2:00PM Water Cooler 9/12/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, today is a travel day for me, so I haven’t done anything time-stamped. As you caen see, I’ve basically thrown together today’s meal from random oddments I found in the fridge. Be sure to tune in at 7:30PM for tonight’s debate (when the post goes live). –lambert


“The contradiction at the heart of Trump’s trade war” [Jeff Spross, The Week]. “As economist Jared Bernstein recently pointed out, the president and his negotiators are working off two different theories of what counts as victory in the trade war. Trump himself is pushing something like “full import substitution” — jobs will return to America, the trade deficit will close, and stuff that gets made in China will be made here again. Meanwhile, the administration officials actually carrying out the negotiations are pushing an entirely different set of goals: To get China to respect U.S. intellectual property more, to stop demanding U.S. firms share technology before they can do business in China, and to generally lower rules and regulations that discourage American companies and investors from opening operations in China’s domestic market. These two theories of victory aren’t just different; they’re almost entirely non-overlapping. They serve two completely different sets of interests and beneficiaries.” • Acute!

“Hasbro CEO says moving out of China has ‘gone very well for us'” [CNBC]. “Hasbro shifting its business out of China has been positive for the company, according to its CEO. ‘It’s gone very well for us,’ Brian Goldner told CNBC on Tuesday. The toy company has been focused on diversifying its manufacturing operations since 2012 due to ‘enterprise risk reasons,’ he said. ‘We’re seeing great opportunities in Vietnam, India and other territories like Mexico. We’re doing even more in the U.S. We brought Play-Doh back to the U.S. last year,’ Goldner said.” • Play-Doh….


“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


Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden Demands Financial Transparency but Hides Wealth” [Ryan Grim, The Intercept]. “Biden is expected to go after Sen. Elizabeth Warren in particular, Bloomberg reported, for failing to disclose details of private income during the 1990s and 2000s from the types of companies that she now lambasts for ‘rigging the system.’ … Since leaving the White House, Biden, long proud of his wealth ranking near the bottom of the U.S. Senate, began delivering high-dollar speeches to well-heeled clients and raked in book revenue that elevated him well into the upper class. He earned some $15.6 million in the last two years alone, according to financial disclosures released by his campaign…. The Bidens have used their home state’s financial privacy laws to shield his income from public view, by setting up two tax- and transparency-avoidance vehicles known as S corporations.” • Hmm.

Biden (D)(2): “Biden camp thinks the media just doesn’t get it” [Politico]. “The press corps, or so the Biden campaign sees it, is culturally liberal and highly attuned to modern issues around race and gender and social justice. Biden is not…. Inside the Biden campaign, it is the collision between these two worlds that advisers believe explain why his White House run often looks like a months-long series of gaffes…. This is the central paradox of Biden’s run: He’s been amazingly durable. But he gets no respect from the people who make conventional wisdom on the left.” And: “To many Biden supporters, who polls consistently show are older, more working class, and more culturally conservative, these alleged gaffes are eye-rolling examples of the absurdity of the press or the woke left… What is clear is that the critics, who are louder and more visible online and on cable TV, have had absolutely no impact on changing Biden’s status as the steady front-runner in the race. This woke-working class divide is at the heart of the most salient fact about the Democratic primaries: Nothing has damaged Biden. Biden entered the race with about 30 percent support nationally and he has that same 30 percent today. • If indeed this work/working class distinction is correct, I’d say that a good chunk of Biden’s supporters are there for Sanders.

Harris (D)(1): “Kamala Harris prosecuted a mentally ill woman shot by SF police. The jury didn’t buy it.” [Mercury News]. “When San Francisco police broke down a door inside a group home for mentally disabled people in 2008 and shot a 56-year-old resident, then-District Attorney Kamala Harris didn’t charge the officers with a crime. Instead she prosecuted the schizophrenic woman who was severely injured in the shooting. Harris charged Teresa Sheehan with assaulting the officers, alleging she came at them with a kitchen knife after they forced their way into her room. But the jury was not convinced. It deadlocked in favor of acquitting Sheehan on the assault charges, and found her not guilty of threatening to kill a social worker who had called the police for help to get Sheehan into a psychiatric hospital.”

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders’s Enduring Appeal to the Youth Vote in Iowa” [Eren Orbey, The New Yorker]. “At this point, the most pressing question for the Sanders camp is not whether students in the first nominating state will caucus for a dishevelled, hectoring septuagenarian over his younger opponents but whether enough students will caucus at all.” • They really hate him, don’t they?

Sanders (D)(2): “Poll: Sanders leads Biden, Warren in New Hampshire” [Politico (MH)]. “[A new Franklin Pierce University-Boston Herald survey] shows that 29 percent of likely Democratic voters in the first-in-the-nation primary state said they support the Vermont senator, while 21 percent are backing Biden. Elizabeth Warren received 17 percent. The survey of 425 likely Democratic voters was completed from Sept. 4 to Sept. 10, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.” • Turns out that doorknocking is more effective than busing in a cheering crowd from Massachusetts. Cheaper, too. Who knew?

Trump (R)(1): “Let Trump Destroy Trump” [David Axelrod, The New Yorker]. “Wrestling is Mr. Trump’s preferred form of combat. But beating him will require jiu-jitsu, a different style of battle typically defined as the art of manipulating an opponent’s force against himself rather than confronting it with one’s own force.” • Oh, hell yeah. Why govern?

Warren (D)(1): “I like Elizabeth Warren. Too bad she’s a hypocrite.” [Ed Rendell, WaPo]. Now, Ed Rendell has been on my shit list ever since he advised Al Gore to throw in the towel during the Florida recount in 2000. That said, even a blind pig finds a truffle every so often:

Shortly after announcing her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in February, Warren said she would shun high-dollar fundraising events. “That means no fancy receptions or big money fundraisers only with people who can write the big checks,” Warren wrote in an email to supporters.

Now, Warren has every right to make that pledge even if she had obtained significant contributions from donors in the past. Doing that didn’t make her a hypocrite. But there are two other reasons why the description applies.

First, because she transferred $10.4 million from her Senate reelection campaign to her presidential campaign fund. More than $6 million came in contributions of $1,000 and up, as the New York Times recently noted. The senator appears to be trying to have it both ways — get the political upside from eschewing donations from higher-level donors and running a grass-roots campaign, while at the same time using money obtained from those donors in 2018.

The $10.4 million gave Warren a substantial head start in building a presidential-campaign staff and doing other things for which money is essential….

Second, Warren attacked former vice president Joe Biden for holding a kickoff fundraiser in Philadelphia in April, which she criticized as “a swanky private fund-raiser for wealthy donors” in an email to supporters the next day.

Well, I helped organize that affair, and I thought her attack was extremely hypocritical because nearly 20 of us who attended the Biden fundraiser had also given her $2,000 or more in 2018 at closed-door fundraisers in “swanky” locations.

Warren didn’t seem to have any trouble taking our money in 2018, but suddenly we were power brokers and influence peddlers in 2019. The year before, we were wonderful. I co-chaired one of the events for the senator and received a glowing, handwritten thank-you letter from her for my hard work.

Where’s the lie? Interestingly, the story of how Warren converted cash from her Senate campaign to seed money for her Presidential campaign was published in the Gloucester Times in June, and we linked to it when it did.* Nothing came of that story, then. But now that the Times has published
on it, let the games begin. I don’t think the liberal Democrat establishment has given up on Joe Biden. Not the Times, and not people like Ed Rendell. It’s that loveable goof Joe Biden’s turn, after all.

NOTES * Makes me wonder what other time bombs are ticking away in the Massachusetts local press. No doubt that’s being looked into.

