Links 9/24/19

Machu Picchu: Ancient Incan sanctuary intentionally built on faults Science Daily (Kevin W)

2019 Arctic sea ice minimum tied for second lowest on record PhysOrg (Chuck L) :-(

Greta Thunberg Rips World Leaders at the U.N. Over Climate Change YouTube. UserFriendly: “100% agree with this except I refuse to believe they are any of them that aren’t pure evil.”

‘How Dare You!’ Greta Thunberg Rebukes World Leaders Nation. Resilc” “Her theatrical family roots showed up well today, Nobel, Oscar or both? As she sails home on the prince of Monaco’s tax free, high tech carbon fiber, but carbon less emitting yacht…a childhood gone, but adult career super stardom ahead…”

The Green New Deal will be tremendously expensive. Every penny should go on the government’s tab. Business Insider. I would have preferred the word “costly”. “Expensive” implies high cost relative to the benefits. And yes, private-public partnership grifters are trying to get a big part of the action.

Gene-Editing Unintentionally Adds Bovine DNA, Goat DNA, and Bacterial DNA, Mouse Researchers Find Independent Science News

‘The Bells Start Going Off.’ How Doctors Uncovered the Vaping Crisis. Wall Street Journal. Notice how a nurse figured it out.


Companies Are Using a Depression-Era Law To Escape Trump’s Tariffs — And It’s Costing Them ProPublica (UserFriendly)

Trump Asks Mnuchin Why U.S. Canceled Chinese Farm Visits Bloomberg

Apple will make its new Mac Pro in the US The Verge. Note the Journal has the less misleading headline: Apple to Keep Building Mac Pro in U.S. After Securing Tariff Relief.

Use of “Hidden Debt Loophole” Spreads Among Australian Corporations Wolf Street. Kevin W: “Repo 105, Oz-style.”

Brexit. I will have turned in, but the Supreme Court is announcing its decision on the proroguing case at 10:30 AM London time. I hope readers will provide links and hot takes.

Brexit’s Big Mystery? How Johnson Will Respond to Court Ruling Bloomberg

Billions of euros,millions of jobs – carmakers’ no-deal Brexit warning grows more dire Autoblog

With an election looming, this chaotic conference is the last thing Labour needs Independent (Kevin W)

Brexit’s role in Thomas Cook’s demise CNN

Thomas Cook passengers bed down on airport floors and benches as 156,000 stranded holidaymakers await rescue around the world and the Government’s £100m Operation Matterhorn gets under way Daily Mail

Boris Johnson Says It’s Time to Make a New Nuclear Deal With Iran Bloomberg

Is the British Labour Party aboard the fiscal dominance train – Part 2? Bill Mitchell (UserFriendly)


Blast From the Past Foreign Policy (Brian C)

“Military experts believe Iranian-made drones set off from Yemen to strike Aramco” ra’i al yowm Sic Semper Tyrannis (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

French application of international rules to cyberwarfare Lukasz Olejnik (Bruce Schneier via David L)

Jaron Lanier Fixes the Internet New York (David L)

Trump Transition

Trump Put Hold on Military Aid Ahead of Phone Call With Ukraine’s President Wall Street Journal. Hoo boy. Missing from this account is whether the President of Ukraine knew of the decision before the phone call. However, the story does make clear that after the call, some Ukrainian officials were complaining to Congress that they believed the aid was frozen because they weren’t taking up the Biden investigation. The only way Trump talks his way out of this one if is his team can show they were looking into corruption in Ukraine on a broad basis (as in they have a good paper trail to justify the hold) and/or other countries were having aid delayed over corruption investigations.

Trump: A Banana Republican American Conservative

Impeaching Donald Trump Is a Requirement in Defense of the Republic. It’s Also Good Politics. Esquire

Judge temporarily blocks logging in nation’s largest national forest The Hill


DNC raises qualifying thresholds for fifth presidential debate The Hill

Biden extends lead over Warren, Sanders The Hill (Kevin W)

UserFriendly: “Creepy Biden ignoring climate change”

Joe Biden got defensive during an LGBTQ forum in Iowa, calling the moderator ‘a real sweetheart’ as they walked offstage – Business Insider (Kevin W)

Biden-Linked Firm Tests Messages to Undercut ‘Medicare for All’ Bloomberg (Ian B)

Opinion: Elizabeth Warren calls for a dramatic expansion of Social Security benefits

Biden extends national lead over Warren, Sanders in new poll The Hill

Elizabeth Warren couples an emotional punch with attention to detail Los Angeles Times. Resilc: “Since when does USA USA care about detail?

Our Famously Free Press

Twitter’s ‘Hide Replies’ Function Serves To Appease The Elitists Of The Political/Media Class Caitlin Johnstone (Kevin W)

Early power shut-offs are new reality as California enters peak wildfire season Los Angeles Times (David L)

Private Companies Gathering Plate Data Are Selling Access To People’s Movements For $20 A Search TechDirt (Chuck L). From what I can tell, they are used on public highways…

Once Upon a Time in the Banking Sector: Historical Insights into Banking Competition Liberty Street Economics (UserFriendly)

Boeing to pay bereaved 737 families $144,500 each BBC. Resilc: “2018 10.5$bil in profit.” Moi: You can be sure that anyone who takes the $ will sign a release of liability.

Is Aramco Lying About Its Damaged Oil Infrastructure?

US policeman suspended for arresting two six-year-olds BBC. Misses a key points, which I caught only by being in the vicinity of a TV when a clip on this story ran. The elementary school is a charter school. We’ve documented how the appearance of any academic success (which large scale studies have found does not exist overall) is due to charter schools aggressively getting rid of students with any behavior issues as well as ones who are underperformers (often by by characterizing their difficulties as behavior issues).

Class Warfare

We have pointed out that UBI is a libertarian tech squillionaire plan to subsidize workers in their incubators. It is also designed to replace welfare, not improve on it, so the findings below are no surprise. However, UBI is a flawed idea because any UBI that provides an adequate income would be inflationary and would result in the elimination of pretty much all social welfare programs.

