Links 1/6/19

Leopards neglected due to focus on more ‘iconic’ animals Daily Telegraph

Pliocene and Eocene provide best analogs for near-future climates PNAS (abstract only). “Geologically novel climates.”

A Terrifying Sea-Level Prediction Now Looks Far Less Likely The Atlantic

The recovery is alive and well. How much longer will it be? WaPo

Banks’ Emerging-Market Boom Leaves a Grim Legacy Bloomberg

Exclusive: California utility PG&E explores bankruptcy filing – sources Reuters

Three benefits of electric vehicles, and how to unlock them World Economic Forum

An Engineering Wunderkind’s Ocean Plastics Cleanup Device Hits A Setback NPR (Furzy Mouse).

Brexit

UK’s May could seek more time before final Brexit vote: paper Reuters

Final preparations in place as spaces are drawn out at Manston Airport to turn the runway into a giant lorry park in the event of no deal Brexit chaos Daily Mail

Where ignorant armies clash by night:

And see the same source for some capacity arithmetic. Readers, plausible?

John LeCarré was an optimist:

Syraqistan

Deal with Syria regime ‘inevitable’: Kurdish commander Agence France Presse

Syria – Turkey Fails In Idleb, Is Unwilling To Take The Northeast Moon of Alabama

Why the United States Won’t Be Able to Quit Syria The American Conservative

Saudi Arabia’s Great Run Seems Headed for Trouble Bloomberg

China?

Chinese President Xi Jinping gives army its first order of 2019: be ready for battle South China Morning Post. Not an order one should have to give, no?

US trade negotiators head to China against gloomy backdrop FT

Chinese scholar offers insight into Beijing’s strategic mindset Asia Times

Is international scrutiny of Japan’s criminal justice system fair? Japan Times

Backstory: A Once-In-Five-Years Chance for Media to Understand India and Its Politics The Wire

New Cold War

What happens if Mueller comes up empty CNN. I don’t see how that can be allowed to happen.

A Qualified Defense of the Barr Memo: Part I Lawfare

Bush Normalized Extraordinary Rendition, Now The U.S. Can Capture Assange Ghion Journal

Exculpatory Russia evidence about Mike Flynn that US intel kept secret The Hill. To the extent that anybody in the U.S. national security apparatus can be exculpated from anything, of course.

Looking ahead: what to watch in Russia in 2019 The Bell

After the Crimean Consensus The American Interest

Trump Transition

The shutdown and IT (DK). Thread:

U.S. Senate’s First Bill, in Midst of Shutdown, is a Bipartisan Defense of the Israeli Government from Boycott The Intercept. Ka-ching.

Sisterhood of spies: Women now hold the top positions at the CIA NBC. Shattering the glass ceiling by leaning in with the electrodes, eh Gina?

Can a set of equations keep U.S. census data private? Science

Congressional Staffing for Dummies: The Pay Go Dispute Matt Stoller, Medium. Today’s must-read.

Now If Pay-Go Isn’t Repealed It Will Be All Yertle’s Fault Down with Tyranny (MR).

Democrats in Disarray

Clinton meets individually with potential 2020 Dems: report The Hill

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Should we think of Big Tech as Big Brother? FT (DL). Throwing a flag on the Betteridge’s Law violation, here. “Surveillance capitalists are not only able to monetise our data but can also use it to predict our behaviour and thereby modify it. In mechanical terms, they are no longer just sensors but actuators.”

Curbs on A.I. Exports? Silicon Valley Fears Losing Its Edge NYT. You say “stunt the [AI] industry in the U.S.” like that’s a bad thing.

Neoliberal Epidemics

Why Gout Is Making a Comeback New York Magazine

Guillotine Watch

Super-rich once again dig down into the dark heart of London FT

Class Warfare

Driving the news cycle:

Note, however, how “pay for” gets smuggled in. That needs to be dealt with.

Staffing counts (Riffle being an AOC staffer):

Ocasio-Cortez’s 70 Percent Top Tax Rate Is a Moderate, Evidence-Based Policy New York Magazine

Sweden Has a 70 Percent Tax Rate and It Is Fine People’s Policy Project (MR).

After Ultima Thule Flyby, New Horizons Hits Pause on Data Dump Space.com

Contest models highlight inherent inefficiencies of scientific funding competitions PLOS

Wielded by a Wizard LRB. Shelley (source of Labour’s “for the many“).

Antidote du jour (MR):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

241 comments

  1. John Merryman.

    On the tax rate, I think we need to change the paradigm of money from a commodity, to mine from society, to the contract enabling mass societies to function. Aka, a voucher system.
    Money is a medium of value, not a store. As in the body, blood is the medium and fat is the store, for cars, roads are the medium and parking lots are the store.
    Much social and environmental damage is due to this religious belief in storing value as abstractions, rather than public and private tangibles.

    Reply
    1. allan

      Those with the stomach for such things can tune in to 60 Minutes tonight and see AOC man-splained on taxation by the great-great-great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Because Our Famously Free Press is the ultimate meritocracy.

      Reply
        1. barefoot charley

          I’ve learned a lot I don’t want to know today about Anderson Cooper. Does he do these late-night piss-takes regularly? I’d rather see Colbert playing Cooper.

          Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        “AOC man-splained on taxation”
        Sorry, allan, but, God I hate that term. In this case, it’s especially inappropriate because taxation has nothing to do with gender – and I doubt that the great-Vanderbilt is appealing to some sort of gender authority, either.

        When it does apply, it’s grossly sexist. Just imagine that we dismiss women’s words as “femsplaining.” And we have better words for the real faults it applies to.

        Reply
        1. Avalon Sparks

          I hate the word too, and cringe when I see/hear it. It’s so sexist and also untrue. People over explain things sometimes, usually trying to be helpful. Gender has absolutely nothing to do with it.

          ~Ava~

          Reply
        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          I saw the promo for CBS Sixty Minutes, and I believe it went, “is she an insurgent rebel (I forgot the exact phrase) or dangerously ignorant (not exact).”

          I don’t think they would have tried that on a man.

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            Really? Sounds typical to me.

            For one thing, in political terms she IS an insurgent; that’s what we like about her. Remarkably good at it, too.

            The quoted bit isn’t explaining; it’s harsh and exaggerated, considering the context – but nothing to the stuff they say about Trump. Granted, he mostly deserves it.

            Reply
      1. notbanker

        I’m not so sure. My interpretation of it is she is taking their dollars out of circulation which defacto gives more weight to government spending. So while it does play into the mentality of the budget checkbook it accomplishes much the same thing.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          “Pay for” is a political reality even though it isn’t a financial one. And it’s exactly the fight she’s in the middle of.

          Reply
    2. Adam Eran

      The kindest possible interpretation of the “pay for” language, which emanates from AOC and Bernie both, is that without higher marginal income tax rates, the egregious income inequality will persist, and “regulatory capture” of the public policy mechanism by the plutocrats will undermine any good government spending can accomplish.

      After all, in 2007-8 the Fed extended $16 – $29 trillion in credit to cure the frauds of the financial sector. No tax hike (and no inflation, either)…so the idea that sovereign fiat money creators are fiscally unconstrained is not exactly new. In this case, however, it gave a boost to the plutocrats rather than rescuing the economy. Heck, for only $9 trillion, the Fed could have paid off everyone’s mortgage.

      So “both and” for higher marginal tax rates and more deficit spending.

      Reply
    3. Kasia

      There has been a very positive response from the dissident / nationalist right to AOC’s tax hike idea. In fact Ann Coulter called to add a French-style wealth tax to it as well, where for example each year the very wealthy have to pay 15% of their fortunes back to the state. Tucker Carlson has started attacking capitalism and Richard Spencer is raving about AOC. Of course the establishment / cuck right are going apoplectic that the populists are abandoning billionaires for the working class. This is all a very positive development. AOC and the populist right will never agree on race or immigration but it is a good sign that they are starting to realize they have a common enemy: the very wealthy.

      Reply
      1. Buckeye

        I would be very wary of ANY conservative/right winger support for one of my proposals. Those dirtbags are always looking to hijack or subvert any “Leftist” ideas before they take hold. Don’t trust those “Righties” at all; not one inch!

        Reply
  2. Steve H.

    > Congressional Staffing for Dummies: The Pay Go Dispute Matt Stoller, Medium

    The arcanity, it burns. Thank you, wonderfully clarifying.

    Reply
    1. John Merryman

      I have to say I’m extremely leery of the whole MMT premise. As that article is pointing out, money is a debt of the government, but that doesn’t make it something that can just be printed up, without larger consequences.
      It is an accounting device, in that one side is an asset and the other side is a debt, so if the government is handing it out, without very effective methods of keeping them in active circulation and not just piling up in pools, the holders of these pools have large claims to government assets. Basically predatory lending/disaster capitalism. In a nutshell, the government should be taxing excess wealth/money supplies back out of the system, not borrowing it out and wasting it, blowing up other countries, etc. Otherwise a feedback loop builds, as those loaning the money back to the government are paid interest and accumulate more. Think that 20 trillion of government debt; What happens as inflation builds, as the world appetite for dollars slows, interest rates go up and the government has to borrow more, just to cover the debt. It owes obligations to those treasury holders. Sort of like someone living on a home loan suddenly finds they no longer own their home. Money may just be a promise, but be very careful who you makes promises too.

      Reply
      1. larry

        I suggest you read more MMT. The theory does not say this:

        “that doesn’t make it something that can just be printed up, without larger consequences”.

        There are consequences of government fiscal spending, but a fiscal constraint is not one of them. Real resources are the constraint.

        The theory also does not say what you think it does in your second paragraph.

        Reply
        1. tegnost

          it also overlooks that we now have mmt for chosen industries, just not for the general population, and the feedback loop for that is where we are now, no need to wait for it to happen.

          Reply
          1. John Wright

            If every dollar spent (either MMT or otherwise generated) indirectly represents hydrocarbons dug up and burned, resources mined, pollution generated, plastic waste generated, species partially exterminated then MMT will only move us closer to the environmental day of reckoning as it apparently incrementally adds to consumption.

            As you note, MMT is already in place for chosen industries (maybe these are on the list Medical/pharmaceutical, US military and US surveillance?)

            Given that many groups are already benefiting from effectively on-going MMT programs, one might expect other experienced Washington insiders will get in position to grab any new funds arising from MMT.

            Maybe the face of the new MMT will be Dick Cheney?

            Per https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/02/07/deficits-dont-matter-so-why-are-democrats-complaining-about-them-216946

            “former vice president Dick Cheney once said, Ronald Reagan proved that in politics, “deficits don’t matter””

            The best we can hope for is that USA resources (via MMT or otherwise) are allocated wisely to minimize the harmful side effects mentioned above.

            But is there any reason to believe this?

            Reply
            1. jsn

              That policy tools are now abused by the corrupt is no argument for making those policy tools NOT available to the well intentioned.

