Links 6/29/18

The Delaware beach that could help save humanity from a pandemic: Scientists to study global bird flu hotspot in bid to see how the virus evolves Daily Mail

Do We Treat Our Soil Like Dirt? National Geographic

Deutsche Bank fails Fed stress test while three U.S. lenders stumble Reuters

Fed gives OK to 32 of 35 biggest US banks to raise dividends Associated Press. Congratulations, America! Ten years since the Crash, but now you’re all the way back! USA! USA!

Lessons learned from 10 years of quantitative easing (“conversation”) Ben Bernanke, AEI

Bitcoin price manipulation puts trust in cryptos at risk Asia Times


Theresa May plays Brexit security card at EU summit Politico

Could Ireland Really Refuse to Build a Border After Brexit? Bloomberg

Brexit must not force people to choose if they are British or Irish Irish Times

EU regulator says banks are ill-prepared for a hard Brexit Handelsblatt

True scale of UK role in torture and rendition after 9/11 revealed Guardian

Opinion: Germany’s World Cup midsummer nightmare Deutsche Welle


Mattis’ Visit to China: Agree to Disagree? The Diplomat

China’s economy faces deeper risks than trade war FT

The Belt and Road Bubble Is Starting to Burst Foreign Policy

These Chinese workers’ brain waves are being monitored World Economic Forum

Indonesia’s “Small Fry” Drug Dealers New Naratif

New Cold War

Trump and Putin to hold summit in Helsinki FT

Who’s Afraid of a Trump-Putin Summit? The Nation. “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.” –Winston Churchill

Mexico’s election marred by deadly violence Al Jazeera

Trump Transition

Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett are leading candidates for Supreme Court seat Los Angeles Times

Democrats sat out the 2014 midterms and lost the Supreme Court for a generation Ezra Klein, Vox. Voter-shaming… “Do Your Duty” goes both ways, though. Republicans “come to play.” Democrats don’t.

New House Bill Would Empower Donald Trump to Punish U.S. Companies that Boycott Israel The Intercept

Five dead in ‘targeted attack’ at Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, police say Capital Gazette and Five dead in Capital Gazette shooting; suspect Jarrod Ramos is in custody, police say WaPo. I hate the phrase “active shooter,” since it gives the impression that all citizens civilians are shooters, only quiescent. Be that as it may, the shooter apparently had a grievance against the publisher, contrary to all the hot takes. At this point, let’s remember that the instant narratives for the Orlando nightclub shooting were wrong.

Democrats in Disarray

‘It’s not just one district’: Ocasio-Cortez pushes back on Pelosi’s caution not to read too much into her victory WaPo

Comparing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Trump Is Absurd Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

Ocasio-Cortez Not Only Beat Crowley — She Beat Old-School New York Politics New York Magazine

Democrats Are Wrong About Republicans. Republicans Are Wrong About Democrats. FiveThirtyEight

Tech didn’t spot Russian interference during the last election. Now it’s asking law enforcement for help. WaPo. What could go wrong?

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

California just passed one of the toughest data privacy laws in the country The Verge

How AI Will Reshape Companies, Industries, and Nations: An interview with Kai-Fu Lee of Sinovation Ventures Journal of Beautiful Business. Lee: “Going forward, I think the proliferation of sensors will become an incredibly important source for new data that didn’t exist before.”

Marketing Firm Exactis Leaked a Personal Info Database with 340 Million Records Wired

Another Equifax Employee Faces Charge of Insider Trading After Big Breach NYT. $75K. Chump change.

Patreon Is Suspending Adult Content Creators Because of Its Payment Partners Vice

Let’s make private data into a public good MIT Technology Review

Health Care

Implications of a Medicaid Work Requirement: National Estimates of Potential Coverage Losses Kaiser Health News. “[U]nder all scenarios, most disenrollment would be among individuals who would remain eligible but lose coverage due to new administrative burdens or red tape versus those who would lose eligibility due to not meeting new work requirements.”


America’s Immigration Crisis Has Real Culprits — And They Aren’t Immigrants Marshall Auerback, Alternet

These U.S. industries can’t work without illegal immigrants CBS

ICE Criminal Investigators Ask to Be Distanced from Detentions, Deportations in Letter to Kirstjen Nielsen Texas Observer

‘This Is Intimidation’: Interview With ICE Whistle-Blower Is Interrupted by Federal Agents NYT

Former ICE chief lawyer in Seattle gets 4 years for ID theft AP

It’s not just people in the U.S. illegally — ICE is nabbing lawful permanent residents too Los Angeles Times

* * *

Italy stalls EU summit over migration deal FT

Class Warfare

Bernie Sanders is hosting a town hall for workers. Their CEOs are invited. CNN. Quelle horreur!

Rule-Making as Structural Violence: From a Taxi to Uber Economy in San Francisco Law and Political Economy

The Legacy of Barbara Madeloni Jacobin

Everything the New York Times Got So Dangerously Wrong About HIV/AIDS Them

Alternatives to Heterosexual Pairings, Brought to You By Non-Human Animals Smithsonian

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus Antidote, a thread on rescue cats:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. PlutoniumKun

    Do We Treat Our Soil Like Dirt? National Geographic

    One third of the world’s soil already has been damaged by water and wind erosion, deforestation, compaction, nutrient depletion, and pollution. By our own actions, we are losing soil faster than nature can create it, and as population keeps growing we also pave over some of the most productive farmland for urban areas. The United Nations says that unless we protect the remaining soil and improve land use and conservation practices, the global amount of arable and productive land per person in 2050 will be only a quarter of what it was in 1960.

    There is a reason the worlds oldest organic certifying body is called the Soil Association. Of all the great crimes committed on the planet by humans, the stupidest of all is the destruction of soils. The irony is of course that in many cases it is ‘primitive’ societies who know much more about nurturing soil than modern agronomists. Its shocking how little many of them know about the problems – see for example the article linked yesterday in Scientific American about herbicide resistent weeks – there was no mention whatever of soil nurturing ways to prevent weed growth – the simplest and obvious being to cover land with an organic layer after plowing or after annual crops have been harvested. The source of this layer could easily be sourced from the millions of tonnes of organic material we landfill or incinerate every year.

    And random Brexit connection – the UK was the ringleader in sabotaging the EU’s proposed Soils Directive. One positive outcome for non UK-ers of Brexit is that the malign influence of the British farm and food industry will not have a voice any more in Brussels.

      1. Darius

        But the best use for prime farmland is new suburban subdivisions, drive in lube shops and car dealerships.

        1. SimonGirty

          We’d noticed a tendency of yuppie food crazes to be immediately followed by click-bait echo chamber articles: ie, Eat KALE… though, even what purports to be “USDA Organic” tends to suck up heavy metals and if you’re in CA, where they’ve been fracking since 1947… well, good luck plowing through all the obfuscatory pleonasm your iPhone or Android’s going to gavage down your gullet. The poster who’s very likely out picking radium, strontium & fracking fluid flavored strawberries… well, just how do we know, anyway? I’m pretty sure all those old gasland malls’ Doc-in-a-box, pill-mill, ‘bacci shop, Party Store, Bail-Bonds, Enlistment Center and CheckCashing/ EZ Credit stores have pretty much been boarded up? But, didn’t I hear somewhere, that the ongoing death of white-flight suburbia was greatly exaggerated? We’re going to need some damn place to inter all the opoid and NRA’s death O’ despair deplorables

    1. Jean


      The National Geographic gave its long standing reputation some years ago with new editors. They wholeheartedly endorsed GMOs, Genetically Modified Organisms, in agriculture, over soil preserving and building organic agriculture, thus stripping them self of any scientific legitimacy and love of the soil. GMOs such as “Roundup Ready” soybeans and other patented money making Monsanto products assure that large doses of Roundup, Dicamba and other soil poisoning chemicals are used, which destroys soil organisms, contaminates water and human bodies.

      P.S. National Geographics are printed on clay coated paper and are not recyclable.
      Also, they sold millions of expensive DVDs of past issues that do not work on newer computers and they refused to update them at cost or for free. Hardly an environmental steward.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Did that begin happening before the Murdoch buyout-takeover? Or is it the Murdoch takeover which set the sewage-ization of the National Geographic into motion?

    2. Big Picture Agriculture blogspot

      This National Geographic article on Dirt is from OCT 2015. I remember when it was published since I was a friend-acquantance of the author.

    3. heresy101

      You don’t have to be like the Amish to have compost for good soil.
      Anaerobic digestion of green waste, food waste, cow manure, etc can produce electricity and manure for the fields – a twofer!
      In Europe, AD technologies to process SSO and OFMSW on a commercial/industrial scale were developed more than 20 years ago. By the end of 2010, more than 200 AD plants treating SSO and OFMSW with a total installed capacity of about 6 million tons had been built. The trend is towards dry AD technology.


      There are a number of dairies is the central valley that use the wet process of putting manure and organic material from the dairy is a 1/2 acre covered pond where the biogas (mostly methane) is syphoned off to generate electricity.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Comparing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Trump Is Absurd Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

    I’m sure the corporate Dems and Republicans will do their best to tar AOC as an extremist, but I think one of the most impressive things about her I’ve seen from her interviews is just how good she is at staying clearly on message. I wonder if this is instinctive or if she has deliberately studied or been advised by Sanders? She has a very clear message delivered in concise but not simplistic soundbites and refuses to be knocked off her stride by hostile interviewers. Looking at interview clips of Sanders and AOC side by side is instructive, they are very different from the normal over-rehearsed politician, and they are both highly effective.

    I hope every aspiring progressive politician studies them both – for too long the right have wiped the floor with the left when it comes to delivering clear political messages that resonate.

    1. tomk

      And she manages to project openness and sympathy rather than smug condescension when confronted with ignorant questioners, all while communicating clearly.

    2. zagonostra

      I think that the questions put to here are very revealing. I bing watched Y-tube interviews from the MSM after she won and all they want to do is frame it in terms that sell well. They avoid her platform of Medicare-for-all like a magnate avoids it opposite pole.

      Their commercials are funded by pharma and healthcare insurance money. The questions to here were always on personality, ICE controversy, political strategy, what it means for Pelosi and the DNC etc…no interviews with the people she represents and why they voted for her….