Women are getting surgery to fix their resting bitch face New York Post (Dr. Kevin). Class warfare because women feel cultural pressure to make nice.

Artificial intelligence can improve sales by four times compared to some human employees PhysOrg (Robert M)

Antidote du jour. From the Comedy Wildlife Photography finalists (MGL):

And a bonus (Chuck L):

And a sort of bonus. I’m very fond of Kritter Klub in part because they are so “not from here” in many of the fine points. This one is the sort that a Western rescue group might not have released because it is melancholy but moving story of animal devotion:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


    1. Anonymous 2

      Betfair betting site have odds on that Johnson is gone before the end of the year.

      Bercow says Parliament recalled for tomorrow morning.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Desperate times call for desperate measures. Johnsone has already said that he will dump Parliament again if he feels like it. Right now he is in the US for the UN meeting so here is the UK’s chance. They should cancel both his passport and his citizenship before he has a chance to return to the UK. Boris will be OK as he only cancelled his American citizenship a few years ago and should have no trouble getting it back again. It would give him more time to hang around with his best bud Trump anyway. Sounds like a plan to me.

        1. The Rev Kev

          That’s nothing. Have you seen some of the people on the bench for Oz’s Parliament? Seen better heads on glasses of beer. As for the UK’s bench – perhaps some of his closest supporters could get on a plane to go consult with him in his new exile in the US. And maybe they can charter one of those new Boeing 737 MAX’s for the trip over.

          1. Clive

            And do you ever sit there and think to yourself, “hmm… that nice Julia Gillard maybe wasn’t so bad, after all…” ? And I bet HM The Queen looks back, nostalgia getting the better of her, when all she had to worry about was Paul Keating (a.k.a. “The Lizard of Oz”) manhandling her.

            Oh, happy days. Is Gerald Ford still alive? I think he could still run another term. He must be younger than Joe Biden is.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Actually I was a Julia Gillard supporter and she was a nice Welsh/Oz girl that had her head on straight. Trouble is that she has gotten aboard the Hillary bandwagon since leaving office. But who can forget her misogyny speech against Tony Abbott when in power?


              Paul Keating was not that bad in retrospect. There is a belief in Oz politics that to be a good Prime Minister that you have to be a bit of a b******. By that standard, Paul Keating was a very successful politician indeed. Known for his temper, it was said that you were nobody in Oz politics unless you had copped a spray from Paul Keating first.

              1. skippy

                Gillards first act upon becoming a PM was to front an industry gathering and assure them she was not susceptible to populism, Occupy was occurring at the time. She represents the Right wing of the Labour party, not to mention her legal career does not encourage one, shades of Obama.

                Keating was our Bill Clinton and greased the rails for the LNP monetizing everything under the sun.

                Now we have ninnnies running around banging on about the need to reeducate the population in Western Culture whilst fat fingering Cultural Marxism having invaded every social institution.

                Sorry for the brevity, off to a Qld’er.

                1. Harvey

                  I might also add that it was Gillard’s government which privatised the disability care sector in Australia via the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
                  State governments fell over themselves to support the NDIS and get out of providing care and support for the disabled and mentally ill. State government disability and mental health services all over the country are being dismantled because, as we have seen in the US, the private sector is much better at providing health care.
                  And the Morrison government has just saved $4.6 billion of taxpayers funds this year from the NDIS. NDIS savings funded the (sound of trumpets) Budget Surplus.
                  Do you really need that wheelchair?, disabled accommodation? personal care support? suicide prevention support? Nah, didn’t think so.

                  1. skippy

                    You’ll be pleased to be informed the Private NDIS call centers are payed by phone call numbers, as such, the business maths center around young phone associates meeting volume targets. This is after a brief educational period structure in teams which then transition to actual calls. Due to un-uniform knowledge levels, top knowledge base ‘floaters’ assist by screen interface.

                    From what I know these young kids are coping an ear full, so stress levels on both sides is on the high level, albeit the kids get an 8 hour day of it. That’s translating to washout rates and more worrisome potential psychological disorders [same dynamic with paras IMO].

                    I would only add that there is fraud going on that needs sorted, but the whole mygov sorta individual responsibility to inform ones self of all the options and rights is based on some wonky assumptions – creating a problem which requires a solution.

              2. Harvey

                Gillard was a right wing warrior. She wasn’t for women or pensioners. She shunted single parents without jobs onto Newstart which is below the poverty line.
                The misogyny speech was a clever political tactic – it diverted attention from the cuts to the pensions of single mothers/fathers that was being voted for by her government at the exact same time she was giving the speech.
                From meanjin magazine, 3 Nov 2014
                ‘I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not,’ Prime Minister Julia Gillard declared on 9 October 2012 in a speech excoriating Tony Abbott, then leader of the Opposition. Gillard made international headlines with her ‘misogyny’ speech, which criticised Abbott for the apparent hypocrisy of his attacks on the disgraced Speaker of the House, Peter Slipper. ‘And the Government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man,’ she continued. ‘Not now, not ever.’

                On the same day, largely unnoticed by political commentators, the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Fair Incentives to Work) Act 2012 was passed. The Act ensured that as of 1 January 2013 recipients of the Parenting Payment would cease to be eligible for the payment once their youngest child turned six years old, in the case of partnered parents, or eight, in the case of single parents. Most of these parents would instead be moved onto Newstart, the general jobseekers allowance.

              3. Harvey

                Even senior male members of her own government thought her legislation was unfair but she would not back down.

            2. Phillip Allen

              From Wikipedia:

              “Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. was an American politician who served as the 38th President of the United States from August 1974 to January 1977. Before his accession to the presidency, he served as the 40th Vice President of the United States from December 1973 to August 1974.”

              Born: Leslie Lynch King Jr, Jul 14, 1913, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
              Died: Dec 26, 2006, Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.
              Cause of death: Cerebrovascular disease and diffuse arteriosclerosis

              How one goes from Leslie Lynch King, Jr. to Gerald Rudolf Ford, Jr. must be a story.

    3. dearieme

      The justices have written it in a very common-sense and approachable way, avoiding unnecessary legal jargon.