              Intentions are always negotiable as reality is complex, but the negotiations should be in public by those responsible so arguments can be judged and communicated.

              We live with a captured media propagandizing for a largely captured government with the “money men” in the background pulling the strings to their own benefit. We need to cut them loose from the strings and engage in a public debate to define a “public good” that harnesses societies collective power, the secrete to the species success, to address the essential environmental concerns: pay everyone to avoid fossil fuel; pay everyone to cooperate to meet everyone’s needs etc.

              The tools of State can be used to address all of the unsustainable practices of our current political economy, but it is only at the State level that adequate public power can be concentrated to overcome the venal interests of the individual private powers that profit, monetarily, from the destruction of the world.

              Reply
            2. John Merryman

              Store value in tangible assets, strong social networks and the healthy environments they require, not abstractions in an enormously bloated financial system.
              If the casinos need more chips, let them print their own.

              Reply
              1. Darius

                Money isn’t a storehouse of value. The state created money and taxes to make people work in support of the state and to maintain tight control over their activities. As old as civilization.

                Reply
                  1. Darius

                    An adaptation. An off label application that eventually took on a life of its own. The Americans didn’t need to kill off the Indians. The most effective way to subjugate hunter gatherers is make them pay taxes.

                    Reply
            3. notabanker

              Maybe we can have the people writing algos to take us to Mars writing algos to more effectively diagnose preventative health care? Or solving for more efficient energy uses? Or, or, or……

              Reply
            4. redleg

              That is why those who understand MMT call for a balanced economy, not a balanced budget. Where the money is going needs radical adjustment, not how much.

              Reply
        2. John Merryman

          I don’t think fiscal restraint has ever been more than a fig leaf. The fact remains that money is a promise by the government and when it starts to lose meaning and value, it’s inflation.
          Politicians live and die on how much hope they provide. As we experience money as quantified hope, there is a strong incentive by the leadership to print more money, when other efforts are failing.
          The dawn of modern capitalism was when the Rothschilds forgave Charles 1 his debts, in exchange for running the royal treasury and the Bank of England was born. Finance and government both serve the entire society, but as different functions, like the head and heart serve different functions. We used to have private government, but monarchies eventually reached their limits. Banking is just having its, “Let them eat cake,” moment.

          Reply
          1. davidgmillsatty

            Not necessarily though that seems to be the universal understanding. Under the Constitution, the government is allowed to issue bills of credit (by Supreme Court decision in the legal tender cases after the Civil War). A bill of credit is a tax credit issued by the federal government but it is issued to the bearer of the instrument, not to a specific person as is the case with most tax credits.

            They operate just like coins (according to the Supreme Court in the same cases) which are also essentially tax credits. Coins cost the government the cost of minting and that is all. Bills of credit cost the government the cost of printing and that is all. Printing paper is cheaper than minting coins.

            When have coins proven to be inflationary? The government has no incentive to issue tax credits unless it sees some good in doing so. So almost always the government gets something of value when it issues a tax credit and that thing of value is accomplished before the tax credit is given. You don’t get a tax credit for energy efficient windows until you install them, for example.

            Out problem is that we do not use bills of credit and coins as currency. We use debt instruments rather than tax credits. Why? The answer is simple. Banks can’t issue tax credits and the last thing banks want is the government issuing something that banks can’t when it to comes to currency.

            Lincoln’s greenbacks were bills of credit (said the Supreme Court in the legal tender cases). Lincoln issued 400 million dollars worth of them during the civil war. Did they cause inflation? Not at all. The banks bought Congress and Congress quickly stopped their issuance and then took them out of circulation, impoverishing the whole nation in the process.

            So I categorically deny that the government issuance of money always causes inflation. It only does when the government issues debt instruments and may not get anything of value when it does.

            My problem with MMT is that there is not a single MMTer that understands what a bill of credit is and how we used them in the past.

            Tax credits in bill form work different than debt instruments.

            Reply
      2. notabanker

        You are confusing the theory and concepts with the potential arbitrary decisions made. Resources are finite. Those that print the money decide who decides what to do with them.

        Reply
          1. jsn

            This is an argument for more effective representational government, not against MMT.

            We’ve had expressly MMT GOP policies for the rich and for flexians since Dick Cheney said “deficits don’t matter.”

            As Stoller put it, “in other words, money is a made up political commodity”, and pretending that discussions of it don’t have vast political implications is deliberately deceitful and an obfuscation our congresscriters have been using to excuse themselves from responsibility since the 70s.

            Reply
            1. John Merryman

              The cycle is to inflate the bubble and when it pops, buy up the tangibles for pennies on the dollar. Like parks, roads, water, land, mineral rights, etc.
              It’s not like the pattern doesn’t have a long history.

              Reply
              1. jsn

                Your comment below about the Western tradition being ideals based rather than cyclical is a good one with which I completely agree, that is largely the subject of Michael Hudson’s new book “Forgive Us Our Debts”.

                It is about the Old Testament history of the cycle you describe here and why and what the ancient State did to prevent or short circuit it.

                Reply
                1. John Merryman

                  Lol. The fallacy of monotheism is that a spiritual absolute would necessarily be the essence of sentience, from which we rise, not an ideal of wisdom and judgement, from which we fell. More the new born baby, than the wise old man. The Ancients mostly built their religions around this element of emotion and organic nature, but we have this top down, father figure deity and his Ten Commandments. Divine right of kings and all that.
                  There is an inherent tension, balance and cycle between that bottom up energy and the top down structures defining it, but this relationship has to be kept in balance. Head and heart. Motor and steering.
                  Not all acorns become Oak trees, but without those acorns, there are no Oak trees.

                  Reply
          2. Cal2

            Mnuchin donated his own money to “Democrat” Kamala Harris’ senate campaign. All you need to know about her.

            Reply
      3. Todde

        So the government hadns out money to the poor and taxes it out of the system when it ia concentrated in individual hands.

        Is that what you are saying?

        If so, i agree 100%

        Reply
        1. John Merryman

          Basically. Money is a medium, like blood. What if the body didn’t regulate the supplies and flow of blood. What does blood do? It carries nutrients around the entire body. What we have today is if the heart told the hands and feet they didn’t need so much blood and should work harder for what they do get. As well as telling the head(executive and regulatory function) that it better agree, or else.
          Instead we get these enormous stashes of government obligations, that are mostly used to leverage more obligations.

          Reply
        2. John Merryman

          Though I have issues with welfare, as well. I remember when Reagan tried to gut it in 86, one of the primary lobbyists against it was Archer Daniels Midland. Being a food company, the actual people are just pass through for government money into private companies. To actually build up societies, we need to invest in public works as investments in the future. We all save for the same general reasons, from housing and children, to healthcare and retirement. If we invested in these as community assets and not just try saving individually, with our bank accounts as our personal economic umbilical cord, we would have stronger social networks, that would both expect responsibilities from their constituents, as well as granting them rights. Rather than atomistic societies, with banking and government as the medium connecting everyone. Otherwise just giving people money to live, without taking the larger consequences and causes into account, only creates other problems.

          Reply
          1. Cal2

            Might be all the corn based junk food that food-stamps bought too?
            Maybe they didn’t want to lose part of that market.

            Reply
      4. djrichard

        What happens as inflation builds? The interest that is paid out on bonds increases. And the bond holders more than likely will flip that interest back to buy more treasuries. As they don’t have anything better to do with the money, otherwise they wouldn’t be buying treasuries in the first place. And for those bond holders that do have something better to do with the money (like Soc Sec Trust Fund)? Well they spend the money and it gets hoovered up by somebody else that has nothing better to do with the money, and they buy treasuries with it.

        What happens as the world appetite for dollars slow? That means the world will be selling us less goods to buy our currency. So an indirect outcome will be more balanced trade. And as the world gets more out of the game of hoarding (and recycling) our currency (surplus), the remaining players US-based players (the banks and Buffetts) will hoover up that surplus instead (they’ll be more than happy to sell the same goods to consumers to buy their currency). Unlike foreign players, those domestic players can be taxed, assuming the Fed Gov wants to do so. But if not, and the Fed Gov prefers to sell them treasuries to swap for their surplus currency, it’s still a virtuous cycle regardless.

        Reply
        1. John Merryman

          Except when the government starts trading them for actual assets, like highways, waterworks, parks, etc, when they have their own people in those government positions to make the decisions. It’s called disaster capitalism, when we do it to third world countries. Predatory lending, when it’s done to people who don’t understand debt and compound interest as negative feedback.

          Reply
          1. djrichard

            When a sovereign gov divests itself of assets, my sense is that the sell-job to the public on why to do this is that the private sector can exploit that asset more effectively than the public sector can. Otherwise, the public sector is “crowding out” the private sector, holding back innovation, etc.

            That is, it’s not done to pay off debts. That said, there are “countries” that do sell it that way, to pay off debts. But then those are countries in name only. They’ve lost their sovereignty. And my sense is that there are two cases for that: when they’ve built up debts in a foreign currency and are willing to subvert themselves to a foreign authority to make amends. And when they’ve relinquished their sovereignty in the interest of joining a common currency, e.g. the euro.

            Reply
        2. djrichard

          P.S. what would be preferable would be an outcome where the US not only has balanced trade with the rest of the world, but where domestic US labor has balanced trade with the Buffets. And where domestic US labor has balanced trade with the banks.

          But that would subvert the profit motive wouldn’t it. I mean, why would corporations want to trade with labor if they can’t hoard the surplus?

          Likewise, it would subvert the fractional reserve lending process, wouldn’t it. I mean, why would banks lend out money if they can’t collect and hoard the interest from that?

          Funny how people have the same premise now when it comes to international trade. That is, to have balanced trade is to subvert the process. I mean, why should sovereign countries trade with each other if one of them can’t hoard the surplus? And yet, having balanced trade should be the norm, as one would expect between different entities with different currencies.

          Interesting thought experiment. What if each of us as individuals had our own currency? Would we then achieve balanced trade between corporations and banks and labor? Would there even be a need for corporations and banks? Or would that devolve to simple balanced trade between individuals? Makes me wonder how this worked with the british tallystick system. And ultimately, does trade evolve to the more “trad”itional definition of “trade” which is to “deliver” as in a gift. To give so that the other party may in turn give in response.

          Reply
          1. John Merryman

            There are much deeper issues at work here, such that Western civilization is ideals based, while nature tends to be a cyclical balance of polarities. So while we operate on the premise that if a little is good, more must be better, nature operates under the principle that for every action, there are equal and opposite reactions…
            Civilization is narrative based and those stories most repeated are the ones with clear endings and moral lessons, so we think the ends necessarily justifies the means. Since we are also conceptual reductionists, we have reduced all value to the monetary unit, consequently capitalism has metastasized from the efficient transfer of value, to the creation of notational value, as an end in itself.
            It’s a large debate…..

