Links 1/11/19

Patient readers, Yves apologizes for the lack of original posts. She had a business dinner last night, which was productive and informative, but she hasn’t been feeling so hot and it took all of what she had to perform. –lambert

How fast are the oceans warming? Science

Here Are the Finance Firms Cutting Jobs Amid 2019 Market Turmoil Bloomberg. “…. Then they came for me.”

Macy’s sparks $34bn retail wipeout after guidance cut FT

Alphabet board sued on allegations of sexual misconduct cover-up Reuters

Former CEO pleads guilty to fentanyl spray kickback scheme ABC


If Trump Wants to Get Out of Syria, He Should Strike a Deal With Russia Foreign Affairs. Blob pseudopodium bored of Syria…

Libya: the battle for peace in a failing state FT


Brexit diehards may soon discover May’s deal is only option Irish Times

What could change the dynamics of Brexit vote? BBC

Brexit could be delayed if Labour forces general election, says Corbyn RTE

Rolls-Royce Warns Brexit Could Bring Production to a Halt Bloomberg

Jaguar Land Rover to cut up to 5,000 jobs BBC

A new British naval base in Southeast Asia could stoke resentment, split Asean and put the UK in China’s cross hairs South China Morning Post

Figureheads emerge among France’s ‘gilets jaunes’ protesters FT

How Slovakians Beat the Oligarchs NYRB

Europe is fast-becoming a natural gas battleground for Russia and the US CNBC

Russia’s GMO debate looks a lot like America’s – with more geopolitics Christian Science Monitor (MR).


Bharat Bandh: Why Workers Brought India to a Halt for Two Days The Wire

Historic Strike by the Working Class against Anti-Labour State Policies GroundXero. They have demands.

Delhi cows and elderly to moo-ve in together Daily Mail

Over 100 Bangladesh garment plants halt operations in strike Nikkei Asian Review

Japanese prosecutors file new charges against former Nissan chair Ghosn Agence France Presse

Taiwan premier, cabinet to quit after local election defeat The Business Times

Kenya will start teaching Chinese to elementary school students from 2020 Quartz


Belt and Road is more chaos than conspiracy The Star

US-China trade war divides Southeast Asia, belt and road fears unite it: survey South China Morning Post

Trump Transition

5 reasons why there’s still no end to the shutdown Nathan Gonzales, Roll Call. A more measured take than most.

Senate Passes Back Pay Bill for Furloughed Feds, Trump Says He Will Sign It GovExec

Think Trump can’t use emergency powers to build the border wall? Here’s why he could McClatchy

Trump’s ‘National Emergency’ Gambit May Be The Easiest End To The Shutdown HuffPo

* * *

Prosecutors Examining Ukrainians Who Flocked to Trump Inaugural NYT. Sigh.

Why Trump’s Unusual Leadership Style Isn’t Working in the White House NYT

Canada wants to welcome more than 1 million new immigrants in the next three years CNN

Raising the Bar on the Green New Deal Black Agenda Report. Very good, and explains the role of Howie Hawkins.

Democrats in Disarray

Progressive Groups Blast Centrist Tilt Of House Democrats’ Campaign Arm HuffPo

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Takes the Democrats Back to the Future: An Interview with the Historian Rick Perlstein The New Yorker. “[S]uddenly, she has the power to actually act in a way that the Party hasn’t—a party that, almost forty years later, is still traumatized by the success of Ronald Reagan. It’s a profoundly generational phenomenon, and, clearly, it’s scary.” So, the key drivers for electoral politics are psychology and generational change. Good to know. That’s why we study history.

Wall Street should love the economic theory Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backs — and that should worry the rest of us Business Insider

Modern Monetary Theory Doesn’t Make Single-Payer Health Care Any Easier Josh Barro, New York Magazine (Furzy Mouse).

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

How Facebook Borrows From the NSA Playbook Reader Supported News

Our Famously Free press

Iowa “Ag-Gag” Law Suppressing Journalism Ruled Unconstitutional Shadowproof (MR).

Health Care

Generic drug maker formed by hospitals attracts a dozen more health systems STAT

Imperial Collapse Watch

Mattis: One More General for the ‘Self Licking Ice Cream Cone’ The American Conservative

An analysis of murders in 55 of America’s largest cities revealed block by block where police fail to catch killers. WaPo

What got published in criminology journals in 2018? Less Crime

Class Warfare

How an outdated law is leaving millions of low-income college students hungry New Food Economy

After the Storm The Baffler

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote (MR):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Bandit

    Hi friends, I am making this suggestion in good faith that it will be received in the spirit in which it is written. There really is no need to apologize for the lack of links that occurs from time to time. We certainly appreciate your good efforts, so I do not think anyone who visits this site would expect an explanation.

    1. Conor O'Brien

      In complete agreement with you Bandit. There is no need whatsoever for apologies. The article by the Baffler on its own was worth being linked to.
      Although in a sense I am glad when Yves and Lambert and the others involved do not reach their desired level of links. Because it shows them as normal.
      As real persons that we can feel for. No one can feel for a corporate body. We need someone like ourselves.
      I would be far more concerned if they weakened themselves in trying to satisfy some self-imposed norm. We are already in their debt.
      Thank you,

      1. Judith

        The Baffler article is fascinating. In the last section, Ehrenrich returns to Walter Benjamin, but only briefly. I wish he had expanded on those thoughts.

        “For Benjamin this could only be a political act. It meant overturning any structures that relied on the exploitation of labor—which is to say not only our sweat and our skills but our time, being in all its divinity as it pulses through our veins—or on the “mastery of nature,” which was, he suggested, of a piece with any other form of exploitation. And it meant rejecting the slumbrous fantasy that history will carry us to some better land. It would not. Time had to be “blasted out” and history blasted open. Only then could it be redeemed, and with it, us.”

        1. Conor O'Brien

          I first came across WB through Maria Popova’s ‘brainpickings’ on storytelling.

          “With this the gift for listening is lost and the community of listeners disappears. For storytelling is always the art of repeating stories, and this art is lost when the stories are no longer retained. It is lost because there is no more weaving and spinning to go on while they are being listened to. The more self-forgetful the listener is, the more deeply is what he listens to impressed upon his memory. When the rhythm of work has seized him, he listens to the tales in such a way that the gift of retelling them comes to him all by itself. This, then, is the nature of the web in which the gift of storytelling is cradled. This is how today it is becoming unraveled at all its ends after being woven thousands of years ago in the ambience of the oldest forms of craftsmanship.”

    2. abynormal

      I reckon being I’ll as one of the great pleasures of Life, provided one is not too ill and isnot obliged to work till one is better.
      Sammuel Butler, The way of all flesh 1903

      Love You Yves

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      but I expect they’ll keep doing it. Whether or not we owe them an incalulable debt (we do), still it indicates their desire to do more 🙏

    4. Alex morfesis

      Lack of links ?? The only days moi can read thru what catches the eye and get any real work done is when one of the krewe is only operating at 150% instead of the usual 250% you speed junkies keep pushing at us…please…more slow days….

    5. Jeremy Grimm

      I too appreciate all the links and posts. But I must confess I have trouble absorbing and keeping up with them — even on the days of apologies for too few links and original posts.

      The patterns of change the links and posts paint grow ever more complex and difficult to understand.

  2. Louis Fyne

    Today’s version of the “Music Man”/Simpsons’ monorail….Big business promises jobs and riches to small town America—-all they need are some tax cuts and lots of free infrastructure.

    The Bernie Bros. and Deplorables get potholes, short-term temp. jobs, and warehouses that make the average Big Box store look like a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece.

    1. Tom Doak

      Thank you for posting this article. The town’s hunger to attract businesses resulted in an unsustainable situation where it can’t collect any taxes to maintain the infrastructure that gets worn out by the businesses.

      Plus Warren Buffet ! I wonder how he would make this place sound all folksy and nice.

  3. tao99

    Count this as one Canadian who thinks the policy of adding one per cent a year to the population through immigration is NUTS. And although my parents were immigrants and my wife is an immigrant and I do support some immigration, the levels being discussed now are insane.

    Most immigrants go to the big cities and put simply the infrastructure is not keeping up. Toronto traffic is absolute chaos. Our best farmland is now sprouting condos and ugly boxes. Housing is stupidly expensive and most importantly the influx of so many people distorts the economy – note the percentage of Canadians employed in construction. It very quickly becomes a treadmill where any attempt to slow immigration brings on a recession, but to keep growth you have to keep upping the numbers.

    A level in the 200,000 (max) range is likely more appropriate. AND ideally it would be nice to have a population policy that gives us a population goal where we will plateau. What is the long term population goal for this barren white wasteland. 40 million, 60 million, 100 million??? This is beyond nuts. I would argue, aim for 40 million, then put in place policies to gt there eventually (not in like 5 years.)

    1. Isotope_C14

      Smartest thing Canada could do is import as many scientists as possible and MMT their lives. Vannevar bush was arguably the reason for the US success in tech exactly because he realized you have to have state sponsored innovations.

      Of course since Trudeau is just a neo lib puppet, nothing that wise will happen.

      1. JEHR

        I take offense at your calling our Prime Minister “a neo lib puppet.” Can you give us evidence of such? Of whom is he a puppet? Can you offer a better idea than to “import as many scientists as possible and MMT their lives”– whatever that means. We have our own scientists; we had Michael Hudson teach us about MMT. Can you be clearer about what you mean without just making useless comments like “state sponsored innovations”– pertaining to what?

        Read the above link to the Baffler and maybe you could have a more enlightened response about how Canada can be smarter.

    2. Alain de Benoist

      Has the Canadian government done an environmental impact assessment on how much they will be worsening global warming by increasing their population by 1%? Trump should organize buses to take the next convoy of Central American peasants directly to Canada.

      1. JEHR

        Increasing our population by immigration means the people are already alive and affecting global warming before they come to Canada. By the way, we have been receiving refugees and migrants from the USA since Trump came into office. No need for those buses. Some are so desperate that they come ill-dressed and some have lost their fingers in the cold. They are to be pitied and helped!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We need to show empathy in this time of growing ignorance.

        1. Alain de Benoist

          One additional Canadian impacts global warming far more than for example one Somali does in her homeland. And so bringing a million people from low consuming nations and placing them in high consuming Canada will indeed increase global warming now and for generations to come. This is a very irresponsible thing to do. High consuming societies need to decrease their populations, not increase them. Good thinking Canadians should be abandoning their high consuming lifestyle and migrating to Somali where they live much more in harmony with nature. This whole migration thing is going in the wrong direction.

    3. Gareth

      As a fellow white-wastelander, I have almost the opposite view. Canada is a good place, there’s lots of it, and there should be more of us here. There’s definitely room for better policy here–I don’t think we should keep pushing population into Van/TO/MT. The issues that those places have are very much the same as every other major population center in the globalized world, I don’t think that comes down to immigration at all.

      As for what level we should be aiming for, that really depends on our goals. World population is growing at 1%, so every point below that that we are missing is global influence that we are losing. Last time I checked our natural population growth was hovering around replacement rates, so we’re strictly losing out if we don’t grow through immigration. That’s going to be more and more important as the balance of economic power shifts from the atlantic to the pacific. We’re increasingly going to be squeezed between the US and the asian powers–I think we gotta be prepared for that, and a shrinking population is not the way!

