2:00PM Water Cooler 7/6/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I got wrapped around the axle on some mini-essays today, so I’ll throw in a little more in a bit. –lambert UPDATE 2:53PM All done, along with some errands!


Lotta trade news today. Don’t skip over this!

“The Trump administration at midnight began collecting 25 percent duties on $34 billion worth of imports from China, kicking into effect the first round of tariffs that specifically target Beijing. China is firing back with a 25 percent tariff of its own on imports of 545 American items — many of them agricultural products such as soybeans, cotton, rice, sorghum, beef, pork, dairy, nuts and produce” [Politico]. “The trading of tariffs mark the first concrete results of President Donald Trump’s Section 301 investigation into China’s intellectual property practices and forced technology transfers. The move also significantly ratchets up tensions between the world’s two largest economies.”

“The $2 Trillion Trade War Fallout” [Safe Haven]. “Fitch Ratings warned on Tuesday that increased trade tensions have raised the risk that new measures may be taken that would have a much greater impact on global economic growth than those enacted so far—to the tune of halting $2 trillion in global trade flow. It’s a horrifying scenario, and one that Fitch warns could come about if the U.S. imposes auto tariffs on China, the EU, Mexico and Canada, prompting them to retaliate in kind, as they have done over steel and aluminum tariffs…. Whether this scenario will play out or not depends on how much of Washington’s threats are bluster for more leverage—and not even Trump would appear to know that because this is all going down on the fly.” • The trucking industry seems to be betting on bluster, if new truck orders and growth projections are a reasonable proxies.

“Must-know facts about the interwoven China-U.S. economic ties” [Xinhua]. “U.S. trade with China saved each American household up to 850 U.S. dollars on average annually, or about 1.5 percent of the U.S. median household income of 56,500 dollars, in 2015.” •  Nice little economy you’ve got there. It would be a shame if something happened to it…. A collection of bullet points, but worth a read for how the Chinese elite sees pain points.

“US-China trade war could drive prices up and growth down” [Associated Press]. ‘[T]hose caught in the initial line of fire — U.S. farmers facing tariffs on their exports to China, for instance — are already hunkered down and fearing the worst. The price of U.S. soybeans has plunged 17 percent over the past month on fears that Chinese tariffs will cut off American farmers from a market that buys about 60 percent of their soybean exports. ‘For soybean producers like me this is a direct financial hit,’ Brent Bible, a soy and corn producer in Romney, Indiana, said in a statement from the advocacy group Farmers for Free Trade*. ‘This is money out of my pocket. These tariffs could mean the difference between a profit and a loss for an entire year’s worth of work out in the field, and that’s only in the near term.'” NOTE * Farmers for Free Trade, a 501(c)(4). Note the corporate logos.

“Why Soybeans Are at the Heart of the U.S.-China Trade War” [Bloomberg]. ‘China is the world’s largest soybean consumer and remains heavily reliant on imports to satisfy demand. That’s why the country’s buying habits have an outsize influence on global prices. By imposing the tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, China is targeting one of the few sectors of the American economy that runs a trade surplus at a time when net farm income is poised to fall to a 12–year low. Soybeans are one of the largest U.S. goods exported to China—trailing just civilian aircraft and motor vehicles by value this year.”

“Schumer: ‘Goofy’ tariffs hurting NY printers, newspapers” [Times-Union]. “Duties imposed on Canadian paper are expected to cost one print publisher millions annually and have pushed newsprint prices up 24 to 28 percent, jeopardizing jobs and finances and newspapers across New York, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said Thursday…. ‘I am going to put all the pressure I can on the Commerce Department’ to reverse the tariffs, [Schumer] said Thursday. He estimates New York and Wisconsin are the two states most affected by the duties, and with help from Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, they ‘can have a bipartisan one-two punch’ against the duties.” • I remember when Maine had a paper industry. We made newsprint, in fact. “The smell of money,” we used to call it, when the wind came from the North where the mill was, so it wasn’t all candy and parades, but at least there were jobs.

“What a U.S.-China Trade War Could Mean for the Opioid Epidemic” [Governing]. “Though Chinese officials deny that most of the fentanyl or other opioid substances originate in their country, they have in the past cooperated with U.S. efforts to control the flow of fentanyl onto American soil. If the tariffs become permanent, though, “it’s most likely going to have a negative effect on other areas” beyond trade, said Jeffrey Higgins, a former Drug Enforcement Administration supervisory special agent. ‘China could say ‘We are no longer going to cooperate with the United States on controlling these synthetic opioids,’ he continued. Fentanyl, one of the deadliest synthetic opioids, is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and can be 100 times more potent than morphine. Of the 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016, more than 20,000 were related to some form of fentanyl, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows. U.S. law enforcement and drug investigators consider China the primary source of this illicit drug and responsible for as much as 90 percent of the world’s supply.” • I’m surprised we’re not blaming the Russians…



“Culture of Fear and Ambition Distorted Cuomo’s Economic Projects” [New York Times]. “In the ongoing trial of [Dr. Alain E. Kaloyeros — the former president of New York Polytechnic Institute], who is charged with wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy, prosecutors say he was so worried about his standing with Mr. Cuomo that he hired a lobbyist with longstanding ties to the governor, and worked with that lobbyist to rig lucrative state contracts for the benefit of two firms — LPCiminelli of Buffalo and COR Development of Syracuse — whose executives had donated generously to Mr. Cuomo’s campaigns…. The governor has not been accused of any wrongdoing, in either the Kaloyeros trial or the trial earlier this year of Joseph Percoco, once one of Mr. Cuomo’s closest aides.”

“How Worried Should Andrew Cuomo Be?” [Governing]. “New York splits its federal and state primaries, with the gubernatorial contest coming on Sept. 13. Primary turnout is always lower than in November, but having two separate primary dates lowers turnout even further. That could give a big boost to Nixon, whose supporters may be more ardent than Cuomo’s.” • That would be ironic! Democrats have gamed the electoral system into rottenness so badly they’re vulnerable to insurgents, as with AOC.


“Will 2018 be the year Democrats banish the demons of 1994? Signs point to yes.” [USA Today]. “The 1994 election that ousted Democratic control of Congress was, first, seen as voter rejection of a government role in health care. The health insurance industry’s “Harry and Louise” ad campaign defined the terms of that election as a backlash to “government-run” health care — a backlash that Democrats have grappled with ever since, through the Obamacare fight and beyond.”• Thanks for butchering that one, Hillary. Still, it worked out well in the end, didn’t it? Good description of a searing, formative moment for today’s sclerotic liberal Democrat elite, however.

RI: “After Backlash, RI Democratic Party Withdraws Two Controversial Endorsements” [Rhode Island Public Radio]. “After a backlash that attracted national attenion, the Rhode Island Democratic Party has rescinded endorsements for two primary candidates, including one for a former Republican who supported Donald Trump in 2016. In a letter to Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, RI Democratic Party Chairman Joseph McNamara said the party was withdrawing endorsements for Michael Earnheart and Greg Acciardo, a Democratic running for the seat now held by Sen. Mark Gee (R-East Greenwich.)”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Here’s What Happened the Last Time the Left Got Nasty” [Politico]. “Groups like the Weather Underground preached and carried out violence, including lethal violence… Most activists stopped short of planting bombs and shooting police officers…. By 1972, we should recall, a majority of Americans had come to oppose the Vietnam War, but greater numbers opposed the antiwar movement. Nixon cannily positioned himself as upholding law and order—a helpfully ambiguous phrase that lumped together the threats of rising crime, urban riots and rowdy left-wing activism. His invocation of the ‘silent majority’ aimed to bring together those who were put off by the noisy, disruptive and politically extreme protests. Trump, who has openly borrowed Nixonian terms like “law and order” and “silent majority,” has already been using the confrontations with his administration’s officials to shift the discussion from his immigration policies and onto the left’s behavior.” • On Trump, as IIRC Corey Robin has pointed out, the real danger is Son of Trump: Trump’s methods and policies stripped of Trump’s boorishness. On the lessons of the Weathermen for today, it’s been a long time, but two points: Generically, let us remember that the first one to propose violence is always the cop. And the Weathermen turned into what they turned into precisely because they had no base in the working class at all (and I’m not sure, at that moment in time, the base was there to be had). Presumably today’s left won’t make the same mistake, which is why immigration policy is important, no matter what your position on policy….

“The growing Occupy Ice movement: ‘We’re here for the long haul'” [Guardian]. “[T]he Occupy Ice camp in Portland was unplanned…. ‘This was definitely spontaneous,’ [Whitney Handrich, one of the activists involved in Portland] said. ‘But people have passed down knowledge from Occupy Wall Street, so that, I think, helps. So some of the lessons from that organization have been learned to make this more sustainable.'” • Handy picture:

(The type is small on the sign to the left. It reads: “Abolish ICE. Open all borders.”) At least for the anarchist contingent, “Abolish ICE” is the path toward “Open Borders,” as the image shows. This is natural, since one of the things a state does is control its borders, and anarchists wish to abolish the state. They, at least, have the courage of their convictions and are willing to state openly what their policy goals are. DSA (and the left (let alone liberals)) are more squishy. DSA, especially, had better work out how big, exactly, it wishes its tent to be. At the policy level, I don’t see how you get to #MedicareForAll, which national DSA advocates, without the state. Or a $15 minimum wage. At the strategic level, I don’t see how “Open Borders” puts the working class first, which should be the goal of the left, which has its own infestations of virtue signaling and posturing. If you’re on the left and you accept the necessity of the state, then you accept the duty of the state to protect its citizens from, for example, labor arbitrage. (We might think of the H1B visa program as a pilot project for “Open Borders” and indeed that program suppressed wages very successfully.) If you want to end up with another crop of delusional, self-regarding, and explosively performative Weathermen for the 21st Century, then not connecting to the working class is exactly the way to go. As I have written:

Squaring local vs international workers circle…

Let me try. There are two programs to consider extending to non-citizens as well as citizens:

1) #MedicareForAll. Why? To prevent mass epidemics

2) #JobsGuarantee. Why? Because there’s an enormous amount of work to be done.

What’s left for citizens? The vote (and a passport). In a democratic society, the vote would mean determining where the money (resources) go a la #MMT; that’s no small thing. In a democratic socialist society, that would mean control over capital allocation, an even less small thing.

I don’t believe in open borders per se (which operationally means the end of the nation state), because I’m not an anarchist — the DSA’s tent is too big if it includes them — but I don’t see a reason why immigration couldn’t be greatly increased under those terms.

But as things are … [Open borders] boils down to labor arbitrage aimed at US working class citizens and I’m not buying that package, even for some notional international working class solidarity, which I don’t see happening any time soon.*

But the anarchists driving the Open Borders direct actions won’t make these arguments, because they’re anarchists. And nobody else will, from the DSA rightward. I don’t know why, but I’m guessing liberal rhetoric about babies has rotted everyone’s brain. NOTE * How I’d love to be wrong. But when I see that the supply chain is the existing order’s most vulnerable point, and I see a subclass of workers who control an essential “choke point” workplace — the truck cab — having the same material problems in the U.S., China, and Brazil, and yet nothing is internationalizes (that I know of; readers?) I remain skeptical. The counter-argument would be class solidarity across the Rio Grande, but I don’t see that argument being made either, perhaps because, contra liberal Democrat pieties, all “Latinx” “people of color” are not a single homogenous mass of undifferentiated potential midterms voters.

UPDATE “Democrats’ rising star Senate candidate just said she won’t vote for Chuck Schumer as party leader” [Vox]. “As much as that energy suggests that Democrats are united against Trump, real trouble lies ahead. Superstar* candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ran and won on far-left platforms that include proposals like abolishing ICE and a federal jobs guarantee. Several candidates this year are pushing for Medicare for all, which some party leaders have considered too radical to seriously pursue. Now some of Democrats’ most promising candidates are saying they won’t support the existing party leadership if elected. All this raises real questions about whether the party’s leaders are truly ready for the transformation they are about to face.” NOTE * The contrast between the hackneyed “rising star” and the “superstar” that nobody heard of until, like, two weeks ago, is pretty amazing.