      I whole heartily agree with your assessment of her composure and effectiveness…

      1. Sid Finster

        Once upon a time not so long ago, it was forbidden by law and regulation in the US to advertise prescription pharmaceuticals, outside publications directed at specialists. In backward third world nations such as most of Europe, Canada, etc., this is still the case.

        First Amendment aside, suppose those regulations were to be reinstated? How much of the MSM ad spend would be instantly vaporized?

        I don’t watch TV, but every time I see it, it seems that every other commercial is for penis pills or some other kind of prescription-only lifestyle medication.

        See your doctor for details. Some side effects may include projectile vomiting, anal leakage and suicidal delusions. Stop taking ToXor(R) if these symptoms last more than three days.

        1. fresno dan

          Sid Finster
          June 29, 2018 at 10:32 am

          I think that is an incredibly important point you bring up. The idea that corporate media doesn’t “sell their book” is risible. AND its always the questions not asked that are the most important…

        2. funemployed

          Can’t find the source, but apparently creepy ads for pharmaceuticals are among the top things foreign visitors notice and find really weird when they come to the US. Most common question: “Shouldn’t doctors be making these decisions?” Obviously not, of course, b/c there’s no information asymmetry whatsoever in medical markets

        3. ArcadiaMommy

          I think you mean “call your doctor if symptoms persist for more than a day and they can write you a script for the side effects. We have a pill for that too!”.

          1. RMO

            I do watch TV a fair amount, usually the channel from Bellingham Washington just across the border (back in the broadcast days it was one of the only three channels that came through clear when the cable went out – they’re so close to my part of Canada that even the CBC signal wasn’t as good as theirs) because they play a lot of old shows (50’s through the 80’s) and I find them calming. The prescription medication ads still throw me. There seem to be even more on this channel because the shows tend to attract older people. What really gets me is how often an ad for a new medication is followed by an ad for a class action suit against a now disgraced medication!

          2. Elizabeth Burton

            Had the misfortune to hear just such a medication ad yesterday—a pill for opioid-induced constipation.

            It is to weep.

      2. voteforno6

        They don’t seem too keen on details – for the most part, the horse-race coverage is more interesting to them, it seems like.

        That being said, it seemed that the crew on Morning Joe were quite taken with her, I was a little surprised at how complimentary they were towards her.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      I wonder if this is instinctive or if she has deliberately studied or been advised by Sanders?

      In general I would say, this ability is not something you can “learn,” It comes from saying what you believe and believing what you say. There is no substitute.

      You can “learn” to compensate, as obama did, with charm and charisma that entices listeners to overlook your insincerity and vacuousness. And you can be chosen as a candidate for your ability to do so effectively.

      Or you can baffle with bullshit, as hillary did, which is then explained as politically erudite “wonkiness” born of an intellect and experience that transcends those of mere mortals. Done and done.

      But the only people who can stay relentlessly on message when professional “interviewers” are trying their best to knock them off are those who actually HAVE a message and BELIEVE it. And you know it when you see it.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        To an extent I agree with you, but what I found striking about her was just how precise and well tailored her answers were – so good that on one clip I saw the interviewer actually talked about it afterwards and comparing her favourably to other Democrats. Her answers were short enough that she couldn’t be interrupted, but long enough that they made coherent sense.

        When asked about where the money could come from for her policies she gave a clear answer about Congresses money raising powers, a clear reference to MMT, but without getting bogged down in an explanation of how MMT works. If it was an off-the-cuff response, then it was brilliant – but more likely I think she (like Sanders) has answers clearly well honed, except of course he has had decades more experience to learn to do it.

        What struck me was that she was using the same techniques Sanders uses for deflecting cliched ‘beltway’ type questions, making the point he wants to make without seeming rude or avoiding the question. Its always seemed to me that Sanders technique for dealing with interviews is quite unique, and different from the usual ones taught to politicians and public figures. But her answers were distinctly different from ones he’d make I think so she wasn’t just copying his playbook. So I’m just wondering if there is work going on in the background for candidates like her to learn from Sanders messaging while developing a distinct voice, or if this is all her own doing.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If she used those exactly words, ‘Congress’s money raising powers,’ I wonder how many would think it’s a reference to MMT and how many think ‘more taxes.’

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            In her morning joe interview, she referred to congress as having “the power of the purse” when questioned about affordability which, to me, implied priorities not taxes.

            1. neighbor7

              In a friendly interview with Greenwald, she chided him for throwing her a “softball” question. Now that’s refreshing!

        2. grayslady

          I agree with your analysis. My guess is that she is an exceptionally bright woman. In my experience, the very brightest people are the ones who are able to explain complex ideas simply and, frequently, quickly. Believing in the message is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to be as persuasive as she is.

          Also, since she was supported by Justice Dems, TYT gave her a lot of media exposure early on in her campaign. That probably allowed her to practice and to self-critique her own responses to interview questions on the “small screen”. It occurs to me that going door-to-door to speak with voters is another great way to begin to hone her responses to similar questions people probably ask her all the time.

          1. Heidi’s master

            Yes, door to door, you repeat your message countless times a day and critique yourself countless times a day.

          2. CalypsoFacto

            I also think that the canvassing she did also likely honed her response patterns to where they are today. She’s clearly very smart and also believes in what she is saying as well, but the experience of really hitting the bricks and talking to people, day in and day out, about sensitive political topics without causing them to short circuit into rage or slamming the door or whatever is probably the best way to build up skills in clearly getting to the point and staying on message. Bonus: that’s probably a set of skills that can be trained and replicated in others, rather than relying on extremely compelling/special/unique candidates to come along.

        3. Katniss Everdeen


          There is a familiar, elaborate dance between interviewers and interviewees that has become so ubiquitous in these situations that it goes virtually unnoticed these days.

          I’ll summarize it as “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies.”

          And so media celebrities and political operatives, many of whom know each other socially and are not really interested in either creating or being put in the hot seat, ask non-questions (replete with questionable “assumptions” or unverified “facts”) and offer / accept unresponsive, wiggly answers.

          And then it’s time for a commercial.

          It’s tempting to assume that anyone who actually answers the question asked, concisely and forthrightly, is employing some new “technique,” but I really think that idea comes from the fact that doing so is SO rare, simply speaking truth from absolute conviction becomes almost unrecognizable, and leads to the conclusion that there must be something else going on here.

        4. Adam Eran

          Typically, the question is “Where are we going to get the money to expand Medicare?”

          …and I always wonder why the response isn’t “You mean where are we going to get the money to spend half as much as we’re already spending on health care? That’s kind of an odd question, don’t you think?”

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            aye. a bunch of self identified democrats ask me that all the time.
            I point to the funny looking building over in arlington.
            (recent forbes article about $21 trillion in essentially hot checks written by the war machine)
            if that’s not enough, i point to the open discount window through which the fed shoveled trillions of dollars in secret to the very creatures that ruined the economy.
            Of course, Nancy Pelosi says we’re all about Paygo…so…whatever…

        5. JerryB

          I saw a live stream recently in which Ocasio-Cortez was talking about one of her platform issues, Student Loan Debt Forgiveness, with Stephanie Kelton. So that would indicate she has been doing her homework on MMT or aspects of MMT. AOC appeared very polished and enthusiastic. Minor quibbles were that early in the stream AOC was doing a lot of the talking and it was well into the interview when SK gave her thoughts. I attribute that to AOC’s nervousness and youth. During the interview AOC was looking to her left frequently as if to check her notes and info on the subject. I was impressed with that as it told me AOC came prepared. I agree with Katniss comment above in that I did not detect any Obama/Hillary bullshit or fake charisma. She seems to genuinely have a message and believes in it.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I thnk both you and PlutoniumKun have made some extremely perceptive observations about what makes a ‘good’ politician — good both in a moral sense and in the sense of being effective.

      3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Its her Bartending experience thats taught her how to communicate. I deal with politics all the time bartending in New Orleans at the Saenger Theatre. You wouldnt believe how receptive working class messages are to the petit bourgeoisie!

        Some Axioms from dat dirty dirty South:

        1 We all hate Clinton
        2 f the bankers aka Wall St
        3 We all want more say in the democratic process
        4 Populism is the go to Ideology
        5 Revolution MOTHERFUCKERS – For us, not the billionaires in each State
        6 Did i mention how much we hate Clinton and the Bankers?

        (Far Left + far Right) – Identity Politics = Power

  3. PlutoniumKun

    The Belt and Road Bubble Is Starting to Burst Foreign Policy

    A recent Foreign Policy piece points out that individuals and firms have made up an increasingly large share of China’s total foreign asset purchases in recent years, from 12 percent in 2011 to nearly 40 percent in 2017, as the People’s Bank of China’s share of total foreign direct investment shrank. It turns out that these new investors are poor asset judges. As their share of China’s portfolio grew, its aggregate returns dwindled. In 2016, the total return on Chinese foreign investment was 0.4 percent, which is dramatically lower than the 4 percent earned by foreign reserves.

    The Belt and Road Policy has been rightly hailed for its ambition and scope, but while there may be an element of wishful thinking in this article, it does touch on a key weakness of the Chinese system – while you can achieve massive steps forward if you invest heavily without worrying too much about short to medium term profits, there comes a point where this represents malinvestment on a massive scale. A gigantic amount of Chinese infrastructural investment inside and outside China will never give an economic return. At some stage, this is going to hit productivity and possibly cause deflation.

    The other side of course, as this article suggests, the Chinese know their own business very well, but like the Japanese, their cultural insularity means are often out of their depth when dealing with other societies. I wonder how long it will be before China’s ‘partners’ around the world start to figure this out and learn to profit from it. The Belt and Road Policy could easily turn into a very expensive self licking ice cream cone that could bleed China dry.

    1. Steve H.

      A couple of issues with the article, especially its focus on Congo.

      Congo’s current president took over when his father was assassinated. His father took power from Mobutu, who was an intensely corrupt leader with western (particularly Belgium) support. Mobutu’s early rival Lumumba was assassinated with Belgium collusion. In a politically filthy situation, China gets about half the raw goods from Congo and has an alignment with its leader, who has very good reason to reject western ‘help.’ The money China puts in needs a metric for politics, not just economics.

      Focus on Congo ignores, for example, the ‘String of Pearls’ in the Indian Ocean. It looks to me like the article takes the worst case it could find, but can’t help note that China gets real goods from it, and continues to invest despite issues, which gains it support in Congo.

