2:00PM Water Cooler 12/13/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Aluminum tariffs have led to a strong recovery in employment, production, and investment in primary aluminum and downstream industries” [Economic Policy Institute]. “This report demonstrates that after the Section 232 tariffs were imposed on aluminum (and steel) on March 8, 2018, the domestic producers of both primary aluminum and downstream aluminum products have made commitments to create thousands of jobs, invest billions of dollars in aluminum production, and substantially increase domestic production…. Today, after the imposition of tariffs of only 10 percent, domestic production in both the primary aluminum (including both alumina refining and secondary smelting and alloying of aluminum) and downstream aluminum rolling and extruding industries is up; these producers are hiring and expanding, adding capacity, making large investments, and increasing production, as is shown in this report. These outcomes belie claims by critics, including widely quoted economists from the Trade Partnership firm,8 along with a wide array of pundits, journalists, and representatives of many firms in downstream industries…”

“The United States rejected the latest attempt to build consensus for reforming the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body at the final General Council meeting of 2018. The European Union, with the backing of other countries, had put forward two proposals that would amend the WTO’s dispute rules to meet U.S. demands. The Trump administration has blocked any new appointments to the Appellate Body, arguing that it routinely violates the 90-day deadline to rule on cases and commits judicial overreach by ruling on issues not specific to cases, among other complaints” [Politico].

“The Surprising Beneficiaries of a Trade Feud” [Wall Street Journal]. “As tensions between the U.S. and China have intensified, global companies are actively diversifying their supply chains away from China. This is good news for countries receiving that investment and for the banks and supply-chain consultants that are helping companies make the transition… The market has swooned whenever trade tensions have flared and bounced back whenever a resolution appeared in sight. To hedge against the risk that talks fail and tariffs rise, investors should be eyeing potential beneficiaries.”


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51


This looks like one of the videos from the Sanders media empire:

Featuring the incredibly nerdy-looking Warren Gunnels. At first I thought that was bad, but I changed my mind: Nerds are non-threatening.

“Former HUD chief Julian Castro moves toward presidential run” [Associated Press]. “For Castro, running for president would fulfill a destiny that Democrats have projected since he was elected San Antonio mayor at 34, followed by his star-making turn as the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Young and telegenic, Castro rose to national prominence early in his career as a Latino leader from a state that Democrats are eager to retake after decades of Republican dominance. But in Texas, O’Rourke has eclipsed Castro after getting closer to a statewide victory than any Democrat in a generation. It now puts Texas in the formerly unthinkable position of having two Democratic presidential candidates in the same year.” • The power structure in an oil state makes a bid for national prominence. Cool. Not a word from AP on Castro and policy, naturally. From the San Antonio Express-News, reporting on Castro in Iowa (“hay bales”): “Responding to a question from the audience, Castro said he believes ‘we need to embrace Medicare for all’- adding that he believes there are several alternative plans that need to be discussed.” • So we’ll see how long that embrace lasts, or whether the brand confusion (“several alternative plans”) introduced by. liberals will enable Castro to crawfish and waffle. Not that I’m cynical:

(Castro and those mortgages at NC here, and in The Hill; DASP not HAMP…)

“Senate 2020: Republican exposure on paper, but not necessarily in practice” [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “20 of the 34 Senate seats on the ballot in 2020 begin as rated Safe for the incumbent party… While on paper the Democrats need to capture at least three currently Republican Senate seats to take control of the Senate, realistically they probably need to win at least four. That’s not because of the presidential race; rather, it’s because Democrats are going to have a very hard time defending the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), who won a December 2017 special election against former Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R), arguably the worst candidate either party has nominated for a hotly-contested Senate seat in recent memory.”

Incident Report

At least we’re doing better than the Tories. Anyhow, here are the talking points:

“Stand with,” ugh. But nothing about a tinkle contest. So there’s that.


Democrats vote to continue blowing faraway brown people to pink mist:

From Paste: “The procedural farm bill rule, which blocks any vote on U.S. involvement in Yemen for the rest of this Congress, was ultimately adopted by the narrow margin of 206-203.” So, a margin of 3 means that yes, those 5 Democrats made sure the war in Yemen continues. They always seem to scrape together just a few votes, don’t they? Never change, Democrats! Never change!

“Pelosi, foes clinch deal all but paving her way to speaker” [Associated Press]. “Rep. Nancy Pelosi all but ensured Wednesday that she will become House speaker next month, quelling a revolt by disgruntled younger Democrats by agreeing to limit her tenure to no more than four additional years in the chamber’s top post…On Wednesday, she gave in to her opponents’ demands that she limit her service. Under the deal, House Democrats will vote by Feb. 15 to change party rules to limit their top three leaders to no more than four two-year terms, including time they’ve already spent in those jobs.” • There are worse political systems than gerontocracy; perhaps we’ll find out about them!

ME-02: “BRETT BABER, et al., Plaintiffs V. MATTHEW DUNLAP, et al., Defendants” (PDF) [United States District Court, District of Maine]. On Ranked Choice Voting: “there is no dispute that the RCV Act—itself the product of a citizens’ initiative involving a great deal of first amendment expression—was motivated by a desire to enable third-party and non-party candidates to participate in the political process, and to enable their supporters to express support, without producing the spoiler effect. In this way, the RCV Act actually encourages First Amendment expression, without discriminating against any voter based on viewpoint, faction or other invalid criteria. Moreover, a search for what exactly the burden is that Plaintiffs want lifted is not a fruitful exercise. I fail to see how Plaintiffs’ first amendment right to express themselves in this election were undercut in any fashion by the RCV Act. They expressed their preference for Bruce Poliquin and none other, and their votes were counted.” • Republican Poliquin’s request for an injunction denied.

