2:00PM Water Cooler 6/14/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this is a bit short because I was finishing up my status report on Grenfell Tower, and my sorta not review of Chris Arnade’s Dignity. I’ll see what I can do to fill this out later. –lambert UPDATE Sadly, I cannot. I must push along to other matters, and make it up to you on another day.


“The Political Economy Consequences of China’s Export Slowdown” (PDF) [Filipe R. Campante, Davin Chor, and Bingjing Li NBER]. From the abstract: “We exploit detailed customs data and the variation they reveal about Chinese prefectures’ underlying exposure to the global trade slowdown, in order to implement a shift-share instrumental variables strategy. Prefectures that experienced a more severe export slowdown witnessed a significant increase in incidents of labor strikes. This was accompanied by a heightened emphasis in such prefectures on upholding domestic stability, as evidenced from: (i) textual analysis measures we constructed from official annual work reports using machine-learning algorithms; and (ii) data we gathered on local fiscal expenditures channelled towards public security uses and social spending. The central government was subsequently more likely to replace the party secretary in prefectures that saw a high level of “excess strikes”, above what could be predicted from the observed export slowdown, suggesting that local leaders were held to account on yardsticks related to political stability.” • This reinforces both my priors: First, that an export slowdown will cause labor unrest; and second (suggested by David Harvey) that China’s surprisingly decentralized governing structures will absorb unrest before they reach XI and company.


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

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (average of five polls). As of June 14: Biden up 32.3% (32.2%) and Sanders down 16.5% ( 16.8%). Warren up 11.8% (10.8%), Buttigieg up 7.8% (7.2%), others Brownian motion. Of course, it’s absurd to track minute fluctuations at this point. although Harris looks like she’s sliding. Again, Warren’s jump over the last week isn’t Brownian; the chart makes that vivid.

* * *


Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren to introduce bill cancelling up to $50,000 in student debt for most borrowers” [MarketWatch]. “The Democratic Senator of Massachusetts plans to introduce legislation in the coming weeks that mirrors her presidential campaign proposal… Under the proposal Warren released as part of her presidential campaign in April, borrowers with a household income of less than $100,000 would have $50,000 of their student debt cancelled and borrowers with an income between $100,000 and $250,000 would be eligible for some student debt cancellation — though not the full $50,000. Borrowers earning $250,000 or more would receive no debt cancellation. Her campaign estimated the plan would cost $640 billion, which would be paid through a tax on the ultra-wealthy.” • I don’t think it makes sense to introduce free college without giving relief to those who, because they chose to be born at the wrong time, are subject to a lifetime of debt, so kudos to Warren. That said, note the complex eligibility requirements; Warren just can’t help herself. Also, of course, you can drown in an inch of water, so pragmatically, even $50,000 might not mean all that much, especially since servicers gotta servicer.

Warren (D)(2): “Elizabeth Warren’s plan to pass her plans” (interview) [Ezra Klein, Vox]. Klein: “Do you think that there’s a way to sequence your agenda such that you’re building momentum as opposed to losing it?” Warren: “Here’s my theory: It starts now. That’s what true grassroots building is about. Green New Deal. More and more people are in that fight and say that matters to me. Medicare-for-all, that fight that matters to me [No, it doesn’t. –lambert]. As those issues over the next year and a quarter get clearer, sharper, they’re issues worth fighting for, and issues where we truly have leadership on it, have people out there knocking doors over it…. You asked me about my theory about this. This is the importance of engaging everyone. The importance not just of talking to other senators and representatives but the importance of engaging people across this country.” • This language seems awfully vague, to me. For example, when Sanders says “Not me, us,” I know there’s a campaign structured to back the words up. I don’t get that sense with Warren. I also know that Sanders knows who his enemies are (“the billionaires”). Here again, Warren feels gauzy to me (“the wealthy”). And then there’s this. Warren: “I believe in markets… But markets without rules are theft.” This is silly. Markets with rules can be theft too! That’s what phishing equilibria are all about! (And the Bearded One would would argue that labor markets under capitalism are theft, by definition.) But I’d very much like to hear the views of readers less jaundiced than I am. Clearly Warren has a complex piece of policy in her head, and so she and Klein are soul-mates.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Training the Next Generation of Progressive Organizers” [The Intercept]. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 campaign are taking on the consultant class with a new initiative to train the next generation of progressive organizers and staffers. Movement School, a 10-week professional development program launched by Organize for Justice, the sister organization of Justice Democrats, is teaching fellows how to work as campaign managers, communications directors, and field directors. The Campaign Fellows program is meant to create a pathway for young activists from working-class backgrounds to enter official campaign roles and to preserve the lessons grassroots campaigns have learned throughout the years by passing them down to future staffers — all while setting up an alternative political infrastructure that operates outside of the Democratic Party.” • Good, though I’d love to see the curriculum. Here’s a link to Movement School site. Applications now open! (Sadly, there seems to be nothing behind the “Core Topics” and “Sample Sessions” icons on the Applications page.)

Stats Watch

Retail Sales, May 2019: “The latest retail sales report… mostly beat expectations in May and includes sharp upward revisions to April” [Econoday]. “[B]ack-to-back gains in April and May for the control group are a very positive indication for personal consumption expenditures and will be lifting second-quarter GDP estimates. Retail sales data had been jaggedly saw toothed since December’s collapse though the latest report, and its big upward revision, levels the view out to show a favorable consumer trend.”

Consumer Sentiment, June 2019 (Preliminary): “Consumer sentiment is falling back this month” [Econoday]. “Tariff uncertainty, whether over Mexico but especially over China, is behind the decline in sentiment according to the text of the report… But sentiment is steady enough in contrast to inflation expectations.”

Industrial Production, May 2019: “Industrial production proved mixed in May, up stronger-than-expected… at the headline level but up only a modest[lly] and as-expected… for manufacturing” [Econoday]. “Though mixed, this report should be taken at its headline face value, that is [the] overall rise is respectable enough, and though manufacturing was soft the gains for vehicles and hi-tech are positive.”

Business Inventories, April 2019: “Business inventories rose as-expected… in April which will be a positive input for second-quarter GDP though the gain hints at the risk of overhang” [Econoday].

Tech: “Tech Giants Amass a Lobbying Army for an Epic Washington Battle” [New York Times]. “The four companies spent a combined $55 million on lobbying last year, doubling their combined spending of $27.4 million in 2016, and some are spending at a higher rate so far this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks lobbying and political contributions. That puts them on a par with long-established lobbying powerhouses like the defense, automobile and banking industries…. Of the 238 people registered to lobby for the four companies in the first three months of this year — both in-house employees and those on contract from lobbying and law firms — about 75 percent formerly served in the government or on political campaigns, according to an analysis of lobbying and employment records. Many worked in offices or for officials who could have a hand in deciding the course of the new governmental scrutiny.” • Flexians.

Tech: Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair:

Tech: “How AI is catching people who cheat on their diets, job searches and school work” [MarketWatch]. “Darrell West, founding director of the Brooking Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation, said the use of artificial intelligence is widespread. It powers robo-advisers like Betterment and Wealth, it assists in medical diagnoses, and it aids school systems when they sort through students’ ranked preferences for charter schools…. He’s not surprised the technology is being deployed against dishonesty. ‘Artificial intelligence can detect cheating just because it can compare what we say with what we do.’… ‘Everybody lies to themselves about various things,’ said West. ‘We lapse, we snack, we sneak that candy bar. …People want to present an image of themselves that’s not exactly true.'” • And you can bet that AI technology will be applied to people when they buy candy bars, and not when they write the algos for financial advice, medical diagnosis, or charter schools.

Honey for the Bears: “Business conditions are at their worst level since the 2008 financial crisis, says Morgan Stanley” [Bloomberg]. “The business environment is deteriorating — fast. That is according to a gauge of business conditions tracked by Morgan Stanley, which said in a recent note that its proprietary Business Conditions Index, or MSBCI, fell 32 points last month, marking its sharpest collapse since the metric was formulated. The gauge touched its lowest point since the 2007-08 financial crisis. A separate composite business-condition index also fell by the most since 2008 and hit its lowest level since February of 2016…. Swirling anxiety around the U.S.’s trade relationship with China and other major international counterparts has hurt the confidence of business leaders because the unresolved tariff battles have made it difficult for corporate chieftains to develop business strategies and forced many companies to alter their supply chains.” • And to think I thought entrepreneurialism was all about embracing risk.