      Also note the decreased direct investment by the PBC, which could also be perspectived as a firewall. The question I can’t answer is ‘whose money?’ First, ‘private’ investment is fuzzy when it comes to China. Do they care if an individual oligarch gets wiped out? It’s Chinese rich kids in my college town, I don’t think they are here on a government yuan. ‘China’ is an ambiguous term in this context.

      Second, what is ‘China’ doing with all those dollars? I will speculate here, that China needs a way to get rid of dollars outside of just buying U.S. bonds. Why support your main rival? At this point the dollars are worseless, and I suspect some smart people are figuring out how they can benefit China. My thinking on this is systemic and not evidential, but that’s the blank spot to take a hard look at.

    2. Lord Koos

      I’m not sure how insular the Chinese elite are these days. Many of the younger people who have wealthy parents have been educated in American universities.

      Point taken about the silk road initiative though — what if it turned out to be a super-sized version of the well-known Chinese “ghost cities”. On the other hand, I think it possible that Chinese investment in infrastructure in places like Africa could certainly pay dividends in both commerce and good will.

  4. Eclair

    RE: “These U.S. Industries Can’t Work without Illegal Immigrants.”

    Can’t write much here because spouse and I are off to pick strawberries at our cousin’s farm in Warren County, PA. Increasingly, Cousin cannot find pickers during the short, but monetarily rewarding, strawberry season. And the ripe berries MUST be picked or the plants go to pot. He put an ad in the local newspaper and two high school kids showed up, then backed out when they discovered what the job entailed.

    We follow along the rows after the ‘pick your own’ customers have plucked all the visible ripe berries. We lift the leaves and find all the hidden ripe ones, as well as pick off the moldy berries (we have had two days of rain, which provides ideal conditions for mold and fungus to explode.)

    So, because ‘family,’ spouse and I will spend the next two days picking. It’s not bad work; the fields are covered with a thick layer of straw, the view from the hills is gorgeous, and it’s all the strawberries one can eat.

    Question: why does our society pay such miserable wages and give such disdain to the people who pick our food, care for (and teach) our children and our aged parents? When stripped down, what else is life about? Feeding and nurturing.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      40 years ago I spent part of a summer in eastern Washington state picking cherries. Not backbreaking work (you’re on a ladder in a shady tree), the view was great, and you could chat with the other picker in the tree. Since I’m not a huge fan of cherries, I didn’t eat too much of my wages (they paid by the pound picked).

      1. The Rev Kev

        About the same time you were in eastern Washington picking cherries, I was in southern France doing the same thing with a coupla Irish guys. It wasn’t bad work as, like you said, you got a good view and could chat with others, but an advantage was that you weren’t hunched over or bent over.

      2. Arizona Slim

        And it was about 40 years ago when my father and I used to drive over to a nearby farm to help with haying. We didn’t get paid, we were just there to help.

        We also didn’t want to see this farm sold off for development. We figured that keeping the farm going would be a good thing.

        The farmer had a guy who lived on the farm and did work for him. He was kind of a local oddball, and if he wasn’t at that farm, he’d probably be living under a bridge.

      3. Poopypants

        Around 30 years ago I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days ‘detasseling’ corn in Iowa cornfields.

        This was not easy or pleasant work for a suburban Chicago transplant attending Iowa State University. Each ‘tassle’ was at the top of the corn plant and if it was a good year, this could be at eye level or above. Also, corn plants have somewhat barbed leaves and retain moisture after being irrigated, so it was hot, humid and you were continually getting scraped. After the first day I realized why the smart kids wore long sleeve shirts.

        As for the job, you had to pull the tassel out of the plant and it took a little muscle to get some of them out. The thing I remember was that the school bus we rode to the fields on was full of teenage and early twenties ‘white’ kids from Iowa all trying to earn a couple of bucks while they could. And they were durable as hell these kids. No complaining, no bullshit, just went out there, picked a row, usually a quarter mile or longer, and got down to business. The guys that checked were even more amazing, detasseling both sides of a row as they walked. I never forgot and will never forget the difference between a soft surburban boy, me, and these tough farm kids.

        1. Big River Bandido

          I was in high school in Iowa about that same time, and I did this work for a few summers. It’s actually not just “tough farm kids” who do it; the need for labor for those 8 weeks or so is critical, and detasseling corn is one of those rite-of-passage summer jobs for “city” as well as “farm” kids. (Even in Des Moines and Davenport, you’re never far from a corn field.)

          It was the first job I ever had that paid “real money”, and getting those checks sure made up for the dirt, sweat, sun, heat and blisters. But I’ve never had a tougher job; the experience makes me thankful that I didn’t have to do that work for my whole life, and taught me great respect for those people who do. Most days we started around 6 AM and worked until sundown or beyond, with a lunch break, a few short breaks to cool off, and a longer rest period during the midday heat.

          The outfit I worked for actually used a machine with two “wings”, each with 4-5 metal baskets suspended below. The corn we worked on was so high that the machine was probably necessary. Two people worked back-to-back in each basket, which was spaced to fit between two rows of corn. Thus one pass through the field could detassle about 10 rows of corn, with each worker taking one row. This would go on, for hours. The foreman was always trying to drive the machine faster, but would eventually have to give up if too many plants got missed. There was no “scenery” to speak of, save for the farmhouse off in the distance. Other than that, the land was flat and you could see all the way to the horizon — nothing but corn — and it always seemed to be moving toward you.

          Even going to bed gave no relief from that sensation. As soon as I closed my eyes, I saw rows and rows of corn coming at me.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            I did watermelons a couple of harvests…and that IS backbreaking work.
            same with square bales.
            Grapes are cool, if you pace yourself.
            I think it’s hilarious that republicans are complaining about this particular worker shortage.
            same thing happened in alabama a few years ago, after that state did a big crackdown/dragnet/raid on immigrant workers…and the strawberries and other stuff rotted in the fields.

          2. Rod

            Funny that all you pickers above never mentioned the actual dollars so the less enlightened would know.
            I picked Grannies outside LaCrosse Wisconsin in the late Summer of 1979-seconds-3 bags to a bushel-20 bushels to the box. 20$ per full box only.
            7am until dusk. It’s called piece work.
            I grew up on a Midwest farm and had to hump for 20$
            a day—
            I’d be curious what strawberries up north are paying nowadays.

            1. sd

              It’s been years, around 1974, but pretty certain I made 50 cents a box for drops (ripe apples that had fallen off the tree) There was always a need when the fruit was ripe, so as a teen you could drop by and pick up quick work.

          3. KPC

            I little more accurate in your description.

            Overlooked is the level of toxicity or poison to which one is exposed in this process including in the 1960s/1970s let alone today. This is not dissimilar to the problem on the banana plantations in Central America and elsewhere.

            One might also query why corn has to be “detassled” in the first place. This is a rather postmodern problem wholly unnecessary when growing corn is done properly.

            As for USA and your labor issue, even USA poor people apparently perceive themselves to be “to good” to do such manual labor, at least in meaningful part. This immigration “problem” is a bit more nuanced.

            There is the “inbound” immigration issue without question albeit a bit nuanced. But there is one apparently un-noticed which is the “outbound” immigration problem, including, but not limited to, the farm labor factor as well as physical and intangible capital flight leaving USA and heading to Mexico as well as elsewhere..

            MMT ain’t gona fix this.

        1. ArcadiaMommy

          The “smart” kids go to summer school now. We went to the beach instead of the camp funneling kids to the ritzy high school in town. Of course we had a ball but I was told that I could be jeopardizing admission. My oldest is in 5th grade! It’s a great camp too, fun activities and some review of academic subjects but I don’t like the implication that it is required. Just unbelievable that even little kids have to toil away.

      4. Lord Koos

        I picked apples in WA, and berries in OR when I was young. Picking berries make your back hurt. The apples weren’t bad, but I wasn’t very good at it — Mexican guys in nearby trees were able to fill two or three bins to my one. There is worse work a person could be doing.

        1. ChrisPacific

          I always figured strawberries would be tough on the back because they grow so low to the ground (also: no shade). I did apples one summer and didn’t find them too bad. I wasn’t very good, but I got better as I went.

          I think the main risk with apples is falls. Knowing how to use your ladder effectively is very important. You have to get up quite high sometimes, the trees can be oddly shaped, there might be branches in the way, some of them are on hillsides, you can get water on the ladders… We had a hydraulic lifter that the experienced guys would use to get the ones on the tops of the high trees, and watching them do that on a moderate slope was not for the faint of heart.

    2. Norb

      Slowing down the pace of life is essential to addressing these questions. So many layers of complexity have been added to modern life in order for everyone concerned to take their “cut” of the proceeds. Those lower on the hierarchy bear the burden of the social coasts.

      A consumerist mind is only interested in consuming strawberries, not how they are produced or provided.

      In a money driven society, breaking this cycle and outlook is very difficult because of the intricate web of interrelations that have built up over time, but freeing oneself of debt traps constructed around money is the first step, and explains why such effort is expended trying to lure people into becoming debt slaves.

      You are absolutely right to question why this is tolerated. A return to placing community first- just like putting family first- is what must take priority, not business.

      Family’s working together to build community, which then in turn support strong business opportunities.

      Illegal immigration is a symptom of a broken and unjust system. People don’t willfully flee their place of birth. They are mostly driven from their homes by an external force, in most cases economic forces seeking to fill the manufactured desires of a consumerist society. Capitalism is the problem because its prime concern is about making profit- not building community.

      In todays world, willfully building community is a radical step, as everything as stands now is designed to tear down all existing structures in the drive for profit.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Excellent post. I always have a sense of reverence when I visit the grocery store or the farmers market. So many wonderful and delicious things, all born of the earth.

        Here’s a planet — it’s yours, if you can keep it, I guess.

    3. Wyoming

      If your cousin is running a large enough operation then technological rescue is is arriving in the form of the strawberry picking machine cavalry

      A viable picking machine hit the market recently and is being sold now. It obviously is targeting large scale growers. The machines are capable in ideal circumstances to eliminate the need for up to 30 pickers.

      Automation is how the ag industry is going to deal with the inability to obtain sufficient undocumented workers. It just takes time but advancements are coming very fast. And this automation will crush the small growers who cannot afford the investment in the big machines.

