Links 1/2/19

Nation’s coal consumption in 2018 expected to be lowest since 1979 Casper Star-Tribune

Keeping watch, pipeline protesters brave cold nights on Burnaby Mountain Burnaby Now (MR).

Uber and Lyft’s valuations expose the gig economy to scrutiny FT. “Uber and Lyft customers are heavily subsidised by investors: both companies are still losing money. And while IPOs do not necessarily result in sober valuations based solely on the facts, the process will at least expose the sector to closer scrutiny.”

Didi launches lending and insurance as new regulation threatens to lower driver numbers TechCrunch

Say goodbye to the cold, hard cash in your pocket Australian Financial Review

Bolsonaro: Brazil ‘liberated from socialism’ with him in power Reuters


Brexit: misdirection EU Referendum. Doing the arithmetic on route substitution for the Dover corridor in the case of a No Deal.

Brexit ‘bad or awful’ for UK prospects in 2019, say economists FT

The United Kingdom is on life support CNN

Post-Brexit Britain an ‘invisible chain’ between world democracies Sydney Morning Herald

A Eurocrat’s guide to Bucharest Politico. Romania takes over the EU’s rotating Presidency.


Opinion: We were winning when we left DuffelBlog

Time to Get Out of Afghanistan Robert Kaplan, NYT

Donald Trump considering delay to US withdrawal from Syria The National. From the UAE.

How the War Party Lost the Middle East Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative. Premature triumphalism?

Israel’s Opposition Zionist Union Falls Apart Before Election Bloomberg

Israeli settlement activity appears to surge in Trump era AP

Russia Has a Plan for Libya—Another Qaddafi Bloomberg. Since our plan seems to have been rebooting slavery, it’s hard to imagine that anything else wouldn’t be an improvement.

Russian Opposition Lacks an Agenda Beyond Getting Rid of Putin, ‘Nezavisimaya gazeta’ Says Paul Goble, Johnson’s Russia List

‘We are new Russians’: How a hard-drinking nation curbed its alcohol use CBC


I keep seeing images and videos of glass-bottomed bridges from China:

Training videos for precarity?

Chinese manufacturing had an even worse December than expected, more data show CNBC

The future might not belong to China Martin Wolf, FT

China striving for peaceful ‘reunification’ with Taiwan – Xi Jinping RTE

In a post-James-Mattis South China Sea, can the next US defence chief do what needs to be done to prevent war? South China Morning Post (Furzy Mouse).

China disputes ‘misleading’ US$40 billion debt estimate for Pakistan’s belt and road projects SCMP

China plans 6,800 km of new rail track in 2019 amid infrastructure push Reuters

Deep underground, new NYC train hub slowly takes shape AP. Key word: “Slowly.” Next up, a new tunnel under the Hudson? To replace the one we know is going to fail?

Airport water fountains shut down after passengers become ill on Frontier Airlines flight CNN. Welcome to the Third World. And no jokes about Cleveland, please; this is systemic.

Trump Transition

White House: Pelosi’s plan to reopen the government ‘a non-starter’ The Hill

Trump formalizes federal pay freeze for 2019 Federal Times but Is there a way out of the 2019 federal pay freeze? Federal News Radio

The Secret Behind Growth in Trump’s America Is Deficit Spending Bloomberg. You say “deficit spending” like that’s a bad thing!

Mitt Romney: The president shapes the public character of the nation. Trump’s character falls short. WaPo

FBI investigating Trump golf club for hiring undocumented workers after tip to Mueller Salon. Trump is the only bad apple, fortunately for us all.

Top Pentagon spokeswoman resigns amid internal investigation WaPo. Right after Mattis resigns…

U.S. Navy pursuing block buy of two aircraft carriers: senator Reuters (EM). Block buys come in quantities of two?

An Agenda for 2019 Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News (Furzy Mouse).

Democrats in Disarray

The Anti-Trump Party: How The Democratic Party Has Lost Its Defining Values In The Obsession With Trump Jonathon Turley

House Democrats to push for more diversity in top corporate ranks Politico. As opposed to, say, breaking up big banks or tech monopolies.

Health Care

Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Season of Turmoil NYT. The front-page teaser is a little more direct: “Top Cancer Center in Turmoil Over Industry Ties.”

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Big Tech May Look Troubled, but It’s Just Getting Started NYT and Firm Led by Google Veterans Uses A.I. to ‘Nudge’ Workers Toward Happiness NYT. Oh good.

Class Warfare

In 2019, California workers gain on pay and working conditions. Employers say it will be costly LA Times

In Letter, Hundreds of Students Call for Changes to University Econ Depts Following Fryer Allegations The Crimson

New Horizons Spacecraft Makes New Year’s Day Flyby of Ultima Thule, the Farthest Rendezvous Ever

The Grand Illusion Lapham’s Quarterly

Antidote du jour (Furzy Mouse):

All cats love boxes. Further leveling up my cat game for 2019, a bonus antidote (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Links on by .

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. Henry Moon Pie

    I came across a speech about deaths of despair, the destruction of the environment, national anomie and the foolishness of economics, especially GDP as any kind of meaningful measurement. This address does not come from the present but from a somewhat distant past, though within my lifetime. It was so striking how apropos it was of our current malaise that I thought it would be worthwhile to edit it down as much as possible and include it here as a comment with an invitation. Read through it and see if you can guess–without resorting to running a search on a brief excerpt–who the speaker was and when the address was given.

    Here it is:

    All around us, all around us, …the fact is, that [people] have lost confidence in themselves, in each other, it is confidence which has sustained us so much in the past – rather than answer the cries of deprivation and despair, …hundreds of communities and millions of citizens are looking for their answers, to force and repression and private gun stocks – so that we confront our fellow citizen across impossible barriers of hostility and mistrust…

    And if we seem powerless to stop this growing division between Americans, who at least confront one another, there are millions more living in the hidden places, whose names and faces are completely unknown – but I have seen these other Americans – I have seen children in Mississippi starving, their bodies so crippled from hunger and their minds have been so destroyed for their whole life that they will have no future….

    That they end their lives by killing themselves – I don’t think that we have to accept that – for the first American, for this minority here in the United States. If young boys and girls are so filled with despair when they are going to high school and feel that their lives are so hopeless and that nobody’s going to care for them, nobody’s going to be involved with them, and nobody’s going to bother with them, that they either hang themselves, shoot themselves or kill themselves – I don’t think that’s acceptable and I think the United States of America – I think the American people, I think we can do much, much better… I have seen proud men in the hills of Appalachia, who wish only to work in dignity, but they cannot, for the mines are closed and their jobs are gone and no one – neither industry, nor labor, nor government – has cared enough to help.

    If we believe that we, as Americans, are bound together by a common concern for each other, then an urgent national priority is upon us. We must begin to end the disgrace of this other America.

    And this is one of the great tasks of leadership for us, as individuals and citizens this year. But even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction – purpose and dignity – that afflicts us all. Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

    I’ll check in later and add the link to the speech in another comment.

    1. The Beeman

      Bobby was an interesting fellow. Always thought he was capable of much more than his brother. I was only 7 or 8 when he was taken from us.

      1. Stormcrow

        … when he was taken from us …

        Here’s some essential reading if you’re not entirely satisfied with the passive voice.

        A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy
        by Lisa Pease

        Based on decades of careful study, Pease goes further than anyone else in proving who likely planned the assassination, who the assassination team members were, and why Kennedy was deemed such a threat that he had to be taken out before he became President of the United States.

      2. rd

        My impression of Bobby Kennedy was that he was the politician in the 60s most able to learn and evolve over time based on greater knowledge and understanding. He didn’t start our strong but was turning into a giant by the time of his assassination.

      1. tegnost

        I’ll go with lbj because he surprises me sometimes, but others seem to know better, looking forward to the reveal, thanks hmp

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Its Bobby. Not that I’m a fan of the Kennedy clan, but here is a speech. First,

          I don’t think that’s acceptable and I think the United States of America – I think the American people, I think we can do much, much better.

          The speech isn’t a false optimism of Obama. It doesn’t hide the ugly or turn around and include non sensical both sides takes. Rather than celebrating ourselves, RFK (Wahoowa!) brings up the promise of Jefferson (Who was obviously a slave owner) and our failures. Then he finishes concrete calls to action. Maybe not concrete but definitely calls to live up to past actions. The other point RFK makes is he understood the U.S. isn’t eternal and a divine project. Failure means we go the way of Athens.

          The President of the United States goes to a meeting of the OAS at Montevideo- can he go into the city of Montevideo? Or can he travel through the cities of Latin America where there was such deep love and deep respect? He has to stay in a military base at Montevideo, with American ships out at sea and American helicopters overhead in order to ensure that he’s protected, I don’t think that that’s acceptable.
          -Feel the soaring rhetoric. Its so lofty.


          1. Oregoncharles

            Hmmm – Athens is still the capital of Greece; Sparta is a ruin. Both were empires, in their day.

    2. KPC

      Thank you. Yes, I think this is Robert Kennedy. He toured USA’s poor areas.

      And thank you for the reference to GDP as a measure of what? And, of course, if GDP declines it is uniformly a catastrophy requiring the government to spend more money… .

      The content of the measure of GDP has always amazed and amused me. I believe the cost of health care is included. So, in my world, my goal is to drive my cost of health care to zero and certainly not see this cost increase. I am not fond of being sick… .

