2:00PM Water Cooler 7/30/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“How Trump Is Sabotaging Trade’s Ultimate Tribunal” [Bloomberg]. “As the U.S. wages its global trade war, companies and governments alike are taking notice of a little-known unit of the World Trade Organization that, if President Donald Trump’s administration has its way, will soon cease to function. The WTO’s appellate body, the preeminent forum for settling worldwide trade disputes, may no longer have the capacity to issue new rulings by year-end, which critics warn will undermine the WTO’s ability to resolve conflicts among its 164 members and will usher in an era where economic might trumps international law…. Lighthizer told U.S. lawmakers this year that his ultimate goal is to reform the WTO and sees the appellate body impasse as a form of leverage in pushing his agenda forward.” • And, as usual, this Administration is intensifying what the previous admininistration began.

“A Democrat Floats Options to Trump’s Trade Tactics” [Bloomberg]. “[T]he plan Elizabeth Warren released Monday is interesting, even if it reads less like a bold vision document than a treatise on process…. Warren does not say how she herself would tackle China, or what she would do with Trump’s tariffs. But she lays out elements of an attack. ‘We’ve let China get away with the suppression of pay and labor rights, poor environmental protections, and years of currency manipulation.’


“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 July 30: Biden up at 32.0% (31.8), Sanders jumps to 16.25Q (15.4%), Warren flqt at 14.0% (14.0%), Buttigieg flat at 5.6% (5.7%), Harris flat at 11.5% (11.4%), others Brownian motion. Sanders opens a little daylight between him and Warren, for the first time in two weeks. Also, look at the polls themselves;

Interestingly, Morning Consult has Sanders as a strong second, and not ‘tied” with Warren at all. It’s Quinnipiac and Economist/YouGov, when averaged in, that are creating that storyline. Makes me wonder what the campaign internals are saying. Note that if Sanders is a strong second, that’s in spite of the press, and quite the reverse for Warren.

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Harris (D)(1): “Oddly Specific Kamala Harris Policy Generator” [@ne0liberal]. My result: “Yesterday, I announced that, as president, I’ll establish a school lunch program for games journalists who open a mini golf that operates for 15 days in Greenwich Village.” • It’s about ethics in miniature golf.

Sanders (D)(1): “”You can’t call this plan Medicare for All”: The Bernie Sanders camp pans Kamala Harris’s health care plan” [Vox]. “The differences between Harris’s plan and Sanders’s plan come down to two main factors. First, it’s phased-in over 10 years, versus Sanders’s four. And Harris’s would allow private insurers to compete within the government-run program, similar to the way that Medicare Advantage currently works for older adults’ plans. Sanders’s plan effectively eliminates private insurance.” • Why ten years? Why not fifteen? Meanwhile, Neera Tanden is just as nimble as Kamala Harris:

Sanders (D)(2): Theory of change:

Note this is not Warren’s theory of change, though she might be able to simulate it with #Resistance-style events dominated by professionals.

Sanders (D)(3): “Bernie Sanders: As a child, rent control kept a roof over my head” [CNN]. “I was born and raised in a three-and-a-half room apartment in Brooklyn. My father was a paint salesman who worked hard his entire life, but never made much money. This was not a life of desperate poverty — but coming from a lower middle-class family, I will never forget how money, or really lack of money, was always a point of stress in our home… [O]ur family was always able to afford a roof over our heads, because we were living in a rent-controlled building. That most minimal form of economic security was crucial for our family. Today, that same ability to obtain affordable housing is now denied to millions of Americans.”

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“Democratic debate in Detroit: 7 things to watch for on Night 1” [Los Angeles Times]. “Although Sanders and Warren have a similarly adversarial approach to Wall Street — and both believe in eliminating private health insurance in favor of the type of government-run programs implemented in other Western democracies — they have very different political philosophies. Warren has called herself a “capitalist to my bones” who usually believes that markets just need to be better regulated; Sanders sees democratic socialism as the solution to fighting authoritarianism and plutocracy. A debate would normally be the kind of place where you’d see political candidates try to sharpen those sorts of differences, like how California Sen. Kamala Harris took on Biden over his position decades ago on busing for school desegregation in the last debate. But with so many candidates on the stage, Warren and Sanders could just as easily avoid each other if they don’t see an upside in picking a fight.” • Remember their constituencies are less than overlapping, and their theories of change are different.

“If Democrats Want to Win in 2020, They Have to Give Detroit a Reason to Vote” [The Nation]. “The Democratic presidential contenders who will debate this week in this city have come to a state where their party’s “blue wall” cracked in 2016… But what’s the best way to reach out to Detroiters? The Democrats can start by getting serious about urban policy. Both major parties once focused on the concerns of American cities, but in recent decades they have chased after suburban and exurban voters with such abandon that they have often neglected the beating hearts of our metropolitan areas.” • They have no place to go….

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“Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg Hold Contrasting Hollywood Fundraisers” [Variety]. “Bernie Sanders held a ‘grassroots fundraiser’ in Hollywood on Thursday night, delivering his message of political transformation to an adoring crowd at the Montalban Theatre. At the same time, Pete Buttigieg was holding a sold-out fundraiser at the home of NBCUniversal international chairman Kevin MacLellan and Brian Curran, featuring co-hosts Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, Chelsea Handler and Sean Hayes…. ‘Some politicians go to wealthy people’s homes and they sit around in a fancy living room, and people contribute thousands and thousands of dollars and they walk out with a few hundred thousand bucks or whatever,’ Sanders said. ‘We don’t do that. … To me, an $18 check or a $27 check from a working person is worth more than all the money in the world from millionaires.'” Cf., ironically enough, Luke 21:1-4.


“Ex-Host Krystal Ball: MSNBC’s Russia ‘Conspiracies’ Have Done ‘Immeasurable Harm’ to the Left” [Daily Beast]. “Elsewhere in the six-minute monologue, [former longtime MSNBC anchor Krystal] Ball accused MSNBC of cynically following the Russia story in pursuit of ratings, making journalistic compromises along the way. She directly criticized hosts like Rachel Maddow (“You’ve got some explaining to do,” Ball said to her) and on-air analysts like Mimi Rocah (a Daily Beast contributor) for leading viewers to believe that there was a strong possibility that Trump and his family would be indicted. Ball also suggested that the ‘fevered speculation’ of guests like New York columnist Jonathan Chait and former British MP Louise Mensch would have been more at home on conspiracy network Infowars. ‘Russia conspiracy was great for ratings among the key demographic of empty nesters on the coasts with too much time on their hands,’ said Ball, who now hosts an inside-baseball streaming political talk show for The Hill.” • Oddly, this story got no traction at all.


“Impeachment, always a longshot, fades in wake of Mueller hearing” [Los Angeles Times]. “the window of opportunity has rapidly begun shrinking. About 90 House Democrats have joined the call to open a formal impeachment inquiry. That’s less than 40% of the caucus — far short of what would be needed to overcome the opposition of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who views the move as politically unwise and likely to backfire. To significantly change the current path, backers of impeachment needed a dramatic boost out of this week’s hearing with former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. His testimony fell far short of that mark.” • Yes, the 90 includes a few new faces, but I’d bet they’re revolving heroes. So, after three years of daily hysteria from liberal Democrats, this is where we are.