* * *

“Unemployment Uptick May Signal State Recessions” [Pew]. “Using that standard, there is a 50% chance that Minnesota and North Carolina are currently in a recession. It’s not yet possible to confirm that, however, because state GDP numbers are only available through the first quarter of 2019. The disconnect between unemployment and GDP in another state, Colorado, illustrates the uncertainty: Colorado’s unemployment rate has risen several times in the last year, but GDP figures show its economy did not contract at those times. The most recent state recessions, in late 2017 and early 2018, occurred in Alaska, Delaware, New Mexico and West Virginia.” • The moral of the story is that national polling averages may conceal more than they reveal.

Our Famously Free Press

You get used to it after awhile:

2016 Post Mortem

Not, apparently, a wax dummy:

Where’s the server? Under the desk?

Realignment and Legitimacy

9/11 (1):

9/11 (2):

Chuffed to link to The General, a blogger of the old school.

Stats Watch

Commodities: “Exclusive: Fake-branded bars slip dirty gold into world markets” [Reuters]. “In the last three years, bars worth at least $50 million stamped with Swiss refinery logos, but not actually produced by those facilities, have been identified by all four of Switzerland’s leading gold refiners and found in the vaults of JPMorgan Chase & Co., one of the major banks at the heart of the market in bullion, said senior executives at gold refineries, banks and other industry sources. Four of the executives said at least 1,000 of the bars, of a standard size known as a kilobar for their weight, have been found. That is a small share of output from the gold industry, which produces roughly 2 million to 2.5 million such bars each year. But the forgeries are sophisticated, so thousands more may have gone undetected, according to the head of Switzerland’s biggest refinery.”

Shipping: “U.S. Rail Traffic Still Falling As Fall Approaches” [Railway Age]. “Manufacturing and goods trading must still be hurting—and the cooler weather certainly hasn’t cooled off the drops—as total carloads for the week ended September 7 were 238,988 carloads, down 5.6% compared with the same week in 2018, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 230,297 containers and trailers, down 7.5% compared to 2018. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2018. They were chemicals, up 1,425 carloads, to 30,888; miscellaneous carloads, up 42 carloads, to 8,674; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 1 carload, to 11,653. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2018 included commodities such as coal, down 5,965 carloads, to 79,446; grain, down 2,589 carloads, to 17,431; and nonmetallic minerals, down 2,524 carloads, to 32,734.”

Shipping: “Bernie Sanders’ green deal – $216 billion for electric trucks” [Freight Waves]. • 2020 from freight’s perspecitive.

The Bezzle: “WeWork’s Adam Neumann Is in the Race of His Life as His Fortune Sinks With the IPO” [Bloomberg]. “With WeWork’s valuation plummeting, anxiety is growing about when, how or even whether the hipster office-rental company should go public, with even its own bankers unnerved. In question, too, is where this now leaves other fast-growing, money-burning companies – the so-called unicorns. Rarely has the view from the corner office been so at odds with the view from the marketplace. WeWork’s predicament has exposed the yawning gap between what private investors think a young company might be worth and what that company might actually fetch in the stock market.” • More on WeWork:

The Bezzle: “Funders threaten to quit Facebook project studying impact on democracy” [Reuters]. “A group of philanthropies working with Facebook Inc (FB.O) to study the social network’s impact on democracy threatened on Tuesday to quit, saying the company had failed to make data available to researchers as pledged. The funders said in a statement that Facebook had granted the 83 scholars selected for the project access to “only a portion of what they were told they could expect,” which made it impossible for some to carry out their research. They have given Facebook until Sept. 30 to provide the data.” • Lol they expected Facebook to keep its word. Funders are supposed to be smart!

* * *

The Biosphere

“Brace for food wars: science writer issues warning to world” [Reuters]. “Julian Cribb, an award-winning Australian journalist, called for an overhaul of global food production to avoid disputes over resources proliferating in new territories. ‘We tend to think of food crises as something that happens in Africa or some other developing country,’ he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. ‘We think supermarkets will always be full of food… But the world only has about three months supply of grain in store at any one time,’ said Cribb. The world’s food systems are coming under increasing strain from a combination of climate change, water scarcity and soil and biodiversity loss, he said. Yet if harvests were to fail in a major grain-growing region, prices of grain and bread would spike, he said. ‘Supermarkets can be emptied in 24 hours, if people panic. We are far closer to hunger than most of us suspect,’ said Cribb, whose book ‘Food or War’, published by the Cambridge University Press, comes out in October.” • Three months? Somehow I think that Michael Hudson’s Mesopotamian rulers had more margin than that…

“Flaring, or Why So Much Gas Is Going Up in Flames” [Bloomberg]. “When an oil well begins to spew, less-valuable natural gas comes up alongside crude. Pipelines can capture that gas, but when they’re not available, producers often get rid of the gas so they don’t have to stop pumping oil. They do that by either igniting the gas, in the case of flaring, or releasing it directly into air, known as venting. Flaring is preferred because methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas, is burned off, though carbon dioxide is released into the air…. The World Bank estimated that globally in 2018, 145 billion cubic meters of gas was flared, about as much as Central and South America use in a year. The amount is rising because of the oil boom in the U.S., which is fueled by the use of hydraulic fracturing — fracking — to unlock fuel from shale rock. Increased flaring in the U.S. is concentrated in the shale oil basins known as the Eagle Ford in Texas, the Permian in Texas and New Mexico, and the Bakken in North Dakota. Permian flaring rose about 85% last year, according to data from Oslo-based consultant Rystad Energy. The volume flared in Texas by the end of 2018 was greater than residential gas demand in the entire state.”

“Unfurling The Waste Problem Caused By Wind Energy” [NPR]. “While most of a turbine can be recycled or find a second life on another wind farm, researchers estimate the U.S. will have more than 720,000 tons of blade material to dispose of over the next 20 years, a figure that doesn’t include newer, taller higher-capacity versions…. Decommissioned blades are also notoriously difficult and expensive to transport. They can be anywhere from 100 to 300 feet long and need to be cut up onsite before getting trucked away on specialized equipment — which costs money — to the landfill. Once there, Van Vleet said, the size of the blades can put landfills in a tough spot. ‘If you’re a small utility or municipality and all of a sudden hundreds of blades start coming to your landfill, you don’t want to use up your capacity for your local municipal trash for wind turbine blades,’ he said, adding that permits for more landfill space add another layer of expenses.” • Just lol. So much for wind farms in Maine…

“Ocean drilling revolutionized Earth science — now geologists want to plumb new depths” [Nature]. “The practice of boring holes in the sea floor has revolutionized earth science, helping researchers to confirm the theory of plate tectonics, discover microbes deep in the ocean crust and probe the hidden risks of earthquakes and tsunamis. But to keep the field alive for years to come, scientists must now convince international funding agencies that there are discoveries waiting to be made. The international agreement that governs scientific ocean drilling expires in 2023. Researchers from the 26 nations that participate in that framework, known as the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), will gather in Osaka, Japan, on 11 September to discuss how they might replace it. The scientists will hammer out a new list of scientific goals for the next phase of ocean drilling, from 2023 to 2050 — if they can convince funding agencies to pay for it.” • Ka-ching.

“The formation of human populations in South and Central Asia” (PDF) [Science]. “The movement of people following the advent of farming resulted in genetic gradients across Eurasia that can be modeled as mixtures of seven deeply divergent populations. A key gradient formed in southwestern Asia beginning in the Neolithic and continuing into the Bronze Age, with more Anatolian farmer–related ancestry in the west and more Iranian farmer–related ancestry in the east. This cline extended to the desert oases of Central Asia and was the primary source of ancestry in peoples of the Bronze Age Bactria Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC). Earlier work recorded massive population movement from the Eurasian Steppe into Europe early in the third millennium BCE, likely spreading Indo-European languages. We reveal a parallel series of events leading to the spread of Steppe ancestry to South Asia, thereby documenting movements of people that were likely conduits for the spread of Indo-European languages.”