      1. Don Cafferty

        What Canada is doing with immigration is inconsistent with its Official Languages Law that identifies english and french only. Already the number of people whose mother tongue is neither english nor french equals the number of french native speakers. Tension is starting to arise such as, New Brunswick’s ambulance service, as bilingual services in both languages is running out of people who can perform the service. To reflect the composition of its population and its multiculturalism, Canada needs to reexamine its language laws. The concentration of population in some areas would suggest a relaxation of official language bilingualism and the provision of service in some other language. Unfortunately, the current government may have aggravated the situation by expanding the number of service locations that are required to be officially bilingual. In terms of having an influence in world affairs, the composition of the Canadian government does not reflect the multicultural population that lives in Canada. It is missing out on a resource.

        1. JEHR

          I live in NB and immigration has nothing to do with the problem of the lack of bi-lingual ambulance workers. NB is the only province that is officially bi-lingual (i.e., provides all services in both official languages) and it also happens to the one of the poorest provinces in Canada. Our population has shrunk as young people seek jobs in the West and many of those left behind are older. Thus, schools have suffered also and the teaching of two languages becomes more and more expensive as the population dwindles.

          What does the Official Languages Law say about immigration? Can you cite the part your are talking about?

          We are a bilingual country even though there are fewer French speakers in Canada as a whole. It was a good decision to acknowledge the presence of the French and English in Canada after 1763–we are proud of having two cultures in the same country.

          The composition of the Canadian government reflects the population insofar as we have bilingual leaders and anyone not speaking both official languages does not become a political leader in the country. Our PM began with a cabinet equally divided between men and women–that is progress and I’m sure there will be more attempts by the government to reflect the multi-cultural nature of our country. We are trying hard.

          1. Unna

            Middle class Nigerians who get travel visas to the United States and then stay a few nights in a NY hotel, take a cab to the border and cross not at an official entry point where they would be rejected, but walk across a field. Hmm. Sound like economic immigrants to me. Why don’t they apply to come to Canada the legal way, by obeying the laws of Canada, and wait just like everybody else? How do they then honestly take an oath of citizenship, part of which is to promise to obey the law, when they start out breaking the law?

            Equally dividing the cabinet, male and female, is nothing more than Trudeau virtue signalling. That’s how you get stuck with failures like Chrystia Freeland, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, who’s such a slick diplomat, she’s banned from Russia, which last time I checked, is a place you might want this person to be able to travel to.

            Having both French and English as official languages is truly an example of good governance at a genius level and I’m very proud to be a citizen of Canada because of this. But how many more official languages does Canada need or really want? And what would that do long term for Canadian national cohesion? Freeland ought to expend some effort on instructing the Ukrainian government in how to get along with other ethnicities, like Russian speaking Ukrainians instead of bombing them. Canadian style bi-lingualism would make Russian an official language of Ukraine and make learning Russian a required school language in Ukrainian areas and so on, and would be an admirable example of Canadian “Peace, Order, and Good Government.”

            The illegal border crossings helped elect Doug Ford in Ontario. Does Canada need Doug Ford running as the conservative leader in the next federal election after the one coming up? I’d almost rather see Scheer knock off Trudeau now, consign him to the dust bin of history, and get beat four years from now by the NDP under a different leader, rather then see Trudeau win again, let a few million people into the country only to get beat by Doug Ford down the line. Doug Ford, Prime Minister of Canada. But Bad things like Donald Trump can only happen in America, never in Canada.

            1. adrena

              Chrystia Freeland’s maternal grandparents are from Ukraine.

              In her prejudiced eyes, the Ukraine can do no wrong.

              Too much of her personal feelings contaminates Canadian foreign policy

              1. The Rev Kev

                Didn’t help that her grandfather was a Nazi collaborator who was the editor-in-chief of a Ukrainian-language pro-Nazi newspaper. I think that this family connection coloured her view of the Soviet occupation which has carried on over to her view of the Russian Federation. I sometimes wonder if she is working for Canadian interests or for sectors of the Ukraine’s interests instead.

                1. JEHR

                  Hey, Rev, unto how many generations will the sins of the fathers be visited on the children who did not commit the sin?

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    Until the generations break from the teachings of their elders and not hate the children of those who did their fathers wrong.

            2. eg

              Doug Ford’s election had precisely zero to do with illegal border crossings in an entirely different province (Quebec) and everything to do with an Ontario electorate fed up with Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals.

              But you know this already — my concern is the disinformation your post is spreading about Canada to the non-Canadians hereabouts.

              1. Unna

                I said the border crossings helped him. Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals assured him of a win over them, at least, and what was a questionable showing by the Ontario NDP who wanted to turn Ontario into a “sanctuary province” gave him the win in the election. As I remember, Ford’s conservatives got huge support among the legal immigrant community in Ontario who must not have thought that was a good idea. So a character like Doug Ford is now the premier of a Canadian province.

                And as I remember, very soon after he got elected, Doug Ford got into a fight with the federal Liberal government about who was going to pay for the border crossers.

                “In these opening weeks, Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s team has moved swiftly to implement a populist, socially conservative agenda. You may hate that agenda, but this is a focused, capable government. It is also the ideological antithesis of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in Ottawa, which is why the animus between the two is deep and personal.
                That animus revealed itself on Friday, when Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and Ontario’s new Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod clashed over asylum-seekers who have been entering Canada illegally and then, in many cases, moving to Toronto or Ottawa.
                Mr. Hussen accused the Ford government of stigmatizing these new arrivals by calling them queue-jumpers, saying such language is “not Canadian, and it’s very dangerous.”
                Ms. MacLeod fought back, saying she “won’t be bullied” by her federal counterpart. The minister particularly objected to “him calling me un-Canadian, which I take great offence to.”

                So the stuff was flying back and forth fast and furious about illegal, ah in Trudeau speak, “irregular” immigrants who, yes, mainly come in from Quebec, but then settle in Ontario sticking Doug Ford’s government and Ontario taxpayers with the bill.

                And now, god forbid, we’ve got Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada. Anti immigrant and anti a lot of other things that make Canada a great place. I don’t want to see politicians like Bernier and Ford use the issue of “irregular” border crossers plus “too much too soon” immigration to demagogue their way to power. I don’t see that as an unreasonable concern.
                Reply ↓

    4. Altandmain


      Keep in mind Canadians overwhelmingly do not want this. Half want immigrant reduced. A third want it kept the same.

      Of all people, Maxime Bernier, a pro-business nativist, has the policy closest to what Canadians want.

      I think that’s partly why parties like the AfD are gaining power in places like Germany. They will go where the left dare not.

      WE don’t have a working class party here in Canada. The NDP isn’t one. Maybe it used to be, but these days, it is economically centrist and socially at an extreme.

  4. vlade

    On the Slovakia and oligarchs – it’s waaay too optimistic. Most importantly, there’s really no credible opposition to the government – it’s either incompetent, old corrupt guard, or new guard wanting to get their hands on public money.

    For those who know a bit about the region, the fact that most sensible party (which is not even in opposition) is Most-Hid, which is a party representing mostly Hungarian minority (although it presents itself as intra-ethnic party, but in reality, most of its voters are ethnic Hungarians).

    For those who don’t know the region,Slovak-Hungarian relationship have a deep historic aversion (stemming from the facts that Slovaks – and other minorities, with the exception of Germans, who under Austrian and later Austro-Hungarian Empire had a special status – were often forcibly “hungarised” in what used to be the Kingdom of Hungary). The moves by Orban (and Hungarian governments in the last twenty years in general) to re-establish “Greater Hungary” don’t help either.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks for this input. I find it increasingly sad and disturbing at how so many countries in Eastern Europe are regressing – at least in terms of democracy. I know the situation is more complex than often described (they are often regressing in quite different directions), but its hard to avoid the conclusion that most of those countries have become more authoritarian even when they’ve become more economically successful.

      1. Clive

        My taxi driver this morning was a guy originally from India who I fairly often meet just out of luck (he works a regular route) and pass the time of day with and discuss the various trials and tribulations of the world. I pick up all sorts of intelligence about India from him, stuff you just never get to hear about in our wonderfully narrow media.

        He expressed similar sentiments about Modi and the crazed authoritarian Hindu-favouring BJP. He’s normally quite a reserved person but, citing the effects of demonetisation and the abuse of the rural poor outside of his sectarian power bases, he got really furious. Modi gets away with it because India is racing ahead, economically. Certainly compared to the good-old bad-old days of Congress stagnation. People will, seemingly, put up with a heck of a lot of not very nice going’s on so long as there’s plenty of money sloshing around.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thats my very distant impression of India too. Modi made is reputation as Chief Minister in Gujurat through promoting rapid growth through the usual neolib methods, but at the expense of creating longer term deep economic problems. I suspect he’ll do the same job with the country as a whole. If things go sour I suspect he’ll fall back on sectarianism and nationalism. That rarely works out well in the sub-continent.

    2. SoldierSvejk

      I would certainly not call it optimistic – more like disinformation.
      A person alleged to have paid for murders has been arrested and is in custody – a fact that this article (curiously) does not mention.
      The trouble is that he is not associated with Slovakia’s former PM, who was forced to resign in the wake of the murders.
      Slovaks complain of Hungarians because they’ve had to endure centuries of oppression at the hands of H. gentry (regardless of how competent someone thinks Most-Hid is).
      Interesting how often the writer mention the modest house of the murdered couple. The fact is that few 27-year-olds can afford a house in Slovakia to begin with (unless someone else pays for it).
      These murders were strange – in a country where something like that does not happen – but the article diverts and misinforms.

      1. vlade

        The businessman alleged to have paid for the murder has direct connections with former PM Fico – Fico lives in block of luxury flats in Bratislava, and Kocner (the businessman) was his neighbor there on the same floor. It’s pretty much impossible they would not know each other.

        The complex of flats belongs to a very dodgy company, whose owner (another friend of Fico, who allegedly rents him the flat way below market price) is now being investigated for tax evasion

        So it’s not entirely disconnected – but not as connected as was assumed at the start.

        That said, I have few doubts that Slovak political elites are deeply corrupt and often working hand in hand with organised crime.

        1. vlade

          I recommend hiking in eastern carpathia (also called Beskids) that run through Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine. It’s a beautiful region, with hardly a turist (which also means hardly anyone speaks English – be warned). The wooden eastern-rite churches are beautiful

          So, if you’re heading to Kosice for the World Ice Hokey championship, I’d recommend setting some time away for hiking around there (May is nice in the beech forests, although I prefer early autumn or winter).

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Those wooden tsverkas are fairy tale confections, like something out of a Wes Anderson film. Thanks!

          2. adrena

            When vacationing in the Bescady mountains of South Poland, I was so sick of the saurkraut dishes, that I ordered the “soup of the day”.

            I was served: “Sauerkraut” soup”.

  5. John

    The Trump Organization looks to me like a “mom and pop” business grown large. Is it a wonder that you cannot run IBM or Microsoft in the same manner as you run Sam and Flo’s Deli?

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Wall Street should love the economic theory Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backs — and that should worry the rest of us Business Insider

    Modern Monetary Theory Doesn’t Make Single-Payer Health Care Any Easier Josh Barro, New York Magazine (Furzy Mouse).

    I think both these articles make a very cogent and important point about MMT. From the comments I see regularly btl here and elsewhere, and in many writings about MMT, there is an assumption that MMT goes hand in hand with progressive policies and better government action. It might indeed do so. But MMT as a theory is largely value neutral. It is entirely possible for MMT to be used to just boost the industrial military complex (as arguably it is already being used, think of all those unaccounted for trillions), or to boost Wall Street.

