpose statement on the national organization’s website is a helpful starting point: ‘We are socialists because we reject an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, disability status, age, religion, and national origin, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo. We are socialists because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality and non-oppressive relationships.” [DSA member Amy Borezo] says DSA and its local chapter are welcoming of members spanning the political left. ‘I think what DSA is really wonderful about is that it’s a big-tent organization, and so it incorporates social democrats, democratic socialists, farther-left socialists, anarchists,’ she said. ‘It’s a very big tent.'”

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of June 16, 2016: “Jobless claims remain very low and are consistent with a low unemployment rate and strong job growth” [Econoday]. “There were no states or territories estimated in the week with, for the first time since the hurricane season, no disruptions cited for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.” After nearly a year, and just in time for the new hurricane system, we achieve baseline statistical functionality. Well played, all.

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, June 2018: “Momentum is thankfully easing in the Philly Fed’s manufacturing sample which had been reporting among the very strongest growth, and perhaps unsustainably strong, in 50 years of data” [Econoday]. “It’s hard to assess what the results say for the factory sector as a whole, perhaps that it may be slowing this month but the rise for shipments will mask much of the effect. The nation’s factory sector is having a very good year and looks, tariff risks aside, to be a leading contributor to the 2018 economy.” The robots are happy, at least… And: “Consider this a much weaker report than last month as key elements significantly declined” [Econintersect].

Leading Economics Index: “May 2018 Leading Economic Index Continues to Point To Moderate Growth” [Econintersect]. “Because of the significant backward revisions, I do not trust this index.”

Shipping: “Shipments to U.S. Ports Soar on Rising Retail Demand, Trade Worries” [Wall Street Journal]. “The increase in consumer spending and growing concern among manufacturers and retailers over changes to U.S. trade policy are leading to a surge in cargo volume at U.S. seaports. In the first half of the year, retail imports shipped to major U.S. ports are expected to reach 10.2 million 20-foot equivalent units, a standard measure for container cargo—an increase of 3.8% over the same period last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Strong economic growth is pushing more goods through supply chains, straining U.S. logistics providers from truck fleets to warehousing operations. Volume also is surging as companies, anticipating the coming changes to U.S. trade policy, have ramped up orders for parts and products from their overseas manufacturers to reduce the financial impact of new tariffs.”

The Bezzle: “Alleged Tesla saboteur says ‘Elon was lying to investors;’ Tesla says he threatened violence” [MarketWatch]. “Tesla filed a lawsuit against employee Martin Tripp on Wednesday, after Musk sent out a companywide email late Sunday night that said an employee had “conducted quite extensive and damaging sabotage” by rewriting code and transferring internal information outside the company. Tripp, however, spoke with some news organizations Wednesday evening and defended himself by saying that he was trying to expose dangerous practices and misleading statements from Tesla… Tripp specifically said Musk was lying to investors about the production rate of the Model 3, a crucial number for Tesla as it attempts to catch up to rates Musk promised it would reach last year. Specifically, Tripp told CNNMoney that when Musk said in Tesla’s last earnings call that Tesla had built more than 2,000 Model 3 cars in the previous week, the number was closer to 1,900. Tripp — who worked at Tesla’s Reno, Nev., battery factory known as the Gigafactory — admitted to The Washington Post that he had supplied information to Business Insider for a story on high scrap rates and other issues at that facility. He said he did so because he believes Tesla put more than 1,000 punctured battery modules into cars.” Holy moly. I thought Musk had battery manufacturing under control, because they’re simpler than cars.

The Bezzle: “Supreme Court rules states can require online merchants to collect sales tax” [MarketWatch]. “The Supreme Court handed states broad authority Thursday to require online retailers to collect sales taxes, overturning a pre-internet court precedent that had effectively exempted many merchants from collection duties…. The ruling likely will spell the end of an era in which consumers could save on taxes by purchasing goods online instead of from local merchants.”

Tech: “Bias detectives: the researchers striving to make algorithms fair” [Nature]. “In the midst of such activity, scientists are confronting complex questions about what it means to make an algorithm fair. Researchers such as Vaithianathan, who work with public agencies to try to build responsible and effective software, must grapple with how automated tools might introduce bias or entrench existing inequity — especially if they are being inserted into an already discriminatory social system.” Bias isn’t a bug. It’s a feature.

Tech: “Onion Social Study Finds No Clear Link Between Onion Social Use, Uncontrollable Vomiting Of Black Bile” [The Onion]. “Continue scrolling until the discomfort subsides….”

Mr. Market: “Day trader tries out ‘demo’ platform, ends up with actual $5 billion position” [MarketWatch]. So pay the man. What’s the issue? Heh heh.

Mr. Market: “Small-cap stocks are on a tear—but shares in tiny companies have done even better” [MarketWatch]. Hmm. Concentration? Readers?

Five Horsemen: “Among the Fab Five, only Apple is managing a modest gain in late morning trade as the broader market sells off” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen June 21 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “On yesterday’s modest market rise the mania-panic index gained one tick to 57 (complacency)” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (The NakedCap mania-panic index is an equally-weighted average of seven technical indicators derived from stock indexes, volatility (VIX), Treasuries, junk bonds, equity options, and internal measures of new highs vs new lows and up volume vs down volume … each converted to a scale of 0 to 100 before averaging, using thirty years of history for five of the seven series.)