Health Care

“More than two-thirds of Obamacare cosponsors are now backing Medicare for All proposal” [Fast Company]. “Twelve of the current 17 House members who cosponsored the landmark 2009 measure known as Obamacare have signed on as cosponsors of legislation that would create a universal healthcare system, according to a MapLight analysis. The five incumbent House Democrats who cosponsored Obamacare but who have declined to endorse a “Medicare-for-All” proposal have received an average of $209,000 in campaign contributions since 2011 from the 10 largest U.S. healthcare companies, their employees, and five major trade associations. The dozen cosponsors have received an average of $65,000 from the industry…. The disparity highlights the importance of moderate and conservative Democrats to the healthcare industry, which has united against proposals to ensure that the United States guarantees health coverage for all citizens.” • Ka-ching. This may also explain Harris et al. moving up their assault.

“Obama Alums Tell Health Insurance Lobby ‘Medicare For All’ Won’t Happen” [Tarbell]. “Axelrod said that Medicare for All has “become a phrase as much as anything else.” He suggested that some Democratic presidential candidates may not want to go as far as Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent credited with sparking support for Medicare For All during his 2016 presidential campaign, and might support more limited reforms like a public option or allowing some people under the age of 65 to buy into Medicare…. The AHIP conference featured a slew of other former Obama officials, including Andy Slavitt, who led the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; Sam Kass, the former White House chef and nutrition adviser; and Kavita Patel, who served as a policy aide in the Obama White House. Patel, currently a Brookings Institution nonresident fellow and vice president at the Johns Hopkins Health System, harshly criticized Medicare for All. ‘People who are very serious about health policy on either side of the fence know this is not reality,’ she said. She suggested that Democratic presidential candidates’ support for Medicare for All is ‘all just campaign talk.'” • Why, it’s almost as if preventing #MedicareForAll was the liberal Democrats #1 policy priority!

“One Nation Launches Campaign To Stop Medicare For None” [One Nation]. • A Republican front group, whose ads have been spotted by alert reader JM in California.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Activists Urging Lacey to ‘Do Her Job’ in Second Ed Buck Death” [Los Angeles Sentinel]. “Local activists are urging District Attorney Jackie Lacey to ‘do her job’ and find that the evidence presented to Los Angeles Sheriff’s is probable cause to immediately charge and prosecute Ed Buck in spite of his ‘Whiteness, wealth, and her political ambitions,’ in the death of Timothy Dean, the second man to die at Buck’s residence. ‘We’ve done all that we could do to aid the sheriff’s investigators with their investigation,’ said community activist and advocate, Jasmyne Cannick. ‘Once again, we gathered evidence and brought the sheriff’s other young men who could speak directly to their experiences with Ed Buck. I hope that this time around, the political will and prosecutorial creativity that we’ve seen used so often against Black people is used to bring charges against Ed Buck for the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean. Two men have died on the same mattress, in the same living room, of the same drug, at the same man’s house within months of each other …'”

“House Democratic Campaign Chair Vows To ‘Do Better’ After Senior Staffers Quit” [HuffPo]. “The chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee admitted to making mistakes and vowed to “do better” after several senior staffers resigned on Monday. The staff exodus came on the heels of a report that the committee, whose primary mission is to help Democrats maintain and expand their House majority, was ‘in chaos’ over concerns about hiring and a lack of diversity…. ‘I have never been more committed to expanding and protecting this majority, while creating a workplace that we can all be proud of,’ Bustos said in the statement. ‘I will work tirelessly to ensure that our staff is truly inclusive.'” • Bring back DWS?

“Can a New Think Tank Put a Stop to Endless War?” [The Nation]. “[A] newly formed think tank in Washington, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft… states that its mission is to ‘move US foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace.’ The group is still raising money, but with a projected second-year budget of $5 million to 6 million, enough to support 20 to 30 staffers, it aims to match the scale of more established think tanks and to disrupt the foreign policy consensus in Washington…. [T]he Quincy Institute includes the unlikely duo of Charles Koch and George Soros among its founding donors—each has committed half a million dollars—and is intended to serve as a counterweight to the Blob, as the bipartisan national security establishment dedicated to endless war has come to be known… When it comes to foreign policy, [co-founder Eli] Clifton says, there’s little difference between CAP and Republican-aligned think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the Hudson Institute. One way Quincy will distinguish itself from its better-established rivals will be to refuse money from foreign governments.”

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, June 2019: “The month-to-month breakdown of consumer spending shows slowing in what will offer support for those on the FOMC who want to cut interest rates this week” [Econoday]. “Core inflation which is under target and which suggests that an increase in demand would be sustainable.”

Consumer Confidence, July 2019: “Boosted by an evermore favorable view of the jobs market, consumer confidence jumped sharply” [Econoday]. “Jobs-hard-to-get is down sharply… One interesting point in the report is a drop in inflation expectations… [T]he overall strength of the consumer, whether in confidence or spending which are both tied to the health of the jobs market, does not speak to the need for lower rates.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, May 2019: “Home prices continue to slow to underscore what is becoming another difficult year for the housing sector” [Econoday]. “Despite low mortgage rates and consumer strength, housing data whether for prices or sales or construction have been flattening out in recent reports in what will support arguments to cut interest rates at this week’s FOMC meeting.”

Pending Home Sales Index, June 2019: “A fast break just when housing needed one appears in a …. surge in pending sales of existing homes” [Econoday].


In ME-02, blue (“1939 and earlier”) is, like, new!

Real Estate: “Supply-chain automation is gaining ground in logistics as companies look to get the most out of real estate close to consumers. Startup Attabotics will use $25 million raised in a new funding round to expand its platform in the growing e-commerce market. … [T]he company’s focus is on bringing efficiency to the tight spaces companies are turning to for fulfillment operations The Canadian company makes automated vertical systems for storing, retrieving and sorting goods that it says use less space than traditional warehouses.” [Wall Street Journal].

Manufacturing: “Air Canada Removes 737 Max Flights Until 2020” [Industry Week]. “Air Canada has removed the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule until January pending regulatory approvals, joining Southwest Airlines Co. in scrapping plans for flights of the jetliner into 2020…. The Montreal-based airline said that third-quarter projected capacity is expected to fall about 2% compared with the same period in 2018, contrasting the originally planned increase of about 3%.”

Manufacturing: “Boeing needs to come up with a Plan B for grounded Max jets” [Financial Times]. “As a researcher of confidence-driven decision making, 2020 looks woefully optimistic to me, as does the company’s special charge. In fact, based on what I see, it is not too early for Boeing to start considering a Plan B for the existing Max series fleet. First, the extreme overconfidence that existed at Boeing prior to the two crashes suggests that there may be more problems still to surface. Second, the aerospace industry is uniquely vulnerable when it comes to confidence. Confidence requires perceptions of certainty and control, but aeroplane passengers are inherently powerless: they can’t and don’t fly the plane. Finally, everything that has unfolded to date has occurred with consumer confidence near all-time highs. The crowd is inherently optimistic today and demand for air travel is soaring. Should the broader mood decline ahead, not only will passenger and regulatory scrutiny naturally intensify, but interest in travel itself will drop. In an economic recession, airlines will have little use for the now-grounded planes.” And the Plan B? “Given the industry’s prior experience with the DC-10, which struggled to regain passenger confidence after a series of early safety issues, one option could be a conversion of the existing fleet to air freight. Establishing trust with a small group of professional freight pilots is likely to be far easier.” • Yikes.