            Reply
              1. John Merryman

                Yves,
                I certainly accept criticism and would value having it pointed out where my arguments conflict. Being from a family with deep roots on east coast society, though being more of the crazy uncle sort, my personal affiliations tend towards wealth, but the way things seem to be going, even the WASPS are going to need a plan B.
                Google my name and a particular ancestor will come up. Another, Louis McLane Jr, was first president of Wells Fargo.

                Reply
                1. Yves Smith

                  This comment amounted to doubling down, that we should give you more cred because you come from old money. It’s a weak and unattractive argument from authority.

                  I don’t go around making a big deal of my (I guarantee more ancient than yours) Yankee roots. It’s unimportant to what we discuss here.

                  And regarding your fretting about inflation: the biggest wealth destroyers by far are wars and financial crises.

                  Reply
                2. flora

                  The arguing from/appeal to authority fallacy is the mirror image of the arguing from ad hominem fallacy.

                  Who you or your ancestors are, while no doubt an illustrious group, does not automatically verify your argument’s conclusions. Arguments must stand or fall on their own terms. (Goodness knows plenty of my arguments have failed the test.)

                  Reply
      5. tiebie66

        I agree that money is not “something that can just be printed up, without larger consequences.” Anything that causes inflation in response, especially resources, will create a problem. Arguments like this one “America can no more run out of dollars than a bowling alley can run out of strikes.” are therefore nonsensical, or at best misleading, because inflation will cause America to “run out of dollars” in the sense that the dollars will lose their “moneyness”. America cannot simply keep printing dollars – there will be larger consequences, period. If money is not a store of value, what is the point of accounting?

        As to PayGo, it seems an excellent idea and should first be applied to “Defense” spending, no?

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          That is not true. A zero inflation policy is a high unemployment policy.

          Moderate inflation is not a problem. What is a problem is lack of labor bargaining power, so that wages keep pace with inflation. It used to be normal for union contract to have COLAs and the non-union workers got similar treatment.

          Moreover, if inflation is in a predictable range (2-4%), asset prices build in inflation expectations so it all washes out.

          Reply
        2. Grebo

          The point of accounting, and money, is to keep track of how much one is owed.

          In fact modern money is not a store of value, or a medium of exchange, it is a form of accounting.

          It is literally true, therefore, that America cannot run out of dollars. It is also true that ‘printing’ them has consequences. By the same logic not ‘printing’ them also has consequences.

          How many are ‘printed’ should be determined by the actual performance of the economy—inflation and unemployment—not by arbitrary metrics like ‘deficit’ or ‘debt’.

          Reply
      6. Adam Eran

        Like most MMT critics, Mr. Merryman creates a straw man in rejecting it. To hear him tell it, he’s the adult in the room, people. “Consequences! I tell you sirrah! You will feel them!”

        Apparently he has not grasped the fact that ALL money is debt (of government or others). You’re familiar with this if you have a checking account. Your account is your asset, but the bank’s liability (i.e. debt). If you write a check, you’re assigning a portion of the bank’s debt to the payee. Dollars are simply checks made out to “cash,” and these appear on the Fed’s books as a liability too. Government debt is *bank* debt, NOT household debt. Reducing government debt means sucking dollars out of the economy. This has not turned out well, historically. (See Randall Wray here.)

        Imagine a mob of depositors going down to their bank, demanding that the bank reduce the size of its debt (i.e. their accounts). This is the bizarre spectacle conjured by Merryman’s post.

        There’s a case to be made for higher marginal tax brackets, as I’ve said in a previous comment, but the straw man of “Consequences” [harumph!]…in other words, inflation, is one MMT addresses in virtually every publication their economists write. (The best MMT account of the actual possibility of inflation here)

        Finally, the idea of government “has to borrow more” to pay off its ‘debt’ is simply bizarre. What does it have to borrow? IOUs? Dollars? And who is the monopoly provider of dollars to the economy? If it’s government, why does it have to borrow them? (Remember: government ‘debt’ is not like household debt, it’s like bank debt.)

        Merryman’s stern warning is roughly equivalent to saying “If we allow people too many inches on their tape measures, then things will start to get longer.”

        It’s a *fundamental* misunderstanding of the concepts.

        Reply
        1. John Merryman

          I guess you didn’t read all I wrote. The problem isn’t the average depositor. As I observed, money is a medium. We own money like we own the section of road we are on, because its functionality is in its fungibility. The problem is when the system allows large reservoirs of cash and cash equivalents, like treasuries, to accumulate in pools, with little more purpose than accumulating interest. The resulting feedback loops give those pools outsized control. I’m not against wealth, as fairly tangible assets, or currencies flowing through useful businesses. Confusing a medium with a store is like confusing blood with fat, or roads with parking lots.
          I suspect the real reason the government borrows as much as it does, is to put under-employed capital to work, as opposed to taxing it. Given those with that wealth already control the system.

          Volcker is credited with curing inflation with higher rates, but that only slowed new money coming into the system, obviously to those willing to borrow money and grow the economy, not to those with more than they needed, on which they were gathering interest and appreciated those higher rates. In was Reaganomics, borrowing money and spending it on the military-industrial complex, that put that surplus cash to work and actually drew down the excess in the system.

          If they really wanted to draw down the debt, consider the line item veto as a model; Obviously it would never be passed, or work, because it takes most real budgeting authority from the legislature. To budget is to list priorities and spend according to ability, but the government doesn’t do this. They put together these enormous bills, add enough goodies to get the votes and the president can only pass or veto them.
          So what they could do, is break the bills into their various items, have every legislator assign a percentage value to each item, put it back together in order of preference and have the president draw the line. “The buck stops here.” Then the legislature is still responsible for setting priorities, while the president is responsible for overall spending levels.
          Then instead of borrowing up those trillions, that seem to be just floating out there, waiting for a safe haven, they might tax some of it up. Then people might view other forms of savings favorably, like stronger communities.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            First, Adam did characterize your position accurately, despite your hand wave. You keep trying to shift goalposts as you are successfully rebutted and that is not on.

            Second, what you wrote about the Volcker Fed is abjectly false. I’m not even going to waste my time debunking your made up nonsense.

            Bad faith argumentation and agnotology are against our written site Policies, as is hogging bandwidth. You are rapidly accumulating troll points.

            If you are to make ANY further economic claims, you need to provide links. No more fabrications.

            Reply
      7. Oregoncharles

        John: that’s exactly why the needed funds should be “printed,” rather than borrowed, and any excess taxed out.

        Although I think taxation is more useful for regulation than for fiscal damping. Why put it out there if you need to take it back?

        Reply
        1. Grebo

          Yes, a key point of MMT, that John seems to have missed, is that the government doesn’t need to borrow in order to spend. It can just spend.

          So why does it borrow? To control the interest rate. It may have other reasons too, but this one has the benefit of being correct and possibly somewhat useful.

          Reply
          1. John Merryman

            The problem remains that money functions as a contract, ie, a legal promise, but we treat it as a commodity. to be gathered up and stored.
            If it was actually understood as a contract, MMT would already be normalized, but so would the understanding that all details and fine print better be understood, before being entered into.

            Reply
  3. Clive

    Re: Brexit U.K. Ports No Deal Gridlock

    Much being made of the U.K.’s accession to the Common Transit Convention https://www.logisticsmanager.com/uk-to-remain-in-common-transit-convention/ or https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/business/uk-to-remain-in-european-common-transit-convention-after-brexit-892655.html and similar reporting. This does appear to remove the necessity to make customs declarations at point of entry and instead allows them to be made at the point of unloading.

    But this doesn’t nullify the need for sanitary and phytosanitary checks on animal and agriculture related products.

    Authoritative sources of information are hard to come by. No shortage of commentators on either the Leave or Remain sides talking their well-thumbed books. But that’s not the same thing at all as genuine expertise from real-world logistics operators who do it all for real. Strange that in our internet-enabled world where millions of pages pour out into the void daily, there’s such a paucity of trustworthy sources.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I’m wondering about the logistics of parking so many lorries. Who provides security to all that valuable cargo? Who pays for it? How do the lorry drivers get out of that airport? Will there be buses provided? Who retains the keys to the lorries? Will there be mobile canteens and toilets provided for those who stay as well as tents? If the drivers are from EU countries, are they allowed to drive these lorries from the port to the parking area? Will there be onsite fire trucks in case of a fire that might spread from lorry to lorry creating a catastrophe of epic proportions? Who picks up the tab for insuring all these lorries? So many questions. And only 82 more days to find the answer to them all.

      Reply
      1. Clive

        Operation Stack is, surprisingly, almost as old as I am. To answer the most pressing point, to quote from a neutral source of information http://www.roads.org.uk/articles/operation-stack

        Portable toilet facilities are provided on the verges of the M20 for those enduring long waits.

        Man, I’d have to be pretty desperate to venture into those. Especially in the summer months. The more secluded parts of the verges would seem not a little bit more appealing.

        Reply
          1. Clive

            One of my tortuous double negatives. Where I might even have tied myself up in grammatical knots! Suffice to say, I, like you, would be looking furtively at the beckoning verges…

            Reply
        1. Mirdif

          Once upon a time I was a young man and took a summer job guarding the site surrounding an airport extension. 300 people on days and 300 on nights and lots and lots of portable toilets. On the first day they were fine but after that not so much to make an understatement. Portable toilets still turn my stomach now more than 20 years later.

          Reply
        1. ChrisPacific

          There was a piece from her recently demolishing the article about how most of the primary military suppliers are now led by women, and the implied definition of success. This is a riff on the same theme.

          Reply
  4. PlutoniumKun

    Why Gout Is Making a Comeback New York Magazine

    This is kind of interesting – a medical friend of mine a few years ago predicted just this happening due to the popularity of high fat/protein, keto, primal, and meat only diets. Whatever you do, do please eat your greens.

    Reply
    1. JohnM

      It’s likely the the large majority of human evolution, which was pre-agriculture, took place with a diet composition that did not include the the level of carbohydrate consumption recommended by the infamous ‘food pyramid’. So calling a diet that more closely reflects our ancestral diet a ‘fad’ as this article does is silly.

      In any case, their description of a keto diet as high protein indicate a gross misunderstanding of a ketogenic diet. A diet that is high protein is very much not ketogenic since protein will be converted the liver to glucose (thereby preventing ketosis) via the well known process of gluconeogenesis. I won’t go into the strong association of gout with metabolic syndrome but it’s a more compelling, and likely, reason for any recent increase in gout prevalence.

      Reply
      1. Laughingsong

        Indeed, the more recent Keto diets specify that you must limit protein as well as be discerning about the types of fat. And also if it’s followed closely, much more water intake is necessary which should also help prevent gout if I understand the disease correctly (I may not).

        I think the original Atkins, which was also classified as keto, had too much protein allowed but I heard that they since modified it.