The “archetypal plant:”:

The 420

“The startup behind the world’s first marijuana breathalyzer just raised a fresh $30 million and offered a glimpse at how the device works” [Business Insider]. • “The study was small and paid for by Hound, but it suggested that the device could detect recent marijuana use. It also had some limitations, however: Researchers didn’t compare people who’d smoked against people who did not, for example, and the results varied pretty dramatically among the participants, which could mean it’s still too early to come up with an objective numerical figure for “impaired” cannabis use. Still, investors are hopeful.” • Are they high?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The Racist Origins of Computer Technology” [Yasha Levine, Influence Ops]. “A century ago, America was in love with eugenics. It was consumed by fears of “race suicide” and obsessed with the need to safe-guard its “superior” Anglo-American stock from the millions of immigrants arriving on its shores. Out of this vortex of nativist fears, the world’s first rudimentary punch card computer was born — built on order from the U.S. government for the 1890 census. The quote in the picture above comes from a letter Herman Hollerith wrote explaining why he ended up going with a ‘punch card’ design over a continuous ticker tape for his newfangled computation device: it would make analyzing the racial attributes of the population much easier. ‘The trouble was that if, for example, you wanted any statistics regarding Chinamen, you would have to run miles of paper to count a few Chinamen,; he explained. Racial data was front and center in his mind as he perfected his invention. IBM’s origin story, which goes back over 130 years, offers a glimpse into how computers, surveillance, and racist government policies have been linked from the very beginning.” • The story I was familiar with was the use of Hollerith technology by IBM in Nazi concentration camps, but as so often with fascist ideas and techniques, the United States led the way, right at home!

Neoliberal Epidemics

The Bezzle: “The future might be meat-free, but new research shows the current range of plant-based alternatives might be doing us more harm than good” [Business Insider]. “In an effort to compete on taste, meat-free alternatives are being made with excessive amounts of salt, according to new Australian research. From falafels, vegan pies, meat-free bacon and sausages, single serves of some vegetarian and vegan options were found by health organisations to be loaded with as much as half the daily recommendation. With 2.5 million Australians eating meat-free, increasingly salty food is putting us at increased risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.” • Everything’s going according to plan.

Class Warfare

“Everything Must Go” [The Baffler]. “Trump’s 2020 budget is laced through with references to ‘leveraging the private sector’ and ‘increasing the private sector’s role,’ in ways that would affect national forests, schools, infrastructure, the Department of Veterans Affairs medical system, and federal food stamps. It proposes to sell publicly owned electricity assets (such as those of the Tennessee Valley Authority) because ‘the private sector is best suited to own and operate electricity transmission assets.’ It requests authority to ‘incentivize the private sector to fill the defense financing gap’—that is, give handouts to Raytheon and the like—’so that America can still be the defense supplier of choice for partner countries for which loans are not the best option.’ It says we need a long-term bill to address our highways because that’s where most transportation-related fatalities happen, and because it would provide ‘certainty to America’s state, local, and private partners, so they can plan and invest in projects with confidence.'” • Liberal Democrats have no principled way to oppose any of this, lacking, as they do, principles;  Trump’s privatization project began, back in the [genuflects] Clinton administration, with Al Gore’s program of “reinventing government.” To the bare walls!

News of the Wired

Normally, I don’t think much of concrete poetry, but this on tidal detritus is lovely:

(You may have to click the image to see the whole poem.)

“Daniel Johnston, Austin music legend and ‘Hi, How Are You’ artist, dies at 58” [Austin 360]. • A lot of people seem to be familiar with “outsider artist” Daniel Johnston, but not me! Readers?

“A Radical Guide to Spending Less Time on Your Phone” [Medium]. “Sleep with your phone in the other room. • I don’t get it. How can I sleep with my phone if it’s in the other room?

* * *

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 (KH):

KH writes: “Hawaiian sunset.”

* * *

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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. Michael Hudson

    Dear Lambert,
    I have a question about the polling. The problem as I see it is that the polls aggregate ALL the US – long-term Republican states as well as Democratic or “purple” ones.
    My suspicion is that Biden does best in the dead-red states of the south and west. It doesn’t really matter much who these states support if the’re solidly in the Republican column.
    Can we get a better breakdown? E.g., Bernie’s way, way ahead in New England.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Michael, thank you for your DNC piece.

      The problem with state polling is there are probably no reliable results to be had, methinks. People aren’t yet engaged with the race, and the pollsters touting their results really don’t know their territory at all. In Iowa, for example, there’s only one polling outfit that has any clue about how to do polling for the caucuses…the locally-based Setzer poll. They haven’t done much polling and even their results probably won’t have much meaning for another month or two, when more voters start paying attention and Setzer can get better reads. The problems of polling in caucus states adds another layer of complexity. I cannot take the Iowa polls of Monmouth and other outfits seriously. They strike me as propaganda, not polling.

      1. DaveOTN

        You would think after 2016 we’d take polls a little less infallibly, but here we are again analyzing every plus or minus of a percent. I know I get a lot of telemarketers and fraudsters on the phone, and I hang up pretty quick. I occasionally get a call from a polling firm, and I hang up on them too. I feel kind of bad about it, but I’ve grown so wary of scams that I no longer give out any information over the phone if I don’t know what’s on the other end. I can’t imagine I’m the only one.

        1. shinola

          “I feel kind of bad about it, but I’ve grown so wary of scams that I no longer give out any information over the phone if I don’t know what’s on the other end. I can’t imagine I’m the only one.”

          You gots lottsa company on that Dave.

        2. Summer

          I don’t pick up calls from unknown numbers at all these days.
          Upon meeting someone I want to be in contact with, I save the number under a contact name immediately.

        3. magnoliaculdesac

          My question to more advanced pollsters on NC is this….a few years ago Pew did a study the results of which supposedly indicated that cell phone “polling” were as reliable/reproduce-able as landline. However, it seemed to me this replicated a problem with validity, which is the point you’re making:

          I do not know anyone, particularly under 60, who’d ever answer an unsolicited call on their cell OR their landline without caller ID showing up to indicate that it’s not a telemarketer. But Pew never made this point–that just because cell based polls results are similar to landlines doesn’t preclude that they’re both reproducing the same error in external validity, which is that the population who answers unsolicited phone calls is probably more trusting, less informed, less busy, and less conversant with younger people who are warning them of telemarketers, among other features. I’m going to call them demographic “naifs” for purposes below.

          So, even if the pollsters weigh the results to reflect likely voter, minority status, age, gender, etc., all of the respondents still have the “naif” quality in common.

          Are there any methodologically rigorous web-based polls that get past the issue of self-selection, i.e., if people are emailed or left messages and then return the call? Would that be any more distorting of the results that the distortion that comes from those naifs who answer unsolicited phone calls?

          Or, is there a way to correct for demographic naifs in telephone calls? Or at least have one study wherein respondents answer a question as to whether and how much they take unsolicited calls?

          I even tried to discuss this with a famous pollster who advises HRC on the T-day right after the election (we had quite a disagreement after he said all of those Trump voters should just “move to where the jobs are”), but I couldn’t get him to acknowledge that this might be an error.

          Or am I totally wrong and this is somehow corrected for in a way I can’t understand?

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel



      Im on board with whatever Doc Hudson recommends!

      As a Louisianaer, I know a few people voting Biden. I fully expect his Neolib Dem supporters to crush Bernie in our primary. Like Hillary 2.0. Hopefully, us youth can convince our parents and elders that Trump’d wipe the floor with Biden aka Hillary 2.0!

