2:00PM Water Cooler 6/6/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“America’s allies should respond to steel tariffs with targeted sanctions on the Trump Organization” [Vox]. “When China wanted to get Trump to let the Chinese tech conglomerate ZTE off the hook for repeatedly violating sanctions against North Korea, it didn’t try to make concessions to the American people. It had a Chinese state-owned enterprise approve a huge loan to an Indonesian real estate project that will feature Trump-branded hotels, condos, and a golf course. America’s democratic allies probably can’t (and certainly shouldn’t) bribe Trump and his family in this way, but they both can and should do the opposite: work together on a package of targeted sanctions narrowly designed to inflict pain specifically on the Trump Organization.” Tactically, not such a bad idea, though the spectacle of an American journalist calling for foreign powers to retaliate personally against a President is a little unnerving.

“To Cut China Trade Gap, Invest in America” [Industry Week]. “There is nothing inherently wrong with trade deficits. But they’re related to the U.S. economic restructuring that occurred in response to globalization. The real problem with that restructuring is in the distribution of the economic benefits of trade. Instead of taxing corporations that were offshoring their operations and using the proceeds to invest in American education, health, and physical infrastructure, successive governments handed the gains from trade to increasingly concentrated corporations and their increasingly wealthy shareholders.” And then there is this tidbit: “Another, perhaps under-appreciated effect of information technologies was the regulatory arbitrage that they enabled. If company operations can be distributed, it makes sense to place revenue-generating activities in tax havens and to move corporate overhead, such as service centers, to lower-cost places like India and Ireland.” Thank you, Silicon Valley!

“The next big question is: (when) will oil become a part of the US trade war with China?” [Splash 247]. “China being the largest importer of US crude oil in 2017, lifted its total oil imports (inclunding pipelines) to 8.4m bpd last year, up from 7.6m bpd in 2016. Q1 2018 shows imports now at 9.1m bpd.”



“Outgoing Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz rips Democrats for veering too far left: ‘How are we going to pay for these things?'” [CNBC]. By printing money, exactly the way we print money to fund losing wars, expensive weapons systems that don’t work, and bailouts for criminal banksters. Why is this hard?

“Bernie Sanders’ Revolution Isn’t Carrying His Candidates Through The Midterms” [Talking Points Memo]. “‘If a corporation like Disney has enough money to pay its CEO over $400 million in a four year period, it damn well has enough money to pay its workers at least fifteen bucks,’ thundered the once and likely future presidential candidate, using his significant soapbox to tear into the Walt Disney Company on worker compensation to the delight of the thousands of union members gathered at a megachurch a short jaunt from Disneyland….. But he failed to mention even once the state’s impending primary elections, in which many of the assembled unions are working hard to ensure Democrats get on the general election ballot — and whose outcomes will play an outsized role in Democrats’ fight to win the House and stop President Trump’s agenda.”

“Bernie Sanders rallies with Black Lives Matter leaders in California to put a spotlight on mass incarceration” [Washington Examiner]. “The former Democratic presidential hopeful received a warm reception from supporters and activists at the packed Million Dollar Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday evening as he heartily criticized a “broken system” that disproportionately jails African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans. Activist Shaun King didn’t mince words when introducing Sanders, alluding to the senator’s political ambitions and touting Sanders’ history of support for the civil rights movement. Sanders led the first-known sit-ins in Chicago, King said, fighting segregated housing and oppressive education practices. Sanders’ day-long tour of southern California started with Disney workers fighting for a $15 minimum wage in Anaheim. Next, he stopped in Carson to speak with port truck drivers and warehouse workers calling on elected officials to “end the exploitative and illegal labor practices.'”


“Tuesday Was a Good Day for Democrats” [Bloomberg]. “Strong Democratic challengers emerged in a handful of Republican-held districts, giving their party a chance to pick up at least three or four seats in the midterm election. Due to the peculiar California primary system, in which the top two finishers qualify for the November ballot irrespective of party, Democrats had feared that with multiple candidates in four competitive seats, two Republicans might prevail. It didn’t happen.”

“Women dominate in Tuesday primaries” [Politico]. “At least 601 women are expected to run for the House, Senate and governor this year — record-breaking numbers on all accounts. What remains to be seen is whether female candidates can translate that wave of enthusiasm into gains in November, as women remain vastly underrepresented in both Congress and at the statewide executive level.” Hopefully they’re not Gina Haspels or Daughters of the Confederacy. I’ve been asked to remind readers of this quotation from Sanders, so herewith:

[SANDERS:] [H]ere is my point — and this is where there is going to be a division within the Democratic Party. It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me.’ No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.

In other words, one of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics. I think it’s a step forward in America if you have an African-American CEO of some major corporation. But you know what, if that guy is going to be shipping jobs out of this country, and exploiting his workers, it doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot whether he’s black or white or Latino.

CA: “Stanford sex assault case judge recalled by Northern Calif. voters” [CBS]. “Northern California voters on Tuesday recalled a judge from office after he sentenced a former Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexual assault to a short jail sentence instead of prison. Voters opted to oust Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky. He was targeted for recall in June 2016 shortly after he sentenced Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a young woman outside a fraternity house on campus. Prosecutors argued for a 7-year prison sentence.”

CA: “Democrats Avoid Lockouts in Key California Races” [RealClearPolitics]. “Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief after California’s “jungle” [top two] primary Tuesday, as their candidates made the ballot in competitive races that will help determine the balance of power in the next Congress…. The focus of concern centered on a handful of Republican-held districts [CA-39, CA-48, CA-49] in Southern California that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. Since Clinton was the first Democrat in 80 years to win Orange County, the party saw the area as fertile ground for pickups. Dozens of candidates signed up to run, prompting the national party to make a mad and expensive dash to help ensure Democratic contenders didn’t splinter the vote and put two Republicans on the November ballot. The effort cost the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and outside groups millions of dollars and weeks’ worth of headaches as the contests turned divisive and confusing for voters.” “Divisive and confusing.” In other words, there are actual elections? Contests?

NY: “Cynthia Nixon for Governor” [The Nation]. “Andrew Cuomo has consistently disappointed, often standing in the way of vital reforms. He’s been a cheerleader for charter schools, a foe of campaign-finance reform, and the author of a series of austerity measures that balanced the state’s budget on the backs of public servants and the poor rather than raising taxes on New York’s burgeoning millionaire class. Far from confronting the culture of corruption that has long infected Albany, Cuomo has embraced it, most notably by deciding to abolish the Moreland Commission before it could finish its investigation. He let Republicans in the State Senate draw their own district lines and readily accepted contributions from the Koch brothers and other GOP mega-donors.” Yes, Cuomo is a liberal Democrat….


Hard to see how Democrats can settle on a corruption message when they all rallied behind Menendez. And Cuomo, for that matter.

