Links 2/8/19

Anti-grizzly Fever Grips Wyoming, Again Grizzly Times. It makes me happy there’s a blog devoted to news and opinion about grizzly bears.

Montana veterinarians bring nearly frozen, unresponsive cat back to life (video) WABC

Left high and dry by a crypto founder’s demise FT

No thank you, Mr. Pecker Jeff Bezos, Medium (fine word, “legitimate”) and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of extortion over intimate photos WaPo.

(Interestingly, the Enquirer’s parent company, NMI, is hosted on AWS.)

Bonds Faced Their Waterloo and Came Out Winners Bloomberg

America faces a battle to find buyers for its bonds Gillian Tett, FT

Facebook ordered to stop combining WhatsApp and Instagram data without consent in Germany The Verge

‘We won’: Landmark climate ruling as NSW court rejects coal mine Sidney Morning Herald

Chevron ties executive pay to methane and flaring reduction targets Reuters. Such as they are.

In Praise of Carbon: Review Resilience (Drumlin Woodchuckles).


‘What the Hell Is Going On?’ How a Small Group Seized Control of Venezuela’s Opposition WSJ

Report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order on his mission to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Ecuador* United Nations (Ignacio). From 2018, still germane.


Corbyn Brexit Offer Gives Labour MPs Space to Back May Deal Bloomberg

Labour’s customs union proposal for Brexit might just work FT

The “Malthouse Compromise” Has Descended Into Acrimony Buzzfeed

Theresa May Is Negotiating Like Yasser Arafat Foreign Policy

How Austerity, and a Cowardly Ruling Class, Brought About Brexit Pacific Standard (VietnamVet). Fun rant.

How To Think Clearly About Anti-Semitism Controversies In The Labour Party Current Affairs

5 fights between France and Italy Politico. “The provocation that seems to have tipped the French over the edge was when Luigi Di Maio, leader of the 5Star Movement and deputy prime minister, met with leaders of the Yellow Jackets movement in Paris.” Oddly, or not, we don’t seem to be hearing a lot about the gilets jaunes themselves. Presidents, prime ministers, and ambassadors, yes. Protesters, no.

OPINION: France’s ‘yellow vest’ conflict is heading into calamitous new territory The Local. From last week, still germane.

Gilets Jaunes face big decision as Macron fights back BBC

France’s Yellow Vest Movement Comes of Age The Nation

French lawmakers approve controversial ‘anti-riot’ bill France24

Why Germany has no gilet jaunes protesters Economists


Xiism as a hegemonic project in the making: Sino-communist ideology and the political economy of China’s rise Review of International Studies

Any Western country using Huawei or other Chinese tech makers in major projects will risk consequences, US ambassador warns South China Morning Post

The strange superstitions of Chinese tech companies Abacus

A Profound Development in Japan-South Korea Relations The Diplomat. “The ruling is probably the first time in history that the highest judicial institution of a country has declared colonial rule to be illegal.”

New Cold War

How the United States Got Russia Wrong The National Interest

War With Russia? Review of Stephen Cohen’s new book.

Trump Transition

No Easy Exit for Trump From Long U.S. Wars Bloomberg

The Conflicted Boeing Executive Running Trump’s Pentagon Consortium News

What the CIA Tells Congress (Or Doesn’t) about Covert Operations: The Barr/Cheney/Bush Turning Point for CIA Notifications to the Senate National Security Archive

Democrats in Disarray

Freedom Rider: Democrats are the McCarthyites Black Agenda Report

Nancy Pelosi Signals Support For Environmental Causes By Placing Green New Deal Directly Into Recycling Bin The Onion

Justices grant stay, block Louisiana abortion law from going into effect SCOTUSblog

Health Care

‘Everybody In, Nobody Out’: What We Know So Far About the Medicare for All Act of 2019 Common Dreams. From Healthcare-NOW and the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare: “Understandably, the transition to a new lead sponsor and an extensive rewrite process has created some nervousness and confusion in sections of the single-payer advocacy community. This has allowed a range of rumors and misrepresentations to run rampant among activist groups, including some rumors that have started spilling into published articles.” A good summary, well worth a read.

After the storm Aeon. Disaster relief.

Class Warfare

Where does a tip to an Amazon driver go? In some cases, toward the driver’s base pay Los Angeles Times

The immorality of layoffs The Week

Stripping Social Programs Leads to Lower Life Expectancy Truthout. That’s not a bug….

IZA DP No. 12095: Measuring the Spatial Misallocation of Labor: The Returns to India-Gulf Guest Work in a Natural Experiment Institute of Labor Economics

Seven Fixes for American Capitalism Bloomberg

The sinking ship of self-interested super rich Anand Giridharadas, Unherd

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. The Rev Kev

    “No thank you, Mr. Pecker”

    That is the difference between billionaires and ordinary people. When you are this rich, you have no fears about making your pecker problems public knowledge.

    1. Carolinian

      The nerdy looking Bezos may even be enjoying all the studley exposure. Soon Musk and the others will become jealous that the Enquirer isn’t (allegedly) trying to extort them.

      1. polecat

        Oh man, don’t give the Elon any new ideas !! .. Next thing you know, he’ll be turning Mars into one big planetary penile etch-a-sketch.

        1. lambert strether

          > penile etch-a-ske6ch

          You mean like the Amazon logo?

          Once you see it, you can’t unsee it….

      1. Duke of Prunes

        It’s already been done on HBO’s Silicon Valley. Hooli, the fictional Google/Oracle/Facebook/Amazon, created a “signature edition” of a component with a “stylized” version of the CEO’s signature.

        This is a link to the product page for this fictional product (pretty solid parody if you ask me):

    2. Roger Smith

      The irony of this situation is so rich. Good. I hope all of Bezos private nonsense is held up against him for black mail. He still won’t learn anything from it.

    3. William Hunter Duncan

      It is good to know Bezos will be proud of his stewardship of WaPo when he is 90. And good to hear him repeat again that he started Amazon in his garage. I see that he did not mention his connection to the CIA or War Pig Dept. Presumably the richest techie on earth connected to the biggest spooks and biggest warpigs would never have his intimate anything revealed to the riff raff. Pity poor Bezos.

      JK. Go cry to your spook and warpig friends. They will surely tell you that you have clothes on when you don’t…

    4. crittermom

      I was able to read that article by Bezos, but the second link to the WaPo one is paywalled. Ha!

      That then reminded me of what he’d said in the first one when talking about hiring a great attorney (my emphasis):
      “I have other things I prefer to work on and to proceed with whatever budget he needed to pursue the facts in this matter.”

      Yeah. If the rest of us had that kind of money to defend ourselves, 9M of us wouldn’t have lost our homes, to begin with. Must be nice, eh?

      Here’s a message to Bezos and the Natl Enquirer: I would bet there are many women who feel as I do & couldn’t care less about photos of you–especially nude ones–so we certainly wouldn’t pay the price of a paper to see them.

      Regarding the infidelity, you’re hardly the first. Shall we begin by naming presidents of such indiscretions?

      And… please don’t ever entertain the idea of running for POTUS.
      Thank you.

      1. crittermom

        Correction. I’d meant to say my comment was intended for BOTH Bezos & the Enq.

        I loved the tweet by Pranay Prathole. Hilarious!
        Then I read the comments below it only to discover it was not an original by him. Hmm…
        I suppose that’s common on twitter?

        1. newcatty

          Yes, crittermom,
          First of all I have no desire to see any man naked in any photo. Yeah, speaking for myself. Nice Bezos is so brazen to not take off wedding ring for his shots. But, guess since its apparent target was a woman who chooses to be screwing with a married man, then why bother? Also, Besos is one weird looking dude. At least the face we have all been privileged to gaze upon in print.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I suppose that’s common on twitter?

          For jokes and memes, pretty much. I don’t think for them there’s an “is this original?” standard. For a “sick burn” of a major political figure, or an original newsworthy video, or an excellent thread, yes, originality counts.

  2. Wukchumni

    HALexa: I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently divulging pixels, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.