      Sanders/Gabbard FTW

  2. diptherio

    There was a documentary made about Johnston quite awhile ago, called “The Devil and Daniel Johnston” that was pretty good, as I recall, and is where I, and I imagine most people, first heard about him.

    1. toshiro_mifune

      The doc is very good… and sad. I was going to day most people are familiar with him due to Kurt Cobain wearing a Johnson t-shirt in some prominent photos… maybe even from the Dead Milkmen covers. That may be me showing my age though.
      You’ve probably heard some of his songs somewhere, but most likely someone else doing a cover. Yo la Tengo, Wilco, Pearl Jam, Tom Waits, Karen O, The National all have done covers.
      Futurama used a Kathy McCarty cover of Rocketship in Bender’s Big Score

    2. curlydan

      Daniel Johnston was a huge part of the lo-fi cassette movement. At first listen, most people are like “WTF?” because of his childish voice, but his songs are heartfelt, simple, and pure. I saw him at the University of Houston around ’92 or ’93 at a free concert. He had just been released from a mental health facility (not unusual for him). His songs were pretty raw, but he did one song on a little kids piano that turned out beautifully. At the end of that song, he smiled, nodded, and said “yeah, that was good.”

      True love will find you in the end…

    3. Geo

      That’s where I first heard of him. Great doc! Never really understood the obsession with him though. Reminded me of the “outsider art” craze where pretentious people pretended to like folk art but mainly just appropriated the aesthetic and “innocence” for their own over-priced and vapid versions of it. There’s so many great songwriters and musicians who have never been discovered – the fascination with Johnston seemed more about fetishization of mental illness and ironic embrace of his “purity” than about his music and art. I’m a big fan of obscure and odd art and music – most of the artists I regularly listen to still have day jobs and self-release their albums – and all of them are better songwriters and musicians. They’re just not a curiosity for people to gawk at which it always seemed was Johnston’s allure to the jaded cool-kids of the indie music scene. And I’m a fan of many of the bands and artists featured in the doc. Love Sonic Youth and have a soft spot for Butthole Surfers.

      But, like fashion designers doing runway shows based on the “styles” of refugees and Sotheby’s selling a piece of folk art from a dead Appalachian peasant for a half million bucks, it always felt like the adoration of him was inauthentic.

      Or maybe I’m the one that’s just too jaded to get the appeal. :)

    4. Gary

      Danny was a fixture in the Austin music scene. I did not know him myself but I have plenty of friends that did. My Facebook feed has been loaded with candid pictures of him. Austin is very broad in their acceptance of great, good and weird music. A lot of it does not translate outside the area.

      1. Carey

        “..A lot of it does not translate outside the area.”

        Excellent! We need more, much more, non-monetizable localism again- and I think that will happen, soon enough.

  3. Samuel Conner

    re: “even a blind pig finds a truffle every so often”

    Wonderful metaphor!

    I think that pigs detect truffles with their sense of smell. Perhaps “anosmic pig”?

    1. Mark

      In NH, we celebrated the blind pig who could once in a while find an ordinary acorn. That fancy stuff doesn’t go over so well in the smoking section of New England.

      1. Titus

        As you as probably well know, a ‘blind pig’, is a whole other sort of animal. Generally, one f9nds beverages of a certain sort.

  4. spro

    The oral cannabis detection device will turn out to be worthless. If you can’t assess actual impairment then you’ll never differentiate tolerance in heavy users.

    No doubt it will be used by police, especially against a specific population, but it won’t be accurate whatsoever.

    1. WJ

      The important thing is that we don’t let the legalization of marijuana keep us from continuing to incarcerate black men for nonviolent drug offenses.

    2. XXYY

      Unlike water-soluble alcohol, THC is lipid-soluble and takes many days or a small number of weeks to be cleared from the body. So one still tests positive long after the psychoactive effects are gone.

      This seems like a fatal problem for those trying to measure actual impairment vs. the traditional testing as part of a pre-employment screening or something where you just care about “recent” use.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        From my experience, it takes a full 30 days to pass a drug screen after cannabis use.
        Coke and speed are gone after a few days.

        1. JBird4049

          So the stuff that actually has some dangers and is not used as much as the stuff that basically ain’t, but clears out of the system faster. Well, if I wanted to imprison more people, I know what I would test for.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      The cannabis detection device could prove most profitable regardless of its efficacy at detecting cannabis use or impairment. Just think of the revenues this tool could generate. These will help support the local police in their efforts to protect and serve.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Rendell is not concerned about “hypocrisy” from any moral-offense standpoint. He finds the “hypocrisy” accusation conveniently weaponisable in the particular case of Warren.

      Vile Filth like Rendell deSERVES being treated with all the hypocrisy in the world. If Biden really is the choice of Vile Filth like Rendell, I may well vote for Trump if Rendell’s-choice Biden gets the nomination.

  5. petal

    Oh my, what a sunset!

    Warren has been sending out door knockers in NH, just not sure how much-one showed up at my house a couple weeks ago. No pen and paper, just her phone with a list of addresses, I think. Kind of hard to take notes of what people’s concerns are, or who they are going to vote for(which was the question she asked me).

    At his Dartmouth town hall, Biden highlighted his being the poorest/one of the poorest incoming senator(s) of his class. He made a big point of it.

    1. Another Scott

      That might be a selling point if he was running against a Diane Feinstein or John Kerry, but I think Sanders is another one of the poorest senators. And the Vermonter actually acts in the interest of the lower classes.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      And I would note that hypocrisy-watchdog Rendell has not drawn any attention to Biden’s hypocrisy in pleading “relative poverty” while hiding $15 million dollars in Delaware. That is because masterful hypocrisy-practitioners like the hypocrisy-watchdog Rendell only pretend to oppose hypocrisy when they can weaponize that so-called “opposition” against certain targets.

      1. petal

        I reckon once you’re in(to the Senate, etc), the sky’s the limit, whether you came in “poor” or not. Never let an opportunity go to waste. With his point about being a poor guy elected to the Senate, he was trying to make himself out that he was just like us(once)! It was so used car salesman.

  6. Drake

    “The future might be meat-free, but new research shows the current range of plant-based alternatives might be doing us more harm than good” [Business Insider]

    There’s only one rule of nutrition I try to follow: beware of innovation in food. That’s almost impossible in this day and age, when there’s hardly even a fruit or vegetable that in its current form is not a recent innovation (on an evolutionary timeline), but it’s at least a worthy guideline. Factory-grown meat is an innovation I will avoid.

    1. Geo

      Great rule! Love it.

      Reminds me of when Juicy Fruit used to advertise “100% Artificial Flavor!” Like that was a good thing.

    2. jrs

      and how much salt does the average fast food burger have? Yea I don’t eat fast food and probably neither do you, but this is who is being marketed to, that’s what the substitution is for, fast food burgers. So in that context the beyond meat panic is silly.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      If so many people find out about the global re-coolingness of bio-eco carbon-capture livestock-on-range-and-pasture systems . . . . and if they find out so fast that the Petrochemical-Vegan Industrial Complex is not able to abolish global re-cooling carbon-capture beef, then the future will not be meat-free at all, despite what the corporate-captured petro-industrial plantation-soybean vegans might want or wish for.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its a bit of a non-issue really. Around 135 million tons of municipal waste alone is landfilled every year in the US – about 20% of that is plastic. 750,000 tons of turbine blades over 20 years is minuscule compared to that. The best solution is almost certainly not recycling or landfilling, but re-use in some form – farmers would no doubt work out good ways to use them for building fences and farm buildings.