ME-02: “Maine Recount Is a Low-Drama Affair — Unlike the Election” [Roll Call]. “The two counters from each campaign look over each ballot together, and when there’s an irregularity, they raise their hands, calling over lawyers from each campaign. That happens about a half-dozen times per hour, said Grant, the lead attorney for the Golden campaign and a former chairman of the Maine Democratic Party… But [two lawyers, one from each party] been averaging about 27,000 ballots per day, and the campaigns are now expecting to finish up next week.” • Hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public. Why doesn’t Maine get rid of the optical scanners entirely? When I used one, it was very clear that the assistant standing by the scanned to help me could read my ballot, which was then no longer secret.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Are White Evangelicals the Saviors of the GOP?” [Inside Elections]. “After ticking up from 23 percent of the electorate in 2004 to 24 percent in 2006 and 26 percent in 2008, the share of the white evangelical vote has been unshaken at 25 percent in 2010, 26 percent in 2012, 26 percent in 2014, and 26 percent in 2016. And in last month’s midterms, white evangelicals made up, you guessed it, 26 percent of the electorate, according to the exit polls…. While white evangelicals might have been a significant bloc of voters in the Senate, their relevance in House races might be waning. In 2006, Democrats gained 30 House seats while losing white evangelical voters by 42 points. In 2018, Democrats are poised to gain 40 seats while losing white evangelical voters by 53 points.”

“How the Migrant Caravan Built Its Own Democracy” [Politico]. “The caravan migrants who arrived at the border nearly a month ago don’t have a country. But they do have a government. In the time since the caravan left Honduras in mid-October, the asylum-seekers have fashioned a proto-democracy out of their group of some 6,000 migrants overwhelmingly from Central America… When the migrants needed to make public announcements, debate the best routes and vote on different plans, they established a nightly general assembly as a forum open to all, Athens-style…. Some of the migrants even took turns as communications directors, drafting press statements that were transmitted through a media group of more than 370 journalists on WhatsApp… [T]he general assembly set up a kind of internal police force made up of about 100 unarmed volunteers with megaphones.” • So Trump is reacting to the caravan rather in the same way that Obama reacted to Occupy….

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of December 8, 2018: “Through October and November initial jobless claims had been pivoting higher off historic lows but that’s old news” [Econoday]. This week, initial claims fell “very sharply.” “Seasonal adjustments are always touchy late in the year but today’s break lower in initial claims does hint at a possible break higher for December’s nonfarm payroll growth.”

Import and Export Prices, November 2018: “A steep…. drop in prices of petroleum imports pulled total import prices down” above expectations. Yet there’s wider price weakness in the data” [Econoday]. “Import prices of finished goods, whether capital goods, consumer goods, or autos, were dead flat in the month with industrial supplies, which often have petroleum components, falling sharply. Export prices likewise show weakness… [G]eneral price softness, underscored by yesterday’s consumer price report, may further build expectations that Federal Reserve policy makers may begin to scale back their 2019 rate-hike plans.”

Retail: “Think it’s cheaper to shop online? Think again” [MarketWatch]. • Holiday tips.

Tech: “Robot Fear Index: Increased Adoption May Be Fueling Concerns” [247 Wall Street]. “Consumer adoption of artificial intelligence and robotics is already quite broad, and yet, fear of robots is pervasive as well. We fear that they’ll replace our jobs or somehow overthrow us, and those fears are valid. Our 2018 survey tells us that the shift in consumer acceptance needed for widespread adoption may take longer than anticipated. … Our most recent Robot Fear Index value of 31.8 (vs 30.9 in 2017 and 31.5 in 2016) suggests that public perception of robots is essentially unchanged over the last two years…. Shopping, digital assistants, and house cleaning continue to be the most acceptable activities, which we attribute to the fact that there are already tangible use cases on the market today. Meanwhile, healthcare (e.g., a surgical robot) and travel (e.g., self-driving cars) incite discomfort, which may be because they sound inherently dangerous to one’s personal safety.”


“US Sees Oil Production Continuing to Grow Despite Lower Prices” [Industry Week]. “The swift growth of American shale production has complicated efforts by OPEC and its allies to trim supply and support prices. While bottlenecks in areas such as the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico pose a risk to future growth, new pipelines coming on line in late 2019 and 2020 should ease that congestion. The U.S. will account for almost one-fifth of global petroleum liquids output next year. The [Energy Information Administration] also raised its global demand forecast for next year to 101.61 million barrels a day from 101.51 million. In the U.S., almost half of the growth next year will come from gas liquids, with gasoline demand rebounding from a decline this year.” • Leave it in the ground! Or at least just don’t effing burn it!

“The Oil Industry’s Covert Campaign to Rewrite American Car Emissions Rules” [New York Times]. “When the Trump administration laid out a plan this year that would eventually allow cars to emit more pollution, automakers, the obvious winners from the proposal, balked. The changes, they said, went too far even for them. But it turns out that there was a hidden beneficiary of the plan that was pushing for the changes all along: the nation’s oil industry… The campaign’s main argument for significantly easing fuel efficiency standards — that the United States is so awash in oil it no longer needs to worry about energy conservation — clashed with decades of federal energy and environmental policy.” • As above.

The 420

“Growing Hemp to Become Legal in the US” [247 Wall Street]. “Included in [the Farm Bill] is language that makes the farming of industrial hemp legal for the first time since 1971. The bill also legalizes the manufacturing and sale of products made from industrial hemp, which were legal — and strongly encouraged — during World War II…. [H]emp may not contain more than 0.3% of THC by weight…. Industrial hemp production and distribution now will be lightly regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture rather than the Food and Drug Administration. The USDA also will guarantee interstate commerce in hemp. Growers will be eligible for crop insurance as well, as with any other legal agricultural product, like corn or wheat. And in keeping with Republican party priorities, most regulation of hemp will be done at the state level.” • Some sanity.

Guillotine Watch

“Dallas-bound flight returns to Seattle after human heart was left onboard” [Seattle Times]. “On Sunday afternoon, a Southwest Airlines flight bound for Dallas made a hairpin turn over eastern Idaho and headed back for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The reason, the captain told passengers: Someone forgot to unload a human heart.” • But the lead is buried nine paragraphs down: “The sender was a company that specializes in shipments that are ‘life critical,”‘which can mean organs for transplant, medications or specimens for treatments, said Southwest, which did not provide the name of the company. But no Seattle-area hospitals said they were involved. Spokeswomen for regional organ-procurement organizations in Washington and California both said they never use commercial flights for heart transplants.” • Some squillionare like Richard DeVos jumping the queue?

“Rich Homebuyers Are Now ‘Test-Driving’ Multimillion-Dollar Mansions” [Bloomberg]. “At the Montage Kapalua development in Maui, where homes go for $1 million to $20 million, Necrason’s team will arrange four-night stays that range from $500 to $2,000 per night and might include cultural heritage tours, luaus, private dinners, and spa treatments. She estimates that more than half of those who come for a trial stay become buyers. ‘For this crowd, time is precious,’ Necrason says. ‘We feel that if they can make this commitment of time, they are serious about buying.'” • Time isn’t precious to poor people?