Manufacturing: “Boeing drops out of competition to replace Minuteman III” [Wyoming Tribune Eagle]. “Boeing confirmed this week that it had withdrawn from bidding on the contract for the U.S. Air Force’s Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program. The contract is to replace the Air Force’s Cold War-era Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. Experts have estimated the project could be worth about $85 billion…. Boeing’s departure from the project creates a situation where only one company [Northrop Grumman ] will be bidding on a massive military contract to supply the nation with the ground-based portion of its nuclear triad system.” • So no bailout for Boeing that way.

The Bezzle: “Millions use Earnin to get cash before payday. Critics say the app is taking advantage of them.” [NBC]. “But critics say that the company is effectively acting as a payday lender — providing small short-term loans at the equivalent of a high interest rate — while avoiding conventional lending regulations designed to protect consumers from getting in over their heads. Earnin argues that it isn’t a lender at all because the company relies on tips rather than required fees and does not send debt collectors after customers who fail to repay the money.” • Hmm.

Tne Bezzle: “FBI found bucket of human heads, body parts sewn together at donation facility: report” [The Hill]. “The center’s owner, Stephen Gore, was sentenced to a year of deferred prison time and four years of probation after pleading guilty in October to illegal control of an enterprise.” • Ick. I’m sure the same thing will never happen at cryogenic facilities….

The Biosphere


“Modest (insipid) Green New Deal proposals miss the point – Part 2” [Bill Mitchell]. “At the basis of the [standard neoclassical microeconomics] ‘solution’ is the belief that there is a trade-off between, say, environmental damage and economic growth (production). And the market failure skews that trade-off towards growth at the expense of environmental health. So all that is needed is some intervention (a tax) that will skew the trade-off back to something more preferable. The problem is that the whole idea that there is a trade-off between protecting our environment and economic production is flawed at the most elemental level. There is no calculus (which underpins this sort of microeconomic reasoning) that can tell us when a biological system will die. The idea that we can have a ‘safe’ level of pollution, regulated via a price system, is groundless and should not form part of a progressive response. Carbon trading schemes (CTS) are neoliberal constructs which start with the presumption that a free market is the best way to organise allocation.” • Worth repeating: Mark Blyth says that “Markets cannot internalize their externalities on a planetary scale. They just can’t. It’s impossible.” I’m wondering if carbon tax failure is a lemma from that (heretical) proposition. Also, somebody tell Elizabeth Warren.

“Stopping Climate Change Will Never Be ‘Good Business'” [Jacobin] (review of Bill McKibben’s new book, Falter). “McKibben mistakenly believes that the problems of climate destruction stem from bad ideas and policies, rather than systemic issues. The 1970s turn toward neoliberalism in fact originated with a general crisis in capitalist profitability, not with Ayn Rand’s ideas…. If you believe [with McKibben] that all working-class led revolutions end in disaster, and that it is therefore necessary to prioritize collaborating with the existing rulers of society (the capitalists and their governmental representatives), then a radical alternative to the status quo is not possible.”

“How much does your flight actually hurt the planet?” [Quartz]. “Flygskam (translated as ‘flight shame’) is a burgeoning Sweden-led movement which calls on people to consider limiting their flight use…. Michael Mann of Penn State University, and some other climate scientists, have argued against making individual sacrifices in the name of climate change, even big ones, because they feel the only true impact can be made at the level of government…. It’s true: despite incontrovertible evidence of the toll our collective lives are taking on the planet, any action an individual takes carries with it the knowledge that, however huge the personal sacrifice, the result will be nothing more than a dot in the vast global matrix. One person’s actions can’t make a difference; only collective action can…. Perhaps ‘flight shame’ is a misnomer: It denotes a sensation of embarrassment, and implies something hidden, rather than a strong ethical choice.” •


“Overpopulation, Not Climate Change, Caused California’s Water Crisis” [The American Conservative]. “The issue is population. California has grown from 10 million to at least 40 million since 1950, making it necessary to move water over long distances to where people live and work. Close to two thirds of the state’s population is bunched in a few water-dependent coastal counties. Only about 15 percent of California’s water consumption is residential. Most of that is used outdoors to make the desert bloom and hillside pools sparkle and shimmer David Hockney-like, and millions expect that water at will.” But: ” Farm water comprises an estimated 70 percent of annual state water use. Private water ownership and 1,300 competing irrigation districts complicate matters…. Agriculture’s $40 billion contribution to the California economy is only about 3 percent of the state’s GDP. Rural California is still a potent voting bloc in the state legislature and the U.S. Congress, but less so every decade.” • The headline seems oversimplified, even agenda-driven.

Health Care

Original Medicare took only a year to implement, back in the era of steam:

I wonder who we should give the first #MedicareForAll card to. Jonathan Gruber? Nancy Pelosi?


“‘Leaving billions of dollars on the table‘” [Gatehouse News] (source of map above). “‘The irony to me,’ said John Henderson, who heads The Texas Organization of Rural & Community Hospitals and supports Medicaid expansion, ‘is that we’re paying federal income taxes to expand coverage in other states. We’re exporting our coverage and leaving billions of dollars on the table.’… High rates of poverty in rural areas, combined with the loss of jobs, aging populations, lack of health insurance and competition from other struggling institutions will make it difficult for some rural hospitals to survive regardless of what government policies are implemented. For some, there’s no point in trying. They say the widespread closures are the result of the free market economy doing its job and a continued shakeout would be helpful. But no rural community wants that shakeout to happen in its backyard.” • Good reporting! I wonder who those “for some” are. I bet a lot of them don’t live in rural areas.


“A teen who frustrated his mom gaming 8 hours a day became a millionaire in the Fortnite World Cup” [Business Insider]. “More than 40 million players participated in the qualifying events for the final, which took place at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City on Saturday and Sunday. Fifty duos and 100 solo players made it through the final and were competing to take home a cut of the $30 million prize pool, the largest prize pool in the history of e-sports.” • Filling a stadium. This old codger thinks that’s quite remarkable, a new thing on the face of the earth.


“The Invention of Money” [The New Yorker]. • Fun factoids, but a serious attempt would include Michael Hudson, and MMT on the origin of money as well.

Class Warfare

“When I joined my father on the building site, I saw a different side to him” [Guardian (DG)]. “It was on those building sites that, for the first time in my life, I saw a different side to my father. At home, my mother was not only the main breadwinner but also did practically all the cooking, cleaning and organisation. She was the engine of the family: paying the mortgage, asking me about my homework, remembering my friends’ names, picking up discarded socks and cooking dinner every night from scratch. My father was, at times, little more than a lodger. But at work, he suddenly turned into something like a figure of authority: intelligent, in charge, hard-working, exacting. He knew about things I had never even heard of, such as building regulations, damp-proof courses, rendering, load-bearing walls and lintels. He was patient, informed. He may have lost his pencil, hammer, spirit level and saw every 30 seconds, but he knew what he was doing. As I watched him briefing a bricklayer or discussing some finer detail of a knocked-through dining room with a plasterer, I saw someone who rarely came home. Since then, I have often suggested to friends struggling with parental relationships that might feel disappointing and strained to try meeting that parent at work, to visit them in situ, have lunch on their territory, watch them in action, and try to find this other side to someone with whom you are so familiar… Being a young woman on a building site, I also learned that the class system is alive and well in modern Britain. People I knew from school would fail to recognise me as they walked past the building site… There is nothing innately superior about life with a boardroom or swivel chair. The income discrepancy between so-called white-collar and blue-collar work is unfounded. …. work is work is work is work.” • A really splendid article.