      1. Another Scott

        True, but I think part of the problem is that the turbine blades take up a lot of space in the landfills in comparison to their weight. Although at lot of the landfill metrics and costs are determined by weight, volume is the bigger issue for operators and is usually the limiting factor for long-term use (height restrictions). Also the wind farms might overwhelm the local landfill, forcing them to use one hundreds of miles away.

          1. Wyoming

            Oh yeah! Good idea. 4000 years from now the archaeologists would think they were old religious sites – sort of a Stonehengian thing. We would have punked them big time.

      2. Carey

        They’re big, and mostly cored carbon fiber, IIRC- really nasty stuff to work with (e.g. cut up), in my experience.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        If thousands of pieces of huge wind turbine blades suddenly descend on a tiny tourist hamlet’s tiny municipal landfill, they are a local spot-problem catastrophe for that landfill and its tiny tourist hamlet.

  7. Watt4Bob

    I have talked with a fair number of people having experience with outsourcing to China, or India, they have explained their experiences like this;

    They attempt manufacturing in China.

    They intend to have the Chinese ‘partner’ manufacture parts of their product, their Chinese partners report some difficulties, and suggest that if they explain more details about the product they can iron out the issue.

    Over time their Chinese ‘partners’ report more and more problems, and the American guys divulge more and more IP, but it doesn’t work and eventually the project is abandoned, the American company goes home.

    However by this time, the ‘partner’ has learned enough about the product to do it themselves, the American company suddenly finds itself facing stiff competition from their former Chinese ‘partner’ that has suddenly overcome all the former difficulties, and has now perfected the product and is selling it themselves.

    It’s sort of an instant karma thing, they intended to lower their costs of production, but all they did was loose control of their IP, and lost a lot of money, and wasted a lot of time.

    They are lucky if they don’t go out of business.

    There’s a related issue with outsourcing programming to India.

    You may recall the Java programming language as being touted as “write once, run anywhere” meaning the code would run on any platform, and its constituent parts could be reused in other programs with similar requirements, sort of like the way you can use lego pieces to build many different things.

    Companies outsourcing programming to India have had the experience of having code delivered that did exactly what was specified, but nothing more because the company they contracted with intentionally wrote the code so as to be unusable in any other context except the one specified.

    It’s a sort of degraded/handicapped code that was totally unexpected by the firm doing the purchasing, and of course, the Indian ‘partner’ will gladly offer to do more projects for you if you find you can’t reuse their original work as a component of a similar project.

    It’s good to remember that at the time this was happening, many banks would refuse financing to people that didn’t have a business plan that included outsourcing.

    It’s also good to remember that the current complaints are sort of like shutting the barn door after the cows are gone.

    Huawei is a good example of the result of American companies being asleep at the wheel while their market position deteriorates and they are passed like they are standing still.

    1. Acacia

      FWIW, a company that I worked for set up shop in India about 15 years ago, on the assumption that we could outsource software work to them. The clash of business cultures was a serious problem, though. We would hire people who never showed up to work. We learned they would put our company on their CV and immediately go looking for other, better offers. I was given CVs to review and saw candidate employees who had, for example, blatantly falsified their skills and listed eight different previous employers in the span of two years (what was the point of hiring them?).

      The icing on the cake was when one of the managers at the India branch obtained a list of the company’s customer accounts, quit, disappeared, and then created a fake duplicate of our company in a different state in the US — fake letterhead, bank accounts, the works —, and started invoicing our customers. Imagine “corporate identity theft”. It turned into a big legal mess. Finally, the India shop was sold off, and the whole “experiment” was considered a failure.

      1. Watt4Bob

        Had a couple of friends from India, working on H1B visas, they were incredibly fixated on certifications and ‘getting ahead’, I couldn’t understand it.

        Now I understand it’s because of my age, over the course of my career, nobody ever asked me about certifications, they only asked if I could do the job.

        If I lost my current position I’d never get another, the world has changed.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      @Watt4Bob, The way it went down at my company was, to the best of my knowledge, like this. Mind you, this is a California-based, publicly traded, multi-billion dollar market cap tech corporation. I would situate this in time over the past decade, but discovered mostly within the past few years. Don’t know how long they’ve had a China outpost, but presumably more than 10 years. I doubt this is unique to this single company either.

      Not one but two GMs of the China partnership (because you have to partner) were terminated after it was discovered that they ran a side operation … using employees on the corporate payroll. In other words the top person in the whole country was double-dipping and running a side hustle from the partner offices, using employees on the corporate payroll. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice?

      … and there was IP stolen. Repeatedly. Over many years.

      … and there was bribery to land government contracts in China, which was exposed … and a hefty fine paid.

      The China office was downsized substantially this year. All IP was moved out of China. Now only products to be sold in China are developed out of that office, and a great firewall was placed on the corporate LAN to keep them from snooping. Won’t get fooled again?

      I do not believe we have the same problem in India. My colleagues in India are hardworking, underpaid, and could not so easily be eliminated. I do not know to what to attribute these differences. Could be cultural? Not to say there were not some talented software developers in both places. In my experience, the China-based teams were very friendly and responsive. But they scoped every change to orders of magnitude of excess. I would look at a fix that would take me personally a few days max. They’d scope it at a few weeks.

      1. Watt4Bob

        It sounds like your company was resiliant, and could afford this particular failure, but I wonder how many smaller companies were put out of business by this sort of thing?

        The history I mentioned is probably over the last twenty years, and I haven’t talked to anyone with recent experience, so there may be some evolution going on, but I get the feeling that on the whole, China has gained more than the American companies seeking to save money by going there, and some of them were badly damaged by the experience.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          I wouldn’t say resiliant. Just big enough to survive. Though truth be told, the jury is still out on this particular company. It has been through a lot of turmoil and I believe it is destined to be failed within 5-15 years. Just a longer runway than a smaller company.

          China has gained more than the American companies seeking to save money by going there, and some of them were badly damaged by the experience.

          That is almost certainly true.

          However, there is now a generation of management in these U.S. companies who have absolutely no trust in China, borne from similar experiences. I have no idea what the management consultants are saying, but I have seen the distrust grow palpably within my organization over the years.

      2. Titus

        Had a very similar problem. Left China entirely. As to ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice?’ I’d say fool me once shame on me, fool me twice, now we’re getting started.

    3. curlydan

      “Companies outsourcing programming to India have had the experience of having code delivered that did exactly what was specified, but nothing more because the company they contracted with intentionally wrote the code so as to be unusable in any other context except the one specified.”

      That’s a big problem with Indian written code. Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly commonplace in good ol’ IT in the USofA. The attitude is “give the me the requirements”. Satisfy the requirements. Done. Usability? not needed.

      1. Watt4Bob

        People used to become programmers by following their passion, now they are learning to code because they’re looking for money.

        There’s a difference, and it shows.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not sharing production know-how…

      From History of Silk, Wikipedia:

      Though silk was exported to foreign countries in great amounts, sericulture remained a secret that the Chinese carefully guarded. Consequently, other peoples invented wildly varying accounts of the source of the incredible fabric.

      But industrial espinonage dates to before Americans of the early 20th century (commented here previously). Again, from the same Wiki article:

      According to a story by Procopius,[24] it was not until 552 AD that the Byzantine emperor Justinian obtained the first silkworm eggs. He had sent two Nestorian monks to Central Asia, and they were able to smuggle silkworm eggs to him hidden in rods of bamboo. While under the monks’ care, the eggs hatched, though they did not cocoon before arrival. The church manufacture in the Byzantine Empire was thus able to make fabrics for the emperor, with the intention of developing a large silk industry in the Eastern Roman Empire, using techniques learned from the Sassanids.