    There are also potential downsides to MMT in the form of pressures not to raise taxes during boom times:

    And Mason thinks this issue could come up a lot, because — contrary to the views of some MMT scholars and most MMT enthusiasts in the political sphere — he believes that consistently implemented MMT would call for smaller budget deficits in the long run than a traditional Keynesian approach.

    Remember, the primary way the government controls inflation now is through monetary policy: the Fed raises interest rates when it believes (correctly or otherwise) that inflation threatens a rise. But MMT thinkers tend to believe interest rates should be kept low and stable, regardless of inflation conditions — Warren Mosler, one of the founders of the movement, says they should be set permanently at zero. Without the interest-rate lever, once MMT policymakers achieved their goal of an economy at full employment, the tool they’d have to use to control inflation is a very unappealing fiscal one: tax-financed budget surpluses.

    MMT is potentially a very valuable tool for progressive arguments and for running economies better. But its not an end, its a means to an end, and its entirely possible that Wall Street, the military industrial complex, and other malign political forces end up grabbing the idea and running with it for their own objectives.

    1. vlade

      A perfect example for your comment is the fact that the US runs its military spending as MMT – and has been doing so pretty much since WW2. Undoubtedly it has been creating jobs, and even important inventions.

      But I’d not call it exactly a progressive policy.

      1. jsn

        Equally in support of the means, not ends argument, Hjalmar Schacht ran the Reichs bank to support the Nazi Wehrmacht along MMT principles until he was jailed as a collaborator in the Von Stauffenberg plot.

        As I understand it, but I don’t really know the history, Abba Lerners “Functional Finance” was developed out of Keynesianism. Does anyone know the connection?

        1. jsn

          Schacht had also ended the Weimar inflation through application of MMT principles: a clear understanding of what money actually is and its implications with regards to real resources is the key to successful application towards whatever aim. The choice of aims is political.

      2. Lee

        Doesn’t military spending contribute to inflation? It puts money into the civilian economy without producing civilian goods and services, thus increasing demand without a corresponding increase in supply? If so, has this effect been quantified?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          This is essentially the reason why most countries adopt rationing during wars. Its not connected to food shortages, but to suppress non-military spending and so damp down inflation. Keynes wrote an excellent treatise on this during WWII.

          Arguably, thats one reason why inflation started to soar in the US during the Vietnam War.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            Yes and no. We (US) have been at war pretty continuously for the last 20 years and no inflation to speak of. So there must be war and war.

            Before for the 1973 embargo, inflation had “soared” to about 6%. In an era with strong industrial unions with cost-of-living escalators in their wage agreements (typically historically mis-named “wage-push inflation” as if responding to maintain purchasing power is somehow causative of inflation). Those conditions do not exist now.

            Outside one-off events like oil embargoes and Volker-ite monetary “shocks,” inflation requires too much purchasing power chasing too few goods and services. This is not the world we live in.

        2. Cal2

          The inflation of the Seventies was caused by Vietnam.
          A bomb crater in Vietnam produces nothing but mosquitoes.
          The same money for the bomb and its delivery buys an X-ray machine, or a room in a hospital. What has longer productivity?

        3. Yves Smith

          Not really, because it is deploying resources outside the US. Spending money on local contractors (which we did a ton in the Iraq war, Halliburton and then Blackwater would just take a cut and hire locals), building and running ginormous bases and embassies, sending money to various mercenaries we support don’t employ US resources. We also outsource a lot of our military purchases. US combat uniforms and boots are made in China.

    2. sinbad66

      Saw this in the beginning of the article:
      But the real issue is what Wall Street and corporate America would do under MMT – and that’s borrow money to buy back shares and boost CEO paydays.
      Umm, aren’t they doing that already…..

    3. vlade

      An additional very good point the MFA!=MMT article makes, is that taxing to avoid inflation is really really hard.

      When I was thinking of it recently, it may be basically impossible as a progressive policy – because to avoid the inflation, the tax would have to hit the spenders, and the propensity to spend is negatively correlated with income. So taxing rich hard makes little impact on inflation – you’d need to tax the lower 50% for it to have visible impact. I can’t see how you could sell a policy which would say “we will give you a job, and them immediately hike your taxes” (for example).

      The “tax to spend” can be socially sold, because it makes people feel the tax is used for something – not just taking money from them _explicitly_ so that they can’t spend it. That, most people, would call theft.

      Moreover, people don’t notice inflation (unless it runs high) while they do taxes.

      1. todde

        Exactly what I’ve been saying. It will be hard to politically get a tax increase to control inflation when prices are rising.

        Although Reagan and the Democrat Congress did it in the 80’s with an increase in the FICA taxes.

      2. JohnnyGL

        I think a tax hike in response to an across the board rise in prices and wages would be an easier sell than what Obama tried to do, pretty much from 2010 on which was push austerity into an incredibly weak economy. The Democratic Party wipe out under his watch would seem to support that.

        Asking people who’ve been getting a string of strong raises to sacrifice a little is much easier than asking them to sacrifice when they’ve already been suffering.

        1. vlade

          The problem with inflation is it may not be due to people having rises – it may be an external trade effect.

          And the rises may also not be equally distributed (across regions and industries) while taxes will. Inflation in general tends to also have some regional variations, not just due to food prices, but most importantly due to rents/mortgage payments, i.e. poor regions tend to have lower rents to start with, and those tend not to rise as fast unless the local economy does (which may be arguably due to some rich bastards “discovering” it and buying anyting that’s not nailed down and often even that).

          Taxes tend to be location agnostic (we’re now talking federal taxes, states are not currency issuers but users, so they have to tax to spend).

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The other option that is rarely, if ever mentioned, when there is inflation is to reduce government spending.

            As is, it is

            1. To inject new money, the government has the ‘painful task’ of spending more. The people are to be spared of that suffering.

            2. To drain money, the people must be taxed.

            And rarely, if ever (as mentioned above):

            1. To inject new money, give free money to the people (Bush or Obama did one time, like $800 per person, but there is no limit really to how much, really).

            2. To drain money, reduce government spending.

            1. JohnnyGL

              I think a Labor Govt did that in the UK….maybe during the 70s? Wasn’t so popular, I figure, but I don’t know details. I just had a prof that referenced it in college and it stuck in my head.

          2. todde

            if they were income taxes you would be taxing areas with higher income (ie economic activity) that might mitigate some of the concern.

            1. GramSci


              IMHO, a very important point. MMT needs to get behind AOC and an aggressively progressive income tax.

          3. JohnnyGL

            “The problem with inflation is it may not be due to people having rises – it may be an external trade effect.

            And the rises may also not be equally distributed (across regions and industries) while taxes will. “

            What I’m seeing is a statement that tax hikes might not be great at tackling inflation. You’re right. Just like Monetary Policy isn’t so great at tackling inflation. Volcker’s a hero because he threw people out of work because oil prices went up. That’s swatting a fly with a sledgehammer.

            I’d argue something like an oil price hike should be dealt with by having an energy policy that relieves bottlenecks and reduces demand for oil. Tax hikes and rate hikes should NOT be the only tools in the toolkit.

            Also, sometimes inflation problems are short term and can work themselves out through market mechanisms, etc. There may well be times where the best response is none at all.

            Throwing millions out of work should be the LAST option considered!!!

      3. Paul Boisvert

        While Yves is right that MMT is predominantly descriptive, it has prescriptive parts–like the JG, which is relevant to this topic. Mason’s “we won’t be able to pass tax increases when needed” argument is very unlikely to be an issue.

        First, if increased (per capita) spending and deficits have been working to reach full employment, then when that is achieved, we can simply stop increasing spending. No new taxes are needed at that point, as being at full employment is not by itself inflationary. It’s easy to just say “keep per-capita spending the same as last year”. While full employment will lead to some bid-up wage increases, those won’t be inflationary in a steady-spending economy–the capitalists will have to give up some of their share of income to compensate.

        Second, MMT is at great pains to describe and advocate counter-cyclical buffers, like the JG. As full employment looms, spending on the JG will automatically decrease. Also, in any growing economy, routine (not increased) taxes operate on a larger base, generating more revenue automatically. And spending on “welfare” (besides the JG) decreases automatically. All these and more reduce greatly the need for any “new” taxes.

        Third, the whole reason routine, demand-pull inflation is “feared” is that while it is a wash overall (people have more money to pay the higher prices), it is generally better for the working class, as it is associated with growing economies. That allows workers to seize a higher share of production as bid-up wages. And it is generally worse for the rich (who own most of the money whose value is eroded by inflation.) But guess who runs our government? There will always (until we get actual socialism) be a very powerful and influential constituency against inflation–the ruling class. Even (especially!) if inflation starts to slightly accelerate, the notion that somehow the ruling class will be unable to stop the government they own and control from ignoring their wishes is delusional.

        Finally, re single-payer, the vast majority of spending on health care is already potentially available to the government to use for single-payer, apart from new taxes. That is the insurance premiums that people (or their employers, pretax) already pay. A fair portion of that simply needs to be paid to the government in some form of “fee” from people or employers, but nowhere near all of it, as a lot went to pay for inefficient private insurers and their profits. Government purchasing power lowering medical costs will do a lot of the rest–the inflationary impact should be modest.

        None of this argues against reducing spending on the military, prison system, and other waste, nor against raising taxes on the rich (while reducing them on the non-rich): all wonderful ideas to be fought for politically! But they are logically unnecessary to have a rational system of government finance (MMT) and health care.

    4. jefemt

      I wonder if MMT works if a nation is NOT the world’s reserve currency?

      Ponder Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. Granted, these nations are suffering very real impacts under the blockades/policies of the US to isolate and punish, but — in particular Venezuela which has oil to sell to the world—– MMT should make things hum?

      And , arguably, Maduro is no more a self-dealing thug than many of those in Washington and Wall street?

      1. Yves Smith


        First, this “MMT works” meme is spurious. MMT is a description of how things operate for fiat currency issuers.

        The reason the US has more freedom than some other countries is not that it has the reserve currency but that it is much more of an autarky than many countries. Its import/export sector isn’t large.

        Further, many small countries, or their companies, often borrow in a foreign currency to get what look like cheaper funding costs. That pretty much always ends in tears, and makes them a user of someone else’s currency.

        Re Venezuela’s oil, it is heavy sour crude. Little demand for that when oil is <$100 a barrel.

        1. JohnnyGL

          First, this “MMT works” meme is spurious. MMT is a description of how things operate for fiat currency issuers.

          Yes, the BI was very frustrating in that respect. MMT doesn’t care if you ‘believe in it’ or not. It’s a description of how things function post Bretton-Woods.

          The real value of MMT is that scholars started with the ‘practice’ and they reverse engineered that functionality into creating a ‘theory’ to understand it.

          I also thought it was cute how the writer seems to think that oodles of lobbyists on Capitol Hill are really holding back their list of demands because of “budgetary constraints”. Any lobbyist that takes an answer from a congress-critter of “sorry, there’s no money for that because we need to balance the budget” isn’t going to be employed for very long in the field of lobbying.

          1. RMO

            “MMT is a description of how things operate for fiat currency issuers”

            Exactly. And as I’ve often noted, every politician acts in accordance with this reality when it comes to something they want. It’s only things they don’t want that are difficult to pay for.

      2. JohnnyGL

        To answer your first question, it’s a clear “YES”. Japan since the 1990-91 meltdown. Monstrously large public debt and deficits. Though they had more policy space because they ran long standing Current Account surpluses.