        It is the only diet I’ve ever tried that worked.

        Reply
          1. JohnM

            Your ‘no to keto’ link points to an article about high protein diets, which, as explained above, are not ketogenic. What is your point?

            My guess, and i suspected this in the original factually-flawed article is that keto-bashing is code for plant-based diet which is code for ‘let’s go vegans!’. And that’s fine if people want to advocate for that, but just say it without using dubious nutritional advice.

            Reply
    2. Lee

      I had a brief episode of gout last winter. I don’t drink soft drinks soft drinks or alcohol any more, but having a relative in the fish biz, I over indulged in foods with a high purine content: Dungeness crab, which i find irresistible, and other shell fish. Turkey too is high in purine. In addition to diet, age and genetics are also major contributing factors. Fortunately, I live in the land of fruits, nuts, and greens, which are protective and promote quick recovery. You just have to remember to put them in your mouth, chew, and swallow.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        I used an mj suave on my inflamed foot, the last time I experianced a bout of gout .. it seemed to help dull the pain to a somewhat tolerable level. Sour cherries, or the juice from them help, as a preventative .. although I don’t do that as often as I probably should .. I tend to get gout bewteen the months of Oct. and Dec. .. especially during sudden shifts in temperatures, usually going into cold spells.

        Reply
        1. Duck1

          Actually anti inflammatory drugs often work if you recognize the attack. Indocin is commonly prescribed. The uric acid crystals dissolve, but the inflammation stays riled up, so if you suppress it the attack clears up more rapidly. A drug with side effects and interactions, of course.

          Reply
    3. Cal2

      Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar dissolves uric acid crystals.
      Two teaspoons a day in a drink, rinse your teeth afterwards.
      The stuff is miraculous in MY experience.
      Research it thoroughly.

      Reply
    4. wilroncanada

      PlutoniumKun
      My problem isn’t gout, it’s grout. I’m getting so old that the cracks don’t fill in anymore.

      Reply
  5. Wukchumni

    I like Ike’s 70% (or more tax)

    Howard Hughes comes to mind, but w/o resorting to this contraption for answers, can you give me a household name of somebody in the 1950’s or early 60’s that was filthy rich, not including generational wealth via offspring.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      *90% (92?)

      We can thank JFK for lowering the rate (IMHO this is one of the reasons his fans are so attached to conspiracy theories; he wasn’t the progressive saint they dreamt of). The issue wasn’t that there weren’t wealthy people as much as joining the leisure class and buying a political system weren’t as possible or as easy. If it’s a choice between club dues (my dad caddied at a golf course with hideous fees even for today) and running a pet project to make a libertarian point, what will the choice be?

      The ability of the rich to drop loads of cash in an instant at any time is a problem. They had the cash because American politicians are cheap, but it wasn’t as accessible. Credible organizing is based on practical budgeting. The Kochs wielded power because there donations weren’t simply large but done at times where that money was needed. The money can be dropped at any time. They don’t need to hold off to buy a race horse.

      Reply
    2. Lee

      Henry J. Kaiser?

      IIRC, when asked by a journalist if he ever regretted not having more formal education, he replied that whenever he felt the need for a PhD he’d hire one, or word to that effect.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        My mom gave me her checkbook register from mid 1961-62, and there were a number of mostly $6 & $7 checks written to Dr. Evers-our family physician, totaling up to $88 for the year, not including my coming out party, which was $190.

        I asked her if we had health insurance, and she told me that nobody had it back then, for the most part, aside from those participating in Kaiser’s plan.

        Reply
    3. Cynthia

      Instead of trying to get the rich to pay more in taxes, we should be addressing this issue of management taking an increasingly larger share of the pie for themselves at the expense of labor. At least that is true for the hospital industry. And I suspect that is also true for other industries that employ a large number of highly skilled workers in the service economy.

      Though I can only speak as an employee of a hospital, it has become perfectly obvious to me that hospital managers, from top to bottom, are not only taking more than their fair share from labor, squeezing the frontlines, so to speak, but they are doing so at the expense to patient care. In fact, the problem has become so widespread in the hospital industry that a fairly well-known hospital consultant named Michael Hyatt looked into the matter and invented a term to describe what’s going on at the managerial level: “ FAKE WORK .” According to him, and from what I gather, there are too many in hospital management that don’t have enough REAL work to do so they find themselves doing a lot of FAKE work. And needless to say, the more fake work management does, the more real work labor has to do. This is why those who do real work, work that can’t be faked, the majority of which deal directly with customers, and in this case, patients are getting squeezed, which in turn means that patient care is getting squeezed.

      So instead taxing these overpaid, underworked managers at a higher rate, just address the fact they are doing way too much fake work, which is adding a lot of unnecessary costs to healthcare. Then propose that their jobs be eliminated, or better still, shifted to direct care positions, at lower pay of course. And since the vast majority of healthcare is funded by the taxpayer, we as taxpayers are well within our right to propose this. Cost of care should then drop down to more reasonable levels, thus reducing the tax burden on all of us, rich and poor alike.

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        Instead of trying to get the rich to pay more in taxes, we should be addressing this issue of management taking an increasingly larger share of the pie for themselves at the expense of labor.

        Umm, the unfairness of our tax code is one of the things that allows this to happen.

        Reply
        1. Cynthia

          Changing the tax code seems pretty hopeless, IMO. The tax code is either changed so that it favors the rich even more. Or, it’s changed so very little and at the margins that it only adds to the vast complexity of doing taxes. So the next best thing to do is to cut out all of the waste and fraud being done on the taxpayers’ dime.

          And since healthcare makes up most of the taxpayers’ dime, second only to defense, cutting healthcare spending should be a top priority. And the spending cut should mostly focus on waste and fraud. Otherwise, necessary and essential costs will be targeted for cuts. I mentioned this issue of “fake work” in my previous post because it does classify as a form of waste, much of which is being done at the managerial level in hospitals. I imagine that there is a lot of fake work going on in the defense industry, but I don’t work in that particular industry so I can say for sure.

          Nonetheless, fake work isn’t well defined, yet. Which explain why it remains so prevalent in hospitals. It doesn’t help that productivity isn’t measured at the managerial level, either. Managerial productivity is measured indirectly by measuring the productivity of all the employees underneath them who are doing direct care work. In other word, the productivity of doing direct care work is measured unlike it is for doing indirect care work. Hospitals don’t measure actual managerial productivity because management isn’t viewed as a cost center like it is for labor. Obviously, this is wrongheaded and largely why hospitals have a major managerial bloat problem.

          Now I could go on and on about managerial bloat but I will leave it there. The bottom line is that fake work needs to be defined and measured and then factored into the waste problem plaguing healthcare. Unfortunately, saying something like “ I know fake work when I see it” won’t do. It needs to be well defined and measured. I would love to take on that task if given the opportunity. I truly am someone who knows fake work beyond the mere “see it” level.

          Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Just noting that just one university (U Mich) has more than 80 well-paid people on the staff with the job description “Diversity Officer”. I’d think that was a job for two or 3 people max

          Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              Not joking here – this group of 80 well-paid people. Do you know if they are a diverse group in themselves?

              Reply
      2. Pookah Harvey

        Anthropologist David Graeber did work with Michael Hudson on the history of debt and was one of the early instigators of Occupy Wall Street. He contends in a new book, Bulls##t Jobs, A Theory, that the productivity benefits of automation have not led to a 15-hour workweek, as predicted by economist John Maynard Keynes in 1930, but instead to “bullshit jobs”: “a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case.”

        He believes that half the jobs in our society are bullsh##t, mostly in the private sector. I have not read the book but there are several entertaining interviews on YOUTUBE:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHx5rePmz2Y

        Reply
        1. Cynthia

          David Graeber: Never heard of the guy. Thanks for introducing him to me.

          It gives me a good feeling to know that there is someone else out there besides myself who has thought long and hard about various sorts of jobs throughout the workplace that don’t amount to anything. He has managed to catalog them nicely, something that I have not bothered to do.

          Reply
        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Was Graeber really an “instigator”? I thought I remember reading that he was a somewhat later arrival to a Zucotti Park occupation that had “self-instigated” if one wills, and was already there before he got there.

          Reply
      3. Yves Smith

        While I agree overpaid managers are an issue, hospital administrators are not making over $10 million a year. The targets are mainly private equity firm and hedge fund partners and public company CEOs.

        Reply
        1. Cynthia

          It’s gotten to the point that there is hardly any difference between for-profit and non-profit hospitals. They both follow the same playbook, which entails siphoning off more and more profits from actual care delivered and giving it to management, top to bottom. No doubt that “private equity firm and hedge fund partners and public company CEOs” are siphoning off an obscene amount of profits for themselves, but their non-profit counterparts don’t deserve a pass on this. They too are siphoning off profits for themselves that might be just as obscene, but we won’t ever know how obscene these profits are since they don’t have to disclose this information to the public.

          Non-profits don’t deserve a pass either when it comes to labor relates. For instance, nurses at a non-profit hospital in Montana are trying to unionize. But they are having a hard time doing so because hospital management is trying to reclassify charge nurses as supervisors. Because nurse supervisors can’t join the union, it will greatly weaken the union. This divide-and-conquer strategy being used by management is apparently illegal and the union is taking it to court. A couple of years ago, another non-profit hospital also tried to reclassify charge nurses as nurse supervisors in order to weaken the union, but the California nurses’ union successfully shot it down. I’m not so sure the nurses’ union in Montana is powerful enough to do the same. We can only hope.

          Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    “Leopards neglected due to focus on more ‘iconic’ animals”

    Maybe not so much neglected as remembered all too well for what leopards were like in former times in places like India. A different sensibility like. You could have a leopard, under the right circumstances, turn man-hunter and then it was game on. The worst one on official record is the Leopard of Panar which went on to kill 400 people before he was brought down by the hunter Jim Corbett who also killed the Leopard of Rudraprayag which killed 125 people. I have his book on the later and it is surreal to read how the Indians had to barricade themselves into their homes each night while this leopard tried to smash through windows, doors and even the walls to get to the people huddled up inside. Imagine that happening now. Maybe some Indians recall these incidents all too well from old stories and so leopards are not exactly at the top of their list. Personally I quite like leopards but for more on these man-hunting leopards, see-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_attack#Notable_man-eaters

    Reply
      1. Lee

        Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance by Stephen Herrero is definitely worth a read if you live in or intend to visit bear county. An understanding of the differences between black bear and grizzly behavior is essential and the discussion of the evolutionary forces that shaped those behaviors is also quite interesting.

        Generally, if a black bear stalks you it’s probably starving and intends to eat you and you should fight back. If a grizzly attacks you, it’s probably because you are perceived as a threat by infringing on its defensive proxemic buffer, which can be as much a 100 yards, depending on its mood, in which case you should curl up and pray that it is well fed and so will be content to just bap you around a bit as a show of dominance. Fighting back will just piss it off. Both species will attack if startled, or to protect a kill or their cubs. I like my bears best at a distance through a good lens.