Five Horsemen June 21 2018

Puerto Rico

“Puerto Rico governor signs bill to privatize power company assets” [Boston Globe]. “The bill allows Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority to sell its power generation plants as the company faces more than $9 billion in public debt and relies on infrastructure nearly three times older than the industry average. It also allows the government to create public-private partnerships for the transmission and distribution of power, billing, and meter-reading.” No tears from Maddow on this, oddly, or not.

Book Nook

Re-reading my Crane Brinton.

Net Neutrality

“FTC’s Cybersecurity Remedial Authority Limited” [Compliance and Enforcement]. “The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently vacated a Federal Trade Commission cease-and-desist order that required a medical laboratory company to implement a ‘reasonably designed’ cybersecurity program after customer data on the company’s systems were compromised. LabMD, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission. The decision represents a judicial curb on FTC enforcement efforts seeking expansive cease-and-desist orders requiring companies to maintain ‘reasonable’ or ‘appropriate’ data security systems in the wake of cyber incidents. By limiting the FTC to orders that prohibit specific unfair conduct, or that require specific responsive remedial action, this ruling may alter the cyber enforcement landscape and affect the balance between the FTC and companies affected by cyber incidents.” Speculating freely, since I don’t even play a lawyer on TV, the FTC will only be able to regulate net neutrality very narrowly too (that is, Comcast’s legion of mercenary lawyers will run rings around them).

Class Warfare

“Ask HN: What’s your ‘Everyone has a price’ experience?” [Hacker News].

“The US startup is disappearing” [Quartz]. “While companies that were less than two years old made up about 13% of all companies in 1985, they only accounted for 8% in 2014… From around 1998 to 2010, the share of private sector workers in companies that were less than two years old plummeted from more than 9% to less than 5%.” Stupid money sloshing elsewhere? Venture capitalists: “Our work here is done”? Here is the report on which this article is based–

“The state of competition and dynamism: Facts about concentration, start-ups, and related policies” (PDF) [Brookings Institution]. “Over the past few decades there have been troubling indications that dynamism and competition in the U.S. economy have declined. This paper describes the state of competition in the economy, related patterns in entrepreneurship, and policies that promote or inhibit competition. Business dynamism and competition are inherently intertwined, though the linkages are complex. Dominant firms can crowd out new entrants and reduce entrepreneurship; at the same time, a lack of start-ups can reduce the entrants necessary to generate competition. Thus, we examine both growing market concentration and the reduced rate of entry by firms.”

News of The Wired

“Exclusive: Neanderthal ‘minibrains’ grown in dish” [Science]. “None of this work has been published, but Alysson Muotri, a geneticist at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, described his group’s Neanderthal organoids for the first time this month at a UCSD conference called Imagination and Human Evolution. His team has coaxed stem cells endowed with Neanderthal DNA into pea-size masses that mimic the cortex, the outer layer of real brains. Compared with cortical minibrains made with typical human cells, the Neanderthal organoids have a different shape and differences in their neuronal networks, including some that may have influenced the species’s ability to socialize. ‘We’re trying to recreate Neanderthal minds,’ Muotri says.” I recently saw BladeRunner I (chaotic plotting, brilliant cinematography) and BladeRunner II (overly long, excellent cinematography). Making me, er, think we could train Neanderthal mini-brains to drive our robot cars… Go long vats instead of fab plants…

“Going nowhere fast” [Aeon]. “[After the Higgs Boson,] none of the more exotic particles and interactions that theorists hoped to see [from Large Hadron Collider (LHC)] has been forthcoming. No ‘stop squarks’, no ‘gluinos’, no ‘neutralinos’. The null results are now encrusting the hull of the Standard Model, like barnacles on a beautiful old frigate, and dragging her down to the ocean floor. It looks like the centuries-long quest for top-down unification has stalled, and particle physics might have a full-blown crisis on its hands.”

“Science Says: What makes something truly addictive” [Associated Press]. “The new ‘gaming disorder’ classification from the World Health Organization revives a debate in the medical community about whether behaviors can cause the same kind of addictive illness as drugs…. The strictest definition of addiction refers to a disease resulting from [1] changes in brain chemistry caused by compulsive use of drugs or alcohol. … Under a looser definition, addiction is considered “a disease of [2]extreme behavior. Any behavior carried to extreme that consumes you and keeps you from doing [3]what you should be doing becomes an addiction as far as life is concerned,” said Dr. Walter Ling, a UCLA psychiatrist.” Multiple thoughts: [1] I agree with this definition, but ask what experiences do not change brain chemistry? That’s one of the things the brain is for! [2] Um, who defines “extreme”? How about extremes in politics? [3] Hoo boy. “Should be doing.” Let me check in with the Soviet psychiatrists on that one.

* * *

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

DK writes: “Really touch and go – thought it wasn’t going to make it – than it took off, the flowers in the first year are pure gravy.”