  3. Skip Intro

    Blast from the past:

    A transcript (PDF) of captured German atomic physicists secretly recorded when they learned of the Hiroshima bomb.

    Utterly fascinating, especially if you have seen the series ‘Manhattan’.


    WEIZSÄCKER: If we had started this business soon enough we could have got somewhere. If they were able to complete it in the summer of 1945, we might have had the luck to complete it in the winter 1944/45.

    WIRTZ: The result would have been that we would have obliterated LONDON but would still not have conquered the world, and then they would have dropped them on us.

    WEIZSÄCKER: I don’t think we ought to make excuses now because we did not succeed, but we must admit that we didn’t want to succeed. If we had put the same energy into it as the Americans and had wanted it as they did, it is quite certain that we would not have succeeded as they would have smashed up the factories.

    DIEBNER: Of course they were watching us all the time.

    WEIZSÄCKER: One can say it might have been a much greater tragedy for the world if Germany had had the uranium bomb. Just imagine, if we had destroyed LONDON with uranium bombs it would not have ended the war, and when the war did end, it is still doubtful whether it would have been a good thing.

    Now we know, all it takes to obliterate London is a generation of Tories and good BREXIT campaign… and it will leave the buildings standing!

    1. John k

      WWII way too short for that… it took nearly two decades for ez and bankers to mess things up so much that people want out at any cost.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      Many thanks for posting this!

      HEISENBERG: It is possible that the war will be over tomorrow.
      HARTECK: The following day we will go home.
      KORSHING: We will never go home again.
      HARTECK: If we had worked on an even larger scale we would have been killed by the
      ‘Secret Service’. Let’s be glad that we are still alive. Let us celebrate this evening in that
      DIEBNER: Professor GERLACH would be an Obergruppenfuehrer and would be sitting in
      LUXEMBOURG as a war criminal.
      KORSHING: If one hasn’t got the courage, it is better to give up straightaway.
      GERLACH: Don’t always make such aggressive remarks.
      KORSHING: The Americans could do it better than we could, that’s clear.
      (GERLACH leaves the room.)

      5. When GERLACH left the room he went straight to his bedroom where he was heard to be sobbing. VON LAUE and HARTECK went up to see him and tried to comfort him. He appeared to consider himself in the position of a defeated General, the only alternative open to whom is to shoot himself.

      Human, all too human….

  4. Wukchumni

    Anti-grizzly Fever Grips Wyoming, Again Grizzly Times
    It’s funny, grizzlies are discriminated against up north, and down south here, there isn’t much animus towards their cousins (#black bear lives matter) all that much. They’ll try and get in your trash cans or maybe break into your car, because you left some odorous SPF 60 in the cupholder (they have a sense of smell 7x that of a dog) but attacks are rare and nobody been dispatched by a bear in California since the 1870’s. (it was a grizz)

    Most of my bear sightings come on the road, with perhaps 350 out of around 1,000 in the backcountry, and i’m always happy to see a black bear and have an encounter, but it’d be weird backpacking in grizz territory. A friend that works for NPS did a year stint working up @ Glacier NP, and told me he never could release the idea from his mind, of something that could kill you just for being in it’s bailiwick, in the back of beyond.

    1. Lee

      On my first trip to Yellowstone I was intending to do some backpacking there on subsequent trips. But the first trip was devoted to watching critters mostly through powerful scopes, hoping to spot the newly introduced wolves. Didn’t see any wolves that time but I did see grizzlies in action. I decided backpacking in Yellowstone was for braver souls than I. For good reason there are large set asides of prime grizzly habitat in Yellowstone where humans are not allowed. Sometimes the best thing we can do for a magnificent critter is to cede it territory and admire it only from a distance.

    2. False Solace

      Humans kill animals of other species routinely. It seems almost churlish to insist they refrain from killing us. /s Anyway, bacteria and viruses have no such qualms.

  5. Clive

    Re: How Austerity, and a Cowardly Ruling Class, Brought About Brexit

    I’m sometimes asked by non-UK nationals, mainly Japanese (who I suspect sense some unspoken commonality in this) “why do people in the UK seem very happy to be criticised by anyone and everyone?” or words to that effect. I try to explain both in English and Japanese but I don’t quite get to the nub of it. So I’ll have a go at writing it out here.

    The reason is that, bad though criticisms levelled at the conditions abounding in the UK civic-body (those in the Pacific Standard piece are just about right, but they do soft soap it a little) are, your typical Brit thinks, on reading them or hearing them “Oh, thank goodness for that, they managed to miss the really bad stuff, which being foreigners, they weren’t able to spot. It would be awful if they stumbled upon the truly nasty goings on. Another lucky escape !”.

    Well, I’ve done my best there. Readers will have to tell me if I’ve conveyed anything intelligible.

    1. HopeLB

      Great lines from that article, “Brexit Britain is an object lesson in how a modern nation fails. It’s the last act in a familiar unhappy marriage plot, with ruthless neoliberal economic orthodoxy wedded to the genteel thuggery of old-school conservative entitlement, combining to create something so much weirder, and so much worse, that the result can collapse an entire culture.”

    2. notabanker

      Being thoroughly American, visiting London for the first time in my 40’s then having the opportunity to live there for a number of years, I still haven’t found the words to capture the British persona. I must say I was astonished at my ignorance in not being able to recognize in it the first 3-6 months I lived there. I was fortunate they did not send me on a long boat ride back home.

      This piece does well to capture it. Much like the initial salty bite of a jalapeno, the humorous, sharp-witted eloquence soon gives way to the stinging reality that multiplies. Then the realization that it’s going to get worse and it’s not going away.

      “Well done” does not necessarily mean you have done something well.

      1. Wukchumni

        I spent a fair amount of time in the UK in the 1980’s, but haven’t been back since the early 90’s, so everything is stuck in time for me, which leaves me as a rip van winkle and then some in the discussion, and i’m not sure how much I took in by osmosis, but I could see the caliber of their humor was connected loosely by a common language, in particular in Private Eye, which tended to load satire on top of dollops of irony and name names in fashion unthought of back in the states, they weren’t stingy being scathing in a way that was accepted as coin of the realm in ribaldry. Or any page 3 girl showing off twice as much nipple as Janet, and you could look at her assets all day in the fishwrap if you wanted, whereas just a glimpse of breast, set our country into a tizzy.

    3. paul

      Having lived in ‘north britain’, (as gordon brown apologised for when asked) all of my life I say ,poco diferentte, un petit difference and finds it goes a long way wherever I travel. In spain, escocés gives you a little room.

      It’s total reflection, they comfortably deplore what they are told to fear.

      If you want to understand the UK, lookup lindsay anderson, malcolm mcdowell and remember his job interview if billy elliot have wanted to be a miner.

      1. paul

        I apologise for this last post:

        If you want to understand the UK, lookup lindsay anderson, malcolm mcdowell and remember his job interview if billy elliot have wanted to be a miner.

        I will always support the first half of the sentence.

            1. ambrit

              “Your keyboard rests, waiting,”
              “As you travel to the centre,”
              “Somewhen, somewhere, silence.”

                1. The Rev Kev

                  I’ve always been struck by a line from T.S Eliot where he say-

                  “Footfalls echo in the memory, down the passage we did not take, towards the door we never opened, into the rose garden.”

    4. Watt4Bob

      I’ve often thought that what Britain and Japan share in an almost absolute parallel is what Gertrude Stein called ‘The daily island life” which includes the acceptance of the fact that there is obviously a finite amount of everything, including social space.

      This, as opposed to the USA where there is always someplace to go when you’ve worn out your welcome, so to speak.

      Both Brits and Japanese understand that every square inch of their countries is strictly accounted for, every thing and every person has its place and under such circumstances, strict social etiquette is one of the ways to keep the tensions inherent in daily life from becoming ‘disruptive’.

      It could be that Japan has, so far, not reached the point where there is any question that commitment to maintaining ‘face’ means tacitly allowing others to maintain ‘face’.