UPDATE “Trump’s worst enemy: Middle-aged moms” [Jill Filopovic, CNN]. “[Woman are] so organized and loud it’s impossible to miss them. It’s women who are leading the protests against President Donald Trump’s cruel immigration policies — some with their own children in tow as they protest separating families at the border. They’re getting involved as political organizers, attending meetings, canvassing for candidates they believe in and making phone calls to pressure their elected officials. As Michelle Goldberg recently detailed in the New York Times, these are the women doing the thankless work of pounding the pavement.” • Presuming that these women aren’t Daughters of the Confederacy, the consequences can only be good, right?

UPDATE “Calling All Resistance Members! Roe V. Wade Is In DANGER! We Need YOU To Yell At JILL STEIN About The 2016 Election!” [ResitanceHole]. “Members of the Resistance, years from now your grandchildren will ask you what you did to rage at Jill Stein supporters online two years after her presidential run. When that moment comes, what will you tell them?”

UPDATE “What the Media Got Wrong About Ocasio-Cortez’s Triumph” [The Nation]. “[ACO] dismisses the tension between identity and ideology as a false choice. As she told Nation reporter Raina Lipsitz, ‘I can’t name a single issue with roots in race that doesn’t have economic implications, and I cannot think of a single economic issue that doesn’t have racial implications. The idea that we have to separate them out and choose one is a con.’ Ocasio-Cortez swamped Crowley with 57 percent of the vote in a district that is about 70 percent people of color. But some of her biggest margins came in Queens neighborhoods like Astoria and Sunnyside, among the whitest areas in the district, which are increasingly attracting young, creative types—who are also most inclined to support insurgent left candidates. As Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir concluded, ‘If she got Latino voters excited because she looked like them and spoke their language, she got Bernie Sanders voters excited for exactly the same reason.'”

UDPATE “Joy Amid the Ruins” [Dissent]. “There should be a word—maybe a juicy, complicated German one—for the experience of living through a history that’s both tragedy and farce. It’s a feeling we’ve all come to know. What else could explain the psychic breakdown of American liberalism in the Age of Trump? Surely you’ve noticed it, too. There’s the latest viral Resistance theory claiming to have divined the strategy behind Putin’s infinite-dimensional game of chess. There’s a Democratic Party establishment that, fresh from betting everything on Hillary Clinton, looked at Tom Perez and said ‘get this man on television.’ There’s the mainstream media, caught between Maggie Haberman’s Twitter feed and a Morning Joe debate on whether Jarvanka can save us. Not even the jokes are funny anymore. Instead, there’s Stephen Colbert explaining why that bad thing you read about on your phone earlier in the day is, in fact, bad. See it whole and the tableaux looks, more than anything, kind of sad. Viewed from another perspective, all this is just the latest in a long string of failures on the part of the American elite.” • Good point on Colbert. Maybe I’m biased or wishful, but I think the jokes on the left can be pretty funny (“Underdogs know irony like they know air and water.”) At least they’re fresh. And speaking of not funny and not fresh—

UPDATE Louise Mensch brings the cray cray:

This doesn’t seem to have taken, but give it time….

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, June 2018: “A very healthy employment report that shows brisk growth and also a movement into the workforce is headlined by a stronger-than-expected 213,000 rise in nonfarm payrolls for June which just tops Econoday’s consensus range” [Econoday]. “The payroll breakdown is headlined by manufacturing which surged…. The rise in the number of people looking for a job is very good news, indicating that discouraged workers are more confident in their prospects. And very importantly, this gives FOMC members some breathing room as it reduces wage pressures and underscores Jerome Powell’s stated desire to bring more people into the workforce.” And but: “The household and establishment surveys were not in sync. The year-to-date employment is running above the pace of last year. This was another strong report” [Econintersect]. And: “The unemployment rate rose for a good reason — 601,000 workers searching for jobs” [MarketWatch]. “‘The top level takeaway is that the labor market remains consistent with robust economic growth but not yet tight enough to generate the kind of upward inflation pressures that would encourage the Fed to raise rates more rapidly. Today’s number is a very nice mix for risk assets—strong growth but still room for the Fed to move only gradually. I continue to expect rate hikes at quarterly intervals for the foreseeable future, but nothing more aggressive than that.” — Eric Winograd, AB.” But: “Wage growth was slightly below expectations in June” [Calculated Risk]. • So it’s all good!

International Trade, May 2018: “The nation’s trade gap narrowed sharply in May” [Econoday]. “China’s trade surplus with the United States was $33.2 billion in May and $152.2 billion year-to-date, up 13.5 percent from the same period last year. Today’s report is very positive for the economy showing strong demand for exports in what will be a positive for second-quarter GDP. It also underscores the strength of cross-border trade going into what appears to be a period reciprocal tariff actions.” And but: “The data in this series wobbles and the 3 month rolling averages are the best way to look at this series. The 3 month averages are improving for exports and slowing for imports. The trade balance improved” [Econintersect]. “The data is worse if one considers inflation is grabbing hold in exports and imports – and the headline numbers are not inflation adjusted.” And: “Both exports and imports increased in May” [Calculated Risk]. “Exports are 30% above the pre-recession peak and up 12% compared to May 2017; imports are 11% above the pre-recession peak, and up 8% compared to May 2017.”

Weekly Leading Index: “ECRI’s WLI Growth Rate Index Decline Continues” [Econintersect]. “Even with the general downward trend in this index over the last 6 months, the forecast is for modest growth six months from today.”

Commodities: “The Death Of Diesel Has Sent Platinum Prices Crashing” [Safe Haven]. “Platinum is trading at a huge discount to its sister metal palladium, the second member of the platinum group metals (PGM). The platinum/palladium price ratio is now just a little above its record lows. The two precious-metal workhorses find applications mainly in the internal combustion engine (ICE), with platinum being the preferred emission scrubber for diesel engines while palladium does the same job for gasoline engines….. Platinum is trading at a huge discount to its sister metal palladium, the second member of the platinum group metals (PGM). The platinum/palladium price ratio is now just a little above its record lows. The two precious-metal workhorses find applications mainly in the internal combustion engine (ICE), with platinum being the preferred emission scrubber for diesel engines while palladium does the same job for gasoline engines.”

Shipping: “Container rates stable, but carriers still cutting capacity despite peak season” [The Loadstar]. “[D]espite the looming peak season, it appears carriers are looking to further limit capacity. THE Alliance announced today it would merge two of its Asia-US west coast services – the PS5 and PS8 – and thus operate a total of six services on the trade. THE alliance partners took this action ‘in response of schedule integrity improvement, extensive product enhancement and better cost efficiency.'” • Just like Comcast and Verizon. Cartels gotta cartel.

Shipping: “Infographic: The Parking Problem” (infographic) [Freight Waves]. “The truck parking issue has both social and economic consequences. Failure to find a spot within the hours of service puts many drivers at risk of parking in unauthorized areas.” • The robot trucks better know how to park?

Transportation: “Acute pilot shortage and fewer available freighters likely to drive faster drone adoption” [The Loadstar]. “The worsening shortage of pilots and concerns about available freighter capacity down the road are adding a sense of urgency to the deployment of drones to fill the gaps. The pilot shortage is the more serious concern for cargo carriers. A study published by Boeing last year found that more than 637,000 pilots would needed between 2017 and 2037.” • Hey, remember when being a pilot was a good job? Good times…

Transportation: “Zoox on HMI and Ergonomic design in autonomous & shared vehicles” [Automotive IQ]. Alexandra Sanborn, HMI and Ergonomics Integration Engineer at Zoox Inc.: “[P]eople want things their way. In the automotive space, they also want to know that they can trust the product to keep them safe. Building a vehicle that can accommodate personalization among customers in a community-like setting while also getting someone safely from point A to point B is the largest integrative challenge the autonomous ride service industry will face. We, of course, want every customer to be a satisfied customer.” • I dunno. I don’t recall hearing about any consumer demand whatever for turning their vehicles into “community-like settings.” Where do they put Junior’s sippy cup? And body fluids are one thing, but unknown body fluids are quite another….

Transportation: “The Futuristic and Constant Landscape of Morgantown” [Daily Yonder]. “Boeing developed the Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system that runs between the WVU campuses and downtown in the early 70s. It’s a fully automated, driverless system of eco-friendly light rail that zooms above the ground—guided by some obscure algorithm I can only imagine. It’s famous for breaking down and is adored by students and faculty alike (or so I am told).” • Anybody here from Boston remember remember the Boeing Green line cars? This article is well-worth a read; I’m only placing it here — and I’m being nice by not filing it under The Bezzle — to take a whack at the concept that Tech, because it’s Tech, automagically comes up with good transportation solutions. Techies love pods, I don’t know why. Robot cars are the newest pods.

The Bezzle: “Vacation rental scams are (almost) worse than a sunburn” [FCPA Blog]. “This week the FTC won a $5.2 million judgment against defendants who posted Craiglist ads for rental properties that “did not exist or that they had no right to offer for rent.” When people responded to the ads, they were told to obtain credit scores from a company that automatically enrolled them in a credit monitoring service for $29.94 a month. Most of the victims didn’t know they’d been enrolled.” • With list of handy tips, most of them common sense (“don’t wire money”) others more subtle (“If the property is located in a resort, call the front desk”). Stay safe out there!

Five Horsemen: “All of the Fab Five sport modest gains today but none are setting new highs” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen July 6 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “After yesterday’s market bounce the mania-panic index rose to 38 (worry)” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (The NakedCap mania-panic index is an equally-weighted average of seven technical indicators derived from stock indexes, volatility (VIX), Treasuries, junk bonds, equity options, and internal measures of new highs vs new lows and up volume vs down volume … each converted to a scale of 0 to 100 before averaging, using thirty years of history for five of the seven series.)

Mania panic index Jul 5 2018

Class Warfare

“The Week in Public Finance: The Red State That’s Considering a ‘Millionaire’s Tax'” [Governing]. “[T]his fall, voters in conservative Arizona seem set to vote on whether to tax the state’s wealthiest residents in order to pay for teacher raises. This week, organizers for the Invest in Education Act said they have collected enough signatures to put the question on the ballot in November…. Arizona is among a group of states that has prioritized cutting taxes over restoring education funding since the Great Recession. It was one of three governments gripped this spring by teacher strikes that shut down schools for more than a week to demand higher funding and better pay…. The measure is sure to face bitter opposition, as it’s essentially a doubling of the income tax rate on the wealthy. That would be a tough sell in any state, let alone a low-tax, conservative one like Arizona…. Voter support for the tax hike so far is positive. Last month, a telephone poll conducted three weeks after the teacher strike ended found that 65 percent of voters said they would support the initiative in November.” • Seems pretty mild, to me. Why not triple? Or quadruple?

“This 29-year-old couple lives, works and travels in a van, and they love it” [MarketWatch]. “How do you earn a living on the road? Nate is a self-employed videographer. I’d done business consulting remotely before, so I decided to start my company again [a short time after we started traveling]. If I could do it from home in Denver, I can do it from my van. I haven’t fully replaced my previous salary yet, but I am living comfortably and able to save money. And I work less than I did at my former job, so I’d count that as a win!” • Not for everyone. Not so easy to garden from your van. The image that goes with the article is interesting: The van and its two occupations isolated in the middle of a desert. The perfect model of life under neoliberalism…

“Population shrinking across rural Indiana” [AgriNews]. “‘There was a study done by IU Public Policy Institute,’ said Katrina Hall, director of public policy at Indiana Farm Bureau. ‘Their projections through 2050 show that 59 of the 92 counties, all of them rural, are losing population significantly. When people aren’t in your location, you don’t have workers. You don’t have a tax base. The few that are left, primarily our farmer members, are left alone.'” • To be fair, rural migration to Brooklyn is going to cut wages for artisanal pickle makers. So it’s all good!