      Is that what you do when you lack legal justification for your decision?

      1. Clive

        I didn’t think that they’d go the whole hog, but they (the justices) have made their beds and they’ll now have to jolly well lie in them. I hope they have watched the Kavanaugh circus rolling into town in Washington. They can’t say they’ve not had the opportunity to watch what awaits them in future.

        1. Darius

          Could you say Johnson’s cavalier attitude toward constitutional limitations was unintentionally revolutionary since it injected a Supreme Court into the equation.

          This decision strikes me as a historic precedent that introduces separation of powers into the British constitutional order. Seems like a new world unless everyone recoils and returns to the warm embrace of tradition. Except tradition offers little shelter in the neoliberal world.

          1. vlade

            Indeed. I do wonder how many people will recognise it for that.

            For example, it makes a point on how it’s the courts, not the Parliament, which should interpret how wide the Parliamentary privileges (granted by some previous Acts) are.

            And it makes very explicit point of separation of executive and legislative.

            1. JTMcPhee

              So this is maybe a British version of that famous old American bit of jurisprudence establishing “judicial review” of the acts and actions of the other “coequal branches,” to determine the “constitutionality” of said acts and actions. I would have thought, given the horrors that such assumption of authority have brought about here, see e.g. the long reign of “substantive due process,” leading to cases like the Dred Scott decision and lots of protection of corporate “rights” to loot the resources of the country and bind workers to their “place” in the freebooter capitalism of the day. (Of course there were other “beneficial” applications, like Griswold v. Connecticut’s announcement of a penumbra emanating from the 5th and 14th amendments, protecting a ‘right to privacy’ which in the age of the Panopticon no longer exists, if it ever did…

              Marbury was an artfully drafted bit of jurisprudence, claiming the right to determine the validity of presidential appointments while allowing the challenged spoils-system appointments to stand. This decision on prorogation seems to drink from the same wellspring.

    4. ambrit

      I waded through the judgement and found it eminently readable and, need I say it, fair. The Justices were thorough in their reasoning. It is sad to consider that the Court has handed the Parliament a victory that the Parliament seems incapable of capitalizing on.
      Since the Court decided that Johnson’s ‘advice’ to the Crown in his dealings with it concerning this action is ‘unlawful,’ does it mean that poor Boris will soon become a “Guest of the State” in the Tower of Big Ben? One can only hope.

      1. vlade

        Now, this is an interesting one. The judges mention the expenses scandal, and from that narrow the protection the Parliament offers. Since it could be argued that if Johnson breaks law, he would break it as PM, not as an MP in ‘proceedings of the Parliament’, it would be normal prison, not Big Ben for it (Big Ben is for being found in contempt of the Parliament by an MP).

        But that would still not strip him of being the PM, as there is no lawful requirement that a guilty verdict by the court would say automatically strip an MP of their role. It could trigger a recall petition at most, but technically the PM does not have to be an MP.

        So still, the only way to remove Johnson as the PM is what was there for months – the Parliament voting him out, and voting someone else in. There’s really no other way (well, there is, assassinating him, but let’s not go there).

        1. shtove

          What it boils down to is a big question mark over the monarchy. After all, he is her appointee. And so was May, and so was Cameron, but in more comfortable circumstances.

          As for the separation of powers, it was a simple judicial review of an executive act. Don’t see what the fuss is about. The real legal cha-cha-cha will be danced when the PM (I expect it will be Johnson – he wins the revolver and bottle of whiskey) bumps in to the Benn Act.

          1. Clive

            Yes, he (Johnson) has absolutely nothing to lose (except the case…) by adopting a “I’ll see ya in court” approach.

        2. ambrit

          The “House of Cards: The Final Cut” option.
          It makes me wish for Ian Richardson to be hired to play the PM. America did it with Reagan, and the Republic did not fall. (The example of Reagan here in America should assuage any doubts the English elites should have concerning hiring a dead man to play a public role.)
          One thing is certain; Johnson is no Urquhart.

          1. ObjectiveFunction

            “To Play the King” was the best of the trilogy though. I wish Richardson had a longer filmography; he was a truly brilliant actor.

    5. Alex morfesis

      Oooorredurrrr….order….odah….as we were saying before we were interupted by alexander boris “yeltsin” “de pffft” johnson and his not ready for prime time slayers….

    6. vlade

      Nice to see top lawyers are able to write very accessible judgements.Some interesting points:

      – where the SC differentiates from dissolution, it also says “[during the dissolution] The government remains in office but there are conventional constraints on what it can do during that period “. A hint to Johnson not to try anything funny once the parliament is dissolved for elections?

      – para 15 makes it very clear that they have no idea what Johnson told the Queen and so would not rule on that- or take it into account
      – para 32. Cool. How often do you get a precedents from 17th and 18th century quoted by Supreme Court? (and a lot of other places)
      – para 66. “it is for the court, and not the Parliament to determine the scope of Parliamentary privilege […]”. Did we just see Parliament curtailed?

      1. Clive

        Re: para 66

        Yes, I noticed that but couldn’t quite place it until you spelt it out there. It struck me as a little strident by the measured standards of the overall judgement so I thought it was making a particular point but not anything I could put my finger on.

        I think you’re right, if, as the justices almost certainly didn’t say to themselves (but they might as well have done) you’re going to set the constitutional house on fire, you might as well throw some barbecue accelerant on the flames.

        It has the suggestion — possibly a lot more than that — of a land grab by the court. They wouldn’t go anywhere near advice from minsters to the crown (the justices refused to make any finding on what the Queen was, or wasn’t, told).

        But they did seem to put a stake in the ground that, if the U.K. Parliament doesn’t live up to its responsibilities and dismiss a government it doesn’t like but, rather, want the court to underwrite its unhappiness at a government playing procedural games with Parliament, then Parliament can’t in turn not expect the court to be, even if only slowly, willing to intervene in the privileges accorded to Parliament. On some readings, the court actually *ordered* the U.K. Parliament to sit and if it would not resolve the political problems then it must dissolve itself.