Obama Legacy

“Barack Obama was a writer before he became a politician, and he saw his Presidency as a struggle over narrative. ‘We’re telling a story about who we are,’ he instructed his aide Ben Rhodes early in the first year of his first term. He said it again in his last months in office, on a trip to Asia—’I mean, that’s our job. To tell a really good story about who we are’—adding that the book he happened to be reading argued for storytelling as the trait that distinguishes us from other primates” [The New Yorker]. The lead, by George Packer reviewing Ben Rhodes’ new book. Shorter: Any problem can be solved with public relations. But we knew that. Thanks, George.

Realignment and Legitimacy

A worthy impulse, but depends on the defunct economist of choice, no?

Stats Watch

International Trade, April 2018: “Helped by a dip in cellphone imports, the nation’s trade gap narrowed sharply in April to a much lower-than-expected $46.2 billion. Cellphone imports fell $2.2 billion to pull down the consumer-goods deficit which narrowed by $2.8 billion in the month” [Econoday]. “Overall, exports rose 0.3 percent in the month to $221.2 billion with goods, led by a gain for industrial supplies and also food…. April’s deficit is more than $1 billion narrower than March and far under the $53.1 billion monthly average of the first quarter. This points to a big net-export lift for second-quarter GDP.” And but: “The data in this series wobbles and the 3 month rolling averages are the best way to look at this series. The 3 month averages are improving for exports and imports. And the trade balance improved” [Econintersect]. “The data is worse if one considers inflation is grabbing hold in exports and imports – and the headline numbers are not inflation adjusted.”

Productivity and Costs, Q1 2018 (Revised): “A small downward revision to output and a small upward revision to hours worked pulled down the second estimate of first-quarter nonfarm productivity to an even more paltry 0.4 percent quarterly gain from 0.7 percent in the first estimate” [Econoday]. “This in turn lifts unit labor costs to 2.9 percent from the first estimate’s 2.7 percent…. When adjusted for inflation, real compensation remains in the negative column.” A punchbowl the size of a thimble… “And but: A simple summary of the headlines for this release is that productivity improved while the labor costs grew faster. However, year-over-year analysis shows both productivity and labor costs rising at the same rate” [Econintersect]. “I only look at year-over-year data – the headline compounding distorts the view. I have issues with the way productivity is determined… Productivity assessments even within a single company are very complicated, and are impossible to accurately forecast when one wants to discuss an entire sector or economy.”

Leading Indicators: “This post is a review of the Philadelphia Fed’s Leading Index and all major leading indicators – and their trends are generally indicating moderate growth” [Econintersect]. “At this point, Econintersect continues to see NO particular dynamic at this time which will deliver noticeably better growth in the foreseeable future – and the majority of the indicators are forecasting a near average rate of growth which has been seen since the end of the Great Recession.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of June 1, 2018: “Purchase applications for home mortgages rose a seasonally adjusted 4 percent in the June 1 week. The increase broke a 5-week string of declines” [Econoday].

JOLTS: “Jobless Claims Are Still Pointing To US Expansion” [Credit Writedowns]. From May, still germane. “I have been tracking this data series as a macro indicator for directionality of growth for almost two decades now. And what I have found is that intial jobles claims do a very good job in warning of a slowdown…. What we are looking for is a meaningful uptick in the year-over-year change in initial jobless claims because this presages economic slowing and recession…. directionality piece captures economic slowdowns and not just recessions. When recession does come, the +50,000 indicator is usually flashing, but just. Basically, recession is right on top of us by the time we get to a 50,000 uptrick in weekly initial claims. But the change in the number of claims stops falling long before then. And while this directionality change gives plenty of recession false positives, it does a very good job of showing up economic slowdowns…. Right now, initial claims are not sending a signal of slowing.”

Shipping: “‘Inevitable that LNG will be the primary fuel source for marine transport’: Peter Livanos” [Splash 247]. “[At the Posidonia conference,] Peter Livanos maintained: ‘It is inevitable that LNG will be the primary fuel source for marine transport. We need to address the lifecycle of existing assets and bunkering infrastructure which is acting as a brake on adoption, but this should accelerate. The train has left the station and cannot be stopped.’ George Procopiou was similarly bullish on gas prospects, telling delegates: ‘The LNG shipping business is going through an evolution which is tracking the growth of the commodity and the services around it are becoming commoditised. Natural gas is becoming much more widely appreciated and used; we are in a macro growth trend, it will be one of the main energy sources of the future.'”

Shipping: “Truck Orders Soaring on Growing Freight Demand” [Wall Street Journal]. “The market for new heavy-duty trucks is growing at a nearly unprecedented pace this year as fleet owners and big-rig manufacturers race to keep up with accelerating U.S. freight demand. Trucking companies ordered 35,600 trucks in May, more than double the orders from the same month a year ago, according to preliminary figures by ACT Research. That leaves manufacturers with an order backlog of more than 200,000 trucks, or 8.4 months of production…. Truckstop.com, an online freight service that matches available loads to trucks in the sector’s spot market, says it is seeing 500,000 to 600,000 loads a day posted on its system. The market usually carries about 250,000 available loads a day.”

Shipping: “The squeeze in freight capacity is reaching the service sector. Order backlogs at a range of U.S. companies rose as delivery rates slowed in May, according to the Institute for Supply Management, as supply chain operations struggled to keep up with strong demand” [Wall Street Journal]. “[S]lowing rail service and trucking constraints have kept many businesses from getting the supplies they need on time. The ISM’s main service-sector index rose but the order backlogs rose at a far faster rate, suggesting deliveries are slowing down. One business says ‘supply is out of alignment with demand, which is causing many stockouts and shortages.’ The problems are even hitting freight-focused operators: Truck maker Navistar International Inc. says it has been paying premium shipping prices to get parts from suppliers delivered as quickly as possible to keep assembly lines moving.”

The Bezzle: “Muskification” [West Coast Stat Views]. “[Elizabeth] Holmes’ attitude toward expertise could be considered another example of what we might call the Muskification of the modern CEO. Other traits include exaggerating claims far beyond the credible, putting style, particularly personal style, about substance, building a cult of personality associated with almost magical powers (and sometimes you can leave off the “almost”)….. Likewise, the tendency toward exaggeration that borders on compulsive lying, taking reasonable estimates and routinely multiplying them by a factor of five or ten to make them sound even more impressive, is pervasive throughout the industry.”

The Bezzle: “Some still-waiting Tesla Model 3 customers want their reservation money back” [Recode]. “Nearly a quarter of Tesla’s Model 3 reservation deposits in the U.S. have apparently been refunded, perhaps to extended production delays. Tesla began accepting $1,000 deposits two years ago, with the expectation that customers would likely receive their vehicles in 2018; hundreds of thousands of people have reserved one. But as of the end of April, some 23 percent of all Model 3 deposits in the U.S. had been refunded.”