Honey for the Bears: “Surging Cash Piles Leave States as Ready as Ever for a Recession” [Bloomberg]. “If a recession comes soon, America’s state governments are better prepared than ever. With most states seeing tax collections rise at a faster-than-expected pace, governments have been setting aside more money to help them avert deep spending cuts the next time the economy contracts. Those so-called rainy-day funds have swelled to about $68.2 billion, with the median state having enough to cover about 7.5% of its annual budget, the most on record…. The financial improvements have been lauded on Wall Street, where investors have been demanding smaller yield penalties from some states that were hard hit by the last recession as money floods into the $3.8 trillion municipal-debt market.”


SlayTheSmaugs threw this over the transom:

Websites I check obsessively (daily) are https://nsidc.org/greenland-today/ and http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

If you look at the Greenland Surface Melt Extent Interactive Chart in the Greenland article–read the article too if you want, the tone is kind of interesting–you’ll see that the 2010+ data seems to reflect a different pattern than 1980-2010, as if we’re in a new climate pattern.

Similarly, if you go to the arctic site, and look in the right hand column, second graphic down, “Sea Ice Data and Analysis Tools”, and click on it, you can get an interactive version of the

Charctic Interactive Sea Ice Graph and if you activate the years 2010 through now, it also looks like we’re in a different era of melting than 1980-2010.

Interestingly, the antarctic isn’t the same. At the top of the Charctic Interactive Sea Ice Graph, click the Antarctic button and again add 2010-present, it looks like the ice extent is more extreme–often outside the decile range–but in both directions, more and less ice. 2017-present is largely outside the decile to more melting/less ice range, but that’s too short a span to make a pattern given the variability overall.

I’m not sure I know how to interpret these charts (which are a great resource). What do readers think?

“Plant / Life: Jo Ferguson” [The Planthunter]. “‘To me the act of gardening is totally immersive and hypnotising. It takes me deeply into the realms of subconscious and represents beauty, love and freedom,’ Jo says. ‘I am interested in creating gardens that connect people to the feelings in their bodies of past memories, to help them feel safe and uplifted in the joy and beauty of nature.'”


“That chocolate cake won’t last forever, but the chemicals in it might” [Grist]. “Researchers have long known that PFAS are pretty ubiquitous. The so-called ‘forever chemicals’ have been used in various types of manufacturing including fire-fighting foams, non-stick products such as certain types of food packaging. A recent study found that an estimated 95 percent of the population has a detectable level of PFAS in their blood. That’s bad news considering the chemicals have been associated with serious health problems including cancer…. The Food and Drug Association recently decided to test 91 common food items for PFAS and 14 products came back positive…. The worst culprit with — so sorry — chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, which tested at levels 250 times higher than the federal guidelines for PFAS in drinking water.” • Convenience comes at a price.

“All Flint water crisis criminal charges dismissed by attorney general’s office — for now” [Detroit Free Press]. “The [Michigan Attorney General’s Office] announced on Thursday the dismissal of charges against all eight remaining defendants, including involuntary manslaughter charges against Nick Lyon, the former director of the Department of Health and Human Services. Charges were also dismissed against other officials from the health department, plus two former Flint emergency managers and current or former employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the City of Flint…. Not all evidence was pursued and Todd Flood, Schuette’s special prosecutor, wrongly allowed private law firms representing former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and other defendants to have “a role in deciding what information would be turned over to law enforcement,” according to a joint statement from Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud, who is handling the criminal cases, and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who is assisting her.” • So the story is more encouraging than the headline. And but: “In a separate statement, [Democrat Attorney General Dana Nessel] said she wants Flint residents to know that ‘justice delayed is not always justice denied.'” • “Always” is doing a lot of work, there. We’ll see.

“Ecological Detectives Hunt for San Francisco’s Vanished Waterways” [Scientific American]. “We have so radically transformed our cities and towns that few visual clues remain to their natural landscapes and waterways. Creeks have been holstered into pipes. Wetlands have been filled with dirt and paved…. Today subverted water is reappearing in inconvenient ways because we have constrained the space it once had to ebb and flow, and climate change is amplifying storms and droughts. To cope, cities are increasingly funneling runoff into green infrastructure such as permeable pavement and bioswales (essentially shallow ditches dressed with water-loving plants). But a scientific research center, the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI), is proposing a more ambitious approach that involves redesigning cities to brace for bigger rainstorms, longer droughts and stronger heat waves. ‘We need to be surrounded by marshes and [tree] canopies and floodplains; those are the buffers,’ says Robin Grossinger, a historical ecologist at SFEI. ‘Otherwise our cities are brittle and actually multiply the intensity of environmental catastrophes.'” • Yep.


Nice to see Ed Harrison on TV. Here’s a link to RealVision with comments on the video below:

Class Warfare

“Home Internet Is Becoming a Luxury for the Wealthy” [OneZero]. “This year, 26% of U.S. adults who earn less than $30,000 said they’re “smartphone only” internet users. That’s up from 12% in 2013, 20% in 2015, and 21% in 2016. The number of smartphone-reliant people in the top income bracket of $75,000 sits at 6% — relatively unchanged from 5% in 2013…. This divide makes it crucial for certain websites, like government services or job boards, to function properly on mobile browsers. There are other issues for using smartphones as a primary way of connecting to the internet, including data caps and the ability to fill out online forms required for tasks like job applications….” • I don’t think it’s so much a matter of the mobile browser but the cellphone form factor, which is inferior in every way to a laptop, at leat for tasks requiring text entry or complex workflow.

“American tipping is rooted in slavery—and it still hurts workers today” [Ford Foundation]. “When the practice [of tipping] was brought to the United States in the 19th century, the American public was deeply uncomfortable with it. Many saw tipping as undemocratic and therefore un-American. A powerful anti-tipping movement erupted, fueled by the argument that employers, not customers, should be paying workers. But American restaurants and railway companies fought particularly hard to keep tipping, because it meant they didn’t have to pay recently freed black slaves who were now employed by those industries.”

“A Historic Breakthrough for Sex Workers’ Rights” [The New Republic]. “Back in February, advocates for sex worker rights in New York announced their intention to fully decriminalize prostitution in the state. But no one really suspected then that within two weeks, Democratic candidates for president would be pledging support for competing legislative visions of what they called (at times, incorrectly) sex work decriminalization. Quite suddenly, the enlightened thing to do—or at least to say you were doing—was to support these measures, a development that came as a shock even to many sex workers who had long campaigned for decriminalization.” • It will be interesting to see if this is brought up in the debates.

News of the Wired

“Chuck Jones’ 9 Rules For Drawing Road Runner Cartoons, or How to Create a Minimalist Masterpiece” [Open Culture]. Rule 5: “The Road Runner must stay on the road — otherwise, logically, he would not be called Road Runner.”

“This psychologist explains why people confess to crimes they didn’t commit” [Science]. “[Saul Kassin, a psychologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice] explained that false confessions are not rare: More than a quarter of the 365 people exonerated in recent decades by the nonprofit Innocence Project had confessed to their alleged crime. Drawing on more than 30 years of research, Kassin told the legal team how standard interrogation techniques combine psychological pressures and escape hatches that can easily cause an innocent person to confess. He explained how young people are particularly vulnerable to confessing, especially when stressed, tired, or traumatized. … [Kassin] began to wonder how often… confessions were genuine, after he learned about the Reid interrogation technique, the near-universal method taught to police. Its training manual—now in its fifth edition—was first published in 1962 by John Reid, a former Chicago detective and lie detector expert, and Northwestern University law professor Fred Inbau. ‘I was horrified,” Kassin says. “It was just like Milgram’s obedience studies, but worse.'” • I don’t think we’ve run this video in awhile, so here it is. “Don’t talk to the police”:

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (SlayTheSmaugs):

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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. willf

    Biden up 32.3% (33.2)


    Perhaps those numbers are transposed?