        1. ChrisPacific

          It all sounded perfectly sensible and reasonable to me, but then I know that the simplest sentences in these things can be loaded with political implications based on the context. Since I don’t have the context I can’t assess that, although I did read the “of course the courts/law are able to handle this” intro as a defense of the constitutional order. (We are the defenders of the law, no Balrogs shall pass).

          It does strike me that part of the reason why it was so clear-cut is that Boris didn’t bother to make any effort to justify it (except for the bit about how starting a new session before 14th October would be “extremely pressured,” a statement that is unsupported by evidence of any kind). Essentially he made a large deviation from historical precedent while offering no reason for it. The court decided that in the absence of such a stated reason, they were entitled to assume that the obvious tactical reason was the real one and act on that basis. If he had offered any kind of explanation, even a flimsy self-serving one, the court would have had to venture into the territory of examining his credibility, which would have pushed the line much closer to the political sphere.

          1. Clive

            Yes, Johnson is (as evidenced by not really putting up any particular explanations of a defence and letting the government lawyers merely to recite from stodgy, generic interpretations of the statutes and constitution) either incredibly stupid, arrogant and has no discernible plan whatsoever. Or he’s working the most fiendish, carefully-calculated gambit in modern political history.

            I’d put it at 90% the former. But you can never rule out 10% of the latter, as it isn’t a zero-rate-able possibility.

  1. PlutoniumKun

    Brexit Proroging case.

    There is certainly a lot of sound and fury over it, but here is a take saying its a huge opportunity for Boris to double down on his populism:

    Boris Johnson could still turn this latest defeat into victory.

    But what no one seems to have considered is that Boris is an explicitly populist politician. He will live to whiff-whaff another day. His whole approach to gaining the keys to No.10 has revolved around constantly responding to – and to some extent amplifying – the populist signal, not least over Brexit. In this context, a Supreme Court defeat risks simply playing into Johnson’s gameplan. It will not stop Brexit. But for Johnson and, especially for his shady apparatchiks, it will be yet another example of “them” (that is, the elite, the experts, the untouchables that wield power without responsibility) against “us” (the Great British public).

    The rules of political engagement have already been altered almost beyond recognition, and Boris’s entire brand is based on being an unconventional politician.

    By conventional measures its a stunning set back for Bojo, but these are not conventional times. I can’t see with the time remaining that the opposition can do anything meaningful to change the course of Brexit.

    The only real question to me is whether Boris takes an explicitly populist any establishment (and anti-judge) line – no doubt cheered on by the most rabid tabloids, but whether a big chunk of Conservative opinion might finally decide that he’s gone too far.

    1. Ignacio

      IMO this is quite a pertinent observation. Political correctedness is gone with the wind for the wrong reasons.

    2. Anonymous 2

      The talk on BBC lunchtime radio included the suggestion that the Commons will now take control of Brexit policy from Johnson and dictate in detail what he must do. The possibility of impeachment was also mentioned. I think we have to recognise we are now in completely uncharted waters where we must expect the unexpected. If I were an MP I would now be urgently seeking to pass laws to prevent the declaration of a state of emergency by Johnson and to confirm that at least for the time being there must be no prorogation of Parliament without explicit approval by the Commons.

      As for public reaction and future political manoeuvring, the interesting question IMO is how the newspapers react. We will see tomorrow morning.

      1. a different chris

        Excuse my Americaness – and we certainly don’t have much to brag about – and I really try to not do the PM==President, Parliament == Congress map although that tends to only leave me adrift in the middle of the Atlantic…

        But why “at least for the time being”??? Why should a PM ever be able to unilaterally prorogue Parliament? Seems like a pretty dictatorial stick for a democracy?

        1. Anonymous 2

          In the past (at least the recent past), Prime Ministers have been able to prorogue Parliament without serious challenge as they have not sought to use prorogation (very much) for improper purposes. I phrased my comment the way I did because it might be easier to get Parliamentary support for legislation that requires Parliamentary approval during the current crisis (assuming it does end one day) rather than in perpetuity. If it was up to me, though, I would always require it.

          It is worth remembering that the UK is a constitutional monarchy rather than a full-blown democracy.

          1. Summer

            “It is worth remembering that the UK is a constitutional monarchy rather than a full-blown democracy.”


          2. vlade

            So is Belgium, Netherlands and all scandis but Finland – I mean constitutional monarchies.

            Are you saying they are not democratic, and similar shambles could happen there?

              1. Clive

                And Japan !

                I should have probably kept quiet on that one, but couldn’t help to try to complete the list, my nature got the better of me. Because Japan has, I maintain, the absolute worst politics of anywhere in the notional “democratic world”. Japan is still, though, a democracy (although I’d probably better reference the comments earlier in this chain about the limitations of what we mean when we talk about what should, or should not be, allowed to be labelled a “democracy”…)

                1. vlade

                  I added and removed Japan few times before I posted, and ultimately removed it for the reasons you give :). Although I’d have thought about putting Australia on the list though, as while not UK proportion yet, it’s getting there..

                    1. vlade

                      yeah, I dropped that on purpose too :), as I was trying to show that constitutional monarchy is no worse or better than presidential system (be it French/US executive president or ‘titular head only’ more common in the rest of the Europe).

                      I don’t see too much into Spanish politics, but my understanding was that it had its own fun (not so much as Japan or Australia though, so I guess if I included Oz, I’d have included Spain too).

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Theoretically, the PM can’t prorogue Parliament, its the Crown who does it – but it has been accepted that this is a formality if the MP requests it.

          The nature of the British constitution is that there are pretty much no rules about anything (at least in terms that would be familiar to most democracies) – its all down to gentlemen’s agreements and the very occasional court judgement. Proroguing was supposed to be just a technical matter – but if I could paraphrase todays judgement it is ‘the PM can prorogue whenever he wants, so long as its not blatant that he is doing it to prevent Parliament doing its job. In this case, its all too obvious that this is what he is doing’.

          1. a different chris

            Thanks! Wow so there is still a monarchy lurking around there like one of those misdirection horror movies.