The Bezzle: “A sea change is about to transform the way people and goods move through cities” [FreightWaves]. Cut through the bafflegab — Muskification? — about “innovation,” and you come to this: “‘I think we need local governments to let us test the vehicles,’ Pamela Milligan, senior vice president of strategy and organization at mapping telematics company TomTom, said during a panel discussion that followed Papandreau’s talk. ‘But, you also need to have a global standard at some point. We don’t even have a standard plug [around the world], but if we want to get to Level 5 autonomy and take the vehicles everywhere, we need a global standard.’ Before a global standard is enacted, though, individual countries need to develop consistent standards, explained R.J. Scaringe, founder & CEO of electric vehicle company Rivian. Scaringe acknowledged that the lack of regulatory consistency and slow adoption of autonomous regulation on a state-by-state basis in the U.S. has allowed development of the technology, there still needs to be a more consistent framework.” The International Standard for Organization (ISO) says that developing a standard takes an average of three years. I would bet that a standard for robot cars would take a solid decade, given the technical difficulties and the number of powerful players involved, every one of whom will say: “It’s simple! Adopt our standard!” And from SAE, all we have is a classification system (the levels), not a standard.

Concentration: “The Guardian view on Amazon: not a normal monopoly” [Guardian]. “Commerce ought to reside in markets governed by regulations set by democratic political process not those chosen by the world’s richest man, Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos.”

Five Horsemen: “The Fab Five are flat to down in late morning trade” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen June 6 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “Yesterday’s mild advance lifted the mania-panic index to 66 (complacency). For perspective, at the S&P’s last record high on Jan 26th, the reading was 85 (mania)” [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.)

Mania panic index June 5 2018

Health Care

“Single-Payer or Bust” [Dissent]. “The question at its core is simple: should the Saskatchewan model be the standard progressive healthcare position—the one we demand of candidates seeking support from the left? Or, should we embrace alternative multi-payer models, perhaps a German or Dutch one? … A central argument for the multi-payer model of universal coverage—and today, the German, Swiss, and Dutch systems are typical examples—is that it offers a more gentle road to universality than single-payer….. The World Health Organization, for instance, sketches out the three dimensions of universal coverage: the percentage of the population “covered,” the degree of cost-sharing (that is, out-of-pocket payments like co-pays or deductibles), and finally, the comprehensiveness of benefits. To these I would add a fourth element, of equity: to what extent does the nation offer a similar level of access to providers, hospitals, and other healthcare goods and services to all, regardless of economic means? It seems very unlikely that non-single-payer roads to universal coverage would, at least in the American context, achieve universality in all four of these domains.” Well worth reading in full, especially for the Canadian history. I’m not sure that universality is the only goal; surely a goal of single payer is to break the political/economic power of the health insurance industry and Big Pharma? (In other words, a “non-reformist reform.”) Because if that is not done, universality will be constantly undermined in any case?

“CMS says Obama-era safety efforts averted deaths, avoided costs. Hospital safety efforts begun under the Obama administration helped save 8,000 lives and almost $3 billion in health costs between 2014 and 2016, according to federal data released yesterday” [Politico]. “CMS in 2011 launched the Partnership for Patients campaign to improve care at the bedside, disseminate best practices and support initiatives like the agency’s Hospital Improvement Innovation Networks. Meanwhile, the Affordable Care Act put in place penalties for hospital-acquired conditions, and private insurers and hospital systems also have ramped up quality improvement efforts in recent years. Combined with previous studies, researchers concluded that hospitals saved nearly $23 billion in costs, avoided nearly 2.5 million hospital-acquired conditions and averted 95,000 deaths by improving patient safety between 2010 and 2016.”

“The $580 Co-pay” [The Marshall Project]. “In prison, seeing the doctor can cost up to a month’s salary.”

“Arkansas Pulls The Trigger On Nation’s First-Ever Medicaid Work Requirement” [Talking Points Memo]. “Starting Tuesday, Arkansans on Medicaid have to prove that they’ve worked 80 hours over the previous month or that they qualify for an exemption. If they fail to do so, they’ll be booted from the rolls after three months. … everyone enrolled in Medicaid has to document their work hours through an online portal created by the state — with no option to submit information in person, over the by phone, or by mail. According to the Census Bureau, Arkansas has the second-lowest rate of home internet access in the nation, only slightly above Mississippi.”

Liberal single payer-opponent Andy Slavitt tees up another Grand Bargain debate:

Facebook Fracas

“Facebook’s latest data lapse draws critique from lawmakers: ‘Sure looks like Zuckerberg lied to Congress'” [Los Angeles Times]. “‘Sure looks like [Facebook Chief Executive Mark] Zuckerberg lied to Congress about whether users have ‘complete control’ over who sees our data on Facebook,’ Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on a House subcommittee overseeing antitrust issues, wrote on Twitter. ‘This needs to be investigated and the people responsible need to be held accountable.’ The New York Times reported that Facebook had struck deals with device manufacturers that allowed them full access to information about users and their friends. But Facebook contends those pacts were intended to help device makers create their own versions of Facebook apps, and the data mostly remained on phones that accessed it. That kind of arrangement was necessary before phone operating systems relied on app stores, it said.”


“One of L.A.’s oldest community gardens thrived for decades. Then the water wars began” [Los Angeles Times]. “More than 250 parcels are connected by a maze of trails and pipes and hoses. Avocado trees soar as high as 60 feet. Giant banana leaves, ratoons of sugar cane and bright orange guavas — set amid a jumble of sheds, trellises, fences and retaining walls — give the hill the look of a rural village carved from jungle. The community garden — thought to be the oldest in Los Angeles — grew quietly and off the grid, with unlimited water and little oversight. But now, in a time of drought, it faces an existential crisis after the city drastically cut its water supply.”

Class Warfare

“Labor’s New Terrain: Working On the Supply Chain Gang” [Labor Notes]. “A factory fire recently illustrated just how vulnerable are the supply chains at the heart of the global economy. The fire was at a single supplier—yet it forced Ford to temporarily halt production of the nation’s bestselling truck, the F-150. Think how much leverage workers could have if we acted like the fire. This is exactly how large-scale organizing happened in the auto industry. In late 1936, members of the newly organized Auto Workers (UAW) struck several General Motors plants to win union recognition. A month later, GM still hadn’t budged. But in February 1937, workers in Flint, Michigan, occupied Chevrolet Plant 4. In less than two weeks, one of the most powerful corporations on earth capitulated. What made the Flint plant occupation so much more powerful than the prior strikes? It was Chevy 4’s strategic position: this single plant made all the engines for Chevrolet, and its occupation shut down GM plants throughout the country. The Flint victory set off a wave of sit-down strikes and union wins across the country. The introduction of just-in-time parts delivery has made today’s supply chains even more vulnerable.” Very important. Everybody’s building big ships and boats…

“The stakes in the United Parcel Service Inc. contract talks with the Teamsters union are getting higher. Unionized employees voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if the negotiations don’t produce an agreement by the time the current contract expires July 31” [Wall Street Journal]. “The vote provides a new tool to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters negotiators and that chances for a walkout remain remote. The sides have reached tentative agreement on some issues but have only recently begun discussing topics like pay and health benefits. Amid one of the tightest freight markets in years, and with peak shipping season on the horizon, the prospect of a strike at one of the nation’s largest parcel carriers could wreak havoc on supply chains and e-commerce fulfillment operations across the country.”