“Kids today are waiting longer than ever in the classic marshmallow test” [Science News]. “This willingness to delay gratification has recently bloomed among U.S. preschoolers from predominantly white, middle-class families, say psychologist Stephanie Carlson of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and her colleagues. Youngsters aged 3 to 5 in the 2000s waited an average of two minutes longer during the marshmallow test than children in the 1960s did, and an average of one minute longer than 1980s kids did, the scientists report June 25 in Developmental Psychology.”

News of The Wired

“7 ways to keep your smart home from being hacked” [MarketWatch]. • I read the article carefully, and I don’t see the obvious solution: Don’t make your home “smart.” And if you add up the time spent doing things like software upgrades and futzing with your network — to be fair, I l-o-o-o-v-e upgrading software, paying for a separate Internet connection, and configuring a VLAN — I would bet smart homes net our “negative in convenience.” Could it be that, as so often, “smart” is stupid (or more precisely, “smart,” if you buy into it, is indeed smart, just not for you, but a rentier?)

“15. Human Sexual Behavior I” [Robert Sapolsky, YouTube]. Begins with a very funny and safe-for-work joke…

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

Ed M writes: “Combination of crocosmia (not yet in bloom), coreopsis, california poppy, calendula, and zucchini, left to right, topped by cosmos with saliva in the foreground.” Lovely garden, same theory as mine :-)

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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. Synoia

    Must-know facts about the interwoven China-U.S. economic ties” [Xinhua]. “U.S. trade with China saved each American household up to 850 U.S. dollars on average annually, or about 1.5 percent of the U.S. median household income of 56,500 dollars, in 2015.

    Assuming 100,000,000 households, that’s $85,000,000,000 or $50,000 per year for 1,700,000 jobs.
    for a cost of $17 per week per household.

    Does that put “free trade” in perspective?

    1. Kurtismayfield

      Have the same author explain to all of the USA that you lost your manufacturing base so that you could save $17 a week. I am sure that the entire manufacturing base moving for the equivalent of 1-2 hours of labor per week would fly real well.

    2. clarky90

      “…saved each American household up to 850 U.S. dollars on average annually”.

      People with extra money often go “shopping” as a hobby. It is their “doing”. They buy new gadgets and clothes, made in China

      However, people without extra money, tend to spend their money on (1) food (2) housing (3) transportation. Tariffs are no big deal.

      Well-paid, secure, meaningful jobs are a big deal.

    3. Lee

      Assuming 100,000,000 households, that’s $85,000,000,000 or $50,000 per year for 1,700,000 jobs.
      for a cost of $17 per week per household.

      Does that put “free trade” in perspective?

      I’m assuming this does not take into account higher prices we pay when competing for soy beans, almonds et al with foreign consumers. Nor, I assume, does it count social safety net costs (sadly deficient as it is) resulting from unemployment, low wages etc., etc., etc.

      1. ArcadiaMommy

        And I was just about to get after my husband for buying a case of almond milk and huge bags of edamame and almonds at Costco (in addition to liquor, meat and a bunch of other junk food). Ha! He was price hedging.

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      The overt use of an average applied to a median left me with the impression of too dumb to read on a Friday.

      And $850? BobDole offered a $1500 tax break 20 years ago. I would troll Republicans about how they weren’t terribly good Republicans if that little meant something to them, as opposed to say, policy.

  2. Wukchumni

    “What a U.S.-China Trade War Could Mean for the Opioid Epidemic” [Governing].

    Just wait until the Chinese start slinging the Carfentanyl our way, it’s merely 100x as strong as Fentanyl, for those playing through.

    Payback for the Opium Wars, might well be our just reward.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Americans were in on the Boxers Rebellion and when Empress Dowager Cixi fled Bejing, along with Guangxu emperor. Those American who were there might have enjoyed a bit ‘shopping.’

      The Opium Wars involved mostly the British who rightfully own their just-reward-payback.

      1. Wukchumni

        You think our Clippers weren’t up to a few trickles of the trade?

        Meanwhile, Baltimore Clippers still continued to be built, and were built specifically for the China opium trade running opium between India and China, a trade that only became unprofitable for American shipowners in 1849.


        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I didn’t know about about.

          Still, it was mostly British, and the wars, themselves, were conducted by their military.

  3. Synoia

    ‘Schumer: I am going to put all the pressure I can on the Commerce Department’ to reverse the tariffs, [Schumer] said Thursday.

    Why not build a paper mill in that desolate wasteland of Jobs called “upstate New York,” for example in Coxsackie or Kingston or Albany?

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      Or Hudson, NY. Coxsackie has the prison, so perhaps you could leverage some cheap labor. (just kidding…)

      The towns on the Hudson river used to be the industrial heart of New York (free water power to run equipment), and were diverse in the products made, often taking abundant local raw materials (clay, in many river towns, for brick) or those from farther inland (farm livestock and produce, wood, etc.) and turning them into finished products for sale ‘downstate’. The opening of the Erie Canal linked the Northeast and new Midwest economies and the ‘export’ of those goods to the growing populations in the west, but the later development of the railroads, coupled with the increasing mechanization of farming (suited more for contiguous flat lands rather than the not-so-flat and smaller scale fields of the east) meant the beginning of the end for the more rural and small-scale factory workers.

    2. HotFlash

      ‘I am going to put all the pressure I can on the Commerce Department’ to reverse the tariffs, [Schumer] said Thursday.

      Look out! Democrats ‘fighting for’ something! Oh wait, he said he’s going to ask Paul Ryan.

      1. Carey

        The Democrats are really maxing out on their “hapless” act, and making sure everyone notices. Signaling to their donor class, primarily, and then to the rubes
        (like me!), with a different message from the same action for each.

        They know what they’re doing.

    3. allan

      Upstate doesn’t need Old Economy paper mills when the New Economy beckons:

      NYC dumping more garbage than ever in Finger Lakes area [Rochester D&C]

      Other people’s trash is continuing to pile up in the Finger Lakes at an astonishing rate — especially trash from New York City, which has tripled its exports of garbage to the scenic region in just five years.

      Three landfills within 30 miles of one another, in Monroe, Ontario and Seneca counties, are now the state’s largest.

      In 2013, the Democrat and Chronicle declared the Finger Lakes to be New York’s dumping ground after an analysis showed that half of all trash buried in New York state was going to large landfills in this region.

      Five years later, it’s worse.

      Burial is up 37 percent at three huge Finger Lakes landfills, according to a new D&C analysis of state solid-waste reports, and the quantity arriving from far-off counties has risen from 2 million to 3 million tons a year. …

      Turning Amazon Prime boxes, Blue Apron meal kit packages and artisanal pickle jars into good jobs.

    4. danpaco

      Why would anyone build a paper mill when it will only be profitable because of tariffs. What happens after Trump? When the trade wars are over and the tariffs go away? You are left with an unprofitable paper mill that will be closed down and production will be moved back to Canada.

      1. Summer

        Unless they make enough money to bribe congress their way (only half joking). Tariffs are still selective despite the mythical free market and will be after Trump goes away. The teachable moment of this alleged trade war is how selective tariffs already are…more selective than “inevitable” in one direction or the other

  4. Jim Haygood

    The price of U.S. soybeans has plunged 17 percent over the past month on fears that Chinese tariffs will cut off American farmers from a market that buys about 60 percent of their soybean exports.

    A chart is worth a dozen words:


    Looks like a down escalator to hell. Thanks, Donnie!

    1. Jim Haygood

      Soybeans are no higher today than in the summer of 1973, despite the Consumer Price Index being up by almost six times since this chart began:


      Low crop prices will bring down agricultural land values. Some over-leveraged farmers will be bankrupted. Eastern politicians will not be particularly welcome in Iowa or anywhere in the midwest.

        1. John Zelnicker

          Apologies if Skynet coughs up my first attempt.

          July 6, 2018 at 2:30 pm


          Great line!

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Virtually all soybean farmers plant their acres 50-50 soybeans and corn, rotating the fields every year to get the most out of the free nitrogen. Most also have their own bins or at least rent space at the elevator, helping them to ride out price swings. This price drop may push some farms into bankruptcy, but only if they were already close.

        Farmers are very good at hedging their bets. The ones that weren’t went out of business a long time ago.

        1. Bruce F

          Corn prices are at multi year lows. Bins are expensive. Walmart/Cargill/ADM can build bins to “ride out” the price swings too. The US produces too much cheap food.

          I’m a farmer.

          1. ArcadiaMommy

            Yes, why do we assume food must be cheap? My mother, her siblings (all as children) and her parents picked vegetables in AZ, CA, NM and TX back in the 60s. I have a picture of my Grammy with her youngest child on her back while out picking carrots. I think near Gallup NM. It drives me crazy that this fixation on cheap food comes at the expense of so many people in terms of hard labor and our health.

            1. Stillfeelinthebern

              X10,000 from America’s Dairyland. Going on year 3 of no profits.
              We need supply management

              https s://www.jsonline.com/story/money/2018/04/13/dairy-crisis-crushes-farmers-wisconsins-rural-identity-jeopardy/511881002/

    2. Kurtismayfield

      Sadly I won’t hold my breath in anticipation of seeing any savings in my grocery bill. There should be a dumping of agricultural products in the US if this Tariff fracac is true.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Would Xi give in soon?

      I’m of the opinion that by yielding short term in order to buy time, China can in fact emerge as a more formidable power.

      Forget Made In China 2025. That’s short term thinking…short term to really traditional Asians who recall events centuries and millenniums (or millennia) back.

      Stepping back might make Xi despised in China, but his personal sacrifice will be appreciated years later.

      Is he big enough to do that?

    4. Alex morfesis

      Jim haygood…please stop…soybeans are adjusting because Argentina and Brazil sell more than we do and their currencies are down…and now back to our show..

  5. Wukchumni

    Commodities: “The Death Of Diesel Has Sent Platinum Prices Crashing”

    The 2 metals once were far apart in price, with Palladium worth around $100 an ounce when Platinum was more like $500, say around 30 years ago.

    Now Palladium is worth $100 more than Platinum per ounce.

      1. Wukchumni

        Platinum’s main use in the 19th century, was that it had the same specific gravity as gold more or less, and counterfeit coins were struck in the white metal and then gold plated and passed as the genuine article.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Had a mystery/pirates books as a kid where the plot twist was that the red herring, counterfeit treasure chest they found full of platinum was worth far more than if it had been gold.

        2. The Rev Kev

          I understand that Tungsten is used in faking gold bars these days for the same reasons. And it is a lot cheaper.

  6. allan

    Fight for $15 goes postgraduate:

    Qualification: Ph.D., Compensation: $15/Hour [InsideHigherEd]

    Fifteen dollars per hour is the new target minimum wage among many labor activists, and North Carolina just became the first state to introduce a $15 minimum wage for state workers. But shouldn’t Ph.D.s earn more than that? That’s what many on Twitter said this week, not so politely, after the Social Science Research Network posted an ad for a part-time, work-from-home job reviewing and classifying article abstracts for online journals about transportation. Qualifications include experience in transportation, with a Ph.D. “strongly preferred.” Compensation is $15 per hour. …

    For organizations like SSRN to survive in the long run, there needs to be a healthy higher-ed sector,
    which seems to be at odds with Ph.D.s pulling down $15/hour. But, hey, IBG, YBG.

      1. David Carl Grimes

        Hey, they work from home. Shouldn’t their pay be less? :) Do adjuncts earn $15 per hour? Don’t they net minimum wage?