        I think it makes more sense to think of the real lesson of MMT as “a lot of countries have more policy space than they think they do, depending on the circumstances”.

        The three you listed probably don’t have much more room to work with than they’re already using. Venezuela could certainly use a better monetary/currency policy than they’re using. It seems clear to me that their problems have been made worse, not better by their monetary/currency policy.

        A country ilke Brazil is very frustrating to watch as the political scene there turned toward austerity around 5 years ago and it was all so unnecessary.

    5. notabanker

      PK forgive me if I take your comment on a tangent here, but I do think it is relevant. Blyth re-tweeted this podcast he did a couple of months ago yesterday:

      It got me thinking about AOC’s policy proposals and the potential implications and MMT. To horrendously over simplify, $17 trillion has been printed, there is no inflation, wages are stagnant. Monopolies are expanding with tremendous margins while non-monopolistic businesses are running on thin margins. Inequality, or concentration of wealth is at historic levels.

      Green New Deal proposes marginal tax increases on wealth income. In theory this would subdue purchasing power from the wealth class\private sector, which would give gov’t spending more weight so more resources could be directed at solving problems the policies target. Those policies include real wages increases both directly via guaranteed jobs and indirectly by spending more on resources derived from those wages. This will increase real demand for goods and services with tangible value, ie things people need to live. If nothing is done to increase the supply of those goods, we will have inflation.

      Further, that 17T is out there somewhere. Presumably, and this is where I’m not so sure I am correct, it has been largely diverted to areas that are mostly intangible, ie hoarded. Parked in financial instruments that rotate from market to market.

      If pressure is put on the wealth class to convert those intangible assets to tangible ones via tax policy, inflation will exacerbate. Further, inflation will provide incentive to convert those assets into tangible goods and services, ie hoard real things that people need to live, resulting in a monster feedback loop.

      All this leads me to the conclusion that marginal tax rates as a policy could be a trigger to blow things up. Understanding where that 17T really is, how it can be used and getting it under control has to be part of solving this problem. This really translates into heavy regulation of financial instruments and their redemption, which is a Pandora’s box of it’s own.

      So to bring this full circle, MMT is a theory, not an answer. And we better have a holistic understanding of the systemic implications before we unleash it to solve a specific set of problems. I’m a big fan of AOC and at worst she is getting a conversation going that must be had. But it’s going to take a much more than Congress to attack these problems.

      BTW, happy for readers to tell me where I am off base. Blyth always triggers the proverbial light bulbs.

      1. Ignacio

        Green New Deal proposes marginal tax increases on wealth income.

        I would also suggest indirect taxes (VAT) increases in special instances: yatchs, private airplanes, heavy SUVs (except for justified exemptions).

      2. JohnnyGL

        “Further, inflation will provide incentive to convert those assets into tangible goods and services, ie hoard real things that people need to live, resulting in a monster feedback loop.”

        Yes, it’s possible that the velocity of money might increase, but hard to know what might prompt some movement. If anything, higher taxes would prompt MORE attempts to hide money. But yes, higher inflation might lead people to buy stuff in expectations of further price increases, what you’ve outlined is a sea change in mentality where an inflation problem feeds on itself.

        But hold on, if people start buying goods and services with their previously idle savings, they’re going to be paying sales taxes, and those that supply those goods/services will earn revenue/income, also paying income taxes and shrinking the budget deficit, causing an automatic fiscal tightening as things heat up.

        Economists constantly seem worried that an inflation sprial might break out, and push concepts like NAIRU to justify policy tightening. The problem is that there’s basically NO evidence for NAIRU as a concept. It’s never happened, as far as I understand.

        1. notabanker

          I was thinking through Blyth’s comments on massive QE, the lack of inflation, stagnant wages, and income inequality and it intuitively makes sense. Stagnant wages over a mass population is really what curbs inflation, not unemployment. It’s been pointed out many times, Fed interest rate policy is only an effective tool when people have borrowing capacity.

          Suppressed demand through limited purchasing power is what is keeping things in equilibrium, as long as the wealth side of income imbalance isn’t spent on those commodities that are essential to the mass populace. How much gas, groceries and cars can 1% buy?

          If you change the populist wage side of the equation, you have to increase supply to maintain the balance. In a perfect world where everyone does the right thing, that idle wealth would be used to increase supply. Investment and competition would work towards offsetting inflationary increases and everyone is happy. But if that idle wealth is used inefficiently, or gasp, nefariously, then you have a problem.

          I realize this is an oversimplification of a chaotic system, but it still makes me wonder how big of a problem all that fiat money that has already been issued is going to be.

          1. VietnamVet

            This is what I can’t get my head around. If trillions in digital money are held in derivatives and wealthy portfolios, doing nothing economically except buying semi-portable artifacts, why did the EU subjugate and kill Greeks to avoid German and French banks from failing. A few key strokes and the bad debts can be wiped off the ledgers. I assume that if the oligarch’s computers started seeing the money flowing out; the Quants would halt it dead. However, this is only binary codes. Governments must regain supremacy and tell the rich that if they want to keep a portion of their wealth; money needs to be spent on infrastructure and wages. Middle class French have already destroyed 60% of the speed cameras that extort money from them.

      3. Oh

        Because of ZIRP, QE infinity and the $17 trillion + handout to the Banksters, real estate and other asset prices have skyrocketed. I would call this price inflation. Because of stock buybacks and inflation of stock prices, the rich have benefited by “wage” inflation.

      4. The Rev Kev

        Did you see his last sentence? He was talking about Germany but guess where else he could have been talking about. Here is that sentence-

        ‘My point is this: if you’re waiting for a bunch of superannuated, septuagenarian social democrats to save your a*** start looking elsewhere.’

      5. John k

        The sum of the us trade deficits over time is the sum of dollars held overseas by savers and mercantile governments.

    6. Summer

      A few people have pointed out that whatever system is used there is still the question of prioritizing how to use it.

      1. gepay

        With the Supreme Court making the money of the rich and corporations free speech, with corporations having the rights of citizens along with the private financing of Congressional elections – we get the best Congress money can buy. They are in charge of allocation government spending. Although apparently the Pentagon and the national security state spend what they want without real accounting. Since the Congress is bought and paid for they will not be interested in programs helping the general welfare. Until real campaign reform is enacted, democracy at the national level is a sham. All the well intentioned efforts at reform will come to nought. yes a few small battles won here and there but the Empire continues on the road to collapse. Hopefully before mankind’s world collapses.

    7. djrichard

      Paul Samuelson: The balanced budget myth

      “I think there is an element of truth in the view that the superstition that the budget must be balanced at all times [is necessary]. Once it is debunked, [it] takes away one of the bulwarks that every society must have against expenditure out of control. There must be discipline in the allocation of resources or you will have anarchistic chaos and inefficiency. And one of the functions of old fashioned religion was to scare people by sometimes what might be regarded as myths into behaving in a way that the long-run civilized life requires. We have taken away a belief in the intrinsic necessity of balancing the budget if not in every year, [and then] in every short period of time. If Prime Minister Gladstone came back to life he would say “oh, oh what you have done” and James Buchanan argues in those terms. I have to say that I see merit in that view.”

      I would argue that the Defense industry has already seen through this and gotten theirs. So if anything, the game is to keep others from realizing the same thing. Otherwise, if everybody is partying, well it kind of dilutes the value of your own party, doesn’t it.

      Still, have to wonder why the DoD fed agency itself simply argue for this. “Let’s make the pie bigger and everyone can have a piece.” Instead I get the sense that the mind-set of the DoD is, “there’s only so much pie. Do you truly want the DoD getting less of that pie? In favor of what? People on welfare?”.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Yes. This was a popular idea back in the day. There was even a sociological version of it where balanced budgets were replaced by religion. If us mopes don’t have a fairy tale that involves hell to believe in, who knows how much havoc we will wreak.

        It wasn’t even clear in Samuelson’s day that the “problem” with government spending is that people in a democracy are overly willing to vote themselves benefits without appropriate taxation (the “idea” behind public choice theory). But it is blatantly obvious today that the ones to worry about today are not us ordinary mopes but the kleptocracy that owns our government.

    8. Cal2

      Short version,
      The looming debt monster is either addressed by taxing the wealthy, or,
      handing the ability to lend even more money, at higher interest rates, to the money lenders.
      Gee, I wonder what the oligarchs would prefer?

    9. Grant

      Well, the way the media and most politicians discuss these issues, they seem to think that the government needs to borrow and tax in order to spend, when it obviously doesn’t. They say that if the state spends, it will necessarily increase inflation and reduce the value of the dollar, neither is true. The media and the politicians also never discus the fact that private banks create most money, not the state. They also seem to think that public debt is the same as private debt, and that at some point in the future we will have to pay for deficits that were created in 1876 or whatever. MMT, as you correctly said, is value neutral. However, in our political context, the only people that would have any interest in the insights of MMT is the left. Yeah, the right can acknowledge the insights of MMT to an extent behind the scenes, but they want to use those insights to create money for Wall Street, the military profiteers, subsidies for their campaign contributors, then when those things lead to deficits and public debt, they want to forget the insights of MMT so as to use those things to slash programs they are ideologically opposed to and spending that their donors oppose for various reasons. What they want to do is deeply unpopular and destructive, so it helps to pretend to be forced to do things no one supports, like brutal austerity. Even if the right realizes that the insights of MMT are valid, they will never admit it publicly, because most of the hostage taking they do is based on the public NOT knowing about those types of insights. Given the environmental crisis, the massive infrastructure gap, the decades long macroeconomic trends and the structural changes the left wants and we need, the left wants to acknowledge the insights MMT and to use them. So, while MMT is by itself value neutral, it is not in our political system and is not in the present context.

      When I look at how things are run today, it seems that the downsides of not acknowledging MMT are far greater than taxing at higher rates when the economy is doing well. Right now, we prioritize low inflation and austerity. The present costs of these things is tens of thousands of people dying from a lack of healthcare every year, a ballooning infrastructure gap, worsening macroeconomic conditions for working people, structural inequality that is worsening and an environmental crisis that is growing in intensity. I think those problems dwarf people paying more taxes if things get too hot. It is important to acknowledge the benefits AND the costs of the present way of thinking about and doing things in this present context, and then comparing that to the costs and benefits of acknowledging and using the insights of MMT. I don’t see how we could argue that the net cost of using the insights of MMT would come close to the present order. In fact, I think the net benefits of using MMT are much greater, especially when you consider that the environmental benefits we could increase, and the environmental costs we could decrease, largely have no market values.

      1. GramSci

        Thank you. The article under discussion was an oblique attack on the left, supposedly granting the validity of MMT, while sweeping under the rug the long-standing abuse of fiat by the MIC and Wall Street. As I interjected above, as a first step we need to get behind AOC on the 70% top rate, if not Piketty’s 80%. And of course close loopholes. Earned income should pay a lower rate than unearned!

        So long as the wealthy are obscenely wealthy, it won’t be hard to sell a truly progressive tax package the electorate. (Although it will be hard to sell this package to the crooks currently in office.)

        1. Grant

          I remember a poll done by Positive Money of British MPs about the basics of money creation, and over 80% didn’t have even basic knowledge of money creation. So, it is entirely possible that many right wing politicians and so called “centrists” are not really aware of the MMT insights, and most of the country is not aware. But if this was acknowledged publicly, if this was something that we forced those in power and the media to accept as objective reality, every single policy discussion would change. And their arguments against funding a wide range of programs would crumble. It is obvious, in our political context, that while the right might realize the reality behind the scene, they will never publicly acknowledge it, because their arguments on the need to cut or privatize programs, and to not fund a wide range of things, would fall apart. The centrists too, worthless to a person, would have little arguments left to justify their crappy policy stances and their corruption. The true nature of their policy choices would be undeniable. What they would likely do is resort to scare tactics of hyperinflation or whatever. We would go from, “How could you afford this?”, to “You clearly want us to be like Germany in the early 1920’s”. So, they would replace BS with more BS.