News of the Wired

“The Pirate Who Penned the First English-Language Guacamole Recipe” [Atlas Obscura]. “British-born William Dampier began a life of piracy in 1679 in Mexico’s Bay of Campeche. … He gave us the words ‘tortilla,’ ‘soy sauce,’ and ‘breadfruit,’ while unknowingly recording the first ever recipe for guacamole. And who better to expose the Western world to the far corners of our planet’s culinary bounty than someone who by necessity made them his hiding places?” • So globalization has a culinary upside; always has!

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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 (meeps):

Meeps writes: “The columbines are pink and yellow this year.” Columbines are so stylish and old-fashioned.

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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. Jason Boxman

    I’m renting an apartment in a building that was built in the 1920s, complete with a bust of Charles Lindberg on the front, in Somerville, MA. It was visibly wired for telephone service years after it was built, as the cables run along the outside of the walls. (And they’re unused as no one uses physical telephones anymore anyway.)

    The lack of central air conditioning is punishing. Life is a misery and I’m moving somewhere with central AC next year. Unfortunately all the newest construction in the Boston area is for those happy to outlay at least $2,500 a month, so I’m undecided where to relocate to. Having air conditioning almost standard with every dwelling is the only aspect of living in the south I actually miss.

    1. Synoia

      Oregon. The climate is mild. Elsewhere in the US it can be too hot, too cold or too expensive.

      Tallahassee, Fl. Not as hot as the Carolinas.

      Or the tropics, where one learns to live without a/c, but the temperature is constant.

      1. Robert Valiant

        Are you very familiar with Oregon? I lived in Pendleton for six years. Most summers had days over 100, and most winters had days below zero. My mom grew up in Joseph, Oregon, and back in the olden days, she said summer was “officially” over after Chief Joseph Days. That was the last weekend in July.

        1. Lost in Oregon

          I’ve lived in the NE and the desert SW. I now live in the mid-Willamette Valley, Oregon. Winters are, admittedly, humid. Snow is becoming a rare event. Summers are exquisite. There are perhaps 10 days/nights, annually, where nightly cooling (windows open, an exhaust fan at one end of the house) is all one needs. I consider the 10 hot days and nights to be good toughening agents.

          I fear dry springs and fire season though. Last summer we had more than 100 days with no measurable precipitation. Camping season was short and the air quality went south. Or somewhere.

          This will be Eden, until it isn’t.

          Best luck with uninflated real estate. WTF is that anyway?

        2. anon in so cal

          We recently visited Bend, on the Deschutes River. Were also there about 20 years ago. The development is staggering (not good). Summer temps rarely exceed 84 F. It’s gorgeous high desert with Ponderosa Pines, etc.

        3. Oregoncharles

          He means the maritime west of the state, where temps are indeed mild. In the Willamette Valley, summers average highs around 80, with just a day or two near 100, and low humidity. There are varieties of grapes and even apples that don’t ripen well here because we don’t get enough heat. Winter is soggy, but Zone 8 – normal lows above 20 F. Once in a while we get snow and a deep freeze, Black ice is the worst hazard.

          Seasonal Affective Disorder can be bad here – not enough sun in the winter, even if you’re outside.

          1. Robert Valiant

            When people say “Oregon,” they almost always mean the Willamette Valley. It’s actually a large state, with a wide variety of climates – I’ve lived in many of them.

            I currently live in a sage brush desert in Washington State – the summers routinely have many consecutive days over 100. Few people living on the I-5 corridor have any conception of the rest of the state – Oregon or Washington, for that matter. I lived in Seattle for 20 years – the most geographically ignorant people I’ve ever known.

      2. Copeland

        Noooo! Don’t go to Oregon, (that’s where I want to go) so please don’t inflate real estate there!

        I hear its really rainy and gloomy there….except in summer when it’s smoky, filling up with Californians, so best to stay back east. /s

        1. Monty

          Too late. It’s full of bay area retirees living the highlife off unearned capital gainz.

      3. polecat

        Western Oregon perhaps. East of the Cascades, it can be more than just mild, Synoia. Same with regard to Your neighboring state to the north, Washington.

        1. anon in so cal

          On the eastern edge of the Cascades, the climate is mild:

          “Bend’s climate is typical of the high desert with cool nights and sunny days, classified as semi-arid (Köppen BSk). Annual precipitation averages 11.2 in (280 mm), with an annual average snowfall of 23.8 inches (60.5 cm).[21] The winter season in Bend provides a mean temperature of 31.1 °F (−0.5 °C) in December.[21] Nighttime temperatures are not much lower than daytime highs during the winter. According to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, annually, the lowest nighttime temperature is typically −5 °F (−21 °C) to −10 °F (−23 °C).[22]

          Central Oregon summers are marked by their very large diurnal temperature ranges, with a July daily average of 64.5 °F (18.1 °C), and an average diurnal temperature variation approaching 35 °F (19 °C).[21] Hard frosts are not unheard of during the summer months. Autumn usually brings warm, dry days and cooler nights, and Bend is known for its annual Indian summer.”

    1. Big River Bandido

      Thank you, Lambert, for watching this debate so I don’t have to.

      You are definitely going above and beyond the call of duty.

  2. j84ustin

    “One person’s actions can’t make a difference; only collective action can”

    Yes, but when a movement can get a word that means “flight shame” into the popular lexicon, your individual choice to stop flying starts to carry some weight.

    I’m tired of hearing how individual choices won’t save the planet. This is true. However, that does not mean we shouldn’t stop flying, or eating meat, or having fewer kids. And the more we do it, the more it hopefully catches on, and the less terrible hopefully our future will be.

    1. John k

      Not to worry. We’re more adaptive than many species, ours will survive the mass extinction. We survived and traveled when continents were covered with a mile of ice just as we survived in malaria infested jungles. As a species we don’t really need our modern comforts, so losing some of them is not critical.
      Granted we’re pretty far in overshoot, the sustainable number in a hot fish-free world maybe under 1 billion? And overshoot goes in both directions…

    2. Another Scott

      We need both individual and collective (government) action; it’s not an either-or decision. By blaming Big Oil and Dirty Utilities, people refuse to accept personal responsibility about their lifestyle and its impact on the environment. I know people who have given up meat or chosen to go on trips for the environment, earning my respect in the process. On the other hand, whenever I see billionaires or celebrities preach about the evils of oil companies and climate change before hopping on jets and yachts (including Epstein’s), my support for action decreases.

    3. softie

      and people also need to drive smaller cars (if they can’t bicycle/walk/use public transportation), and live in much smaller and more energy efficient dwelling.

      1. ambrit

        And, authoritarian ‘fingerwagging’ often ends up in that most estimable of commodities, flying lead. YMMV Left or right, the base elements do not discriminate.

      2. DJG

        Lambert Strether: See Another Scott’s comment above. It is about respect and self-respect. In other words, what would happen if Americans weren’t so propagandized and craven?