    1. kevin

      Seems to me that part of the compensation is extreme flexibility. Work at home! Part time–probably work when you want.. seems more suited for someone “retired” but still wants something to keep them busy.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Twenty years from retireded: I could work anywhere there’s good internet. But if anyone suggests I relinquish my physical office for work-from-anywhere, I would never take it with current dips**t management. And maybe drag a few of the next projects out as a relearning experience, for those who came in late. If you don’t make their eyes roll at least twice a week by recounting tales filled with jargon that they don’t understand, they’ll forget why you’re here.

        The conditions for busywork are both local and global. Is there theoretical space for how busywork leads to bulls**t jobs? Or is it obvious and can be hand-waved?

  7. Synoia

    Transportation: “Zoox on HMI and Ergonomic design in autonomous & shared vehicles” [Automotive IQ]. Alexandra Sanborn, HMI and Ergonomics Integration Engineer at Zoox Inc.: “[P]eople want things their way. In the automotive space, they also want to know that they can trust the product to keep them safe. Building a vehicle that can accommodate personalization among customers….

    Where should a woman put her purse in a car? That’s such a simple problem which has never been addressed. Unless you assume when a man & woman are in a car, the woman is always a passenger and can put her purse on her lap.

    1. JTMcPhee

      My wife, who always wants to drive (control, and somewhat rational anxiety about my talents), always just hands me her purse. Goes under my left knee next to the console. All that’s required, ladies, is appropriate training. Like that bumper sticker I saw on an artfully decorated VW Beetle in Seattle, circa 1987: “All Men Are Pigs, But Some Make Good Pets.”

      My wife also has about 40 purses, of all colors, textures, handles, fasteners, zippers, pockets, shapes and sizes. Good luck finding an engineering solution to accommodating all the possibilities in an automobile. I’m sure Musk has the appropriately terse and disruptive answer, all you have to do is ask!

      Maybe a female engineer will come up with a successfully innovative design. No fair telling all the other women that they must standardize on a single size and shape…

  8. Synoia

    This 29-year-old couple lives, works and travels in a van, and they love it

    Until the first ankle-biter comes along…

    1. Arizona Slim

      I watch a couple of YouTube channels that have been created by perpetual travelers.

      Over time, I have seen one of them (Louis Cole of Fun for Louis fame) become more and more dependent on strong coffee to keep up with the vlogging. Gotta keep feeding that YouTube monster, doncha know.

      And then there are Kara and Nate, a fun-loving couple from Nashville. Their goal is to visit 100 countries by the time Nate turns 30, and they appear to be having the time of their lives in the months that remain before Nate’s birthday.

      Yes, Kara sure enjoys her coffee, but I can’t help thinking that she and Nate aren’t going to fall apart once they reach country #100.

      Louis? I think that the strain of perpetual travel is really starting to catch up with him. And he doesn’t seem to have any sort of life beyond always being on the road or in the air.

      1. Wukchumni

        We once ran into a wizened looking 86 year old German woman in New Zealand that had been to every country, except for the 5 still to go.

        Those wrinkles wreaked of experience…

        1. ambrit

          Back in the ’80s we stayed at a Dade County owned and run campground situated in a working avocado orchard. We were beginning some travels in an old airstream trailer, Phyl, I and the two girls. For several weeks the space nect to us was occupied by a “retired” couple from Paris. They loved it when they found out that Phyls’ maternal grandmother was from Cajun Country. To them, he told me one day, Cajuns were the French equivalent of The Beverly Hillbillies. Both were in their thirties. He had sold out the then equivalent of a start up company he’s co-founded. they had started out in Quebec with a VW Westphalia camper van and were driving around the Americas. The eventual destination was Tierra Del Fuego. They were a lot of fun and gave us an education, short as it was, in the foreigners’ view of America.

          1. a different chris

            >by a “retired” couple from Paris. … He had sold out the then equivalent of a start up company he’s co-founded.

            I call shenagans on this story!! Everybody knows the French don’t even have a word for “entrepreneur”…. :)

  9. Ben Wolf

    I don’t believe in open borders per se (which operationally means the end of the nation state), because I’m not an anarchist — the DSA’s tent is too big if it includes them — but I don’t see a reason why immigration couldn’t be greatly increased under those terms.

    You negotiate bilateral Job Guarantee Agreements standardizing a livable wage and labor conditions. With equivalent labor environments you can then open the border to at-will migration, while eliminating most human trafficking. This presents no threat to privately employed workers and will in fact offer a qualitative improvement as workers can finally experience the greater world.

      1. Wukchumni

        I liked the way NZ goes about it, picking and choosing the cream of the crop, using the backdrop of the long white cloud as inducement

        We met a nurse from Germany, an engineer from Argentina, etc.

        There’s scant threat of anybody sneaking in by water, for they would have a very wet back from the 1,000 or so miles of open ocean they would have to transit.

        We of course do something similar in terms of crop rotation in the upper echelon, but have grown to rely on Mexican labor in particular, and how best to wean them off of jobs that by popular acclaim, no American will do?

        1. dcrane

          Have to say though there’s a fair bit of griping in NZ about lots of immigrants being admitted for, say, agricultural labor/aged care/etc. who are no more skilled than basic Kiwi workers.

          Another interesting thing about NZ, in reference to Lambert’s comment about “What’s left for citizens? The vote (and a passport).”. NZ gives the vote to permanent residents, but not the passport.

          1. Wukchumni

            That’s interesting in that you’ve become so wealthy vis a vis the housing bubble, that your Ag guest workers are similar to here, nobody in the ‘landed’ gentry wants to do the heavy lifting.

        2. blennylips

          > I liked the way NZ goes about it, picking and choosing the cream of the crop

          It’s the NZ dairy cream and all the crops that go along that I worry about.

          Eye opening piece from Al Jazeera:

          Polluted Paradise, New Zealand (Part 2) – People and Power [hooked youtube]

          Published on Sep 7, 2017

          Although the issue hasn’t attracted huge global attention, for some years now campaign groups such as Greenpeace have been ringing alarm bells about the deteriorating quality – and curiously diminishing volume – of New Zealand’s fresh water, problems they say are both directly attributable to the country’s most profitable industry and in danger of being exacerbated by government-backed projects in support of that industry.

      2. Ben Wolf

        Yes, you could even offer migration to those countried we have JGAs with on the basis of skills needed to complete JG projects. That helps eliminate the objection that cyclical factors would hinder the JG as workers exit the program during a recovery. If we can’t find enough workers with the necessary skills, or workers willing or able to train, we can ring up Mexico.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Why does this all sound exactly like the worst of the Neoliberal Globalized solution? No limits on movement of capital is discussed or included, and now all us mostly-better-off folks are chatting about setting up a nice selective set of processes for the “free movement of labor.” Charming. Correct me if I am missing something in these various proposals for what “we” ought to or could do…

          So… hard… to resist… succumbing to the seductions of the Narrative Solution…

          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            Just remember the dangers of the unattributed ‘we.’ /homophones/sophomoric

          2. Grebo

            I am also not in favour of draining all the brains from the developing world. They need them more than we do.

            We already have all the knowledge, we should just make it easier and cheaper to transfer it from one local brain to another.

            1. Ben Wolf

              Workers do not belong to their countries, their communities or to the state. If we go down the road of thinking they do we end up repeating the mistakes of the 20th Century’s authoritarian Left.

          3. Ben Wolf

            Standing at a non-existant line and screaming “Stop!” is exactly what labor did, and now it’s dead. Capitalism went global for a very simple reason: it enabled escape from the constraints taking the worker into consideration. Now you want to try and grab capital by thr neck and somehow divide it by those lines, but turning back the clock never works. They know how to dismantle or evade any control you put in place and they’ll do it in record time because they know what they’re missing.

            You can’t beat capital by thinking about capital. Only power to the workers can do that, and talking like a xenophobe puts workers dead last.

  10. Henry Moon Pie

    Marshmallow test:

    In the 60s, we knew better than to wait. Bird in the hand, etc.

    1. Jonhoops

      Thought I read on here recently that this test was debunked, and that it was economic status that predicted the later outcomes.

        1. albrt

          I’d say those kids are gonna have the steady hand and the cool eye needed to solve the surplus geezer problem.

          And they’ll need it.

  11. Summer

    Re: Occupy ICE

    ICE is collecting people on behalf of the private prison industry.
    However, ICE is still subject to govt regulations.
    Abolishing ICE won’t stop the collection of people on behalf of the private prison agency. It will just further privatize that as well (and those agencies will most likely be subject to fewer, if any, regulations).

    For that reason, I think ICE’s days are numbered. But the result won’t be what some of those protesters think. Think of ICE – rebranded.

    If their major concern is locking people up indefinately, this Occupy is “Occupying” the wrong place. They need to “Occupy” the source of the problem. Not ICE, but the prison industrial complex that the govt creates policies on behalf of. “Occupy” understood this back during the financial crises. They “Occupied Wall St.” – not a govt agency working on behalf of Wall St.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      ICE was created, along with DHS, under Bush.

      A broader aim should be about the Patriot ACT, and not just the border crossers.

      1. Summer

        Bush, Clinton… the overall point is that the agencies are more about ensuring private profit than public good.
        DHS…Dept of Homeland Surveillance$$$$$

  12. DJG

    The Last Time the Left Got Nasty: Hmmmmm. The article reminds me that, for many liberals, having one’s amuse-gueule interrupted after that long day at work laying people off from their jobs is the worst possible offense. I am reminded that civility almost always is hierarchical, which is why our betters so often demand it.

    I believe that I am seeing the development / return of that genre of newswriting and punditry–the careful warning to the left to keep its powder dry, so as not to unleash the forces of law and order against it. This is the argument against strikes. It is the argument against demonstrations. It is the argument against any occupation of property.

    Yet these same red-baiters, which is the goal of the exercise rather than lessons in civility, trot out a couple of Weather Underground bombings, a torched store or two, and some broken crockery. In the United States, the uncritical worship of police forces, the current militarization of the population, and the intense desire of the people of law ‘n’ order for no change in power relations have meant that right-wing violence is considered normal. There is no event by leftists that corresponds with the Tulsa Race Riot. There is no event by leftists that corresponds to the lynching of eleven Italian-Americans in New Orleans in 1991. There is no event that corresponds on the left to the Oklahoma City bombing by those nice white boys with grievances. (Sorry, Oklahoma, nothing personal.)

    So I remain skeptical of these “friendly reminders” to shut up.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      There is no event that corresponds on the left to the Oklahoma City bombing by those nice white boys with grievances.

      Everyone also never mentions Eric Rudolph, but the pro life movement wouldn’t want to own that.

    2. Chris

      …the lynching of eleven Italian-Americans in New Orleans in 1991…

      1891, to be fair

  13. John B

    “I remember when Maine had a paper industry”

    There is much to be said on both sides in the Canada-US lumber and paper disputes, but the Government of Quebec did have a clever and successful scheme to eliminate the timber processing industries in Maine.

    Quebec charged paper and lumber companies in Quebec a price to buy logs from public land that was based on the cost of production and transportation. This meant that Canadian sawmills and pulp mill near the US-Canada border could subtract from the price of logs the cost of hauling them from forests hundreds of miles away, which would normally be prohibitively expensive. In effect, this gave Quebecois mills near the U.S. border access to far-northern timber as if it were in their own back yard. Meanwhile, Quebec refused to allow export of logs to Maine. (Officially, you could, but somehow, well, they just weren’t available.)

    The result was that in the border region, Canadian mills had a competitive advantage — cheap logs, and lots of them — that slowly drove Maine mills out of business. Today, many Maine loggers have to ship their logs to Canada because there are few or no local sawmills or paper mills to buy them. New Brunswick was less ruthless, for whatever reason.

    Generally speaking, along much of the US-Canada border, while the Canadian side tends to include some of the richer parts of Canada, the US-side border region tends to be relatively poor. There are many reasons for that phenomenon, but one is that Canadian industrial policy is better than US industrial policy.