    Is Biden “up” by -0.9?

      1. Cal2

        Let’s see what happens to these Biden numbers as the default notices continue arriving in student debtor’s mailboxes.

        45 million student loans outstanding. 22% in default now.

        Spread the word. Joseph Biden is a puppet for bankers and the enemy of American students, their parents and their grandparents who co-signed loans.


        Saw a Jimmy Dore video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdmeV0GJ-oE) on Biden talking about Millennials who will be potentially 40% of voters in 2020. When asked about Millennials he says, and I quote: “The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break. No, no, I have no empathy for it. Give me a break.”

        “Oh, but you can apply for forgiveness”


        Public Service Loan Forgiveness cumulative borrowers: 890,516

        Borrowers who submitted applications: 41,221

        Number of applications denied: 32,409

        Borrowers who have received student loan forgiveness: 206

        Maybe some of those 206 might vote for him?

        What about the other 45 million?

        Nominate Bernie or Trump wins again.

  2. Phenix

    When is something not about AOC? I’m not a fan of her style. She is always front and center instead of the people she wants to represent. I’ll also be shocked if this isn’t a money grab even though I think she is really good making a pitch.

    1. a different chris

      “the people she wants to represent” should be famous for being not famous, in fact being almost completely ignored b/c “of color” or worse “female of color”.

      She’s a double minority also but young, attractive and feisty and thus draws cameras. If she didn’t speak into said cameras they are not suddenly going to switch to Tadisha the food worker from Compton.

      And last I heard what she want’s to represent is everybody, with her signature being the GND.

    2. willf

      If you’ll read the story, you’ll see the only link to Congressperson Ocasio Cortez is that this effort is coming from people who worked on her campaign, not AOC herself.

      The first sentence was truncated in the water cooler post above, it should read:

      LEAD ORGANIZERS FROM Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 campaign are taking on the consultant class with a new initiative to train the next generation of progressive organizers and staffers.”
      (Bold and capitalization are from the article.) AOC is not mentioned or quoted anywhere else in the article.

      It’s a good idea to be wary of politicians. Heck, looking back to Bill Clinton, and considering Obama, we know that the DNC has a long history of pushing forward personalities, not policies.

      That is NOT what is happening here.

      1. Phenix

        AOC and her campaign manager run the Justice Democrats. I am not by a computer so it’s hard to elaborate but this is a concern bin my progressive circles.

        1. Big River Bandido

          this is a concern bin [sic] my progressive circles

          I’m sure it is.

          A computer won’t help you much.

    3. Joe Well

      She can’t help it if the media and public fixate on her. Every politician is trying to get attention in the mainstream media and on social media.

    4. WheresOurTeddy

      “why is this attractive, well-spoken anti-oligarch populist who is trying to make this country better for all non-rich people being allowed to speak all the time?” – how you come off

    5. Mo's Bike Shop

      I’m a fan of her policies. (Fan only–I could quibble all night.) I’m not sure that someone who is barely six months from waitress to congressperson should be attributed with a ‘style’. If the Media can’t look away from her, good. Trump has used that fascination well. They never found that glamour in Kucinich, Wellstone, or even Bernie right now.

      The Media will be thrilled if they can build her up and then she loses 15 months from now. Maybe you can come back and cheer then.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Just following AOC’s twitter feed, she highlights plenty of people other than herself. That’s one of her gifts as a politician. (And of course her life story is an asset, too; nothing wrong with that.)

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      > When is something not about AOC?

      Um, even truncated, the subject of the sentence that begins “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 campaign are taking on the consultant class” is AOC’s campaign, not AOC the person. (You see, campaign staff are not mere extensions of candidates; they have an independent existence.) That’s why it’s filed under Realignment and Legitimacy, as opposed to 2019, where I tend to dump the daily doings of political figures.

      That said, I see nothing wrong with following AOC. She’s a very interesting politician.

  3. Cal2


    “She is always front and center instead of the people she wants to represent.”

    How about that darn cat that keeps burying Kamala Harris in kitty litter
    no matter how many funny noises she makes.

  4. pete

    Student loan cancellation is outrageous. Bankruptcy is the only good solution. I paid my entire way through and am still effectively unemployed.

    1. jrs

      can’t say how ridiculous it is for people earning over 100k to be getting any of these benefits. They are already life’s big winners anyway. Universal healthcare? Yes of course, if we can get it to happen, as it would TRULY be universal. But this is no such program (people who didn’t go to college or don’t have debt don’t benefit. They also aren’t rolling in 100-250k a year incomes in most cases).

      1. JohnnySacks

        $200k in debt is easy to get to for any college program required for any job that pays $100k a year salary. Add to that living in an environment where a basic 2br apartment costs $2500 a month. Doesn’t go that far, sorry, need to find a room mate and another relative willing to sell a cheap car. So Warren’s sliding scale eligibility will make any forgiveness crumbs on the floor.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > So Warren’s sliding scale eligibility will make any forgiveness crumbs on the floor.

          Gotta have that complex eligibility determination. Gotta separate the deserving from the undeserving.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        Warren’s concern for the 100K a year people being able to buy that second house sooner is really inspiring stuff.

        Meanwhile Bernie is talking about the Oligarchy and how to destroy it, but LIZ HAS DETAILED POLICIES YOU GUYS

        Republican less than 20 years ago.

      3. Big River Bandido

        This is silly. The wealthy always benefit from policy. To oppose a policy because wealthy people might benefit…well, that’s just desperately wanting an excuse not to do something. Gatekeeping is rarely well-intentioned to be begin with, and even when it is, it eventually fails because the gatekeepers eventually rewrite the rules to suit themselves. Truly universal policies are built on stronger and broader political foundations, and are thus much more likely to be implemented and preserved.

        This is to say nothing of the elephant in the room: the threat to the entire nation posed by such widespread, crippling debt. We all share in that threat. I personally don’t have one dirty old dime of student debt, but I’d be a fool to think myself immune from its effects on the economy and the American body politic.

        1. Yves Smith

          It isn’t just the wealthy. It’s people who are “dumb” enough to “invest” in costly grad degrees like architecture and veterinary medicine where the pay is nowhere near high enough for you to be able to pay off your loans. Becoming a vet costs more than getting an MD.

      4. Procopius

        Denying benefits to people based on some criterion makes the program more expensive and more likely to discourage people who do qualify. It makes it harder to submit an application and easier for administrators to deny benefits. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

    2. Summer

      It is what it is at this point. Will be interesting to see how it turns out.

      It’s supposed to be something all the kiddies are for….but I can’t imagine a more conflicted group than young ones (and older) who had the ability and desire to go to college but didn’t because it wasn’t affordable and going into that much debt actually bothered them. Or the ones who were accepted to a great schoool that they thought they couldn’t afford and went somewhere else.
      I wonder how many of them there are compared the ones with outstanding loans.

      1. jrs

        If they even knew about the option of going into such debt (dubious benefit that it is – might be benefit, might be curse), but that’s all about cultural capital, knowing one’s ins and outs, not everyone has it. They might just have thought “parents are kicking me out, I can’t go to school full time anymore, I need a job so I can get a roof over my head …”

        The one’s who went to the cheapest school also have to be many. And maybe it took them 6 years to graduate if they did, they paid for that choosing the cheapest option in other forms afterall, because “cheap” state schools are often seriously overcrowded, another issue noone talks about.

        1. Summer

          There are possibly going to be just as many over 40 people with outstanding student debt.

          They should give back money they garnished from people’s SS over student loans.

        2. anon in so cal

          The “cheap” state school classrooms are very overcrowded, and, on some campuses at least, the classrooms are in disrepair. Many, many of these students work part-time or even full-time, to put themselves through school. On one Cal State campus, the median parental income is $36,900.