Three weeks ago last year, my sunflowers were more than head-high, and had bloomed. This year, now, they’re less than chest high, and of course haven’t flowered, although there will be a great mass of yellow when they do. On the bright side, I don’t have to worry about getting a late start. Global weirding is really weird.

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So do feel free to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click the hat!

To give more, click on the arrow heads to the right of the amount.


If you hate PayPal — even though you can use a credit card or debit card on PayPal — you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Water Cooler on by .

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

    Someone wanted to pay me via Zelle. Its Android app demands access to photo files and phone calls. Asked whether a spyware-free version is available, Zelle replied:

    We understand your concerns with the access permissions that are requested. The requested access to your photos is for the purpose of being able to add a profile photo and show any photos you have assigned to your phone contacts once you are enrolled. The request for access to phone calls is done so that Zelle® may create a contact list within the App that is based on your phone contacts.

    Zelle doesn’t admit that they collect all these contacts and photos for their own use, but of course they do. Maybe it’s not as bad as Venmo, which actually posts users’ payees on the public web. But no stinkin’ spyware is gonna suck in my contacts and photo files.

    “Cash is fine,” I advised the prospective payor.

    1. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      June 21, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      I would let them see all my photos, except for my concern about the legal liability I would put myself in from all the people who would laugh so hard at seeing photos of myself nude that they would injure themselves and than sue me…..

        1. fresno dan

          Jim Haygood
          June 21, 2018 at 3:40 pm

          Heavens to Betsy – why? Cause it shows obsessive compulsive cleaning disorder? ;)

      1. 4corners

        I make regular efforts at monkey-wrenching personal data collection: misidentifying people in photos; using vender initials as my initials (to track mailing lists); and on occasion, conspicuously shopping online for high-end luxury items, double-wide strollers, and Kendrick Lamar records. Try to make sense of that, big data aggregators. Ha! Then it occurs to me what a babe in the woods I am about technology. And, that my iPhone, with unique identifiers, is my constant companion. BTW, loved that link yesterday to the Onion about deleting stored data from Amazon.

        1. ArcadiaMommy

          I’ve noticed at big concerts that you have to put your phone in a magnetized pouch that can’t be opened until you leave or go to certain stations with an “access point”. No idea what they are made of but they are heavy. I assume that they block the cell signal somehow since I didn’t hear anyone’s phone ring during Dave Chappelle.

          1. Big Tap

            I suspect they also don’t want you to record any of the concert. Usually that is considered an unauthorized video by the venue, performer, or artist. I ‘ve seen uploaded concert links by fans later pulled from YouTube supposedly for some copyright violation.

    2. Zelle No

      Zelle also requires a debit card. There is no other mechanism to create an account. None! Call me old fashioned (or security conscious, or both) but I have credit cards and an ATM card, but no debit card. Seems a bit short-sighted on Zelle’s part. When I went to provide them feedback through their online form, it limited the number of characters that could be sent so dramatically that I gave up trying to complain.

      1. ArcadiaMommy

        Really it is easier to just write a check. Or pay with a credit card and deduct the 3% fee from the total.

    3. Procopius

      Did they explain why I would want them to add a profile photo to my photos? And why on earth would I want them to contact my friends? Or perhaps I’m misunderstanding. Why would I want to use a contact list within the app? Are they such bad programmers that they can’t create a usable interface?

  2. Mark Gisleson

    Birth/death chart largely reflects where old people go to retire. Iowans and Minnesotans go to Florida and Arizona to die. Really skews the charts but the new club members seem more opioid influenced.

    1. chuck roast

      In any case, there are now 26 states on the chart and curve is exponential. We could run out of states in the near future.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Ahhh – amazing how many people go to Oregon to retire. Actually, I think the chart reveals that Oregon and the other states at the right side top were late to the club; that might reflect either healthier living or an influx of young people in Portland. I found the chart rather confusing.

      For the environment, a shrinking population, especially here, is a GOOD thing. Amazing how many people actually grasp that.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I wondered too about a shrinking population. The US has about, what, 335 million people living there and I have wondered if between changing social and economic situations that this is causing a natural fallback in population. Would it be so bad if there were only some 225 million people living in the US like there was back in 1980? Certainly it would take the pressure off accommodation and job seeking. With a reduced workforce employers would have to pay a living wage or see their workforce abandon them. Of course what works against this is immigration, both legal and illegal as what would be the point of trying to reduce your population when the numbers keep coming in. I think that it is beyond dispute that a major purpose of this is to reduce wages and the like by our betters. There are going to have to be adjustments made here whether people like it or not.

        1. Cat Afficionado

          I think that zero population growth, after a period of steady and controlled population decline, is the only viable future for humanity. At least in terms of allowing people on the planet a chance at a life resembling something like that in western Europe. A study that was linked on NC a while back determined that the earth can support (in a long-term sustainable way) ~3 billion people living like the average French person today.

          Unfortunately, the economic model that the entire world is on right now requires continual growth. A lot of stuff will need to be restructured from the ground up, and I do sometimes wonder if the human genome is one element of that (is there a “greed gene” and can it be tweaked?).