      It could be that allowing others to maintain ‘face’ in the situation where their actions deserve criticism, (from western point of view) to the Japanese seems a more advantageous tactic than open, public criticism.

      In other words, to a Japanese, it’s of no advantage to society as a whole to be perceived as being led by inept, corrupt, and embarrassing leaders, so it is wiser to put effort into keep criticism under strict, self-imposed control.

      It seems to me that the British had, at one time, that same sort of unspoken support for order above all, much like the Japanese, but conditions for people at the bottom of the social order have deteriorated more in Britain than in Japan, and one of the results has been an erosion of the perceived value of being polite to those who wield power.

      Off the top of my head, but something I’ve thought about…

      1. John

        Both Japan and UK thinned their populations of anyone that talked back or acted above their station. Death or transportation was the usual method. I remember seeing a sword called the “oil seller” in a Tokyo museum. Samurai, who had a new sword, wanted to test it. An oil seller came along who wasn’t properly deferential. After using the sword to split him vertically, they decided to name the sword for the amazing vertical cut. Interesting museum exhibit.
        For UK, check out 18 and 19th Century hanging and transportation offenses.

      2. Cal2

        “as opposed to the USA where there is always someplace to go when you’ve worn out your welcome, so to speak”

        Just come to San Francisco, where you can join the human detritus that can’t make it anywhere else and the city will spend upwards of $70,000 on you, per year in services, to and including free syringes, food, clothing, phones, translations services and district attorneys who will fight ICE for you. Millions screwed.

        “San Francisco has more drug addicts than it has students enrolled in its public high schools, the city Health Department’s latest estimates conclude.

        There are about 24,500 injection drug users in San Francisco — that’s about 8,500 more people than the nearly 16,000 students enrolled in San Francisco Unified School District’s 15 high schools and illustrates the scope of the problem on the city’s streets.

        It’s also an increase of about 2,000 serious drug users since 2012, the last time a study was done.”

    5. flora

      Yes, that conveys a great deal. In the US I’d compare it to the situation of a successful, wealthy, and grudgingly respected family being criticized for all sorts of superficial failings by the less successful, and thinking to themselves, “of course, we have to let the little people complain. Fortunately, the little people don’t know the half of it, thank god.”

      Then again, I may have missed your point entirely.

      1. Clive

        No, that’s it! Thank goodness at least one person joined the dots in my ramblings. Yes, people (outside) being oblivious because they’ve convinced themselves they know the worst.

        1. newcatty

          Clive and flora, it seems, that the dots are connected by you both. As the US bottom class continues to fall apart, it seems that the people in that class are swimming in the emptying pool as fast as they can. Those that are still able to swim, that is…I have a theory: Americans have been so saturated with propaganda with the American Way, that they can’t face realities that the families with wealth, and so power, really don’t care( sure there are rare exceptions) about that bottom class at all. It’s become easier to fool most of the people, most of the time. The tactics and methods are known. Continue to bottom out the bottom class, including those who”see” themselves as middle class and you have weakened people’s power to believe in their own worth. It is hard, or impossible, to change a person’s mind to admitting their view of the “grudgingly respected families of wealth” and power are going to ignore little people’s despair. Its like believing someone who is supposed to love you has cheated, or hurt or betrayed you. A person of the Greatest Generation once revealed her mindset of how she had reconciled income inequality. She explained: “The rich make the world go around”. She and her circle of friends, and most of her family, showed that belief everyday. An amusing example, imo, was in their small society the deference shown to any visitors to the house that had any more income then they did. And the blatant disdain and, in some cases, racist prejudice toward anyone of color, or in a service capacity to them. I remember one of many instances, while out to dinner with them, that I said thank you to a server and smiled at him. The cold , and sudden silence, at the table was deafening.

          1. Clive

            I think it was almost imperceptible yet in some circumstances vitality important unwritten rules like in your last point which drove many, including the likes of George Soros utterly demented in trying to fit in, let alone prosper, in what is usually referred to, incorrectly, as the “establishment” in Britain. It’s more what used to be termed “society” — as in a derivation of “high society” but actually encompasses several class and wealth layers.

            Things like being beastly to your servants or, as a minimum, not — ever — demonstrations, validation or acknowledgement of their humanity. I think it led to his harbouring of a spectacular grudge, perfectly understandable of course, but not containing the seeds of happiness or even comprehension. What in-group and, regrettable it is to say it but almost inevitably, only native citizens appreciate, without ever needing to be told or get explained, is you just ignore people like that (members of the so-called “society”). You don’t get entangled with them if you don’t have to. If you do have to, you play their game and take them for a well-deserved ride. Never, ever, do you have to allow them to get under your skin. If you do, you’re sunk.

            1. newcatty

              Thank you, Clive. Take them for a ride…seems like a good idea. I think ignoring them is a grand idea. It takes time and a good bit of evolving maturity to not let them under one’s skin. Think it’s related to “to thineself be true”. Observe, also, that if one is not cynical and mean spirited, then it takes awareness to not fight fire with fire. Think lots of good people can give in to that defense.

            2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              Americans arent taught Political Science.

              This is whats taking so long.

              The revolution is coming, Comrades, one disaffected member of the Public at a time.

          2. flora

            Yes, I think the one off-note in the Pacific Standard ‘Austerity’ article is this:

            Right now the government is collapsing because nobody knows how to do Brexit, because there was never a plan, because some entitled, invertebrate Tory scumbags screwed the country for nine years and have no idea how to clean up their mess.

            I think the ultras and the ERG have had no-deal Brexit as their plan all along, and May is delivering that (while claiming not) by running out the clock. My opinion.

            There’s this, for example:

    6. ex-PFC Chuck

      The tenor for her [Theresa May’s] leadership can best be summed up by her first speech to her party conference, where she delivered wobbly platitudes in front of a giant sign reading “BUILDING A COUNTRY THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE.” As her speech proceeded, various letters on the sign gradually wobbled and fell off, leaving us with: “A CTRY THA ORKS OR REYON.”

      What an ironic metaphor!

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        Universe is beautiful, innit?
        random accidents produce Lewis Carrolisms on teevee that contain more useful information than the canned piety in the foreground.

        I saw a local news thing when i was a kid…reporter in a field for some reason, and two “hung” dogs(in flagrante delicto, as it were) come running/hopping/jerking by behind him.

    7. Lee

      The author rightly rails against the neoliberal British elite but spares the EU elite. Are they not themselves austerians? I would point to Greece as a prime example.

      Is it not possible that challenging neoliberal policies within a given member nation is constrained by the EU itself? As one with but a rudimentary understanding of this situation, it does seem that the left has been remiss in developing an internationalist strategy to the extent that multi-national capital has done. Or is it up against some insurmountable obstacles that precludes it from making progressive reforms either EU-wide or within a given nation by currently available political mechanisms?

      1. paul

        That is playing into the EU myth.

        The EU has done nothing that its (selectively) represented member desired. the elites found common cause

        The angry canadian, mundell, gave them their thumenonuclear weapon,the euro’, which has done little but entrench oligarchy.

  6. Mark Alexander

    Re: layoffs

    I was laid off a couple of times (by the same company!) in Silicon Valley in the 90s and 2000s. Both times I got lucky and found another job just before the money ran out. I don’t think I would be so lucky now.

    I would have been glad to have had a reduced salary instead of being laid off; it would have been much less disruptive for those of us who lost our jobs. And why didn’t the CEOs and other top managers, who were being paid 100 times as much as us peons, offer to reduce their salaries as well? I don’t think this has ever happened in Silicon Valley, but I could be wrong about that.

    It also occurred to me that it these layoffs were often due to huge mistakes on the part of management, yet the peons were forced to pay for these mistakes. My last employer, a big software company in Palo Alto, was guilty of this several times. They kept acquiring smaller companies that had unrelated — or very remotely related — products. Then when these new sub-companies failed to thrive under the new bureaucracy, management would lay off the entire team and kill their products. It would have been more fair for the CEO and his toadies (yes, I do know what this word means!) to have resigned over their stupid ideas.