    The EU is also good at that sort of thing — when the UK leaves, the EU will eat its lunch in all sorts of interesting ways. The UK government may not even realize what’s happening.

    1. a different chris

      >newsprint prices up 24 to 28 percent,

      As usual, I suspect that – I can’t access the whole article – they don’t tell us what percentage of the cost of producing, say, the Sunday NY Times is the paper itself. I bet it’s not a big deal, and anyway we should stop wasting trees on that thing.

  14. Charlie

    I have no idea why they are still doing the marshmallow test (besides as replication of the original findings) given the fact that candy was pretty much considered a luxury with children of the 60s and is ubiquitous now.

    At age 3 in 1970, I was lucky if we bought a candy bar every 3-5 months, even though they were dirt cheap. Kids get them all the time now, for everything, and thus habituation is surely a factor as the novelty has worn off.

    Now ask them to wait 20 minutes before access to a smartphone, results may differ.

    1. Wukchumni

      The nickel candy bar went away approx in 1970, and it along with price of a gallon of gas track inflation nicely in that each cost approx a dozen times as much now.

      A home in SoCal would’ve been around $40-50k @ the same time, and again worth the same multiplying factor of a dozen times.

      But, lets say that home was in Detroit or Akron or what have you, and was struggling to be worth a fraction of that $40-50k level now?

      We’ve created pockets of apartmentheid, where that’s all somebody from Buffalo could ever hope to afford if they moved to a big city on either coast.

      1. Charlie

        Correct, but that doesn’t address my point at all. There was a culture of scarcity for certain items that taught kids delayed gratification and limited consumption. You offer someone one marshmallow in 1970, they snatch it up because two could be considered excessive, even to a child. Now, two is just the beginning, and waiting a few minutes for the “reward” of grabbing two without a thought of whether others will receive one could also speak to the widespread lack of empathy we see in society.

        Two different time periods, two different conceptual frameworks.

  15. Scylla

    As far as the anarchists, even Nestor Mahkno understood that the Free Territory had borders.The Black Army fought rather hard to maintain their territorial integrity while they could. I think many anarchists will recognize that open borders are a desirable long term goal, but are nowhere near being practical under the current international order. Also, anarchy does not necessarily preclude a state, it seeks to smash the state that is authoritarian and not under the absolute control of its citizenry. ACAB traditionally stands for All Cops Are Bad (or Bastards), which is something I think many can relate to. I believe many people that are enamored of anarchism would find no fault with Lambert’s statements. (I know I don’t)

    The anarchist movement has undergone a breath-taking change since the 2016 election. There are a great many people who claim to be adherents without having read any of the philosophy, it seems. I also suspect there are concerted efforts being made to co-opt the movement and its symbology. Much the same as The Resistance™. This is why you see protestors yelling “Smash the State” and using things like ACAB with only the shallowest of understanding of them or their history. There is also the redirection of protest energy away from corporate power and toward white supremacists and bigots, who are largely marginalized and would be completely ignored were it not for protests against them. The abolish ICE movement is very interesting, in that there seems to be no goal beyond abolishing this one solitary federal police agency. There is almost no critical thought directed toward what abolition might actually change. I am all for disempowering the police, but I doubt that is what will happen should ICE be dismantled. I suspect the employees will move to other agencies and just carry on as before. This looks like more virtue signalling to my eye.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > many anarchists will recognize that open borders are a desirable long term goal, but are nowhere near being practical under the current international order.

      IMNSHO, the problem with anarchists is that, well, they’re anarchists. Always somebody in black leather raising a fist! As a body they are not, as the Russians correctly say of the US, agreement-capable, since there is nobody to agree with. [Pause for discussion of who among us, today, is agreement-capable.] Hence the quick rush to (in fact interesting and creative) direct action, followed by infiltration/fragmentation, and rapid collapse. (Adding, I think the The Resistance™ was co-opted from the beginning, as any project adopted by Neera Tanden would be. That doesn’t preclude the idea of local chapters that no not adhere to the national line; people sign up for what’s active where they are.)

      All this said, I’d be interested in the lessons learned (I’m open to nuance and subtlety, but I had some very informative backstage experiences under Occupy that I am sadly not able to share.)

      1. Rosario

        It is a pickle. How leftists can think and let think when the stakes are so (for real for real) high? Seems the issue is when thought becomes practice.

        I used to have a more “Taoist” position on Anarchists when I was younger. As in, we need their demanding the impossible to achieve something better. All works while not working, blah, blah, whatever.

        Now I’m wondering if their demanding the impossible isn’t just making getting better things impossible as well.

      2. marym

        #AbolishICE became a rallying point in response to reports of what appears to be an arbitrary, violent, non-transparent, non-accountable, needlessly cruel enforcement agency. A call for “open borders” would seem to be, in simplistic form, a position that there’s nothing that should need to be enforced.

        The left, liberals, and anti-Trumpians haven’t defined a set of alternatives to ICE (visa policies, alternatives to detention, revised priorities in going after visa violators presenting a danger rather than easy hits on people living productive lives, etc.). Maybe some of them should start speaking more to that issue, but in the meantime the fact that the anti-immigration right and the “anarchists” are both conflating abolishing ICE with “open borders” is very suspect in the “we’ve seen this destroy movements before” sense.

        1. JerryDenim

          I can’t say I’m on board with separating families or the authoritarian police state we’ve implemented along our borders, but you may want to zoom in and look at the red-boxed slogan in the upper-left hand portion of the image Lambert provided before you quibble about conflating ‘open borders’ with ‘abolish ICE’. I agree, that most people who effectively desire ‘open borders’ as a matter of policy are usually wise enough not to state it that way publicly, as they realize it is a pejorative battle cry for those on the right and a rather radical position that doesn’t sit well with the broader public. From my experience there’s not a lot of daylight between the abolish ICE crowd and those who who desire a highly porous inconsequential border. Instead of abolish ICE I would like to see the jackboot of ICE aimed at employers who seek out undocumented immigrants as an arbitrage strategy instead. There’s more than one way to disincentivize illegal immigration. Toothless regulation with no enforcement is just as effective as no regulation at all.

          1. marym

            Sorry if I wasn’t clear. I’m trying to say that whatever “anarchists” mean by open boarders, and whatever wise or foolish diversity of opinion is ok at a rally or within an organization, a policy of abolishing ICE as a brutal domestic police force is not equivalent to a policy of “open borders.”

            It would be like saying a policy of “closed borders” was equivalent to a policy of good jobs, benefits, and services for whoever is left after the deportations and border closing.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                As mentioned elsewhere – other agencies were (and are ready to be again) there to prevent open borders.

                1. Oregoncharles

                  I suspect that ICE is just “La Migra” (Immigration) under another name. So that other agency isn’t waiting in the wings – but ICE isn’t really new, either.

                  The enthusiastic sadism Trump has unleashed is quite disturbing, though. That would be a reason to change personnel.

          2. Scylla

            People tend to look at those crossing borders in isolation, and never as part of a greater whole. I know that this is something that is well understood here on NC, but migration occurs due to the destruction, be it natural or man made, of one’s homeland. There are those that simply have wanderlust, but they are a tiny minority. Natural destruction is (mostly) beyond our control, but the man made variety is not. Stop imperialism (both economic and military), and you will cut migration by a massive amount, reducing the need for strict border control and enforcement. Not an easy change to make, I know, but imperialism and migration are two sides of the same coin.
            Most people see cross border movement as a privilege, rather than the act of desperation that it most commonly is, and this is a flaw in the thinking of many anarchists as well as others that tend to advocate for the free movement of labor. Those that exploit this labor tend to work in the shadows funding the NGO’s that advocate on their behalf and fund the protests.
            In the current environment, enforcement against employer/exploiters is indeed the real key. Punish the victimizers, rather than what are effectively victims. All that said, there are certainly alternatives to ICE and other law enforcement agency behavior. If we are going to detain and deport, it can certainly be done in a humane manner.

            1. JTMcPhee

              I believe the Kochs, the Waltons, the Chamber of Commerce and related entities also (sub rosa, or right out in the open) favor and tolerate and take advantage of “open borders.” Part of the globalization experiment, or something…

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              If indeed it is dangerous and/or hard to survive economically in their home countries, and for their children’s safety people go to work for those employers/exploiters, what happens when those businesses are shut down?

              Will they be in worse shape, after paying $7,000 to cross? Will they join the American homeless?

              1. ambrit

                “They” are already a large part of the American Lumpenproleteriat.
                If what I read about conditions in Central America is true, it might be a choice between American style ‘homelessness’ and outright serfdom.

      3. GlobalMisanthrope

        Hmm. Anarchism has been deformed by the same forces that deformed the political process and all of society.

        For clarification, I recommend you read “Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism” by Murray Bookchin, 1995, AK Press. From the Introduction:

        The failure of anarchists … to reach a potentially huge body of supporters … is due in no small measure to the changes that have occurred among many anarchists over the past two decades. Like it or not, thousands of self-styled anar­chists have slowly surrendered the social core of anarchist ideas to the all-pervasive Yuppie and New Age personalism that marks this decadent, bourgeoisified era. In a very real sense, they are no longer socialists – the advocates of a communally oriented libertarian society – and they eschew any serious commitment to an organized, programmatically coherent social confrontation with the existing order. In growing numbers, they have followed the largely middle-class trend of the time into a decadent personalism in the name of their sovereign “autonomy,” a queasy mysticism in the name of “intuitionism,” and a prelapsarian vision of history in the :name of “primitivism.”


      4. witters

        I have an anarchist colleague. He refuses to accept majority voting as a decision mechanism, insisting on “consensus” – which means, as we all know, him having a permanent veto on all we do. He fails entirely to see that this is anarchism as personal totalitarianism. It seems not an uncommon blindness among the anarchists I know.

      5. JerryB

        Lambert-Over the past few years I have done a good amount of reading on socialism and anarchism. I think anarchism gets a bad rap due to as you say “somebody in black leather raising a fist”. It also sounds like your view of anarchism was also influenced by Occupy.

        Like other ideologies/groups there are more peaceful anarchists. The writer, Ursula Le Guin, I believe was an anarchist and it was woven into her books. As someone mentions below Le Guin was a Taoist anarchist. The feminist Emma Goldman was a anarchist as well. Lastly is the author Peter Kropotkin and his books including Mutual Aid. Also Kropotkin’s book Fields, Factories and Workshops is interesting and seems like the type of local economy we are headed for once oil runs out. I believe Noam Chomsky sees himself as a libertarian socialist and has written about anarchism. BTW I am not a fan of libertarianism and see it as different from “mutual aid” and Ursula Le Guin anarchism. None of the people I mention above seem like “raised fist” anarchists.

        That all being said I think we are a long way from mutual aid anarchism. From her comments it seems Yves would like a return to capitalism noblese oblige but I do not see that happening anytime soon unless we are forced back to local economies. I think democratic socialism is one path for our current society. One view I have of socialism is it’s a way to teach people to share and play nice in the sandbox. While I agree with you that we will need the state for now, maybe someday if we evolve far enough as humans, provided the planet is still here, we will learn to share voluntarily and have either capitalism noblese oblige or mutual aid anarchism or some variant. I can dream.

    2. chippieQ

      Here is one platform for the “Abolish ICE” movement:

      I’m not involved enough in immigration organizing to know how embraced this particular vision is. But my general experience is that when people see a bold demand designed to fit on a hashtag or poster that is outside of their particular paradigm/comfort zone, they assume that is the extent of the sentiment. But for the people actually doing the work on the ground, the slogan is a shorthand for something far more fleshed out.

      This isn’t always the case, of course – “Wages for Housework” was more about changing how people think about reproductive labor than instituting any specific policy. I think for some, “Open All Borders” is more in that category: an effort to put our shared humanity over arbitrary geopolitical lines. It’s more about expanding the imagination, and prioritizing certain values, than actual policy – “let’s build a world where we don’t need borders” as opposed to “let’s abolish the border NOW.” (Though obviously many people believe in the latter, too.) But I think the “Abolish ICE” demand is meant literally, for the present. And the point isn’t “move the same thugs to a new agency with a different acronym” but to cease having a national police force “whose sole purpose is to terrorize immigrant communities” (last quote is from the Mijente platform) – and more broadly, to decriminalize migration and end immigration detention.