        Reply
          1. pretzelattack

            therefore, you must train to outrun cletus. wonder if bear spray would work against a starving black bear.

            Reply
            1. Lee

              Quite possibly. If your aim were good you could temporarily blind it and interfere with its sense of smell. You could try it and let us know how it works out. Mind the wind direction. ; )

              Reply
              1. pretzelattack

                i think i will leave that experiment to cletus. i get that defending yourself is a good idea against a starving black bear, as opposed to a pissed off grizzly, just idly wondering how you do that.
                “go away! shoo!”
                fortunately with all the garbage strewn over national parks the bears may be relatively well fed.

                Reply
        1. barefoot charley

          American black bears at least don’t like trouble. When one was rooting through my recycling (because house-sitters hadn’t believed they had to rinse their cans) at 3 in the morning I shouted and growled and he moved away–but was dragging one of my garbage cans with him! Barefoot in my bathrobe I ran to the rescue. He dropped the garbage and climbed back over the 6-foot fence I had just repaired into the woods. At least now I knew why he’d dropped in on the house-sitters. You don’t have to be afraid of wildlife, but you should show proper respect.

          Reply
          1. Jen

            I’ve had a bear investigate my chicken coop every year around the beginning of May for the last 3 years. I throw rocks at it and yell. Takes about 3 rocks to get it moving, and about 2 days of this for it to look for easier pickings. That said, the bear started out as a yearling, and by last year was of a pretty good size. Last year wasn’t a good year for bears, food wise, so I’m planning to put up the electric fence as soon as the snow is gone.

            Tried to get the dogs to bark at it but they only bark at leaf ninjas.

            Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Jim Corbett wrote a few books and his Wikipedia entry makes fascinating reading. After being a successful hunter of man-eaters, “Later on in life, Corbett became an avid photographer and spoke out for the need to protect India’s wildlife from extermination and played a key role in creating a national reserve for the endangered Bengal tiger, by using his influence to persuade the provincial government to establish what was called Hailey National Park.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Corbett

          Reply
          1. tegnost

            ummmm….
            The first designated man-eating tiger he killed, the Champawat Tiger, was responsible for 436 documented deaths

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              And the rest of it. Over his career, he took out big cats that had killed about 1,200 men, women and children. Other places had their own killers like the Tsavo man-eaters in Africa. Those two lions are on display now in Chicago but it must have been a nightmare living in an area under attack for years by these man-hunters. It got so serious in some areas in India that they even tried to send in the Army but without success.

              Reply
                1. The Rev Kev

                  Should have made that clearer. The figure of 1,200 people was the total killed by all the man-eaters that he killed added up altogether. You do wonder though about other man-eaters in India’s past that might have racked up higher kills but that are unknown to us because the records are not there.
                  Personally I would be crapping myself if I had one of these big-cats prowling outside trying to get through the windows or doors or even trying to tear through the walls to get inside. Can you imagine the sounds of the cat and the screams of the people inside?

                  Reply
    1. JBird4049

      From the little I understand or know, before Homo sapiens arrived all the previous varieties of humans were prime cat food. The further back you get the more we were preyed upon even though (arguments and screaming and the wide range of dates aside) stone tool use starting several million years ago and fire use started more than a million years ago. However the big cats seem to like us just fine unlike wolves. Maybe why we like house cats so much. We still feed them but not ourselves.

      Reply
  7. anon y'mouse

    so what is the logic here, if both Bernie and AOC understand MMT? that if they were to tell the public (and somehow make them understand, after mass propaganda from all corners for 40 years–quite a feat) how FedFunding works, then taxes on the rich (which are necessary for other reasons having to do with social goals) would be impossible?

    why don’t we rewrite the danged tax code and REVERSE FICA, have fhe Fedgov pay the state taxes of anyone making below a basic middle class income (about $80k by my calculations) and only have taxes start kicking in when someone starts making over $120k, progressively ramping up to the virtual infinity that a Bezos makes? how many people would that net, and would it do enough to start fixing the inequality problem, and would people making that much be able to _itch that the government was being essentially run on their backs, while the rest of us were moochers?

    since everyone here understands MMT, and we know what the actual purpose of the taxes are for, then what social goals can be met with them and how to implement them should be almost more important than whether AOC can properly educate the entire propagandized american public via tweet about fedfunding. has anyone run the numbers?

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth Burton

      There are people who fall below your proposed minimum income who would refuse to accept payments from the fund because they are too proud to accept what they would consider welfare. The fact that everyone who works pays into the Social Security fund is precisely why it maintains its popularity when most other entitlement programs have withered and died.

      Your suggestion also leaves open the means-test door, which is inevitably applied unless strictly prohibited in perpetuity. As we speak, Joe Biden is gearing up to convince people the fund can be saved by applying same.

      I concur the tax code desperately needs fixing, but FICA definitely falls into the “if it ain’t broke” category. The best way to ensure its survival is still raising the cap another $150K—or more.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        And applying it (FICA) to unearned income – capital gains, interest above a certain amount, and so on.

        The rate could be considerably lower.

        Reply
      2. SpringTexan

        Yep, AOC’s and Sanders’ political instincts are 100% on target and Elizabeth Burton eloquently expresses why.

        We need to have a consensus that means-testing is anathema, we need to know that “programs for the poor are poor programs,” and as well means-testing is a huge amount of intrusive bureaucratic overhead that provides a place where huge amounts of mischief can occur. It is against all principles of solidarity, community, and respect.

        And people sense correctly that there ARE constraints on what the government can spend and that it’s related to people’s work. It would be nice if people understood this was about societal resources and production of goods, but MMT can sound like “it’s all free” and people don’t believe it — correctly — even though they are all wrong on getting hysterical about running deficits.

        Reply
  8. anon y'mouse

    “Wielded by a Wizard”—so, Shelley was his era’s JIm Morrison, is what i’m getting.

    his wife suffered endlessly, is all i know. her famous book is a parable for the modern age. perhaps the true origins of “sci fi” rather than that clumsy Gulliver’s Travels.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      I’ll suggest that the Ur document of Science Fiction in the Western Tradition is the “Apocalypse of Saint John,” otherwise known as “The Book of Revelation.”

      Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “Curbs on A.I. Exports? Silicon Valley Fears Losing Its Edge”

    Maybe the US could to declare AI to be munitions in the same way that they tried to have PGP cryptography classified as such back in the early 90s. And I quote: “Cryptosystems using keys larger than 40 bits were then considered munitions within the definition of the US export regulations; PGP has never used keys smaller than 128 bits, so it qualified at that time.” Maybe the US could thus declare AI to be munitions too under the US export regulations as a cheap work around.

    Reply
    1. Roger Boyd

      Having been in the software industry since the 1980’s, I have been through more than one “AI” wave and also have a realistic understanding of the fragility of complex computer systems. It seems to me that the US military is setting itself up for the biggest embarrassment possible by being so gung-ho about computerizing the military – the F35 and Littoral Class ships are good examples of such overcomplexity. The possibilities of system failure, jamming, hacking and EM pulsing etc. are just too great. What happens when the soldiers trained with all the high tech stuff suddenly lose it?

      Reminds me of the 2002 US military exercises where the general given the job of being Iran beat the pants of the one given the job of being the US, by using low tech solutions (see links below). Rather than learning the lesson, the higher-ups changed the rules to stop him winning the next time!

      A great quote “In fact, the three-star general had been retired for some five years by the time he led the Red Forces of Millennium Challenge. He was an old-school Marine capable of some old-school tactics and has insisted that technology cannot replace human intuition and study of the basic nature of war, which he called a “terrible, uncertain, chaotic, bloody business.”

      https://www.wearethemighty.com/articles/that-time-a-marine-general-led-a-fictional-iran-against-the-us-military-and-won

      https://foreignpolicy.com/2013/04/04/why-sticks-and-stones-will-beat-our-drones/

      Reply
  10. notabanker

    The leaked pdf is that Fraser tweet is astounding. You think if the Romans had fiber and Anonymous it would have turned out any differently?

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Was Maddow always like this? I know she went full Obama in 2009 and largely devoted her show to republican state legislator updates, or is she angling for more MIC ad money?

      Reply
      1. Pat

        Looking back I think Maddow was always a cheerleader for the neoliberal crowd. When I did watch her most was during the Bush years, and I was in the process of figuring out that ‘the opposition’ wasn’t so opposed but what I remember fits the meme.
        I didn’t really get how embedded she was until she was on the ground for the faux Iraq war pull out and how willing she was to cheerlead and spout the BS about that whole PR show which was an Obama production. I do recall that during the 2008 primaries being massively disappointed in how little time she gave to Edwards’ economic messaging, as I thought that was a natural fit for the supposedly more progressive MSNBC primetime (daytime always being notoriously corporate right wing centrist).

        Reply
        1. neo-realist

          I do recall that during the 2008 primaries being massively disappointed in how little time she gave to Edwards’ economic messaging, as I thought that was a natural fit for the supposedly more progressive MSNBC primetime (daytime always being notoriously corporate right wing centrist).

          I was also disappointed in the coverage of Edwards, but came to realize that his positions were those of a pre-Bernie economic populist whose message was too dangerous to the profit margins of corporate interests; so understandably, coverage of his campaign was marginalized.

          Reply
        1. Darthbobber

          Not really. It’s an officer’s second promotion. An officer who hasn’t done better than that well before 20 years doesn’t have a career period.

          A navy captain is a different matter, as its equivalent to an army or air force full colonel.

          Reply
        1. Pat

          Not for nothing, but before that MSNBC was owned by GE. Even in the run up to the Iraq invasion, there was distinct support for the military industrial complex in addition to their usual corporate kiss ass daily programming.

          Long before Comcast bought it, Joe Scarborough headed their morning show and Mrs. Alan Greenspan was the daytime political expert. And in the run up to the Iraq war they cancelled their highest rated program because Phil Donahue was actually doing a decent job of destroying the tenuous case for invasion (the idea that he/it was too expensive was bull shit – see Scarborough above).

          In many ways MSNBC supposed left tilt was merely Zucker counterprogramming Fox, and even it wasn’t that lefty except maybe Donahue and Ed Schultz who really only earned that by being truly labor friendly (RIP).

          Reply
          1. pretzelattack

            i think maddow used to get outraged at some of the bush lies justifying iraq 2, but her outrage at lies justifying wars turned out to be very selective.

            Reply
        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          Before the Comcast purchase, it was owned by GE, so it wasn’t exactly a bastion of decency.

          They fired Donahue for opposing the Iraq War, and my suspicion is they fired Olbermann because he would do what he wanted after raising the profile of the network.

          I just wonder if Maddow’s full on Beck mode was always there.