      We have a lot of work to do to fix this mess. Mere money is not the solution.

      1. Montanamaven

        The next presidential hopeful to visit Appalachia was Jesse Jackson in 1988 and the next one was John Edwards in 2004 and 2008. I read that JE asked Obama, as part of the deal for him to drop out of the presidential race, to visit Appalachia. Obama did not. Instead his administration sued John Edwards for Campaign Finance violations. Must squelch any kinds of populism by whatever means necessary.

        1. rob

          yeah but john edwards went down in the flames of his own making. The optics of cheating on your wife who has terminal cancer with a campaign staffer and having a child with said staffer, secretly, while wife succumbs to her cancer… just was too much to overcome.
          Not that I would feel too bad for him. He was a trial lawyer before, and won his north carolina senate seat by beating a long time republican who was jesse helms junior partner. and in an election where a democrat was going to win. Upon entering office he did nothing except run for office for several years, often neglecting the office he was elected to….
          And nowadays, I’m guessing he went back to wall street, and is stealing plenty of money and making a good living.He was never anything more than a poser. Posing to be a populist.

    3. Big River Bandido

      Robert F. Kennedy, Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Detroit MI, 1967. Didn’t have to search for this speech, I know it cold. Or at least the long paragraph. He may have recycled it frequently for speeches in that year.

    4. Henry Moon Pie

      As promised, the speech was given by Bobby Kennedy shortly after he announced for the Presidency in March of ’68. For you Jayhawkers out there, it was delivered at K.U.

      Here’s a link to the full speech.

    5. howard in nyc

      I was 11 years old in the spring of 1968. The first political campaign I ever worked on was RFKs California Primary. Over the years as I learned more and more history, I was very hesitant to consider Bobby more highly, as I was so enamored with him as a child, and the usual over-elevation of people in death, especially when they die young. Plus the so easy what-if ism that his career and the America of 1968 beckons.

      But more and more, I think there was something special there. I am certainly convinced he changed drastically in the wake of his brother’s murder. All we have are his words over a very brief time period, and a brief record of actions (as Attorney General/adviser to JFK, and a few years in the Senate). I wish some young political aspirants would read over some of those speeches and take some clues or inspiration.

  2. emorej a hong kong

    The Anti-Trump Party: How The Democratic Party Has Lost Its Defining Values In The Obsession With Trump Jonathon Turley
    Turley’s anecdotes of illogical Dem denunciations, of even reasonable actions or statement by Trump, or for Trump, are indeed as disastrous as he says, but Turley overlooks key evidence that contradicts this theme:

    Democrats are now defined by Trump the way that antimatter is defined by matter, with each particle of matter corresponding to an antiparticle.

    A key counterexample is Trump’s missile attacks immediately after allegations of Syrian government chemical weapons usage, before there was time to evaluate attribution evidence, which later proved (invisibly in the MSM) to be very shaky.
    More accurate explanation: Trump has given Dems, and they have seized, the opportunity to become the best friend of the National Security State, an exalted status which Republicans had used for decades to batter Democrats.

  3. Alex

    The article about the Russian opposition rings a familiar “there is no alternative [to Putin]” bell by suggesting that it’s mostly the opposition’s fault that they don’t have widespread support.

    It’s simply not true that the real opposition (like Navalny) did not campaign heavily against things like retirement age increase that are important to everyone. He did, a lot.

    The real reasons are rather that most of the people have no easy way of hearing the opposition’s point of view and that Putin is still associated with stability and a lot of people who lived through the 90s aren’t excited about changes

    1. Bill Smith

      I didn’t get that sense you did it was about ‘there is no alternative to Putin’ that I feel you got from either the article or the underlying editorial that it is based on.

      I thought it was pretty clearly laid out that the opposition suffers from lack of access enough media to spread their views. In addition the government bureaucracy is not going to help the opposition in any way. The example given was the opposition needed the government’s permission to change the name of their party.

      From the underlying article: “the Ministry of Justice refused to rename the party.”

      But from reading the Russian newspapers I do get the sense you did about the memories of the 1990’s. Throw in a little nationalism and the rabid anti-Russian view of the MSM currently in the US that the Russians see….and you get …. “Putin Unchanged”

      1. Alex

        Nezavisimaya gazeta chose to emphasise (see the article’s header) the opposition’s lack of post-Putin agenda as if it were the main thing preventing the Russian opposition from succeeding. This is a ridiculous assertion. If, to take Navalny as an example, he released a 1000-page economic and social policy document for the post-Putin Russia it wouldn’t give him coverage on the TV, it would not bring more people to the streets and would not cause the government to register his party.
        Yes, he might be a little vague about some things (e.g. Crimea) but this is quite sensible if he wants to build a coalition of people not happy with Putin even if they don’t agree on every possible issue.
        Also, looking at historical examples, most of successful revolutions (France, England, Netherlands) were driven by diverse groups each having its own agenda but temporarily uniting to get rid of the common foe.

    2. Andrey Subbotin

      Russian political structure was always and still is a single pyramid of power, and all real politics happen inside it, not between it and competitors. People who select a career in politics join that pyramid at lower levels and then advance according to luck, connections and skill. The opposition “parties” are collections of clowns, opportunists who intend to monetize their notoriety, and bright-eyed useful fools who learned about politics from western textbooks and think they are making a difference.

      The only way for this opposition into power is to wreck the entire state structure and start from scratch, like it happened in 1917 and 1991. We are nowhere near that unhappy with status quo.

    3. Alex Morfesis

      Raz-putin forced to resign summer of 2021 after embarrassing loss of naval vessels to north Korean skirmish… Fearless leader, onedumbsun, of the glorious north Korean empire, after a difficult winter and spring, explodes when the Russians take double the vig agreed to for laundering proceeds to Cambodia via Vladivostok casino to circumvent sanctions, as the peace treaty with South Korea, Japan and the USA of April 2010 left too many north Korean peasants expecting faster change.

      Moscow had not effectively planned for any military confrontation around Vladivostok with North Korea and is blind sided by the rapid escalation and the move to occupy Vladivostok by an extremely angry onedumbsun…

      Seeing an opening, the Japanese government moves to physically retake several islands, claiming a Crimean protocol…

      Uncle bobo is being stretched out as trump/USA does rope-a-dope to obtain operational intelligence from active Russian military operations and theatre communication intel…

      Rasputin will not be sitting in the Kremlin in 2022…

      1. The Rev Kev

        Hmmmm. I can see the telephone call between Putin and Kim in 2021 now-

        Kim: Mr. Putin. We have decide to go to war against you.
        Putin: I see. That is rather unfortunate that. But we will solve a problem for you.
        Kim: And what would that be?
        Putin: At night-time satellite images shows your country to be almost pitch dark with very few lights showing.
        Kim: So?
        Putin: Very shortly your whole country will be glowing in the dark.
        Kim: Maybe we don’t need to go to war with you after all.
        Putin: I think that very wise.
        Kim: Yes, we do not really have the space to hold your whole army prisoner.

    1. lee

      Torturing dogs, and people with vertigo. What fun! What a bunch of a=holes. I better stop here or I might fall into the canyon of political incorrectness.

  4. Wukchumni

    Goooooood Mooooorning Fiatnam!

    Nobody really wanted to get to know the FNG (financially non grata types so new they were still shitting stateside official government economic numbers) replacements in our unit when the rotation policy regarding the velocity of money deemed it necessary. Most were just out of basic training in some Ivy League school, but felt that they knew it all.

    We’d stick them out on basis point when on loan range patrol, and they were often so many sitting ducks, offering a few percent less than what you could normally do to make the deal go down, they were so green and had a lot to learn, not that many Jody’s stuck around that long.

        1. Briny

          If you have been career military _and_ know how financial firms work, it’s funny. At least to me, anyway.

  5. ex-PFC Chuck

    Just from the subtitle, “How The Democratic Party Has Lost Its Defining Values In The Obsession With Trump,” I can tell that Jonathan Turley put the cart before the horse. The root reason there is a President Donald Trump is that the Democratic Party lost its defining values decades earlier. It began with the founding of the Democratic Leadership Council and was consummated by its takeover of the party with the election of President Bill Clinton.

    1. David

      It’s an extreme case of something that has happened to previously leftist political parties in most of the world. They gave up their aspirations to create a better and fairer society for all when the forces of reaction frowned at them, and they ran away. All they have left as “values” is a set of vague normative aspirations, mostly expressed in passive-aggressive terms. So under François Hollande, the Socialist government’s overall policy (inasmuch as they had one) was described as “opposition to all forms of discrimination.” But of course “discrimination” is only a word, and you can’t oppose it, you can only oppose people who, in your view, are practising it.
      Take “racism” for example, a word which is essentially meaningless once you accept that the “racial science ” of the last century is bogus, as almost everyone does. No two people will agree whether a specific circumstance is “racist”, nor whether a given person has behaved in a “racist” fashion. Indeed, compared to traditional leftist ways of looking at society (employer/employee, dividend drawer or shareholder or not, proprietor/renter) the modern “Left” has only a series of vague and highly malleable value judgements. Because you can’t actually “fight racism”, you wind up fighting, which means abusing, people whose opinions you don’t like, by using that epithet. That’s why the modern “Left” has no real policies except personal abuse and vilification of people they dislike. It’s hard to imagine why, in any country, the mix of personal abuse on one hand and cuddling up to the rich on the other, would amount to an attractive political platform, and of course it hasn’t.
      Not being a USian I’m reluctant to lay down the law about Trump, but I’d just say that he seems to me to represent two things. One is the epitome of all of views and practices that the anti-thisers and anti-thaters have been condemning for so long. Yet the earth hasn’t swallowed him, and no amount of name-calling, amazingly, seems to shut him up. Indeed, he’s been hitting back. Second, the fact that he’s still there, and still popular with his supporters opens up the terrifying possibility that actually people don’t care very much about the pet causes of the contemporary Left. In which case all you can do is stick your fingers in your ears and scream louder and louder.