Class Warfare

“Intersectionality’s binding agent” [Victor Wallis, New Political Science]. (You can click through the dropbox dialog and get to the article.) “In a world rife with oppression, intersectionality is a revolutionary value, insofar as it implicitly condemns relations of domination. The convergence of multiple channels of domination in the lives of particular persons (or collectivities) reminds us immediately that some sectors of the population, being doubly or triply oppressed, will have a harder time than others in gaining emancipation. But the web of oppressive practices also suggests that there are common interests that unite—at least potentially—different categories of oppressed people.Assuming the goal of overcoming all forms of oppression, we must ask: In what precise ways do the oppressions intersect? Does one dimension of oppression simply add onto another, configuring a cumulative heap of oppressions that must then be dismantled one by one, each through the actions of its own constituency? Or is there a structure that links the oppressions together in some historically discernible way? And, if there is such a structure, what is the nature of the links and how did they come to acquire their present form?… But the implicit original goal of intersec-tionality theory—that of binding the oppressed constituencies together into a coherent political force—has not been realized. In other words, there is as yet no entity capable of challenging the grip on power of those who, as a class, shape every aspect of society. Political analysis might reasonably be expected to focus on this question, especially given the commitment to social justice that typically inspires writers on intersectionality. However, the characteristic predilections of academic political studies—notably, the preoccupation with quantifiable definitions and research designs—appear to have constrained the scope of their inquiries. In particular, they have resulted in studies that tend to overlook the role of social classes as actual or potential agents of history, preferring instead to view class as an attribute of individuals* and not examine the role of class structure—or the interest of the dominant class—in sustaining the multiple lines of oppression.” • The style is a bit leisurely, as you can see, but this is an interesting and important read. Grab a cup of coffee. NOTE * Like Reed’s ascriptive identity.

The kids are alright:

“40% of Americans Aren’t Repaying Their Student Loans” (video) [MarketWatch]. • Seems like rather a lot. I grant that a Debt Jubilee sounds like a really good idea, but will it ever be politically feasible? 60% of Americans might not be happy if “deadbeats” — that would be the framing — are let off the hook. IMNSHO, the only way forward would be admit that the neoliberal approach to financing college is just wrong on every level, and roll back the entire system to whatever it was before Reagan and Proposition 13 pointed the way by wrecking the universities of California. In other words, those who paid their debts should get their money back (perhaps in some phased fashion). Plus interest. Imagine the effect on aggregate demand! Now, maybe this is not possible, economically, even in an MMT world. If so, I don’t think a Debt Jubilee is feasible politically. Happy to be wrong!

“The growing weight of warehouse employment in regional economies is getting more attention from labor groups. A coalition of worker advocates in New Jersey is calling for a new code of conduct for jobs in distribution centers,… saying the work is often unsafe and poorly paid” [Wall Street Journal]. “They want state and local governments to support better working conditions by requiring that companies endorse a new code of conduct to get the financial incentives that often come with new developments. New Jersey is is at the center of one of the country’s biggest and fastest growing distribution regions. The groups want effective workplace safety and hazard training, as well as higher pay and the right to organize. That call comes as workers at an Amazon.com Inc. distribution center on New York’s Staten Island say they may organize over what they call poor working conditions there.”

“A law firm in the trenches against media unions” [Columbia Journalism Review]. Jones Day. “The road to organization at Slate has been rocky since the beginning. Site management and the parent company, Graham Holdings (former owners of the Post), initially declined to recognize a union when employees first signed cards in March 2017—resistance which took some at Slate off-guard, given the site’s reliably liberal slant.” • Too funny. Liberals hate unions; see Thomas Frank.

“More Americans are making no weekly purchases with cash” [Pew Research Center]. “Americans are becoming less reliant on physical currency. Roughly three-in-ten U.S. adults (29%) say they make no purchases using cash during a typical week, up slightly from 24% in 2015. And the share who say that all or almost all of their weekly purchases are made using cash has modestly decreased, from 24% in 2015 to 18% today… [A]dults with an annual household income of $75,000 or more are more than twice as likely as those earning less than $30,000 a year to say they do not make any purchases using cash in a typical week (41% vs. 18%). Conversely, lower-income Americans are about four times as likely as higher-income Americans to say they make all or almost all of their purchases using cash (29% vs. 7%).” • Obviously, we should get rid of cash as fast as possible.

News of the Wired

“A ‘Self-Aware’ Fish Raises Doubts About a Cognitive Test” [Quanta]. ” Scientists have long thought that being able to recognize oneself in a mirror reveals some sort of self-awareness, and perhaps an awareness of others’ perspectives, too. For almost 50 years, they have been using mirrors to test animals for that capacity. After letting an animal get familiar with a mirror, they put a mark someplace on the animal’s body that it can see only in its reflection. If the animal looks in the mirror and then touches or examines the mark on its body, it passes the test. Humans don’t usually reach this milestone until we’re toddlers… [Alex Jordan, an evolutionary biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany] and his co-authors observed this seemingly self-aware behavior in a tiny fish,” the cleaner wrasse. • It’s Eric! Eric the Fish!

* * *

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 (SB):

SB writes: “My son took a great mushroom picture here in the city of Redmond, Washington.”

* * *

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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. Enquiring Mind

    Nice mushroom photo!

    Since in Redmond, was there any Microsoft influence through keeping things in the dark and, ahem, nourishing them?

        1. ambrit

          A second vote for Amantia Muscaria from another old hippie.
          If there is a Microsoft connection, it would go a long way to explaining the culture of delusion that seems to be in control there.
          I mean, Windows 10; they had to have been tripping when they came up with that one.

          1. SBurns

            I raised three sons in Redmond since 1985. We often wonder, “does the world really need Microsoft?” They have ruined a beautiful, small town and taken over our schools. At middle school every student is assigned their own laptop to carry 24/7 and is threatened with being “processed” if they leave it unattended. Students must write their papers on their laptops and submit online however they are never taught any keyboarding skills. Parents have to pay to send them to keyboarding camp, if they want their child to have this skill. Is there some link between running a big tech corporation and having no soul? Thanks for liking my son’s Amanita Muscaria pic! He is an excellent young man trying to figure out this crazy world we have given him.