          That article though was intentionally biased, and I don’t think the logic is very convincing. I would love to trade the costs of this rotten system, based on ignorance regarding deficits, money creation, public debt and inflation, for having to maybe pay higher taxes when the economy is doing well and inflation maybe a bit high as a result.

      2. notabanker

        Even if the right realizes that the insights of MMT are valid, they will never admit it publicly, because most of the hostage taking they do is based on the public NOT knowing about those types of insights.

        Sunlight is the best disinfectant. An unintended consequence of TARP / QE was to proof MMT on a massive scale.

    10. Pookah Harvey

      We always seem to look at taxes in the economic sense. Taxes are also important in the political sense. Low taxes for the rich allow them to accumulate wealth. Money is power, especially political power. Decreasing taxes for the wealthy also ends up increasing taxes for the middle class and poor by de-funding state and local government. They in turn increase regressive taxes to make up for the losses. This creates resentment for government. The rich then uses this resentment to decrease regulations. This allows them to then accumulate more power and wealth.
      This ends in what I like to call a Rocco society. In the movie Key Largo Humphrey Bogart asks the mob boss Rocco “What do you want , Rocco?” His answer is “MORE”.
      We should see taxes as a way to re-democratize society by breaking up private concentrated power. How to keep government from using its power to be repressive is a different associated problem.

    11. Jeremy Grimm

      As PlutoniumKun states “…MMT as a theory is largely value neutral.” MMT describes how policy tools like government spending and taxation work in the economy affecting employment, growth, and inflation. Policy tools are used to craft policies. They suggests little or nothing about what policies should be crafted.

      “Tax to spend” can be sold socially because it has been sold for so long and hard to justify not spending — particularly for certain things our Elites oppose. It’s promoted through the false analogy between a government’s budget and a household budget, which has been driven into the heads of so many for so long. A counterpart to this little propaganda chestnut is the notion that spending for National Defense trumps all other reasons for government spending and weapons development, procurements, and constant warfare somehow contribute to the national defense. Fussing over MMT theory is a great way to draw argument away from discussing the substantial distortions our Elite have made to government policy to line their pockets and enhance their power.

      As an economic policy, taxes can be used to adjust the mix between government spending, consumer spending, and investment spending. This may require changes in the taxes on those who spend money for consumption of necessities in addition to those who spend for luxuries. The purpose of taxes is to balance aggregate demand while providing full employment of our workforce and controlling inflation if aggregate demand is allowed to grow to large. Tax policy adjusts consumer and investor spending to make room for government spending. It does not provide revenues, analogous to a business revenues, to support for government spending. Taxes on the wealthy, their income, wealth and inheritance, are political-economic tools which should be set to limit the political power and wealth of the Elite — that we might someday enjoy a democracy and government devoted to the Common Good and the Common Welfare.

      A statement at the tail of the link “Modern Monetary Theory Doesn’t Make Single-Payer Health Care Any Easier” raises another very important issue. Health Care is only one component of this much larger issue:
      “…the US starts off a higher per-capita cost base than any other country that has ever previously sought to move nearly all health-care expenditure onto the public ledger — but it also undermines the case for MMT.”
      This is a red herring as far as the case for MMT is concerned. The real issue is that the levels of monopoly and monopsony in our economy are nearing toxic levels. The Medical Industrial Complex is just one of many Cartels driving the economic rents we must pay to live in Murica while squeezing the incomes of the non-Elite for making those payments.

  7. nippersdad

    I thought that this was interesting. The Democratic Borg is worried about Ocasio Cortez being a loose cannon.

    I wonder if they realize how easy it would be for her to change her designation to Independent. it would only serve to make her even more popular and in a contest between being routinely shut down in committee and having a bully pulpit for her movement outside of it, I know which path I would choose.

    1. johnnygl

      Reps going on record whining about being challenged…reminding us why we hate the culture of congress…they want ‘no litmus tests’ and ‘no attacking colleagues’. ‘That’s not the way things are done here.’

      Lots of bad advice from reps and staffers, too. On a side note, i’ve been floored by the numbers of people offered unsolicited bad advice to AOC….in politico and on twitter and cable news. It’s staggering.

      Also, when i see things like ‘colleagues are afraid of her’, it gives me comfort.

      I very much want reps in congress to be afraid and uncomfortable. After all…it’s politics, if they don’t like it, find another job.

    2. Baby Gerald

      You’re spot-on with your evaluation, nippersdad. The fear of AOC is so deep they have mouthpieces like Whoopi Goldberg stressing– and not for the first time– that AOC should basically sit down and shut up and watch how things are done instead of criticizing the inaction and incompetence of her elders.

      Jordan Chariton discusses it here:

      There is a definite fear of AOC and the truth bombs she drops.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Which is why I called my rep and said, “Get her on Ways and Means”.

        The fact that she can ‘go nuclear’ and report on EXACTLY what that committee is up to at any given moment means we’d potentially get a lot more sunlight where things are currently shrouded in darkness.

      2. Grant

        Wow, a rich celebrity wants someone serious about long overdue structural changes to sit down and listen to people that have lorded over a decades-long society-wide disaster with their corruption and their crappy policies. I wonder if she would feel the same if she were impacted by policies in the same way people like AOC are. Goldberg recently had a segment where she said that she was scared by the “Justice Democrats”. The name alone scared her. She’s kind of silly, and I wonder what percentage of her audience thinks she makes good points. Are these people aware of the long-term macroeconomic trends in this country? They talk as if the establishment has earned the deference she shows them with the impact of their policies. They are hated for good reason.

        1. Carey

          The good thing is that the Class issues are becoming evident to everyone.
          W Goldberg carrying water for the Few? Most excellent, I say!

      3. Nakatomi Plaza

        That Whoopi Goldberg spiel is a masterpiece of neoliberalism. She uses race (John Lewis and civil rights) and gender (Diana Fienstein and MeToo) to bludgeon AOC and avoid absolutely any discussion of anything of content, portraying AOC as a threat to racial justice and women. Whoopi just told a young, intelligent progressive women to shut up and sit in the back of the room without losing an ounce of her liberal credibility.


    3. Pookah Harvey

      What is so odd is why the Democratic Borg is so afraid of AOC. It is because she is popular.

      So far, most of them have kept their criticism of Ocasio-Cortez private, fearful she’ll sic her massive following on them by firing off a tweet.

      This from the party that is supposed to be for the people? Apparently they are fearful that AOC may force them to take positions that the vast majority of Americans support.
      The horror!

  8. zagonostra


    The below clip from Jimmy Dore nails the duplicity of the Democratic leadership and the complicit corporate Media when it comes to healthcare. Dore does a great job of articulating/venting the seething anger that is felt by so many people.

    Whether exposing the mendacity/hypocrisy of Pelosi makes any difference, I don’t know…the political mechanism and tradition of protest (a la gilets jaunes) that translates anger into policy is absent.

    1. nycTerrierist

      thanks for this

      possibly stupid question from a low-tech person:
      can one refuse to use mychart?

      I happen to have it by default, it seems, but wonder if I can
      opt out?

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        I don’t use mine, which apparently still exists independent of me–the docs can all see each others’ documentation in it and when I first moved down here and saw providers in the UNC system I got lots of emails and letters exhorting me to sign up but I never did.

        Some find it a convenient way to query providers directly but since I do as little as possible online (no banking, no bill paying) for reasons well known to NCers, I will use the phone and mail as long as they let me.

        1. nycTerrierist

          Thanks v. much

          Will look into un-signing up, if I can.
          I probably signed up at some point in haste….

  9. Livius Drusus

    Re: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Takes the Democrats Back to the Future: An Interview with the Historian Rick Perlstein.

    On the subject of the trauma caused by Ronald Reagan’s victories and the subsequent victories of other Republicans like Gingrich and Bush, didn’t the Democratic shift to the right start with Jimmy Carter? I thought the neoliberal turn in the Western countries started with the 1973 oil crisis.

    1. nippersdad

      That is my impression as well. Carter was the first to start deregulating banks and raising interest rates to draw money away from the working classes, IIRC. I am pretty sure a straight line could be drawn between how he handled the oil crisis and the rise of such as Gingrich; something I have always found kind of ironic.

      1. pretzelattack

        carter put solar panels on the white house, and advocated using less oil. gingrich didn’t rise during carters term, but reagan did. i’m pretty sure carter was treated worse than trump by his own party, and did not move the party to the right. his insistence on being realistic about communism was not well received by either the republicans or democrats; i had never heard any other major politician talk about an “inordinate fear of communism”; he paid a political price for that. they wanted him out of there, and the cia/reagan campaign effort to prolong the hostage crisis did it, along with major media support (day 300 of the hostage crisis! when will carter turn iran into a parking lot???–courtesy of the new york times/washington post and the rest. the democrats helped sweep that under the rug–thanks joe biden!
        as far as i understand, the neoliberal project started post world war 2, when we made the world safe for capital with the marshall plan (oh wait, we were protecting freedom).

        1. foghorn longhorn

          Carter also helped get the deregulation ball going, airlines and trucking.
          Nixon starred it with healthcare hmo’s.
          Raygun shoved the mofo off a cliff and when it was slowing down the first black president, clintoon, built a skateboard ramp to get it airborn.
          The secisesecond black president greased the landing area and here we are.

      2. Adam Eran

        Carter was ham-handed in economics (remember Bert Lance? … Oh how we yearn for a simple income tax scandal now!)… But his biggest problem was his deregulation of airlines and trucking…which threw the unions under the bus. Teamsters endorsed Reagan in the next election.

        1. Oh

          The moron adviser for Carter who advocated these policies shows that Carter brought in the wrong people. Carter had more emphathy for poor people than any of the crooks, actors and empty suits that folled him. Even today, Carter shows me that he did not sell his soul.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Carter cops a lot of flack but can’t help thinking that this was to suit ideological positions. He was a plain speaker who had incredible courage but gave a message that most people did not want to hear. I read one story of how on his first days in office the military said that in case trouble started, they had a helicopter on standby to land on the White House lawn and to whisk him off to a secret bunker. Carter, being once Admiral Rickover’s protege, said, OK – lets go through the drill now. Let’s see it in action. Well of course they couldn’t and stuffed up which embarrassed them no end but it is a pity that there are not more like him to say ‘OK, prove what you can say you can do.’

    2. Anthony K Wikrent

      There are two events seldom discussed. One was the death of Franklin Roosevelt, soon after which the State Dept. and other elites rejected any implementation of FDR’s anti-colonialism — the issue of much discord between FDR and Churchill which was discussed in Elliot Roosevelt’s memoirs, but completely buried by all academic historians. This opens the door to US siding with the French instead of the revolutionaries in Vietnam, and the emergence of hardline anti-communism including a long string of coups and assassinations.

      The second event is the assassination of John Kennedy. No President since JFK has openly stood up to business elites the way JFK stood up to the steel industry executives in April 1962. Not only does the killing of JFK signal the rise of corporate interests over national interests, it also signals the demotion of labor below business: JFK’s fight with U.S. Steel and the rest of the industry was over the steel executives raising prices to cover wage increases for steel workers. After that, it’s not at all remarkable that the Federal Reserve under Volcker 16 years later decides to stop inflation by blaming wage gains.