  3. SD

    I live in Berkshire County, Mass. but drive into Boston about once a month for work. I usually take Rte. 2 back and forth, but the last time I made the drive, I decided to take Rte. 2A–the “scenic” route–back. Driving through villages and small towns in Worcester and Franklin counties, I was shocked by the evident poverty, even though I felt like I largely knew the score because I live in north Berkshire County, where the poorest city in Massachusetts, North Adams, is located. Government, health care, and retail are the only employers left in many of these places, and as Lambert notes retail is eroding. I’m not surprised at all to see all five New England states on this depressing list.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Yes, there is a tremendous amount of poverty in New England generally. There are many places that never recovered from mid-20th century de-industrialization. Hell, there are small towns that never recovered their c. 1820-30 population peak. In my own Plymouth County, thousands of people are homeless, largely living in the woods. Times are bad for 90% of the country.

        Something I’ve always found infuriating is that people assume, who aren’t from New England, that everyone here is a wealthy brahmin. Quite the opposite is the case. Go to Lawrence or Manchester, or the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, or Millinocket in the Maine woods, or Buzzard’s Bay, MA — things are bad.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Citizen, what is this “bad” you speak of? Why just yesterday our Chief Warden Federal Reserve Chairman reiterated we live in the best of all possible worlds, unemployment is the lowest it’s been since Neanderthals protested their unequal bison-skinning conditions. And America is great again doncha know? I know that’s true because I saw an article with the title “What will Bezos spend his $140 billion on?”. We citizens must know the answer to this wonderful question! Maybe they will leave a TV on in the window of the Louis Vuitton store so the inhabitants of Citizen’s Encampment #110,235 can huddle around and learn the answer. Will he buy a diamond-studded Gulfstream jet with solid gold faucets? Or perhaps a small Central American nation. May the odds be ever in your favor.

        2. SD

          Well said. New England, despite its reputation as a wealthy liberal bastion, has its own disgraceful share of poverty—both rural and urban.

  4. grayslady

    Regarding the U.S. Supreme Court decision on sales tax for online sales: I don’t know about other states, but Illinois is a “point of origin” sales tax state–meaning that if the state tax is 6.25%, and the town in which the company is registered has a county tax of 0.5%, and a city tax of 0.25%, the business entity will need to collect 7% tax on sales (food is taxed at a much lower rate throughout the state, and that’s a separate issue). At present, I believe that when taxes are charged on online sales without a physical presence in the state, only the state tax rate applies, without any county or local taxes. Although I’m not generally a fan of municipal subsidies for business, I can see why these decisions have been made by various localities to help retailers combat the no-tax advantage of online shops.

    Personally, I find sales taxes to be inconsequential on most low value items, while shipping costs for UPS or FedEx are outrageous, so I always try to buy what I need within a 10-mile, or thereabouts, radius.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Not if the state collects the local tax as well. That’s what makes this such a nightmare. It’s not just having to do a ton of quarterly reports, but that every state is different.

        1. John k

          It would be a nightmare without computers. Just need zip and a central place to take care of the details.

        2. JTMcPhee

          Big Data and Algos can figure all that complexity out in a jiffy! You can be sure Bezos’ minions have the Code in place for it already, somewhere in their toxic Cloud…

  5. Hana M

    “Personally, I thought “Maddow Wept” was the market top…”

    Had to wipe my afternoon tea off the computer screen. Might be time to switch to something stronger :D

  6. sleepy

    Re: the WaPo article on ICE no longer prosecuting families with kids who cross illegally and seek asylum.

    As I understand it, certain international conventions on asylum seekers, of which the US is a signatory, require that “entry status violations” should not be considered criminal by asylum seekers. Of course, bipartisan support of US violation of international law has always been one of those pre-Trump values and American norms.

    One problem with the new policy is that it only pertains to families with children. Adult asylum seekers will still be prosecuted if they arrive other than through a port of entry.

    Canada has a twist on this according to a recent article. If an asylum seeker arrives at the US-Canadian border, the individual will be refused entry into Canada. Yet if an asylum seeker sneaks through the woods from Minnesota into Manitoba and enters Canada illegally, that individual will be permitted to stay and apply for asylum. After receiving a number of half-dead, frostbitten refugees, Trudeau has indicated a change in that policy to allow asylum seekers to enter Canada through legal ports of entry, since Canada no longer considers the US a “safe” nation for asylum seekers.

      1. Sid Finster

        I don’t know about “child traffickers” but I know that some Pakistani families in England travel back to Pakistan to see relatives, then claim to have given birth to a child there as a way to get their cousins or other relatives through immigration.

    1. J Sterling

      The 1951 UN Refugee Convention says asylum seekers can do anything to get into another country, including damage to property. That’s why mere fences aren’t enough to stop immigrants, because they’re allowed to cut the fence; it needs to be a wall or something otherwise impractical to damage. In England there was a minor scandal a few years back when a man walked through the Channel Tunnel from Calais and was prosecuted for trespass. The Brit papers said the UN Convention says that’s not illegal.