            1. John Zelnicker

              December 14, 2018 at 11:46 am

              Excellent picture. Your son seems to have some talent for photography. As a semi-professional photographer, I urge you to encourage him if he has the interest. Photography is a wonderful art form.

              Are you aware that Amanita is one of the psychedelic mushrooms?

              Your son should probably not consume any until he is at least 18 years old and even then only in a prepared environment with an experienced guide. The trip is almost always nothing more than a six hour giggle, but if one is unprepared or has psychological issues the trip can be a bit frightening. Of course there are also some people who should never try such substances.

              1. ambrit

                I second that advice with the proviso that the age for psychedelic use should be raised to perhaps 21 or 23 years of age. (Those Victorians knew more than we give them credit for knowing.)

    1. Adam Eran

      Q: How many Microsoft Engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
      A: None. They just change the standard to darkness.

    2. PhilK

      About 10 years ago, I worked at a Microsoft building on 148th Ave NE in Redmond, and lived close enough to walk to work. Walking home one day, I saw a mushroom that looked just like the ones in the photo, except it appeared to have been nibbled on by a squirrel. I thought, OMG, it’s an amanita muscaria! I went home, got my camera, and took a photo.

      It was growing in the “beauty bark” that landscapers spread around the bases of trees in office parks there. The stuff around the plantidote also appears to be beauty bark. The mushroom I saw was not on the Microsoft campus, but in an office park directly across NE 40th St from the campus.

  2. diptherio

    I have a lot of respect for Ed Whitfield. He’s someone who walks his talk, and his talk tends towards the radical. Here’s his latest:

    What must we do to be free? On the building of Liberated Zones

    In an increasingly complex world, that cannot be fully comprehended, there is a need to seek out and develop clear explanations that go to the roots of our problems and propose realistic solutions.This stands opposed to simplistic, uninformed, and highly subjective views that are popular in casual discourse and social media. And it also stands in opposition to academic discourse that is often disconnected from an organic connection to the way people feel and struggle.This essay speaks to the possibility of freedom now –not off in the distant future.

    1. knowbuddhau

      ” Freedom is not a single event. It is a process of being free. We can have some freedom now. It is not just something far in the future. We don’t have to wait until we know how to have it completely and overthrow all oppression. We can start freedom now and build on it more and more, never losing sight of the guiding vision, our “north star”.

      Very nice, tyvm. Reminds me of Thich Nhat Hanh.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      reminds me of Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zones, and his hoped for Permanent ones

      That’s been my goal out here for 20+ years.
      Given the rigors of the world…as well as OPBS(other people’s bullshit)…I’ve been stuck at half-way there ever since,lol.

  3. Fastball

    I only use cash to give to street beggars. Most paychecks I withdraw a certain amount in cash. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

    On the student debt front, there are a lot of people with crushing medical debt, too. Rather than paying people back for paying debts, perhaps a more widespread debt jubilee could be in order, from all usurious debt. Creditors of all kinds really need to take a haircut.

    1. Wukchumni

      Proffered a $20 FRN for my meal today, and the cashier put the pen to it, which was my opening to ask how often they get counterfeit banknotes trying to be passed on them?

      She told me at least once a week, sometimes more often.

      1. ambrit

        Don’t knock it. That’s just good old entrepreneurialism at work. Creative destruction as well as creation of ‘value,’ all at the same time! What’s not to like?

        1. Wukchumni

          The concept that it costs around 20 cents to manufacture a $100 FRN banknote, and about a Dime to mint a Nickel, isn’t lost on me…

          Now, here’s a story of a Nickel counterfeiter from the 1950’s for you:

          “Francis LeRoy Henning of Erial may not be a household name to most folks in New Jersey, but to treasure hunters and coin collectors, Henning’s name is notorious for counterfeiting what coin enthusiasts call “The 1944 Henning Nickel”.

          Henning claimed to cut the dies for his coins directly from real coins using a machine he invented, but this has been disputed by coin collectors. Henning forgot one important impression: the mint mark of the state of origin on the back of his coins. The coin also had another minting flaw; there was a small indentation in the “R” in the word “Pluribus.” His coins were minted with monel metal, a mixture of copper, nickel and iron. (Monel metal is mostly copper, around 80 percent).

          It has been estimated that Henning produced almost a half-million of these nickels in 1954, and nearly 100,000 of them went into circulation before the Camden County Coin Collectors Club noticed the missing mint mark and tipped of the Secret Service early in 1955, who traced the operation back to Henning’s home in Erial.

          Henning was arrested in 1955 in Cleveland and pleaded guilty to counterfeiting nickels. He was sentenced to three years in jail with a $5,000 fine.


              1. ambrit

                Are the nickless nickels collectible? Say, like the Picasso fakes marked ‘Faux’ by Picasso himself are?
                Oh! I just got it. This is a Christmas season fable. Saint Nickel-less bringing Wartime treats for all the good little boys and girls.

      2. JBird4049

        Really? People must be getting desperate. When I had to check for counterfeit we only did $100s but that was sometime ago. Then again 20s get usually less scrutiny than 100s.

        1. Joey

          ATMs don’t dish out c notes. I see 100 and I’m guessing grandma card stuffer or hit the exacta. Neither real common.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think the issue is the student debt isn’t merely an individual crisis but a societal one, created by a predatory structure targeted at children. Certainly, there are people who didn’t get into the trap or made it out, but having these debt laden people both not functioning in society healthily while at the same time serving as examples to not pursue higher education.

      The beauty of the politics is it boils down to why should we have the Tennesse Valley Authority when we have people in Oregon and Wyoming. Do something for them. If things are getting better, people will stop caring. The Republicans will still whine.

  4. clarky90

    Re; “Robot Fear Index: Increased Adoption May Be Fueling Concerns”

    AlphaGo Computer Beats Top Go Player Ke Jie: Computers Don’t Think Like Humans


    “…The computer has not ‘strategies’ and doesn’t think about ‘kill’ or ‘stubborn’ or ‘cut off’ or ‘trap’ or ‘dying.’ It ‘thinks’, what is the best path for electricity to travel while accomplishing various tasks related to all other electrical elements on this board matrix….