            They gotta do something about that…

            1. Clive

              In Exhibit A for the defence, I could only offer the near-miss that was President Clinton (Hillary, that is). Is Elizabeth II really such an unpalatable alternative, by comparison?

              (of course, the U.K. system is a bit different from the US!)

              1. JTMcPhee

                Speaking of the Queen, is there not precedent for Her Majesty summoning a creature like Boris Johnson and dismissing him from “service?” He serves, I believe, like all PMs, at Her Majesty’s pleasure. (Oh, I know, the Queen does not involve herself in affairs of politics and state, or some lie like that…)

                Interesting that British “constitutionalism” kind of partakes of the rules of “Calvinball:” Not that my own native constitutionalism has no rules at all, except that power wins.

                1. ChrisPacific

                  I would lay money that the Queen is well aware that this is a potentially precarious time for the monarchy, and that preservation of said monarchy is foremost among her list of concerns by a large margin. Right now in a politically charged landscape like this, that means avoiding even the hint of partisanship, and pretty much the only way to do that is to hew almost robotically to convention – as she has done. Think of her as a large, well-dressed rubber stamp. The slightest hint of a thumb on the scales for either Remain or Leave would instantly have millions baying for her blood.

                  She is actually a pretty astute political operator when it comes to protecting her interests, and I think it’s highly unlikely she will mess this up. (Charles is an entirely different story – he had better hope that Mum stays in good health for a while, or he could end up going the way of his namesake).

                  1. JTMcPhee

                    I knew all of that, of course. Just another bit of the gigantic dysfunction. Just had to ask the question, for form’s sake. Yep, won’t mess it up for her and the German ruling family. Noblesse oblige, droits de seigneur, les majeste… and there’s that awkward history of regicide and reginacide floating about…

                    1. ambrit

                      Reginacide? In England? Doesn’t that sort of thing only happen away off on some lonely steppe somewhere? Admitted, Alexandria was closely related to Victoria Rex. (Her bloody granddaughter for Christ’s sake.) Half the ‘ruling’ families of Europe had members descended from Victoria and Albert.

                    2. The Rev Kev

                      Little know fact. Yes, there is still regicide going on in the Royal Family. Consider what happened to George V back in 1936-

                      “(Lord) Dawson, who supported the “gentle growth of euthanasia”, admitted in the diary that he hastened the King’s death by injecting him, after 11.00 p.m., with two consecutive lethal injections: ​3⁄4 gr. morphine followed by 1 gr. cocaine shortly afterwards. Dawson wrote that he acted to preserve the King’s dignity, to prevent further strain on the family, and so that the King’s death at 11:55 p.m. could be announced in the morning edition of The Times newspaper rather than “less appropriate … evening journals”

          2. bob

            Can you isle-ish folks turn this into merican english-

            The nature of the British constitution is that there are pretty much no rules about anything (at least in terms that would be familiar to most democracies) – its all down to gentlemen’s agreements and the very occasional court judgement.

            Cause is sounds like there isn’t a constitution.

        3. JTMcPhee

          Maybe one might consider that the British government system is no more a “democracy” than the US’s? Except by conversational tic?

          1. Clive

            Said with tongue in cheek maybe JT, but this is a very valid question. What, exactly, do we mean when we say we live in democracies?

            1. Ranger Rick

              It would appear that when one says “we live in a democracy,” one means “we live under governance structures in which the governors are accountable to the governees.”

              It is the custom of those experienced in politics to roll one’s eyes in contempt when that belief is espoused however.

              1. Anon

                …or, in the words of Nancy Pelosi: by definition, the voter is always right.

                (That, of course, depends on whom/what you vote for.)

              2. bob

                UK fails this-

                “in which the governors are accountable to the governees.”

                the queen is not accountable to anyone. Ever.

                1. ambrit

                  Alas, as the history of sovereigns before her shows, ‘rulers’ are very accountable to the axe and block. She balances on a very narrow tightrope.

                  1. bob

                    That doesn’t make her accountable. It makes her dead. How do the axe wielding plebes get around her majesties armed forces?

                    This isn’t an argument. It’s some sort of snotty history lesson that, if it were true, would result in not having a sovereign any more. But, there is still a queen, and many kings and queens before her.

                    1. ambrit

                      Well. I’d counter that the behaviour of the Royals after the Glorious Revolution were much subdued from pre-Charles times.
                      Her Majesties Household forces are but a part of the whole of the English military. Don’t expect them to blindly follow the figureheads off of a cliff. Many revolutions have come from out of the junior officer class.

            2. JTMcPhee

              People don’t like to examine their shibboleths and commonplaces, now do they? “Liberals” and “Conservatives” and “Socialists” and “Marxist-Leninist,” “terrorists” and the like. Claims of righteousness and justification and smug complaisance. With cynical greed or blank stupidity, or both, behind those eyes. And so the beat goes on, generation after generation, until the last one rolls around…

              1. bob

                People don’t like to examine their shibboleths and commonplaces, now do they?

                Try talking about how the UK doesn’t have a constitution. That’s gotta be the biggest one yet, demonstrated here over and over again.

                You cannot say the queen is naked and you cannot say that the emperor has no clothes.

          2. bob

            The US doesn’t yet have a queen. We also don’t have peered members of the upper house from the church of england.

      2. Anonymous 2

        Just to add that the Telegraph can be expected to back Johnson as he is ‘their Prime Minister’ after all. The interesting paper will be the other ‘Tory paper’, the Mail, IMO This morning they carried the story of Johnson and his young lady friend with the dance pole. There has been a change of editor since the referendum so there is the possibility that the paper may choose this moment to turn on Johnson. Stories have it the Lady Rothermere (the owner’s wife) is very upset that she has lost so many friends as a result of the Mail’s support for Brexit under the previous editor (Dacre).

        1. PlutoniumKun

          My initial thoughts are that this decision, while very damaging for the government, will only change the Brexit calculation if a significant chunk of Conservative opinion decide that things have gone too far and they’ve made a mistake hopping on the Bojo bandwagon – as you suggest, the newspapers will be a key to this. But even then, its more likely to mean that Bojo gets pushed overboard after a no-deal than there being any change of direction.