      1. Carolinian

        Interesting comment. Of course there is such a thing as racism, which might better be called “prejudice” or pre-judging other people according to a readily identifiable characteristic. What’s bogus is the notion that we don’t all hold prejudices of one sort or another.

        And the reason left movements fade is no big mystery. Once the former leftists become part of the power structure they no longer have any “skin in the game.” That’s why a true revolution has to be from the bottom up. Some of us believe that our current dysfunctional politics will change, but only when things get bad enough.

        1. David

          Prejudice exists of course, and always has, some of it quite nasty. But the advantage of using “racist” (or any other abstract epithet, think of “communist” if you like) is that you don’t actually have to prove anything, or give examples of, as you say, pre-judging.

          1. jrs

            I think it’s actually a lived reality for many and so nope. Alabama keeps voting to segregate schools even though they have no legal ability to (it’s at the federal level) so it’s really just a symbolic anti-black vote. And you don’t think blacks THERE (and I don’t dismiss elsewhere but that’s just so overt) experience it as a lived reality?

            Don’t confused lived reality of masses of people with status games among top 10% about which minority can occupy the tippy top positions of the power structure. This has some value as symbolism, but since most people of all races will NEVER occupy those positions anyway, it’s limited. They aren’t the same. Or with twitter fights.

            Yes of course poverty and economic struggle is also a lived reality, and common as dirt.

            1. David

              Obviously prejudice and its effects are lived realities for many people. But that’s not the point I was making. The difference is essentially between, on the one hand, trying to create a society which treats everyone fairly because we are all human, and on the other adopting a kind of politics which relies simply on abusing people you don”t like, by accusing them of practices, attitudes, or even unconscious motivations, which you choose to describe in the vocabulary of prejudice. One is a viable political programme: the other isn’t.

              1. FluffytheObeseCat

                Despite all the petty internet parlor games played by connected elites in the U.S., racism is still a real thing. It’s like obscenity. Hard to define in a court of law, but unmistakeable and easy to pick out.

                The idle darlings of our “left” wing political elite don’t really want to eradicate it however, just use it to their advantage. Their alter egos on the right pretend they don’t thrive on it, but they paste black and white US flags with a horizontal blue bar through the center all over their pickups for reasons which have jack to do with any real love of cops.

                1. David

                  No doubt, but I suspect you mean what we used to call “racial prejudice” or discrimination. But the Left finds that boring. Take a real problem in Europe: Salafist preachers from the Gulf financed by oil money, coming to European countries, taking over mosques and preaching an extreme version of political Islam which claims among other things that Muslims should disobey the secular law if they think it conflicts with the Koran. European governments that have tried to expel such preachers have been accused of “racism” by various leftist groups, who are de facto supporters of Salfists (odd when you consider what those groups think about women and homosexuals, for example). Now if you know racism when you see it, the question should be easy to decide in this case.
                  The point is that, if all you have is the hammer of moral outrage and abuse, then there need to be a sufficient number of problems that can be made to look like nails, even if you have to invent them; It’s much easier than actually changing things, after all.

          2. jrs

            I think real r-ism exists in the U.S. and also that much of what passes for cultural left sometimes seems to be chasing down shadows of a shadow of a mirrors reflection of r-ism among the converted, preaching *at* the converted.

        2. Geo

          While I agree it’s also important to remember there are legit systemic reasons why leftist movements are squelched too: When a leftist movement takes to the streets (anti war, BLM, Occupy, civil rights) they are met with militant police force. When rightwing movements take to the streets (tea party, white power, open carry) they practically have a red carpet rolled out for them.

          It’s much harder for a left wing grassroots movement to gain traction than a rightwing one since the establishment supports the rightwing ideas and despises the left wing.

      2. Cat Afficionado

        Great thoughts there, thanks. I think that you capture a lot of what is wrong with today’s political “left”. There is a laundry list of stuff that they “are against”, some mumbling about what they are for, and absolutely no coherent plan for achieving anything. The word racist used to mean disliking someone on the basis of their skin color. Today it seems to mean anyone that the political left doesn’t like.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think one must make a distinction between “left” (puts working class first) and identitarians (put ascriptive identities like race, gender, etc., first) who leave market and class relations as is. So we have putative #BlackLivesMatter leadership like @Deray visiting Paris and asking his Uber driver about the gilets jaunes, for all the world as if he were Thomas Friedman, which in a few years he might well be.

          The media doesn’t make the distinction, nor does the political class, because it is not in their interest to do so. Nor, really, does the “left” so-called (throwing identitarians into the mix for a moment) because abstract concerns for “justice”, er, trump issues of power and, well, money. DSA is going to founder on this failure, if they don’t watch it.

      3. Summer

        “It’s an extreme case of something that has happened to previously leftist political parties in most of the world.”

        They will just continue to treat the problems of now as something that will improve in the future and all they need is a better propaganda message until all the people that remember any remaining semblance of autonomy and agency are dead and they’re left with the thinned cerebal cortexes of the current pre-adolescent population ( referring to the smartphone study of the NIH), who will pop placebo pills for happines and swear it’s the greatest dystopia ever if they only work hard enough.

  6. Olga

    If Navalny campaigned against raising the retirement age, so did VVP, in fact. The changes took several years to filter through. But if one considers that women in Russia could retire at 55, well that put the country quite outside the norm, and was likely seen as not a sustainable trend long term.
    The point of the article is that the opposition has no platform besides down with VVP – so what are the people supposed to hear exactly? Most Russians are familiar with the opposition, but do not trust it. Folks I spoke with seemed not angry with VVP, just kinda resigned. The biggest concern is corruption of the upper layer – and VVP at least channeled some of its resources to stabilise the country. There is a lot to say for stability and rising standard of living (albeit, slowly) – anywhere. And taking on the oligarchy full blast would have been suicidal for his government.
    Another concern is differences between Moscow/Peter and the rest of the country, since those two cities are perceived as getting most resources. (This actually dates back to the ol’USSR.) VVP’s 3/1/18 speech was heavy on listing tons of improvements (mostly infrastructure) that have to be spread throughout the country. If he gets only 25% of that done – the Russian church will declare him a saint at some point (not kidding). Very few people realise the untenable shape Russia was by 1999. The west would have been happy to see it split into several regions, with most of its natural resources privatised. VVP put an end to that lil’effort.

    1. Alex

      I am not discussing the merits of the reform itself, this is an example of a concrete issue that the opposition politicians mostly opposed.
      Definitely true regarding the prevailing feeling of resignation and the Moscow/rest of the country divide. Can’t agree with the availability of alternative points of view to the majority of Russians

    2. Unna

      As to the Russian opposition leader article, the real opposition leader in Russia is Gennady Zyuganov who is the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. My understanding is that his party has the second highest number of members in the Duma, which makes him the official leader of the parliamentary opposition.

      The “opposition” mentioned in the article includes Navalny, who is questionable on a good day with past ties to far right ethnic Russian nationalists (of course the West would promote a Russian nationalist in a multi ethnic, lingual, religious state like Russia if it wanted to break it up), Yashin, a liberal and former youth leader of the Yabloko Party who opposes the accession of Crimea to Russia and promotes “free markets” and Russian membership in the EU (??!!), and Mikhail Khodorkovsky (a convicted criminal who tried to sell Russia’s largest oil company to the Americans before he was arrested, obviously a guy who has a real future in Russian politics).

      Oh, and then, according to the article, there’s Ksenia Sobchak, entertainer, socialite, and film star. She appeared in that 2008 triumph of contemporary Russian Cinema, Hitler Goes Kaput!, where she played the part of Eva Braun. You can watch it with subtitles here: It’s funny actually, but you will be well advised first to get a six pack of Russian Baltika 7 Lager at your local BC Liquor Store, quickly drink two, and then start the movie in order to fully absorb and appreciate the film’s spiritually and emotionally transcendent artistic genius.

      During the televised presidential debates, Sobchak was reduced to tears by candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky because of his use of insulting language toward her. But what else do you expect from Zhirinovsky, who is actually a “legitimate” Russian politician, and whose party, the Liberal Democrats, a populist party, has the third most votes in the Duma. Zhirinovsky’s famous presidential campaign commercial, the Donkey Video, with subtitles, can be seen here. If Hitler Goes Kaput! And six Baltika 7’s didn’t finish you off, this will.

      Maybe somebody who’s an expert in Russian politics can clarify all this.

      From Bach to Hitler Goes Kaput! and Zhirinovsky’s Donkey Video in less than twelve hours….

      1. Unna

        Which is another way of saying what Olga said: you can’t beat something with nothing, or worse, with a clown show. So Putin got close to 77% of the vote.