    ….We can’t defeat this computer in this game because we are…emotional and irrational. It isn’t. We want to see shapes and forms and duel and kick ass and other things and the computer wants to get from point A to point B with the least amount of fuss and muss….”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From point A to point B with the least amount of fuss and muss…

      We have to think hard about what constitute fuss and muss…for, say, a self-driving car that wants to go from point A to point B with the least amount of fuss and muss.

      “Bang. That was no fuss.”

      “Wham. And that was no muss.”

      “Here you are, sir. We have arrived a bit early. You don’t have to tip me.”

    2. Procopius

      I quit playing chess against computers for that very reason. Since the computer had no plan it was impossible to reason what its next move would be. I would be thinking it should make such-and-such a move, and it did something different. Not like playing against a person at all, and no fun.

  5. Wukchumni

    Another bust on the yellow vest front, went to breakfast with about 50 people in the restaurant, and then to Wal*Mart, both a no-go.

    The only bite I had was a couple of older guys in the booth next to me when I was omelet’ing, and for some reason they inquired as to how old I was, and mentioned that I probably didn’t have too many years left in construction, ye gads!

    Funny thing about Wal*Mart, the book section has less inventory than in the locked ammo case in the sporting goods dept. where each ammo box selection is 10-20x deep. The books as you’d guess are pathetic, I counted 5 different Joel Osteen selections, and about 1/3rd of the rest are romance novels, with only 1 or 2 of each, as if they only want to have a book aisle to ‘look respectable’.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Presumably, the mathematical inequality is this:

      One book > 100 rounds of ammunication.

      Thus, you don’t have to have a lot (of books).

        1. ambrit

          Hmmm… So, high end ‘Sporting Goods Emporia’ customers do read, and they don’t have lots of guns? Check out the gun department at your local Academy or Cabellas store. They sell handguns, while WalMart does not. Lots of ‘handgonnes.’

        2. shinola

          I read NC

          I have a gun – .22 cal. rifle I’ve had for decades.

          I occasionally shop at Wallymart.


          1. Joey

            22 rifles don’t count! That’s like claiming you have a switchblade because your Swiss army knife has some button that unlocks its screwdriver.

            1. ambrit

              Oh you kid! .22 cal is preferred by hitmen and women the world round. Easiest round to silence and very deadly at medium and close range. The AR class rifles use a .223 calibre, though with more powder.
              Think John Wick killing the bar goers with the pencil. Will is paramount. The tools are secondary.
              The main factor against handguns is the ease of use. With today’s short attention spans and serious impulse control issues, handguns are asking for trouble. With long guns now, by the time you have gone to the closet or wherever you store it, taken it out of its sheath and loaded it, you have either settled on murder or given the whole thing up as a bad idea. Time for reflection does wonders.

  6. dcblogger

    If the Green Party run Bernie on their presidential line it will give him enormous muscle at the Democratic convention. If Bernie walks into the convention with a plurality of pledged delegates and they try to give the nomination to someone else Bernie can just say fine, I am the Green Party nominee and go on to be the first Green Party president.

    1. JeffC

      OK, it’s obvious, but apparently someone needs to actually say it…

      That loveable rogue Bernie goes all Green and splits the liberal and progressive vote pool? Gives it to Trump.

      1. nippersmom

        You’re falling into the liberal assumption that the actual left will vote for a mainstream Democrat regardless of whether Sanders runs or not. If the Dems run another third-way candidate (virtually everyone that is being talked up) many of us will not vote Democratic, period. You can’t “split” a vote that doesn’t belong to the party to begin with.

        1. dcblogger

          Just so, for this to work Bernie needs to walk into the convention with a clear plurality of pledged delegates, with everyone else far behind.

      2. John k

        That vote is already split. They have absolutely nothing in common beyond anti trump.
        Biggest party is indies. IMO he wins them whether running as dem or green. So

      3. Peter VE

        Sanders supporters, like me, don’t automatically vote Dem if he’s not on the ticket: we don’t vote. In 2016, I wouldn’t have voted for Hillary just because she wasn’t Trump. I did have another candidate I could support, and for whom I voted.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Was that before or after she crowdfunded all that money for a recount campaign on behalf of Hillary Clinton back in 2016?

        1. nippersmom

          Regardless of how you might want to spin it, Stein did not launch the recount campaign “on behalf of Hillary Clinton”. She did it to bring to light voting irregularities, which were rampant in the 2016 election. Some of us actually do value protecting people’s right to vote, and to have their vote count, even if we don’t necessarily agree with who they choose to vote for.

          If you paid any attention at all to the Green Party in general or Dr. Stein in particular, you would know she is far from being a Clinton supporter.

        2. dcblogger

          Stein did not do that for Hillary, she did that for the voters. The only way you find out about electoral corruption is during recounts. Read the work of Greg Palast when he covered the recounts. The 2016 election was stolen via voter suppression and the lawsuit that Stein brought forced Pennsylvania to adopt paper ballots.

      2. Oregoncharles

        He had also been asked before, and seemed quite content with his seat in the Senate – and with working with Democrats (no link, personal communication from someone active in the national Green party.)

        The gist: not all that independent, and not interested in breaking the party system.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Or maybe just not interested in letting a somewhat frivolous party of political dilettantes drag him down to their level.

          Perhaps he hadn’t forgiven the Green Party for running McGaw against Wellstone specifically to get Wellstone defeated.

          1. Oregoncharles

            If the Dems wanted to protect people like Wellstone, they’d support Ranked Choice Voting and give up the spoiler effect they’re so fond of.

            Talk about dilettantes cuts both ways.

  7. NotTimothyGeithner

    Its separated in the links, but Sanders’ tweet starts with “bankers” and is about an issue in the central image itself. The DCCC tweet gets to an issue in the bottom third of the tweet after trumpeting a figure with questionable popularity. The action called for is to stand with Pelosi, the incoming Speaker of the House.

  8. a different chris

    Boy science does move forward one death at a time:

    In Albany, Gallup chuckled at the suggestion that the fish had recognized themselves… He wrote in one of his reviews that when a wrasse scraped its throat, maybe it was pantomiming an instruction for what the mirrored fish should do — as in “You’ve got some mustard on your chin,” said Jordan, who called this alternate explanation “incredibly far-fetched.”

    I’m not saying the cleaner wrasse is sentient. I don’t know. But, uh, isn’t “recognizing your reflected movements in a mirror” actually way, way far below the level of sentience that would say “hey there is another fish like me, but he has something on him, and I need to tell him as I believe it is a problem for him”. Note that buried in the communication is the entire understanding that this “other” fish is like him/her except for the spot, and said spot is not correct to have.