          A key element might also be the hard core Brexiteers feeling that Bojo has overplayed his hand and that the entire project could be in danger – this could push some of them to press for accepting the WA with amendments (to save face). The EU could offer them the Irish Sea option as a means of helping them portray it as a victory. But having said that, they still wouldn’t be able to get it through Parliament without at least a substantial number of opposition MP’s agreeing to it or at least abstaining. I wonder if they feel they could buy the SNP off with an IndyRef2 agreement along with an EU offer that they could be fast tracked back into the EU if they went independent?

          1. Anonymous 2

            PK Thank you. Your comments are always excellent IMO.

            I fully agree that there are options – including ones not previously considered – that are likely to be weighed up by Tories looking to find a way out of the current chaos. One of the problems I think Johnson has is that he is trusted by pretty well nobody, which might persuade the 1922 Committee that a rapid replacement by Hunt or Gove might be needed if they are ever to get back onto an even keel? Johnson’s combination of incompetence, popular appeal and duplicity must be a nightmare for those around him. Personally, I think he has several screws loose.

            I confess I find myself completely at sea in foreseeing how this plays out – so many moving parts, so many unreliable players, scope for new pole-dancers to appear from the wings?

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Thanks Anon2, I find your comments top class too.

              As you say, its almost impossible to know how this will play out. I think Bojo is doomed politically, but the men in suits may feel that he still has a populist touch which will see them through a quick election over the next few month before he can be quietly knifed in the back.

              As you say, there are undoubtedly wild card options out there which could come out of left-field. The SNP is one – they may feel this is a now or never opportunity to go for independence, and a cynical deal with the Tories could be one way to do it (and lets face it, Scottish Independence would be a bonus electorally for the Tories). I’ve been harping on the Irish Sea border option for a while because I think the Irish government has made the same calculation – there could be wild swings and deals taking place over the next few weeks and it makes sense to have a prepared ‘Plan B’ on the table which could be grabbed by whoever is most desperate to make a deal in October. And now its not just Remainers who are in chaos, Brexiters see things slipping away, so even the hardest core may feel a WA deal may be better than no-deal at guaranteeing what they want.

              There is also the possibility I think the LD’s might realise they’ve made a huge mistake in ruling out a Corbyn led interim government – I also wouldn’t rule out a quick patchwork deal between the opposition parties to vote no confidence and put Corbyn in power on the basis of some sort of compromise – maybe withdrawing A.50 in favour of a complex series of referendums in 12-18 months time, following an election.

              So every option, including those nobody has thought of yet, is out there and available. Or of course, it could all crumble into chaos.

      3. Ignacio

        Regarding newspapers reactions there are weird situations. In Spain, El Pais (owned by English investors) has been doing an extremely poor coverage of brexit. For instance, the newspaper took at face value the declarations of the UK envoy last week and tried to sound optimistic about UK-EU “negotiations” and solutions for the backstop. Today is throwing BoJo to the wolves. It moves from Tory to LibDem narratives quite easily like a remoaning brexiteer. It is astonishing for me. Does this happen in any UK media?

    3. larry

      The opposition may not be able to do anything in the time remaining, but Parliament can. A big question is whether it can get its act together sufficiently to act. The ball is now firmly in its court.

    4. vlade

      I’ve seen that some more Tory MPs are getting fed with Johnson (and calling for Cummings head already). The problem they run is that he’s still pretty popular with voters. So it’s a question of conscience vs. party. We can expect that most of them will go with the party, but I suspect a few more might quit – unfortunately, usually the more sensible (middle of the road) ones.

      Where it gets interesting now is Sajid Javid, who seems to have fallen out with Johnson very quickly, and some are already speculating someone else will be presenting the budget come March/April (assuming Johnson is still PM then). If Saj goes and falls out with Johnson, that can split the party much further..

      I’d not be surprised to see LD becoming a centrist Cameron/Blair party sucking centrists from both Labour and Tories, with Tories doing a reverse takeover of BP and Labour becoming a pure ‘socialist’ party. Which would make it interesting in the FPTP environment.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, I was interested to see that the initial reaction of many Tories was fury aimed at Cummings, rather than a ‘steady the ship’ type response. It shows they really didn’t expect this and now realise that the strategy is deeply flawed.

        I think this has more or less doomed Bojo in the long run – even if he ‘delivers’ Brexit and wins an immediate election, the Tories will be seeking a steadier hand for the future. He has made too many enemies.

        I think your latter scenario is exactly how the LD sees their future. As you say though the question is whether FPTP will work for them. It all comes down to the geographical spread of support. My feeling is that the ‘centrist’ vote – mostly educated suburbanites – are too geographically spread through the country to be the basis for a majority government. Both Labour and Conservatives have a very deep core number of seats they can hardly ever lose. So the LD would still be forever no.3 in terms of seats, even if they could push to 30% or more of the vote. This would, ironically enough, make post-Brexit UK politics look much more like European countries like Germany or the Netherlands in terms of their internal politics, with centrists constantly having to decide which of the extremes they distrust least when it comes to making up a government.

        1. vlade

          It would also put Labour in the bind, as if Labour was getting say five times as many MPs as LD with having (possibly) fewer votes, they would be always open to attacks on legitimacy. Tories too, but they would not care, Labour is supposed to be pro-democracy..

          I’d expect the price for LD for any alliance would be moving towards PR. Maybe not right now, but definitely over time.

  2. Steve H.

    > Trump Put Hold on Military Aid Ahead of Phone Call With Ukraine’s President

    “The only way Trump talks his way out of this one if is his team can show they were looking into corruption in Ukraine on a broad basis (as in they have a good paper trail to justify the hold) and/or other countries were having aid delayed over corruption investigations.”

    Ukraine is a perfect tarbaby for the election. First, N*zis, real ones, followers of Bandera, supported by US treasure. Then Victoria Nuland claiming five billion (of US treasure) spent to influence an election, which sounds strangely familiar. Then Biden * Ukraine gets to personal corruption, “having aid delayed” helping the fruit of his very own loins, which utterly muddies all waters about Trump’s own nepots.