  7. Olga

    Opinion: We were winning when we left DuffelBlog – All I can say is – OMG!
    Now the liberal icon BHO and perhaps the least popular (deservedly so) US prez, GW shrub are teaming up to tell us what to do in Syria! Who knew a little cough drop could have such a mighty effect.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Reminds me of what Belfast says of the Titanic: “There was nothing wrong with it when it left the shipyards!”

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      Olga, I see you’re so well informed on Russia that I’m guessing you may not be as well informed on things here in the US of A. DuffleBlog is to the US military the equivalent of The Onion to American civic culture. It is satire. And often such good satire that it is taken seriously by people who are elsewhere. There have been several times that articles and links at The Onion were picked up by non-USA media and republished assuming they were serious.

      1. Olga

        Well, I’ll be darn – it’s only the second of January and I’ve already learned something new!. If the year continues like this, I’ll be a genius by its end. Good to know – actually, I did a bit of a double-take, since Dbag was not filed in my brain as pro-military, but – as someone said – it is so realistic, I swallowed the bait. Too, too funny…

        1. RMO

          Satire is tricky these days, isn’t it? I’ve come across more than a few articles, written in earnest, that are almost exactly the same in substance as “A Modest Proposal” for example.

          1. ex-PFC Chuck

            Tricky indeed! Especially disturbing, though, are pieces that read like satire but aren’t.

    3. Summer

      Re: Syria extended

      “President Donald Trump appears to be considering keeping US troops in Syria longer than he originally planned after talks with one of his biggest backers in the Senate and pressure from his security advisers and the State Department.”

      “Pressure from his security advisors”…alot to unpack there.

      Did they start planning more motorcades for his appearances? Like a subtle hint?

      1. Tomonthebeach

        Donald Trump considering delay to US withdrawal from Syria So Trump is NOT going to remove the troops that never left in the first place? That is so uncharacteristic of him.

        Well, I bet he will finally get N Korea to junk at least one rusty ole nuke and then cue up for his Nobel prize. Then there is Afghanistan (DuffleBlog nailed that). Let’s also not lose sight of the fact(?) that we are not finished removing sanctions from Russia for a host of naughty behavior. Trump promises to finish that task in 2019 – assuming he is not removed from office for being a Putinpuppet.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Say goodbye to the cold, hard cash in your pocket”

    I think that this guy is talking through his hat. Doesn’t exactly fill you full of confidence when he uses Homer Simpson as a fount of wisdom either. He must know about when the State of South Australia had its power knocked out due to a storm and it was chaos for the following week while they tried to get the power back up and running. Most of us have seen that quote “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” so how about an updated one. When a region loses power and there is no cash, what sound does its economy make?

    1. Wukchumni

      I could see coins going away before cash, as at least in the USA, pretty much the largest denomination in use is the lowly Quarter, which buys you precisely nothing on it’s own other than an overpriced gumball from a machine, and some physical cranking is required in order to make it’s presence known.

      The production cost of Cents & Nickels is almost double the face value, and are pretty much relegated to being pocket anchors and/or rounding errors, when it comes to transactions.

      1. tegnost

        the quarters are bus money, and the nickels dimes and pennies are the average americans retirement savings

        1. BlueMoose

          It must be universal. It is starting to look like my retirement will be funded by the contents of several large wine jugs filled with 1/2/5/10/50 groszy coins. Not many 1 złoty coins. Those are used for beer. I only buy beer in bottles that require a deposit.

              1. ambrit

                Speaking about ‘potables,’ I was told about buying “Tractor Fuel” at the outdoor produce market back then.

            1. BlueMoose

              We need to compare notes. How many oz is each beer and what % alcohol? I’m asking because I can get 4x500ml of decent ‘mocne’ (7.5% alcohol) beer for around $4. So for your 11.99, I coud buy 3×4 (or 6L). 6L is approximately 202.884 ounces (US) or 16.88 of your beers assuming 12 oz cans. I’m pretty sure I could finish your 30-pk before you could finish my 12, even with all the trips to the restroom I would need to make. Plus, you would be dead drunk after 6 and I would only feel bloated.
              Na zdrowia!

              1. Wukchumni

                Point taken, but what if you’re primarily investing in aluminum futures, perish the thought of drinking skunky beer?

                1. BlueMoose

                  Way ahead of you. I am equal opportunity. Glass bottles I can return to the store. Cans accumulate in my garage (until wife says enough) and then it is off to the local recycler. I usually get enough cash to buy a couple more 4-packs (we don’t do 6 packs here). Recycling is a fairly brisk business here. For some folks it is there only source of income. They have nice hand carts for collecting stuff to recycle. If I’m too lazy, I donate it to one of the guys going by on the street.

              2. Mike Barry

                The thing is, I’m a boring, 75yo moderation guy. I have my one beer with dinner and that’s it for the day. So yeah, you could easily drink me unde the table.

            2. wilroncanada

              But that’s the alcohol equivalent of a six pack of Canadian beer. And all 30 about the same taste as one of those.
              Canadians call it KHP, Kentucky Horse P…

      2. Wukchumni


        Pretty much the only reason Cents are still made is the zinc industry, for since 1982, pennies are 97.5% zinc, with the other 2.5% being copper plating.

        Usually you’d never use Gresham’s Law on something as lowly as a cent, but any cent dated 1981 or before was 95% copper and 5% zinc and about 20% heavier than current coins, and around 160 of them equals a pound of copper, worth $2.63 @ current rate.

        1. Lee

          Thanks for the tip. I’m checking out my penny jar today. And I thought this site didn’t give out investment advice.

      3. Romancing The Loan

        They’re even unwieldy to use in parking meters these days. Perhaps it’s time to start minting 1s, 5s, and 10s as coins and leave paper bills to twenties on up.

        1. davidgmillsatty

          The banks would never allow it, Coins are issued by the government while the paper money we use today are bank notes, issued by banks. The government doesn’t have to borrow to mint coins or tax to mint them. It has no expense other than minting costs.

          Coins and bills of credit (government issued paper money) are treated the same in the Constitution. Lincoln’s greenbacks were bills of credit equivalent to coins, said the US Supreme court the legal tender cases after the civil war.

          Banks made sure we got rid of bills of credit in a hurry (banking act of 1864), even before the war was over. Greenbacks actually financed the Civil War for the Union without taxation or debt when the banks wanted 30% interest and there was no income tax. Greenbacks accounted for about a quarter of the money in circulation by the end of the war. They really cut into the profits of the banks. Twenty years later there were no greenbacks in circulation. Banks were issuing all paper money again.

          Attempts to issue bills of credit by administrations after Lincoln went nowhere and the big move by the banks now is to get rid of all coins so that the government actually issues no currency whatsoever.

          When you understand that the federal government can print all the money it wants or needs, then you learn what a scam it is to be told that the federal government can’t afford something. The states, who are barred in the Constitution from issuing coins or bills of credit actually have genuine budget issues. States have to tax to generate income or borrow to generate income.

          But not the federal government. People never appreciate how the federal government’s ability to print or mint money makes it entirely different from the states. For example, expansion of medicaid — the federal government could just issue bills of credit to pay for it — or medicare or social security. The states would have to tax and borrow which is why many states opted out of medicaid expansion.

          If Americans ever begin to understand that the federal government can coin or print all the money it needs to operate without taxing or borrowing, many famous people from the past who have understood this have predicted the American public will go ballistic.

          1. Wukchumni

            Smack dab in the middle of the ‘gold standard’ from 1863 to 1935 were fiat National Banknotes issued by the US Government, and backed by United States bonds.

            I think somewhere around 12,000 separate banks issued National Banknotes, with a common design for all notes issued, also having the name of the bank, with the bank president’s signature, and the bank clerk’s signature.

            Some of these were hand signed, some auto-penned.


      4. marieann

        We lost the penny a couple of years ago in Canada. We have had loonies and toonies for a few years and I think it works out well.

        I always like to keep a supply of them on hand and then I go into my little box and I have over a hundred dollars just like that.

        1. Wukchumni

          We minted Dollar coins, but really only for use in Ecuador.

          Their national currency, the Sucre went through quite a bout of hyperinflation, and they threw in the towel on having their own sovereign currency just at the very same juncture the new Dollar coins came out. Coincidence, I don’t think so.

          You see it’s all about the seignorage, and they cost about 15 cents to mint, so somebody’s making 85 Cents a coin on them, wonder who?

          Where did all the Sacagawea dollar coins go? In Ecuador, they’re everywhere

          Busy selling fruits and vegetables on a recent weekday, Luzmila Mita dug into her apron and pulled out a fistful of coins embossed with the image of a Native American woman with a baby strapped to her back.

          “I always thought she was one of us,” said Mita, as she looked at the image of Sacagawea, the 18th century Shoshone woman who was part of the Lewis and Clark expedition. “It took me a long time to know she was from up there.”

          “Up there” is the United States, where the U.S. Mint has been producing Sacagawea dollar coins since 2000. And even as the coins have lost their luster in the United States, they’ve been embraced in Ecuador, where they’re preferred over paper money.

          On the streets of this small South American nation, which adopted the dollar in 2000, Sacagawea is ubiquitous — and something of a kindred spirit in a country where many have indigenous roots.