      Any movement, especially in the age of social media, is going to have annoying virtue signalers. But I think it’s worth at least a cursory google search for the proposals of the on-the-ground organizations before dismissing any particular movement/demand. The media (with few exceptions) is not going to do this research, and the virtue signalers are typically louder and easier to find on twitter than an organizer exhausted from coordinating a multi-city protest or an overworked immigration attorney.

      1. nick

        You mention a key distinction here: that abolishing ICE an immediate goal, something that could have been done yesterday without complication to make practically everyone better off, while open borders is a longer term goal to reduce the impact of random birth location on one’s life.

        This is interesting to me as an organizer with DSA, how the longer term goal of open borders has been central to our messaging on this issue, whereas say nationalization does not figure so prominently in the medicare for all push.

        1. Fool

          It is not my experience that open borders is the “longer term goal” of DSA.

          Open borders, as I understand it, equally overlaps with fundamental questions about labor and trade. NYC dsa’s immigration justice working group hasn’t really touched these issues much (even labor issues involving exploited immigrant workers, as other working groups do) and mostly works on anti-ICE stuff. Which is good, I suppose, since it allows dsa to build solidarity with immigrant communities while it’s still too young to effectuate significant influence on trade policy or organized labor.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I am still trying to find how many voted mainly for ‘Abolish ICE.’

        Also, if polling had been done to know what they understood to be ‘Abolish ICE,’ seeing we are still discussing about it today?

      3. jrs

        OTOH if noone here understands what it’s really about, and that may well be the case, don’t expect average american to understand either, and that might be a problem, well for instance if you want a blue wave which will depend on average american’s vote.

    3. Rosario

      I think the bind for me is anarchists think the state inherently entrenches oppressive power, and I disagree. I think the state has provided more avenues to consistently curtail and check the power of individuals than any political model before it, but it is hard to definitely prove that because we don’t live in the bronze age anymore. We don’t have a control. Hence the endless romanticizing of primitive peoples and such that is rife among anarchists (who live in nation states I might add, grass is greener, etc.) that need to use them and their societies as leavers to lift up their particular view of how the world could work without the rooms full of crusty old men that run it. Graeber does this often, and despite how much I appreciate his critiques of modern nation states, it drives me nuts. Huge leaps of logic and reason. Speaking on behalf of group A, B, C in such-a-such country doing X, Y, Z as if it is an example of anarchist action or similar. Everyone’s agency goes out the window and with it reality goes as well. It all comes across as scapegoating and reactionary.

      Fundamental to the theory is the belief that there is some Rousseauian alternate world that we abandoned before the state. Ironically, a great deal of deeply romantic and religious thought is melted into anarchist ideology. We are victims of “the fall”. I just can’t read history this way. As if there is something that we screwed up and need to go back to. We can never “go back” even if civilization as we know it collapses. Add to that the view that the ends justify the means (a commonly held view among anarchists), and I am completely checked out. That attitude toward political action is monstrous by any measure.

      Anthropologists who have studied primitive societies for their entire lives paint a very different perspective of the pre-state world. Theirs was a world of love, trust, and wonder, but also a world of violence, paranoia, and superstition. I won’t say it was better or worse, but it surely isn’t this world devoid of the dynamics of power and violence that I am constantly hearing anarchists argue the state has a monopoly on.

      What of this pre-state world where 50% of a kin group could be wiped out in a single raid? A world where the most charismatic male pushed their way around within the kin group committing unspeakable acts of bullying, violence, and rape within the group and worse to other kin groups in warfare?

      I think if we took a bit of time to do the statistical work, actually did the numbers, we’d find that nation-states are actually nice in a number of departments (less violent, longer life, medical care, “opportunity”) but not so great in others (alienation/psychological illness, sustainability, less free time). Once that is done, the either/or approach often employed by anarchists seems a bit stupid to deal with the problems of the state. Why not acknowledge what works and use it?

      All theory aside, I don’t really think we have the time to test and retest until we find out if the hypothetical anarchist society is possible. People need meds, food, shelter, etc. A system is in place that suits those needs, warts and all. I won’t even get into the mess of an anarchist world dealing with the remaining nuclear plants/weapons and climate change. I guess all of those things would just take care of themselves via some hypothetical direct action…

    4. Summer

      “There is almost no critical thought directed toward what abolition might actually change.”

      I can imagine them abolishing ICE or other agencies and then the private prisons pay bounty hunters.
      I’m sure there would be a gig economy app for that. And the elected officials will say “See, job creation.”

      Or Trump tweets tomorrow: “I agree. Abolishing ICE, appointing the Minute Men.”

      These things aren’t cyncism or outliers in the “do anything to people for profit” culture.
      Stranger things have happened.

  16. JerryDenim

    Great Cooler today Lambert! So many interesting topics but I’m very short on time today. The “Van Life” craze among millennials as a broader metaphor for Neo-liberalism, your spot-on immigration-working class-anarchists-weathermen-failure of the political left analysis, and the great little hyperlink to the Slate article written by a former flight Pinnacle (Northwest regional) flight attendant. Best thing I’ve ever read about the American regional airline business model, but there were still a few critical stones the article left unturned, such as the Railway Labor Act and the increasingly rightward tilt of the National Mediation Board practically making the threat of a strike an empty bluff. Also the most obvious point- Most regional airlines are fake shell companies that should not even be legal, mere playthings of the parent legacy airline looking to engage in underhanded regulatory and labor arbitrage- was not elucidated. Still a fine read.

    Regarding the so-called “pilot shortage” and drone/automation adoption- big topic with a lot of wheels and dollars moving on Capitol Hill right now. Very interesting and timely topic that is moving much quicker than many realize.

  17. Unna

    “There should be a word—maybe a juicy, complicated German one—for the experience of living through a history that’s both tragedy and farce.”

    OK, I’ll try. How about Weltgeschichtlichetrauerverhöhnung. Kinda rolls off the tongue….

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > There should be a word—maybe a juicy, complicated German one

      There should also be a juicy complicated German word for “the hope that something doesn’t post twice!”

  18. Unna

    “There should be a word—maybe a juicy, complicated German one—for the experience of living through a history that’s both tragedy and farce.”

    OK, I’ll try. How about Weltgeschichtlichetrauerverhöhnung. Kinda rolls off the tongue….

    (Hope this didn’t post twice)

    1. ewmayer

      Goethe put it nicely, though he used several short words:

      Da steh ich nun, ich armer Tor!
      Und bin so klug als wie zuvor.

  19. grizziz

    Realignment and Legitimacy
    Not to put a too fine a point, but it seems that the argument put forth is to have the DSA become a labor cartel. In that manner bargaining power could be concentrated and demands met to share more income with owners and managers of businesses. In the short term, if this is possible, it would be a great alleviation of the miserable state of current inequality.

    In the medium to long term, what forces would there be to keep the DSA from forming a new internally powerful hierarchy. It could use its advantage in controlling the supply of labor to seek rents for itself to the detriment of the economy.

    The Shop Stewards of the Chicago Carpenters Union in the early 70’s when I swung a hammer, would take bribes to issue temporary union cards to any able body that a contractor would bring to the steward. It was always assumed that some of these payoff’s went up the hierarchy. Besides the direct effect of the corruption, it also weakened the apprenticeship program because who would want to take lower pay for four years waiting to become a journeyman. You could get full rate of near $1200 instead of $750 for $50 per week payoff.

    How do you keep the moral fervor alive in the face of new power?

    1. ambrit

      This situation is what Thomas Jeffersons’ “Tree of Liberty” quote is about.
      “The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
      The old timers are right. Revolution is an ongoing process.

  20. clarky90

    re “Class warfare”

    We are living in a time of “Widdershins”. My former “certainty” is, upside-down and inside out.

    Fifty years ago I could not have dreamed that the “Left” would abandon the working class of the USA. “Unrestricted Immigration” is an “innovative” form of “i-strike-breaking”, and, “i-union-busting”. Those clever, clever neo-bosses!


    “John McIlroy has suggested that there is a distinction between a blackleg and a scab. He defines a scab as an outsider who is recruited to replace a striking worker, whereas a blackleg is one already employed who goes against a democratic decision of their colleagues to strike, and instead continues to work…”

    In my mind, the USAian Boarder is akin to a picket line. The illegal immigrants are (innocent/desperate) scabs being brought in by the bosses (1) to bust any strikes, (2) destroy the Unions, (3) suppress wages and (4) humiliate The Workers.

    I spent the first two years of my life in Lynch, Kentucky; A coal town. Both of my parents were UMWA doctors.

    “…By late 1931, four thousand Harlan County miners, more than one in three, were out of work. Working miners made as little as eighty cents a day and worked only a few days a month.” Plagued by evictions from company houses, no other job possibilities, and even starvation, miners and their families were no longer able to rely on aid from the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). (UMWA leadership was bought by the bosses)……

    (Meanwhile)…the “American Plan.” Established by a gathering of business leaders in Chicago in 1921, ….outlined a “multifaceted economic system [that emphasized] free markets, individual contract, management control, non-regulation of business, and vigilance against ‘unsound’ or radical thought.“


    1. jrs

      only historically the labor movement itself was often immigrant. It’s not necessarily that i see another one arising that way but …

  21. Jim Haygood

    One small benefit from Hoover-Trump’s trade war:

    China’s threat to place retaliatory 25% tariffs on U.S. exports, including propane, starting Friday could shake up trade patterns and reduce U.S. prices. Chinese traders, the third biggest foreign buyers of U.S. propane after those in Japan and Mexico, are likely to turn to cheaper barrels from the Mideast while displaced U.S. shipments are sent to other trade partners, said Debnil Chowdhury of IHS Markit Ltd.

    Mr. Chowdhury estimates that a 25% Chinese tariff could reduce U.S. propane prices by between 5% and 10% at a time when supply is already outpacing demand domestically and abroad. He and other analysts believe propane’s bull run is petering out.

    “U.S. propane market has gone from strength to weakness,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a recent research report. They noted that U.S. producers were able to erase a big price-boosting supply deficit this spring in a matter of weeks.


    But trashing the US economy to save a few cents on propane is still a bad, bad trade.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Nope. Belligerent Americans are really into swaggering across the world stage. While they still have jobs …

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe other people might have seen other, more recent polls.

          And just to be clear, are you saying those supporting tariffs (52%) are belligerent Americans, and they like swaggering across the world stage?

    1. allan

      Time to celebrate by throwing some pink-slime burgers onto the barbecue and
      driving to Chick-fil-A in the SUV to grab some take-out Freedom Fries.

      By all appearances the trade policy is being hashed out in real time between tweets.
      As reluctant as I am to quote David Petraeus, Tell me how this ends.

  22. Louis Fyne

    —–Kids today are waiting longer than ever in the classic marshmallow test”

    maybe kids just don’t like marshmallows nowadays.

  23. a different chris

    Wow. I was going to respond to the “superstar” status of AOC by saying – good if she can keep it, I’m not sure any 28yr old can.

    Then shortly after is the Louise Mensch – Louise Mench for chrissake’s – attacking her. I vaguely remember some quote, the better educated (aka not laden with glorified tech school degrees) here can probably pin it down, but it’s something about being able to pick your enemies is invaluable. Stalin?

    AOC didn’t pick Mench, but if she could make a list dear Louise would be close to the top. A more dislikeable human being would be hard to find, and she’s an idiot to boot.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Fully agree with you thoughts on Louise Mensch. Anybody notice how support, or lack thereof, for AOC is becoming a sort of litmus test lately? You either have to support her or try to nail her. Here is an example from Kunstler that just came out-

      “The party celebrated a week ago over the rise of Evita Peron wannabe, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her youth and glamour intersect with her socialism, a doctrine that caused more human deaths in the 20th century than all the religious wars of the previous centuries. What’s not to like about it?”