“It Keeps Getting Harder to Find People with the Necessary Skills for Restaurant Work” [Dean Baker, CEPR]. “It has become common for economists to cite the rise in the ratio of job openings to hires as evidence that employers can’t find people with the necessary skills. This then leads to an argument that our problem is not a lack of jobs in the economy, but rather that workers don’t have the skills that are in demand in today’s economy. We then tell workers that they need more skills, rather than blame our policymakers for not generating enough demand. As I have been fond of pointing out, one of the sectors with the sharpest rise in openings to hires is the restaurant sector. I would not demean restaurant workers, it can be very demanding work (I did it for several years in my college days), but this is not an industry that is generally thought to demand highly skilled workers. ”

News of The Wired

“How Instagram Threads Became the WikiHow for Gen Z” [The Atlantic]. “Webb researches solutions by watching YouTube videos, then condenses that knowledge down into short chunks of information that she bullets into threads. She says that there’s a lot of misinformation on Google and she has found that trusted makeup and fitness YouTubers provide better tips. Webb estimates that it takes her around 30 minutes to create a thread—more for ones that require extra research or watching longer video.” Hmm.

“We still have no idea why humans speak over 7,000 languages” [Quartz]. “And so for the continent of Australia it appears that a small number of factors—limitations rainfall places on population density and limits on group size—might explain both the number of languages and much of the variation in how many languages are spoken in different locations…. But we suspect that the patterns of language diversity in other places may be shaped by different factors and processes.”

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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 (TH):

TH writes: “Pink Azaleas live under large conifers as part of the landscaping at the beautiful Wayfarer’s Chapel on the California coast.”

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Jim Haygood

    Argentina cancels a soccer match in Jerusalem; shouting ensues:

    The sports-crazed nation of Israel was in uproar Wednesday over Argentina’s abrupt cancellation of a World Cup warmup match following pro-Palestinian protests.

    Following the move, Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian football assocation, held a press conference in Ramallah featuring a picture of him with Argentine star Lionel Messi and a sign reading: “From Palestine, thank you Messi.”

    After a fierce Palestinian campaign, which included images of Argentina’s white and sky-blue striped jersey stained with blood and threats to burn Messi posters, Argentina’s football federation announced it was skipping the event.

    Opposition figures accused Israel’s headline-seeking sports minister Miri Regev of bringing on the politicization of the sporting event by insisting on moving the game from Haifa to contested Jerusalem and by trying to orchestrate a politicized photo-op with Messi.

    Although the Teddy Kollek stadium is in west Jerusalem, it is located in a neighborhood built where a Palestinian village once stood before it was destroyed in the war surrounding Israel’s independence in 1948.

    Israel has largely fended off the boycott campaign, with only a small number of artists and organizations shunning the country. Argentina’s snub would appear to be the boycott movement’s greatest achievement thus far.


    No matter how Israel tries to erase the evidence of its ethnic cleansing of 1948, the displaced victims just won’t go away. With his usual lack of restraint, Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman slandered boycotters as “anti-Semitic terrorist supporters.” *YAWN*

    Sports boycotts were quite effective in undermining morale in apartheid South Africa.

    1. Sid Finster

      Good/ Glad someone has the courage to stand up to these thugs, even if they do scream “anti-Semite!”

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        LOL too bad nobody even acknowledges their paymasters, let alone holds them accountable.

        Jeffrey Sachs’ “Age of Impunity”, only this time the crime is not the mere theft of billions of dollars, it’s mass murder. If snipers shooting children can’t summon outrage then we really are headed into a morality-free future. Dog help us.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Maybe the smart people in The Market want everyone else to go back on the Gold Standard?

  2. Synoia

    Outgoing Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz rips Democrats for veering too far left: ‘How are we going to pay for these things?’” [CNBC]. By printing money, exactly the way we print money to fund losing wars, expensive weapons systems that don’t work, and bailouts for criminal banksters

    Progressive Taxation as well

    Estate Taxes.
    Income Taxes

    1. allan

      Dem leaders embrace the suck pay-go [The Hill]

      House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other top Democrats are vowing to abide by fiscally hawkish pay-as-you-go rules if they seize the majority next year, rejecting calls from liberals who feel they’d be an impediment to big legislative gains.

      Pelosi, who adopted “pay-go” rules when she held the Speaker’s gavel more than a decade ago, says she’ll push to do it again if the Democrats win the House in November’s midterm elections.

      “Democrats are committed to pay-as-you-go,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said Tuesday, affirming the policy would be a 2019 priority.

      Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip, is also endorsing the notion that a Democratic majority should adopt the budget-neutral rules next year. …

      Oh those San Francisco Democrats.
      The Dem leadership appears to be terrified of actually having to deliver on any campaign promises.
      Other than an affordable glidepath to foaming the runway for access to
      smart health insurance shopping experiences for working families.

      1. JohnnyGL

        No one is fighting harder to make the blue-wave recede than Dem Party leadership!

        1. albrt

          But give them credit – the Democrats do have a clear message on corruption:

          We are staying bought.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Trillion-dollar deficits forever disturb some Republicans (e.g. David Stockman), as well as independents and Democrats. “Destroying our childrens’ future with debt” is an easily understandable sound bite.

        As long as Democrats feel obliged to blindly support Republicans’ reckless surge of military spending just to prove that they are “solid on national security” [translation: not leftist peacenik surrender monkeys] then fiscal restraint means nothing new can be funded. “Everything must be this way,” as ol’ Jim Morrison used to expound, swigging a can of Schlitz.

        Turn the US into a normal country that defends its own borders (and no others), then suddenly pay-go is no longer a straitjacket.

        But as a link asserted yesterday, the D party has no coherent economic platform. So the status quo is the safest place to huddle. Nobody wants to go here:


        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I wonder if there is a link between foreign policy MMT and domestic policy MMT, if we have an all-volunteer military.

          How do you get volunteers if everyone is happy at home?

          1. The Rev Kev

            In the Victorian-era British Army it was acknowledged that the two biggest recruiters to the Army were Jack Frost and unemployment. When economic times were good few wanted to join up and be sent to some place the back of beyond.

          2. John k

            Not that many trying to make people happy.
            Good wages without losing a leg? Or two?
            Why, you’d have to pay soldiers a lot more. Or forget about forever wars.
            Happiness is overrated.