          Reply
      2. Big Tap

        I don’t remember Maddow being so 100% pro war in the past as she has become. Now she is a full time Russiagate believer and promoter plus MIC shill. I’m guessing the large amounts of money she makes from Comcast was the price she paid to no longer have any integrity. A real shame as I used to watched her show nightly but after one to many pro war segments in recent years I stopped. On occasion I run across video clips of her and see that she has changed for the worse.

        Reply
  11. John

    Senate #1
    The Senate considers its first priority to be a bill to make it illegal to boycott the products of the illegal settlements on Jordanian territory occupied by Israel since 1967? Am I mad or do the Geneva Conventions not forbid colonizing occupied territory? I am shocked, shocked, that the Senate would so openly declare its first loyalty to AIPAC, the Likud government of Israel and it donors. Declaring such loyalty to AIPAC, the Likud government of Israel, and it donors in a sneaky underhanded manner, that I would understand. It would be in keeping with the character of those in favor of Senate #1.

    Get it through your heads. Israel is a client state. The donors may be your masters but trust me, you could survive and get re-elected without them. Isn’t it at least a bit uncomfortable to be appear so nakedly bought and paid for; trussed up like the Christmas goose?

    Reply
    1. Pat

      I have pissed off more than a few people by my stand on foreign interference in our elections. If we were to really go after foreign influence in our elections we should start with and focus on Israel, and not just the open bribery with AIPAC.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        A good start would be to make AIPAC register themselves as an agent of a foreign government like all others have to do. Same with anybody spruiking for the Saudis too.

        Reply
  12. rkka

    As usual, Schwartzbaum’s article “After the Crimean Consensus” totally misunderstands the foundations of Putin’s domestic political support. Putin is popular because Russians deeply appreciate that their country is no longer unstoppably descending into social catastrophe and strategic irrelevance, like it was doing after a decade of US-supported FreeMarketDemocraticDeforms that had Russians dying off by a million a year.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/05/russia-is-finished/302220/

    And the turnaround sparked by the very instructive example Putin made of flagrant tax fraud Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whom the Anglosphere Foreign Policy Elite & Punditocracy then tried to transform into the 2nd Coming of Andrei Sakharov. Clueless. But Russians aren’t.

    And so American writers will continue to obsess over every dip in Putins poll numbers, mouths watering at the thought that the Russian people will rise up in their majesty, overthrow Putin & all his works, and elect a Yeltsin clone who’ll sell off Russia’s natural resources sector to Anglosphere investors for a song.

    Reply
    1. SoldierSvejk

      I too was puzzled by the shallowness of this article and the writer – who supposedly is a Russian expert. Few in the west understand the Putin appeal. There simply is no equivalent – and so it may be that understanding the VVP phenomenon is just too, too hard for the westerners.
      Name one politician in the oh-so-enlightened west who can give you milk production stats, recite poetry, crack jokes (even self-deprecating ones), respond to questions about marital plans, discuss nuclear submarines and the latest developments in the R’s arms industry, opine about rap music, express regret about the US plans to abandon arms treaties, give the audience a historical perspective on sanctions, comment on UK’s mis-behaviour (i.e., Skripal – and where is he, BTW), worry and warn about the possibility of a nuclear war, be critical – yet indulgent- of the country’s unsavoury neighbours, respond to personal appeals from citizens, and lay plans for an ME peace and peace with Japan – and do it all in one day, over a 4hr presser, and with a certain bonhomie and a smile. No wonder he gets demonised. A rational and competent politician – can’t have that… unheard of…

      Reply
  13. Richard

    The establishment on AOC tax fairness:
    “People look: she’s trying to help the people! Seize her you fools!”
    This seems to be totally their argument. To be fair, I think this latest, most clueless wave of anti-aoc jabs, have come from repubs obsessed with her, not from the rightwing dems who might see her as a more immediate threat. I don’t know why the repubs don’t just ignore her. But I’m glad they don’t.
    This is why I laugh when I hear the scare stories about how clever and cutthroat the repubs are, how “good” they are at the game of politics. They have been very lucky in their enemies as well. As we replace mice with lions, if we can, you might be surprised at how stupidly repubs act, and how they begin to leak votes like crazy.
    Not that I am dem. But if the right people controlled that party, the repubs would stop seeming so smart instantly.

    Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        It’s been interesting doing my informal office polls around my office’s house republicans. They’re not uniformly against her at all. Some of them think her policy ideas sound batty, but many like her bold, unapologetic style and that she’s making heads explode around DC.

        People often respect strength, clarity and sincerity.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          With that tax policy of 70% on the rich of hers, tell your friends that she wants to bring back the best policies of Dwight Eisenhower! Better yet, ask them if instead it would be better taxing the rich at the rate of 50% like Ronnie Reagan did would be acceptable to them. Then step back and watch the fun.

          Reply
      2. Darthbobber

        I hope she sent a nice thank you card to whatever genius initiated the dancing line of attack. She couldn’t have drawn attention to that video herself without having to take flack for perceived vanity.

        Maybe they have something of her winning a spelling bee when she was 9. That would be even more devastating.

        Reply
    1. notabanker

      She looks like Secretariat out of the gate to me. Still a long way to go but tone, topic and content have been spot on.

      Reply
  14. Wukchumni

    Headed to Tahoe for the 1st ski trip of the year and Monday’s forecast calls for “Damaging Winds” as snow is falling sideways.

    I’ve never experienced such dramatic climatic verbiage as that, it’s essentially a left coast way of describing an all terrain hurricane.

    And there’s a bowling alley @ Squaw Valley, with a forecast of central heating inside, with my name on it.

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      last night we in the san juans got hit with a massive out of nowhere westerly that smith island called 45 mph but it felt like twice that at 3 am with pelting california style rain (30 seconds to soaked to the bone) along with thunder and lightning, a rare occurrence around here. I went to the smith island station at weather.gov and it had hourly readings, but no combined plot of wind speed, gust, and pressure…drat!cheated by the shutdown! Damn you trump, you hate science!

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        They’ve closed I-80 from Colfax to the Nevada state line on account of zero visibility-a stretch of around 60 miles, and we’re holed up in Citrus Heights, where it’s wet and so windy, tree tops on high are swaying 5-10 feet from center to and fro. You can only imagine what it must be like 7,000 feet higher?

        Not a good time to emulate the Donner Party…

        Reply
        1. tegnost

          and how can you not think of the donners when you’re crawling up the pass with the cadillac suv’s and the like spinning out on the right and left of you, just get behind a truck and figure it’ll be over, at some point…inandout in auburn is a good place to decompress because there’s like 30 cars in the drive thru so you have lots of time, but that’s for the way back…oh wait citrus heights? well…
          https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lon=-120.40331628173588&lat=39.321241794856775#.XDKvqHbYrnE
          drive safely…

          Reply
  15. Pat

    I had the immediate image of Clinton as a female version of the Godfather for her meetings with the 2020 candidates after reading that headline.

    “Nice little campaign you have there, be a shame if anything happened to it,” while holding out the ring to be kissed. Right after making it clear that if she comes back they kiss more than that.

    Reply
    1. Whoamolly

      I suspect Clinton may be angling for the “savior” nomination on second or third round of voting. As in “please step in and take the nomination to save the party.”

      Reply
          1. Richard

            The DNC has taken the position in at least one legal prodeeding (re 2016 pres. primary voter purge in Brooklyn) that their organization is private, not public, and that for “internal” matters such as primaries and nominations, they can count the votes however they want. Wish I had the link; wasn’t much reported at the time and I remember it being hard to find on DDGo. But J. Dore reported it at the time, and I looked because I thought “they can’t have actually admitted that in court”, but sure enough, they had.

            Reply
            1. davidgmillsatty

              They are a private party and as long as they were picking candidates in private caucuses that was probably legal. The problem began when they started having their candidates picked in public elections. And so the issue is a very complicated one because of state involvement and state expenditure. It seems to me that it should not be able to control their primaries without government intervention when they have so much government involvement.

              Reply
          1. ambrit

            Clinton/Obama 2020, more popularly pitched as Hillary/Michelle 2020.
            “America has two mommies.”
            I just ‘fixed’ a typo in the first line and realized that my subconscious was trying to tell me something. It originally typed ‘Cloneton/Obama 2020.’ If H. Clinton does angle for “Mover and Shaker” “Fairy Godmother” of the Democrat Party, she would push a ‘copy’ of herself. Thus, I look for a big surge in Identitarian Neo-Liberal Pro Wall Street candidates in the next years Democrat Party ‘official’ sweepstakes.
            Hopefully, the upcoming probe into the financial misdeeds of the ‘Clinton Foundation’ will send Bill and Hillary to prison. Then we may well see the spectacle of an incarcerated politician running for office from their jail cell.
            One of the most recent examples: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/11/08/jailed-texas-state-representative-victory/1927974002/

            Reply
            1. flora

              Identitarian Neo-Liberal

              I think the identitarian part is important to the neo-liberal project. Divide and conquer. The natural beneficiary of this, aside from some politicians, are multinational corporations working toward public/private partnerships, or outright privatization of govt services. Citizens who expect the govt to perform the duties and obligations it is elected to perform are far less likely to agree to privatizing the govt, imo. One way to seduce people away from thinking of themselves as American citizens is to subdivide and address groups as xyx-Americans, as if the xyz is more important than the American part. Interesting the Dem estab has started referring to voting groups divided by Dem classifications identity as ‘tribes’. I don’t recall the Dem estab referring to Wall Street interests or Silicon Valley or Hollywood or MIC interests as ‘tribes’.

              Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          This was LBJs dream in 1956, making him the front runner for 1960. Of course, he wasn’t a two time failure and didn’t expect to beat Ike just raise his national profile and break free of the perception he was a classic Southern Democrat which he expected would be a detriment to any campaign because who would feel positive about voting for a Southern Democrat.

          Reply
    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Allen & Parnes have added a new Afterword to the trade paperback edition of Shattered. I highly recommend anyone pondering next year’s rodeo read it ASAP.

      I’ve done so, and after reading as well an alleged conversation between Robert Reich and one of his GOP acquaintances from the Hill, I’m thinking there will be a move to oust Trump before next spring from his own party, overt or covert, and that they’re willing to go nuclear if he’s asked to resign and refuses. They’re fully aware that “oust Trump” is the sum and substance of the Democrats’ strategy at this point, and would like to see Pence running in his stead.

      Given their proven record of getting their base to the polls, Pence as Prez would kill any chance the Democrats have if they rerun 2016, yet that seems to be exactly what their Clinton lord and master has decreed. And like it or not, they don’t have time to come up with proof he, too, was a Russian collaborator in time to prevent yet another rout. That’s likely why one of the first resolutions they introduced in the House was to abolish the Electoral College and turn the race into a straight popularity contest.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        The Republican “Establishment” might well salivate at the prospect of ousting Trump, but they would definitely split the Republican Party in doing so. Trump has basically succeeded in pulling off a ‘hostile takeover’ of the Republican Party. In so doing, he dangled the prospect of re-empowerment before the tired eyes of the American Lower Middle and Working classes. Smart opponents of Trump would do better to sit back and let Trump damage himself with unforced errors. The removal of Trump, by anyone, will alienate a huge swath of the American populace. There then might well be an “Establishment” figure swearing the Oath of Office in January 2021, but he or she would be taking the reins of an essentially delegitimized government.