          The student population on many of these campuses is predominantly female. One campus, for example, is 70% female. One of the several reasons for this trend is that many male students apparently feel pressured to immediately earn money and view college as preventing them from this and as burdening them with debt.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        “Or the ones who were accepted to a great schoool that they thought they couldn’t afford and went somewhere else.
        I wonder how many of them there are compared the ones with outstanding loans.”
        here’s one.
        i’d be interested to know those numbers.
        my folks were in their fiscally conservative period.
        meaning, of course, “well, i really need a boat….”
        i’ve often daydreamed what my life(and me, myself) would be like if I’d gone to Brown, Columbia or Oberlin(accepted to all 3 on a ged), instead of the podunk state college in the prison town.
        Amor Fati, and all.
        (i’m pretty satisfied, in spite of the mountain ranges of bullshit. Adversity is a great sculptor)
        still–would i be near as Wobbly as I am?
        or Lefty in general?

    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      You should read Michael Hudson.

      Im 110k in debt and haven’t paid a dime. F em.

      This isnt an either/or. Dont blame debtors, blame the warped system of College Tuition.

      1. Grant

        +1. I always love the, I did it, screw everyone else logic. I wonder if people argued this when they were debating ending slavery. Did anyone step forward and say, “Hey, I had to be a slave, why should you be spared going through that?” What happens if we legalize marijuana? Lots of peoples’ lives were ruined thanks to the types of horrible laws Biden and his buddy Strom Thurmond passed. Should we not spare more victims of that because others had to suffer up to this point? People being screwed over by this healthcare system now shouldn’t be a reason to not pass single payer, right?

        1. jrs

          This is a screw everyone else policy anyway. It’s built into the policy ITSELF. It’s not a universal benefit, it’s a selective benefit to those who tend to be comparatively better off anyway (college grads). The analogies given are not good ones, those aren’t policies tilted to benefit those who are better off.

          Of course loans should be dischargable in bankruptcy, but that’s a different policy than this proposal.

          1. Carla

            Actually, many of the kids who get hurt the most DON’T ever graduate. They drop out, and then are saddled with big debt and no way to get a decent job to pay it off. The drop-outs are disproportionately the first in their families to have attended college at all, and they get totally screwed.

            1. anon in so cal

              Yes, drop-outs do get screwed. And, apparently, this disproportionately affects African American students and is one of many factors leading to the wealth gap.

              Separately, 1st-generation students in California are eligible for various generous benefits.

          2. Grant

            “This is a screw everyone else policy anyway.”

            Actually, those that had the crazy notion of trying to educate themselves (which, in a sane society, would result in a lot of collective benefits and mass positive social externalities) were screwed over in the first place because of the insane ways we pay for education. It is more of trying to correct a wrong than screwing you over. If we were to legalize weed, it would be like not just legalizing it but wiping off arrest records associated with similar offenses in the past. If you were being honest, you would say that you want those with no student loan debt to maintain their advantages relative to those that have student loan debt. Paris Hilton would be fine with that, right? It is also not true what so ever that higher education leads to much higher wages anymore. That was true 30 years ago far more than now. Young people today are utterly screwed. Massive environmental crisis, massive infrastructure gap, horrible BS jobs, housing, education and healthcare costs rising at much quicker rates than wages, and what is likely to change? So, what’s the logic of keeping their student loan debt on the books indefinitely? Are they not set to suffer enough? If it was targeted towards those groups, many would complain about the lack of universality.

              1. Procopius

                I dunno, the way he promoted charter schools in Newark puts him pretty far down on my list of people I might be willing to vote for as the Lesser Of Two Evils (LOTE™).

        2. Summer

          The student loan system hasn’t been reformed and won’t be in any way that is significant.

          They’re just doing this to sell some of those overpriced houses. The hope is that this debt is replaced with another debt.

        3. Summer

          ” People being screwed over by this healthcare system now shouldn’t be a reason to not pass single payer, right?”

          That’s going to be the question to ask all the beneficiaries of this potential student debt relief.

    4. Eduardo

      Student loan debt forgiveness makes sense for debt incurred for attending public schools as part of a program making public schools free. That would tend to cap the amount in most cases and not apply to most super high earners who would not have attended public schools. I think.

      1. Joe Well

        The worst victims of student debt are those who attended for-profit schools and smaller non-profit schools that seem pretty predatory. In fact, I think a blanket forgiveness of debt and refunding of tuition for the worst of these businesses would be pretty popular.

    5. martell

      I never cease to be amazed by people who, having experienced some injustice, oppose efforts to spare others from suffering the same.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I do not think that paying back money you loaned is an injustice. Do you?

          Assuming you mean “borrowed” instead of “loaned,” I think it can. A business that makes a bad business decision can go bankrupt and emerge after restructuring. It’s ridiculous that individuals can’t do the same (hat tip, Joe Biden).

          1. Jos Oskam

            Yes, “borrowed” of course. Sorry for this stupid error by a non-native English speaker. My bad.

            I partially agree. Both businesses and individuals should have the possibility to restructure- and possibly even shed debts through bankruptcy. Perhaps this would instill some caution in lenders (I’m dreaming here) so that it becomes less easy to drown oneself in debt.

            On the other hand, I still think that paying back what you owe is “the right thing to do”, and insisting on payback is in my view not an “injustice”.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        If sparing others the injustice I was dealt also offers then a comparative advantage (in buying a home, for example), then yes, I am in no way interested in saving others while having been screwed myself.

        Nearly $40,000 in student loan debts that I’m nearly done paying off. At FIFTY.
        Couldn’t discharge them during 7 years of bankruptcy. Thanks, Creepy Joe!

        See also: health insurance for illegals while taxing me to pay for it.
        Tired of there being no help for me and my generation.

        1. jrs

          “If sparing others the injustice I was dealt also offers then a comparative advantage (in buying a home, for example), then yes, I am in no way interested in saving others while having been screwed myself”

          +1 I don’t even care about buying a home, in CA, that’s for the rich. I am not the rich, I am sometimes the precarious. I care only about being able to rent an apartment (but these days if we don’t live 12 to an apartment we’re just not cutting it are we? The Guatemalans will afterall and that’s the new standard …).

          Though I have my temptations, my expectations and desires from life are mostly: the basic needs thanks. If someone proposed full socialism but with all basic needs met I could deal, heck I could and do see the advantages … But being we don’t actually live in some socialist utopia, but still in an EXTREMELY ruthless form of capitalism and Warren definitely won’t change it if if she offers a bit here and there, I want not to drown myself thanks!

          1. marym

            I don’t see how we get to “all basic needs met” if every proposed form of redistribution is opposed because some people benefit directly more than others, or not all past wrongs are made right.

            We should package M4A/medical debt forgiveness, and free tuition/student debt forgiveness.

            There are all kinds of wrongs this won’t make right, in healthcare and education, not to mention all the other injustices and losses people have endured and continue to endure, but in addition to helping millions of people directly it would also mean we’ve accepted an expansion of the notion of the common good, at least in these areas of life. That would be something to build on.

            I agree with your criticism of Warren, but her many “plans” and the more coherent Sanders vision do acknowledge the need for public policies that address the multiple ways the system fails people.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              that’s where i’m at, too. must be Universal, to nip in the bud many of the divisionary tactics used to prevent or undo these kinds of things(see: medicaid, food stamps, etc)
              wanna stir up the Kos commentariat? insist that even donald trumps brood get free education and healthcare. they are the sort that is supposed to be “paying for it”, after all.

        2. urdsama

          That seems like a variant of “I got mine, I don’t care about you”.

          Life’s not fair. Does it suck that someone may get a benefit you won’t be able to exercise in part or at all? Sure. But if we apply your methodology to what should and shouldn’t be reformed, then nothing will be.

          This is why the .10% rule; they know those below them will fight amongst themselves about any slight advantage one group may get over another.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            It’s more of a case of “I got screwed once, now you want to screw me again and again?” than a “I got mine, I don’t care about you.”

            I certainly never “got mine”.

            And why is it, the ones advocating for the advantage never accept the whole “Life’s not fair” canard?

            Reform can absolutely happen. It doesn’t have to punish someone to aid another.