        2. djrichard

          Still doesn’t change the fundamentals: the bandits (bankers, buffets and bi-lateral trading partners) are hoovering up all the currency and like everybody else prefer not to be taxed and and unlike everybody else are better equipped to avoid taxation.

          Who is the Fed Gov to deny those poor currency hoarders the opportunity to swap their currency hoards for treasuries?

        3. bob k

          If people were so concerned about destroying our children’s future why don’t they do something to get them out from under tons of college debts?

      3. Milton

        My god, at least apply the same criteria for military budgets. It would be nice to see some statement that reads: ” Estimated war budgets and hardware are based on current law. Congress has made changes to the law in the past and
        can do so at any time. The law governing war-making ability may change because, by 2034, the payroll taxes
        collected will be enough to pay only about 79 percent of useless armaments and foreign operations.”

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Put in the tax policies of that dangerous Commie leftist radical Dwight D. Eisenhower

    2. RUKidding

      I’m dumb and won’t say it correctly, but how ’bout that tax on either all or certain kinds of day trading tansactions on Wall Street?

      Not saying that correctly, so hopefully someone much smarter than me will elucidate.

      I know that there’s tax dollar$ to be gathered there… and from those super wealthy enough to afford it.

      1. Shane

        “Financial transaction tax.”

        But all that’s missing the point — MMT, i.e. the correct framework to understand taxes and the economy, teaches us we don’t need to tax to spend (but we should, to reduce unwanted behavior, as you suggest, and to reduce inequality, as others do).

    3. Sid Finster

      Even forgetting MMT, how does every other country in the civilized world do it?

      They start by not spending quite so lavishly on never-ending wars of aggression.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      That would have been my first reply too.

      How are we going to pay for these things?
      By restoring the missing taxes against the Upper Class and the Over Class. And you know what? Cancel the derisory chump-change-per-taxpayer tax cuts on the middle and lower classes as well. The chump-change per person tax cuts benefited the recipients little or none while the millions of chump-change-apiece payments which became a mighty stream of money in the aggregate disappeared, no longer there to be spent on social survival benefits to the middle and lower classes in aggregate.
      And use the money raised to pay for these things. And keep using the money raised to keep paying for
      these things.

    5. rd

      I think it is important to evaluate which types of payments get returned to the economy quickly, and which ones don’t. For example, Social Security gets paid out to the retired and disabled. That money is generally spent within 30 days on living expenses, vacations, etc. Very little gets saved, so its velocity is high and likely to generate significant economic activity. This generates additional tax revenue, especially from wages, unrelated to the original receipt of the money. I think Social Security is a major economic fly-wheel and endangering it would be one of the stupidist economic decisions in history.

      Tax cuts for the wealthy will generally get saved instead of spent and so its money velocity is very low and doesn’t generate much economic activity. This money will help drive asset prices higher, but it could be years before the capital gains taxes show up in the tax coffers.

      Things like infrastructure and military spending are somewhere in between.

      The GOP are constantly bleating the reverse while the Democrats never discuss monetary recirculation of payments from some of their programs.

  3. Big River Bandido

    Skimmed the Talking Points Memo article about Sanders — the same typical, simplistic, shallow hackitude one comes to expect from that site. In fact, it was just a recycling of the recent hatchet job done on Nina Turner and Our Revolution — even some of the tunes were the same. I’m quite sure it never occurred to the stenographer that the CA congressional primaries offered few real Berniecrats to support. In that environment, it’s a damning indictment from Sanders that he goes to CA, stays on message and all but ignores the primaries.

    I stopped reading TPM years ago because I found it to be such crap. It’s reassuring to find out I’ve not missed a damn thing.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I ditched that one during the runup to the 2016 election. I also parted ways with Digby’s Hullabaloo, which I used to enjoy.

        1. RUKidding

          I know. Me, too, although I still read Hullabaloo now and then. TPM, not so much.

          1. Swamp Yankee

            Yeah, I had to drop TPM, Digby, Charlie Pierce, probably some others, around that time (runnup to 2016).

            Divorced from reality, terminally self-regarding — not a good look in a political movement. As Darthbobber notes below, they live in a fantasy world (they very much remind of FOX Newsers circa 2007). Probably because they’re mostly effete 10%ers who can’t believe their right to rule has been questioned; nor can they take responsibility for destroying the country lo these last 25 or so years.

            No wonder they almost carried Wisconsin!

    1. jrs

      Well how many Dems are going to make a difference to Disney workers? The only unions most of them represent are public worker unions. If Dems were so @#$# good, why in a near 100% Dem controlled state are the Disney workers in the situation they are in anyway? There did seem a dearth of progressive candidates, there were some.

      $15 an hour is not enough to live off of in Southern California and it gets less and less so one massive rent increase at a time.

    2. Darthbobber

      I also read the piece. Won’t get into all the things it conflates, or which successful Our Revolution candidates mysteriously don’t show up (Krasner in Philly, Fetterman for PA lt gov, for example). But did you trouble to read through the bizarro comment thread? These people are fully as captive to alternative facts, conspiracy theories and epistemic closure as any of the groups they love to decide on such grounds.

      And wierdly, they see themselves as representative of Democrats in general. But Democrats in general don’t seem to be aware of that.

      For all their flogging of the Sanderistas as racists and sexists theme, a you gov poll from CBS a day or so shows both African Americans and women as reacting more positively to a Bernie Sanders endorsement of a candidate than to a Nancy pelosi endorsement.

      Also, among Democrats and independents, 72% thought it more important that a democratic candidate articulate “a strong progressive agenda” whatever that is, as opposed to 28% who thought it more important to “oppose the Trump agenda.” So of course leadership and the tpmers go with option b.

  4. Synoia

    Obama: ’I mean, that’s our job. To tell a really good story about who we are’

    Pity it was fiction.

    1. Quentin

      No, more credibly it was a good, old-fashioned, unadorned LIE. And as far as couples go I stick to the my Bonny and Clyde theory of mutual responsibility, so Michelle Obama too.

    2. clarky90

      Obama’s presidency was a Hollywood production. The actors (Obama, Clinton…) were scouted and auditioned. The Big Picture script was story boarded. A team of script writers were on hand, everyday to make the story “relevant” to any events that we were permitted to hear about by the MSM.

      An army of USAian, weaponized, AI Spin Doctors made certain that we all “got the message”.

      Like “The Days of Our Lives” except that people’s relationships really do break up, their kids really die of drug overdoses. They lose their jobs, lose their homes, lose their minds …..

    3. Darius

      Their job was it to tell a story, but to create a good story through action. A good story is easy to tell. Obama was constantly struggling to put lipstick on a pig.

    4. Roger Smith

      “Pious intellectual sets out to pen Grand Tale of human experience, doesn’t realize he’s only a minor character.”