        2. lee

          Loonies and tooonies, eh? Does Warner Brothers know about this? If they were successful in a trademark infringement case, Canada could become a wholly owned subsidiary of Bugs Bunny.

        3. Synapsid


          Toonies? I’d thought they were called doubloonies.

          I haven’t been to Canada for a while. I do remember a Spirit of the West song with the line “Where hotel rooms are made of snow” that I liked. They were out of North Vancouver.

          1. wilroncanada

            Thanks, marieann
            Loonies and toonies are coins. See how some USites can misinterpret?
            To Synapsid:
            Spirit of the est were great. Unfortunately John Mann, the lead singer is deeply into early-onset Alzheimers, beginning at age 50.

            1. Synapsid


              That’s sad to hear. Thanks for remembering them.

              I remember John Mann as the little very active guy with blond hair. Do I have that right? They were at Folklife every year, and performed at Murphy’s Pub in Seattle too.

              This was back when there were three of them and they had only two or three albums and they traveled to gigs in a Chevrolet Impala. They’d traded their van for it because the Impala had more room. Geoff called it The Largest Car in the World.

              I still sing “The Crawl” often.

      5. JTMcPhee

        I guess you have your own washing machine and dryer. Where I live, and in most of the precarious nation, quarters are necessary to feed the laundromat rentiers eqipment.

        1. Wukchumni

          Yes, I have my own living quarters where I laundered money, by hiding it in the purchase of a washer & dryer.

        2. Harry

          Laundromats – a horrible and very dirty business. Ironic really. In London most of the remaining ones are run by the Albanians.

        3. Yves Smith

          In my building, we went from large washing machines funded with quarters to smaller front-loaded ones where you have to buy a chip card ($5!!!) and of course, the machine eats your $ occasionally too. And I managed to lose a chip card :-(.

          1. crittermom

            Ugh. I wouldn’t like that. $5 chip card?!

            I remain grateful the washers & dryers in my complex still take quarters. Only three of ’em for each load, too.
            I guess that’s an advantage of living in a dying city in the second poorest state in the US? *moan*

      6. Anon

        Ever been to a self-service car wash? Laundromat? Or even wanted to fill a re-useable gallon container with reverse-osmosis H2O? Requires coins. (Lots of them at the ‘mat.)

      7. lordkoos

        I think at this point the only Amercian coin worth more than its face value is the nickel, which is still made of nickel.

        1. Wukchumni

          Nickels are tricky, as the composition is 75% copper and 25% nickel, but looks are everything, thus the moniker.

        2. Synapsid


          Last I looked the nickel cost more to make than its face value, just like the penny. Once I’m elected dictator there will be No More Pennies, and I’m thinking of dumping the nickel too.

      8. drumlin woodchuckles

        Quarters are used in laundromats to pay the machines and trigger them into action. They are also used in hundreds of millions of vending machines and possibly other machines for the same reason.
        I am not too rich to need to use quarters and know about them. I use them at the laundromat.

        In a quarterless society I suppose all the coin washers and coin dryers would become digi-card payment machines, with Big Carda charging a fee for every use of the Washer Card and the Dryer Card. I will hold out and keep using quarters as long as any machines exist which take them.

        As to the production cost of Cents and Nickels being “double the face value” . . . that is a meaningless complaint because the same coin can be used many thousands of times by many thousands of people for many thousands of exchanges, thereby amortising the “production cost” for a cent and a nickel to functionally zero cost per cent-or-nickel mediated transaction.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      My debit card has been frozen right through Christmas/NY thanks to a fraudulant attempt to use my card (at the Nike online store apparently, I’m impressed that my banks algo’s know I’d never be caught dead wearing NIke).

      So if there was no cash I’d be stumped, I’ve had no choice but to use my credit card to take out cash to pay for my NY excesses.

      1. flora

        This might sound like a silly question. What is the energy use requirements to create a coin than can be used for over about 30 years time for various payments, vs the energy requirements to make similar recurring digital payments for 30 years time, in replacement of same coin use?

        1. Wukchumni

          That’s a great question…

          You’d have figure out the energy use of getting the metal out of the ground, refining said metal and then the final cost of making the coin, in energy output.

          I would say a modern-day coin has a shelf life of probably closer to 50 years of being used in commerce, if not longer.

          1. Synoia

            Before decimal currency became the UK currency, in 1971, there were millions of pennies in circulation with Victoria on them, in two forms: the bun (pre Albert’s death) and the veil (Post Albert’s death).

            I believe coins last over 100 years. I recall some coins dated 1830 or so.

          2. The Rev Kev

            I have a Roman coin that is in pretty good condition and is about 1,800 years old. If the Roman empire was still about I could probably spend this denarius. After all, it still contains silver.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Its an interesting question – in all the fuss about the energy requirements of bitcoin and other blockchain apps, its forgotten that conventional banking is also a huge energy user. I doubt if there is a straighforward answer, as using cash uses energy too (not least, huge armoured trucks).

          And post Christmas anecdotally, it increases alcohol consumption too, as its so easy to buy a round using a contact card (which, incidentally, is why I think here in Ireland there was a rash of fraudulent debit card transations the week before Christmas).

      1. Wukchumni
        We saw this Barbary Lion a few years before in it’s enclosure, it was one of 2, and the docent told us it was 2 years old and about 600 pounds. It was dozing about 200 feet away from us, and the docent told us not to get within 10 feet of the fence, and a little girl got within about 20 feet of the enclosure, and i’ve never seen an animal go from sleeping to traversing around 150 feet of territory so quick. Even though the girl was in no danger, she was terrified from the encounter, you could tell.

        1. Lee

          I don’t understand why the kill these animals. It’s not like they are roaming around at large hunting people. In a zoo, it is obvious that the fault lies with the humans, who have complete control of the security arrangements.In national parks, where the animals do roam about at large, it is my understanding that the circumstances of animal attacks are thoroughly investigated to determine why the animal attacked and if it is a reasonable one-off event, such as a mother bear protecting cubs, the animal might not be killed.

          1. Wukchumni

            True that, but anytime a wild animal kills one of us (and i’m not including Pit {oh, don’t worry he’s friendly…} Bulls-by far the most likely canine to do you in) the more exotic the murderer, the more likely we’ll kill it.

            Barbary lions are rare, there’s just handfuls of them here and there. And how would the public react if said lion wasn’t put down and was back to being a feline lounge lizard on display, that’d be a little creepy.

            1. Lee

              My pitbull Staffordshire Terrier, Lady Barksalot, has taken offense at your characterization of her kind and wants to know where you live. I told her I don’t know and I do hope she believes me.

              As for the lion: hell, it’s already serving life in prison. He should have gotten at least one freebie. Apologies to the friends and family of the deceased. I have a provision in my will that if I’m taken out by a grizzly bear or any other wild critter that my preference is that they not be harmed. I will only have my foolish self to blame for knowingly putting myself in harms way, which I have been known to do from time to time.

          2. BobW

            Hunting in Africa has some beneficial side-effects, and the decrease in hunting has actually caused lion populations to decline, since they are then a hazard to livestock rather than an asset to tourism.

            Effects of the safari hunting tourism ban

            1. Lee

              The dynamic between hunting and conservation is often positive, though I do consider trophy hunters of inedible species as close cousins to serial killers. Hunters and fishermen are often important contributors to conservation groups. So, animal watching safaris are not making up for the revenue lost due to hunting bans?

              This from a 2011 article More $$$ to Economy: Yellowstone Wolf Watching or Elk Hunting?


              .the bottom line is in the northern (Yellowstone) ecosystem, wolf watching brings in four times what hunting is bringing in.

              Granted, this may or may not be applicable with other species or to other parts of the world.

  9. The Beeman

    from The Anti-Trump Party: How The Democratic Party Has Lost Its Defining Values In The Obsession With Trump – Jonathan Turley

    “A party requires more than hatred for an individual. A party has to stand for something that transcends the immediate or the visceral. Yet, in the age of Trump, the public is not interested in nuance or niceties. The watchword is “resist” and that means to push back at all costs, even against our core values. So the question is not what the Democratic Party will do but what it will be after Donald Trump eventually leaves office.”

    1. Synoia

      If one is focused only on being the rulers, and not policies, “hating” Trump makes a very good strategy.

      If it were not for “Trump Hated,” the D’s would have to have polices markedly different from the Rs, and be for a whole number of programs, such as “Medicare for All.”

      Please pardon me whilst I divest myself of a significant malady, cynicism.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    China plans 6,800 km of new rail track in 2019 amid infrastructure push Reuters

    This smacks a little bit of panic by the Chinese government. HSR’s are mostly funded by the central state in China (unlike most infrastructure in China which is funded at a more local level), so its an obvious tool for spending money quickly in pouring concrete (as opposed to, say, just giving people more money, which the government seems loathe to do). But most of the services are loss making, and the prime routes are already established, so its pushing a lot of costs into the future if they are now connecting more minor cities.

    So much as I love to see more railways built, I don’t think this represents a good investment. Its a little reminiscent of 1980’s Japan, where building Shinkensen links to every favoured politicians home village became a huge burden on the government.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Maybe Trump could do a fancy trade deal with China. We sure could use the 6,800 km of rail tracks in the US and it doesn’t seem like anyone here will put any new rail tracks in or replace old tracks.

      1. Wukchumni

        I think the concept is an excellent one, as long as the Chinese can entice a sale by calling it a transportable wall.