        Reply
        1. tegnost

          trump could easily save himself with all the power that’s been left lying in the street, 100 million people didn’t vote. So from the “only nixon could go to china” perspective I hope they back him into the corner

          Reply
        2. Elizabeth Burton

          I might agree, but I have yet to see anyone other than the anti-Trump media claim he’s inviolate because of his “base.” The last I heard, his “base” was the Republican party, which he is essentially trashing as we speak. The million or so “racist white rednecks” who supposedly put him over the top are barely a blip on the radar, if that’s what’s being touted as said base. The GOP could make that up just by drawing back their disaffected members.

          And how many “Trumpsters” are there in Congress, really? We have no way of knowing because the only thing we’re hearing is any Republican who doesn’t vocally oppose him is lumped into that category.

          The one thing the GOP does miles better than the Democrats is get its registered members to the polls. Women abandoned them this year because of Trump, so if he’s gone it’s a given many if not all will come back to the fold. Which brings us to my original premise that if they ain’t got Trump, they got nothin’. And the GOP knows it.

          Reply
  16. flora

    re: Congressional Staffing for Dummies: The Pay Go Dispute – Matt Stoller

    Stoller article is a great read. Recommended. Thanks for the link.

    Reply
    1. Jen

      Now seems like an excellent time to share the response I received from one of my lamentable senators, Maggie Hassan. She was an original co-sponsor of S720. I let her have it then, and wrote to her recently after the attempt to sneak the anti-boycott language into the appropriations bills.

      “I strongly oppose the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel and believe that it harms our efforts to secure enduring peace through bilateral negotiations toward a two-state solution. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act was introduced by Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) with the bipartisan support of 46 cosponsors, including myself. The bill builds on existing law — the Export Administration Act from the 1970s, which prohibits U.S. companies and their subsidiaries from complying with an unsanctioned foreign boycott imposed by foreign countries – by expanding the prohibition to unsanctioned foreign boycotts imposed by international organizations such as the United Nations or European Union.
      Nothing in this bill is intended to infringe upon the constitutionally protected right to free speech, but I understand that some have suggested that the language should be clearer to address concerns with the existing law. I am open to changing the language of this bill as it moves through the legislative process in order to clarify existing law, and I will continue working to oppose the BDS campaign against Israel.
      Thank you again for writing to share your thoughts, and I hope that you keep in touch with me. Though we may not see eye to eye on this issue, I hope this letter reflects the careful consideration that went into developing my position. ”

      Lovely.

      Reply
  17. The Heretic

    Concerning Article about 70% tax rate, this is no pancea on its own. Trade policy and tax policy would have to be aligned to prevent the continued offshoring of production and profits (via transfer payments or shell companies and whatever new schemes the accountants think of).

    Nonetheless, this is a good start for Ms Ocasio-Cortez.

    Between Sanders, Warren and Ocasio-Cortez it is about time for the Democrats to advocate policies of a party worthy of governing the US.

    Reply
    1. Cal2

      It’s not the tax rate, it’s the write offs that matter.
      OAC might consider this meme:

      If corporations are “people,” then subject them to the personal tax rate–Or–allow people, of any income level, to use all the same tax exemptions, write offs and other tricks that corporations use to avoid taxes.

      Reply
  18. Lee

    France: ‘Yellow vest’ protesters storm ministry in Paris
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/france-yellow-vest-protesters-storm-ministry-paris-190106110957370.html

    France’s Macron reeling as tough stance against ‘yellow vests’ backfires
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-protests-macron/frances-macron-reeling-as-tough-stance-against-yellow-vests-backfires-idUSKCN1P00KG

    Twenty-four hours later, he [Macron] was fleeing his office out of a back door as protesters invaded the courtyard and smashed up several cars. “It wasn’t me who was attacked,” he later said. “It was the Republic.”

    I hope he didn’t mean L’Etat, c’est moi..

    Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        They’re running an auction: how much does it take to make us stop rioting? You’ll know when we stop. Interesting how the casseurs have been backing them up while taking much of the blame.

        Incidentally, it was a spokesman named Griveaux, not Macron himself, who was forced to evacuate – it never said exactly which ministry.

        Macron did stay out of his royal residence for quite a while when the demonstrations started, though. Not the bravest Frenchman.

        Reply
    1. Olga

      Unfortunately, I think he may have been thinking just that.
      (Although, he rather reminds me of a diminutive Napoleon – and we know how that ended!)

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Our local news has been downplaying the yellow jackets saying numbers are down. Idiots don’t recognize how the jackets are deploying elsewhere. I too noted how any attack on him or the government is an attack on the Republic. I would have thought that the people themselves were the actual Republic. Or maybe it is a matter of worldview.

      Reply
  19. Alex morfesis

    July 3rd, 2019 – Robert Mueller presents his public findings…

    RM: My fellow Americans, this will be a short presentation as we prepare for our most sacred national holiday…

    After a complete and extensive review of all available information, we have bad news and good news.

    Many questioned the enormous time, energy and resources expanded reviewing the pre-campaign historical business activities of Donald Trump.

    This was not a fishing expedition bit simply an honest review of a man with many peaks and valleys in a somewhat complicated financial life of his choosing.

    In that review we confirmed he has been an extreme opportunist who will tell anyone and everyone any thing to obtain some short term goal, and after an exhaustive analysis dating from his pre-school years, we can unequivocally confirm President Trump has double crossed everyone he has ever dealt with and come across leading to a lifetime of publicity seeking to find new victims. That was the good news…

    The good bad news is there is no question his Russia contacts in the United States and abroad were encouraged by his words to do “anything” they can to help him in his renegade quest to sit in the oval office and they communicated those opportunities for “future goodwill” to parties well enough connected to extend that invitation to the highest reaches in Russia.

    We now know Putin is much stupider than we realized, as he imagined there was some form of honor among thieves at the top of the food chain, but our thorough and complete review of President Trump and his actions and intents without question clearly alude he absolutely intended to rip off Putin in the same manner he has ripped off everyone, including his family, since before kindergarten…

    As such, with full faith in these findings, we can report Putin is a bigger idiot than we thought…

    Reply
  20. georgieboy

    Is AOC focused solely on Income Tax? Not some kind of wealth tax, like a proper estate tax? Just asking.

    As I recall one explanation in the old days (granted, maybe a just-so story) for the difference in European and American economic dynamism, and hardened class structure in Europe, was that the Europeans, including the Brits, protected wealth and taxed income more than the US did. Hence the Duke of Wellington was supposedly still the biggest landlord in central London in the 1990s.

    Seems to me that focusing on Income Tax alone would be admitting the ‘American elites’ horse long left the barn.

    Reply
  21. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: Pliocene and Eocene provide best analogs for near-future climates — This link’s abstract concluded with the following interesting little observation:
    “Both the emergence of geologically novel climates and the rapid reversion to Eocene-like climates may be outside the range of evolutionary adaptive capacity.”

    Reply
    1. Roger Boyd

      Don’t you just love the art of academic understatement, the description of the possible end of human civilization as we know it flows so beautifully while having no real impact!

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Don’t forget the rest our fellow creatures along for the ride! — and already falling off the cart. That old Star Trek joke “Beam me up Scotty …” doesn’t seem so funny any more.

        Reply
        1. Synapsid

          Roger Boyd, Jeremy Grimm,

          First sentence of Abstract: “…the Earth system moves toward climate states without societal precedent, challenging adaptation.” “Adaptation” here could be read as referring to human adaptation.

          Last sentence of Abstract: “Both the emergence of geologically novel climates and the rapid reversion to Eocene-like climates may be outside the range of evolutionary adaptive capacity.”

          The authors state in the Abstract that in the study they quantitatively assess the similarity of future climate states to six geohistorical benchmarks.

          They are studying the climate of the Earth system–the whole planet–and looking to find analogs in the past for two projections of the future state of Earth’s climates, working from changes underway now.

          RB: Your remark does not refer to the Abstract. The authors are not describing the possible end of human civilization as we know it. They are very clear about the results they are presenting in the paper and why they did the work. The paper is a contribution to an ongoing effort to understand what we will be dealing with in terms of future climate.

          JG: “…the range of evolutionary adaptive capacity” refers to capacity for adaptive evolution of all organisms on the planet, ours and that of all our fellow critters. The key word is “evolutionary”.

          Reply
          1. Jeremy Grimm

            I can and did read and interpret the abstract. Guessing from your comment and what I believe you are intimating, I am far less optimistic than you seem to be about “the possible end of human civilization as we know it” [Roger Boyd’s words]. Frankly I am skeptical that our agriculture, which is the basis of human civilization as we know it, could be adapted to the much milder Paleoclimate shifts of the more recent Eemian interglacial period which Hansen et al. 2016 describes in some detail. And ignoring the ongoing Climate Chaos, I am also skeptical that our agriculture will adapt to an age without petroleum, and little things like readily available phosphorous.

            As for your quibble about: “…the range of evolutionary adaptive capacity”. The phrase does indeed clearly refer to evolutionary adaptation and just as clearly does not suggest that all creatures will be unable to adapt or that humans will not be able to adapt or that human civilization as we know it might not adapt. I believe this phrase from the abstract has definite implications I am quite willing to draw from it.

            Whether human civilization survives or not and whether some creatures do not survive … some creatures will survive as they already have through several past geologic ages to the present. You should think more broadly about the further implications of the use of the word ‘evolutionary’ in the abstract. Most, I do not believe all, evolution is a relatively slow process which requires an acumulation of gradual changes over many generations. Humankind has changed the climate in less than 200 years which is like the blink of an eye in geologic time. A sudden shift to Pliocene — or worse — Eocene climate in a few more centuries is a shift too rapid for the relatively slow processes of evolution to successfully adapt many perhaps most of the creatures and plants we know and love. If you want to look on the positive side, humans might be able to help their favorites creatures and plants make it through the transition by some doing some truly inspired GMO and helpful plantings and animal husbandry, as long as our kind is able to retain the sufficient knowledge, and tools to do inspired GMO. I believe the more intelligent species are better equipped adapt to change. We may need to help a selection of other creatures and plants.

            I believe neither my understanding of this abstract, nor Roger Boyd’s, really differs all that greatly from what seems to be your understanding of this abstract.

            Reply
            1. Synapsid

              Jeremy Grimm,

              There’s no call to “interpret” the Abstract, and I’m not intimating anything including optimism or lack of it about the survival of human civilization as we know it–Roger Boyd brought it up, not I.