    1. Charger01

      yes, I do know what this word means!

      I adore the fact that everyone knows the context of that phrase, thanks to Bari Weiss.

    2. Chris Cosmos

      The American Dream for the hustlers, con-artists, and the generally ambitious is to dominate others and surround yourself with hypocrites, flatters and toadies. The dominant technique for dealing with problems is to blame others and the dominant technique for workers is “cover your ass.” Any bit of compassion, other than the crocodile tears all managers in the US workplace are schooled in, is simply bad form in the American workplace. Mind you, it happens, and even in small very old-school tech company I worked for back in the day, it did happen regularly. Once it was bought up by a big corporation–that stopped on a dime.

    3. Craig H.

      You may know what a toady is but they aren’t toadies. There actually is not one word in English to describe a person who defers without exception to those above them in the hierarchy and always treats everyone below them as means, not ends. Maybe they have one in German?

      i·ro·ny /ˈīrənē/


      the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

      ““Don’t go overboard with the gratitude,” he rejoined with heavy irony”
      synonyms: sarcasm, sardonicism, dryness, causticity, sharpness, acerbity, acid, bitterness, trenchancy, mordancy, cynicism;

      a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.

      “the irony is that I thought he could help me”
      synonyms: paradox, paradoxical nature, incongruity, incongruousness, peculiarity

      a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character.

      (Socratic irony is something else and it’s a little too much for this text box)

      1. pretzelattack

        i think the word toady describes a range of sycophantic behaviors; and in varying degrees; one need not be all toady all the time. it’s quite possible that one or more of the purported toadies backed a different sports team, or had a mild disgreement about a movie, with the ceo in question.

        1. newcatty

          Some of the toadies, in the service to those “above” them in the hierarchy, are going to be ironically surprised when they realize that they are toadies slowly boiling in the warm water of their little pots.

      2. rtah100

        I think the words “sycophant” and “henchman” come close from opposite sides of the meaning and perhaps “lickspittle” closest.

        Your first definition of irony is sarcasm. Not irony.

      3. witters

        All that there is to Socratic irony is in the following from Socrates: “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”

  7. Wukchumni

    Montana veterinarians bring nearly frozen, unresponsive cat back to life (video)
    What a story!

    Felt like Gulliver, as I had a five feline night pinning me down on the bedspread, as the polar vortex swung low and if you add in the wimp chill factor of the outside temp being in the high 20’s, it made for a good group warmth strategy.

    1. flaesq

      I’m happy Lambert and Yves are curating these. I suspect that if one of these kitty stories turned out badly I’d lose it for the day.

    2. Nancy Krame

      Before I even read it I thought the survivor was probably a “fluffy” cat. I would guess a Norweigian Forest Cat. Their fur is long and thick in winter and the outer layer is waterproof which prevents frostbite. They are genetically engineered over centuries to survive the cold and supposedly were used as ship’s cats by the vikings.

  8. Informed Consent

    Report of the Independent Expert . . .

    Jump to p. 13-14 for the key role of US sanctions/extortion leading to/creating the economic catastrophe in Venezuela:

    “Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns with the intention of forcing them to surrender. Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees. . . . It is the latter, geopolitical system that generates geopolitical crimes, hitherto in total impunity.”

    “Sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An investigation by that Court would be appropriate, but the geopolitical submissiveness of the Court may prevent this.”

    Of course, none of this is news to NC readers, but it’s still thrilling (in a sense) to see those crimes called out by the UN rapporteur. That the system that protect the assailants, and imposes staggering obstacles to justice, are perhaps the real reasons Washington and its clients have attempted to bury this report.

    Everyone knows US doesn’t give a damn about international law, human rights, and the like, but the aire of “we’re doing this for the right reasons” hangs heavy over its wretched, greed-induced violence.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Well, it is violence of a sort but the country can surrender and not suffer raping and looting–well, some looting for sure but at least the raping has been eliminated. Washington is the seat of the Imperial Court and all countries in the world must submit to its dictats “or else.” The traditional “or else” was bribery, covert ops to overthrow the government starting with financing opposition groups, ending with attempted coups and either proxy war as in Syria or direct invasion like Iraq and all things in between.

      Once Washington championed (in the main) international law and the desire to create a more convivial world. Today there is no such thing as international law or rules of the road other than Washington’s dictats and certainly not even the slightest interest in creating a convivial world–quite the opposite.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Good thing that the Italians weren’t handing out cookies to the yellow vests. Or croissants. I have no idea what Macron thinks he is doing. He has enough problems with internal disorders but now he is going out of his way to pick a fight with Germany by nearly derailing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline this week. So much for that friendship treaty.

  9. Wukchumni

    I’m 9 years old and my little league team went to an Angels game and we got there early for batting practice and were watching from about 50 rows up, and a teammate standing next to me yelled out: “Hey Frank Robinson, throw me a ball”

    …and almost before he got done saying it, a perfect throw came our way and the recipient never moved his outstretched glove an inch

    No player has title to real estate in a ballpark, but he owned the plate.


    1. Left in Wisconsin

      I loved the 1966 Orioles. I remember smuggling my transistor radio to school during the World Series that year (must have been 2nd grade if I do the math right). Because of course they played World Series games during the day back then.

      1. Wukchumni

        The Orioles catcher on those great teams was a fellow that lived a few miles away from us named Andy Etchebarren, to jog your memory banks.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          For sure.
          Boog Powell, Davey Johnson, Louie Aparicio and Brooks R on the infield, Frank, Paul Blair and Curt Blefary in the outfield. Unbelievable pitching: Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, 2 other guys whose names escape me. Don’t remember any relievers. Did teams use relievers back then?

  10. Yikes

    In praise of carbon: Bio-Char, okay, but agree not enough. Pyrolosates: Yikes! Anyone recall the Chinese made wall board environmental disaster? Getting heavy metals, nearly indestructible PCBs, etc out of any carbon based product, and stopping them from releasing same back into environment when exposed to human activity is going to be a real trick.

  11. voteforno6

    Re: America faces a battle to find buyers for its bonds

    MMT is a rather helpful lens through which to read this article. In fact, one of the comments to the article is already thinking along those lines:

    Sound of the Suburbs
    3 hours ago

    Money comes out of nothing and is just numbers typed in at a keyboard.

    When the bankers were in trouble, the central bankers typed in a couple of trillion to help them out.

    Strange things happen when money is involved and you have to pay attention to see what can be done and what is done.

    While Europe rebuilt itself with aid from the US Marshall Plan, the Japanese central bank just created the money to sort out its banks and clear down the war debts. Japan then rebuilt itself with the money banks create from loans.

    In those days Japan was far enough away so that no one noticed what was going on over there, but the history is still there in today’s globalised world.

    Japan didn’t issue Government bonds until 1965 and there was no Government debt, the central bank just created the money for them.

    It worked very well and Japan was very successful.

    There doesn’t even have to be Government debt.

    Why do we make things so difficult?

    I wasn’t aware of Japan’s history in this regard. If true, it’s very interesting context to this issue.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It would appear, from the above, that before 1965, without any Government debt, there was not private sector saving (leaving out the foreingers for now), in Japan.

      Unless, they had a different system or something.

      1. John k

        (Sovereign) Gov doesn’t need to borrow to spend, so doesn’t need debt.
        Just spend into the private sector enough to create full employment.
        Some of what gov spends can, if private sector prefers, be saved.
        In this case gov would just have to spend a bit more to effect full employment.
        So at some point Japan decided to borrow, and now has large debt at extremely low interest.
        They can at any time exchange currency for all the issued debt, and once again owe nothing, leaving private sector holding paper paying no interest instead of paper paying nearly no interest.

      2. José

        If the government doesn’t issue debt (that drains reserves) then all of the government’s deficit spending has as its counterpart an increase in commercial bank reserves, deposited at the central bank.

        The increase in the private sector’s net saving is thus in the form of commercial bank reserves (a credit on the government sector) – instead of government bonds or bills.

        And if the central bank doesn’t pay interest on those reserves then the overnight interest rate will fall to zero.