        [And further: And what’s so terrible about some shame? If it stops people from stealing the tips off tables in restaurants, or stepping on kids on the sidewalk, I’m all for it.]

      3. Amfortas the hippie

        agree about the liberal fingerwagging…but shaming is a timeworn method of social control and/or stability.
        in my little town,where 150 years of history is worn on the sleeve, I’ve seen people, as if on cue, turn their backs to a guy who had been arrested for beating his wife(white dude, upstanding founding family)…he comes in a store, and literally everyone turned around, as if to will him out of existence.
        counter guy quickly and efficiently and Silently handled his purchase, and the dude got out of there with a quickness.
        as an onlooker(and a perennial ferriner(only been here a quarter century), i observed all this from the back…the vibe was palpable.
        if, instead of lauding them as “creators” and the pinnacle of human development, we somehow found a way to make the activity of wall street shameful…akin to pissing on the altar, perhaps…change might look more possible.
        ie: don’t defer to your “betters”. it only encourages them in their fantasy.
        I know 3 bankers(100+ year old local institutions). one is a genuinely good guy, his boss(the owner) has his moments of compassion and care, but slips easily into authoritarianism(especially, it seems, after a weekend in vegas)…the third is an a$$, and I wouldn’t unzip for him if he was on fire.
        but I have watched folks kowtow to him, as he gobbles up property and businesses for pennies and slashes wages and generally emulates the Bains and Blackrock people.
        is this fear or admiration?
        to me this latter banker is as bad(or worse) as the wife beater, and just as harmful to the social fabric.
        Shame is a tool that we still have in our quiver, if we could only figure out how to use it on bad actors beyond merely the sexmonsters.
        #metoo against the 1%(or 10%)

    4. Monty

      “One person’s actions can’t make a difference; only collective action can….”

      Sound’s like communism. Therefore, we’re doomed.

    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One’s actions…difference.


      It depends on if what that one persod does is inspiring or not.

      For example, going on hunger strike for a good cause. We are not talking about doing it just in one’s own room alone, without the world knowing about it – that wont’ do – but with the media publicizing it. Then, it could inspire.

      But if you’re a nobody, like many people around the world, billions of them, then, it could be that not even your neighbor would notice.

      So, if you give up flying, you need the media to broadcast your sacrifice…how that is making you suffer. That could make a difference.

    6. DJG

      Thanks, j84austin. I also am not buying this business of letting Americans off the hook for their actions, because the U S of A, as we all know, is the world’s center for careful use of resources, respect for labor, and thrift (!).

      I note this parenthetical in the article:

      (A counterargument runs that rather than distracting us, taking individual actions sharpens the mind when it comes to demanding better practice from our institutions and politicians.)

      To save the Earth, our minds may have to be sharper. And being attentive to our choices will continue to sharpen them.

    7. jrs

      if we flight shame may we can then ban airport expansion. Because how else are we going to get that passed when everyone flies for vacation. NIMBYs who don’t want planes overhead won’t do it, but NIMBYs who don’t want planes overhead and don’t fly themselves and thus have no vested interest in planes overhead if only they changed flight paths ..

    8. Mo's Bike Shop

      I suspect that plane flight has probably passed my claustrophobia limit. Last flight was almost ten years ago, and they were pushing it then. When you pay money to be treated like a sardine, it is hard not to wonder about the rest of the company’s quality assessments.

  3. NotTimothyGeithner

    Pete Buttigieg was at a fundraiser attended by the CEO of a company which once canceled Star Trek.

    Bernie Sanders was at the Ricardo Montelban Theatre.

    A tale of two candidates…

    1. Clive

      All we need now is Star Trek 2020: The Wrath of Chaka Khan

      Kamala Harris stars as she and the crew of the DNC Identitarian boldly go where no candidate has gone before. To seek out new demographics and social media stratagems. To explore strange, new policies like Single Payer. To be rerunning forever, like Hillary, in syndication.

      1. Cal2

        “Kamala Harris Specific Random Wealth Generator”

        Hook the right guy:
        “In the mid-1990s, Harris, then 30, was dating 60-year-old [married] Willie Brown, who was investigated by the FBI. As the speaker of the state Assembly, Brown had named Harris to well-paid posts on the California Medical Assistance Commission and Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. The position paid over $70,000 per year, $120,700 in current money, and Harris served on the board until 1998.”

        “Harris, missed about 20% of the meetings each year, according to commission records. The seven-member board was largely comprised of late-career former state officials who were semi-retired or biding time before retirement. At 30 years old, Harris was the youngest appointee by some three decades”.


        “Sen. Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff made nearly $2 million last year, topping all of the other 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who have released their tax returns.”

  4. pictboy3

    Wait til Lambert hears about how the South Koreans treat Starcraft. It’s like the state religion over there.

  5. NotTimothyGeithner

    I wonder who we should give the first #MedicareForAll card to.

    Harry and Louise?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Jack Benny was asked for his Social Security number by Bob Hope once in a comedy skit. His answer?


  6. Off The Street

    The Guardian article brought back many happy memories of seeing my Dad at work. The same taciturn guy from home was a voluble guy with peers, clients and other adults. My lifelong regret is that I didn’t get to spend more time with him as an adult. Children may eventually grow up enough to appreciate their parents as more than parents, much as they mature with friends and relatives.

    One takeaway from those experiences with Dad at work for me was insight into work environments. Early on, I made it a point to visit companies and to look at the the employees. Their facial expressions and body language will speak to you, or even shout, before they say a word. That was useful when looking for work, for vendors, for services or even when just browsing.

    1. BobW

      Looking at employees seems to be a better idea than looking at cars in the parking lot, as I was told to do. You may be able afford a nice car working for a terrible employer.

    2. neo-realist

      In the old days, it was easier for one to visit companies and look at the employees to get a read on a company. In the present, with the advent of imperious building security personnel, and key cards to enter buildings, floors, and office rooms, easy access to an office and its dynamics are a huge challenge unless you know somebody, or check out websites such as glassdoor where employees, present and former, review the working conditions of a company to give you a heads up as to whether you would want to work there.

      1. Mike Mc

        Work in IT, telecom or similar ‘outsourced’ services if you want to see what’s behind the front entrance.

        Did on-site computer and laser printer repair for a decade – back when we still fixed stuff when it broke – and like the above examples, always an interesting peek behind the curtain.

        Handy when trying to understand the local economy or what company might be worth working for, whether for yourself or friends or family. With massive consolidation of recent years, this may no longer be true: scouring the business news online may be how that happens (hat tip to NC!). You got to know the territory…

  7. Dan

    “Oddly Specific Kamala Harris Policy Generator”

    “When president, I will establish a taxpayer paid reparations fund for colored girls who have considered political suicide / when the rainbow flag is a rebuff.”

    Oh, the agonies of Identarian politics.

  8. fdr-fan

    Bernie on rent control: This is why I like and trust him despite many disagreements on specific points.

    Bernie understands that meritocracy is a fraud. People have different talents and opportunities. Civilization needs all of our talents. Therefore, civilization is supposed to (PARTLY!) equalize the opportunities so that honest people with different talents can participate. When civilization fails to equalize, dishonest criminals win every time.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What is different today, with respect to rent control? Does that depend on where one lives? Have some areas seen more rent control since Sanders’ childhood, while other areas less?