    2. curlydan

      A lot of the HSR that I’ve been on in China plows through mountains, so these could be “new” routes that save time but cost a lot via blowing holes in mountains.

      I think the Chinese government may have a preference to send more transportation via train than plane. China has to move so many millions of people quickly, and going through the train stations seems a lot faster than going through airports.

    3. a different chris

      Don’t know anything about Chinese railroads… but:

      so its an obvious tool for spending money quickly in pouring concrete (as opposed to, say, just giving people more money, which the government seems loathe to do).

      Invert that sentence, and you get the US. With it’s falling apart infrastructure… (maybe that should be “fallen apart”?)… and it gives money to people to shop.

  11. Darius

    The Uber and Lyft investors won’t stop until they kill off taxis and public transportation. Is it possible for taxi, bus, and subway drivers to sue under antitrust law to stop them?

    1. Summer

      More people have to support public transportation, taxi drivers, bus drivers, et tal.
      But it is hard to convince them that competition is the only thing keeping them autonomously mobile.
      Another problem: Try explaining to people around you about the investors interested in deregulated monopolies or how the Uber/Lyft rides are subsidized. It’s hard and most people get uncomfortable with a critique of social systems and stressed ( or dismissive at the other extreme) about critiques of economic systems.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Is it that more people need to support public transportation or that the ‘right’ people need to support public transportation? And it wouldn’t hurt if a few parasites were removed off the back of public transportation. As for the other problem — I think a lot of the people using Uber/Lyft are already squeezed so tight — now — that worries about what happens after the full privatization of “taxi drivers, bus drivers, et al.” are lost within worries about the present.

    2. rd

      I don’t think Uber and Lyft will replace subways and buses as those move large numbers of people long distances in cities at low cost, especially across barriers like bridges and congestion. Uber and Lyft are complementary to them as they are great for picking up and dropping off at mass transit points. Uber and Lyft plus a subway or express bus eliminate the need to own a car.

      Taxis are a complete other story. Taxis will need to become more technologically advanced and customer-focused like Uber and Lyft for hailing and paying for them if they are to survive.

      1. Yves Smith

        Oh, come on. This isn’t about “technologically advanced.” Taxi companies around the US have apps. This is about predatory pricing and Uber/Lyft undercutting taxis via investor subsidies. Hubert Horan had a monster series on this. I suggest you read it.

        And they ARE destroying public transportation. The NYC system has lost serious ridership. I am shocked the few times I have gone on busses and subways (less than before due to a bad injury) how much the loading has fallen. NYC has announce the system has gone into a death spiral.

        1. wilroncanada

          Thanks Yves
          I’ve mentioned previously how the government of British Columbia has not yet allowed these pirates into the province, and the current proposal has their start being put off until the fall of 2019.
          They have also set up a series of rules which the companies and their apologists/propagandists are whining about, including, by the way, all the province’s television stations, including the CBC to their shame. Headlines in the Vancouver stations yesterday included that some people, of the hundreds of thousands in Downtown Vancouver for the New Year’s celebrations and fireworks displays had to wait all of twenty minutes for taxis to take them home. The horrors!!
          That was the earthshaking news for yesterday. Not the 5 0r 6 more who died of overdoses. Not the hundreds of thousands of meals prepared by soup kitchens for the homeless and indigent. Not even the name of the location of the event, a square named after one. of the great real estate grifters of the city.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          If the NYC subway system ends its death spiral in actual death, such that there is no more subway and not one train ever runs ever again, how will the people who still move around by subway move around when there is no more subway?

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Mitt Romney: The president shapes the public character of the nation. Trump’s character falls short.”

    Maybe he is reflecting a lot of the nation. After all, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.”

    1. Wukchumni

      Is the ‘public character’ that Willard claims our President is lacking, something a private equity superhero (what would that costume look like?) could aspire to being?

      1. Grant

        I am reminded of a quote attributed to King which claimed that a budget was a moral document, which it obviously is. We as a society, though our states, can spend on a wide range of things. What we choose to spend on, how much, speaks a lot about our priorities and morals. The idea that Trump has bad character because of his personal shortcomings is true about him as a person, but is him being an ignorant jerk, a creep, a horrible husband and businessman worse than what his healthcare policies would do to people? Romney will support Trump most of the time on policy. What is worse, the impact of those horrible policies, or Trump’s personal shortcomings? If Trump’s healthcare policies lead to thousands of people dying each year, and if Romney goes along with them, would that reflect on his and Romney’s character? How about speeding up the environmental crisis? Think that might negatively impact everyone, including future generations? Again, will Romney challenge Trump on that? Will he vote to not give himself a tax cut when the time comes, because doing so might have negative societal repercussions? Will that reflect on his character at all? What drivel.

        I’d prefer a person with good personal moral character in office, but if I had to choose between an asshole that backs good and humane policies versus a swell guy or gal that supports monstrous policies, I’ll support the asshole. I’ll let those close to him or her deal with their personal character flaws.

    2. Carolinian

      Some of us ignore the president–not just Trump–as much as possible. We had a revolution some time ago because we didn’t want a king.

      Of course for DC/Versailles the person at the top of the heap is a never ending obsession. Also if Romney, they guy who strapped his dog to the top of his car, had become president what would that say about our public character? Lately our public character shapers have all been shallow egomaniacs.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Lately our public character shapers have all been shallow egomaniacs.

        Reagan is an obvious flaw with my argument, but I think the idea of television or breaking news (which isn’t really to announce an emergency; its important to be made aware if I need to alter my way home from work) has led to a point where we only watch the news in a passing way. We poke in and our and never ponder. Thanks Ted (Koppel), the hostages have been in Iran for 63 days, and yesterday, it was 62. What will tomorrow bring? We don’t focus on ourselves in a larger frame work, just the immediacy of the moment. Did Nightline address why the Iranians might be upset? Well. No. That’s not a tv story. It requires thinking and going back.

        Compare the RFK speech up above to an Obama speech (anyone will do). RFK is coming through in an America which is undoing Jim Crow. In the one, I linked to (I’m pretty its his stump speech). RFK compares the U.S. to Athens, noting Athens fell by not living up to its standards. Wait? Athens? You have to think about it, and Americans should recognize this and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. Lincoln was discussing an active Civil War. Isn’t the same? Not dealing with our sins led us to the path of destruction.

        There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. -Captain Vapid

        On the surface, this sounds nice, but its a stark contrast from RFK’s call to action to address our sins. Obama is saying everything is fine and dandy with a bit of prayer…er…hope…I mean “real hope.”

        Lincoln became a celebrity because people read his arguments from the debates with Douglas, the great orator of his day. How would they have played on tv? Lincoln supposedly had a nasal voice and wasn’t a looker. Jefferson who is always quoted rarely spoke in public after seeing Patrick Henry at his craft, realizing he could never rise to that level oration.

        Certainly, there is an issue of scale and how we can hold people to account. I’m reminded of the media blackout of Sanders in 2016. Sanders crushed it among people who receive their news from the internet which is probably text based, not a video you pop in and out of awaiting news about charity porn.

        1. Carolinian

          Henry Kissinger acolyte Ted Koppel.

          I think there’s an argument to made that there’s too much news these days, particularly television news. Blame it all on Ted Turner who started CNN in an old mansion adjacent to Atlanta’s downtown freeway. Meanwhile 60 Minutes became a big hit and the networks decided that news shows were a cheap and profitable alternative to cop shows and comedies. The US is increasingly one big reality show and we’re just living in it.

          Therefore of course Trump is president.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Wasn’t Newt Gingrich responsible for the idea Congressmen should always be on tv hammering that conservative message? So he always had critters mugging for the CSPAN camera even with nothing going on.

            I’m particularly amused by the White House press corp drama in recent days. Once upon a time, it was a trash assignment as it was basically just a faster way for the White House to get its message out. When FDR didn’t have anything to share, his press secretary simply went out and said nothing today. With the way they fawned after Shrub, how anyone takes that place seriously is beyond me.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Sanders crushed it among people who receive their news from the internet which is probably text based, not a video you pop in and out of awaiting news about charity porn.

          Possibly why Sanders now has a massive video operation.

    3. RUKidding

      Imma gonna wait n see how RMoney votes. The rest of this is just idle chatter.

      My understanding is that the Mormons, for various reasons, hate Trump. RMoney is essentially now Senator for Life from Utah. Whatever he says about Trump will not hurt his chances to remain in the Senate. It’s just virtue signaling, imo, and means next to nothing, as far as I’m concerned.

      Other than: he’s also positioning himself for a 2020 run, which I doubt will pan out for him. Time will tell.

      1. rusti

        he’s also positioning himself for a 2020 run, which I doubt will pan out for him.

        I think you’re right. I wouldn’t mind the spectacle of watching Mittens get absolutely rolled in a primary like Low-energy Jeb did. From the article:

        In a 2016 Pew Research Center poll, 84 percent of people in Germany, Britain, France, Canada and Sweden believed the American president would “do the right thing in world affairs.” One year later, that number had fallen to 16 percent.

        That’ll really play well with the Republican base. Oh no, the French don’t approve! For all the elite disdain for Trump’s intelligence, they consistently show themselves to be dumber than he is.