  7. flora

    re: Pew Research Fact Tank (@FactTank) June 20, 2018

    Since reading the newspaper reports on decrease in white life expectancy and increase in suicides over the 1999-2016 (?) time span, I’ve been looking for a line graph that might show the increases per years. This appears to be the sort of graph I’ve been looking for. It shows an over all, without breakouts for cause or ages. Even without this breakout for causes, the question I’ve had is whether there was a marked upward trend in deaths after 2008 on, 2008-9 being the great financial crash. Looking at the line graph (not the bar graph), it seems like the death rates starting in 2009 have gone up markedly from the 2000-2007/8 pattern. 1999-2008 the death rate changes in a relatively contained boundary pattern. In 2009 the death rates start going only up, always up. The stresses of the preceding years may finally have started taking the grim toll. Correlation is not causation, but the line graph is a heck of a correlation. Thanks.

    People in the affluent neighborhoods may tell themselves the economy is just fine and the recession ended years ago, because for them it did. The rest of the country is still struggling, imo.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Rosie’s been reading my mind:

    The January high in the S&P 500 will prove to be the peak of the bull market and a U.S. recession may start in the next 12 months, said David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff & Associates Inc.

    “Cycles die, and you know how they die?” Rosenberg told the Inside ETFs Canada conference in Montreal on Thursday. “Because the Fed puts a bullet in its forehead.

    The S&P 500 reached a record on Jan. 26 and has since dropped about 4 percent.

    The market is in a classic late cycle, with wages rising at full employment and potential trade wars, said Rosenberg, who was one of the first economists to warn of the Great Recession when he was at Merrill Lynch before the financial crisis. The result will be higher inflation, he said.

    “We are seeing a significant shift in the markets,” he said. “The Fed was responsible for 1,000 rally points this cycle so we have to pay attention to what happens when the movie runs backwards.”


    When the movie runs backward, its frame speed is five times higher than on the way up. Got barf bags?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I didn’t know that about movies running backwards.

      With a DVD, I think you can control the forward or backward speed.

    2. ambrit

      I’d have a quibble with “…wages rising at full employment.” This cycles’ wage action is skewed by aggressive labour arbitrage by employers. This is one reason that Trumps’ deployment of the immigrant ‘card’ is going to gain him votes this cycle. The average American, and there are a lot of them in the Heartland, viscerally ‘gets’ the wage depressing function of both legal and illegal immigrants. You say that Trump bashing immigrants is declasse, or boorish? D— right it is, and a large segment of the American public are behind him all the way on it. Imagine the pure terror of the 10% enabling class when they discover that not only have they alienated the lower 80% of the population, but their 1% masters don’t give a d— about them either. Then the classical grounds for a revolution will have been laid.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        I’m a day late, of course…but as I’m reading this thread, wife sings out from the kitchen a news item:” California crops rotting on ground due to immigration crackdown.”
        shocker that folks aren’t packing their jalopies and heading west, no?
        Long ago, I picked peaches and watermelons for a time…for actual small family farmers.
        it was hard work, for little pay(although farmer’s wife fed us breakfast and lunch). I am given to understand, by quite a few immigrants I know, that such employment is not as wholesome as it used to be,lol.
        the industrial model of Big Ag relies on cheap illegal immigrants(and those who resemble them).
        expect everything from lettuce to tomatoes to strawberries to go up in price. many things can’t be picked by a machine.
        Know Yer Farmer.

  9. pretzelattack

    lots of former ic people running for office, meanwhile the tsunami of propaganda against trump and russia continues.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I know a lot of people are going to invoke that quote (“Pioneers have arrows in their backs.”).

      But let’s no rush to judgment here…there could be nothing or more problems. Do not rush.

    2. JTMcPhee

      I mess around with radio-controlled model aircraft, most of which have rare-earth-magnet electric motors and are powered by “Lipo” (lithium polymer) batteries. When one of those batteries, which approximate the energy density and the chemistry of the Tesla batteries, gets punctured, like in a crash or from being dropped or whatever, the resulting conflagration looks just like what happened to that now famous Model S that happened to belong to someone famous and with a camera to record the jet of high-temperature flame shooting out from the battery space under the passenger cabin.

      The batteries produce their own combustibles as they “degrade thermally,” and as written about many places, pretty much cannot be extinguished — though burying them in sand will sometimes seem to do so, with the caveat that when you go to pick up the mess, they may spontaneously re-ignite. The combustion gases are toxic and nasty. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/battery-fires-pose-new-risks-to-firefighters/ The money line for me: “Electricity storage booms as regulators race to develop safety standards.” Bearing in mind the phenomenon known as “regulatory capture…”

      There is one heck of a lot of stored chemical energy in these things, that we tech-loving people are looking to power a continuation at the same level of our consumptive lifestyles when the petroleum gets scarce. The thread entries on the original Twitter thing are great! All the io%ers and tech lovers saying “well, gee, a lot more gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles burn up every year than Teslas! So there, you Luddites!” Lies, damned lies, and statistics, added to “True Belief” and arrogance…

  10. NotTimothyGeithner

    Hey now! Michael Bloomberg was a Republican every day of the Shrub Administration. If he is going to dump $80 million on Team Blue, Team Blue must be thoroughly awful.

  11. Jim Haygood

    And it’s gone …

    The White House announced a proposal to restructure the United States Postal Service. The proposal examines ways to “return it to a sustainable business model or prepare it for future conversion from a Government agency into a privately-held corporation.”