  5. Wukchumni

    “One of L.A.’s oldest community gardens thrived for decades. Then the water wars began” [Los Angeles Times].

    What a nice story, bummer of an ending though. The long drought made everyone so water aware, maybe a little too much.

    My dad planted around 2 dozen fruit trees @ the house I grew up in, and the summer fruit trees were long since dead and gone, they only last 30-40 years and were planted in the late 60’s, but the citrus was still going strong when my mom sold the house, although I couldn’t go home again anymore. I used to go pick Haas avocados and make guacamole shortly thereafter, hmmmmm good.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, we have community gardens. Matter of fact, there’s one near my house. I don’t use it because I do my own gardening in my side yard.

      Like the other community gardens, this one gets its water from the city. And the members pay for it through their monthly dues.

      However, there’s a big neighborhood center nearby. Big roof, which means plenty of drainage opportunities for water harvesting. This garden could have been watered by rainwater from a big cistern or two. But it isn’t.

      Methinks that water harvesting could also be useful for this LA garden.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the authorities start charging . . . or charging “more” . . . for water to this garden, one hopes the price remains low enough that the current gardeners and their apprentice successors can afford to be the ones to stay there. Because if they all leave under price pressure, their knowledge all leaves with them and their physical achievements all die in place there. If that happened, they would be replaced with well-meaning upwardly-mobile budgetarily-endowed suburbanites-in-the-city type people, who would certainly try to do something there, but would produce a drab monoverse greenish desert in place of what is there now.

      The functional shortage of water these gardeners are suddenly facing could be considered a test-run for the sort of water shortages which will come and go all over everywhere as manmade global warming deepens and the big heat rises. If these gardeners can learn to adapt and redo their gardens over time for their less-water future, that would create some hope that others . . . . millions of acres of others . . . could also adjust to the coming water-insecurity future.

  6. ChrisAtRU



    The establishment-minded sinking to new lows …

    Fresh from Stephanie Kelton on Twitter: #StarbucksDotComSlashPromoSlashFixTheDebt

    Disgustingly, the URL actually works (should really 404!) … and is really a landing page to subscribe to spam news, promotions, information, and offers.

    “I came for the coffee freebies, but stayed for debt-fear-mongering propaganda”… ?

  7. marku52

    “The only reason to study economics is to avoid being deceived by economists”

    Joan Robinson.

    “The democratic party isn’t a party, it’s a mailing list…”

    Robert Reich

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Why seek its presidential nomination if it’s a mailing list?

      Why not a new party?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          He writes often, I suppose. Which article in particular?

          My guess is that it’s more than a mailing list…something to do with lots of work to get another one started…impractical or impossible.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “The democratic party isn’t a party, it’s a mailing list…”

      I’m still trying to figure out what the Democrat Party is. (Since you can’t get it to pass a resolution, and it doesn’t collect dues, and doesn’t seem to have an rigid policies, or indeed principles…)

      The closest I’ve been able to come up with is a gang, a racketeering outfit.

  8. RUKidding

    Out here on the so-called Left Coast, Sacramento Racist Awful DA, Jan Schubert – more recently getting national attention for her horrible collusion with the local Sac PD on the PD murders of innocent black males – won, and declared: “It’s a good day for the people.”

    Here, Jan, let me fix that for you:

    “It’s a good day for White Supremacists.”


    Here’s some info on her handling of the recent Stephon Clark murder in his grandparent’s back yard while holding – gasp! shriek! – a cell phone:


    The local BLM folks have been demonstrating in front of the DA’s office since the murder. Schubert put up a big bad fence to keep them at arm’s length, and she whines about “fearing for her life.” Refused to go to any debates


    Yet the so-called “insanely leftist” Sacremento Bee endorsed her. Oy Vey… and adjured us hapless proles that we needed merely to “hold her feet to the fire” in order to “make her do her job better.” Yeah, right. Thanks for nothing, SacBee.

    Unfortunately, I feel that BLM and related organizations lost a real opportunity to make a change by not orchestrating a huge GOTV campaign with Schubert’s main opponent, Noah Phillips. It’s fine to spend time demonstrating, but I saw no efforts on their part to campaign for Phillips or GOTV.

    Too bad. Really a shame. Hopefully, the local BLM will learn and grow.

    1. Sid Finster

      Correct me if I am wrong, BLM was quickly coopted into a wholly owned subsidiary of Team D, was it not?

      There’s your answer. “Team D – Just like Team R, but with more token minorities!”

      1. RUKidding

        Not sure that’s true here in Sacramento. I can’t say for certain, however.

        They could use guidance, but agree that Big D is not the way to go.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > BLM was quickly coopted into a wholly owned subsidiary of Team D, was it not?

        At the national level, it most certainly was. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some good things going on locally, though.

  9. fresno dan

    “The $580 Co-pay” [The Marshall Project]. “In prison, seeing the doctor can cost up to a month’s salary.”
    Well, if we can have repeat posts, I don’t see why we can’t have repeat comments…..
    and if you haven’t seen the comment the first time, its NEW to you!

    fresno dan
    June 3, 2018 at 7:26 am
    The $580 Co-pay Marshall Project

    Despite their toll on inmates’ individual finances, the fees don’t add up to much on prisons’ balance sheets. In Illinois, the $5 co-pay brings in about $400,000 per year—not enough to recoup the administrative costs of running the program, according to Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lindsey Hess.
    Just as on the outside, the real goal of co-pays is to punish…..(what are people on the outside guilty of??? being poor)

  10. RUKidding

    Another sad race in Sacramento was for County Sheriff. Incumbent Scott Jones declared the winner:


    Another missed opportunity for local groups, like BLM, to have campaigend with his main opponent, Milo Fitch.

    Jones has a horrible record on handling the murders of innocent black males. And he’s a sexist awful leader of his department. My tax dollars have been wasted on pay outs to female officers who were badly sexually harassed on the job; won their lawsuits; but Jones continues to promote the abusers, including his Number 1 Deputy. It’s outrageous.


    He’s also been accused of sexual harassment, himself, but of course denies it:


    Some NC readers may remember Jones for his big pander to Trump over sanctuary cities:


    Sad day in Sacramento.

    1. Adam Eran

      Yep. And the truly intransigent, hard-headed, ambitious DA was re-elected, too. It may be the capitol, but Sacramento is the nexus of many corrupt, fear-inspired policies and policy makers.

      1. RUKidding

        Yes, so true.

        It’s kind of interesting in an ICK-factor kind of way bc, in general, I think the populace leans leftish, but they certainly do want to vote in these hard core rightwing DAs and Sheriffs.

        Not a good look, I can tell you.

        Schubert and her predecessor have done a crap job, but she and the Sheriff got a lot of credibility bc of the recent capture of the Golden State Killer. Sigh.


  11. Jim Haygood

    New frontiers in know-nothingism:

    According to CNN, on May 25, Trump and Trudeau were discussing the Trump administration imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada.