      Another issue with high rents is empty dwelling units not for rent (supply suppressed).

      Too many empty housing units…in urban and surburban areas, but also rural places.

      That brings us to second homes and vacation homes.

      Doesn’t Sanders have one that is not fully used 365 days a year, sitting empty when not in use?

      1. GERMO

        The American Legislative Exchange Council has worked tirelessly to write and promote state-level pre-emption laws that prohibit cities from enacting rent control. Nearly identical language has found its way into numerous states thanks to ALEC, and it has made rent control more and more impossible, politically, over time. Thanks Koch brothers.

        The idea that rent control is maybe growing somewhere as it shrinks elsewhere is in your imagination. The issue of high housing prices is not a supply-side economics story because cheap and expensive housing is not part of the same “supply”.

        And this only “brings us to second homes and vacation homes” if you’re looking for an anti-Sanders rightwing radio cheap shot. Or is that an MSNBC cheap shot? Hard to tell any more.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I try not to imagine. For that reason i asked about the state of rent control in various places around the country.

          Informative, I find that part of your comment.

          As for the part about Sanders, the same can be asked of all of us, including politicians. Only his name is mentioned because the conversation was started by him, as related to the discussion here. But again the question of whether second or third homes are luxuries we can do without, that is worthy of discussion, I believe.

          And since persons are not inseparable from ideas, I feel we can without controversy by using his second home to talk about the above.

          And a good sign of a good person is the openness to examine everything. If second homes are not the best use of resources, and if Sanders can be convinced of that, this setting an example would be more the more inspiring, no?

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          As for whether the issue of high housing prices is or is not a supply side economics story becuase cheap and expensive housing are not of the same supply, we can ask if there are cheap houses any more.

          If expensive homes are being bought and removed from supply, making expensive homes more expensive, do buyers considered less desirable, and thus less expensive homes (not that more expensive homes are always more desirable)? Will that make (relatively speaking) cheap homes less cheap?

          Are they all related somehow?

      2. Big River Bandido

        Rent control has virtually ceased to exist. New York and Boston discontinued it in the 90s.

        1. vegas

          I have several friends back in New York City. They still have rent control protection. Of course they are in their 70s and moved into their apartment in the 70s.

        2. Yves Smith

          There are over 20,000 rent controlled units in NYC as well as hundreds of thousands of rent stabilized units, and the state just put the kibosh on virtually all forms of decontrol.

  9. WheresOurTeddy

    Bernie got a bump in part because he killed it at the NAACP convention. He’s the second most popular candidate with African Americans behind Biden and there’s 6 more months to deflate the balloon of goodwill from being merely Obama-adjacent.

    Nobody ever talks about Warren and Buttigieig’s tepid and non-support (respectively) from AA community. I think Warren is much more likely to lose the general than most people do. Her head-to-head numbers against Trump are weaker than even some of the centrist neoliberals.

    1. bruce

      You know the D candidates are going to cannibalize each other like starving wild dogs, but eventually the convention will raise up a damaged champion to face a damaged and damaging president. After what happened the last time, I’m out of the prediction business for the final.

  10. Monty

    “FBI found bucket of human heads”

    “One agent reportedly said he found a “cooler filled with male genitalia,” “a bucket of heads, arms and legs,” “infected heads,” and a small woman’s head sewn onto a large male torso “like Frankenstein” hanging up on the wall, referred to as a “morbid joke” in the lawsuit, the outlet reports.”

    Market based medicine at work!

      1. jrs

        I don’t see why we can’t have open debates regardless of polls and just let people say what they will (I do agree the number of candidates is pretty unmanageable). But the people will make dumb choices and Yang or Williamson will be our next Prez. Maybe, with Trump … ugh it’s hard to argue anyone is making good choices.

        But the alternative to democracy in this system is plutocracy, and the choices of plutocracy are also bad, real bad.

  11. Dita

    Re: California and water and population, 1) large-scale farming uses upwards of 70% of water in California that supplies the entire country, regardless of the size of CA’s population; and 2) you can’t stop people from moving to that state if they want. Discussions about land/water/mineral rights in the west and southwest are always interesting to me, thought I’d link to a couple articles just for background.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One idea to reduce energy consumption on heating and cooling is to encourage people to move to milder climate regions.

      So, it could mean enticing people from New England, Upper Mid West, etc to move here.

      But non-agricultural, potable water is a problem here.

      Perhaps solar powered desalination plants (or wave-powered) to address that issue.

    2. Summer

      Outside of the weather, the other states could do more to retain people.

      Everybody is NOT coming to Cali for the weather, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley.

  12. NotTimothyGeithner

    Sorry but Atrios linked to this:


    Why did the Industrial Revolution start when it did? Why did Silicon Valley happen in California rather than Japan or Boston? Human progress is understudied, and @patrickc and @tylercowen want to change that.

    In case anyone was wondering, there are only a handful of people capable of writing 10,000 word essays.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqz2fl9aJSMBart Simpson put more effort into his report on Libya

  13. zagonostra

    “Why, it’s almost as if preventing #MedicareForAll was the liberal Democrats #1 policy priority!”

    With 1/5 of the economy at play they (Dems/Repubs,both represent the ruling class) will pull out all the stops to defeat M4A.

    I can only hope there are enough people that can muster the courage to go out and vote for Bernie and convince their relatives and friends to do the same, ignoring all the fear mongering and lies that are just getting started.

  14. Camp Lo

    Shucks, the irony does not stop at Luke 21:1-4. I recall here awhile back, passing reference to “[S]o the last shall be first. For many are called, but few are chosen” [Matthew 20:16], which caps a parable about wages in the Heavenly vineyard, where the folks that work the least, an hour or so, get the same pay as the people who worked all day. Generosity is now divine, not fairness, thus setting up the whole premise that the Israelites are not the chosen people anymore. According to the New Testament, it is the illiterate sinning gentiles that are now important [no offense]; redeeming that lot of mouth-breathers is the miracle. One of the many passages of the New Testament de-coupling earthly actions from consequences, and basically setting the stage for 1,800 more years of bloodshed and strife.

    The New Testament is the opposite of what one would seek for guidance in fulfilling everyone’s hierarchy of needs in an orderly, just, and socially democratic fashion. The Old Testament is the book concerned with justice [see Marx and Judaism]. The New Testament is about taking from a civilization in decline anything that isn’t nailed down. Sounds weird right? That why M.M.L. J. had to repeat the story four times until it sank in. Jesus came at the tail-end of the Axial Age, a period of worldwide violence and conquest the likes of which had never been experienced before, offering an Aramaic rationalization for why great things were happening for horrible people.

    Having a bit of a Calvinist bent, a thirst for logic, plenty of scripture laying around, and time, the colonists in the Americas had some doubts about the natural order of things according to the Anglican ecclesiarchy. [As did the Islamic world, so if you want to hear about irony in the 2nd millennia… 9/11] Anyway, if Sanders is going to snipe at a few gay Angelenos for feeling some pride that Buttigieg is running, maybe Bernie’s crusade is not about justice, after all, but for the beatnik kicks, of his generation, to be found in toppling a political temple. Thus, on faith, Sander’s campaign offers an American rationalization for why great things are happening for horrible people.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Or how about Matthew 25:15:

      “And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one…and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common. Neither was there any among them that lacked; and great grace was upon them all.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Or Albert Einstein, 1949:

        “Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of the smaller ones.