      Why Central Asia, and not the necessity to go to China itself? Again, Wikipedia:

      Silk eventually left China via the heir of a princess who was promised to a prince of Khotan. This probably occurred in the early 1st century AD.[7] The princess, refusing to go without the fabric that she loved, would finally break the imperial ban on silk-worm exportation.

    5. Summer

      The Chinese economic miracle sounds like the American exporting to China economic miracle.

      Now they are the “enemy.”

      Before the Cold War companies didn’t move to the Soviet Union to the same extent, but the tech there got jump started and then they also became the “enemy.”

      Anything for arms build-ups.

    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      These companies themselves were serving America and their American workers wrong by attempting to outsource to China to begin with. If these companies follow their own American ex-workers into economic extinction, it serves these companies well and truly right.

    7. Jeremy Grimm

      I do not doubt anything stated in your comment and other comments on this thread. The smarmy business practices of some Chinese and Indian firms are an old story. However, I think the problems described are related to the size and market power of the firms involved. Many large firms — with solid control over access to their markets — have largely divested themselves of manufacturing. The business of many small firms and medium sized firms in the US was the supply of manufactured goods to these larger firms. Small and medium sized manufacturing operations in the US were driven out of business as the large firms shifted their outsourced manufacturing from US to places far far away. I even suspect that more than a few small and medium firms were carefully driven out of business enabling the larger firms to buy up their capital on the cheap so they could ship it far far away. I also have little doubt the larger firms were deliberately cutting the throat of US Labor for its efforts to encroach on Corporate Power.

      Try to buy a hand tool manufactured in the US. I suppose there are a few around but finding them takes an effort. They just don’t show up at the few retail outlets that remain.

      1. Watt4Bob

        Everything you say rings true, as long before China outsourcing, the predatory behavior of big corporations destroyed a lot of small manufacturers the way you described.

        My Dad told me about IBM driving suppliers out of business by awarding them contracts, and then
        eventually ordering more parts than they could possibly deliver, at which time they’d be pressured into being purchased and absorbed by IBM.

        This was back in late 1960s and early 70s.

  8. fdr-fan

    Well, a dishevelled hectoring septuagenarian who makes sense ONCE in a while stands out in a crowd of hevelled hectoring septuagenarians who never make sense.

    (Hevelled hectoring heptagenarians would be a better phrase.)

  9. Acacia

    Haven’t seen much coverage of the gilets jaunes lately (or perhaps I missed something here at NC), so I’ll throw out a few tidbits. I was in France for a little over a week and had a chance to join Act 42 in Paris. The demo ran through some of the quartiers populaires, from Place Gambetta up to Sacre-Coeur. It was the last weekend of the big August vacation, so the crowd of GJs started out smallish and then grew larger. It was a sunny day. The mood was festive. Everybody was in good spirits, chanting, banging drums, and generally putting out good vibes. The Gendarmes followed from behind, moved in front, and there are columns along the sidewalks on both sides. They had the protesters completely surrounded. They looked grim, tired, and peeved. I was hoping to chat with some people, but the noise from the crowd made it difficult. Less than twenty minutes into the march, tear gas was launched, seemingly for no reason. A wave of people came surging back from the front, a number collapsed on the ground, retching. I was further back and managed to only get a strong whiff, but saw another eight or ten police vans arriving as reinforcements. They were not permitting people to exit from the perimeter. Local residents stood by with their families, clearly wondering if their children might get gassed. A little later, the gas attack was repeated; this time because one of the gendarmes stumbled and fell whilst walking backwards, and his buddies closed ranks and used gas to push the crowd back. I tried to evade the gas via a side street, but the perimeter police blocked us. My friend had the presence of mind to announce that he lived right up the street, and we were allowed to pass.

    One thing I discovered from discussion with French friends (all of whom are sympathetic to the GJs, though not active in the street demos) is that the movement is not widely supported by Parisians. (This may(?) have influenced the choice of itinerary that weekend.) I knew already that there is some disconnect between urban France and the GJs (who really represent rural France), but it was much more acute than I’d expected. The bobo demographic, in particular, seems particularly hostile. Later, I checked Twitter, to try and learn the motivation for gassing the crowds (if any), first along the Rue des Pyrénées (one French friend commented, only half-jokingly: “eh bien, it was getting towards 3 pm, the police were getting tired, wanted to go home, so they cut loose the gas, of course”). Mostly, though, I was surprised at the number of hostile anti-GJ comments on the Twitter thread. When I asked my friends whence this hostility, mostly they shrugged and said that many people in Paris seem to be simply in denial, and “didn’t you know the Parisians aren’t behind this?”. “What do those against the GJs expect for the future?” I queried, “More Macron? More austerity? Except maybe they believe it won’t affect them because they’re all going to become start-up millionaires?” One answer to this that stood out was: “Plus ou moins, sauf que Macron est le tapis rouge pour Le Pen” (More or less, except that Macron is the red carpet for Le Pen).

  10. ewmayer

    Wolf Richter on the student-loan-forgiveness promises by presidential candidates – needless to say, his view will be controversial hereabouts:

    What to Do About the Student-Loan Fiasco: Is “Debt Forgiveness” Really the Answer? | Wolf Street

    The student loan fiasco – the pile of debt that has ballooned to $1.6 trillion – and what to do about it – particularly how much of that student debt to forgive at the expense of taxpayers – has now entered the list of presidential campaign promises.

    These promises of student-loan forgiveness are efforts to buy votes at the expense of the rest of the taxpayers, whose money this is, on the principle that whoever proposes the biggest debt-forgiveness will get the most votes from those graduates and their parents.

    I can’t blame them. It’s just too juicy a low-hanging fruit. If I were a politician running for office, I’d promise the same damn thing, and that’s why I’m not running for office.

    student-loan forgiveness is patently unfair, in two ways:

    One, it’s unfair to former students that are now taxpayers that sacrificed other pleasures in life to pay off their student loans and now have to pay off the student loans of others;

    And two, more importantly, it’s unfair to a subgroup of students: Kids that took out the biggest loans to go to the most expensive schools, rather than a junior college, and that partied the most and spent the most and worked the least, if at all, to cover part of their expenses, will get the royal treatment because their debts from all this will be forgiven, and they got this stuff for free.

    If the government really wants to do something about the soaring costs of education, it should reduce the amount students can borrow. This will force universities to offer better deals, or run out of students.

    Perhaps less important than whether one agrees with Richter or not is to gauge what might be acceptable to the electorate, which is where the “fairness question” looms large. My own view is that the following 2 changes might make for a reasonable start in ending the student-loan bubble:

    1. Tie loan amounts to expected earnings for the chosen career trajectory. Consider factoring the recent-historical statistics for students at the institutions in question into the calculus, with an aim toward curbing the proliferation of for-profit student-debt mills.

    2. Restore dischargeability of student-loan debt in bankruptcy.

    1. a different chris

      I don’t think it’s controversial. I think:

      1) It is basically correct about why people will be mad because they are always mad over these sorts of things. If the tiniest bit of money goes to the “wrong people” it becomes a show stopper.
      2) “Fairness” it is a crap argument – not saying it’s not gonna work, just saying it’s crap. When I get the flu and manage to barf all over the bathroom my spouse has to mop it up. Not fair. So should she just close up the bathroom until I am well enough to clean up after myself?

      And you don’t just clean up the puke, you mop the whole floor. Is it fair to subject the tiles that were not puked on to the indignity of being mopped, just because their neighbors are dirty?

      We have a huge problem. Fixing it is not going to be perfect. It won’t get fixed because our political class is a bunch of people that can’t/won’t do anything else but politics, so they won’t do the right thing when they know they will get turfed out of office for it. The ACA was way short of a “right thing”, but you got to see pretty quickly the behavior as described – the Dems got turfed, but since it was better than nothing it didn’t get repealed, either.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Students have had to borrow because college tuition has been too expensive.