      See here:

      1. SimonGirty

        Considering the complexity of some of these, the lack of empirical experience & hands-on testing in real life conditions, I’d figured robots would be utilized, where profit margins were, y’know… higher?

        But, now… with all the tiny, experienced, callused hands available through convict labor; I’m wondering just how many Humboldt, Mendocino & Trinity County farms will be sub-divided into McMansion hell for the poor Napa & Sonoma Valley diaspora, while hemp moves under Cree lights?

      2. cnchal

        >. . . And this automation will crush the small growers who cannot afford the investment in the big machines.

        The debt taken on to obtain the big machines could crush the big growers, as it becomes a race to produce moar to feed the debt monster nipping at your heels, which will naturally lead to overproduction and then lower prices, until one day when the big machine owns the big farm.

    4. Arthur Dent

      I am dealing with some construction sites where our clients have random drug testing programs. It is pretty routine to lose 5%-10% of the workers every time the screening truck shows up on the job site because they flunk the drug test – this is a very high percentage because they are only screening a sample of the workers on site based on random draws of employee numbers, so it means that about 25% of the people actually screened get terminated that day. It is also difficult to find candidates who can pass the mandatory drug screen at hiring. This is for skilled trade positions, like heavy equipment operators.

    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Why does our society pay such miserable wages?

      Only two high school kids showed up and then backed out?

      Virtue-signaling question: How much did your cousin offer to pay?

      A tougher question: Is that a problem one small farm can address and still survive?

  5. Roger Smith

    >> ‘It’s not just one district’: Ocasio-Cortez pushes back on Pelosi’s caution not to read too much into her victory WaPo

    Can someone please just take Pelosi and hit her in the head with a shovel, just give it a good whack! Time to wake up! The footage of her speech is beyond appallingly stupid and tone deaf (obviously the latter is intentional… and maybe the former). Pelosi scolds people for making rash analysis on election outcomes, then says they are mistaken by making her own ‘rash’ analysis. So I though to myself some obvious questions that could net her such a primary win as she described, such as demographics of her district and money spent. “hmm, money… In lieu of being unseated in the primary, I wonder if she has spent more money defending her seat in because of these types of challengers.”

    Now I checked Open Secrets (and I always have a problem with how info is organized on this page) and while the last report is from May for the 17-18 years, it appears Pelosi has spent $3,295,553 on campaign expenditures (please correct me if I am reading this wrong because again, I hate this websites layout). Compare that to the overall election 2016 total spent (this would include the secondary elections too) at $3,478,461. She has been raising and spending more since 2012, to the point that it doubled on donations in 2016 and was 1.75 time the amount on the expenditures side (1.75 times roughly two million in 2012) Sure Nancy, it is just one district.

    1. Jack P Lifton

      I suspect that when the Congressional elections occur the local Democrats in the SF area pick up all the homeless in buses and take them to the polls and “instruct” them on how to vote for Nancy. This would be a great campaign ad for anyone running against her. Perhaps a photo of human feces with an insert picture of Nancy could be labeled “another vote for Pelosi.”

      1. Arizona Slim

        I don’t think I’d want to bring my shovel anywhere near Nancy Pelosi. It may be a shovel, but it does have standards.

      2. Richard

        No offense, but that doesn’t make sense, isn’t close to being true, and because of that it isn’t funny. If that’s what you were going for.

    2. Pavel

      This Pelosi comment re AO-C reminded me of the time she said the Dems “didn’t need to change direction” after the loss to Trump. She is at best delusional and at worst disingenuous. I’ll take the latter for $50.

      BTW If I were a woman I’d be offended at her apparent need at 70+ years to look like a 40 y.o. with dyed hair and face lifts but that is just me. I guess I’m sexist for saying that. But I find women who age naturally to be much more attractive (cf Helen Mirren… swoon!)

      Her greater hypocrisy of course is that she is a multi-millionaire and professes to worry about the poor & middle class whilst doing absolutely squat in real terms about improving their conditions, and denounces/ignores/insults those like Ocasio-Cortez who do.

      1. Sid Finster

        Nancy Peloisi’s value to Team D is as a fundraiser.

        If they know nothing else (and they need know nothing else), Pelosi and Team D (and the big money donors) know damn well which side their bread is buttered on.

      2. Anon

        I’m a guy, but my problem with Pelosi is her pronouncement that “We’re capitalists.” She could look like a Republican spokeswoman, and she’d still be one.

    3. ArcadiaMommy

      This makes me think of the walking dead tv show. Convert human suffering to money. Politicians take the money and perpetuate human suffering.
      I’m trying to figure out who the zombies are here.

  6. zagonostra

    Refer: Matt Taibbi:

    “If we can afford to spend more than the next 10 countries combined on defense, why can’t we afford higher education? Really? Who’s hustling whom?”

    As usual, Taibbi cuts through the B.S. that seems to cloud the mind of MSM corporate media, or rather I should say their attempt to cloud our minds and ability to reason.

    But as usual, we’ll move from issue to issue, crisis to crisis, titillating story to titillating story and meanwhile our bank account and financial security continue to be emptied as we pay outrageous amounts of money for healthcare and getting our kids through college. That “Blood sucking vampire squid,” a nice phrase Taibbi used to characterize Goldman Sach’s, can more generally be applied to the ruling elites and their MSM courtiers/tools

    1. Expat

      All true, but why does the American people accept it? What it is about America that makes it so gung-ho, so violent, and so enamoured with guns and ignorance? Now, before you all get your knickers in a twist and yell at me, bear in mind that America has high crime rates for developed country including a disproportionate number of mass killings and serial killers. America has invaded or attacked just about every other sovereign nation on the planet at some point (a list of those who have not would be far shorter). Americans revere the military and gloat in its dominance over “pussy” countries like Germany and France. America disdains education (okay, this is a large minority, but it’s a vocal one which seems to believe that science is the work of the devil and all publishing should have stopped with the original testaments).

      All of this leads the US to spend in excess of one trillion a year on “defense” which I don’t believe includes the DHS. Since the DHS grew to the monstrosity it is because of US aggression (blow-back) its budget should really be included in defense spending. DHS and Homeland security spending is very hard to pin down since it must be counted down to the local level. The official DHS budget says $65 billion which must be a lie (there are about 230,000 employees).

      Cutting military spending down to, say, $600 billion would allow the US to pay for college, university or grad school for every student in America. Or pay for insurance for everyone. How about addressing healthcare and college costs as well, then the savings could pay for free healthcare AND college for everyone! Why is this evil? Why are guns good and books bad in America? I keep asking the question and no one has answered.

      1. hasmstak

        “All true, but why does the American people accept it?”

        A vast and nebulous system of propaganda, not entirely deliberate or centralized, comes to mind.

    2. Sid Finster

      To speak in gross generalities, Americans spend obscene amounts on their military and treat Israel something like a sacred cow, a Golden Calf, one might say. A Golden Calf that must be subsidized to the tune of billions, because Rapture or something.

      These same Americans insist that we cannot afford healthcare or university education the way every other semi-industrialized country does. Including Israel, for that matter.

      1. Jessica

        Does the US subsidize Israel or subsidize the Israeli branch of the military-industrial complex? How much of the US support for Israel actually benefits the ordinary Israeli and how much goes to purchase fancy US-made weaponry?

        1. Sid_finster

          Both. Regardless, dollars and shekels are both fungible, and even if the entirety of American aid to Israel were earmarked for purchase of US made weaponry, that frees up israeli funds that can be used for something else.

          Like, say, hospitals.

          1. Jessica

            Its fungibility frees up money for other things if the military hardware was going to be purchased anyway. If the military aid is to purchase weapons that would not have been purchased without the military aid, then there is no actual benefit to ordinary Israelis. It might even drain money away from ordinary Israelis by making the Israeli wing of the military-industrial complex more powerful and more able to take a bigger share of the Israeli pie.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        Every time the “affordability” of universal healthcare or “free” public higher education comes up, it should be immediately connected to the bloated “defense” budget in all its wasteful, graft-infested, dishonestly-peddled, corporate welfare, hegemonic glory.

        It’s long past time the american people confront, head-on, the sacrifices they are making for the profit and privilege of blowing up the planet.

        1. Richard

          Agreed. We should also keep mentioning the absence of a War Department audit, and the $21 trillion in spending that is unaccounted for! Of course, if there is anything to MMT, then the over abundance of military spending has nothing really to do with us not having nice things. Nothing to do with a balance sheet, or a ledger.
          We are deprived not because there are inadequate resources, or because we can’t “pay for it”. We are deprived to crush hope, to “demonstrate” that the machinery of government can never work for us.
          As always, when I try to think or talk this thing through, it doesn’t totally make sense. But every time, I feel it make a little more sense.
          I also have a hard time reconciling “the corrupting influence of money in politics”, which implies bribery, and the relatively tiny size of (most of) the bribes. They seem less like bribes to me than signals to other oligarchs: “I am safe here, and here, and here.”
          Seeing these arrangements simply as bribes also gets the power relationship between donor and elected official exactly backward. The elected official controls access to monopoly privilege, the only way there has ever been to rake in the billions. Ever. The donors ask for favors; the people’s representatives (ha) grant those favors. I think we need to always remind ourselves of that. It is also somewhat heartening to consider that political power will always take precedence over mere money.

    3. Mark Karls

      People have been hypnotized into the erroneous belief that they deserve everything they have received in life. (Rather than it being a fortunate accident of birth, timing and location)

      The built in flip side to this is that people who don’t got it, don’t deserve it.

      Any attempt to level the playing field is seen as theft and unfair confiscation of what’s rightfully thiers.

      So paying for an absurdly expensive war machine to defend “what’s theirs” makes perfect sense. Paying for people less fortunate to have a better shot at the good life is unfair on them because they weren’t afforded the same luxury.

  7. TMoney

    These U.S. industries can’t work without illegal immigrants CBS.

    AAAAARRRRRRHHHHHHH. Here let me fix this headline CBS.

    These U.S. industries are criminal enterprises that exploit illegal aliens who work at a price Americans won’t.