        I guess Warren Mosler, founding father of MMT, would have liked to see the Japanese economy at work before 1965.

    2. Tom Doak

      “Money comes out of nothing and is just numbers typed in at a keyboard.

      When the bankers were in trouble, the central bankers typed in a couple of trillion to help them out.”

      I realized this a few years ago when someone committed multiple wire frauds out of our business account, by forging emails to authorize overseas wire transfers. (Luckily for us, our bank still required us to be physically present to make such a transaction, so they couldn’t hold us accountable. It was either gross incompetence on the part of the bank, or an inside job.)

      It was clear that, by the time the FBI investigated, it was too late to stop the funds from going to the criminals. But I noted the ease with which the bank just re-credited our account for a couple hundred thousand dollars; it was clear they weren’t paying for the mistake, either. I have always wondered if the FBI had to approve of that correction, or whether the bank can do it anytime it wants.

    3. rtah100

      This is the Shimomuran economic system. It is fascinating. I stumbled across it during the GFC when I found Warren Mosler (PBUH).

      Shimomura was, IIRC, a Japanese economist. He propose the creation of “People’s equity” (this is how the financing line at the BoJ was described post-WW2, to avoid spooking the Yanks). This was BoJ MMT financing, initially implemented for the development of the Japanese colonies in Korea and Manchuria. They had fantastic industrialisation and growth and high living standards (held up as model cities for the Japanese and, I suspect and would be interested to read any research, probably also a lot better for the Chinese than the alternatives in the rump of China or the Treaty Ports).

      MMT needs a simple concept like people’s equity or commonwealth, to reach mass understanding.

        1. rtah100

          I don’t seem to be able to edit my post so please note that because of deficiencies in its author, the “wider overview” sentence has accidentally become the specific PDF article and the credit “All by George Tait Edwards…” sentence now links to GTE’s Gresham College materials on the subject.

  12. David

    Since you ask, yes, the gilets jaunes are still active, and they will be out in force again this weekend. But the nature of the game is changing, and people are now starting to focus rather more on the medium to long-term political consequences of the movement, including a probable GJ list in the forthcoming European elections, where Macron’s party is already running second to Le Pen’s.
    There was an article on the site of Le Monde this morning which I’d really recommend, even if you have to use Google Translate. It’s an interview with a noted sociologist, Nicolas Duvoux, who has made a special study of popular movements. He argues, in essence, that through the GJs, what the French call the “popular” classes are once again finding a degree of unity and a voice after decades of fragmentation and marginalisation. Up until the 1980s there was a clear class structure to French politics, with a fairly well-defined working class, which was overwhelmingly white (as was the country as a whole), largely masculine, since most jobs were manual, and well organised by political parties and the trades unions. This homogeneity and organisation enabled successful struggles to be fought for better pay and conditions, right up to the 1980s. Since that time, the whole concept of a “working class” or even of “popular” classes has fractured. The increasing feminisation of the workforce, the arrival of mass cheap immigrant labour, and most of all the blurring of the previously clear lines between working class and middle class jobs, have all contributed to these fractures, and groups with much the same interests have been divided against each other. (Not mentioned is the fact that the mass political parties, notably the Communists, are no more, and that union membership has declined precipitately. In addition, of course, the successors of the traditional Left are quite uninterested in ordinary people, and their ideologies promote gender and racial conflict between them).
    But through personal contact, previously hostile groups have begun to realise that they actually have many of the same interests. Irrespective of skin colour, gender or theoretically different positions in the hierarchy. If you have financial problems at the end of every month, then you have something in common, whether you are living on social security or trying to manage on a tiny salary. This does not mean that interests are identical, simply that they are increasingly compatible. It’s the beginning of the rise of a new type of class consciousness.
    I find this analysis convincing, but also encouraging, because so long as the vast majority ordinary people were divided among themselves, change could not come. Now, and via a movement from below, some of the preconditions for change are being put in place.

    1. Ignacio

      Yep really interesting. There is the gender divide, the race-culture-religion divide and, do not forget but I believe this is also important, the age-divide. Whether we are able to surpass those divides that are constantly stimulated or not is an important question.

    2. Chris Cosmos

      That divide is still alive and well in the USA where identity politics rules. Why hasn’t the media done better work in fomenting divisions? All they have to do is copy US media and create all kinds of false narratives.

    3. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      According to a friend who is active within the GJ movement, the fact that people are mixing much more together is resulting in a growing understanding of such things as globalisation, the Euro & Germany’s trade surplus effect on France.

      People such as the Euro-sceptic economist Jacques Sapir who was recently booted off his website for rocking the boat, are apparently enjoying a growing audience.

    4. John k

      Working class movements in many places, us, Britain, Italy, France… Spain will follow France, Portugal will follow Spain. Unite! Nothing to lose but your chains… maybe a Latin euro?
      Will pain in Britain deter les autres? Maybe not…
      Is this like 90 years ago for bankers? Or… would we have listened to Bernie in 2008? AOC?

    5. skm

      What you say here David is what has been coming through loud and clear in the many interviews on French TV with GJs especially around the rond- points but also on demonstrations. This has what has been thrilling, for the reasons you say, but also a truly frightening for the elites because keeping people separated has been one of the methods – the effect of modern capitalism/mass media etc and the death of the “real left” in both France and Italy where huge communist parties really united people with a common cause. I had a lot of experience at ground level in both countries of this phenomenon – what has been lost has been huge in both cases. People in France have now made new friends and many express the thrill and surprise of finding they were not alone.
      This is a huge threat to Macron and his masters. He was put there to make sure the wealth continued to drift upwards and that the wealthy keep not paying taxes, he can have 3 or 4 hour meetings answering complaints from 300 people all he likes, the GJs and widespread supporters are not listening because they know his bottom line. The great thing is that the true cause of current collective misery is being recognised by the victims in France. The French media have been unable to hide this from the public as the BBC etc in the UK are so adept at doing (in the UK the attribution of fault is spread between the EU, immigration and benefit fraud to the absolute exclusion of all else!!!).
      Macron is in deep trouble on almost all fronts and continues to make ridiculous mistakes. You can use the word “socialism” in public in the US! Whatever next??? Maybe there`s hope?

  13. The Rev Kev

    “The strange superstitions of Chinese tech companies”

    Hah! Hah! Those stupid, superstitious Chinese. Believing in stuff like that! Good thing that we are much more advanced and civilized in the west. Well, except when we skip the 13th floor of a building and call something like 12b instead. Or where London’s Fleet Street, Oxford Street, Park Lane, Praed Street, St James’s Street, Haymarket and Grosvenor Street all skipped No. 13 as a building number. Or where U.S. Route 666 – the Devil’s Highway – was renumbered to U.S. Route 491 in 2003. Or where Ontario, Canada skips Highway 13 as a valid number. Or where the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago in Chicago, Illinois call the 13th floor the ‘Mezzanine’ floor. Or where Ronald Reagan was sworn in as Governor for California in accordance to what the stars said would be the best time and date.
    Stupid Flanders Chinese.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Or unmarried. America hasn’t had an unmarried President since 1861. James Buchanan in case you were wondering. Grover Cleveland does not count as he married while he was in the White House.

        1. Expat2uruguay

          If Grover Cleveland was unmarried when he was elected, then it would seem that he should count in your reply to a post about electing an unmarried president, yes?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      During the Cultural Revolution, it was supposed to been eradicated, under scientific Marxism, thus leapfrogging China over those superstitious western powers.

      It seems, today, a second Cultural Revolution is possible.

      And people with like Xi Jinping would probably be considered patriotic when it comes to their names, while billionaires with Western names like Jack would be shamed publicly by the Neo Red Guard, in that Second Cultural Revolution.

  14. Carla

    Re: EINO: The Medicare for All Act of 2019 — I wanted to be reassured by this piece, but it fell short for me. It’s my understanding that Jayapal has not permitted the premier single-payer organization in the country, Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), in the room with those writing the bill, nor have the authors of this piece, who head up, respectively, Healthcare-NOW and the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare, been included. The authors have been briefed by Jayapal’s staff, but haven’t actually seen the legislation, so I have to reserve judgement.