            For example, how about forgiving student loans retroactively to 1980? (when the costs of college started to skyrocket.) Or some other past date? Or even better…how about forgiving loans for people who didn’t get their degrees and are therefore not reaping the benefits of said degree? Or if you want your loans discharged, you can’t work in your degreed area for …I don’t know, say 10 years? There should be a financial offset to the huge financial advantage to discharging loans otherwise you’re just privileging the college bound over everyone else.

            As long as our society is a cut throat race for advantage, I can’t accept continually being the one that has to sacrifice. How about some equality for once?

            1. jrs

              Then they blame psychology. They have it all backward. It’s not because of our psychology, our “fighting among ourselves” or our “being crabs in a bucket” that society is cut throat race for advantage, it’s because it’s a cut throat race for advantage that we fight being disadvantaged.

              I think though one can be privileged enough to not see society as a “cut throat race for advantage”, that’s not my experience lately though for sure. Sometimes it’s just hard to believe how bad things are out there economically.

            2. urdsama

              How are you getting screwed, and screwed repeatedly?

              You never got yours? I doubt that. I find it hard to believe you never benefited from something that others did not.

              Many of those getting the advantage are not necessarily those advocating for it; they are benefiting from others working indirectly on their behalf. In any case, who is coming to you and taking money from you?

              Reform can happen? Your response indicates that it can’t since it appears if someone is getting something you are not, it’s a “punishment” for you.

              The problem with retroactively forgiving student loans is that this requires money to be paid out – not nearly the same thing as just canceling a debt. I have no issue with cancelling debt for those who didn’t gradate (just not retroactively). Can’t work in your field for 10 years? Please explain to me how this makes any sense.

              The sense I get from your arguments is that you feel people getting student loans canceled should be punished. Is this to make things equal since you appear to feel punished since you are not getting such a benefit?

              1. Fiery Hunt

                How am I getting screwed repeatedly?

                Ok, here ya go….

                1) As a self employed person, my general tax rate is much higher than someone making the same amount of gross income who works for someone else. Advantage wage slave and Screwage those like me.

                2) Any health insurance I purchase is a) on the individual market and b) taxed as income before I ever spend it. If someone else gets health insurance as a “benefit” it’s not taxed as income. Advantage corporations and corporate wage slave and Screwage those like me.

                3) Obamacare taxed me roughly $5,000 for the privilege of being uninsured. Advantage the subsidized poor and wage slave with benefits and Screwage those like meme.

                4) Creepy Joe’s change to bankruptcy laws made my student loans not only undismissable but also UNPAYABLE for 7 years. Clear bankruptcy and they pop right back into existence. Screwage those like me.

                5) CA is talking about reinstating the uninsured penalty to cover illegal immigrants between 18 and 24. I still can’t afford health care. Screwage those like me.

                6) Never could afford a home here in SF Bay Area. Never received the SALT deduction. Advantage homeowners and Screwage those like me.

                Is that enough?

                And no, I’ve never benefited from something that everyone else didn’t also…until recently.

                There has not been a single state or federal law change to my benefit in my adult life. Until this last Trump tax change. Saved me about $4,500.

                Explain to me why we should be giving debt relief to college students? What about medical debts? Housing debt? Why students, who are already advantaged by going to college in the first place?

                Remember it was you who said, “Life’s not fair.”

                1. Yves Smith

                  Come on. Being self employed is the last tax shelter. You can deduct all sorts of things you can’t as a W-2 person.

                  There is a category of objection you could have used not to pay Obamacare penalties. It’s kind of a catchall. You could have gotten a cheaper catastrophic coverage policy.

                  I haven’t been able to “afford” an apt in NYC since I became self employed. Has more to do with income uncertainty (will you have enough income that you are paying for your house after tax, as opposed to pre-tax?)

                  You are in business for yourself and have control over your time and who you work for. That makes you privileged compared to the bottom 50% plus of workers.

                  All I hear here is victim mentality.

                  1. Fiery Hunt

                    I’m sorry Yves but we’re in different worlds. No, I don’t get to control my time or who I work for…because if I don’t take the job or finish the work I can’t pay rent. Take whatever comes.
                    And I like having hot water. And tax shelter? Nope. Everything by the book, no fudged write offs. Maybe I’m dumb but I am principled.
                    There’s no cushion or savings or retirement. Paying the no insurance tax was still cheaper than the catastrophic coverage. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

                    I’m out here on the same raggedy end as a wage slave.

                    But without the benefits.

                    1. Procopius

                      My professer of Tax Law at Michigan State University in 1960 repeated over and over that obeying the letter of the law to take advantage of it is neither illegal nor immoral. It is called “tax avoidance” rather than “tax evasion” (which is illegal). The Supreme Court ruled “the legal right of a taxpayer to decrease the amount of what otherwise would be his taxes, or altogether avoid them, by means which the law permits, cannot be doubted.” Gregory v. Helvering, 293 U.S. 465 (1935)

                    2. Yves Smith

                      I’m sorry, you DO control your time. You are not monitored like an Amazon warehouse person. You aren’t on call like a lot of retail people are (see McDonald’s workers). You don’t have to show up at an office at 9. You can decide to work really late on a Thurs and get your end product in early and blow off Friday.

                      It’s not a matter of fudging. You can deduct your a portion of your HH rent if you don’t have an office perfectly legally and even your medical if you are set up properly.

                      And the idea that you’ve gotten nothing is utterly false. You have indoor plumbing and electricity. Even in the worst parts of the US, the air is not bad. You have public infrastructure. I presume you did not go to private school, hence you were educated at public expense.

                2. Cal2

                  Beautiful summation. I will quote some of what you wrote, with attribution to “Fiery Hunt.”

                  We live in S.F. Bay Area and have finally reached debt free status. It only took 40 years of thrift store clothing, used cars, dining in, few trips, manual labor and careful thrift. We are at a 60% tax rate when figuring Federal, State and County taxes and obligatory bonds. Throw in sales and gas taxes and it’s probably more like 65%.

                  I’m still voting for Bernie though…

                3. Lambert Strether Post author


                  #1 through #4 apply to me though not in detail. (I certainly didn’t pay $5000 for the privilege of not buying into ObamaCare. But, amazingly, my taxes actually did go down under Trump.)

                  > I’ve never benefited from something that everyone else didn’t also…until recently.

                  This is certainly not true for me. I benefit greatly from an extraordinarily rich background in the humanities, which I use as a tool every day in my work, because of an accident of birth. Everything isn’t all about taxes.

                  > Explain to me why we should be giving debt relief to college students? What about medical debts? Housing debt? Why students, who are already advantaged by going to college in the first place?

                  As I said elsewhere on this thread, I think it’s likely we are thinking too small, and that a Debt Jubilee that encompasses the entire society is the right way to think about this. Otherwise we’ll simply get hung up on detail. The answer to “why” is that euthanizing the rentiers is a good thing, much as removing a tapeworm from one’s intestines is a good thing. The entire body politic, not this or that narrow constituency, will benefit.

                  As Ursula LeGuin has her fictional anarchist philosopher, Odo, write in The Dispossessed:

                  “For we each of us deserve everything, every luxury that was ever piled in the tombs of the dead kings, and we each of us deserve nothing, not a mouthful of bread in hunger. Have we not eaten while another starved? Will you punish us for that? Will you reward us for the virtue of starving while others ate? No man earns punishment, no man earns reward. Free your mind of the idea of deserving, the idea of earning, and you will begin to be able to think.”

                  I suppose what I am saying is that we should think of debt relief as a universal concrete material benefit. Of course, how to you pay for it, yadda yadda yadda, to which the answer Hudson’s: “Debts that can’t be paid back, won’t be paid pack.” Of course, our political class isn’t strong on owning up to reality just now, but maybe with a level of effort that will change.

            3. Lambert Strether Post author

              > how about forgiving student loans retroactively to 1980?

              Leaving life stories aside — why, it’s almost as if the system were designed to produce life stories that pit the 90%, and even the 99%, against each other — I think that is the central policy issue, and Warren’s plan does not address it.