    It argues that “like many European nations, the United States could privatize its postal operator while maintaining strong regulatory oversight to ensure fair competition and reasonable prices for customers.”


    Look at the bright side — sell USPS to Wells Fargo, and you’ve got an instant postal bank. :-)

      1. ambrit

        The Duchy of Grand Fenwick and Cockaign come to mind. Plus several nations that Sir John Mandeville visited. I would add the Patriarchy of Prester John, but that is in Asia.

        1. Carolinian

          Trump and his Repubs want to privatize Medicare as well. This almost seems like a trend.

          If only there were a political party that might object to such moves.

          1. John k

            Tina. Both parties share the same donors. Objecting to anything team r does alienates donors. There are, or should be, laws against that.

          1. ambrit

            Brussels told them that they have to formalize their independence from the UK first. Senior aparatchiks in Brussels have been heard to complain about the cross they have to bear with all these formerly quiescent polities sprouting up of a sudden.
            It seems that having a tone poem by Edward Elgar named after you doesn’t qualify one for statehood.
            Blast. I was so looking forward to it too.
            Hear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-8Ww-Rn9dw

  12. dcblogger

    I have only gone to one meeting of Metro DC DSA, but judging on my experience, John Lilburne would have been right at home. There is enormous overlap between the DC Statehood/Green Party and Metro DC DSA membership. Also Code Pink is well represented, so no, NOT blue dog.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          What next? DSA: “We were out-segged”?

          I can’t quite formulate this, but I think that only works when the two sides are two sides of the same coin; the reason one side can steal the other side’s messaging is that they are in some way commensurate. However, one hopes that the DSA is not commensurate with the Republicans/Democrats.

          For example, “fake news” was, IIRC, invented by liberals at WaPo, but co-opted by Trump. The “deep state” is another.

          I think the interesting terms are those that cannot be co-opted: “the 1%” (unlike “deep state,” note well), “collective ownership of the means of production,” the Dolchstoßlegende…

  13. 4corners

    “Families, families, f-a-a-m-i-lies. Who wrote this press release? Some Blue Dog consultant?”

    Too funny. I’m tired of this too. This is a dog whistle to Mitt Romney, who, once annointed–I mean elected– will take his seat in the 5th column.

    “Violence keeps Central Americans coming to US despite Trump”

    I’d be curious to see the list of destination countries by %. IOW, is it US or bust? What’s the equation, do you think, to pass through (Spanish-speaking) Mexico, or to stop short of Canada? What about other Latin American countries?

    1. JBird

      Mexico is harsher than the United States as well as being poorer. Not only do the authorities more brutal, the Cartels likely to enslave you, any work that you get will likely make summer farm work in the Central Valley seem paradisiacal. Going south gets you chaotic and poor Venezuela then along its borders, poor, corrupt and violent Columbia, Brazil’s Amazon, and comparatively decent, but still poor, Guyana.

      The only realistic choice is the United States. All one has to do is to ride on top of the death train, avoids the various landowners, Cartels, police, and random monsters because of rapes, armed robberies, kidnapping for ransom (everyone has a cellphone and/or contact numbers), slavery sexual or otherwise, random beatings and murders because why not, ostensibly human beings called coyotes who are human traffickers who may, or may not, get you across the border and through the the desert. The coyotes often rob, frequently abandoned (to die) in the desert, and will rape their customers. Many simply disappear. Shallow graves and mass ones, scavengers’ stomachs, or into the American coroners offices never to be identified.

      The Mexican government does often complains about the Americans and their government’s treatment of Mexicans. Those hypocrites have big brass ones.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Wed, JUL 9th 2014 @ 11:56 am EDT
        Earlier this week, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina held a joint press conference to formally announce a new program that will allow Guatemalan citizens to legally travel through Mexico in their effort to enter the United States illegally. Guatemala is one of three sending countries accounting for most of the illegal aliens coming across the U.S.-Mexico border during the ongoing surge. The agreement grants Guatemalans 72 hours of legal status while they make their journey to the U.S.

        The “Southern Border Program to Improve Passage” will increase the number of border checkpoints along the Mexico-Guatemala border, provide medical care, and offer Guatemalans a Regional Visitor’s Card. The card grants Guatemalans enough time to make the trek to Mexico’s northern border.

        The program will also offer protection and financial assistance for unaccompanied minors who attempt to make the journey.

        For more information, see the Examiner and El Universal.


        Plenty more if you search on “Southern Border Program to Improve Passage.” Trump is not wrong when he says that Mexico has been less than helpful.

        hillary clinton telegraphed the goal in a 2013 paid speech to her benefactors (courtesy of WikiLeaks}:

        In a talk to a Brazilian bank in 2013, she said her “dream” is “a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders” and asked her audience to think of what doubling American trade with Latin America “would mean for everybody in this room.”


        It’s the Cloward-Piven Strategy retooled for 21st century immigration policy–overwhelm an overburdened government system, break it, replace it.