    Trump says the tariffs are a matter of national security, something Trudeau reportedly contested during the phone call, sources familiar with the discussion told CNN.

    “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” Trump reportedly quipped in response.

    Trump was apparently referring to the War of 1812, when the White House and much of Washington, D.C., was burned by the British.


    Wait till he arrives at the G7 summit … “Is it true that French women don’t shave their armpits?” the orange-maned diplomat can jokingly inquire of Macron. “We invented the guillotine,” Macron hisses in reply.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Yes, by death by a thousand cuts was the one favored by dragon emperors.

      Not sure if any Trump properties had been plagued by problematic laminated flooring from China.

    2. Carolinian

      C’mon he was quipping. Besides as a British colony the Canadians would obviously fall under the category of “you guys.”

      The White House was actually burned down by the dreaded British Admiral Cockburn–ancestor of Patrick, Andrew and Alex.

      1. The Rev Kev

        It wasn’t immediately burned down. The advance of the British was so unexpected that when the British arrived at the old White House, there was a meal all laid out on the dining table for the President and his retinue. So the British officers sat down and enjoyed the meal for themselves and then the White House was burned down.

    3. clarky90

      Everything that Donald Trump ever says or does is “wrong”. Heads I win, tails you lose.

      If Donald Trump can bring a Peace Treaty and end the Korean War (after 70 years), many of the mean spirited anti-Trumpers will be frothing with fury! “Far better to have a nuclear conflagration then to let Trump EVER be right, about ANYTHING! (OMG, I would rather DIE!)”

      NBA star Dennis Rodman ‘will be at the historic meeting between President Trump and North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong un’

      “Apart from basketball, Rodman is a retired part-time professional wrestler… He was a member of the nWo and fought alongside Hulk Hogan at two Bash at the Beach events.”

      How can this be spun in the, never ending, “Trump is a stinky pants” narrative?


  12. Darthbobber

    Ups negotiations. One small caveat to the journal article. Having the membership vote to “authorize” a strike, usually overwhelmingly and usually well in advance of contract expiration, is actually routine practice in many unions, and almost universal for the teamsters. The authorization vote has little to do with the actual likelihood of a strike, though the failure to approve authorization would be seen as a clear indicator of weakness.

    The point is to create a situation in which after contract expiration the leadership could proclaim a strike at any time of it’s choosing with no need for a new vote. This rarely actually happens.

  13. rd

    Re: Single payer or bust

    I think a factor that is overlooked is population density. Saskatchewan is a highly rural province with a relatively small population spread out over a huge area. Saskatchewan averages 1.8 people per square kilometer area, half the average density of Canada: http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/fogs-spg/Facts-pr-eng.cfm?Lang=eng&GC=47

    The US is about 35 people per sq km (about 10 times the population density of Canada and about 20 times that of Saskatchewan) while Germany is 236 or 131 times more dense than Saskatchewan. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.POP.DNST

    I think single-payer systems make a lot of sense in low population density areas as the covering organization needs to make societaly sensitive decisions about how to provide expensive care in areas with sparse people. This is a society-wide investment that the private sector is generally poor at doing (e.g. high speed landline and cellular internet in rural mountain areas).

    So it is likely that single-payer is pretty much the only healthcare model that is politically acceptable in most of Canada while Germany would have many more model options due to the high population density. The US is probably somewhere in between where densely populated states have more models available but rural states will likely have to go to single payer systems to have efficient universal healthcare coverage.

    1. jonhoops

      The old, “The US is too big for that to work here.”, canard rears it’s predictable head. Another country with Single Payer is Taiwan, it is the 17th most densely populated country on the planet. So I guess your population density theory is pretty much just another excuse to do nothing.

      1. rd

        Huh? I am utterly baffled by your comment. At what point did my comment indicate there was an “excuse to do nothing”?

        I am simply pointing out that in the low population density areas, it is difficult to get competition and the single payer system is probably the only one that will work. Even with the exorbitant amount of money the US spends on healthcare, many rural areas are currently seeing hospitals closing and a dearth of physicians. So low population density states will likely require a “Medicare for all” approach to have high quality universal healthcare at reasonable cost, similar to Canadian provinces since the German type of model probably won’t work.

        However, high population density states will have options. They can go single payer or go to a multi-coverage type of system as a regulated market system has a chance to be viable.

        In Canada, healthcare is largely financed and managed on a provincial basis. It is not actually a national system like NHS in Britain.

        I believe that the high cost, employer-based coverage, and non-universal aspects of US healthcare are actually hurting our competitiveness and productivity because healthcare coverage is a major factor in deciding on what type of employment and work environment people will work in. That is a minimal issue in Canada. Unfortunately, it has become an identity politics issue in the US, similar to abortion, guns, and race, so there has been little rational discussion.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well , you knowww .. . . . Beginning pure Single Payer in a couple of Low Population US states could be a version of how Single Payer was indeed begun in a Low Population Canadian Province. The thing to remember is that once Single Payer was established in Saskatchewan, it was then slowly rolled out from there. If my memory of the history is correct.

    2. Piero

      Well, this system suffers from inefficiencies at the institutional level, and system wide. At the institutional level, because the healthcare corporations are traditional for profit enterprises, there are lots of inefficiencies not found in the public sector. Much higher administrative overhead, huge executive pay, costs of lobbying and marketing, profits, etc. Then, at the system-wide level, because we have a system with thousands of different payers, with an endless multitude of plans, the providers have to construct and fund a huge accounting and administrative apparatus to manage the insane complexity of the system.

      Single payer can address both of those things simultaneously. However, the German multi-payer system still results in a large majority of the country being on one public healthcare program or another, and there is a lot more governmental involvement in that system than in this one. Even if we were to move to a multi-payer system like Germany’s, to make it as potentially efficient as a single payer system, the system would necessitate a role for the state that is, far and away, much bigger than in this system and would necessarily lessen the parasitic nature of the private insurance companies. Not only would that lessen the profits of insurance companies and drug companies, that grates against the libertarian and conservative types on an ideological level, and it isn’t as if reality matters to any of the much anyway.

      Then there is using the economies of scale of the state to bargain down the price of drugs, radically changing intellectual property rights regimes at places like the WTO and within NAFTA like deals. Whatever the path forward, if we are to have an equitable and efficient healthcare system, we will have the same enemies and we will have to make a large number of structural changes, which those in power will not like.

  14. rd

    Apparently Trump is bringing up the Canadians (actually the British) burning down the White House in the War of 1812. http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/391015-trump-to-trudeau-didnt-you-guys-burn-down-the-white-house

    This reminds me of this classic Doonesbury cartoon: http://images.ucomics.com/comics/db/2007/db070218.gif

    BTW – apparently nobody briefed Trump that Canada did not become Canada until 1867, which is why Canada just celebrated its 150 birthday in 2017.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Canadians harbored those British arsonists, which would have activated exclusion from the Swift network, had there been one.