              The issue is similar to marijuana decriminalization (as Cory Booker, see above, amazingly recognizes). Where’s the justice in making marijuana legal today, while leaving the people who created the market and the varietals behind bars? I don’t think there’s any. (And for the rule of law crowd, (1) lol, bankers and war criminals, and (2) the law should never have existed.)

              Similarly, suppose that the cutoff point for relief is a birth date of 1960. If you are born in 1961, you get $50,000. If you are born in 1959, you get nothing (except the privilege of continuing to pay for debts that have been forgiven for others). That doesn’t seem fair.

              However, I don’t know what the correct policy is. My instinct is that we are thinking too small, and that a society-wide Debt Jubilee is what’s needed.* Perhaps we are getting hung up on divisive issues like eligibility because we are only looking at specific policy siloes.

              NOTE * This would make Warren’s proposal yet another example Warren’s tendency to correctly recognize a mountain of a problem, and yet to expect a policy mouse to solve it.

              1. Fiery Hunt

                Time to make my humble gratitude clear to Yves and you and my fellow commentariat for the forum and the fostering of these discussions.

                Thank you all for the Chautauqua.

                May we find true direction from questioned thought.

          2. jrs

            A homeless person comes up to you: “I don’t think benefits to people earning 100k makes sense … and I need a house!”.

            you: “you are just making a ‘I’ve got mine, I don’t care about you’ argument”

            This is a reduction to absurdity to make a point.

            But really you can’t use “I’ve got mine” arguments when the people you are wishing to make a point to don’t “have theirs”. This is just careless argumentation.

            1. urdsama

              This is a reduction to absurdity to make a point.

              Because of that it appears to fail. And it’s a straw man argument.

              I said:

              That seems like a variant of “I got mine, I don’t care about you”.

              I stand by this statement – in this case it’s making sure someone doesn’t get something you don’t have. The variant being ” I didn’t get mine, I don’t care for you to get yours”.

              Actually, now that I look at it, maybe you are right – but it’s actually worse. Essentially “I suffered, you can too.”

              1. Fiery Hunt

                Aren’t you actually arguing for “Sorry you got screwed, but I want mine.” ?

                What about all those who don’t go to school?

                Not acknowledging who and why one class of people should get a ever increasing future financial advantage is telling.

                Your privilege is showing.

        3. WheresOurTeddy

          “then yes, I am in no way interested in saving others while having been screwed myself.”

          why we can’t have nice things in America. you have been propagandized, divided and conquered.

          Then again, that much was obvious when you used the term “illegals”. Breitbart is elsewhere, maybe you’d be more comfortable there?

          1. Fiery Hunt

            “illegals” doesn’t mean I’m some right-wing nut. Just too frick’n lazy to write the pc “illegal immigrants”.


          2. Fiery Hunt

            And in case it wasn’t clear, I resent the effort to tax me (and not everyone) because I have no health insurance to pay for health coverage for non-citizens.


        4. martell

          Hmmm. Well, I’d been thinking that the metaphor of crabs in a bucket didn’t quite work for this case, but I guess I was wrong.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            crabs in the ocean aren’t very nice to each other, either.
            maybe it’s the crabs, and not the bucket.
            universalising things gives it to crabs, too…and might make them less crabby, long term, and thus better crabs
            “a great man throws his pearls before swine, and the swine are sometimes changed to men”-Robert Ingersoll

        5. Grant

          “If sparing others the injustice I was dealt also offers then a comparative advantage (in buying a home, for example), then yes, I am in no way interested in saving others while having been screwed myself.”

          I can think of no better way to capture the mentality of this country since at least Reagan. If this is the guiding logic with public policy in general, I guess we just sit back and watch the country collapse. You could use the same logic in regards to healthcare, those that pay too much in rent, those screwed over by the drug war, etc. People should endlessly pay and suffer forever because you did. Bad public policy that came about because of corrupt people like Biden, or those in power that progressively privatized the payment for higher education, which also rose in price at greater rates than wage growth for years and years, should cause suffering forever because others in that time did. If you went to jail for having some weed for personal use, then why should someone be spared that now? Poor countries have been paying a massive amount of debt forever, people in those countries died and suffered because of that. Should we not do a mass debt write down, in large part with that suffering in mind? Personally, I think we should talk about debt write downs across the board.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            Jubiliee. Understanding the depth of the rot and corruption and not playing the this group or that group game. No privilege, no special groups.

            Everyone or no one.


    6. Big River Bandido

      You paid your way through, huh?

      Ever consider the public subsidies you received?

    7. drumlin woodchuckles

      Student loan bankruptcy is currently illegal thanks to Biden. Student loan cancellation is the only fast and hard reboot-reset solution available to several tens of millions of people at this point in time.

      I paid my student loans off as well. I don’t begrudge the cancelees ( if there will be any) from benefiting from a society-saving hard reboot-reset.

    8. Jeremy Grimm

      There’s a crab climbing out of the bucket. Quick reach up with your claw and pull that crab back down!

      Wait! You got out of the bucket by yanking on your boot-straps so you’re going to push down on any crabs that might try to leave the bucket? Wait! How did you get boots? None of the other crabs have boots!

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Ummm…that crab that is trying to get college debt forgiven? He’s the one trying to climb over, “push” me down…trying to get employment and financial advantage to the tune of $50,000 (and closer to $75,000 if you add interest!) head start. I’m not the one looking to change the system for my own benefit.

        Again, why are we talking about privileging the college student over the “back row” kids?

        For everyone or no one.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > There’s a crab climbing out of the bucket.

        Isn’t it more a case of one crab being randomly lifted out of the bucket, and another not? (Not that being lifted out of the bucket is any great privilege for the crab, considering what’s coming….)

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I am troubled by all the concern by those who avoided the college trap — through their hard work or other means — to not help those caught in the trap. Questions like “Why are we talking about privileging the college student over the ‘back row’ kids?” should instead be “Why aren’t we helping the college students AND the ‘back row’ kids?” AND “Why are we privileging the purveyors of student loans, credit card debt, and check-cashing companies?” AND “Why are we allowing our public colleges and universities to grow their administrative staffs, crush their professors, and raise their prices without constraint while they provide less and less of the service they were created to provide?” AND “Why are college and university presidents and administrators receiving obscene amounts of money to destroy their institutions?”. Of course there are many more questions to ask instead of worrying if some crabs might get a break. Begin with “Why are we all in this bucket and how can we all get out?”

    9. Mo's Bike Shop

      This is not about you. Its about how we want to shape our future. When you’re seventy, would you rather be cared for by people who are competent or people whose parents owned a real estate empire?

      Does increasing the minimum wage raise your ire in the same way? If not, why not? I paid for college with 30 hours a week at 60 cents over the minimum wage.

      And does the idea that 18 year olds in the future might go to college for free, with no possibility of being indentured, send you into a rage? Good.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        I am all for a decent minimum wage. $22 sounds decent. But college is not a UNIVERSAL floor like minimum wage: college is more and more a gate kept to keep out the riff raff.

        Free tuition? Absolutely.
        Start that now for children born in 2019.
        20 years from now, after being burdened for those 20 years with student loan payments, let all those crying umbrage at my “Hey, that’s gonna skew things against me!” find lots of comfort in being magnanimous.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          I actually threw out a paragraph about my thoughts on the end of the certification bubble.

          I’m talking about an education. Which some of us appreciated for the thing in itself. Especially those of us who are still employed as a Swiss army knife as a result. The point is letting anyone who can hack higher education hack it. They will be a sharper tool. We all benefit.

          Personally, I’m more than willing to give all undergraduate recipients of Journalism and BA degrees an immediate refund. Maybe reparations. And definitely some job training for careers in Journalism and Business. And I don’t understand why our Engineers have to pretend to care about the Humanities.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > college is not a UNIVERSAL floor

          I disagree. I agree with Mo’s Bikeshop, below:

          Which some of us appreciated for the thing in itself. Especially those of us who are still employed as a Swiss army knife as a result.

          I would agree; those are my priors as a humanities major. But still.