      1. Big River Bandido

        John F. Kennedy — the first neoliberal President, the man who lowered taxes for the wealthy — a champion of labor? And *that’s* what got him killed???

        The lengths to which people bend over backwards to impute some deeper meaning to the Kennedy presidency would be amusing if it weren’t so…cloying? desperate? fan-boyish? The way people relate to the *idea* of JFK is eerily like the way some liberals still line up to defend Obama.

        1. jsn

          Read the time line at the start of “JFK and the Unspeakable”, it’s only 6 or 8 pages IIRC. It was foreign policy goals, expressly anti-colonialism, that got him killed.

          The reason some people, myself included, argue about the importance of Kennedy is that he was killed for his agreement with FDR about anti-colonialism. In his brief tenure it is hard to adjudicate what his real intentions were on a number of policies, but the CIA judged his foreign policy a capital crime.

          1. voteforno6

            JFK, who ramped up the U.S. presence in Vietnam, was anticolonialist? I find that a little hard to believe, especially considering that, at the time, such attitudes were frequently equated with communism. After China “fell,” it would have been rather detrimental to one’s career to advocate for anything but a hard-line response to communism.

            What got Kennedy killed was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

            1. Carolinian

              Ditto to the various above and have to agree that the Kennedy as noble martyr to liberalism thesis is as silly as Perlstein’s view that the Dems were somehow shocked and traumatized by Reagan when they had already begun to give away the store, economically speaking. Political combat is supposed to be about competing interests, not some sort of “will they like me?” beauty contest. The Dems stepped back from their historic connection to the working class and so put down their big weapon against Republicans and big business.

            2. pretzelattack

              jfk, who won on a bullshit nuclear gap (talk about outflanking the republican candidate to the right). jfk, who brought the world to the brink in cuba over some abstruse doctrine of nuclear deterrence (counterforce options) and not some vital matter of national security, and then got credit as a peacemaker for not taking it over the brink. jfk, joe mccarthy supporter and good friend. jfk, who kept pushing the cia to assassinate castro.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Don’t forget! Agent Orange.

                I had a U.S. history course on the American Revolution, mostly the lead up, but the professor, a Taxachusetts Catholic and self described old style lefty, opened the course by noting Americans love their conspiracy theories. He rattled off every crazy thing through the incubator babies in Iraq and some Clinton stuff.

                He didn’t have an explanation as they were organic and propaganda creations.

              2. Carey

                He fired Allen Dulles, though, did he not? And likely paid
                a price for that. Still trying to sort out the JFK thing, myself,
                and in fact had a dream about his assassination early this
                morning. Way too real..

            3. pjay

              To borrow an oft-used phrase of Yves: *Sigh*

              I sense a long debate on Kennedy (and especially the assassination) would be counterproductive here. But there has been much recent scholarship, especially based on documents released in the 1990s, that have broadened our understanding of Kennedy. There is no need to whitewash him. But two things should be emphasized. First, though strongly anti-communist, he was also anti-colonial *in the 1950s* and sympathetic to many non-aligned leaders. Second, there is very good evidence (not irrefutable of course; historical documentation rarely is) that his views on dealing with the USSR and, eventually, Cuba, changed after the missile crisis. The evidence *is* pretty irrefutable that most of big business hated him, as did the military-security complex.

              I fully realize that many readers here have been taught to consider anything but the official Oswald story of the assassination as loony tripe. And good lefties have been taught to despise Kennedy hagiography by other good lefties like Chomsky. But for those with an open mind who can suspend judgment long enough to entertain an alternative view, I second jsn’s recommendation of ‘JFK and the Unspeakable.’

              1. jsn

                Thank you pjay.
                There is a lot that has been declassified and research done in the last several decades that don’t conform at all to the official narrative.

      2. jsn

        May I recommend Talbot’s “The Devil’s Chessboard” and Douglass’s “JFK and the Unspeakable” to round out your argument.

        In my opinion, Alan Dulles relation to Hjalmar Schacht and the formation of the BIS needs a lot more attention as well.

      3. neo-realist

        No President since JFK has openly stood up to business elites the way JFK stood up to the steel industry executives in April 1962. Not only does the killing of JFK signal the rise of corporate interests over national interests, it also signals the demotion of labor below business: JFK’s fight with U.S. Steel and the rest of the industry was over the steel executives raising prices to cover wage increases for steel workers.

        I pointed out what an iconoclast JFK was with regards to business interests vis-a-vis the Steel Crisis and Yves didn’t seem all that impressed–didn’t think he was all that much better or different than Truman, Eisenhower and the broader political zeitgeist:/

        1. gepay

          He was only president for less than 3 years. He twice declined to invade Cuba. He did negotiate an above ground Test ban Treaty with the Soviet Union and got it ratified. He did say, “What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children – not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace for all time… And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal…”
          He also made as many enemies as Trump has, maybe more. As mentioned above – the steel industry, the white southern racists, the CIA, the military industrial complex, Israel, anti Castro Cubans J Edgar Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, the Texas oil barons, the mob – more than enough to assassinate him. And they got away with it, along with his brother RFK, and Martin Luther King. And every President since has seen that movie with its message when JFK’s head explodes.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “A new British naval base in Southeast Asia could stoke resentment, split Asean and put the UK in China’s cross hairs”

    I thought it nice that this article provided a handy map showing the increased tempo of military drills in and around China but thought that perhaps in fairness one should look up a map showing what the purpose of these drills are. Just go to the following page and check out the map at the top of the page-

    1. David

      Ever since the end of the Cold War, the British military have been thrashing around looking for a role, all the time becoming smaller and less capable, and being driven from one commitment to another by political pressure. (Ironically, the original reason for withdrawing from East of Suez in the 1960s was to enable all efforts to be concentrated in Europe against the Warsaw Pact.) Inasmuch as there has been a policy, it has been to make the UK an indispensable and reliable ally of the US, and so acquire influence vicariously. Given the Lilliputian size of today’s Royal Navy, I seriously doubt whether the cash-strapped defence budget could actually afford a “base”: it’s more likely basing rights or even just an agreement to use somebody else’s base if needed. I presume the logic is that a ship or two permanently in the area would give the UK some influence and some scope for having a command or liaison position or two, as well as a voice in handling any crisis with China. Interestingly enough, the original argument for giving up the naval base at Singapore in 1970 was that UK ships in the area (we had quite a large navy then) could be protected by the RAF from Australia. Now, of course, the Australians have a far bigger presence and a closer cooperation with the US than the UK has.

  11. DWD

    I thought I would bring these two articles on mental health from the MLive Group in Michigan.

    Pretty interesting reading. The first is, “Dead cops, dead civilians: The price of untreated mental illness”

    And the second, “State funding recognition of K-12 mental health issues, advocates say” (Advocates for mental health services in the school score a victory)

    As a retired teacher from an economically devastated school system, these two issues are closely related and MLive should be commended for bringing these issues to the forefront.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    Russia’s GMO debate looks a lot like America’s – with more geopolitics Christian Science Monitor (MR).

    A somewhat disengenous article that portrays Russias opposition to GMO’s as somehow unscientific, as if it is the responsibility of societies to accept GMO’s until proven dangerous, rather than vice versa. The supposed scientific view of anti-GMO opposition as hysterical and anti-scientific is itself built on some myths as this (old but still relevant) research indicates.

    There is in fact remarkably little evidence that GMO foods are a magic wand for agriculture. Its almost entirely driven by the desire to extend intellectual rights over agriculture. It also ignores the lessons of history about relying on increasingly narrow genetic variability for our food supply (cf. the Irish potato famine).

    1. The Rev Kev

      Fully agree here. This article makes out the Russians to be almost quaint in their opposition to GMO foods when nobody really knows what the long term effect of them will be. Ever since the sanctions kicked back in 2014 the Russians have invested heavily into domestic food production and now they are a world’s leader in food production, especially wheat which is GMO free. When the west toppled the Ukraine, one of the first things that came out was that they were going to force the Ukraine to only grow GMO food in their rich soils. There is only one solution here. The US is going to have to use their B-52 Stratofortresses and B-2 Spirits to carpet bomb Russia’s farm regions with millions of GMO seeds to force them to grow GMO crops. Big Ag demands it!

    2. Acacia

      Yes, I got a few paragraphs in and the stench of pro-GMO bias from that article was so overpowering that I just gave up.

    3. jrs

      and even if they turn out to be harmless for individuals consuming them, they don’t appear to be harmless on the environmental front.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The EU doesn’t ban GMO’s, but most European countries ban it individually. The EU does require labelling of GMO products, which given the views of European consumers, is effectively the kiss of death for any GMO products, which is why food producers won’t use it. I don’t think Russia exports much food to the EU, Europe is pretty much self sufficient in most major foods.

    4. Unna

      I got the impression awhile back that Russia ‘s banning GMOs was also a sound export market business decision by Russia since more people are turning away from consuming GMO foods around the world, and as mentioned, Russia is now a major food exporting country.

    1. foghorn longhorn

      “…the Democratic Party needs representatives who bear some relationship to ordinary people — not the well-preserved totems to the anti-aging powers of wealth that spawned a thousand memes last night.”

      From the penultimate paragraph in that very interesting read.

    2. nippersdad

      Excellent article. Both the rational national and Jimmy Dore are making the same types of points as well on youtube.

    3. Summer

      The Democrats were speaking to different types of Democrats.
      The there is still that big donor that needs to see that Chuck and Nancy have their backs. Then Sanders and AOC speak to another kind more effectively.
      Mixed messages or dual messages?

    4. jrs

      Those Dems (Pelosi, Shumer) are what they are, and not hugely likable either. But they came across REALLY well compared to Trump. When the bar is actually below ground as it is with Trump blathering on like an insane person for 15 minutes, it’s not hard to clear that hurdle like one was born for the high jump.

      Now Sanders is a different higher bar entirely, but I doubt many people heard him compared to the number that listened to Trump and Pelosi/Schumer.

  13. Ignacio

    RE: Europe is fast-becoming a natural gas battleground for Russia and the US

    Apart from the military language everywhere this explains much of the Russia!Russia!Russia! campaign and if one wants tro track its origin to the UK or the US I think this is the real origin. Another question is if this marketing campaign makes sense (economical/geopolitical etc). My opinion is NOT except for a very short term view.

    1. Ignacio

      Let me frame this issue in a different way.
      The problem is for US Natl. Gas producers. Because of domestic overproduction and competition with canadian Natl. Gas we have relatively low Henry Hub US prices compared with prices paid in the EU. Let’s forget the energy efficiency issue where shale gas pales in comparison with russian gas, moreover if one considers the extra economic and energetic cost of liquefaction and transport compared with existing and potential new pipelines.