      An apology is in order, for starters.

      1. ambrit

        What apology? Those were rank and file Redcoats. Servicemen! /s
        Actually, Trump is just letting off steam for the humiliation of the U S not being able to take over Canada, right next door for heavens sake, in the 1812 War.

        1. rd

          I don’t think Trump is aware that the US tried to invade Canada and failed. Clearly, that was not when America was great.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Actually, Trump was just trying to show that he ” know something” .

  15. Shane

    Big news out of MN, with Keith Ellison deciding not to run again for Congress to instead run for AG there, after the presumptive front-runner and 12-year incumbent Lori Swanson lost her party’s endorsement to basically a nobody, opting afterward to instead try her hand at a run for Governor. But all of this happened at the last minute, so Ellison’s decision to not run again for Congress only gave potential candidates to fill his seat 24 hours to decide to run. That proved more than enough for eight of them, including Somali-American state representative Ilhan Omar. The slew of others includes:

    former Minnesota Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher, state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, DFL-Minneapolis and state Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis.

    I haven’t seen anything to indicate what that might mean for Ellison’s (token, made-up-to-satisfy-the-left-they-keep-punching-anyway) position at the DNC, and while going from Congress to state AG might be considered a step down in most cases, I think Ellison realizes he can do a ton of good in that position (though he is by no means a shoe-in; when Swanson bowed out, others, including a former MN AG, jumped in), and if he is successful, it, as a statewide office, would lay the groundwork for a potential run for Senate the next time that comes around, since it’s likely Tina Smith will retain what a friend recently described as the #MeToo seat vacated by Al Franken.

    1. KB

      good summary.
      While a state delegate voting for Senator Marty for Governor (single payer) I met Margaret Anderson Kelliher, can’t remember the year now. Of course she was looking for my vote after Sen. Marty lost, but I was surprised at her candor and empathy for my own personal family health situation and at this point would be interested in her run. She was genuinely speechless at my story and said so…

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Wouldn’t it be nice if he ran as a ” Real Democrat”? And won as a “Real Democrat”? That could start introducing the phrase ” Real Democrat” into the language. ( And then maybe the phrase ” Fake Democrat” will start entering the language soon after).

    1. RUKidding

      Yes those are good news.

      Sadly the Greens, like the Dems, often don’t seem that interested in winning anything. Insofar as the POTUS election is concerned, once that’s over, the national Green party tends to disappear, never to be heard from until the next cycle.

      Locally there have been some wins across the country, but you never see the Nat’l Green Party doing or saying much of anything about it.

        1. John k

          Dems are corrupt and incompetent. Witness 2016. Had the press, 1 billion burned, and the orange menace as opponent. Brings incompetence to a new level.

  16. Summer

    Re: China/Trump Hotels

    “Tactically, not such a bad idea, though the spectacle of an American journalist calling for foreign powers to retaliate personally against a President is a little unnerving.”

    But it’s a result of so much money being held overseas to escape any accountability from national & local policies.

  17. Summer

    Re: Necessary skills/Restaurant Work

    Is it impossible to find people that can learn from on the job training?
    It be demanding. I had a restaurant job in school. Trained on the job.
    So there is an issue with the ability of employers to provide on the job training? How does this become a govt problem?
    Again, lack of specifics about what kind of skills.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Restaurant work is demanding, but low-skilled. If they claim there are no low-skilled workers, perhaps it’s the pay that is lacking?

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “Labor’s New Terrain: Working On the Supply Chain Gang”
    This link proposes that unions focus their attentions on the supply chain. The supply chain clusters large amounts of expensive capital in distribution centers near major metropolitan centers and also aggregates large numbers of blue collar workers. The link raises a question which has puzzled me for some time:
    “A factory fire recently illustrated just how vulnerable are the supply chains at the heart of the global economy. The fire was at a single supplier—yet it forced Ford to temporarily halt production of the nation’s bestselling truck, the F-150. Think how much leverage workers could have if we acted like the fire.”
    So why haven’t logistics workers gone on strike? It is true many of them are not members of a union but many large segments of the logistics workers are in unions. For that matter whatever happened to wildcat strikes, work slow-downs, and sick-outs? Businesses for their part have designed numerous single points of failure — ideal pressure points where workers could apply leverage.

    1. Huey Long

      The Taft-Hartley prevents any kind of “official” labor action between the workers in multiple bargaining units from banding together and striking via its ban on sympathy strikes and secondary boycotts.

      HOWEVER, the bosses would be hard pressed to stop a wildcat strike that happens to spread over multiple firms to multiple facilities. One of the features of having a union in place from a boss perspective is at least having somebody in charge within the union to negotiate a settlement with. When things go wildcat all bets are off.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Thanks! I had the impression unions came about as a compromise by big business to control actions like wild-cat strikes and your comment confirms that impression for me. Which leads me to wonder what has changed that business thinks unions are not longer necessary to control labor actions?

  19. Summer

    The Bezzle: “A sea change is about to transform the way people and goods move through cities”

    “It’s simple! Adopt our standard!” And from SAE, all we have is a classification system (the levels), not a standard.”

    And it’s people that will be doing the “deep learning,” not the machines. But they insist on calling the tech “smart.”

  20. freedomny

    Mr Talking Points Memo doesn’t get what a bottom up movement is. Bernie Sanders does. Less than 10 years ago people were being thrown in jail and ridiculed all over the media for talking about the 99%. Now….that same sentiment has been part of a Presidential campaign and it is actively discussed on a national level.

  21. Big Tap

    TPM used to be relevant years ago but sold out for Hillary big time in 2016. The TPM comment section had some standards but suddenly vicious attacks of Bernie supporters were allowed including personal ones. It seems the change began in the Spring of that year and continued through the General Election. I always speculated that the TPM site may have received a large cash infusion from David Brock for the purpose of demonizing Bernie and the Left.

    1. sd

      Josh lost credibility when he backed the Iraq War. As did Kevin Drum. Can’t read anything they write without questioning their judgment. So I just don’t read them.

  22. Summer

    Re: Single Payer or Bust

    I notice that all the discussion is in terms in that come from the health insurance industry and Big Pharma: “costs ” “coverage”
    Why not put price comparisons of healthcare on blast and repeat? Price, price, price and more price? Why not have daily price comparison charts (nationally, internationally, regionally, locally) for actual healthcare goods and services? Price, price, price. Did I mention price comparisons?
    Get the drift?

  23. JBird

    everyone enrolled in Medicaid has to document their work hours through an online portal created by the state — with no option to submit information in person, over the by phone, or by mail. According to the Census Bureau, Arkansas has the second-lowest rate of home internet access in the nation, only slightly above Mississippi.”

    What jackasses. Why don’t they just skip a step and cancel the program?

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