      Maybe the way that Jill Stein is being blamed by some for having Trump as President will be repeated when Democrats will lay the blame at AOC’s feet for any future political losses because she ‘divided’ the party. You heard it first here.

      1. Tom Stone

        Blaming Jill Stein for anything is simply bizarre.
        She’s a “Politician” simply out of ego, name one accomplishment of any substance.
        These people are flat out nuts.

        1. Big Tap

          How did Stein’s 1% of the vote cost Hillary the election? It didn’t. Maybe Clinton and her people should focus on the other third party candidate she had much more in common with politically – Gary Johnson. He get around 3.27% of the vote (source Wikipedia) over three times Stein’s vote. Hillary should now add Johnson’s name as the 47th or 48th different person, country, group, ex-President, primary rival, Vlad, space aliens, whatever to her growing delusional ‘they stole my win’ list. Funny thing is the establishment Dems are going to need a lot of the Left’s votes to win future elections but they haven’t figured that out yet. Demonizing the Left and expecting their votes later. Yea, good luck with that.

      2. ambrit

        I didn’t realize that Kunstler was so demented. And, Eva Peron wannabe? May as well go whole hog and call her a Lady Gaga clone. Ad hominem never sounded so, measured. If I didn’t ‘know’ better, I’d think that Kunstler and his ilk are on someones’ payroll as flacks.
        All Public Relations, all of the time.

        1. The Rev Kev

          He’s got a lot of interesting things to say but you have to be wary about some subjects. Palestinians are one that won’t ever make his Christmas card list. Nor are American blacks for that matter. I am surprised that he has not been called out over it with some of the things that he has said. Maybe, with AOC, Hispanics are not in his good books either.

  24. Jim Haygood

    Today Facebook became the first of the Five Horsemen to reach a record high after their pre-July 4th dip.

    The S&P 500 index remains four percent below its presumptive Jan 26th Bubble III peak, in this sixth month of ominous lull.

    “Buy the trade war mushroom cloud” was today’s theme. But can Big Tech carry on marching higher when companies that make more tangible products are being disrupted by their own government?

    If stocks can eke out a new high come November, we’ll style it the Ocasio-Cortez rally.

    1. Jim Haygood

      And the effect is instant:

      Mark Zuckerberg, who trails only Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, eclipsed Warren Buffett Friday as Facebook shares climbed 2.4 percent, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

      It’s the first time that the three wealthiest people on the ranking made their fortunes from technology. Zuckerberg, 34, is now worth $81.6 billion, about $373 million more than Buffett, the 87-year-old chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway.


      Sell, Mark, sell! ;-)

  25. clarky90

    “What a U.S.-China Trade War Could Mean for the Opioid Epidemic”

    I will bet that the Communist Chinese Boarder Police would/could stop 99% of the outflow Fentanyl and other opioids from China, to the USA, after receiving just ONE phone call from Xi Jinping. Let’s see what happens over the coming months.

    Meanwhile, the Smart Kids are still explaining their way out of their eternal, “where is your homework?” conundrum. (too privileged?)

  26. Craig H.

    Re: Ocasio-Cortez as Russian asset

    Isn’t she pro-Palestinians? Is that not enough right there? Is there one globalist establishment voice in solidarity with the Palestinians?

  27. Quentin

    I’m completely perplexed = out of it. What is the point of separating children from their parents? The practice must be somehow against one law or another. I’m probably wrong.

  28. Jason Boxman

    It’s worth noting that the van story doesn’t mention health insurance at all. Do they have it? If so, it sounds like it can’t possibly be employer sponsored, so is it an ObamaCare plan? Or are they taking their chances without even high deductible junk insurance? What about a permanent mailing address? For that matter, at least in Florida you need to keep your permanent address up to date on your driver’s license. Can they legally have a driver’s license? Doesn’t auto insurance require the vehicle be parted at a permanent address?

    Just some thoughts.

    1. ambrit

      They represent the modern version of Gypsies. What’s so alluring about this neo class is that, traditionally, they are easy to use as scapegoats, and easy to ‘liquidate’ when sacrificial lambs are needed.
      An old American saying was that; “Tramps are easy to murder, and safe to murder as well.”

    2. jrs

      honestly maybe they don’t care if they have health insurance and to some extent why should they,. Ok it’s better to have it if you can, and would that everyone had healthcare. But the why should they is because even if you try your whole life to keep health insurance you may well fail at it all anyway. And not when your 20 something and probably healthy either, but when your 50 something and noone will hire you because of your age and you might actually have health problems.

  29. Oregoncharles

    I can’t be the first, but I think the cosmos in the picture are combined with salvia (sage), rather than saliva, which would be messy.

    Very pretty, anyway.

      1. ambrit

        Please tell me that you didn’t set this poor excuse for a punster up. Anyway, here goes.
        So, one would thus be accustomed to seeing a spray of saliva at the table to brighten up lunch?

  30. allan

    DOJ Drops All Charges Against Remaining Trump Inauguration Defendants [HuffPost]

    Justice Department prosecutors on Friday dropped pending felony charges against the 38 remaining protesters arrested the day of President Donald Trump’s inauguration. After initially charging more than 200 people with felonies, prosecutors secured only a single guilty plea to a felony charge. An additional 20 individuals pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. …

    The decision followed a string of losses for prosecutors. In the first trial late last year, all six defendants were acquitted on all charges. Prosecutors conceded from the beginning of the first trial that they had no evidence any of the defendants had engaged in property destruction that day. Yet, they insisted they should be found guilty of felony charges for their involvement in a conspiracy to riot. Jurors disagreed. …

    The trials raised major questions about the tactics used by prosecutors and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. While law enforcement in D.C. has generally taken a progressive approach to policing demonstrations, its use of non-lethal weapons and policy of arresting demonstrators en masse came under scrutiny and is subject to ongoing litigation. Charges against 10 defendants were dropped after a judge said that prosecutors had withheld evidence ― videos shot by the conservative group Project Veritas ― from the defense. …

    200 people had their lives put on hold, at great personal expense, for a year and a half.
    Surely AEI, Cato or Heritage will condemn this violation of 1st Amendment rights, waste of taxpayer resources,
    and diversion of prosecutorial resources in the heart of the swamp.

  31. Fool

    In DSA the “abolish ICE” folks consist of something like the liberal arts college “anarchist” or “cultural Marxist” types with somewhat squishy politics. Because this isn’t really the demographic that does the more wonkish/nerdy stuff (e.g. winning elections, policy research), “abolish ice” =\= open borders. The latter group in my experience understands that neoliberal / soft-imperialist trade policies are fundamentally what need to be resolved.

    So even though there’s not much policy coherence behind the former contingent, they serve a useful purpose in being the people who show up to things (ice occupations and whatnot). (Moral issues aside…it is pretty messed up to deport the people whose migration our trade policies effectively incentivized.)

    DSA really is a big tent in that regard.

    1. flora

      n DSA the “abolish ICE” folks consist of something like the liberal arts college “anarchist” or “cultural Marxist” types with somewhat squishy politics.

      An aside:
      Youth has its desire for their golden moment in history; for the romance of being like an Ernest Hemingway in Spain; to fight the good fight. I hope they sit down and read, because youthful romance by itself is so easily mislead by people with other agendas.
      The misleading is so easy. It depends on presenting one ‘good’ as the *only* ‘good’, when there can be multiple ‘goods’ which need reconciling. Multiple ‘goods’ can be in conflict if viewed on only absolutist terms, and in absolutist terms there is no reconciling. And so, if the youth read, they will be prepared to see the snare of ‘only this one thing is good’, which is so often presented as ‘the only good’ by people with agendas that are not at all good.

      2 quotes from Mary Harris (Mother) Jones. :

      Sit down and read.
      Educate yourself for the coming conflicts.
      – Mary Harris Jones

      Reformation, like education, is a journey,
      not a destination.
      – Mary Harris Jones

      1. flora

        adding: this recognition of competing ‘goods’ is not easy for anyone – youth or middle age or aged. Existential anxiety is inherent in the process. It is uncomfortable.

    2. Plenue

      Not really sure what you mean by ‘cultural Marxist’, since there is no such thing.

      1. witters

        Isn’t “cultural Marxism” something to do with Felix Frankfurter? That’s as far as I have got.

      2. Fool

        I mean I’m being tongue in cheek and I have more in common with the cultural marxists themselves than the people who typically wield the term. But in any case what word do you use for the pronoun police?

        1. flora

          It would be helpful if you define ‘cultural marxism’ for us. I can’t tell what ‘pronoun police’ means if I don’t know the definition of what is being ‘policed’.

          1. Fool

            Generally speaking it’s a silly term used by conservatives against bourgeois liberals.

            That said, I have some empathy for the former on this (or at least the well meaning among them) because sometimes attempts at egalitarian discourse and organizing can overlook certain cultural inequalities. Sometimes, even, if rarely so, this egalitarianism is not in good faith (see the medium post that was on the linkfeed about a week ago re accusations of “ableism” within dsa’s Medicare For All group). The rhetoric I’m referring to is more often characteristic of Online discourse, but even at DSA meetings stuff like requesting that people identify their “preferred pronoun” or beginning a meeting with a lecture on what “progressive stack” is, while well-meaning, possibly intimidating and off-putting. Fortunately though this has become less and less common (in my experience).

      3. Altandmain

        Basically it is a right wing term of identity politics.

        Personally I”m not a fan of the term, but I agree with the user who referenced that the nerdy types are going to be the ones that drive policy forward.

        A Canadian style immigration system is the only realistic solution.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I think it was Mighty Mouse who would sing “Here I come to save the day!” in the introductory themesong.

  32. Utah

    Re: Open Borders

    I think we could fix a lot of our problems if we could have Fair trade as opposed to Free trade. Making sure that workers in other countries are making living wages according to their local economy would do a lot to lift impoverished countries and reduce global slavery (hopefully), imho. Not to mention, it might keep more companies here in the USA.
    Also included in this plan that I have- educational standards worldwide. I waited tables years ago with a gentleman who had been a Doctor in Guatemala, but chose to leave to keep his family safe, and ended up as a busser at the Olive Garden. Or I worked with a coworker who was a Lawyer in Mexico- that should at least have qualified her to be a paralegal in the US. I think that degrees earned in other countries should be made standard so that they are transferrable. This would require US schools to become better, too. There is no moving to Europe with your Univesity of Pheonix degree.
    It would also help if we would stop destabilizing countries for the benefit of our corporations. Then people wouldn’t need to leave.

    ICE is part of the Patriot Act. We should repeal the Patriot Act, and ICE is part of that. They aren’t transparent and they are used in a way that benefits privately run prisons. So the abolish ICE argument sounds just fine to me.

    But maybe I’m an anarchist. I think that if trade is “free” then labor should be “free” to move, too.

  33. ewmayer

    “The nation’s trade gap narrowed sharply in May” [Econoday] — Can anyone explain to me how the May trade deficit jumping 13.5 percent YoY amounts to a ‘sharp narrowing’?

  34. ewmayer

    Re. the marshmallow test study (bolds mine): “Reasons for kids’ rising patience when confronted with an available treat are unclear. Carlson’s team offers several possible explanations, including increases in the ability to think abstractly, pay attention, plan and prioritize that have been linked to preschool attendance and early use of digital technologies.”

    Maybe the kids aren’t consciously delaying gratification so much as checking on their faceborg ‘friends’ and Twitster feeds and thus distracting themselves from the proffered junk foods?

    [And yes, I saw the ‘debunked’ notes above.]