    The admission that invester-owned entities will be permitted by the new “Medicare for All” bill is very worrying. Seems to me it’s a major tactical error to cave to the “markets are God” people at the outset of hearings and negotiations. What does that leave proponents to bargain away? LTC coverage? Vision and dental? The definition of “for All”?

    Finally, Heathcare-Now has never impressed me. It’s PNHP lite.

    1. Otis B Driftwood

      Carla, below is a link to a Feb. 6 open letter from PHNP to Congresswoman Jayapal. They take issue with two provisions in the pending bill, as noted above.

      PHNP Open Letter regarding M4A Act of 2019

      I certainly don’t read their objections as nullification of the rest of the pending legislation. Quite the contrary. And I’m very much encouraged that Jayapal is taking a significant step toward M4A with this legislation.

    2. tegnost

      yeah, sounds more like a firewall to me…I’m sure jayapals district has a lot of biotech/medicos, minimum survivable wage in seattle being 100k and all…the construction workers I know who are still there are married to lawyers or tech broads and their meagre incomes are used for the vacation to hawaii, pre kid, and to camping gear/road trip camper truck post kid. Fixing the health care will break rice bowls everywhere in the FIRE and tech sectors and they’re not going to go without a fight.” We have to pass the bill to find out whats in it” re pelosi on the patriot act should be criminalized.
      jayapals district map…

      includes all the biotech on elliot bay, amazon, the Gates Foundation etc…

      zero chance imo that this will be a “good for me” kind of bill, almost certainly like all the rest of them, “good for thee”.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      I agree the inclusion of for-profits is worrisome, and with (ostensibly) good intentions regulations meant to limit profit-seeking behavior in the ACA quite frankly didn’t work.

      I do not share your skepticism of hcNOW however, and I didn’t get the feeling they hadn’t been consulted from the article, though they have not seen the actual final legislation as it will be presented (which may not even be complete?).

      PNHP are very effective advocates and I have used a lot of their materials and speakers. But they are a bit slippery, I have found, and I don’t like that. Although they are propagandists with whom I agree, nevertheless they are propagandists. (I could go into detail about certain slides they used in their presentations and the distortions they disseminate but won’t.)

      Not that I really trust the Dems for one minute, but it is refreshing to see it acknowledged that 676 really WAS more of a position paper than legislation.

      If we get something with meat on the bones that at least considers the concerns of three many different constituents, that will be progress in my book. Then we have something to fight for!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I do not share your skepticism of hcNOW however

        I think Healthcare-NOW is OK (although at the time there was another organization, whose name I have repressed, that tried to hijack their brand).

  15. allan

    What Words Are Worth: National Science Foundation Grant Abstracts Indicate Award Funding
    [J. Language and Social Psych.]

    Abstract: Can word patterns from grant abstracts predict National Science Foundation (NSF) funding? In an analysis of over 7.4 million words covering 19,569 proposals, this article presents evidence that the writing style of NSF grant abstracts corresponds to the amount of money received for the award. The data describe a clear relationship between word patterns and funding magnitude: Grant abstracts that are longer than the average abstract, contain fewer common words, and are written with more verbal certainty receive more money from the NSF (approximately $372 per one-word increase). While such language patterns correspond to award amount, they largely contradict the NSF’s call to communicate science in a plain manner, suggesting an inconsistency between the injunctive norms of the NSF and the descriptive norms of science writing. …

    Giving new meaning to pay by the word.
    Not the first time that funders say they want one thing and reward another.

    1. Ptb

      Yep. Out of curiosity, I read the grant applications for some tech projects I worked on. Besides being dense with buzzwords, there’s a striking parallel to the verbal convolutions found in patents. Not even remotely normal English. The writers are aware of this.

    2. Angie Neer

      This comment isn’t exactly about proposals, but when I worked at an outfit that depended on government research contracts, I was taught that the most important words in any report are “more research is needed.”

  16. lakecabs

    How can stealing drivers tips not be fraud?

    They need to tell the tipper that Jeff Bezos gets the tip.

    He needs the money.

    1. cnchal

      > How can stealing drivers tips not be fraud?

      That’s life on the plantation.

      Drivers have long suspected that Amazon uses their tips to hit promised wage targets, according to five former and current drivers who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

      It has been hard for drivers to prove — the company does not provide them a breakdown of their compensation beyond showing the total paid out, citing privacy concerns.

      Tied to the whipping post. By the way, those privacy concerns that Amazon cites, is really about drivers not being able to compare pay stubs to see the ripp-offery happening in real time.

  17. jsn

    Tett in the Financial Times: “The good news is that America’s domestic savers have been enthusiastically jumping into the gap: by November last year, American households held nearly $2.3tn in Treasuries, up from $1.9tn in January.”

    Exactly which American households?

    1. georgieboy

      Look up the Treasury Direct website.

      People who save can buy small dollar amounts of US T-Bills and Bonds that earn more than bank savings accounts. Minimum purchase $100. No state or local tax on interest income, which boosts return in states like California or NY.

      The account at Treasury Direct can be linked — if you want — to your bank account for debit and credit upon maturity. Or you can keep the cash with Treasury and earn zero — just like your bank has been paying since Ben Bernanke ran the show at the Fed.

      Concerned about access to your cash in an emergency? Minimum maturity is typically 4 weeks. Keep rolling the 1-month Bills over if need be for semi-emergency money.

      There has indeed been steady trend in ‘little people’ moving money away from the banks, which is why bank rates are finally starting to creep up.

      1. jsn

        No doubt it is small savers in $100 increments who’ve just soaked up an extra $0.4T since January, must be the bonuses all those minimum wage workers got from the Trump tax cuts.

    2. ewmayer

      Suggest you read Wolf Richter’s latest installment in his ongoing “who is buying all this newly-issued debt?” series of articles:

      American banks (very large holders), hedge funds, pension funds, mutual funds, and other institutions along with individual investors in their brokerage accounts or at their accounts with the US Treasury were huge net buyers, while nearly everyone else was selling, increasing their holdings by $1.36 trillion over the 12-month period. These American entities combined owned the remainder of the US gross national debt, $7.5 trillion, or 34.4% of the total!

      When that appetite among American banks and other big institutions for US Treasury debt wanes, yields will rise because buyers will have to be lured into this market to absorb this flood of new securities on a weekly basis. But so far, so good – with the enormous appetite among American entities pushing down the 10-year Treasury yield today to 2.63%.

      When 3-year brokered CDs started to tickle the 3% mark last fall and the current “everything bubble” looking increasingly long in the tooth, I bought a decent-sized chunk of a 3.05% APY CD issue for my retirement account. This was via an intermediary, Morgan Stanley, who issued the particular CD I bought into, but the underlying is a mix of treasuries. So I, and millions of folks like me, are the buyers of all this new debt. With the Fed pushing up rates steadily over the last year or two, after nearly a decade of brutal interest-rate repression as part of the post-GFC bank bailout regime, even a historically low rate of 3% was looking pretty damn good for a full-faith-andcredit-style risk-free investment. Ergo, no lack of buyers.

  18. John Beech

    When the phones quit ringing in mid-2007, I immediately recognized what was happening and began cutting expenses. Said expenses included warehouse workers – fork lift operator, receiving, picking and packing, etc. This, just before Christmas. Horrible timing!

    Trained labor? No, not really as a warehouse employee can be trained up to satisfaction in less than a day. Today we have CNC machines because we make products right here in America and thus, labor is more skilled and consequently, a little harder to replace. However, when the phones stop ringing (or the orders stop flowing in from the website, same thing, different mechanism), we’ll have to do it again. Just as it happened in ’07, it’ll happen again – sigh.