        The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organised political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature.

        The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education).

        It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.”

    2. Big River Bandido

      I think you miss the sharp class politics at play in Sanders’ criticism of Buttigieg’s Hamptons West routine. “Fancy living rooms” is a particularly clever line…most people who have one will just fob off this reference as jealousy or crassness. To people who don’t have a “fancy living room”, however, the phrase elicits a class-based response by evoking everything they hate about the arrogant elitists who do have fancy living rooms.

    3. Plenue

      “The Old Testament is the book concerned with justice [see Marx and Judaism]”

      Where is this then? Somewhere between the law about stoning women who aren’t virgins on their wedding night and the rules on slavery, I’m guessing.

      “Anyway, if Sanders is going to snipe at a few gay Angelenos for feeling some pride that Buttigieg is running, maybe Bernie’s crusade is not about justice, after all, but for the beatnik kicks, of his generation, to be found in toppling a political temple”

      Literally what.

  15. mk

    I find this blog informative–have been a lurker here for a while. I learned this morning via an email from the Yang campaign that Yang’s second of four qualifying polls for the September debate has been revoked by the DNC. I have not been able to find any additional information. Do any of you have any leads? Thanks.

      1. Liberal Mole

        May every voter of the spurned candidates vote for the candidate most hated by the DNC; Sanders.

  16. Fern

    I haven’t studied the issue and maybe someone can help me out but on the face of it I don’t understand how Medicare buy-in for the younger uninsured can work. The whole point of Medicare is that you and your employer pay into the Medicare fund during your working life, and then a large part of your medical care is covered after retirement age. If younger people are allowed to “buy in”, does that mean that they make up the revenue shortfall that accrues because they are on the receiving, rather than the paying end for a longer period of time? In that case, wouldn’t it be unaffordable? Or are they not required to make up the revenue shortfall, in which case the program will be under even greater financial strain than it is now, and political pressure will mount for Medicare benefits to be cut.

    Bernie Sanders is always faulted by the press for not answering how Medicare for All would be paid for, but no one is asking Harris, Buttigieg, et al how Medicare for All Who Want It would be paid for.

    1. Baby Gerald

      I’m no health care scientist, but maybe we can study how all those other countries in the developed world pulled it off and follow their lead? Germany, England, Canada, Sweden, Denmark… they are all still our alleged allies, so maybe they can share with us their magic secrets.

    2. Inode_buddha

      The money comes from the fact that said people will no longer have to pay regular insurance premiums to profiteering gluttons. My Medicare taxes are a tiny, tiny fraction of what I pay for a platinum plan, and the coverage is/will be similar.

  17. Grant

    “‘People who are very serious about health policy on either side of the fence know this is not reality”

    Who is serious about healthcare on either side of the fence? I guess anyway there are two sides, instead of the reality, where there are many sides to this complex issue. Are the serious people those that have created a healthcare system that is the most inefficient in the developed world, that kills tens of thousands each year, results in massive amounts of people filing for bankruptcy and ties healthcare to jobs, which strengthens employers relative to employees? Are these the “serious” people? Who is on either side of the fence too? I take it that one side of the fence is the Republicans and the right broadly, on the other side? Are the single payer folks on the same side as the people that worked in the Obama administration that re now lobbyists? Why are they “serious” but not the proponents of single payer not?

    Single payer isn’t possible right now because of one thing and one thing only; those in power. They don’t want it, will not do it. The question is how we go from where we are to where we want to be, and it isn’t by continuing to listen to the losers that led us her and created this monstrosity of a system. It isn’t going to happen by listening to lobbyists that happen to be registered Democrats that say nothing platitudes in speeches about universal access to healthcare.

    I wonder what the “serious” people say about the environmental crisis. Are they the folks that pretend we have far more time than we do, and want to pretend moderate tinkering around the edges is the type of change that the science says we need?

  18. bruce

    You have some chicken, and you have a lot of chicken feathers, but you don’t have enough chicken to make a chicken salad. Bring me the rest of the chicken and I’ll help you make the salad.

  19. Summer

    RE: California/ tax returns/ Presidential Ballot

    Wow. Kinda hoping Trump doesn’t show his taxes.
    This could be a WTF moment for Cali residents that didn’t pay attention in civics class about the electoral college.

    1. Summer

      Then on the other hand, it kinda removes the Dem candidates from the pressure of having to appeal to Dems that “boo” centrists.
      If the election is made to be all about beating Trump, no need to focus too much on a state where he isn’t on the ballot.

  20. Monty

    “Single payer isn’t possible right now because of one thing and one thing only;”

    The truth is, A”me, me, me”rican’s rather like that they have access to care, whilst the undeserving poors do not. It’s like a pat on the head from Jesus!

    A right to healthcare is a huge gift to poor and sick people, but it’s hardly worth anything to Joe 6 pack (with his “well deserved” benefits already in place). Can’t have that! What about me?!?!?

    Would those lazy poors even work at all (for exploitative low wages), if they knew their families weren’t faced with death and/or bankrupcy should any of them get very sick? It’s a slippery slope!

  21. Jeremy Grimm

    The Bernie campaign materials I sent for came today. Much as I am impressed by Bernie I was disappointed in his campaign materials. Who does he have helping with his campaign?

    I think the old slogan “Feel the Bern” and the additional new slogan “Not Me, Us” are lame. The bumper magnet was round — as it was in his first campaign — but now it was slightly more than 4 inches in diameter instead of the slightly less than 6 inches in diameter as it had been in the first campaign. The idea of a bumper magnet is to get Bernie’s name out. Does someone think it wise to save a little money on magnet material while reducing the size of the writing? And why “Feel the Bern” for a bumper magnet? If someone wanted to save money they should have made the magnet rectangular and instead of “Feel the Bern” they should have used the same art as the blue Bernie sign. That way Bernie’s name can be more easily seen at a distance and it can be immediately recognized.

    In my opinion the campaign hand-out literature shows a similar lack of common sense. Bernie is NOT especially photogenic — so why go to so much trouble to put a full color photo showing Bernie shaking hands in a crowd next to a small “Bernie” on the side topped with the Not me. Us. slogan. The ‘Us’ is written with red letters making it less visible and is it reaching to wonder about the wisdom of using red letters on literature for a socialist candidate? The contents are all right. As hand-out literature, to hand out from a table or poke into a mailbox I suppose it’s all right … but when I’ve gone door-knocking I most appreciated door hangers instead of trying to wedge literature into door-seal above the knob.

    1. fnx

      Glad the USPS delivered your Sanders material! I got the email from them showing my bumper sticker was being delivered last month, but it has never showed up in my mailbox. Never had a problem with the carrier delivering my mail, so am left wondering what happened this time.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I think I like the slogan “Yes We Can … This Time We Will” as a slogan for Bernie. It could gradually shorten to “This Time We Will” then to “We Will”.

  22. ewmayer

    “A teen who frustrated his mom gaming 8 hours a day became a millionaire in the Fortnite World Cup” [Business Insider]. “More than 40 million players participated in the qualifying events for the final…” — so, to put a slightly different spin on the story, the other 39,999,999 moms were right to be frustrated?