    I will pick tomatoes or milk cows at $200 /hr and probably for $100 /hr. See, there is a simple market based for the labor shortage – PAY MORE ! What’s that ? you’ve tried ? Not hard enough. Illegal immigration is based on the 1 fact, there are people willing to pay them less than Americans want to do the same job. Punish the employers of illegal aliens. Amnesty and cash for an illegal aliens who report their employers..

    1. Wukchumni

      It’s a bit of a vicious cycle you propose, the undocumented workers turn in the employer and then lose their jobs on account of the latter losing their livelihood, but the former get a cash stipend for being a snitch, and amnesty for what exactly, not being a citizen?

      I feel certain tons of documented Americans would be willing to do stoop, stretch & ladder labor for $100 an hour regardless of whether their bodies were up to the challenge, a good many @ $50 an hour, and practically none @ $25 an hour, which is about 2.5x what a field worker earns an hour now.

      1. anon y'mouse

        i would do it for $15-20hr, if it included transport to/from, lunch, water and steady pee breaks.

        a sunhat and gloves would also be nice.

      2. sleepy

        In reference to the detasseling jobs described above which are very tough, the average pay according to this site is $11.54.

        Perhaps people in California may not do field work for $25/hr given the cost of living, but I live in northern Iowa and know many who have done detasseling including teachers off for the summer. And from what I have heard that’s common throughout the midwest.

        1. sleepy

          I would add–production line work building RVs at Winnebago Industries 30 minutes from my house starts at $13.92/hr. Non-unionized of course. If any ag jobs around here paid $25/hr Winnebago would go out of business (or raise wages).

        2. Big River Bandido

          That figure seems awfully low; I made around $18/hour doing this in the late 80s in Iowa.

          So either wages have slipped in this sector…or maybe the chart on that site cannot account for fluctuations in the supply of labor in various local markets.

          1. Wyoming

            I have no knowledge of that specific task and wages.

            But for regular field hands on vegetable farms in the eastern US 5 years ago the going rate was about $9.50 per hour on the operations in my area. Lodging/utilities was often included as well.

            For me one of the attractive things about the non-US workers, besides the fact that they actually worked, was that many of them knew things about farming certain vegetables that I did not know and they would provide advise which was very helpful. But then they would see me out working before their start time and for a couple of hours after they were done and all weekend when they were off – so I had cred with them and they liked me.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      No kidding.

      For all the border “inhumanity” hyperbole, this article gets to the meat of the matter. Illegal immigrants are an economic utility without which plantation america cannot keep up the pretense of function.

      So, how is this to be “humanely” resolved? Any attempt to “normalize” this workforce–and after all this border brouhaha, are they now supposed to melt back into the underworld of no wage and workplace protections (including child labor laws) and leo harassment?–will destroy its economic utility and create a huge bolus of social liability that the u.s. has never come to grips with where its own citizens are concerned.

      It’s high time to drop this bogus “humanitarian” hysteria and admit that the american economy WANTS and NEEDS a lower-caste, slave labor force to maintain its vaunted “standard of living,” and will go to any absurd, destructive, insincere, manipulative, theatrical length to get it.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Food would be more expensive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

      America can’t afford to pay native debt-slaves more. So goes the propaganda.

      Two hundred years ago, it was “Cotton would be more costly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    4. Wyoming

      That is just nonsense to be frank. You say you will do the work for lawyer or doctor wages or ‘maybe’ if they pay you engineer wages. No you would not.

      I have owned and operated a farming operation and know the in’s and out’s of the operations of a host of other ag businesses run by people I know. The culture of the American work force and the structure of our capitalist system make your solution impossible. The ‘simple market’ is just a fraud and does not work that way at all. The workers are not equal to each other and interchangeable.

      Americans DO NOT WANT these jobs. I have tried to hire them as have all the ag businesses. And it is NOT just pay as many operations have offered significant wages. Physical labor is hard work. It has low prestige, you can’t talk on your phone and text people all day, nor check the internet, you get dirty, smelly, and bugs bite you all day, it is HOT and it is cold, you get rained on and are wet all day. And so on. If you have not done this day after day yourself you have no business talking like you know what will work (or that you could actually do it). All ag operations have tried everything to get local workers and it does not work. I used to work 12-14 hours a day seven days a week from Valentines Day to Thanksgiving (no joke) and my hourly take from the business was about 50% of what I paid my farm workers per hour. I am supposed to pay some entitled, soft, weak, unskilled (the immigrant farm workers know how to farm btw), mouthy, lazy, etc, etc, local 8-10 times what I make?? No thanks. Grow your own food then or starve.

      You say pay more? IF there is a wage that Americans would show up for and do the work as required I can’t imagine what it would be. But your suggestions above would detonate the American economy. Middle class people would no longer be able to afford to buy food.

      Farm labor throughout history has been at the bottom of the economic totem pole and this is never going to change. In 1970 at age 16 I spent a good part of a summer on a ranch run by one of my mothers friends stacking 80lb bales of hay in the hot sun all day long every day. Thousands of them a day (you can’t even imagine how bad that hurt). Most of the workers were Mexicans trucked up to do the work because no Americans would do it (they use machines to do it today). No one really wants to do this work. You can’t fix this via simple market economics because this is not a simple problem.

      But the agriculture industry is fixing this worker problem as fast as it can. Via automation. This begets huge additional problems but different ones. It destroys family or small scale farming due to the economies of scale and the capital investment required. Farming is heading towards even bigger scale and more industrial methods. Eliminate the need for human workers and this issue goes away largely. Among the dozens of downsides generated by automation is that there are then even fewer jobs for people, the environment gets destroyed even quicker, the rich end up owning even more than now, wages are even further suppressed, etc.

      1. TMoney

        First, thank you for an informed and considered response, to these comments. I love NC for creating this conversation. I won’t disagree with any of the points you’ve made, save one.

        No one really wants to do this work. You can’t fix this via simple market economics because this is not a simple problem.

        Yes, it is. Now I agree about the possible results, but illegal hires are not the solution. Indeed they hurt the market, by undermining the price rise in food that should occur, because food production needs to be better paid. The situation did not arise overnight, nor is reasonable to fix it in the drastic way I suggested, but we could and should move in that direction, Some crops rotting and some shortages in the labor market would help make the point

        At $200/hr I could work for only 3 months a year, to make what I make now, Yeah, I’d be there.
        People with poorer paid jobs than mine, would come out for less to only work 3 months a year.
        In fact, when asked, everyone I spoke to, would be there. Could they all cut it ? Could I ? Well, lets be honest, If I made it a week, maybe, I would be a wreck for 6 more weeks until I got fit and exhausted until the end of the season and my productivity would be put to shame by any experienced hands, but I promise you, we would get better.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          When we see Americans volunteer to go to the most dangerous or rough places in the world, we realize it’s a matter of people believing in doing what they think is important.

          If physical labor has low prestige, we can still ask if

          1. in fact, physical labor should always be lowly regarded
          2. if not, what we can do to change it.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        I come from a farming family although I don’t work on it. It’s a small farm and my relatives work it themselves, they haven’t hired anyone outside the family for many decades. It is hard work and not everybody is going to take a job shoveling s**t no matter how much it pays, I’ll give you that. But I still don’t think the real problem is people not being willing to work on a farm.

        The problem is that we have an entire agricultural system that does not allow the food producers to sell the food they produce for the price they want to sell it at. My family produces milk and they get paid $15/hundredweight or whatever the going rate is, regardless of what it cost them to produce it. And this is for a co-op, where the farmers are also supposedly the owners, but they still have no control over the price they get.

        You want out of that system, well you can always create your own market and sell ‘artisanal’ produce to the rich people. Because there’s nothing a farmer likes more than depending on some condescending squillionaire for their livelihoods. And good luck finding the time to do all that marketing when you have 60 head to milk twice a day, hay to bring in, equipment to repair, etc.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          amen. access to market is a huge problem…as are numerous other non-governmental barriers to entry.
          we did good truck in the 80’s selling organic fancy lettuce(“mesclun”) to high end restaurants in Houston.
          I doubt that would be possible, today.
          we’d hire a couple of guys periodically for heavy labor(fencing or whatever), so we could focus on the greens.
          I never wanted to be an agribusiness…just a small market garden.
          this is next to impossible,today, due to captured government and corporate ag.
          On bad days, I hope we all starve.

          1. Rod

            America’s Immigration Crisis Has Real Culprits — And They Aren’t Immigrants

            This is the Links article just below the hornets nest that caused so much insightful commentary.
            It certainly is raw and unbridled in its relevance to this issue.
            One comment by Sue Humphrey was really refreshing.

      3. Wukchumni

        I like to watch the field workers do their thing in the Central Valley and have yet to see a non Hispanic field worker, it’s incredibly hard labor under the hellish conditions of low lying Tule fog or 103 degree heat, or hopefully somewhere inbetween.

        It isn’t a matter of what you pay, it’s the ability to do the work.

        1. kareninca

          If you got paid four times as much per hour, you only have to work one fourth as many hours, and could choose to work during the cooler part of the day. With short enough hours, a much wider range of people could do the work.

      4. Odysseus

        You say you will do the work for lawyer or doctor wages or ‘maybe’ if they pay you engineer wages. No you would not.

        I would.

        As of today, I make about $36/hr flying a desk. Pay me that same rate, and I would do the same jobs I did as a teenager. I detasseled for 3 years. I spent many hours stacking square bales of hay. I worked for a summer on the county road crew.

        And I would do it all again, if the money were there.

        There are plenty of things that hurt at 47 that didn’t hurt at 17, so we can have some good fights about the durability of my body. But the spirit is willing, regardless of how weak the flesh is.

      5. kareninca

        Wyoming, you did not give a specific example of what wages you have offered in order to entice native workers. Could you give us some examples? I’m afraid that just saying that you have offered more, or that other employers have offered more, is not sufficient information to be persuasive.

        To be honest, I think that you and the other employers have likely not offered all that much; it just seems like a lot to you since you are accustomed to paying low wages. But you can prove me wrong by telling us what you offered.

    5. bronco

      is it even wages so much or taxes , social security , medicare , red tape , health insurance blah blah blah ?

      I know in construction illegals get hired because the boss doesn’t want all the paperwork and expense over and above wages for a person that they might only need for a day or a week or a month.

  8. Steve H.

    > Rule-Making as Structural Violence: From a Taxi to Uber Economy in San Francisco

    “Taxi workers understood innovation discourse as obscuring both their everyday hardships and corruptive, though legal, state practices.”