    And every bit under Democratic Party control. So many pigs, so much mud…

    1. John A

      And Biden boasting on camera about firing the prosecutor investigating Biden jr and his gas company directorship paying $50K a month.

      1. Olga

        The real story – one of Hunter B grabbing money in Ukraine and wherever else he can spot it – seems to be getting lost. So I’d think the other way for DT to “talk his way out of this” would be redirect attention to where it belongs – corrupt Bidens.

      2. anon in so cal

        Will the Republicans really be able to go after Biden re: Ukraine? They support US regime change interventionism as much as Democrats, and, like Democrats, similarly appear to hate Russia. Seems it might be like the GOP and Hillary Clinton re Libya. They failed to address the real Benghazi crime: her decision to bomb Libya and also, according to Seymour Hersh, the use of the Benghazi embassy to funnel arms to jihadis in Syria.

        Nuland (“family blog the EU”) essentially supported, if not engineered, the Ukraine putsch that ushered in the neo Nazi-infused Azov regime. The US arms it as it kills ethnic Russians in the eastern provinces. Adam Schiff (who himself seems compromised via donations from Ukraine arms dealer Igor Pasternak) is on the same page as Mike Pence. They’re all rabidly anti Russia. So, the regime change op is unlikely to be discussed or condemned. Like many other regime change ops, aside from the initial crime, it opened up opportunities for US corrupt plunder.

    2. Ignim Brites

      Hard not to believe that the eruption of this scandal is unrelated to the prospect of war with Iran.

    3. JTMcPhee

      So “withholding military tribute” is grounds for impeachment? Is gifting trillions, over time, to one corrupt and oppressive regime after another, overthrowing and destabilizing governments, for “political reasons?” Wasn’t there some kerfuffle about withholding funds from the Egyptian military just a few years ago? And of course there’s all those billions to Israel, and various “freedom fighters du jour.”

      And too bad Trump did not just “embargo” ALL “military aid” to places like Ukraine, given the geopolitics.

      The hypocrisy, it burrrnnnnnss….

      1. Olga

        Wasn’t there a case, when pappa Bush tried to withhold aid to “the only democracy in the ME,” unless it stopped building settlements in the West Bank? Aahh, the good old days.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “DNC raises qualifying thresholds for fifth presidential debate”

    Yeah, the minimum age to be a standing candidate will be 65 years old from now on. Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, Bill & Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer all agree that this is a good compromise. In a bit of cross-aisle support, Republican Mitch McConnell has also endorsed this idea for the Democrats.

    1. Another Scott

      I’m at the point where I’d rather them drop these “objective” qualifications and just have two sets of debates one for Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Harris, and the second for everyone else. If one of the lower tier pops, then they can go to the big table. The distinction between polling at 1% and 3%, especially in a field this large seems minimal. I’m willing to include Harris even though her numbers are lower than the others because she is a senator of the largest state, but I’m not buying that a mediocre mayor of a mid-sized municipality polling at 5% has a serious chance at the nomination.

  4. Robert McGregor

    “Women are getting surgery to fix their resting bitch face”

    My head is exploding! Too funny. The “slightly misogynist” part of me loves how often the word “bitch” is now used in the media. Now there’s surgery for “resting bitch face.” Can there be a better entry than this article for the “Class Warfare” section? Some people need money for rent and food. Others spend thousands to correct their “Resting Bitch Face!” Song lyrics writers–GET ON IT!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Good grief! Would you believe that there is an actual Wikipedia entry for this? Well at least there is the term “resting b****** face” for men as well. I do wonder though. People have said that in American culture that you are supposed to have a smile on your face constantly, particularly as you say “have a nice day!”. In fact, I once saw an American film showing a group of individual skiers going downhill where one was criticized for not smiling as she was doing so (she was an Aussie girl). Perhaps this term was adopted to describe people without a constant smile on their dial and make them feel the need for plastic surgery as being “not normal”. To hell with that.

      1. T

        Is this just a new name for a the old “just look more rested” early middle-age nips and tucks?

        RBF has always seemed a very forced concept. People tell me to smile, etc. etc. and I see this done to others all the time. Right up there with bad driving as a daily annoyance. IRL people thinking woman are actively angry when those women are just going about there day isn’t something I’ve seen.

        The RBF thing is on my list of brunch feminism topics.

        1. anon y'mouse

          “IRL people thinking woman(en?) are actively angry when those women are just going about there (their?) day isn’t something I’ve seen.”

          then you and i have never met, because i have been followed by this activity my whole life. and never has it been a woman to say that to me.

          and often times, it was when i was working at some physical task. so not only was i supposed to strain and struggle with something, but actively smile while i was doing it, since my face doesn’t smile unless intentionally.
          almost always while doing something unpleasant as well. because i was supposed to be happy that i even had a job, i guess.

          some of us just have faces that do not naturally look “smiling” when totally neutral. if the corners of your mouth don’t turn upward, you are screwed. if your mouth sits on your face in a particular way, you are also screwed.

          also, i believe there are a number of psychological disorders that view neutral faces as hostile. so, i find this as more evidence in the column that USians have psych disorders as rule and not the exception.

        2. Arizona Slim

          In many countries, people consider the American emphasis on smiling to be downright weird. For example, Russia. Walking around with a smile on your face is Just. Not. Done.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        My take is that “bitch” is usually in practice the feminine form for the masculine “asshole”, and that they are then close to being the same in meaning. Obviously, both words are applied to all sexes with various other shades of meaning, but they are near gendered synonyms in common usage.

        1. Lee

          To put my thought expressed above in other crittery terms: I have no desire to tame the shrew; I want her on my side.

  5. Robert McGregor

    “Artificial Intelligence can improve sales”

    From the article: “(AI) chatbots they are four times more effective at selling products than inexperienced workers, but when customers know the conversational partner is not a human, they are curt and purchase less because they think the bot is less knowledgeable and less empathetic.”