  23. ewmayer

    “The Pirate Who Penned the First English-Language Guacamole Recipe” [Atlas Obscura] — Interesting word origin of the day: ‘avocado’ comes from the Nahuatl (language of the Aztecs) ahuacatl. (And in news you can use, is not to be confused with the Spanish word for ‘lawyer’, though both can be quite seedy and are helped by being thick-skinned.)

    1. Off The Street

      I’ve met a few abocados or avocats or plain old advocates, and some should be stuck with toothpicks and put in water to see if they sprout any new growth. ;p

  24. Geo

    “So, after three years of daily hysteria from liberal Democrats, this is where we are.”

    Well, if the Dems keep going like they have been, they’ll have another shot at the whole Trump-Russiagate/Impeachment charade after 2020. Think of how effective it will be as a policy distractor for them after “Putin steals” a second victory for Donald. Plus, four more years of not having to govern!

  25. richard

    Hey, does anyone have any suggestions where I can see the debates tonight and tomorrow without a cnn subscription, and without signing up for that or another service?

    1. richard

      Thanks Lambert for putting a link over in your live blog – I forgot that you do that. You rock!

  26. WheresOurTeddy

    At least four dozen parents in the suburbs of Chicago were found to have been giving up guardianship of their high school-aged kids in order for them to qualify for college financial aid and scholarships

    “By transferring guardianship to friends or other family members, students are allowed to declare themselves financially independent, thus allowing them to qualify for state aid they wouldn’t ordinarily be privy to.”

    I have it on good authority from Joe Biden, however, that rich people are just as patriotic as you and me and are in no way rapacious parasites who are the root of every problem in our society.

  27. The Rev Kev

    Must be because it is early here. When I read that article headline – ” Boeing drops out of competition to replace Minuteman III” just after reading about Boeing’s self-inflicted woes over the 737 MAX, I imagined for a moment that it was an Onion article about how Boeing had found a way to re-purpose those 737 MAXs – as missiles.

  28. Summer

    Re: Truman’s Medicare Application

    This comment on the twitter feed was priceless:

    @Arizona Indivisible
    ‏ @AZIndivisible1
    11h11 hours ago
    Replying to @BeschlossDC

    Can you get us a pic of Ayn Rand’s application for social security?

  29. The Rev Kev

    “How Trump Is Sabotaging Trade’s Ultimate Tribunal”

    What is unsaid in that article is why Trump is doing this. He said that he wants many more American judges on the tribunal so that they will hand down judgements favouring America’s side whenever there is a dispute. He thinks that when America is found in the wrong over some trade breach, that the solution is American judges that will never rule against America. And I would be fairly certain that he and Lighthizer would be able to find judges like that too.

  30. ambrit

    Got another in a long series of DCCC begging letters today.
    On the front:
    Up where the stamp would go: Nonprofit auto US postage $00.10.7
    Below that: Official business: Do not discard
    No other identification on outside of envelope.
    Inside: Single sheet, extra thick paper stock with:
    2019 Official Democratic Unity Survey
    A few anodyne “questions” and three separate exhortations to contribute, starting with minimum suggested contribution of $10 USD.
    So, my snarky subconscious has been right all along! The Democrat Party is planning on having a “Unity Candidate” in 2020. I wonder who that could be? Ur, maybe, *cough* HRH HRC?
    America Needs Two Mommies!

  31. Chaco52

    The Quincy Institute raised $6mill the second quarter from, in part, two rich, politically self-interested corporate whores and won’t be taken seriously unless they refuse contributions from other countries? And they’re 20-30 employees are making
    $100k – $200k a year? These corporate think tanks are killing us with policies that further corporate interests.
    It’s lovely that some of the rich want to stop wars. But until they understand that the goal of peace is only attained by policies that strive to help all people by placing the environment and sustainability above profits, that greed is evil and that progress is better measured by caring more for people than profits, these think tanks must be seen as part of the problem and not the solution.
    But at least if they don’t take money from other countries we know that they’re looking out for American interests. And that’s OK.

  32. JBird4049

    But: ” Farm water comprises an estimated 70 percent of annual state water use. Private water ownership and 1,300 competing irrigation districts complicate matters…. Agriculture’s $40 billion contribution to the California economy is only about 3 percent of the state’s GDP.

    The water barons pay at lot of bribes and have a lot of connections to maintain their families’ century and longer of political power. It’s like the old San Francisco Families like the Feinsteins and the Pelosis who helped to destroy the pre-1970 San Francisco working and lower middle classes while making money and keeping their wealth and social standing (really the same thing in the smallish Baghdad by the Bay).

    The little I know of San Jose and from what I know of Los Angeles the same pattern of a small, mainly Anglo, group of families moved in over a century ago, took over, have kept a surprising amount of power while creating a fairly corrupt government and police. Racism, backstabbing power politics, corruption, police brutality, and screwing the poor. It is all here.

    California had effective and thoughtful state government for a few decades, which has slowly croaked under the neoliberal regime from the mid 1970s. The formerly sane, even at times thoughtful California Republican Party has gone insane and effectively joined part the John Birch Society. The California Democratic Party, now that it rules the state especially with it supermajority in the legislature, is increasingly corrupt, incompetent, and economically conservative using its “liberal” social policies (and some of that is truly good) as cover for its fealty to the 1%.

    I fear that the Democratic Party is going to go all in on identity politics for the next few election cycles to block reform. Identity tinged issues like racism, sexism, LGBTQ+, religion, and guns will be used to ignore poverty, homelessness (largest in the nation!), and corruption like CalPERS, PG&E, and higher education. What is important is that the Silicon Valley tech lords are happy and that the old families don’t make trouble.

    If you doubt, just look at Ed Buck. Here in the “Blue” “liberal” state of California, being Black means your life doesn’t mean much and being poor means that you are nothing really. If you are both… God help you.

  33. Foppe

    Lambert: might wanna stop platforming Russia-insider. They endorsed/republished a text a few days ago in which they literally mourn the Waffen SS, and celebrate how they protected Paris from the evil soviets, in an essay called “Stalin Would Have Reached Paris Before the Allies if Not for the Incredible Heroism of the Waffen SS”. Also features statements like this:

    They joined the ranks of the Waffen SS – the military and ideological shock troops of the new Europe. This first-ever truly European armed force would grow to nearly a million men.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I can’t recall having “platformed” Russia Insider in the recent past. I rely on David Johnson for my Russia links, and he doesn’t feature them.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I read that article and it is about forty years old. The whole tone was weird but when you dug into who the author was, it turns out to be have written by a died-in the wool Belgium-born SS veteran. with an insane history. He managed to fly a German bomber to Spain at the end of the war and crash landed on a beach there. The Spanish under Franco protected him and even gave him Spanish citizenship which meant that he never really had to face a trial for his actions. ‘Asked if he had any regrets about the war, his reply was “Only that we lost!” ‘so he remained a jerk to the end-


      It was weird Russia Insider republishing that article by a out-and-out fascist as there is one thing that modern Russians seem to be able to agree on is their hatred of fascists.

  34. Basil Pesto

    The policy generator threw up: “an opioid reduction program for Libertarians who open a hedge maze that operates for 15 days in a nuclear fallout area” and, honestly, what’s not to like?

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