  35. John k

    Corps and therefore the rich have favored open borders for half a century. Hillary is famously for open. Trump is pres because he opposed.
    Immigrants lower wages here, whether they came across the southern border or via H1b.
    So do all aspects of globalization, again that’s the point.
    Granted, immigrants and those located where the new factories are located benefit… but we have millions suffering from the results of these policies. Benefits go to the blue coasts, not to the purple or red interiors.

    Before lambert mentioned m4a as applying to all those here I didn’t think of the issue… but this would provide a new incentive for people with health issues to come here. Teeth? Bad knees? Price is right… granted we should worry about infectious diseases, especially kids, so give everybody shots. And that’s about it. It’s worth adding m4a already has major Corp and other oppo, no reason to talk about covering non-citizens, too.

  36. JCC

    CNN continues to go out of their way to prove Trump is correct when he uses the term “Fake News”.

    From the 11 Most Dangerous Things Trump Said,

    5. “You know what? Putin’s fine. He’s fine. We’re all fine. We’re people.”

    CNN’s Answer: “First of all, the US intelligence community has unanimously said that Russia actively meddled in the 2016 election. Under Putin, Russia invaded the Ukraine and annexed the Crimean peninsula.”

    OK, Putin is not fine, but c’mon CNN, why the Fake News? Are you intentionally working at keeping the country divided with BS like this? (I strongly suspect the answer is YES, and of course Google News put this at the top of their headlines this morning).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “the US intelligence community has unanimously said”

      Say no more! Say no more! Surely, such an important conclusion would take the form of a Presidential Finding? Well, n-o-o-o-o….

  37. RMO

    Awww, gee. A shortage of pilots is putting the airline industry in a tough spot? Let me get a tiny violin so my wife can play them a sad, sad little song. And it will be sad, she’s a superb violinist! They’ve been making the job worse and lower paying for decades. My power instructor (I already had several hundred hours in gliders before I first got behind the throttle and yoke of a Piper Cherokee) was a great pilot. Skilled, conscientious and hard working and drove himself hard to get any flying job he could. Flying with a bush outfit, then regional lines while doubling as a flight instructor. He eventually got a job flying left seat with Westjet and his first year they paid him about $23,000 (it was a while back) – and he had to pay for his own uniform. And he had to keep paying the thousands he still owed from his own flight training. Now after years of treating their employees like trash and having a disdainful attitude to any hopeful pilot want-to-be’s I’m having some difficulty raising any sympathy for them. Admittedly I’m bitter about this subject for personal reasons too: because I was diagnosed with depression as a teen and treated by a psychiatrist I’m unable to get the Transport Canada Class 1 aviation medical that’s required if I want to be a professional pilot. It was my dream job from childhood so this kind of hurts. At least the medical I can get lets me do any type of flying I want – I just can’t get paid for it. I can provide flight training as part of my all-volunteer glider club but I can’t provide flight training at a local commercial flight school – doesn’t really make much sense, does it?

  38. Ed Miller

    Today’s plant(s): I am very late reading Water Cooler today, but surprised and pleased to see my garden. I wish to make a few corrections to my description, which I previously overlooked. Careful viewers may have spotted the red echinacea, the yellow lupine and a solitary zinnia in front of the zucchini. Peeking out from a raised bed behind are my cherished kale plants.

  39. tommy strange

    Regarding Anarchism. There are many assumptions made here about what anarchists mean about open borders (my experience has been for 30 years, that it just naturally assumes a commitment to a drastic move away from global capitalism to global federated bottom up socialism)….though I may disagree with them, are at the least very well thought out and so much better than the liberal hysteria you get against syndicalism, lib. socialism etc. So I think I’d rather say ‘thank you all’…then argue. But just two things I want to point out. 1) Since we are not a political party (duh) we are not counted by media with reason/or visible since most of us (sadly har!) don’t walk around with red and black stars, or just black ones.., but that also leads to a misconception of how many ‘we are’. I can guarantee you that in every housing rights group, every homeless rights group, in most humans rights NGO type orgs, doing that tired grant begging and politically local compromises, there are anarchists. Did you know that the street sheets way back in the late 80’s, and the ongoing homeless urban rights groups were often started by anarchists? There are hundreds of ‘info shops’ across the country that do the mutual aid they can, defense etc, free libraries etc. since the 90’s as finally anarchists moved away from lifestyle anarchism as Bookchin properly criticized to intersectional bottom up organizing by class. And of course to NC’s eternal credit, we got some rather even handed viewpoints about Antifa….which is black and red….
    2) I completely agree that the real left i.e. socialists, anarchists etc, dropped the ball in the USA in the late 90’s by not going full force in federated at least urban, militant (though non violent) mutual aid and direct action to a class based mass org…along the lines of the CNT, or even expanding the IWW, or the EZLN without the guns….. Seattle as you know was mostly organized by anarchists. and even then an umbrella happened with trade unions etc…But what the hell have we done since? Occupy was beautiful and filled to the brim with anarchists in every major city. And as the minutes of blogs and meetings show, later essay books all addressed, most thought the result should then be to mass organize as a tangible threatening force outside the ballot box. ..to at the least get crumbs, from the democrats, to at the most plant deep roots for later real drastic good change. I’m sorry this didn’t happen. And I’ve lost old ‘comrades’ in my anger about this lack of vision and will.
    Since there are so many open minded people on NC, I urge you to go to PM and AK press sites. Both are anarchist publishers but with a wide array of reprints etc. That’s where you’ll find great books like Crows ‘Windmills’, and many many essay books written by middle class to working class ‘lefties’ describing tactics, failures etc….as well as reprints of all types of classics from Kropotkin to even Marxists. There are maybe millions of us here in the USA at this point, but I agree, if we are not visible in mass based orgs, then maybe ‘we are not here’? Solidarity to you all……..

  40. Mojave Wolf

    Long time no comment. This is still, fwiw, one of the three blog sites I try hardest to keep up w/reading regularly. On open borders, sadly, the most recent time I saw someone w/a large platform make the “leads to destruction of the welfare state” was Lauren Southern (a conservative, debating Larken Rose, an anarchist; I quit watching before the finish due to extreme lopsidedness. I thought he was flat out loopy delusional and she, the conservative, was making very good arguments) — here’s the link if anyone cares (again, I didn’t even make it halfway through, but I know Lambert is big on links, so) : https://www.youtube.com/embed/eCv1glJx5b4

    Weirdly enough, she, the somewhat libertarian conservative, brought up destruction of the welfare state, destruction of the state, and the example of Somalia as a version of what you’re likely to get if the state goes away. He seemed to think if you swamped the state’s services w/too many people to service and destroy the state, something vastly better will rise from the ashes because all statist anything is bad and being non-statist bound to produce good results, because right is on their side. Or something like that. It was a couple of days ago I tried watching this and again, I didn’t make it past the 20 minute mark of a 7 minute debate, but that’s where it seemed to be going.

    The last time I tried to argue open borders on twitter the other party started talking about how he would put his fist in my face if this were in person and I started making fun of him and that ended that, but in hopes of something better, here is my own take, not because it’s unique or special, but not enough people are making it in public, imo, and any opinion makers/people w/platforms reading this should probably realize this is one of several things (like antifa & gender self-ID) where the most vocally and loudly advocated “left” positions aren’t necessarily shared by most people who are on the left, or even strongly opposed according to some opinion polls I’ve seen (and are in some instances opposed so strongly that it makes lefties quit identifying as left).

    No time to make as well written as I’d like, but here goes:

    Keeping it to America, there’s the “too many people, period” issue, and the labor issue. Arguably two separate things. (if we were in Europe, I’d add a cultural issue, but not so much here)

    We, in the US, like damn near every single space on the planet where humans congregate, already have too many people. And there are several reasons I say that, from personal preference to environmental concern for other species to water table issues.

    So, first, I like space. There’s not enough space. I want fewer people, not more. And if you add more, it takes up space and makes things more crowded. You can say this is purely a personal preference, and the most trivial of my reasons, and you might be right, but it’s still a preference. And I bet you can find studies on “why excessive crowding is bad” out there. Now on to the more important.

    Humans are already creating a sixth extinction. By coming up w/ever new ways to feed ourselves, we’ve avoided human famine as the population grows, but wiped out species at a frightening rate to accommodate ourselves.And the new people who would come here have to live somewhere. The last thing I want is for us building more and more on the ever shrinking amount of wildlife corridors and habitat and wilderness areas. Bad for the mammals, bad for the birds, bad for the bees, bad for the fish, reptiles, amphibians, trees, flowers, grasses, etc etc etc.

    Which, even if you are the sort of person I regard as “enemy” and don’t care about any of those things in and of themselves, is eventually likely to screw us humans up horribly as well, even those of you who would be just fine if no animals or plants existed except as food source (again, those of you who I would classify as “enemy”)

    Then there’s water. We are very close to a worldwide water crisis, with water wars heading your way in the next couple of decades, possibly. We already have far, far too many people in the American Southwest for the amount of water we have. Sinkholes are already happening due to underground aquifer depletion. Reservoirs are drying up.

    And the regular people could cut way back and it still wouldn’t be enough, coz most of the use is agricultural. And if we turn off the water to the agriculture (which in a couple of decades we’re probably gonna have to reduce it), there are going to be some interesting food shortage issues.

    The labor points have already been made by several at NC, but, again:

    Open borders are going to destroy the labor market for the working class (and have already greatly harmed it). Otoh, if you want to make sure employers can pay their workers less, by all means encourage an ever-growing labor pool of people desperate to find jobs and willing to work harder for worse conditions than the people who are already there. All these jobs people say “Americans won’t do”–hordes of Americans would rush to do them, if they were paid well enough. What the companies really mean is “we can’t get away with paying American born people as little as we want, or making them work long enough hours, or generally treating them as badly, so we need more H1 visas or more desperate unskilled labor we can pay less and kick to the curb easier if they annoy us.”

    This is why the Koch brothers are some of the biggest open border proponents around. It would help them pad their bank accounts w/more money they don’t need and won’t use productively, and help keep others below them fighting w/each other for a smaller piece of the economic pie, so they the inequality will be greater and they can can find more obsequious servants w/greater ease.

    Basically, open borders = death to labor, increased impoverishment of the working class, increased overcrowding, further depletion of resources, faster extinction rates, etc while meanwhile discouraging the countries people are fleeing from trying to solve their own problems, & arguably making such problem -solving more unlikely, if it’s the most capable doing the immigrating.

    Immigration helped the economy (though not the first nations people who were already here, and not the wildlife) when we were a much smaller country and had vastly more space.

    Also, I don’t believe we had a social safety net back then (and, coz fewer people/greater available resources, less need for one). I actually like & believe in a social safety net, but a welfare state is not compatible w/open borders unless EVERYONE has a welfare state w/a comparable economy. Otherwise, people are just going to rush to wherever they think their best opportunity is, the job market will be overwhelmend, and all those people who can’t get decent job will need help from the welfare state, which will rapidly get overwhelmed and eventually get busted (again, why the Koch brothers want open borders; they are evil but not stupid).

    It’s a lose/lose proposition except for the very lucky or the already rich. Nightmare all round.

    One last thing: A centrist blog I read to keep up w/opinions different from mine recently used the lifeboat metaphor for developed countries, like, we’re a lifeboat, and obligated to take in everyone from everywhere who is drowning. Nice in theory, but in practice, same problem as w/a real lifeboat …

    If, say, you have a really big lifeboat that holds 200 people and and there are 2000 or 20000 drowning, and you try to put everyone in it, all you’re going to do is swamp and destroy the lifeboat and then everyone is going to drown. If you try to help too many, you’re going to succeed in helping fewer. Sucks to be one of the people who have to swim if there’s no land in sight, but swamping the boat doesn’t help.

  41. Musicismath

    It seems to me that we’ve had something like open borders before. It was called “settler colonialism.” I do wonder why a lot of open borders enthusiasts refuse to draw the parallel.

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