        1. Carolinian

          Cloward and Piven’s article is focused on forcing the Democratic Party, which in 1966 controlled the presidency and both houses of the United States Congress, to take federal action to help the poor. They stated that full enrollment of those eligible for welfare “would produce bureaucratic disruption in welfare agencies and fiscal disruption in local and state governments” that would: “…deepen existing divisions among elements in the big-city Democratic coalition: the remaining white middle class, the working-class ethnic groups and the growing minority poor. To avoid a further weakening of that historic coalition, a national Democratic administration would be constrained to advance a federal solution to poverty that would override local welfare failures, local class and racial conflicts and local revenue dilemmas

          Clearly the Dems took this threat seriously and decided to do away with those pesky welfare programs as much as possible. This took a few decades to accomplish.

          Personally I doubt that Hillary had such a grand scheme in mind as she seems about as clueless as Trump when it comes to strategy. The Dems likely figure more immigrants = more Dem voters. In their minds the Dem voters of the FDR era are all driving around in cars with Confederate flags on the top.

  14. flora

    re: “How Identity, Not Issues, Explains the Partisan Divide” [Scientific American].

    This is a pretty good companion read, and pretty funny, too.

    I think being aware of this and how manipulators can use it is a good guide to political advertising – of all stripes.

    1. flora

      Thanks for this link. Glad to see my state’s PERS system isn’t named as an investor. Divesting from the private prison industry seems like a good way for states and pensions to put there money where their mouth is re: abusive imprisonment of undocument immigrants. From the article:

      “When it comes to private prisons, the facts are thus: in order for those facilities to make a profit they must be full. This is one reason why the regular “justice” system hands out so many long sentences. However, since the number of arrests has not kept up with the number of prison beds being built, the need to generate profit has convinced those who manage and profit from private prisons to work with immigration officials and fill their facilities with people from other nations seeking asylum or work. The government’s enforcement wing known familiarly as ICE has obliged by arresting and detaining thousands more individuals than under previous administrations. “

  15. JBird

    As to the comments section, well, I’ve known Stanley Crouch for a while. His byword: Whenever Americans get near race, they go crazy.

    We do, don’t we, although I would use the word Insane instead of crazy myself.

    1. 4corners

      Yes, those twitter comments were horribly depressing. We were warned, though, at least in a this-milk-has-gone-bad—taste-it sort of way.

      Let’s hope those views would be tempered when it comes to actual flesh and blood people. More fruit of identity politics.

      1. RMO

        “As to the comments section, well, I’ve known Stanley Crouch for a while”

        Well, I guess we all have our cross to bear but that seems a particularly horrid one to be nailed to.

  16. Jim Haygood

    The “fight for five million” declares victory:

    Venezuela’s president says he is again raising the minimum wage. President Nicolas Maduro made the announcement Wednesday before a cheering crowd of workers. It is the fourth such increase this year.

    The boost brings the monthly pay most Venezuelan workers bring home to little more than 5 million bolivars. That is about $1.85 on the commonly used black market exchange.


    Everyone’s a millionaire, but there’s nothing to buy. :-(

  17. ewmayer

    Re. NY-14: “If You Want to Be Speaker, Mr. Crowley, Don’t Take Voters for Granted” [Editorial Board, New York Times]. “This is the second primary debate in which Mr. Crowley was a no-show…”

    Who does this guy think he is, Gavin Newsom?

      1. ambrit

        Well, a Mainer of all people would know that all things associated with Missouri are Compromised.

  18. stillfeelintheberninwi

    “You can forget about Milwaukee. The Democrats are never going to visit Wisconsin, ever.”

    Yup, we got that message loud and clear in 2011, when Pres Obama didn’t put on his walking shoes to join us in the collective bargaining fight. And HRC seconded the motion when she stiffed the state in 2016.

    1. JBird

      I thought the point was to actually win elections, which is done by serving the constituents, and not indulging in the pseudo-narrative of “The Racist Deplorables!” and “Russia!” Do they actually believe in their own propaganda?

  19. ChrisPacific

    Victoria Nuland is giving evidence about Russian hacking?

    A number of possible responses to that spring to mind, but I’m having trouble finding any that wouldn’t fall foul of Godwin’s Law.

  20. Synoia

    Venture capitalists: “Our work here is done”? Here is the report on which this article is based–

    Have an idea? Do it, Promote it online, get engulfed and killed by one of the FANG…..

    Who’d invest in that process?

  21. Anthony K Wikrent

    “The US startup is disappearing” Just more evidence that as USA become more oligarchical and plutocratic, it becomes less capitalistic.

    Of course, you can debate your flavors of capitalism.

    But as the social order hardens and economic mobility declines, a decline in economic vitality should not be a surprise.

    One of the best books I ever read was Ordeal by Fire: A Short History of the Civil War, by Fletcher Pratt a war correspondent during World War Two. What makes Pratt’s short book so remarkable is not just his exquisite writing and his memorable word-pictures, but his social insight into the difference between the North and the South:

    The fault, the fatal fault of the Confederacy was that… Tolerance was reserved for the small circle of the elect. It was intolerant of any but received opinion; it was inflexible, Chinese, dead, static. It was not without splendid virtues; ability (when found in the right places) made its way more swiftly to the top through the loose Southern organization than through the tighter organization of Northern society. But such ability, unless it were genius itself, arrived at the top not quite capable of performing its tasks. The Northern system furnished talent with such an elaborate apparatus of training and support that it became the equal of genius. It is not without significance that the Southern commanders at the beginning of the war — Lee, Longstreet, Johnston, Bragg, Forrest — were still the Southern commanders at the end of the war, mostly older men, while the Union, with an air of prestidigitation, was producing such young tigers as Sheridan, Custer, Wilson, Upton and Kilpatrick.