      2. Fiery Hunt

        And college ain’t about who’s gonna care for me when I’m 70.

        It’s probably gonna be some back row kid not making 6 figures with their college degree.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          As long as your Doctor comes from the right family? Because your Doctor is going to be a front row kid who sucks at puzzles.

        2. JBird4049

          Everyone is screwed by life somehow and everyone has unfairly benefited in someway. It’s just life. It makes no sense to make this all a contest for absolute equality of fairness. It is like that short story Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Everyone is screwed by life somehow and everyone has unfairly benefited in someway

            Yes, but surely we ought not to be building screw jobs into public policy? This is my objection to ObamaCare: As opposed to the dreaded single payer, It’s random with respect to location, age, income, and other factors by design, through its architecture. Should I give ObamaCare’s architects a free pass on that because life is unfair?

  5. Wyoming


    Re: your Greenland and arctic/antarctic charts/data question.

    All are very interesting and I also check them regularly though not daily anymore. But there is a big caveat to keep in mind when reviewing them.

    It is the weather/climate viewpoint.

    What I mean here is that when you daily look at the Greenland Melt Extent charts (there are a number of different ones out there just as there are 2 dozen which show daily changes in the arctic/antarctic) you are looking not at climate but at weather. Weather happens over short periods of time.

    Climate happens over long periods (20-30 years). If you want to see the climate trend it is not visible in the daily charts. You have to plot the trends over many years to see what is happening. There are charts out there that show this also. Daily chart viewing is being excited about weather. If you want to see what the climate is doing you only need to see an update every year or so.

    We see breathless blog posts about todays Greenland melt chart which extrapolate to all kinds of things which conflate weather and climate.

    But here is something interesting to do with the Greenland link. Go to it and deselect 2019. The remaining dark grey line is your 1981-2010 median. Now select 1979-1986. Mentally average where they are as a group. Clearly well below the 81-10 median. Now deselect the 79-86 and select the 2012 to 2019 buttons. Clearly the average of the more recent years is well above the 81-10 median. You have just witnessed climate change :)

    1. SlayTheSmaugs

      Right, that was my point. If you look at the 2010-2019 years overlaid over the average, on both the Arctic and Greenland interactive charts, it looks to me like the most recent decade is a noticeable deviation form the past. The same decade for the Antarctic looks like things are more extreme–large parts are outside the 10%-90% range each year–but not in a single direction.

      I look at it daily as a OCD thing, but I agree that the meaningful stuff is to look at the decades.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I looked at the charts you track. They are far less meaningful to me than a brief animation NOAA made a few years ago — used in the NYE lecture:
        “Age of Arctic Sea ice in March from 1987-2014” [https://www.pmel.noaa.gov/arctic/news-story/age-arctic-sea-ice-march-1987-2014] also at [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUg6FzoUvVg]

        I contacted NOAA to ask about any updates to that video but they said there were none so far. Someone else asking, and someone else … might get some action. My initial email bounced around and ended up with a Dr. Howard Diamond who was very responsive: Howard.Diamond@NOAA.gov.

      2. Greg

        Re: Antarctica, I’m sure I’ve read that the big diff down this way is in the land underneath the ice, Antarctica being a continent in its own right somewhere kilometres under its icy hat.
        The melt here is of the land based ice, and one of the quirky effects of that is increased sea ice coverage – but sea ice is so much thinner that it doesn’t even begin to offset the lost water storage in the land based cap. If that makes sense. The measures appropriate for northern cap changes – sea ice coverage especially – don’t mean the same thing for the southern cap.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      “Climate happens over long periods (20-30 years).”
      The paleoclimatic record indicates this is NOT true. Climate can and has changed in some several years ref. 2014 Nye Lecture to the Fall American Geophysical Union (AGU) Dr. Jim White’s presentation “ABRUPT CLIMATE CHANGE: THE VIEW FROM THE PAST, THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRs4kIthJ9k].

      A dark Arctic will change climate and weather dramatically as it dramatically changes the rate that our oceans heat up.

      1. Wyoming

        Even though I normally don’t return to posts as there is no sense in it due to being on moderation – by the time my posts get through I am off to do my regular day and when I return many hours later to and post again the whole day is used up and no one is left to talk too. So I don’t usually even look back. But…

        Sorry to say you did not listen to your own link or you misunderstand the subtle differences in talking about this subject.

        Even in your video the good Dr. has my definition of 20-30 years. What he is talking about is what can (and has happened) when the climate conditions which are changing in one direction or another reach a tipping point. ‘Then’ there can certainly be very abrupt changes in what is the expected daily/monthly/yearly weather – which when averaged once again defines the new climate. On very rare occasions those abrupt tipping point changes can happen in a year or two, but normally they still take some years to decades – which in geologic terms is very fast of course.

        We are in the midst of rapid changes now – but that change is still slow enough it is not apparent to our daily lives. But if you look at today from the future and graph it the charts would show abrupt change.

        This begs the question: are we going to see abrupt changes that occur in a year or two which span the globe (not just the Greenland Ice sheet for example) that will have temperatures shooting up a degree a year? Or something similar to that in scale. Not that anyone serious has any numbers on. There are Black Swans out there flying around of course – but because they are Black Swans they fall into the unknown unknowns and we don’t know what they are or where their tipping points are. On all of the possibilities which we know about a very large number of scientists have looked into what we know about them and they have concluded there is nothing going to happen in the next few decades which are likely to pass such a trigger and result in a massive change almost instantly.

        I probably wasted my time, but hope this helps someone.

        1. Greg

          Given it takes most of the world a minimum of 3-4 years (electorally) to even start to think about reacting to something happening and a generation (mortally) to change its mind about anything, 20-30 years IS effectively instantaneous.
          Not for individuals, sure, but we’re talking survival of the species level problems. So i don’t see the point in quibbling in the range <30 years – if it's 2 years or 20 years, we're still probably buggered.

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          Yes, Dr. White defines “abrupt” as a change over 20-30 years or less. But I think you should watch the Nye Lecture video again. Watch especially minutes 17 to 19. The slide there is titled “How abrupt is abrupt?” below that a heading “Shift in 1 to 2 years” in a matter of 1 to 2 years and the next slide describing the Younger Dryas indicates ~1 degree C per year for 5 years. The change in deuterium excess — the event marker — did occur over a 20 year period — but I was more impressed by the 1 degree C per year change for 5 years.

          I suppose we disagree about the potential weather impact of a 1 degree C per year change in the temperature measured in Greenland. Greenland is where we have a proxy measurement from which we can read fine changes in temperature. If Dr. White’s conjecture that the event which triggered the 1 degree C per year increase in the temperatures in Greenland was a rapid heating of the ocean which he further conjectured was the result of a collapse in the extent of Arctic Sea ice — did this impact Greenland only? I suspect not. The ongoing heating of the Arctic has already greatly affected the weather in North America. Once all the Arctic ice has melted the heat that had gone into melting the ice will instead rapidly warm the Arctic seas — more rapidly than the 20-30 years “abruptness” you have focused on.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I am not the person doing the checking, and I am familiar with the distinction. However, data reporting may be batched not continuous. Hence the need to check daily for updates.

      >But here is something interesting to do with the Greenland link. Go to it and deselect 2019. The remaining dark grey line is your 1981-2010 median. Now select 1979-1986. Mentally average where they are as a group. Clearly well below the 81-10 median. Now deselect the 79-86 and select the 2012 to 2019 buttons. Clearly the average of the more recent years is well above the 81-10 median. You have just witnessed climate change :)

      This, however, is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you.

  6. JohnnyGL

    Re: Science article on false confessions

    Much of the Reid technique involves watching for verbal and nonverbal signs of deception, something many police investigators think they are skilled at doing. Kassin put that confidence to the test more than a decade ago. He recruited the best liars he could find—a group of prisoners at a Massachusetts penitentiary. For a small fee he asked half to tell the truth of their crimes on video and the other half to lie, saying they had committed someone else’s crime. He showed the videos to college students and police. Neither group did particularly well at truth detection (the average person is right about half the time), but the students performed better than the police. Yet the police felt more certain about their conclusions. “That’s a bad combination,” Kassin says. “Their training makes them less accurate and more confident at the same time.”