    I mean Jesus. My spouse can tell you that I have many days when I’m not that tuned in to others.

    1. Jeotsu

      Sentience and Sapience are different. Sentience is important, especially in regards to animal welfare law.

  9. allan

    Anti-anti-anti-antidote: ‘Transmissible’ Alzheimer’s theory gains traction [Nature]
    Mouse tests confirm that sticky proteins associated with degenerative brain diseases can be transferred — but researchers say risks for humans are likely to be minimal.

    Neuroscientists have amassed more evidence for the hypothesis that sticky proteins that are a hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases can be transferred between people under particular conditions — and cause new damage in a recipient’s brain.

    They stress that their research does not suggest that disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease are contagious, but it does raise concern that certain medical and surgical procedures pose a risk of transmitting such proteins between humans, which might lead to brain disease decades later. …

    That the transmissibility of the amyloid-beta could be preserved after so many decades underlines the need for caution, says Jucker. The sticky amyloid clings tightly to materials used in surgical instruments, resisting standard decontamination methods. But Jucker also notes that, because degenerative diseases take a long time to develop, the danger of any transfer may be most relevant in the case of childhood surgery where instruments have also been used on old people. …

    Risks are likely to be minimal is the new with notably rare exceptions.

  10. voteforno6

    Re: Jamie Dimon video

    I noticed that it included a picture of Chelsea Clinton standing next to Jamie Dimon during the motage…

    Kudos to Bernie’s media people – they certainly seem to know how to throw next-level shade.

        1. ambrit

          I just got it! Ray Bradbury names the protagonist in his story, “The Fireman,” later “Farenheit 451” Montag. He destroys books in favour of illustrated cartoons and videos. Life is now a montage, hard to reason out or analyze, a blur.
          Hidden depths people.

  11. Anon

    Re: Yesterday’s WC

    Hey Lambert, did you ever put your thoughts down on the Pelosi/Schumer/Trump discussion? I tried to look for your take, but couldn’t find it. Did anyone see it at all?

      1. Anon

        Thanks Steve H.! Seeing the exchanges there in yesterday’s WC, this is an example of one of those situations where we can all give a good take. I commented that Trump largely set the frame on Facebook of all places and someone commented that the Dems could just play the “Mexico’ll pay for it!” refrain on repeat. That said, monetary means are not the only way to pay for something…

  12. TroyMcClure

    “Now, maybe this is not possible, economically, even in an MMT world. If so, I don’t think a Debt Jubilee is feasible politically. Happy to be wrong!”

    Steve Keen has floated ideas to address this very real concern. Here is my variation:

    $100k to every person over 21. Must use up to $50k on debts. The rest is yours. Have only 20K in debt? 80k is yours. All debts above that are erased. No taxes on any of it. Rolling policy to renew every 15 years.

    1. Wukchumni

      MMT is just more fiat right, gussied up a bit.

      ‘MT’ will be more like it, when the dust clears.

  13. Steve H.

    > 40% of Americans Aren’t Repaying Their Student Loans”

    No, 40% of borrowers. Still, last week I had enuf for my monthly payment, I was two hundred sumthin one-day-outa-default late, so I called’em. Back handsprings they did for me, cut my payment to less than a third, nah don’t pay for two months… That was a very nice lady.

    1. Cal2

      “40% of borrowers Aren’t Repaying Their Student Loans”
      Wonder how many of them would knowingly vote for Joe Biden, the senator who authored the bill preventing their student loans from ever being discharged in bankruptcy?

      44.2 Million student loan borrowers x 40% = 17+- million “No” votes for Joe Biden in the primary. Think they’ll run him with negative numbers like that? How about if he were the nominee?

      Say it ain’t so Joe!

      1. JTMcPhee

        All that’s needed now is for the new Dem-dominated House to cut off the spending. And that is going to happen when? But it was a nice gesture toward the murdrered and dying Yemeni, however much it might be eyewash and window dressing.

        1. Procopius

          Yeah, it’s unlikely to happen because contractors are collecting so much of that money, but it occurs to me that they keep claiming that no American troops are in combat (a lie, but it’s a fairly small number, probably no more than are in Syria). That means that cutting off the money wouldn’t be the same as, “Refusing to support our troops.” Anyway truce talks are going on in Sweden (the U.S. isn’t invited, it’s entirely separate from Pompeo’s pompous demand that the Houthi surrender on his terms), so the war may end before the Senate gets through it’s dance.

  14. Summer

    “The utility wants to charge approximately $125 million of the shortfall to more than 1 million homes and businesses that will leave Edison over the next few months to join Clean Power Alliance, a government-run energy provider that intends to compete with the massive power company.

    Clean Power Alliance plans to start providing electricity this February to about 930,000 residential customers of 29 cities, including Oxnard, Santa Monica, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and Ventura, as well as unincorporated parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. They’ll be joined by 100,000 nonresidential customers in May.

    The government-run energy agency is one of 19 community choice aggregators, or CCAs, now operating in California….”

  15. Burritonomics

    The Democrats are so bad at messaging…

    Am I the only one that read “RT to stand with Leader Pelosi” as Russia Today?


    1. Wukchumni

      “Democrats never agree on anything, that’s why they’re Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they would be Republicans.”

      Will Rogers

    2. grayslady

      No, you’re not the only one. That was my thought, too. And who or what is RT if it isn’t Russia Today? I really hate acronyms and abbreviations.

    3. Carey

      Dems “bad at messaging”, or trolling us again?

      My sense is that the game is being played at
      a higher level by the Few. For the moment.

  16. Phacops

    Ooooh. That mushroom is Aminita muscaria. It produces an amine, muscarin, that binds to an acetylcholine receptor in our nervous system and interferes with acetylcholinesterase. Some tribes in Siberia used it for its intoxicating properties (highly dose dependent – too much and convulsions and death ensues) and it is excreted unchanged in the urine where it can be recycled to get high again.

  17. marym

    Almost 15,000 Migrant Children Now Held At Nearly Full Shelters

    The number of immigrant children being held in government custody has reached almost 15,000, putting a network of federally contracted shelters across the country near capacity.

    The national network of more than 100 shelters are 92 percent full, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The situation is forcing the government to consider a range of options, possibly including releasing children more quickly to sponsors in the United States or expanding the already crowded shelter network.