              We have the abstract of a paper in the natural sciences written for submission to a peer-reviewed journal, the PNAS which is one of the best. The approach is simply put: The paper must be clear, concise and complete. Once the paper is brought to that point, or as close to it as the authors can manage, the abstract is written. It contains what most readers will want from the paper and for non-specialists in particular the abstract is all that will be read.

              Clear / concise / complete is required by the editors of the journal; they will enforce the approach and they have hearts of iron; they need to have because of the large number of papers submitted. The paper will be sent to reviewers who write clear / concise / complete reviews and recommend that the paper be accepted, accepted after recommended changes have been made, or rejected.

              The paper will say “This is what we did and why we did it; these are our results and we discuss them here; these are our conclusions.” Other researchers will read the paper and attempt to check the accuracy of the results in the paper and some will try to reproduce the work. Forget interpretation or intimation–there’s no place for them in the original paper and they’re guaranteed not make it past the editors.

              Again, this is the way it works in the natural sciences. It’s not always that well done in related fields such as archaeology for instance and by the time you’ve moved into the social sciences there can be little trace of it at all, depending on the journal, and that is a tragedy that really needs to be addressed.

              If you’d like to see clear / concise / complete in the Humanities, read a few essays by C S Lewis on Medieval and Renaissance literature. They show beautifully that it can be done.

              Reply
              1. Jeremy Grimm

                I am remotely familiar with the review process for scientific and technical papers. Your excellent description of the process portrays what could be lost through so-called “Open Science”, which has come up from time to time in the Links and posts. I remain confused as to what you disagree with in my comments or Roger Boyd’s comment. I hope you aren’t suggesting that we must read a scientific abstract without drawing any conclusions from it. I would go so far as to say Roger Boyd was suggesting the scientific review process reduces alarming results to reductive hyperbole.

                I once subscribed to Science Magazine and later Nature and stopped my subscriptions as it grew more and more difficult to figure out what was being studied, why, what exactly had been discovered, and what questions the result raised, settled, or contributed to. In other words, I looked for exactly those things you elaborated: “The paper will say “This is what we did and why we did it; these are our results and we discuss them here; these are our conclusions.”

                Consider your assertion — “Forget interpretation or intimation–there’s no place for them in the original paper and they’re guaranteed not make it past the editors.” I cannot agree more with what I view as a damnation of the state of scientific literature — a damnation I saw writ large every time I read through the interpretive essays at the front of Science Magazine in the “Perspectives” section. I viewed these little essays as attempts to give some context and intent to the articles which I believe nonspecialists in the particular field — I might push this to nonspecialists in the special research area of a paper — find a little too concise, exact, and non-inferential to hold any meaning. [And no I do not support “Open Science”.]

                Reply
                1. Synapsid

                  Jeremy Grimm,

                  A peer-reviewed paper in the natural sciences presents the results of research focused on a topic or a set of related topics. It can be used as a starting point for further work; it can be the answer to the question “What’s the evidence?” It is a contribution to a body of knowledge, an addition to our understanding. The stripped-down focus is the response to what Asimov called The Sound of Panting some fifty years ago: How to keep up with the staggering amount of information that is coming in every day of the year.

                  The articles in the front of Science and Nature, for example, can put a paper or papers in an issue of the journal into a wider context, by comment and by bringing in other papers that help to give a wider view. Sometimes a review article appears in an issue of a journal and it can be a godsend because it gives an overview of a whole field and ties together a significant part of what we know about it; it will draw on sometimes hundreds of published papers and provide a great place to begin finding your footing in an area that interests you and is new to you. Each–the paper, the comment, a review paper–is a step up in context and breadth and each has its use, each is a possible point of attention depending on how much information and breadth you need. Each provides access at a different level. And it’s those editors with hearts of iron that hold the structure up.

                  In my own case, the journals I read regularly are Nature, Nature Geoscience, and PaleoAmerica. If I could I’d read Nature Ecology and Evolution, PNAS, AGU Reviews, Science, Cosmochemica et Geochemica Acta, Quaternary Research, and half a dozen others but that isn’t possible. That’s where tightly-focused abstracts come in, and sites such as EurekAlert.

                  Reply
  22. Chris

    “Let them eat training,” Chicago edition:

    Rahm Emmanuel proposes Free Community College

    The Atlantic articles linked to in that opinion article are classics too (“America Wakes Up from it’s Dream of Free College”). I’m fascinated reading these kinds of things. It’s like our elites are nominally aware of things like the Yellow Vests but they don’t really think they need to do anything beyond vague gesturing in the direction of popular opinion. US citizens don’t seem to be in the mood to put up with this status quo much longer. I guess we’ll see what happens when the next downturn hits and more jobs are shed.

    Reply
    1. Spring Texan

      I hate Rahm Emanuel more than almost anybody. Recommend the twitter account @Mayor_1Percent .

      I think he may be thinking of throwing his despicable hat in the ring too.

      Reply
  23. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “Contest models highlight inherent inefficiencies of scientific funding competitions” —
    This long highly mathematical demonstration based on economic theory, of the stupidity of the current methods for funding research is truly scary on its face. This impresses me either as evidence for some kind of strange Stockholm syndrome working on scientists or a curious attack on Neoliberal economic rationales for the allocation of research funding by a Neoliberal economist. Maybe it’s an argument for repairs to the Market mechanisms used to allocate research funding? Are there no other ways to question the way the US funds research except through the ‘Truth’ revealed by the mechanisms of the all-knowing Market and its ‘Wisdom’ for maximizing ROI for some economic definition of the ‘R’ — and monetary is ‘Best’?

    Perhaps this link is a harbinger for progress in construction of a Market for the best ‘science’ money can buy. [I hope a ‘/s’ is unnecessary]

    Reply
  24. dk

    some capacity arithmetic.

    500 spaces x 30 min = 1000 trucks/hour. By that measure, ideally, the port could clear the 12000 trucks in around 12 hours. If the drivers have to fight over the spaces first, it could take longer.

    Reply
  25. dk

    Wonderful piece, good example of strategic application from operational analysis (the proposed tool is an analytic strategy, not an app or algorithm):

    A new tool can help us determine which conspiracy theories are false and which might be true.

    People who believe in conspiracy theories typically exhibit an almost nihilistic degree of skepticism, to the point of distrusting more and more knowledge-producing institutions. It is not unusual for climate deniers to distrust the official temperature record based on a long catalogue of presumed improprieties by bureaus of meteorology around the world.

    Photo by Jan Mellström on Unsplash
    This overriding and immutable suspicion of the “official” account leads to several consequences. It may prevent the person from recognizing that some events occur by accident or are simply trivial. The way that conspiracists think means that they often believe that nothing occurs by accident; any random event is re-interpreted as evidence for the theory. For example, the fact that Timothy McVeigh fled the scene of the Oklahoma City bombing in a car without license plates is interpreted as proof of his innocence and that he was framed by federal agents.

    A further consequence of immutable suspicion is that a person may abandon specific hypotheses when they become unsustainable, but those corrections will not compromise the overall abstraction that “something must be wrong” and that the official account is based on deception. At that higher level of abstraction, neither the validity of any particular hypothesis nor the coherence of the theory matter. What matters is that there must be a conspiracy. In consequence, conspiracy theories are often incoherent. It is not uncommon for climate deniers to be equally convinced that global temperature cannot be measured accurately and that there has been global cooling for the last 10 years.

    Finally, and perhaps most crucially, conspiracists’ thought processes are inherently self-sealing, such that contrary evidence is re-interpreted as evidence for the theory. This reflects the assumption that the stronger the evidence against a conspiracy (e.g., climate scientists being exonerated of wrong-doing), the more the conspirators must want to hide the truth (i.e., investigations were rigged by George Soros to exonerate the scientists).

    http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2019/01/04/a-new-tool-can-help-us-determine-which-conspiracy-theories-are-false-and-which-might-be-true/

    I do think it’s important to see this analytic approach as a tool rather than a rigid rule (set). Rules tell us what to discard or assume, tools suggest where/how we should look.

    Reply
    1. Cal2

      What’s the tool think of our Decca-Trillion$
      military and intelligence apparatus’
      defeat by19 guys with box cutters?

      Conspiracy theory or not?
      Just askin’

      Reply
  26. Darthbobber

    The wapo piece on how well the recovery is going:

    Does anybody recall seeing articles in the 90s about how the recovery from the 1981 recession was going? Or in 2005 about whether recovery was on track from the early 90s recession? Or….

    The very fact that articles are still having to frame the economic environment in terms of the 07 crash indicates all by itself that things aren’t as grand and glorious as all that.

    Reply
    1. Chris

      That’s a good point.

      I think the reason behind it is the average data indicates that a lit of things are going right. But so many people’s lived experiences are evidence that so much is still very wrong.

      I believe on this site and others we’ve seen graphs and collections of charts that show how skewed the recovery has been. Both in terms of who has benefited, which industries have benefited, and which regions of the country have benefited. Roughly 50% of GDP “created” in the US occurs in 12 metro areas. That means all the all the rest of the country gets what’s left. That wasn’t true when the country had a bigger share of farming and manufacturing in our economy.

      That probably explains why all those privileged white people are drinking themselves to death in flyover country :/

      Reply
    2. Summer

      Well that kind of perspective would show recoveries of diminishing returns. Fewer people “recover” each time even if the numbers from their formulas are big. Hence the growing wealth gaps.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Fewer people “recover” each time even if the numbers from their formulas are big.

        You ain’t kidding. Even in the supposedly wealthy areas in California, getting a job is not the problem. It is getting a job that will pay the cost of living especially for the bottom half while the top say 20 percent are doing just fine, even great. Hence all those news stories about our “recovery.”

        Reply
  27. flora

    Identitarian Neo-Liberal

    I think the identitarian part is important to the neo-liberal project. Divide and conquer. The natural beneficiary of this, aside from some politicians, are multinational corporations working toward public/private partnerships, or outright privatization of govt services. Citizens who expect the govt to perform the duties and obligations it is elected to perform are far less likely to agree to privatizing the govt, imo. One way to seduce people away from thinking of themselves as American citizens is to subdivide and address groups as xyx-Americans, as if the xyz is more important than the American part. Interesting the Dem estab has started referring to voting groups divided by Dem classifications identity as ‘tribes’. I don’t recall the Dem estab referring to Wall Street interests or Silicon Valley or Hollywood or MIC interests as ‘tribes’.

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        I hear you loud and clear. The ‘tribes’ nomenclature is interesting as it suggests an academic, detached anthropological attitude towards the people the politicians should be identifying with, much less working for. It presupposes some nebulous ‘superiority’ inherent in the political class. In Anglo-American usage, at least, the word tribes carries a stigma as if it describes ‘inferiors’ and ‘savages,’ etc.
        I have heard the financial elites referred to as “interests.”

        Reply

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