    Whew….that’s REALLY bad!!!

    1. Synoia

      the average person is right about half the time….

      Hmmm, but the average person is wrong about half the time

      Which makes the “average person’s” opinion worthless.

      Even: “Yon Cassius has a mean and hungry look” was written centuries after the crime.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        “60% of the time, it works every time…I call it…Sex Panther.”

        – Anchorman

      2. clarky90

        Re; “It was just like Milgram’s obedience studies, but worse.’”

        “..experiment by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram. … Participants were led to believe that they were assisting an unrelated experiment, in which they had to administer electric shocks to a “learner.””

        The Ballad Of Black Pigeon vs WITLESS FANATICS

        Black Pigeon Speaks has 500,000 followers on YouTube. A few days ago, he was completely de-platformed. After protests, his channel is back up. Our Free Speech is inexpressibly protective to us all.

        I like to read raw history- uncensored accounts of people’s lived experiences. Text book history is tantamount to reading a WWE story line. (Who shall be the Heels and Faces this rotation, Mr. McMahon?)

        All Totalitarian regimes (Left and Right) identify opinionated citizens, and eliminate them. Either by death, expulsion or incarceration. It does not matter where they lie on the political spectrum. The capacity for free thinking is THE threat to “neo-utopia”.

        Being an ardent Bolshevik only made a trip to the pits or the Gulag, almost certain during The Great Purge of the Soviet Union, 1936 to 1938. “…a large-scale purge of the Communist Party and government officials, the Red Army leadership- widespread police surveillance, suspicion of saboteurs, counter-revolutionaries, imprisonment, and arbitrary executions…”

        A similar event occurred during The Night of the Long Knives, 1934, in Nazi Germany.

        Totalitarian regimes treasure and promote the robotic personality. People who will believe a Party Line, wholeheartedly, AND will change completely (and again, wholeheartedly) on command, like trained poodles.

        Being “on the correct side” is not a protection. If any (left or right) have their own opinions and a conscience, and if that independence of thought (deviation) is ever suspected or discovered. curtains….

    2. PKMKII

      Is it really surprising that, in a culture where police are routinely lionized, forgiven for even the most egregious errors, our media is full of depictions of uncannily accurate detectives, and police that insert themselves into self-congratulatory cop social media circles, police end up with inflated self-evaluation of their investigative skills?

  7. KevinD

    RE: Chuck Jones.
    I read a book about he and his compatriots at Warner. They had a buzzer set up with the head honcho’s secretary. Whenever the head honcho left his office on his way to check on his artists, the secretary would buzz the cartoonist’s bullpen. Before he would arrive, they would be working diligently. However, once the buzzer rang and they knew he was on his way, they would put their pens down and put their feet up on their desks and pretend to read, smoke and laugh it up. As soon as he would leave – it was back to work.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Is that like a 3-dimensional Scotty’s Principle? Make them wonder how you can deliver in time?

  8. Wukchumni

    “Ecological Detectives Hunt for San Francisco’s Vanished Waterways” [Scientific American].

    We have a perennial creek about a mile away unbeknownst to most locals that flows all the time into one of the rivers here. It’s spring fed and a nubbin for the most part, typically 3-4 inches deep and 3-4 feet wide, you’d have a hard time drowning in it.

    So obscure, it doesn’t even exist in attempted searches on the ‘net, that’s nice.

  9. katiebird

    I was skeptical when I saw the headline. But after reading it through and seeing that it actually links to Jayapal’s bill…. This story from the city next door to me made me happy:

    Merriam councilman planning to introduce city resolution in support of single-payer healthcare system

    After sharing their healthcare horror story — an ordeal that cost them thousands of dollars — one Merriam couple is urging the city council to adopt a resolution in support of “Medicare for All.”

    Meanwhile, Councilmember Al Frisby is in the process of drafting his own resolution that he plans to introduce in September; if adopted by his fellow councilmembers, the resolution would declare the city’s support for a single-payer healthcare system.

    Frisby says the effort to support a single-payer system comes down to saving money. If Congress passes the Medicare for All Act of 2019, the city of Merriam would have the opportunity to participate down the line and provide better healthcare for city employees at a lower cost, thus saving taxpayer dollars, Frisby said.

    “It’s been said that we could save a bunch of bucks,” he said. “Because right now it’s about 10 to 12 percent every year that healthcare (cost) goes up. We need to find a way to reduce those costs for our employees.”

    The Medicare for All Act would establish a national health insurance program and prohibit deductibles, coinsurance and copayments.

    1. shinola

      FWIW, that’s Merriam, Kansas (suburb of Kansas City) & Ks. is usually considered a safely red state (in national politics anyway).

  10. DJG

    Grist on PFAS. The article doesn’t offer much, and then I clicked through to the so-called findings, which seem to have been photographed from the back of a series of breakfast cereal boxes. I finally got the table of data wiht the chocolate cake–and I can’t see what makes it an outlier. The data include one high observation–but it isn’t the highest observation on the table.

    And none of the products was identified. Raw pineapple? Canned? Cake mix? From a French bakery (serving freedom PFAS?)?

    Certainly the food chain in the U S of A is poisoned. Just read articles about what is allowed in flour and in bread. But this article was scant grist for the mill.

  11. DJG

    Brief report on Chicago meetup at D4, home of a pretty good Beyond burger, which isn’t what springs to mind when I think of Eire: So I supplemented it with a couple of belts of Tullamore Dew.

    We were a smallish, rotating group who managed to put together a table for eight. So we engaged in general conversation about politics and economics, as well as the folkways and political oddies of the Great Lakes States. (Where just about everyone is to the left of Mayor Pete, Driver of the Afghanistan Campaign.)

    Thanks to Yves Smith for stopping by. The new city council and mayor of Chicago hold much promise, yet there is so much work to do after years of looting, pillaging, lying, and neglect–and that’s just Illinois, which is more prosperous than most of these States.

      1. Big River Bandido

        Limiting interest rates and charges is quite reasonable, and has a long history.

        1. Eureka Springs

          Read recently AOC suggested limiting credit card interest rates to 15%. I thought to myself, so she’s against decapitation but for skinning people alive.

    1. Big River Bandido

      That said, note the complex eligibility requirements; Warren just can’t help herself.

      I laughed when I read that, Lambert. They really can‘t help themselves. Gatekeepers gotta gatekeep.

  12. todde

    They’re good at that. They almost had me convinced I must of blacked out and did it.

    Then they just made some sh*t up and said I confessed, and they ‘lost their notes’

  13. Synoia

    Artificial intelligence can detect cheating just because it can compare what we say with what we do…

    Ok, “Hello Mr AI, From what sources do you obtain the ‘what we do information’ “?

    “Hello Mr AI, please list your data soruces……”
    “Hello Mr Zukerberg, what data do you provide…..?”
    “Hello Mr Google, what data do you provide….?”
    “Hello Mr Representative, what policies do you support…?”
    “Hello Mr Executive, what are your opinions on the safety of your product…”?

    I’m beginning to see a pattern we can use in this AI process……

    Let’s call MEAFRAP, an acronym for Mendacity Exposure For Rich and Powerful.

    eg: Whatever happened in Trump’s Second term? Oh he got MEFRAPPED about his claim to be God.

    Once our “masters of the universe” understand that AI will expose their mendacity, instantly, and legislated privacy is the best solution, we will all (hopefully) get privacy supported by laws…

    If not then some lawyers are going to become beyond rich issuing take-down notices of our utterings (Copyrighted utterings).

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      people show you who they are

      for Moulton, evidently that is “war criminal”

  14. Tomonthebeach

    Why people confess to crimes they didn’t commit

    That video was worth the time. If arrested, I will never again talk to a cop. What an eyeopener!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Excellent! (The video is very funny, too. It’s fascinating to me that it was made at Regent University, Pat Robertson’s “Christian” school. You’d think those students would tend not to be involved with the police, but perhaps not.)

Comments are closed.