    Very good article that unpacks one of the red-flag words:


    (btw, I’m still working through ‘Construction of arbitrarily strong amplifiers of natural selection using evolutionary graph theory.’ I hope it’s as useful as ‘Universal resilience patterns in complex networks.’)

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett are leading candidates for Supreme Court seat”

    Gee, I wonder if John Yoo or Jay Bybee may be available as candidates for the Supreme Court. Either man would be a good match with the new head of the CIA.

      1. ewmayer

        This sounds like an Abbott & Costello “Who’s on First?” (or since we’re doing Asian surnames here, perhaps “Hu’s on First”) or the horse-themed “Fodder and Mudder” sketch in the making:

        A: Who wrote the torture memo?

        B: Not Hu – Yoo did.

        A: Whaddya talkin’ about? I wrote no such thing!

        B: I never said so – Yoo wrote the memo, Ai only signed off on it, and Hu’s hands are clean.

        Or we could remake the baseball sketch:

        A: Hu’s on first?

        B: No, Yoo is.

        A: I is nowhere near first!

        B: I said Yoo’s on first – Ai’s on second, and Hu’s on third…

    1. Wukchumni

      Frito Lay salted sunflower seeds are my favorite buy em’ anywhere brand, and the 99 cent package used to contain 4 1/4 ounces of goodness, and then it went away for a year only to be replaced recently by the new and improved 3 3/4 ounce 99 cent bag, a 12% deflation in seed weight and seemingly no inflation to report, nothing to see here, please move on and tell us how some chart with a line on it running only slightly akimbo proves inflation is only a couple percent, tops.

    2. ewmayer

      Two of my favorite comfort foods have been hard-hit by this shrinkage:

      o Bags of Dove dark chocolate squares have lost over 20% of their weight over the past 20 years;

      o When buying beer one now has to be *very* careful to avoid the increasingly-common 11.2-oz bottles, and ‘cases’ of just three 6-packs.

  10. mikew_ca

    “Fed gives OK to 32 of 35 biggest US banks to raise dividends ” I just skimmed it, but I didn’t see anything about raising interest on deposits. Did I miss something?

    1. ewmayer

      “I didn’t see anything about raising interest on deposits. Did I miss something?”

      Actually they *have* at long nearly-decade-of-ZIRP-long last been raising deposit rates, but often only for new customers – Wolf Richter has been regularly documenting this over on Wolf Street, note especially the interesting (and useful to us rate-shoppers) phenomenon known as the ‘brokerage CD’. Re. rates on the best of the latter – I was able to find a variety using my Fidelity accounts ‘search for’ feature, tops in my last search (one rate hike round previously) was a 2-year CD from Morgan Stanley yielding 2.75%, I expect similar now up to 3%. Note that these are liquid, you can sell at any time, but the yield is only guaranteed at maturity, an important factor in the current environment of rising rates, where early seller may well face a loss of principal due to rates having risen since they bought a given CD.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China’s economy faces deeper risks than trade war FT

    The Belt and Road Bubble Is Starting to Burst Foreign Policy

    According to The Art of War and Daodejing, China would be stronger opponent, down the road, if it were to yield short term to Trump, for now and the next few years.

    Be more water like….the time is not advantageous for (trade) battle….time is on Beijing’s side…

    It’s both easier and riskier for a strong man to make concessions…It’s in the details.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Could Ireland Really Refuse to Build a Border After Brexit?”

    Could it be that the Irish recognize that the only way to square the circle of a UK/EU border would be to have it in the Irish Sea? If they built up customs post and the like between Norther Ireland and Eire, even if only temporarily, it would be as good as making it permanent as far as the UK government would be concerned and consequently the UK would never want to revisit the location of the UK/EU border again.
    On the other side of this border, Northern Ireland’s police chief has come out and said that there is no-one in charge of preparations so at least that is in line with how the UK is handling the whole matter. I think I know what the problem is. The UK government has never gotten over the idea of Brexit. Maybe they need the help of a support group?

    1. Brian

      I hope Tracey will do a parody of the Royal Family, because she wins as the Elizabethan. My god, she brought us the Simpsons.

  13. Jim Haygood

    With President Twitler at the helm, Satan sees an opening:

    “Hail Satan!” yelled the crowd. “Ave Satanus!

    The scene was a black mass celebrated early last year by the Satanic Temple of Los Angeles. The room was washed in red light. The worshipers joined in rituals of bloodletting and destruction and listened to a speaker holding forth on demonic cats. The celebrants wore black, with occasional splashes of red, and some were shrouded in cowls that concealed their faces. A few brandished hammers and crowbars.

    But this was not just another Satanist evening. For starters, it was held in a cavernous LA nightspot called Das Bunker. It drew a hipster crowd that was hundreds strong, and they danced to the music of six bands that played deep into the night, waving their index and little fingers aloft in the sign of the devil’s horns and whooping and hollering their support for Lucifer.

    Actually, it’s his rebel angel vibe they dug—members of the Satanic Temple don’t worship the Dark Lord. The temple is part of a sixteen-city organization headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts, that promotes an orthodox liberal agenda wrapped in a Luciferian package.

    At Das Bunker, ten speakers lined up to spell out the issues in a series of bullet-point pronouncements. “To invoke Satan is to invoke rebellion, and also to question authority,” declared the first. It is to invoke “the struggle for equal justice and equal rights for everyone,” said another. Others announced the temple’s support for science, the right to “claim your body as your own,” and free inquiry. One spoke of “satanic revolution.”

    Lucifer — a rebel, or actually in charge of our darkening zeitgeist? Tricky devil …

    1. ewmayer

      If satan actually had any interest in the aforementioned weenies laying claim to being his minions, he would surely be underwhelmed by their ignorance of the german language – it should be “Der Bunker”. (Also ‘der’ if one were talking about Archie Bunker in the “der Schmidt”/”die Merkel” manner often used by Germans.)

      Reminds me of the atheist group that published an an atheist-pride poster … only problem, that oversized text title was “ATHIEST”. Guess they were ‘even athier’ than those on-the-fencers-about-god-denial.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Opinion: Germany’s World Cup midsummer nightmare Deutsche Welle

    Bread and circuses

    I don’t know about Brot in Deutschland at the moment, but the latter can’t be looking too good for Angela at the moment.

    On this indicator alone, she will likely lose. (Of course, there are other soothsayers).

  15. marym

    Re: It’s not just people in the U.S. illegally — ICE is nabbing lawful permanent residents too Los Angeles Times

    Naturalized citizens too. (Link)

    Trump is also opposed to birthright citizenship. (Link)

    Pence is too (Link 2016).

    “I think the law is very settled on that question for generations of natural-born American citizens,” the Indiana governor said Thursday on CNN.
    “But I think what Donald Trump has talked about is the establishment of a new commission that will look at all of our immigration laws, including the whole question of ‘anchor babies.'”

    Papers please. How many “generations” of papers?

    1. TheMog

      Thanks for the like re de-naturalization. Wasn’t aware that they’re gearing up for that again – although I was aware of cases in the past where it did happen, but those usually involved minor (Nazi) war criminals that had emigrated to the US in the fifties when the authorities were, err, not always looking that closely for non-Communists.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBee

      Based on TheMog’s comment below, permanent resident nabbing dates back to the Obama years and earlier….again.

      Is it or is not the law you can lose it by staying out of America too long? How long has that law been around?

      Even if it’s not on Trump, should Congress change it?

      Should congress change Jus Soli (birthright citizenship)?

      1. marym

        If you what you mean by “should Congress” change birthright citizenship is whether that’s a legal way to bypass the 14th amendment, that would depend on SCOTUS, where only 4 people probably think not, and two of the 4 are getting on in years.

        If you mean is whether it’s a good idea, I suppose it depends on what one thinks is good as far as who is protected by our laws and who is persecuted; and on whether one thinks one can comply with however many generations of papers one needs to prove one’s ancestry. Although if one is white-looking enough the latter may not matter.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’s for the American people to decide.

          Congress can get started on it. From Wikipedia:

          Altering the Constitution consists of proposing an amendment or amendments and subsequent ratification. Amendments may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a convention of states called for by two-thirds of the state legislatures.

          1. marym

            No, as indicated the links above, Trump/Sessions/Pence etc. and elsewhere on the right think they can circumvent birthright citizenship by statute or even executive order, not amendment.


            See also: numerous proposals and actual laws to disenfranchise “the American people.”

            1. bronco

              Well it seems to me Obama was the champ when it came to executive orders , why can’t the new guy do it too?

      2. sleepy

        Is it or is not the law you can lose it by staying out of America too long? How long has that law been around?

        Yes, I believe you lose your permanent resident status if you reside outside the US for a certain number of years–three? five? I’m not certain. There’s a certain logic to it though–if you decide to reside other than in the US the thinking goes, then you no longer are a resident of the US and have no need for residency status here.

        I also believe that the time period for loss of that status can be tolled by re-entry to the US for visits.

        1. TheMog

          It’s less than that – from memory, one year unless you apply for a reentry permit. If you have the permit it’s two years. The time limits either don’t apply or are more generous if your employer sends you abroad.

          Usually as an LPR you get asked how long you have been out of the country when you reenter. USCIS has been known to “encourage” people to voluntarily give up their status if they think you’ve been out of the country for too long or are using your green card as an enhanced tourist visa. They can’t take it away though (only an immigration judge can).

          This law has been on the books for quite a while, definitely predates the last 2-3 administrations.

  16. TheMog

    Regarding the LA Times article about ICE deporting (or at least arresting) Lawful Permanent Residents, that’s something that’s been going on for quite a while, it just doesn’t necessarily make that many headlines. I distinctly remember articles in the Guardian et al in the mid-2000s about ICE doing that, including one of deporting a British LPR for a 25 year old shop lifting conviction. I wouldn’t be surprised if that had been going on under Obama as well, but it seems to make more headlines when the person in the White House is spouting anti-immigration rhetoric.

    As an LPR myself, I’m still surprised that even a lot of my fellow LPRs aren’t quite aware that the status can be more perilous than it appears on paper. While it is being regarded (and often is) a status that affords you almost the same rights and responsibilities that a US citizen has, it’s also surprisingly easy to lose. Staying out of the country for too long will do it, as will a conviction – and that includes offenses that would end up with a mild slap on the wrist for a US citizen, if they’d even get prosecuted. And of course it tends to get a bit worse if the LPR in question isn’t white.