    Federal officials screen the sponsors, but that vetting process has slowed to a crawl because of a new policy that says anyone who lives in the sponsor’s house can be fingerprinted for a criminal background check.

    ICE arrested 170 immigrants seeking to sponsor migrant children

    Federal authorities have arrested 170 immigrants who came forward seeking to sponsor migrant children in government custody, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

    ICE said Tuesday that the arrests were of immigrants suspected of being in the United States illegally and took place from early July to November. They were the result of background checks conducted on potential sponsors of unaccompanied migrant children placed under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Nearly two thirds of those arrested — 109 in total — had no criminal record, the agency said. Another 61 of those arrested did have criminal records, but ICE did not specify the crimes and said it could not break down convictions by violent and nonviolent offenses.

    The arrests follow a move by President Donald Trump’s administration earlier this year that allowed immigration authorities to examine the criminal background and legal status of anyone who steps forward to sponsor unaccompanied migrant children — usually parents or close relatives already in the U.S. — as well as any other adults living in their home.

    1. Monty

      I am confused. Would you prefer they hand these young children over to anyone that wants them, no questions asked? That seems like a very dangerous idea.

      My Cuban cousin has been working at one of these facilities in AZ for the last 5 years or so. He told me that all the recent scrutiny has really improved the conditions there, compared to when he started. Sadly, some of the same children have been there since he started. He thinks they will likely remain there till they are 18. They cant just send them off into the wild on their own.

      It is a tragedy, but i dont think the solutions are as easy as you think they are.

      1. dcblogger

        you don’t arrest people merely because they offer to take one of the children, you check them out. Trump and his gang are criminalizing kindness.

      2. marym

        According to the first link above, it was the Trump administration, not me, suggesting possible relaxing of background checks. The checks are necessary, and there needs to be adequate staffing and procedures to expedite them.

        What’s not needed is the new policy of handing over information about potential sponsors to ICE for immigration enforcement. The second link contains this additional link to a proposed billl that would protect the minors and sponsors.

        Thank you for the information about improved shelter conditions – some good news in a terrible situation.

  18. Hameloose Cannon

    Dr. Scott seems to be misinformed on the utility of ore smelting to US manufacturing. Anything worth having is not manufactured from the products of Al smelting, pulling aluminum oxides and sulfates, known as alumina, from Bauxite. It’s extremely energy intensive and toxic, and it is done in only four places in the US, employing about 5,000 people. The Smelting plants are all owned by foreign multi-nationals except for the Point Comfort, Texas plant, but only 60% owned by Alcoa [US], and sat idle until recently.

    What US manufacturing needs is aluminum alloys; creating those four-digit-ed metals is where the value is added. US processors see Chinese alumina prices go up, and the processors raise the effective cost of the US alumina-sourced alloys because the processors and distributors are interested in maximizing the alloy weight sold regardless of the source of the precursors it uses. Double the number of US smelting plants to eight, 5,000 extra workers, after five years of petty tariffs, and you still won’t see US demand for alloy be met domestically because of the inventory created by the other 115 smelting plants worldwide. Americans pay the tariffs, not the Chinese. The money is made in the intellectual know-how of processing high-grades, which requires tens of thousands of US-educated engineers. You won’t find dolla-dolla bills, y’all, in whatever junk ingots are dumped into a boat. Instead of relying on press releases, Dr. Scott should have talked to an engineer. There are dark forces that want you to believe the hype. Don’t.

  19. polecat

    Anyone read b’s latest at moon of alabama ?? It appears the Sanders Campaign might very well have had a deepstate mole in their midst !

  20. allan

    Stats: U.S. Budget Deficit Hits Widest on Record for Month of November [Bloomberg]

    The U.S. posted the widest November budget deficit on record as spending doubled revenue.

    Outlays jumped 18 percent to $411 billion last month, while receipts were little changed at $206 billion, the Treasury Department said in a monthly report on Thursday. That left a $205 billion shortfall, compared with a $139 billion gap a year earlier.

    The U.S. ran the largest deficit in six years in fiscal 2018, the first full year of Donald Trump’s presidency when his Republican party enacted a tax-cut package and raised federal spending for the military and other priorities. …

    Fake news. Mitch promised that the tax cuts would balance the budget, and the newfound quest for civility and bipartisan reaching across the aisle demands that we believe him.

    But seriously, the 137 of our most distinguished economists who wrote in support of the TCJA when it was were before Congress, who said

    The enactment of a comprehensive overhaul – complete with a lower corporate tax rate – will ignite our economy with levels of growth not seen in generations. A twenty percent statutory rate on a permanent basis would, per the Council of Economic Advisers, help produce a GDP boost “by between 3 and 5 percent.” As the debate delves into deficit implications, it is critical to consider that $1 trillion in new revenue for the federal government can be generated by four- tenths of a percentage in GDP growth.

    should be banned from public utterances for life.

  21. Summer

    RE: “I don’t look at a recession as a bad thing.” – Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase (one of the big banks that crashed the economy 10 years ago).

    JPM has been front and center of every depression or crash for over 100 years – always there to “help,” coming out of it each time ready to help in these “unforseen” events…


  22. John Beech

    Lambert, so you don’t think a debt jubilee is politically possible, eh? Me? I’m not so sanguine. Instead, I’m of the opinion that which can’t be paid off won’t be. Blood from a turnip, debt jubilee, call it what you will.

    1. todde

      I’m of the opinion that which can’t be paid off won’t be. Blood from a turnip, debt jubilee, call it what you will.

      I don’t think anyone can argue that.

      The difference between a Jubilee and a Default may lie in how bad the debtor is asset stripped before we get to the point of ‘that which can not be repaid won’t be repaid.”

    2. djrichard

      Who needs to pay off debt when you can just extend and pretend courtesy of the Federal Reserve?

      Not including the plebs of course. But even then, looks like consumer debt is increasing again. Hey, “Mission Accomplished”.

      Of course, “hang on to your lug nuts, it’s time for an overhaul” as the Federal Reserve takes the punch bowl away. Followed by the tender ministrations fostering the next bubble. Cleanse repeat for each bubble down the road. Nothing to stop this except possibly:

      – a yellow vest movement in the US
      – the 10Y yield decreasing to 0% forcing a level of creativity that even the Fed Reserve might blanche at.