      The game for US producers is, in my opinion, to export gas just to increase the spot price at Henry Hub. The only thing you need is a market with a spot price differencial high enough to coup with henry hub spot + liquefaction + transport prices and demand large enough to assimilate US overproduction. That occurs in the EU I guess.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “If Trump Wants to Get Out of Syria, He Should Strike a Deal With Russia”

    This article from Foreign Affairs is just nuts. They discuss who is going to get which chunk of Syria but forgetting the one obvious – and only – choice which happens to be the people that actually live there aka the Syrian people. Without the interference of the coalition, the Syrians would have long ago mopped up Idlib, al-Tanf and the Euphrates valley and it is only the west stopping this happening. The Russian have neither the desire or resources to occupy parts of Syria. If the Turks try it, the Syrians will supply the Kurds with all the advanced weaponry that it will take to carry their war into Turkey proper.
    The claim that the US is only there to stop ISIS coming back is analogous to claiming that the only reason that they still occupy Germany is to stop the Nazis coming back. ISIS is toast. Some of the stated aims in this article too are not US aims but Israeli aims so shouldn’t they pay for it? I liked the way that they said that they should keep on occupying a third of Syria and its resources as ‘leverage in any negotiation over the final disposition of the country.’ It’s a good think that the British did not hang on to New York city in 1783 as ‘leverage in any negotiation over the final disposition of the country.’ Imagine what the US Constitution would have looked like under that duress.

    1. Ignacio

      How difficult is for the US to abandon Siria… Afghanistan… there will always be a good excuse to keep troops, military bases, weaponry anywhere. Excuses, just excuses…
      The only real reason is to justify unlimited military expenses in the US and this in turns gives the US the “rigth” to intervene anywhere for whatever spurious reason they want to offer (WMD, ISIS, a pain in the neck…).

      1. Robert Valiant


        I also suspect that the fulfillment of our “non-negotiable, blessed American way of life” (D. Cheney) requires the omnipresent, eternal American war machine.

  15. jefemt

    re: Wall Street should love A O-C and MMT. Hilarious. They might start to create money and buy back shares? Might?

    Paulson and his dithering, national crisis, insisting on …. let’s see… $750 billion—with three pages of his yellow legal tablet, coupled with fractional reserve banking, and multiple layers of banks— seems like Wall Street really got the deal kick-started in 2008. And, like Trump, folks drained it right into their own pockets.

    I keep waiting for a billion dollar lottery winner to say, when asked what they are going to do with All That Money(!!?!!?)

    “Why, I am going to open a Bank in the US of A and REALLY make some dough!!! “

  16. fajensen

    It is sad to see Corbyn peddling his stuffed unicorns again. While talking of general elections, he also “forgets” that the Prime Minster sets the election date and the sitting government remains in place until that election is held.

    Theresa May could basically decide that the 2’nd of April 2019 would be a rather good day for an election and then just run the clock out, donating a freshly-made lump of crash-out Brexit to Corbyn (or to the Tory party members, who are trying to undermine her, should the Tory’s happen to win).

    1. ChrisPacific

      And given that it’s pretty clear that her strategy is to use the impending cliff edge of No Deal as a lever to push her deal through, I don’t see why she wouldn’t do exactly that.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Europe is fast-becoming a natural gas battleground for Russia and the US”

    I sometimes wonder how I got to be a Russia defender here. I have only ever met one Russian in my life and the place would probably not make my top ten of countries to visit. Oh well, here we go again. Playing devil’s advocate yet again, imagine the following scenario. In this one the lower 48 US States get all their gas from Canada through a series of gas pipelines. Then the European Union comes in and says that the US is too dependent on Canada and should go for another supply. One from the European Union. They tell the US that as the gas has to be shipped across the Atlantic, it will be much more expensive but that they should learn to live with it. Then they tell the US that they will have to spend untold billions in ports building installations that will turn the LNG into regular gas that can be pumped through the American pipelines. They also say that the US will have to spend billions more building a fleet of LNG ships that will be going back and forth to attempt to supply enough gas to supply the American market. The European Union then states that they will levy penalties to any American company that deals with Canadian companies building, maintaining or supplying gas. Not mentioned is the fact that where the European Union ships its gas from is a region prone to serious hurricanes that might shut down ports there leaving the US with no gas for perhaps weeks. Now what would the average American say to this scenario?

    1. Andrew Watts

      “I sometimes wonder how I got to be a Russia defender here”

      You don’t subscribe to a worldview that sees international relations as uppity gangsterism. Hence, the willingness to take sides. But look, if you’re not at the table you’re definitely what’s on the menu.

      In other words, Gaddafi got whacked ’cause he was weak yo.

  18. abynormal

    Explain to me like I’m a seven year old…WHY does THE FDA approve a drug 10X stronger than fentanyl and 1000X stronger than morphine? in the middle of an ever growing opoid crisis?? AND my sister couldn’t get more than Tylenol 3 after lymph nodes surgery???

    “They gone kill us.” 7yearold

    1. a different chris

      I’m not going to answer that. I refuse to on the grounds that 7 year olds are way too rational and straight-thinking to confuse with the BS I only have to offer.

  19. Wandering Mind

    Modern Monetary Theory Doesn’t Make Single-Payer Health Care Any Easier

    The conclusion of the article being: “Economists like Stephanie Kelton are correct in their analysis of how government spending/borrowing/taxation works, but let’s keep pretending like nothing has changed since 1900.”

    Does this approach prevent $70 billion dollar increases to the Defense Budget? No.

    Does this approach prevent tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations? No.

    Does this approach prevent $1 trillion dollar budget deficits? No.

    Will it be used to block the use of the fiscal power of the federal government to improve the life, health and safety of the vast majority of Americans? Yes.

    Mission accomplished, then.

  20. Stanley Dundee


    Wall Street should love the economic theory Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backs — and that should worry the rest of us (Business Insider)

    What a delightfully garbled mismatch of truth and fantasy! E.g.

    What MMT adherents do accept is that the running deficits can lead to inflation. When that happens, the government will raise taxes to cool the economy. That, MMT adherents say, is the purpose of taxes – controlling inflation, not raising revenue. In our system, it’s the opposite. The Fed controls inflation with interest rates, and the government raises revenue.[emphasis added]

    As if we are not already operating under MMT, which primarily describes the current arrangements, and secondarily prescribes policies that diverge from those in use at present (e.g. austerity).This conflation of MMT with policies that are permissible under MMT and prescribed by MMT advocates persists throughout the piece, which limits itself to a single word quote by AOC: absolutely.

    Here’s another garble of reality and fantasy:

    …imagine how much money Wall Street and corporate America would spend on lobbying in an MMT world. K Street would explode. The lobbyists would all be stalking the halls of Congress for their corporate masters, trying to get loopholes written into the tax legislation…

    Ummm, how is that different from today?

    Happily there’s at least one unvarnished nugget of truth in the mish-mash:

    We’ve been taught to believe the government wastes money and the private sector uses it judiciously, but it’s hard to believe that when you look at what Wall Street and corporate America have done with easy money for the last decade.

    Criticisms aside, we can all celebrate that MMT has made it inside the Overton Window.

    Shameless self-promotion: curious about MMT? Consider Getting Money Right, by yours truly. Thanks for reading!

    PS: Looking forward to the company of fellow NCers at the NYC meetup next week! Hope to see you there.

  21. Socal Rhino

    Re finance firms shedding jobs in 2019

    Speaking from inside my own TBTF, automation is the cover story for reductions. Reality is the opposite. Firms have lost the capability to employ technology to reduce costs. Or perhaps more accurately, they have lost the will to do so. Understanding the business is hard. Blanket cuts are easy. The staff who try to do their jobs with increasingly junky technical tools find these pronouncements funny, in a gallows humor way, at least who don’t automatically delete corporate announcements without reading them.

  22. Andrew Watts

    RE: If Trump Wants to Get Out of Syria, He Should Strike a Deal With Russia Foreign Affairs. Blob pseudopodium bored of Syria…

    No, they’re encouraging Trump to take the deal the Russians have been working on. The rumor mill surrounding the deal involved the withdrawal of both American and Iranian troops and other unknown conditions. The failure of the Astana parties to agree on a new Syrian constitution was a development I saw as hopeful. Turkey doesn’t want any constitutional changes in Syria that would concede anything to the Kurds. It’d set a unwelcome precedent that would no doubt be problematic for the status of their large Kurdish population. Apparently the Israelis were the only holdout in those negotiations and Trump’s sudden announcement precluded any consultation.

    I don’t know if the SDF/SDC can trust any guarantee from Russia, but I don’t suspect that Russia will allow the mostly powerless opposition to claim a third of Syrian territory this late in the game. Nor do I think that they’ll allow Turkey to capture Manbij and effectively partition Syria. The presence of American forces in Syria was always going to be shortlived and people in northern Syria could never rely on any promise from American officials like McGurk to the contrary. The US could never guarantee anything. Their limited role was to help defeat the Islamic State and help cut the best deal possible for our allies in the aftermath of the fall of it’s so-called Caliphate.

    It probably should’ve been handled better, it certainly could’ve been managed differently, but that isn’t somebody’s leadership style. I just hope they don’t forget their friends who bled with’em and died for them.

  23. jsn

    “Wall Street should love the economic theory Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backs”
    This story ignores that what is says Wall Street will do is exactly what Wall Street has been doing since QE started, which was nothing other than MMT for banks, a kind of stimulus that has difficulty escaping the balance sheets of financial firms except through the mechanisms the article describes.

    If we can’t stop that, which we should, at a minimum some stimulus should be made available for the transitions necessary in the real economy.

  24. Green

    NY Green Here,

    Howie Hawkins did not come up with the Green New Deal, lol. There is nothing that guy won’t take credit for though.

    That article claims he coined the term in 2010, but:

    “the Green New Deal Group,[10] which published its eponymous report on July 21, 2008.The concept was further popularized and put on a wider footing when the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) began to promote it. On October 22, 2008 UNEP’s Executive Director Achim Steiner unveiled the Global Green New Deal initiative that aims to create jobs in “green” industries, thus boosting the world economy and curbing climate change at the same time.”

    The NY green party is a basically nonexistent suggestion of a party right now, sad to say. Hope that changes in the future. The egotistical people like Hawkins are actually holding it back. We need more diversity and working class people, not egos. DSA is more and more a better use of time/funds/energy in NY. FWIW, I’ve been a member of the green party since 06, and I’m saying this.

    1. Jeff W

      Howie Hawkins did not come up with the Green New Deal, lol.

      I wondered about that, too.

      The Narion published an article (by establishment Democratic apparatchik Van Jones) called “Working Together for a Green New Deal” on 29 October 2008, just a week after the UNEP unveiled that Global Green New Deal Initiative that you referred to. If “the phrase was first used in the US by Howie Hawkins,” as claimed in that Black Agenda Report piece (Hawkins himself says in this Soundcloud podcast [0:53]: “I suggested we use that slogan to encapsulate our basic program in 2010”), then BAR is perhaps using the words “phrase,” “first,” “used” or “US” (and maybe “in” and “by”) in ways that I, for one, am unfamiliar with.