    Which reminds me, I really need to get my citizenship process going.

    1. divadab

      If Imperial citizenship is offered, take it. Unless you plan on having an estate over $5 million and want to avoid estate tax.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It would be interesting, though illegal (I think)), for an imperial citizen wishing to renounce his/her citizenship, to offer that imperial citizenship to an alien.

        Here, the much hyped free-market and capitalism could use some reforming/improving.

      2. TheMog

        It is on offer, and I doubt my estate will ever get anywhere near that size.

        Main hurdle for me is not wanting to give up my German citizenship, which requires a waiver from the German government and apparently that’s been harder to get recently. And it’s not that easy to get for someone like me who has lived outside Germany for over 20 years.

    2. BobW

      In the 80s in L.A. I asked an immigration investigator if they were going to send me back to Detroit – he said it would be the nearest border. Fortunately, my ID passed inspection.

  17. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

    Anti-establishment Fervor Grips [Dollar] Dems – The Hill

    This one is great just for some of the choice quotes from the consultant-class remoras hanging around, especially this one:

    “If I was a Democrat running for president in 2020, I would take good notes on what happened in New York and Maryland,” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist. “People are sick and tired of what’s happening in Washington. They want change. They want something entirely different.”

    David Wade, a Democratic strategist who served as a top aide to John Kerry, noted that Democrats have often nominated some kind of outsider, from Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton to Barack Obama.

    “From Kennedy to Carter to Clinton ’92 all the way through Obama, we tend to choose the most different, most outside force in the field,” said Wade.

    From Carter through Obama? I’m convinced the last ACTUAL Dem we had in office was Roosevelt, and he certainly wasn’t perfect.

    These people are the worst.


  18. Livius Drusus

    Re: Democrats Are Wrong About Republicans. Republicans Are Wrong About Democrats,

    There is a lot of misunderstanding in our politics today. For example, I was surprised to learn that most people who self-identify as conservative are not consistent conservatives but only identify as conservative because it fits with their religious identity or because they simply like the term ‘”conservative” and prefer it over the term “liberal.” Most people are fairly liberal when it comes to economics and this includes many people who self-identify as conservative.

    I actually think intense popularization is less common than the media and pundits tell us. The parties have sorted with most liberals (or what passes for liberal these days) in the Democratic Party and most conservatives in the Republican Party. This is a big change from say the 1970s and earlier when you could find plenty of conservatives in the Democratic Party and plenty of liberals in the Republican Party.

    Because people only have two viable choices they usually pick one or the other party based on which is least bad. This probably accounts for what looks like widespread polarization in the populace. I suspect the number of truly dedicated “hard” partisans is smaller than people think. Many people are identifying as independents now. Swing voters are still important as can be seen by Trump’s ability to win former Obama voters in the Rust Belt and thus win the presidency. I also think this explains the popularity of Bernie Sanders. According to all of the pundits a self-described democratic socialist should not be popular outside of maybe his home state and some hardcore left-wing ideologues. But if I am not mistaken Sanders is the most popular politician in America.

    I actually know a number of Republicans who said they would have voted for Sanders had he been the Democratic Party candidate in 2016 but voted for Trump because they couldn’t stand Clinton. I know it is just an anecdote but I think it goes to show that partisan and ideological identification doesn’t necessarily fit with actual views on policy. The key to getting people to swing to your side seems to be offering them a real choice or at least what looks like a real choice.

    1. Brian

      Thanks Livius; well put. I only see divide with the media version of reality. The MM appears to be the one fomenting division and violence, for it is the kind of news they get paid to create. We might want to consider who owns them and what their motive is. Viable choices indeed.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      In the case of Sanders, a cursory search of his past would indicate a consistent pattern of behavior, Sanders isn’t a fraud. This matters to people.

      How does the average voter make a rationale decision on a Team Blue’s promise to fix ACA? “We’ll fix it later” was the Democratic Party’s rallying cry. In 2009, we were deluded with stories about how the nerds of the Obama Administration were in charge and could be trusted. The average voter can’t live their life and do this. All during the first term, the promise was “Obama just needs that second term to be good.” Partisans won’t care, they are partisans.

      With healthcare, even an Americans who doesn’t have direct experience with a first world healthcare system they have heard stories from people they know which mean more to them than whatever #resistance Republicans is currently being pimped on MSNBC. Sanders for most people is promising to do healthcare “the right way” the first time and acknowledges “there will be things that need to corrected as we move forward.” Obama and Team Blue made a promise that “the nerds were in charge and were playing super chess like Spock.” They promised it would be great and you will keep your doctor. Just trust Dear Father. Mother will follow.

      What happened? Soon it morphed into, “we will fix it later” to “shut, you ingrates” when their corrupt and lousy plans didn’t work. Sanders didn’t do this instead keeping on the message on “lets do it the right way,” and people know their is a right way. People love Medicare, so Medicare for all makes sense.

  19. ChiGal in Carolina

    538 link

    Has some interesting tidbits as to the stereotyping of Ds and Rs by each other but puts forth a faulty premise: that the great divide between USians is between people who “identify with” those two parties. There is a third category not even mentioned, and it is the largest by far: Independents who find themselves unable to stomach the duopoly, period.

    538: talk about not seeing the forest for the trees…

    1. Jim Haygood

      Our Apologies
      This page is not working at the moment. — link

      Despite Cuomo’s patronizing tone in dismissing Alexandria O-C’s decisive victory as the product of “fear and anger,” there is some truth to his assertion:

      First lady Melania Trump was greeted in Phoenix Thursday by a group of protesters with a giant comical balloon of her husband, Donald, in a Ku Klux Klan outfit.

      As Melania arrived at a migrant-holding facility for children, the protesters had a balloon of the president wearing a KKK robe over a blue suit and holding a white, sharply pointed hat.

      “About 30 protesters are waiting for Melania Trump across the street from a Southwest Key facility in west Phoenix,” Matthew Casey, a KJZZ Phoenix reporter, tweeted alongside a video of the inflatable Trump. Casey added in the comments section that the protesters were also playing the N.W.A song F*** Tha Police.

      Do these folks sound upset? Trump’s frequent denunciations of hispanic border-crossers as rapists and criminals harks back to standard KKK rhetoric of a century ago, which held that all black males are obsessed with violating white women and are only waiting for their opportunity to strike.

      Thanks to being gratuitously poked with a stick day after day, hispanics are now a highly energized bloc that can be expected to turn out heavily in November to help boot the R party out of the House.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If you google “Noncitizen voting California,” you get this:

        Reproduced from that part of that page:

        1. FALSE: California Passed a Law Allowing Undocumented Immigrants …

        2. Non-citizens will start voting soon in San Francisco – Orange County …
        Mar 8, 2018 – Non-citizens will vote legally for the first time in November, and can … Here’s what the California secretary of state’s website says about …)

        3. No, California didn’t pass a law allowing undocumented immigrants to …
        Claim: “California To Register Illegal Aliens To Vote – Automatically.”
        Claimed by: World Net Daily)4

        4. SF gave undocumented immigrants voting rights. Now it’s worried …
        Mar 5, 2018 – Under guidelines being drawn up by the Board of Supervisors, warning notices to prospective noncitizen voters would have to be translated …)
        From this last article (San Francisco Chronicle):

        A key backer of San Francisco granting noncitizens the right to cast ballots in school elections now wants the city to spend as much as $500,000 a year to warn undocumented residents that registering to vote could point the feds their way.

        Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer was on the school board when she urged voters to pass Proposition N in November 2016, arguing that it would give immigrants more of a say in their children’s education. Its passage made San Francisco the first California city to give noncitizens the right to vote in any election.

        Of course, something else happened in that election — Donald Trump won the presidency. His anti-immigration policies are at the heart of Fewer’s switcheroo.

    2. BillC

      Correct link. The lady can write, too. Looks like the only thing she’s not capable of is selling out enough to get DCCC funding.

  20. Jim Haygood

    Economist Robert Shiller sees no irrational exuberance in housing:

    “The market has been looking overheated ever since 2012 when we saw the upsurge that has been going on now for almost six years. And it looks like it’s still going up,” he said in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

    “I like to put things in real terms. In nominal terms we’ve surpassed 2006, which was the peak. But in real terms, we’re still fairly far below the 2006 peak. I don’t think we’re in the same enthusiasm still,” he said.

    “It got a little crazy in 2006, as you might remember. And it had some unfortunate consequences. We shouldn’t just assume that that’s going to happen again. But it might, it might. Expectations are not as extravagant as they were ten years ago. So it looks more like we’re still coasting, still coasting up,” he added.

    Saw a handwritten ad yesterday on a bulletin board for a rather dowdy house — “great VRBO rental,” the seller enthused.

    The prevailing sentiment in our little town is that we can all own vacation cabins and rent them to each other, as well as to visiting flatlanders.

    One person who owns two VRBO rentals and is about to buy a third uttered the classic real estate peak phrase: “It’ll never go down.” *shudders*

    Are we bubbling yet?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      But the Fed shouldn’t raise interest rates…that might burst Bubble III????

    2. Sutter Cane

      I have thought that housing was overpriced compared to wages, and expected it to correct (or at least flatten out) for the last few years, but instead I have been consistently WRONG for years now. So what do I know?

      I also thought the economy couldn’t support multiple food-delivery apps and dog treat subscription services valued at millions of dollars, and unicorn startups that never earned a profit and never would, and I thought THAT would have to correct, as well. But I must admit that I’ve been just as wrong about that.

      Is the world crazy, or is it me?

    1. divadab

      The Times ignores that which it doesn’t want its “consumers” to know or think about. Why this surprises Ms. Abramson, despite her being on the outside looking in, is a good question.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Still asking…”

      It’s one thing to ask who this person is and not not learn, it’s another to ask and try to learn who this person is.

      From her twitter, we don’t know if the NYTimes is asking the question and getting to Ocasio-Cortez or not. Only she’s not happy the paper is asking now.