  23. Oregoncharles

    Amanita muscaria, the berserker mushroom and one of the roots of religion.

    Not that I’ve ever taken it, or would. Very beautiful, though.

  24. Eclair

    From ‘Eric the Fish License’ skit:

    “It’s people like you wot cause unrest!”

    Printed on thousands of sticky post-its, that we can then slap on clueless politicians, CEO’s, MSM journalists, and Amazon packages left on people’s front porches.

  25. Wukchumni


    Up in the sky!

    Is it a bird?

    Is it a plane?

    No, it’s the Geminids

    They were pretty decent last year, and hour in hot tub in the wee hours netted me about 45 shooting stars.

    Peaking today…

  26. RobertCvn

    Misquote on the student loans:

    “40% of Americans Aren’t Repaying Their Student Loans”

    40% of student loan holders, not 40% of all americans.

  27. VietnamVet

    Waymo Arizona tire punctures and Yellow Vests

    Autonomous vehicles are the Elite’s pet project because it is big tech and will eliminate hired drivers. Also, the neoliberal prime directive is government austerity and passing user fees onto global financiers. American media avoids mentioning it, but the French provincial revolt is destroying toll booths and speed cameras. Northern Virginia tolls now cost $47 on way in rush hour. Drivers who can’t afford this have adjusted their hours and jam side roads. Loudoun County Supervisor said “This tolling system has just made driving impossible and not affordable.” The Yellow Vests uprising is caused by “Falling wages, rising costs of living, rising costs of healthcare, privatization of essential services, cultural disruption as a result of heavy migration, and growing unemployment as a result of Free Trade globalist policies”. This is universal across the West. Donald Trump says ‘the people would revolt’ if he were impeached. The one sure thing is that mid-America is angry at being exploited as a colony by global corporatists. This cannot last.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That is a very, very meta YouTube.

      Not sure it’s applicable, though. Nerds can have a strange sort of charisma, if they’re nerdy enough. Perhaps Gunnels passed the test (or the very good Sanders media operation has already hashed this out and decided that he is).

  28. Luke

    Why does anyone think the would-be illegal aliens in the “caravans” in Mexico just south of the U.S. border have no country? If any of them have had their citizenship revoked by the nations of their birth, I have not heard of it. I thought that was illegal under international law, and thus would be null and void. So, surely all of them have countries; Honduras, El Salvador, Columbia, etc. are all still there.

  29. Mattski

    Had a bunch of liberals tell me I was sexist for opposing Ms. Pelosi the other day. I spent part of the morning putting together a list of her votes and policy positions (against universal healthcare, supported the Iraq War, sponsored a resolution congratulating Bush on his conduct of the war, cut off a Democratic attempt to require a Congressional vote for any continuance, on and on) and they said that wasn’t the point. She was tough and good at whipping votes. Left me depressed.

  30. anon in so cal

    —-Student loan debt, etc…..

    “Reagan and Proposition 13 pointed the way by wrecking the universities of California”

    Not trying to be confrontational (and agree that Reagan was the absolute worst), but do you really think Prop 13 ruined the UC? Is the UC ruined?

    “Over two-thirds of University of California (UC) undergraduates receive some gift aid, with an average award of over $16,000”

    “California resident undergraduates at all UC campuses pay the same $12,570 in system-wide tuition and fee”



    “As the University of California marks its 150th anniversary this year, it faces constraints on key revenue sources even as the state’s population is expected to keep growing. So leaders of the 10-campus, 273,000-student system may be approaching a crossroads….

    System leaders might choose to grow enrollment without enough funding, a decision that could lead to slipping quality. Or they might decide to limit enrollment growth in order to keep up quality and productivity measures

    Between 1990 and 2015, the UC system’s total enrollment increased from 166,500 to 257,400. It now enrolls 273,000 students. But, the report found, the system maintained access for low-income and first-generation students, with 42 percent of its undergraduates being first-generation students and 38 percent of its undergraduates being eligible for federal Pell Grants, much higher than typically seen among its peers in elite higher education elsewhere in the country — public or private.

    During that time frame, the system has had its public funding levels cut during economic downturns in the early 1990s, 2001 and 2008, the report says. That cut a historic link between state funding levels and enrollment, even as the state became increasingly diverse and its economy demanded more college graduates.

    In the late 1980s, state funding for UC students was as high as $25,000 per student, after adjusting for inflation, the report says. It fell to about $10,000 per student by 2015.

    Yet the system was able to mitigate the effects of state disinvestment by giving priority to teaching undergraduates and to performing research, the report says. Today, however, student-to-faculty ratios are rising, undergraduate classes are growing in size, graduate students are not adequately funded and UC must shoulder large construction costs and pension liabilities….”


  31. Luke

    Re the college tuition issue…

    Surely the hyperbolic rise in expenditures on nonteaching admin positions (even above the massive, money-squandering varsity athletic programs) is at least as important as reductions in taxes sent to state colleges. Also, more and more students have to take substantial remedial coursework upon arrival at college, that should have been taught in K-12. Just not admitting anyone unready for college-level work (whatever their sacrosanct diversity category) would clearly save a bundle. Hey, and with no more Deans of increasing diversity, grants to less-ready diverse would-be students, etc., that would also free up money. And, cut way back on tuition assistance (including all loans) for any subject that either doesn’t require math-major Calculus or hands-on medical care on the job, there would be way fewer graduates who have no chance of ever paying back student loans. Again, win-win.

    That said, when I was in Shreveport, LA back in the mid-1990s, the local state college, LSUS, had its president give an interview to the local fishwrap. He said on the subject of declining tax funding of the school:
    “We used to say we were state-supported. Now we say we’re state-assisted. If funding is cut any more, we’ll have to say that we’re [only] state-located.”

  32. JBird4049

    Time isn’t precious to poor people?

    Close, but the question is whose needs are considered more important? The needy or the wealthy?

  33. Luke

    “the question is whose needs are considered more important? The needy or the wealthy?”

    JBird4049, I’d say that’s the easiest question in the world to answer.

    The needy would consider their own needs to be more important, as the wealthy would in turn consider their own needs to be more important. If neither commits a crime (to get money, or to meet a perceived need), then their needs are properly their own business, at least as far as government goes. What individuals wish to donate of their own money, labor, etc. as private charity is of course up to them, subject again to that money not having been gained by a crime.

Comments are closed.