      1. Wukchumni

        It’s merely a test platform for the revolutionary glass bottomed aircraft carriers the Chinese are coming out with.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Most analyses I’ve read consider the rail gun to be nothing more than yet another miltary self licking ice cream. For all the hype about velocities, they can’t do anything that hasn’t been done years ago with conventional high velocity guns, and guided missiles can almost certainly do the same job for a lot lower cost.

            My guess is that projects like this are either scams or are deliberate attempts to confuse foreign intelligence services. The Chinese military defence industry is well behind its peers (very few countries buy Chinese made armaments for a very good reason). The more the US fears hypothetical Chinese weapons, the less likely they are to come to Taiwans defence – taking Taiwan is the Chinese no.1 strategic objective in the Pacific in the medium term.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            China is buiding or has built a second (first was purchased) aircraft carrier.

            Perhaps they are unsinkable.

  13. diptherio

    Here’s some data analysis that Mr. Richard Smith may be interested in:

    Cambridge Analytica Network Analysis: Information on Cambridge Analytica’s network of companies within the UK

    This page contains data extracted from Companies House about Cambridge Analytica, and its associated parent company the SCL Group and all of their subsidiaries. The inspiration for developing this page was after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company closed down after it was revealed they were misusing data obtained from Facebook – shortly afterwards another company, Emerdata popped up. It has been reported that the SLC Group essentially operates as a network of shell organisations, and this page is here to reveal the staggering complexity of the network of companies behind the people involved.

    The methodology used here was to take all of the current and previous directors of SCL Group Ltd. and extract all of the comapnies that they have had officer positions in. Notably there are some agencies who counted as officers in this, too.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. Navy pursuing block buy of two aircraft carriers: senator”

    Something seems dodgy here. The Navy wants commitment to build two more Ford-class carriers? At the moment there is only the “Gerald R. Ford” finished – kinda – with the next ship in the class ( the “John F. Kennedy”) about three-quarters done. The lead class carrier is still trying to shake out the substantial bugs in its major systems along with breakdowns but there is something else that is a bit of a worry.
    Every new type of US Navy ship undergoes shock trials, where large explosives are detonated near the ship – to make sure it can take the strain. The Navy has been fighting this hard and I mean really hard and although they had to back down several months ago, so far as I know these tests have not yet taken place. Completing construction of one carrier and ordering two more seems reckless if you do not know if they are up to the challenge of combat.
    Let us say that the test goes ahead and that something happens. Say the front of the ship falls off (it has happened) so then what. That means that the Ford will have to be redesigned and totally rebuilt. Same for the Kennedy in construction. If those two new carriers have been ordered then they will have to be redesigned as well. I have no idea how many billions you are talking about but this is what concurrency is all about. Instead of designing one model and if good, ordering several what you do is design and build at the same time which means you rebuild and rebuild And that is how you got the F-35. Rebuilding a carrier is another matter though.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Of course, by the time they work their way up to the USS Donald Trump, he will have insisted that its specified longer and bigger than all the other ones. And it will probably have to be a bouffant, not a flat-top.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      The Navy’s aircraft carriers and the Air Force’s F-35s are working just fine — even better than the Army’s Future Combat Systems effort from some years ago when it was the Army’s turn. Money is flowing and money is filling the coffers of the acquisitions side of the MIC. This has the benefit of at least tending to staunch the flow of money into operations for our endless foreign wars, which tend to benefit different and far more belligerent factions and interests in the MIC. Much better to produce super-expensive worthless junk than to pump money into wholesale destruction of countries and human life. In addition to this benefit, the results from recent Naval war games and exercises, along with the demonstration of capabilities by current Naval officers in the collision of Naval ships with very large slow moving commercial vessels should serve to add a large measure of caution to the operations of any minimally competent US Navy admirals running large ships through the China seas.

    3. Etherpuppet

      You’re looking at this all wrong. Profit is booked now, not 10-15 years in the future. If a ship splits in two in the meantime, then there’s plenty of contract $$ to be made fixing it.

      Fixing stuff long after the fact is always lucrative. In software, the “cost” of a defect/problem is always cheapest when the problem is caught near the source (i.e. when its coded or thereabouts) and cost rises exponentially from there. Think of all the COBOL developers lured out of retirement during the Y2K run up at $200+/hr in 1999 dollars.

      (/s, of course!)

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Every new type of US Navy ship undergoes shock trials, where large explosives are detonated near the ship – to make sure it can take the strain. The Navy has been fighting this hard and I mean really hard and although they had to back down several months ago, so far as I know these tests have not yet taken place.

      Gee, that’s odd. The Navy wanted to delay the shock trials for five years (!) on the grounds that the trials could delay deployment (!!). Now the Navy has agreed that the test should go ahead, but they have not occurred:

      One of the reasons for the recent controversy surrounding the possible cancellation of the trials are the many new and largely untested systems installed aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford, as I explained previously:

      The USS Gerald R. Ford, commissioned in July 2017, is equipped with a host of new and untested technologies, including the carrier’s two main turbine generators, a new dual-band radar system, advanced weapons elevators, and a new advanced arresting gear on the flight deck. (U.S. President Donald Trump objected to the installation of some of the new systems such as General Dynamics’ new electromagnetic aircraft launch system aboard, as I reported in May 2017.) It is precisely the reliability of these new systems that the Pentagon’s wants to thoroughly test.

      Total cost for the USS Gerald R. Ford are estimated at $12.9 billion-the most expensive warship in the U.S. Navy’s history.

      So again Trump, in his crude, random, CEO-style way, has sniffed out a real weakness. And I’m still boggled by the idea of deploying a $12.9 billion item without going through the standard testing procedure. Because innovation always works!

  15. Wukchumni

    Airport water fountains shut down after passengers become ill on Frontier Airlines flight CNN. Welcome to the Third World.
    I guess i’m amazed that they still had drinking fountains @ Cleveland airport.

    It’s the one thing from my youth that was entirely commonplace, you’d see them everywhere (the best ones were by a company named Haws, that supplied ice cold water to your lips when it was 94 degrees outside) and now they pretty much all got raptured.

    1. Tom Doak

      Yes, it’s quite a coincidence that water fountains have fallen into disrepair so soon after multinational companies started making money selling bottled water!

    2. efschumacher

      And how convenient it is that if you bring known quality water to the airport they confiscate it at the Security Theatre. Some airports even fail to provide _any_ potable water once inside the neoliberal boarding zone. I’m thinking of English airports here. I can’t find a water fountain anywhere inside Leeds airport, and using the bathroom’s (hot only) basin water is an invitation to Legionnaire’s.

      European airports have water fountains. The last two I visited, Barcelona and Malaga, have for sure.

      (Does Cleveland still get its combustible water piped out of the Cuyahoga?)

  16. kilgore Trout

    Re: the “block buy” of 2 aircraft carriers. They’re called “Ford class ” carriers. What with cost over runs and dubious utility of carriers save as sitting ducks, maybe the new ones should be “Edsel class”.

    1. Wukchumni

      I think a more clever approach would be ‘Buy 1-get 1 free!’ sale, since nobody’s really going to pay for the behemoths only in search of a laser guided missile to send them into the nether regions of Davy Jones Locker.

    2. Massinissa

      Considering that the ship classes need to be named after presidents or important politicians, perhaps we could name it the ‘Hoover Class’. Considering how much government money these things vacuum up, that name would be especially apt.

  17. tricia

    re Can the next US defense chief do what needs to be done to prevent war?

    John Pilger points out what those in the MSM and commentators like these fail to: “American bases form a giant noose encircling China with missiles, bombers, warships – all the way from Australia through the Pacific to Asia and beyond…China is surrounded by 400 US military bases; US naval forces are on the doorstep of China. US missiles are pointed at China from Okinawa and southern Korea.
    There are no Chinese naval ships and no Chinese bases off California; there is no demonstrable Chinese military threat to the US, though China has made significant defensive preparations since Obama’s ‘pivot.'”

    Pilger calls his most recent film- which I highly recommend- The Coming War ON China, not with China, for a reason…

    Gee, maybe backing off our aggressive dominate-and-control-the-world stance is what’s necessary to prevent war.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Sounds like the US Navy is telling China to stop moving its country so close to its bases.

  18. Summer

    Re: A.I. / “Nudging” people to be happy at work…

    “Then it uses emails and text messages to “nudge” individual employees into small actions that advance the larger goal.”

    Paging “Black Mirror”….

    But really, they seem to think of everything but a a bigger paycheck.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Who need AI “Nedging” people to be happy at work? All people need is a little encouragement from above —
      Colonel Saito:
      “…Let me remind you of General Yamashita’s motto: be happy in your work. Dismissed!” [Bridge on the River Kwai]

    2. jrs

      Everyone who isn’t fresh out of school or something, knows they have to fake somewhat happy at work regardless.

      If they want to hire a happier employee though, just hire someone who has been looking for work for too long, they’ll kiss the ground the hiring manger walks on. Oddly instead of seeing the long term unemployed as actually really good hires, they tend to think they are bad hires. Go figure.

    3. How is it legal

      Yep, freaking uuugh, yet another gut wrenching Fourth Estate PR piece for amoral insanity. Certainly one has to wonder whether Laslo Block and Wayne Cosby (the initial two co-founders) have a contact or more among the San Francisco Area domiciled New York Times Editors, for that vomit worthy PR piece.