      To me, it seems like, if you missed it, it’s a good time to ask now who Ocasio-Cortez is, and try to learn why she won.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Jimmy Dore did a clip about this saying that people like Joy Reid were doing a crash-course in who Ocasio-Cortez is. He was saying that people like himself and the Young Turks have been talking with her for about a year and yet the main stream media which has boat-loads of cash behind it couldn’t even do their basic, and only, job which was staying abreast of current affairs. Clip (8 mins) at-

  21. Jim Haygood

    West Texas crude blew through $74 at mid-morning; currently at a four-year high of $74.25.

    How are them Iranian sanctions workin’ out for us?

    1. Andrew Watts

      I don’t think so Comrade Jim. The share of Iranian oil on the world market is only, what, 4%?

      This appears to be carry trade dollars sloshing around world markets desperately searching for a return. Rising interest rates are squeezing returns on margin. A similar thing happened before when oil hit it’s all-time high and then the yen carry trade unwound in the summer of 2007.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In China, when it became necessary the last time, they banned short selling.

        Going after oil speculators could be an option for Beijing should that be a problem.

    2. Synapsid

      Comrade Jim,

      Those are futures prices on NYMEX?

      Those prices respond to lots of things, and currently some of them are:

      Venezuela providing zilch to Gulf Coast refineries compared to usual;

      Maybe somewhere around 300 000 barrels/day from Canada offline through July;

      General Haftar taking over the oil patch in eastern Libya;

      The usual disruption in Nigeria, a huge producer of one of Africa’s best crudes (the other comes from Libya).

      for a start.

      1. Expat

        yeah, but…WTI doesn’t represent international prices. It is a visible, well-known reference price, but it has been surpassed by Brent as the price for world oil. That said, the Saudis targeted the US with cuts because of the transparency of the US market. But in reality, it was the rest of the world that went up while WTI lagged behind because of logistics. WTI is at parity to Dubai! That is why US crudes are moving to the East (that and V rates that are sucking wind).

        Oil is just under $80. Again, this is cheap.

        1. Synapsid


          Brent is an international benchmark, as you say, and it responds to the same factors that WTI does including those I mentioned. Brent has been higher than WTI for some years now, I believe, and its ups and downs have been similar to WTI’s but not exact, hence the change in spread.

          I’d meant to include China’s announcement of possible tariffs on energy imports from the US in response to tariffs imposed on China, as a factor influencing futures prices.

          1. Expat

            The spread changes are mainly linked to transport costs inside the US. The US oil infrastructure is not designed to export. Oil is shipped and exported by pipe, rail and even truck. Since prices are set at the margin, this means the net-backs to shale fields or to Cushing (WTI) is set by the highest transportation cost. At one point Cushing was sending oil to the Gulf Coast by truck so Brent-WTI went as low as 25. Today pipelines have been reversed so costs are lower.

            Brent and WTI are similar looking crudes, although the distillation yields differ (gasoil vs naphtha) so they have usually had the the same value delivered into the US which explains the long term $2 price difference. but with the US crude system “screwed up”, WTI has fallen versus world prices.

            China has been importing US crudes because they are cheap and freight is very cheap. China is very long distillates, though, and really doesn’t need US crude or products.

            The US, meanwhile, is close to achieving its goal of oil independence. the US still imports about 9 million barrels per day of crude, but exports about 1.5 per day of crude and about 5 million barrels per day of products. If other countries follow suit and retaliate with tariffs on US oil, it will be very painful for US refiners.

    1. JTMcPhee

      About 12 million Floridians will be heading back north. Y’all ready to roll out the Southrn hospitality, there in GA and AL and N and SC?

      All the ex-NYers with their sharp elbows will be jamming for a patch of y’all’s Republics…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From googling ‘Ireland population growth compare EU:” (….0…1.1.64.psy-ab..0.9.687….0.VHf5KHhs7y4)

      Of the links:

      1. from 2017 – population explodes with EU high birth rate

      2 from 2015 – Ireland’s population is growth fastest in Europe

      3. from 2013 – Ireland has the highest net emigration level in Europe (meaning moving out)

  22. precariat

    “How AI Will Reshape Companies, Industries and Nations”

    Creeped out by this Lee guy. His salespitch is appalling for this American. He is selling subjugation — which may go over well with his Chinese/ Silicon Valley customers but not me.

    Regarding the Uber worker mowing down a pedstrian : “I think when humans look at single incidents and point the finger at an entire technology, that is not fair.” Yet this guy is using only relatively weak use cases to justify subjugating all activities of the human world to control. The data gathered does not exist in a vacuum, something will be done with it.

    “Imagine what we can do in education if schoolroom activity can be captured.”

    “Going forward, I think the proliferation of sensors will become an incredibly important source for new data that didn’t exist before.” Until those sensors are on your skin or worse under your skin. The potential of abuse and control is the civil nightmare, big tech’s profit and the powerful’s control.

  23. Jim Haygood

    Mush from the pimp:

    President Donald Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Friday that the U.S.’s budget deficit is “coming down rapidly.”

    [But] from October, when the government’s budget year starts, through May, the shortfall was actually up 23% compared to the same period in the prior year.

    In April, the CBO predicted the U.S. would run a deficit of $804 billion in fiscal 2018, versus $665 billion in fiscal 2017.

    Poor coke-addled Kudlow is spouting lafferism talking points from another century. Trump has a unique talent for surrounding himself with the least-qualified people … people resembling himself.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In some sense, it sounds like the best of all possible scenarios:

      1 They talk about lowering deficit (talk)

      2 While they in fact deficit spend to stimulate the economy (deed)

  24. Oregoncharles

    “Yet, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar seems to take a different view. Speaking in Brussels on Thursday, he told reporters there are no preparations to install checks, and has consistently said Ireland won’t build a border.”

    Holy family blog! He intends to have a smuggler’s highway – and presumable a customs border between Ireland and the EU? I thought his statement that it isn’t his problem was odd; this is even odder. Somebody rebuked me for thinking this might be an option; apparently Varadkar thinks so, too.

    Did I misunderstand the article? (Could Ireland Really Refuse to Build a Border After Brexit? Bloomberg )

  25. precariat

    Marshall Auerback short but correct analysis explains why the corporate media was *all-in* covering the immigrant family separations story. As cynical as I can be, I nonetheless thought the media was responding to the majority’s common decency. Not really. More like the Chamber of Commerce and employers who do not favor Trumps’ labor policies, as the policies remove their labor arbitrage.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      My question has been that, given the policy was launched in April, where was all the outrage from the media? Instead, they waited until literally thousands of children were sent into concentration camps and then decided it was time to mention it.

  26. precariat

    “Rulemaking as Structural Violence”

    Thanks for the link. Welcome to how it all works.

    Quoting Matt Stoller: “Corruption is political inequality, and extremes of wealth are economic inequality.” All achieved through ‘structural violence.’

  27. Oregoncharles

    “Voter-shaming… “Do Your Duty” goes both ways, though. Republicans “come to play.” Democrats don’t.”

    You see a huge amount of that, but it’s really just a lame excuse. People come out and vote because they see a reason to; if you’re not giving them that reason, as in voting makes no difference or leads to worse, then it’s the party’s fault if they don’t vote.

    We could reference, again, the huge falloff in party affiliation. Voters are disgusted, with reason. “A plague on both your houses” would probably win hands-down. Interestingly, that option is on offer in Oregon. It’s called the Independent Party, and it recently qualified as a “major” party via registrations. Little voter loyalty because it doesn’t stand for much, but Oregon now has a 3-party system.

  28. Oregoncharles

    “Patreon Is Suspending Adult Content Creators Because of Its Payment Partners Vice”
    Sex workers need their own credit union and payment system.

    With some really good lawyers. There’s more than enough money in the business to support something like that. Heck, a lot of other people might want to join.

  29. RMO

    Thanks for the antidote. We lost our dog a few weeks back. He was over fifteen and was happy, healthy and mobile right until his last couple of days so he had about as long and good a life as possible but it still hurts and seeing other dogs happy helps ease the pain.

  30. Jeff W

    “Democrats sat out the 2014 midterms and lost the Supreme Court for a generation” Ezra Klein

    If Ezra Klein wants people not to sit out midterms or other elections, maybe the Democratic Party could try running better candidates with better policies. Aren’t politicians supposed to earn people’s votes?

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Not according to the anti-Trump coalition. They have nothing but contempt for people who either voted third party or not a all, because it’s all their fault Trump got elected! Nor are they the least taken aback if one points out voting is a right, not an obligation to support a political party. It’s the same kind of thing where some persist in blaming Bernie Sanders for not ordering his supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton, although they’re a little shy on just how he was supposed to accomplish that.

      But, see, that’s the problem. They’re so used to being told who to vote for and doing so for no other reason than “it’s not the other party,” it’s beyond their comprehension people might actually think for themselves and decide they can’t in good conscience vote for a particular candidate. So, having embraced the idea that Sanders was some kind of demagogue brainwashing people with promises of utopia (pot/kettle), they can’t understand why he couldn’t just command support for their Anointed and have his supporters fall in line.

  31. ewmayer

    o “Tech didn’t spot Russian interference during the last election. Now it’s asking law enforcement for help | WaPo” — Notice the question unasked by the WaPoo propagandists: “Perhaps Tech didn’t spot any Russian interference because there was none to spot?”

    o “California just passed one of the toughest data privacy laws in the country | The Verge” — Passing laws is easy. To use a silly-but-illustrative example: A few years back one of a raft of new laws enacted by the CA legislature was one to limit the sound volume on TV ads †o some reasonable number of dB above the average volume of the TV show during which said ads aired. 3 guesses as to whether ads have gotten less annoyingly overloud as a result.

    o “Patreon Is Suspending Adult Content Creators Because of Its Payment Partners | Vice” — Note that ‘patreon’ is an anagram of ‘ate porn’. (Also, but less interestingly, of ‘pronate’.)

  32. Lorenzo

    Comparing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Trump Is Absurd

    is not. Comparison: both were utterly unelectable 4-6 years ago respectively. Now they’re both in office. Prove me wrong :)

    1. ewmayer

      And they both bucked their party establishment while running. I think the GOP leadership disliked candidate Trump even more than the Dems – after all it was quite clear the Dems viewed him as the ideal GOP nominee for HRH HRC to be able to cakewalk over into the White House. Ah, the best-laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft agley, as Mr. Burns put it so well.

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