    By mid-2008 things were so bad we cut advertising – as a rule, you don’t do this if you want to stay in business because advertising is the font of new business while good products and good service keep them coming back. Experience with 1993 and 2001 helped me react quickly and ruthlessly. We survived. Barely. It’s only now, 10 years later that we’re finally surpassing sales for back them. Lots has changed and it’s not been easy (remember, these last ten years have seen the rise companies from the orient that didn’t exist before that time, really tough competitors). The point being, absorbing the incoming attack also played a role, but I digress.

    If I were king for a day I’d do this; no layoffs. Instead, open the books to a government auditor to show business falling through the floor and instead of the employee being laid off and filing for unemployment, they keep working and government takes over their compensation (running it through my books). Not fair for me to benefit from their labor? Well no, but it’s not like they’re being productive toward my bottom line anyway so better this than laying them off and the society wide disruption this brings is my view.

    As for my pay – small company. Sometimes I make less that the least compensated, sometimes I make a lot more but never ever more than 4-5X so that 100X thing doesn’t apply. But if it did, the king would say, “Make do with the average compensation of the highest paid employees not being compensated for the duration.” In effect, this is my penalty for your role in this mess. Fair? Perfect? No, not really but surely better than how we do things now. The point being, this surely is better than folks getting laid off, losing their cars (e.g. the means of getting to and from work), their homes, etc. right?

    And once business picks up, the auditor sees this (this can certainly be managed by an algorithm, e.g. AI, if a human isn’t available for the first pass at the data) and the transition to fully private enterprise occurs smoothly and seamlessly. Speaking for myself, laying someone of just before Christmas ranks up there with the worst experiences of my life. Ever.

    1. tegnost

      certainly could be one leg of a jobs guarantee, infrastructure in place being utilized. Not necessarily a bad idea.

    2. Skip Intro

      During the GFC, German companies were able to put workers on half (or reduced) time, and the state picked up the difference in wages. That way the employer didn’t get a free ride, but the hardship, collapse of demand due to reduced wages, and damaging hysteresis effects were avoided.

      1. bob

        “During the GFC, German companies were able to….”

        Lay off all of their US employees because they didn’t have any sort of union.

    3. Grebo

      I wonder how this might be gamed. I also wonder what you would have these employees do when they are not required to fulfil orders. And is your army of auditors really adding value?

      I think a better approach might be to have a flexible Job Guarantee program where your slack employees could contribute to improving their community during the periods you don’t need them, which may be part of a week or part of a year.

    4. Oregoncharles

      It would be a counter-cyclical stimulus, helping to moderate recessions. Interesting idea, if we’re going to have the type of businesses we have now.

      I favor predominantly worker-owned and controlled businesses, but they would face the same dilemma in downturns. Preventing the financial machinations that cause the downturns would help a lot.

  19. L

    As a datapoint for “Democrats in Disarray” consider the following contrast. Yesterday Ed Markey and Alexandria Occasio Cortes introduced a Green New Deal which is an ambitious plan to get to 0% carbon emissions and literally save human life on this planet.

    Kamala Harris demanded that Aretha Franklin deserved the Congressional Gold Medal. Later on she said she was co-sponsoring the Green New Deal and sent out a tweet saying: “Our nation’s leaders are in a state of denial. We need to act.”

    I’m glad Harris is a cosponsor but there is a vast difference between writing legislation, and tweeting about it. One makes a difference, the other rakes in donations.

    1. Skip Intro

      On the other hand, if a shameless opportunist like Harris wants to jump on the bus despite Pelosi’s brazen mockery, it is good sign for the GND. It looks like they’re gonna have to go for redefining it, instead of ignoring it.

      1. Big River Bandido

        if a shameless opportunist like Harris wants to jump on the bus … it is good sign for the GND

        I’m not so sure. Johnny-come-latelys like Harris are silver-tongued with the talk, but in private negotiations they always walk the other way, and their influence in that direction is somehow, always, curiously decisive.

        Look at all those newly-elected House Democrats who pledged to support Medicare For All, and who are now betraying the voters — and Senate veterans, too, like Sherrod Brown. Same thing is happening with the entire Stop-Bernie Clown Car.

      2. notabanker

        Not really. Pelosi is the bogeyman so Harris, Beto et al can hoover up as much of the Sanders vote as possible in the primaries. There cannot be a majority first vote if the super delegates are to determine the convention outcome.

        Watch for a moderate Repub to jump on the bus, oppose Trump and campaign in states where you can declare at the polls in an obvious losing effort.

          1. Tom Doak

            I had the sound off on the video, but noticed that Booker did the hand-to-the-face tell just as he said we needed to lean in and support the GND.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “The sinking ship of self-interested super rich”

    Being of a wicked turn of mind, can you imagine what would happen if you got on the blower on that ship and said that the ship itself was sinking and half the lifeboats have already been gotten away? Enlightened business people and their collaborators in the worlds of charity, academia, media, government & think tanks talking about drives to do well and do good? I can imagine it now. It would be a bloodbath between the cabins and the lifeboats. Pirates would blush at the scene of the resulting rush to the lifeboats.

    1. newcatty

      The new Titanic.. Done with magical realism by Amazon production house. They could resurrect Johnny as an unsympathetic, this time, bloodthirsty pirate. Damsels in distress would , of course, be rich girls, one with a hear of gold, and another with a heart of ice. Sadly, gone are the days of women’s and children’s first…The lifeboats left would quickly be sold to the highest bidder. Johnny would invoke the pirate’s code…actually as the highest bidder, taking out his wicked knife, would say that be me! He would lead the girls, the cabin boys and barkeeps, the maids and the swabs into the lifeboats after emptying the pockets of the rest. He knows the way to a secret, private island owned by a billionaire he’s “visited” in the past…

  21. Chris Cosmos

    Seven Fixes for American Capitalism.

    I almost stopped when the article asked why people were upset since unemployment is down–this is typical of the urban media-drones writing these days for the propaganda organs. Do I have to spell out the fact that low pay and part time work and the fact that most people don’t have any wiggle room in their financial situation? Any mistake or disaster could put many of us on the street? Rising rates of depression, suicide, anxiety, drug addiction (including legal drugs), three years of a drop in life-expectancy, ridiculously expensive health-care, people foregoing procedures particularly dental care which, btw, my wife and I can no longer afford and so on and so on. Why should we be upset? We don’t live with mommy and daddy in a well-off suburb of NYC or Washington like the half-wits who wrote the article.

    Still, for half wit is better than none. As for the rest of the article, very weak, very shallow. My main critique is that no one currently in a position of power is interested in fixing capitalism other than doing some vigorous hand-waving (Democrats). Capitalism works very well, thank you, in enriching the capitalists and that’s the whole point. With a population that, despite the ills I listed above, is increasingly passive and fatalistic there is no pressure for reform, at best, the appearance of reform–a sort of Obamacare for capitalism. We don’t need to fix capitalism–it is too late for that. It has outlived its usefulness even if it were to bring back Roosevelt. Living a life based on selfishness and profit can no longer lead to anything but environmental disaster, perpetual war (for profit). There are other paths not mentioned in the article that would be more fruitful to allow capitalism to shift into something more fun for all of us.

    1. Eclair

      Come on, Chris, it’s Bloomberg. We read it to see what Capitalists are thinking and planning, and to skewer their plans. Which, BTW, you did very nicely, thanks!

      But, the article actually mentioned and discussed MMT! Which, even a year ago, would not have happened in a Bloomberg publication.

      And, you are correct, that ‘living a life based on selfishness and profit can no longer lead to anything but environmental disaster.’ There are no more ‘new worlds’ to conquer, no more ‘new territories’ to explore and exploit, and very few virgin forests left to steal, privatize and cut down. Well, there is Mars and the Moon; but setting up housekeeping in a place where you can’t breathe the air isn’t my definition of Paradise.

      We need to learn to live with what we have. To conserve, to nurture, to make do. To cooperate rather than compete. Otherwise, rather large numbers of us (and ‘us’ includes grizzly bears, salmon, elephants, eagles, orcas, dragon flies and the Amazon rain forest) will vanish forever. And only cockroaches, lice and their human equivalents will be left.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Is Capitalism a victim of its own success? How wrong am I to see ZIRP as meaning Capital is now a drug on the market?