        Costing too much, whether the student or the government pays it.

        And either way, making it cheaper is a necessary step.

        If it can become cheaper than housing, then, the government does not have to pay for it, unless the argument also includes the government paying your rent/mortgage.

        1. ewmayer

          “Students have had to borrow because college tuition has been too expensive.” — Ah, but one can make a good argument that the causality runs in the opposite direction – that colleges have gotten expensive due to the funding gravy train afforded by cheap government-backed student loans, which carry no incentives for colleges to be thrifty and provide good money for the value. Just as with the “housing ownership society” delusion, where generous government incentives to promote homeownership had the perverse effect of causing home prices to raise much faster than they otherwose would have, thus making the dream of non-debt-slavery-based home homeownership more remote than ever.

          1. inode_buddha

            This, a thousand times. If the government is going to backstop anything, then they should also have the right to impose price controls. I think that’s only fair.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I suspect you’re correct that cheap loans lead to colleges charging more.

            In any case, it needs to become cheaper.

          3. Acacia

            Yes, this has also been my suspicion for some time.

            Another point about student loans: usually, the question of forgiving the debts or making them dischargeable through bankruptcy turns upon concerns about “fairness” to others in society, etc. I’ve seen less discussion about the industry servicing loans. E.g., I rather doubt they are going to stand by whilst the govt passes any legislation on this, but would most likely retain lawyers to defend their cash cows.

            Moreover, I’ve wondered if part of the reason the student loan business grew as large as it did was precisely because they are not dischargeable through bankruptcy. This would also make student loans prime material for securitization, to clean up and re-sell other more toxic forms of debt, such as auto loans. I’m not sure how widespread this is in practice, e.g., after the 2008 GFC.

            However, it would seem that repealing the laws to exclude bankruptcy might be the place to focus efforts on this.

          4. Jeremy Grimm

            Did cheap college loans drive up the price for college — or did cheap college loans enable colleges to press up their prices? Was the availability of cheap loans independent of the move to transition higher education to a business model and independent of the withdrawal of State and Federal support for higher education? I think the root problem is a bad infestation of Neoliberalism which has manifested many serious symptoms of disease.

            Forgive outstanding college loans without giving a windfall to the colleges and loan companies that have so egregiously used them to flay our youth. Bring back State and Federal support for higher education — and Education at all levels to begin removing the local property-tax bias so long affecting the quality of education based on parent and local community income. Do some heavy house-cleaning to remove the stain of profits, business, and modern management practices from all school administrations and make deep deep cuts in their bloated empires for profit and exploitation.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          In the case of State Universities, when the State taxpayers paid for the States to subsidize the State Universities, “tuition” did not have to pay for the entire cost of the University because the State taxpayers were already paying the state to pay most of those costs.

          When the States’ taxpayers boycotted their States and forced their States to boycott the State Universities, the State Universities had to recoup their entire costs by raising tuition to support and pay for all those costs that the State taxpayers were no longer paying.

          If State Citizens want to have affordable State Universities again, they will have to wage and win a Tax Revolt Revolt against the Tax Revolt in order to restore their own State Taxes back high enough to be able to pay their States to subsidize their State Universities.

          Someone running for State Office will have to explain it just that clearly and see if that is a vote-getter or not.

          1. ambrit

            Fair as far as it goes, but, the very design of ‘modern’ universities has to change as well. The college system now supports a lot of unneeded and wasteful programs and personnel.
            First, get rid of the higher cost sports programs. Fire most of the semi-professional trainers and support personnel. Axe the specialty support programs, such as in house sports medicine departments and exercise and rehabilitation suites. Most so called “sports medicine” is basic medicine as applied to physical injuries and bodily performance issues.
            If one wants to promote ‘austerity,’ the university system is a good place to put someone else’s money where your mouth is.
            A basic reason for the dystopian progression of the university system is the increasing lack of jobs needing true university training. Most of what I see today as degree requiring jobs were, a generation or two ago, jobs that trained from within using apprenticeships.
            So that the candidate running for State office can claim with a straight face that the problem can be solved not by raising taxes, which, at the state level looks to be basically regressive, but to reduce the demand for funds by eliminating predatory institutions.
            Alas, my “inner cynic” tells me that this dynamic will follow the present trajectory until it all falls apart in fire and bloodshed.

      2. Titus

        Thank you @ ad chris. This has been well debated here on NC. Student debt is a subset of any debt and thus all arguments about debt forgiveness apply. I for one are for the jubilee.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Politically, there isn’t a finite amount of goodwill a President can spend. Instead, a successful political leadership wins and keeps on winning.

          College debt, M4A, relief for farmers, new housing policies, mass transit investments, Green New Deal, etc…just keep pressing. Look how much play Trump is getting with his vape ban (this guy might be craftier than he looks because he pretty much just found my single issue).

          We know pigs like Rahm Emmanuel and the GOP will whine. 2008 didn’t happen when the Democrats promised to bailout banks, kick homeowners, initiate federal crackdowns on peaceful protestors, extend the forever wars.

      3. Carey

        The reason the ACA wasn’t repealed was because it was beneficial to both parties’ donor
        classes, crocodile tears aside.

    2. Freshstart

      Wolf is just trying to drum up some clicks I believe. Student loan forgiveness “not fair”? Please. “Fairness” is Wolf’s argument? Where has he been the last 11 years? Is it fair that a person’s position in society is tied to mommy and daddy’s grifting ability? And if it were fair, wouldn’t that eventually lead to a leadership class filled with people with more financial ability than intellectual ability? In other words, our current situation?
      It’s a sick country that, in order to function, shackles kids with debt.

  11. John k

    Biden’s working class supporters available for sanders…
    Ok, but why does biden have any such? I would have thought biden would only attract clintonites, and Liz is usefully splitting that vote as she snuggles w Clinton and banksters.
    Interesting to again see those appealing to clintonites continue to have difficulty filling basketball courts without resorting to paid attendees… but Bernie has to get the young to go to the polls. Wont know until voting starts…

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Most people don’t pay attention for one reason or another. HRC wasn’t pushing the narrative that she and Bernie were two peas in a pod except “she gets things done” just to annoy Sanders voters. Plenty of otherwise well meaning people genuinely believe Obama was simply foiled by Republicans.

      After all, Biden has just always been a working class guy who makes gaffes just like certain people who don’t know the gays are not LGBTQRKs or what have yous.

      I find its more common among millennials, but the “why did Obama ever hire this guy” whenever an infamous Obama alum says something terrible is a similar phenomenon.

      In the case of Biden, he’s simply a generic Democrat (raise taxes, increase spending etc…after all, the Republicans say this all the time) who hasn’t been the target of criticism for eight years. With Biden we can put the fussin’ and a feudin’ of 2016 in the past.

  12. barrisj

    “Hipster”…intriguing evolution of the term from the ‘40s-‘50s “cool” era to what today is a more pernicious bro version of “yuppie”, spawned by Silicon Valley and a metonym of that culcha.

  13. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re the Baffler article “Everything Must Go”: It’s so nice to see statements of neoliberal fealty to “privatization” of our publicly owned assets and ‘Public-Private Partnerships'” that further enrich a small segment of the population continuing apace under the current administration’s 2020 budget, despite the lack of evidence of net benefit to our society. As Yankee catcher Yogi Berra once said, “it’s deja vu all over again.”