    1. Carolinian

      Of course the great Union generals were from before just like the Southerners. Sherman was almost the same age as Lee. Grant was fifteen years younger but they had known each other. Arguably Grant won the war for the North by recognizing it was a war of attrition where “staying the course” would produce victory in time. The South was never going to win unless they could convince Northern opinion to give up.

      And I doubt that current day US is all that comparable to the doomed and deluded antebellum South. The South was ruled utterly by its aristocracy (in my state you had to own at least one slave to be in the legislature). The hold of the modern US elite is much more tenuous which could account for the hysteria over Trump, deplorables etc. Their actions do resemble the extremely paranoid plantation owners but here’s betting that, unlike the planters, they don’t have the power to take the rest of society down with them.

      1. ambrit

        A similar observation to pre war southern Plantocracy can be made about the present Wall Street circles. The GFCs and related actions can very much ‘take down’ this society through economic destruction from within. Indeed, I’ll posit a slow motion ‘taking down’ of this society is underway now.
        Also, the gamble of the Army of Northern Virginias’ Pennsylvania Campaign was undertaken to try to induce the recognition of the Southern Confederacy as a separate nation by the European Powers. If Longstreet had been able to argue Lee out of attacking the Federal troops outside Gettysburg and going on to threaten Baltimore or Washingtom DC. instead, that war could have had a different outcome.

        1. Carolinian

          Oh things may get bad but we aren’t going to be digging up turnips against a Technicolor sunset while exclaiming “As God is my witness I’ll never go hungry again.” This is a rich country.

          At least I hope things aren’t going to get that bad. May need to get my mountain redoubt in order.

          1. ambrit

            Get your reservations for Biltmore in order now. There are people hungry on the streets of my mid-sized town now. It has perceptibly gotten worse over the last few years.
            Yes, this is a rich country. However, as many have noted, those riches are not equitably distributed.

        2. Heraclitus

          I have often remarked on the similarity between the Cotton economy of the antebellum South and the Technocracy and Finance economies of California and the Northeast. Twenty-five percent of American millionaires once lived in Natchez, MS. Today the obscenely rich are in New York City and on the West Coast. The South thought their dominant position supplying the world’s most important commodity would last forever. Likewise, the technocracy and the financial lords think their businesses will forever dominate the economy, even though as recently as a generation ago, it was thought that the life cycle of technology was too fast to make a viable business, and finance was intentionally suppressed because of fear held over from the Great Depression.

        1. Heraclitus

          Sixty years prior to that–I think Carolinian and I are in the same state–you had to own either one slave or fifty acres to vote.

  22. JCC

    Regarding “Violence keeps Central Americans coming to US despite Trump”, more stats at Pew Research.


    I have always been baffled at how little attention people in this country pay to how involved the U.S. Govt is to the pillaging of Central America. Even with polls like this, the Ignorati among us continue to rail against “Mexicans” and will not look at root causes.

    Thanks for your “Oh,Wait…”articles, both excellent.

    1. ambrit

      Just as the American Governments past actions have propelled the flow of refugees to America is not definitive, so too are the economic drivers of said population shifts not definitive, but part of a mosaic of influences. I fall into the trap of simplifying too much as well as anyone else.

  23. perpetualWAR

    My ‘everyone has a price’ story is:
    Superior Court & Appellate Court when I was fighting JPMC. The judges said rule of law suspended where stupid little homeowner is concerned. Ca-CHING-a-ling into their campaign coffers!

  24. Tomonthebeach

    Births and Deaths.

    Like most odd data, there is usually an interaction term at work. Looking at the data, I am reminded of my spouse’s little village in central Bulgaria.

    First, our village’s #1 export is all young people with something on the ball who are not in line to inherit any family farm or business. The emigrating young people reproduce where the better jobs are (like London, Amsterdam, Vienna and Berlin); not in their childhood village.

    Second, as a retiree, I have observed that people often retire in place (where the better jobs are) or relocate to states where the COL is low, but the QOL is high like FL, NV, AZ, NC? Look at the graph and you might see that pattern embedded in the numbers.

    So, some states are youth exporters, while others are elder importers. Thus, there is an interaction effect likely driving the numbers in ways that appear to be confusing. Stuff all the birth/death info into a dynamical model, and you likely will get a picture similar to the one in the graph.

  25. Patrick

    Under a looser definition, addiction is considered “a disease of [2]extreme behavior. Any behavior carried to extreme that consumes you and keeps you from doing [3]what you should be doing becomes an addiction as far as life is concerned,” said Dr. Walter Ling, a UCLA psychiatrist.”

    hmmm….so Capitalism might be classified as an addiction?

Comments are closed.