  22. cm

    Surprised to see how successfully Wells Fargo is keeping their system outage out of the news. In their second day now. I suspect they are also lying about the cause of the outage.

  23. David H.

    Nothing on the “New Green Deal”? Nothing on trying to fix our “sprawled out” infrastructure? I guess my full time RVing days are coming to an end. I will now be forced to sit still in a house that uses way more energy than living out of my RV.

  24. rjs

    In Praise of Carbon advocates thousands of pyrolysis plants as a means of sequestering carbon…just a few weeks ago, we had a link that the Brits were sending their old tires to India and poisoning the population with their pyrolysis…someone ought to sort out the pros and cons..

  25. RUKidding

    “‘We won’: Landmark climate ruling as NSW court rejects coal mine”

    Thanks for this post. I have good friends who own a small farm south of Gloucester, NSW. Have been there twice and enjoyed bush walking in the wonderful, nearby Barrington Tops.

    My friends have been active in this and other anti-coal fights. You can see what they’ve done to large swaths of the once gorgeous and productive Hunter Valley (not too far south of Gloucester) with their strip coal mines. I recognized one friend of my friends in one of the photos in that article.

    Good on ’em! And may the fight continue for more of the same successes. Australia is being turned into one huge coal mine, which presents a myriad of problems.

    Have to write a congratulatory note to my mates.

    BTW, Sydney is spelled with a “y,” not an “i.”

  26. Oregoncharles

    Linked at “In Praise of Carbon,” Heinberg on a Green New Deal: A white paper from the Post Carbon Institute, dated 2008, is one of the sources. Includes discussion of the role of MMT – and the limitations, like energy and natural resources. He mentions that we’ve already considerably overshot the carrying capacity of Earth, so it isn’t going to be easy, at best.

    That may be what the political thrashing around is really about. I suspect that a lot of powerful people already know that.

  27. Oregoncharles

    “How To Think Clearly About Anti-Semitism Controversies In The Labour Party”
    OK, but mealy-mouthed. The “anti-semitism” charges are really just the Israeli government’s standard propaganda against anyone – ANYONE – who supports Palestinian rights, weaponized to serve the Blairite right wing of Labour and, of course, the Tories. Corbyn’s main mistake was in not slapping back hard enough.

    I was especially offended to discover that saying the Israeli government has “blood on its hands” has been called an anti-semitic reference to the “blood libel.” That’s idiotic to the point of really dishonest. It’s a reference to family-blog Shakespeare (MacBeth), a standard English cliche for “murderous” Which is a point of fact. It might be unwise to use it because it can be misrepresented, but it’s still a deliberate misrepresentation, and the author fails to say that. That’s what I mean by mealy-mouthed.

    In the end he’s supporting Corbyn because he’s a socialist, so I’m probably too harsh. But I’m not impressed with his approach.

  28. Stephen Haust

    RE: “” ; Gilets Jaunes

    I am rather disturbed by your use of as an apparently primary source. It’s not hard
    to understand what I take to be your reasoning and you do at least label it upfront as “OPINION”.

    On the other hand, readers should understand that is a site written in English by an
    American expatriate for other English speaking expatriates. The operators of this site, of course,
    have a right to their opinions and I’m sure they have consulted with friends of theirs who are
    French nationals. Yet, though I recognize what they say as being well-intentioned and maybe
    even generally accurate, I get an entirely different picture when looking at or listening to
    sources that are even more “local”.

    These include, for example, RT France and their streaming video coverage of the gilets
    jaunes protests. One can see innumerable instances of police aggression in these videos
    even though one video stream cannot cover everything.

    Another is Le Media ( There is an important interview there with Éric Hazan. It
    is on Youtube at Many other
    interviews and roundtables as well.

    On “Les Matins” at France Culture is an interview with David Dufresne who has been studying
    and tabulating the injuries and deaths.

    There is also Mediapart, which publishes in English as well as French. has incisive and informative interviews and talk shows.

    I apologize for my emphasis on French language sources but they are, importantly, what
    there is.

    And finally, if you want to see the deeply felt and pervasive anger at work, just watch a
    speech given by François Asselineau titled “François Asselineau analyse et répond aux vœux de Macron.” This also is on Youtube and though it is in French, that doesn’t really matter. Just
    watch and listen to it and you will find a completely nonviolent and exceptionally civilized
    expression of the anger at large over what the Macron gang has done. The body language
    and tone of voice in this piece is enough even to show any English speaker where, how and
    why the Gilets Jaunes movement has arisen. Try to listen to as much of this as you can but
    if you haven’t much time, you could start around 11:00.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > is a site written in English by an American expatriate for other English speaking expatriates

      Yes, The Local is for expatriates; I thought everybody knew that. My experience is that expat sources are often quite timely on civil disturbances, because their readership may wish to avoid them, and needs some sort of rudimentary understanding of causes for their own safety. Of course, this varies by the expat community and their country of choice, too.

      I don’t read French, along with most of our readership. Can you suggest some English-language sources? It wasn’t easy to find even what I was able to find.

  29. Plenue

    >OPINION: France’s ‘yellow vest’ conflict is heading into calamitous new territory The Local

    “Despite lurid claims on Gilets Jaunes sites, it is utterly wrong to say that the government or police have set out to suppress protest. All peaceful demonstrations, even those which were undeclared and illegal, have been allowed to proceed without police intervention.”

    Why do I suspect this claim isn’t true?

    1. Stephen Haust

      Where are these “Gilets Jaunes sites”? I’m sure I’ve missed something but I don’t
      know of any sites that could be characterized as such.
      Many sites discussing the issues but if GJ have no “leaders” how could they have sites?

      Please help me with this if you have the answer.

        1. Stephen Haust

          Thanks. I don’t use FB but it seems to me that anyone calling FB
          a “Gilets Jaunes” site is strtching the truth more than a little bit.

          Anyway, if you want to see what is going on, just watch the
          RT France live feed. Google Acte XIII RT

  30. ChrisPacific

    The ERG/Malthouse link on Brexit is surreal. The group is divided between two alternative plans, neither of which has even the smallest chance of passing muster with the EU and therefore of being implemented. Nevertheless the split has become so acrimonious that it threatens to break the group up. Some people take their unicorns very seriously, it appears.

  31. Ping

    THANK YOU for linking and their article about “anti-grizzly fever grips Wyoming”

    Louise Wilcox and her husband and colleagues have tirelessly, without compensation, done stellar work, indispensable top notch scientific work, exposing how wildlife research is manipulated to remove species protections for special interests and are at the forefront against powerful forces that wish to demolish the grizzlies, wolves, to better exploit the lands they inhabit, for wealthy trophy hunters etc…

    Their work has in large part been the foundation to protect vital populations.

    Please consider including this site when curating links. They come out with a new newsletter every week or so. And readers who care about wildlife, this site is a goldmine of information.

      1. skippy

        I can’t see it but I wrote something with that head line – classic …. considering the persons affiliations e.g. I may or not – own – it … its debatable …

    1. makedoanmend

      Thanks so much for the video.

      I don’t want to big-up Rep. Ocasio-Cortez as she still has to earn her spurs, so to speak. And celebrity isn’t necessarily a good thing any more.

      But I never thought I’d live to see the day that a legislator in a Western chamber would be so forthright and direct in highlighting the inequities of Western governments. I just want to be happy but I know we need to be cautious.

      Damn, she is making so many enemies so quickly. And that’s a good thing.

      1. skippy

        In my book shes got nothing to lose and is for all intents, due to age, has no strings attached. Mix that with her street smarts and intellectual capacity is a quantity the D.C. machine has not had to contend with for some time, atrophied capacity due to dominance rears it head.

        Understand the Obama factor due to long time expectations of some sort of FDR second coming, but, I think its prudent to support her all the same lest the usual suspects sow seeds of discord due to wobbliness.

        Especially sense she might embolden older states persons that have been hedging to be more bold in their actions.

        Seriously whats there to lose at this point …..

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