      Just what every minimum wage Silicon Valley salad bar worker who can’t afford to live anywhere near their job (even at $15 hourly, where rents are predominantly and insanely over $2,000, for a one bedroom apartment) wants: timed AI™ Behavioral nudge engine™ micro intervention ‘Be Happy’ emails and texts from people they don’t work for, and have never met, who have been given their contact information (at a minimum); contact information and messages which are likely then scooped up by GMail and Facebook.

      This ‘Behavioral Therapy service’ from a for profit company whose two initial co-founders presided for quite some time over the human resources and engineering departments of a company – Google – with a most shameful record of job and wage discrimination, and sexual harassment from upper management.

      Of course if there were meaningful Labor Laws, with actual teeth in them, on the Local, State, and National Levels, this would be disallowed by companies – as it would automatically breach Informed Consent Laws, in that employees are automatically subjected to Behavioral ‘Therapy’ Treatment (because that’s exactly what Humu is) as a condition of employment. (And yeah, those Informed Consent laws haven’t even protected Hospital patients in way too many cases.)

      The US Free Markets™ get more demented by the minute, despite the country’s highly proclaimed Judiciary Branch, and its monetary sovereignty, and therefore its ability to easily ease the ever increasing financial and psychological abuse (resulting in increasingly horrifying suicide rates) of its increasingly neglected and abused majority populace if theUS Government actually desired to do so.

      I won’t be, and haven’t been since holding my nose in 2008, voting for anyone for president who doesn’t propose major overhauls – with TEETH, this time – of Labor Laws, Affordable Housing and Medical Care Policies, and a General Focus on Discrimination, and Citizens and Residents rights Laws which have been repeatedly broken, with no meaningful consequence to the abusers.

    1. cnchal

      Thank you. The more I read about Amazon sellers getting eaten in the jungle, the clearer the scams becomes.

      So the couple put the class fee on their credit card, started attending Monday night webinars, and picked their first two products: a glass wine decanter and plastic wine aerator, both sourced from China. Following Behdjou and Gazzola’s advice to purchase the minimum mass order possible, they ordered 3,000 decanters and 1,500 aerators and had them shipped directly to Amazon warehouses across the country, from which the company would send them directly to consumers.

      Six months later, they had sold only about 100 decanters and a few hundred aerators. Customs taxes and shipping costs were starting to add up. The aerators kept breaking, and so Bjork and McDowell had to pay for returns. Amazon changed a seller fee of $39.99 a month, a per-piece fulfillment cost of a few dollars a unit, and a storage fee of 70 cents per cubic foot that increased during the holiday season. Then there was the cost of advertising, which they needed to actually get their product noticed amid the thicket of other people also selling wine accessories, also bought cheap from China, also on Amazon.
      Because Behdjou and Gazzola no longer work together, I spoke with them individually. Gazzola told me that in the beginning, the two just wanted to share the mistakes they had made selling on Amazon, so other people didn’t make the same ones. People need coaches, he said, because Amazon changes its rules so often that it can be difficult for an individual to keep up.

      Abuse by Amazon™

  19. Wukchumni

    The Army, in Need of Recruits, Turns Focus to Liberal-Leaning Cities

    SEATTLE — Army recruiters in Seattle can earn a Friday off for each new soldier they enlist. But in a city with a thriving tech industry and a long history of antiwar protests, the recruiters haven’t gotten many long weekends.

    “It’s no secret we’re a little behind,” Sgt. First Class Jeremiah Vargas, who heads the city’s recruiting station, told four recruiters at a recent morning pep talk. With a week left in the month, he wrote the station’s goal — five recruits — on a white board, and then the current tally: two.

    “What do we need to make mission?” he asked.

    One recruiter responded with a shrug, “A miracle.”

    The Army is not quite counting on miracles, but after falling 6,500 soldiers short of its goal nationwide in 2018, it is trying a new strategy that might seem almost as unlikely.

    Must’ve blown through all of the Johnny Got His Gun types in the red states…

    1. newcatty

      Read the article. Scary, now “Sergeant Hard Times” is not doing his job. Of course, considering how fabulous the US economy is doing with jaws available for all! Then that ole reliable “Sergeant’s pick up line is undermined by TINA propaganda and fear mongering being shot down (pun intended w a good dose of sarc). If the US army is not meeting recruitment goals, what will MIC come up with to place boots on the ground or in those cool health care, engineering and coding opportunities for bright young people just waiting for them? See the world and have ” adventure” does not seem to play like it did once upon a time. And, patriotism is being redefined as we speak and type. No one thinks, do they, that some sort of draft will be brought back…to secure America!!!
      We have teen aged grandkids…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Second comment in:

      This is nothing more then the product of neoliberal economics thatcherism reaganism a cruel system of economics do the people of the UK please learn mmt dr. Stephanie Kelton your life could depend on it

  20. Ford Prefect

    Re: We were winning when we left

    I learned something new at the very end of that piece. I hadn’t realized that there were almost three times as many Americans who died in Afghanistan in the Obama Administration as in the Bush Administration.

    Clearly similar to the winning statistics of the Vietnam War as it progressed.

  21. Oregoncharles

    “Airport water fountains shut down after passengers become ill on Frontier Airlines flight”

    Would you please hold off on crapification reports on the airlines until we get back from our trip to Indiana? It’s for a funeral, so not optional. That would be about the 15th. Thank you. (sarc – sort of)

    1. Synoia

      Bit late for that. The airlines have been trying hard to make air travel more uncomfortable since the end of WW II.

      Don’t forget to bring your own seat coming to a airline near you.

      1. newcatty

        Wait for standing room, only. It’s OK, you will get an overhead strap to hang on to, so they will be giving caring attention to your comfort and safety.

        1. wilroncanada

          What about lying down room? There is all that space below the luggage containers. The airlines could fill that space with passengers by use of the same compartments, each with its own door. Then they wouldn’t need steward(esses) because passenger can be slotted in at one airport and de-compartmentalized at the other. A few may be “prone” to agoraphobia, but so be it s/.

  22. knowbuddhau

    More on deficit spending and growth. Readers might be surprised to learn that the Green “New” Deal is at least a decade old. Results of a real-world experiment are in.

    There were high hopes for the UN’s Global Green New Deal. Between 2008 and 2010, the G20 nations and a handful of other economies put US$3.3 trillion into fiscal stimulus, of which more than $520 billion was devoted to ‘green investments’. This included pollution clean-up, recycling and low-carbon energy. More than 60% of the green stimulus went to improving energy efficiency, with an aim to create much-needed jobs in construction (E. B. Barbier Can. Public Policy 42 (Suppl. 1), S1–S9; 2016).

    China invested 3% of its gross domestic product (GDP) and South Korea put in 5% of GDP as part of long-term strategies to develop industries around such technologies as solar panels, electric cars and wind turbines. Other economies spent much less: the United States devoted about 0.9% of GDP, with Canada and the European Union investing around 0.2%. Since the global economic recovery began in 2010, there has been scant additional support for this green transition.

    Meanwhile, China has become the leading producer of solar cells, wind turbines, energy-saving lights and solar water heaters. It aims to be the market leader in fuel-efficient cars. South Korea has also expanded exports from green industries, including an ambitious plan implemented during 2009–13 to create 1.6 million to 1.8 million jobs through green growth by 2020. In most major economies, however, green sectors have largely been left to develop on their own, and remain niche. For example, in the United States, sectors such as renewable energy, pollution abatement, materials recycling and conservation employ just over three million workers and account for 3% of GDP.

    The brown economy remains pervasive, partly because it is buttressed by market-distorting subsidies. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated the global distortion for fossil-fuel subsidies alone at $5.3 trillion in 2015, or 6.5% of GDP (D. Coady et al. World Dev. 91, 11–27; 2017). Subsidies for agriculture, water and transportation also reward polluting activities and the overuse of resources.

    The “brown economy” remains pervasive dominant because it’s better known as our empire. I doubt the people made obscenely rich by that $5.3 trillion–and that was just for 2015–see subsidies as “distortions.” More like tribute. And the political power it buys as their due. Remember POTUS de facto Richard “Haliburton” Cheney and his Double Top Secret National Crony Energy Council?

    Is this economist aware that we’re waging several simultaneous illegal wars of aggression for full-spectrum dominance of the doomed “brown economy”?

    Back to deficit spending. China and South Korea “invested,” and the data show it worked. But we musn’t deficit spend on this, at this time. Because “saddling” kids is wrong. No rlly, he says that.

    The Green New Deal should not be funded with deficit spending. Saddling future generations with unsustainable levels of national debt is just as dangerous as burdening them with an economy that is environmentally unsustainable. Deficit spending is warranted to boost overall demand for goods and services when unemployment rises, consumers do not spend and private investment is down. When that is not the case, efforts to boost green sectors should pay for themselves.

    Say what? That second sentence, as even I know from MMT, is rancid BS. If that’s the case, we should stand down our futile global imperium immediately, right? An epic win-win. And don’t all those conditions actually obtain?

  23. crittermom


    I love today’s. Especially the tiger in a box.
    It provides a very different perspective of the big cat I’ve not seen before. Awww…

    I had occasion to (very) briefly ‘play’ with a 6 mth old Siberian tiger in my twenties. It’s hard to really appreciate their incredible strength until you’ve experienced it.

Comments are closed.