    1. David

      The site has been eating my comments recently. Let’s see if this one makes it through.
      Johnstone’s analysis is not bad, but she is a bit starry-eyed about the origins of the violence.
      Ever since the 2005 riots, the police have been under orders not to engage in hand to hand with demonstrators unless there was obvious danger to their own lives, or those of others. They have been told to stand off and to try to disperse threatening crowds with tear gas or stun grenades. Their leaders, and their trades unions, do not want violent confrontations with the public. The police are exhausted (80,000 were mobilised again today) and they are not going to die to protect Macron from the anger of the French people.
      With so much going on in so many different places, and conflicting accounts of what happens, it’s hard to decide who is responsible for the – limited – amount of violence. There are individuals within the GJ who are clearly looking for a fight, and there are also extremist groups from all sides who are trying to infiltrate them. But since there is no organised membership, and anyone can put a yellow vest on, “infiltration” doesn’t mean much in this context.
      Technically under French law, you are supposed to give 48 hrs notice of a demonstration, to enable the route to be cleared, traffic diverted and so on. It’s an offence to demonstrate if this is not the case, though as far as I know the law has not been invoked much, if at all, recently. Thus, the police would be within their rights, technically, to arrest every GJ they encountered, but clearly have been given orders not to (Remember France has a tightly organised national police system under the Ministry of the Interior). In any event, the law was not meant to cover situations like this. Eric Drouet, the lorry driver and prominent GJ mentioned in the article, was arrested under this law, but later released.
      But is clear that the situation can’t go on for very much longer. The GJ have displayed remarkable tenacity and ingenuity: the latest idea (which may appeal to NC readers) is the coordinated withdrawal of large amounts of cash to spark a run on the banks. For their part, the government is bewildered and frightened, and is lashing out politically with violent rhetoric. But the clearer heads know that public opinion will not stand for repressive measures against ordinary people like them, and it’s doubtful if what the French call the “forces of order” will be any keener.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        One question for you David – in the Irish Times yesterday the normally quite reliable French Correspondent (Lara Marlowe) suggested that the protestors are increasingly aligned with Marine Le Pens RN party – she said their list of demands was very similar to the RN’s agenda. Do you agree with that?

        1. David

          It’s hard to say because there’s no central organisation for the GJ, and any journalist who wants a shock-horror quote can eventually find someone to give it to them if they talk to enough GJs. Some of the French media (echoing the government) have begun to say the same thing, partly as a way of avoiding the GJs doing even more harm to them in the European elections.
          I think the truth is more complex. In effect, the RN have expressed a number of grievances held by large numbers of people in all parts of French society and all parts of the political spectrum. Because the mainstream political parties won’t touch anything that seems to cast doubt on any aspect of economic or social liberalism, this leaves only the RN (and to a much lesser extent Mélenchon’s party, LFI) To express what ordinary people are actually concerned about. So long as the mainstream parties essentially continue to reflect the interests of prosperous, often socially-liberal, urban elites, this will necessarily be the case. So what you’ve got here is a reasonably representative set of vox pop opinions among the GJ, which resemble in some cases what the RN says, because only they are prepared to say it. It’s clear that the RN, and groups to the right of it (they do exist) would like to infiltrate the GJ and are trying to do so, but it’s not clear they are having much success. To the extent that they are, it’s the fault of the mainstream parties, whose attitude is “these subjects must not be discussed and you are fascists for even wanting to.”

    2. Craig H.

      In the village of Commercy, Lorraine, a half hour drive from Domrémy where Jeanne d’Arc was born, inhabitants gather to read their proclamation. Six of them read in turns, a paragraph each, making it quite clear that they want no leaders, no special spokesperson.

      I almost feel sorry for Macron at this point. It looks from here like there is nothing he can do. His sponsors want less taxes and less benefits and the peasants working quietly and the people are going to have none of it. It’s like irresistible force and immovable object and he is in the middle.

      Perhaps he could try doing what is right. Ha ha fat chance of that.

      Joan of Arc.

  25. Olga

    What happened to Tucker Carlson? Lost his ideological blinders, did he?
    “Carlson told me that beyond changing our tax code, he has no major policies in mind. “I‘m not even making the case for an economic system in particular,” he told me. “All I’m saying is don’t act like the way things are is somehow ordained by God or a function or raw nature.””

    1. pretzelattack

      now if only we could get some “progressive” political commentators/analysts to adopt this position. i’m sure we’ll see it on msnbc any day now.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        We need new pundits not existing pundits to adopt positions.

        I think its a problem of belief versus thought. I skimmed a Matt Stoller twitter thread, and a few of the replies detailed Obama staffers eyes glazing over when a Democratic aligned politico tried to explain why TPP wasn’t trusted. Another comment said they had similar experiences and suggested there is a belief the Democratic elite represent a natural Democratic consensus through osmosis.

        The current Democratic aligned elite are believers. Faith alone justifies them.

        Take Markos. He accuses Sanders supporters of being cultists the day after he delivers thousands of roses to Pelosi. These people can’t be fixed only marginalized. If they hit rock bottom, maybe, they will reassess, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    2. Morgan Everett

      It was strange how he went over the years from being someone I always disagreed with, to someone that I only disagree with half the time, and am surprised to agree with the rest. A study needs to be done on the correlation between the sensibility of what Tucker Carlson says, and the absence of bowties.

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    More Chinese history and Chinese culture for the coming Chinese world order.

    Muddy Waters Research – Wikipedia
    Muddy Waters Research LLC is a privately held due diligence based investment firm that … The company is named after the Chinese proverb “ 混水摸魚 ” “muddy waters makes it easy to catch fish.” In January 2015, the firm raised an initial …

    The quote, in connection with the above link:

    Belt and Road is more chaos than conspiracy The Star

    Perhaps conspiracy is easier behind the chaos.

    And that would not suprise students of Chinese history or any imperial adventurers creating chaos everywhere.

  27. LarryB

    Senate Passes Back Pay Bill for Furloughed Feds, Trump Says He Will Sign It

    So contractors get screwed again, to no ones surprise.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Keep in the mind the series of conquests from when the Zhou state (the article traces Tianxia to it) was a small one in the Central Plain area of China to what China is today, and ask ourselves, what ever happened to those people who used to live there*, when one reads that atimes article.

      It might not be so different, nor more benevelent, from the history of the West. And in additonal to Sinophobes mentioned in the article, there are also those who romanticize about her. It’s a wide world, and Mr. Escobar would be more helpful to cover both sides.

      *The Yi people, the Yue or Viet (likely) people, the Ba people, the Thais, the Miao People, etc.

  28. Alex

    Re After the storm, while it’s definitely thought-provoking, I feel that to a certain extent he’s strawmanning the opposite view when talking about the link between the progress and racial/ethnic purity.

    As an example he says that the Greek roots of Western civilisation were emphasised and all others are ignored. But this was happening at the time (18th c) when no one knew about the Mesopotamian civilisation: no cuneiform tablets had been excavated and even if they had been no one could read them.

  29. drumlin woodchuckles

    So . . . Canada wants to import a million immigrants over the next span of years?

    Canada should start by admitting a million of the eleven million NAFTAstinian refugees driven out of Mexico by Canada’s Mulroney-NAFTA.

    Oh! It ISN’T “Canada’s Mulroney-NAFTA”? Well, actually it IS . . . just as much as it is America’s Reagan-NAFTA and Mexico’s Salinas de Gortari’s NAFTA.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The misfortune of Mexico is to be next to the US, so goes a popular saying.

      Is it fortune or misfortune of Canada ot have the US next to Mexico? Would Canada like to be next to it? What do Canadians say about that? Should there be a safe-conduct corrider to make up for that?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Yes, I think we should set up a variably openable-closable safe passage corridor for 10 per cent of the Mexican victims of NAFTA to go to Canada over. Because Canada is just as much to blame for NAFTA as America is. Not that Canada would let them in, even though Canada is co-responsible for destroying their lives because Canada co-conspired to perpetrate NAFTA. But whatever Canada would say about that, I would like Canada to be forced to say it in the broad light of day , with all the millions of Latinxos and Latinxas and all the SJWs looking and listening.

  30. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “How fast are the oceans warming?” — this perspective updates what is know about ocean warming but I didn’t spot any greatly substantial or greatly surprising refinements to the data. I believe the main point of the link was to emphasize growing confidence in the data. What was disturbing were the repetitions of variants of: “The fairly steady rise in OHC [ocean heat content] shows that the planet is clearly warming.” I can only imagine this is repeated because there are still some who question what I thought was impossible to deny at this point. There is even a trend for some to start pushing for geoengineering because of the current situation and dire predictions for the future. But then I recalled a recent article at RealClimate:
    “Scientists: Resolve to Protect Yourself from Harassment in 2019” []

  31. drumlin woodchuckles

    About Kennedy, the assassination, what Kennedy was doing in the last year or so before the assassination, etc. has been sneeringly dismissed by famous “gatekeeper leftist” Noam Chomsky. And many progressives follow Chomsky’s lead in this.

    Canadian journalist and blogger Jeff Wells wrote a post about the CheneyBush destabilizing chaotogenic program for the Middle East and partway through it, he wrote a couple of paragraphs circling back to Chomsky and Kennedy and why so many progressives find such comfort in being gatekept. I will copy-paste the paragraphs and then offer a link to the post. Note that it begins by describing a peace rally in Tel Aviv which Rabin attended and spoke and right after which he was shot. It segues from that right to a lookback at Chomsky-Kennedy and then segues to looking forward again to the main subject of the post.

    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    This rally must send a message to the Israeli people, to the Jewish people around the world, to the many people in the Arab world, and indeed to the entire world, that the Israeli people want peace, support peace. For this, I thank you.

    And then he was shot.

    There’s a reflex among some on the left to embrace the lone gunman hypothesis, because they regard the alternative as an embrace of a hollow liberal myth. Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn regard John F Kennedy as nothing but a patrician cold warrior who would have delivered more of the same had he lived. Rabin receives the same treatment, if not more, for his harsh words and measures during the Intifada and for the flawed Oslo Accords. But their killers were not appraising them from the left. From the hard right, they were both men who had risen through the system and had become traitors to it.

    Rabin’s convicted lone gunman, Yigal Amir, had close ties to the extremist nationalist organization Eyal, and was groomed by its founder Avishai Raviv to kill Rabin. The Israeli paper Maariv reported November 24, 1995 that “according to Sarah Eliash, a schooteacher working at the Shomron Girls Seminary, some of her pupils heard Raviv encourage Amir to murder Rabin. Raviv told Amir, “Show us you’re a man. Do it.”

    Here is the link.

  32. drumlin woodchuckles

    About the Christian Science Monitor’s article about the RussiaGov authorities preventing GMO growing in Russia, aside from being full of pro-GMO corporate sales hasbara, it also reveals the emerging pattern of accusing GMO-skeptics of being witless dupes of the Russianists. This is intended as a veiled threat to start supporting GMOs or the Corporate Fake News MSM will start accusing GMO-skeptics of being Russianist fellow travelers and then secret Russian agents working to advance Putin’s anti-American anti-GMO agenda.

    And the next step after that will be to accuse organic farmers and other NonGMO growers of being Russian agents, traitors and provocateurs who are growing NonGMO strictly as “propaganda of the deed” to lend credibility and cover to Russian GMO-prevention agriculture policies.

  33. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “Generic drug maker formed by hospitals attracts a dozen more health systems” — The making of drugs is an important piece of knowledge and capability which must be preserved for the future. Like many products made afar by large concerns, drug production can be easily scaled as a much smaller local capability. In theory the patent literature should enable a person knowledgeable in the art to manufacture any of the drugs patented now or in the past.

    I ran across another related, curious, and interesting reference in a journal article locked to my access. The abstract drew an enticing picture — “Chemical manufacturing is often done at large facilities that require a sizable capital investment and then produce key compounds for a finite period. We present an approach to the manufacturing of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals in a self-contained plastic reactionware device. The device was designed and constructed by using a chemical to computer-automated design (ChemCAD) approach that enables the translation of traditional bench-scale synthesis into a platform-independent digital code. This in turn guides production of a three-dimensional printed device that encloses the entire synthetic route internally via simple operations.”
    [Philip J. Kitson et al. “Digitization of multistep organic synthesis in reactionware for on-demand pharmaceuticals”, Science (2018). DOI: 10.1126/science.aao3466]

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