  14. Titus

    In my time as Director for the Cattleman’s Association in Wyoming back in the day, I got to know, well just about everybody in Wyoming. I will tell you this, when I asked the oil guys about flaring as in: ‘Flaring is preferred because methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas, is burned off’, which when I first experienced it at night , scared me to [family blog]. I was told more or less “well methane being invisible and having no order had a tendency to get into places that could, would, and did explode.” No eco principles involved. Just saying.

  15. dearieme

    events leading to the spread of Steppe ancestry to South Asia It’s them Aryans.

    Joe Biden Demands Financial Transparency but Hides Wealth He’s a politician.

    I like Elizabeth Warren. Too bad she’s a hypocrite She’s a politician.

    Pipelines can capture that gas, but when they’re not available … Not available? Why?

    the size of the blades can put landfills in a tough spot Why not just leave them lying about near the god-forsaken spots that the turbines are typically built in? Soon trees or shrubs or grass will hide them. Or build art installations: Bladehenge. Blade ziggurat. Blade pyramid.

  16. kareninca

    I just found out that my 74 y.o. long-term friend who lives in her car has a net worth of 750k. My first thought was, well, that proves she is crazier than I thought. Actually she really isn’t crazy; her only problem is hoarding. My next thought was – she has said that she wants to save her money for her old age. Well, here in Silicon Valley, that would go really, really fast. And she doesn’t want to move since she grew up here. She is actually right.

    Also, I have now talked with two ladies who are her age who don’t seem to think that my friend’s homelessness – or other homelessness – is a big deal. One said, “Oh, she must be used to it by now.” WTF????? The other pointed out that the weather is nice. Again, WTF???? It isn’t nice in the winter, it is really cold!!!!!!! These, are, by the way, staunch Democrats. They also actually volunteer doing useful things (food trucks; homeless shelter). I never thought I’d live in a country where old ladies thought it was okay for other old ladies to be homeless. This is so sick.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Welcome to the end of the world. Or rather California. How anyone without a paid off home can manage there astounds me. A member of my family who lives in the far suburbs of San Jose has a house that’s increased 40x in value since the turn of the century. In constant dollars.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Were these two ladies you talked to . . . Pelosi supporters? Clinton supporters? It seems to me that they would be, because Pelosi and Clinton represent everything these two ladies stand for. Is my guess correct?

      1. kareninca

        One is in MI and she was and is a fervent Clinton supporter. The other is in CA and she is a fervent Pelosi and Clinton supporter. It wouldn’t occur to either of them to be otherwise.

    3. Whoa

      She is saving a minimum of $30,000 a year living in a car. Plus some large cars fit out nicely for living. More of a tiny mobile home. The 24 hr gym takes care of showers. When winter hits, Taos is only a day away.

      When shes too old for car, flyover US has plenty of a nice retirement spots with cheap housing

  17. Summer

    RE: “The startup behind the world’s first marijuana breathalyzer just raised a fresh $30 million and offered a glimpse at how the device works” [Business Insider)

    Well, here comes the collapse of legal weed.

    I still remember a friend telling me a checkpoint stop in the LA area a few years ago revealed more driving under the influence of assorted pills…more than alcohol or marijuana.

  18. ewmayer

    “Brace for food wars: science writer issues warning to world” [Reuters] … We think supermarkets will always be full of food… But the world only has about three months supply of grain in store at any one time,’ said Cribb. — Thankfully, most Americans carry several months’ worth of stored calories around with them in form of excess fat. It’s not an obesity epidemic – it’s basic survivalism! And should the end come in form of the zombie apocalypse, the hungry flesh-eating hordes will appreciate our adiposic advance-preparation, too.

  19. Bugs Bunny

    “Ocean drilling revolutionized Earth science — now geologists want to plumb new depths”

    Apparently they need research money but Mr Epstein is out of the picture. Guess Mr Gates will have to learn of it from another philanthropist.

    I know this is edgy but I don’t think it’s a site policy violation. I’m totally fine if I need to be corrected.

  20. Summer

    RE: Origins of computing
    “The story I was familiar with was the use of Hollerith technology by IBM in Nazi concentration camps, but as so often with fascist ideas and techniques, the United States led the way, right at home!”

    The US and global oligarch partners will fund any system of control and oppression for profit. They had much to do with the tech available in the earliest days of the Soviet Union.

  21. Plenue

    The way Clinton has turned her email saga into a joke is disgusting. A crime was actually committed there. There was a transparently concerted effort to turn “but her emails” into nothing more than a meme (one that Sanders unfortunately played a part in). Every time she pokes fun at it she’s flaunting her complete unaccountably and her open contempt for law.

    Also does anyone remember how when she was Secretary of State there was a PR campaign that tweeted out pictures of her on her Blackberry ‘being a boss’? Chances are she was sending and receiving from her illegal server in those pictures. Our elites are so damn gross.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      At least one high flier from our university is in Federal prison for taking the wrong laptop to the wrong country. A lot of grunts out there look at what happened and can see the score.

      From 2015 I was dreading 4 years of her inept corruption and blame cannons if elected. It turns out I didn’t have to wait for the election. “Whee, I’m back!”

  22. Mattski

    re: Brace for Food Wars

    Things could get very interesting if the poor countries stopped growing for the rich countries and concentrated on feeding themselves.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Agribusiness has methodically driven the small farmers producing food in poor countries out of business. Consider the case of corn in Mexico. Ask anyone who ate a tortilla made in a tortilleria in the 1960s compared with the tortillas typically available now after NAFTA. Many poor countries must import food because they are producing cocoa, bananas, coconut oil, coffee, or some other agricultural product that profits their Elite. Others like China and Brazil are scaling up farming to match US Agribusiness driving their small farmers off the land to go to the cities looking for work.

  23. Anonymous

    Off topic but thought this may be the appropriate venue given Yves knowledge of CalPERS specifically and pension funds in general. It struck me recently and was reminded today by Gundlach’s comments that disproportionate holders of negative debt securities are primarily central banks themselves and pension funds.

    So two questions:
    1) Do pensioners/members have legal standing to seek recourse for Board’s/regulations/policies that force contributions into negative yielding instruments that guarantee a total return below par?
    2) *tin-foil hat on* Given that pensions are required by Board’s/regulations/policies to invest in negative yielding debt instruments, could this be a backdoor, manufactured crisis strategy/tactic to bankrupt pensions and force a reset of entitlement obligations in general by first forcing a write down of expected returns and then allowing rates to normalize after the crisis has served it’s purpose? *tin-foil hat off*

  24. Wukchumni

    If it turned out that all of the bars in heavy security vaults around the world were all gilt wolfram jack and not all that glitters, how would that effect the market for the genuine article going forward.

    And is ‘dirty gold’ Reuters way of saying tungsten?

    Commodities: “Exclusive: Fake-branded bars slip dirty gold into world markets” [Reuters]. “In the last three years, bars worth at least $50 million stamped with Swiss refinery logos, but not actually produced by those facilities, have been identified by all four of Switzerland’s leading gold refiners and found in the vaults of JPMorgan Chase & Co., one of the major banks at the heart of the market in bullion, said senior executives at gold refineries, banks and other industry sources. Four of the executives said at least 1,000 of the bars, of a standard size known as a kilobar for their weight, have been found.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I think the fake-branded bars were “trading-bars”. I wonder whether any of the executives at these banks kept a few of the real gold bars as paper weights?

      In the future, tungsten may prove more valuable than an equivalent weight of gold. Gold may be prettier but tungsten is harder to come by. The furnaces need to run especially hot.

  25. BoyDownTheLane

    In re: “time bombs are ticking away in the Massachusetts local press”, I haven’t seen any but wonder why anyone in the Bay State would craft a metaphorical IED that would work towards keeping her on as our Senator. Maybe one of the wonders on the stage tonight will appoint her to an ambassadorship.

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