    There is that basic problem all capitalists must suffer: Manipulation of the customer is very effective, but only when the customer doesn’t know he/she is being manipulated.

  6. Charles D Myers

    Why are the school teachers and the principal not under fire for calling the police on a six year old student?

  7. JTMcPhee

    Re impeaching Trump: do any of the yahoos pushing this wacky notion give a moment’s thought to what happens after Puritanical Preacher Pence gets sworn in?

    What an idiot distraction and waste of “liberal” energy this activity is. One might almost think it’s an intentional way to dupe the mopes into ignoring Dem fecklessness and the absence of decently substantive policy pushes (Bernie is not a Democrat as yet.)

    1. Acacia

      Total waste indeed. As for Pence, he might approve war with Iran but the Dems seem cool with that.

      Part of me kinda hopes they go full retard and pull the impeachment trigger. Markets tank. Gold and cryptos up. Trump could retaliate by declassifying a pile of juicy incriminating documents. FISA warrants. Everything on Wiener’s laptop. Etc. Etc.

      Could an impeachment decision get through the Senate? It makes sense that few GOP turncoats might smell blood and flip.

      1. Steve H.

        (I have a misplaced comment, below.)

        Clintons proved impeachment is meaningless. The required supermajority to actually remove him from office na ga happen.

      2. Robert McGregor

        What if Trump went wild with an AK-47 and wiped out 50 people? Would you say impeaching him will only help his reelection chances, so better wait for Nov. 2020?

        1. JTMcPhee

          Various presidents have killed American citizens, not to mention conducting nominally “illegal” imperial and fatal violence on citizens of other countries, like the 30-odd pine nut gatherers in Notagainistan. Does not seem to have called for impeachment.

          1. Olga

            Pelosi just gave go-ahead for impeachment proceedings. They’ll probably impeach him for not having started a war. (He’s done plenty of stupid stuff, but war is not one of them.)

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              No, this is not correct . There are only 160 certain votes out of the 218 needed. She just told the committees investigating Trump to treat them as impeachment investigations. This is a step on the path to impeachment but it does not amount to impeachment.

          2. Robert McGregor

            JTMcPhee, Good point re presidents frequently killing people, but it’s “conventional” for them to do it wearing a suit, sitting at the Resolute Desk, and talking on the phone. Walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, spraying bullets at passerby, would be scoffed at even today.

            1. JTMcPhee

              And of course Trump would never do such a thing, but let us impute the intent to him, or the possibility — maybe line up some more “support” for the rush to install Pence as the Overlord?

    2. a different chris

      The problem is that you can only go so far with the political gamesmanship… if the guy needs to be impeached you have to impeach him. You can’t always Pelosi your way around everything. Being “smart” about things always seems, especially in politics, to eventually backfire.

      I’m not really afraid of a year of Pence, but I do understand the concern. But you can’t “live in your fears” as a local football guy likes to say.

      Now, sigh, the fact that impeachment takes all the focus away from doing anything for the people is a good point and probably the only reason the Dems will do it.

      1. Plenue

        1. Trump doesn’t need to be impeached. 2. Pence not only actually has firm political principles, all of them bad, he’s also not a moron. If you aren’t afraid of him in power, you haven’t been paying attention. Especially because Dems are far more upset about Trump not being ‘presidential’ than they are by anything he’s actually doing. As long as Pence is more dignified at being evil, Dems won’t object.

        1. Anon

          Especially because Dems are far more upset about Trump not being ‘presidential’ than they are by anything he’s actually doing.

          Umm, No!

          Trump is doing more than being un-presidential. Those of us living in the West see the effects of his POLICY on public lands, environmental protections, and women’s rights, among others. Trump is threatening to reduce transportation funds to the state of California over air quality disagreements. (California sends more tax to the Feds that it receives back.) Not only is Trump a train wreck for coherent government policy, he is now seeking “war” with the 5th largest economy in the world–one that likely transports your daily food.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Wouldn’t it be great if we had a two-party system, the other party could oppose all of these policies and rally supporters around alternatives

          2. Big River Bandido

            Congressional Democrats support nearly all of Trump’s policies except the ones expressed in a harsh tone toward poor people that Democrats don’t really care about anyway.

      2. Roy G

        To that last point, I just saw Kamala Harris on my Facebook feed pushing a petition to impeach Trump. For sure it’s more about the Benjamins and campaigning than anything worthwhile politically.

    3. voteforno6

      I don’t know about it being a waste of energy. It would be nice if Congress actually did some oversight, like they’re supposed to. I just don’t think that the Congressional “leaders” are all that much interested in investigating the endemic corruption of the Trump administration. After all, they’ve all been beneficiaries of a corrupt system as well, so they might not be that interested in setting that precendent.

      1. lordkoos

        I think that not only would impeachment be a waste of energy since the senate would likely kill it, it would also be a media circus that would drag on for months, sucking most of the air out of the room and obscuring more important issues.

    4. The Rev Kev

      The only reason that I can see for a call to impeach Trump is to try to get him to stand down in the 2020 Presidential elections in favour of a more “acceptable” Republican. If the people who are calling for this are trying to fire up their base, then Lucy has a football for them to kick.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Politicians hate to be challenged especially by local committee people, who are usually instruments to attack activists or misdirect positive energy. The Democrats at large accused Trump of TREASON and blamed that time a bunch of rich, white liberals missed brunch on TREASON.

        With redistricting changes, not winning the House was almost impossible in 2018, despite Pelosi’s best efforts. I think Team Blue elites expected to simply be able to appease their supporters with stories about Nancy Pelosi being sassy. After all, Pelosi and Schumer wanted to build Trump’s deranged wall but slightly shorter despite accusing the guy of TREASON.

        Except for a few nuts like Schiff, I think the base, the 10%ers, are calling for impeachment, probably the major donors who were burned in recent years, and elected Democrats have slowly faced the reality they can’t put the genie of TREASON back in the bottle. Think of all the emotional energy invested in Maddow’s Conspiracy Power Hour, just simply wasted.

        If Trump is a KGB asset, then what are elected Democrats who aren’t demanding his removal? The ones who voted to give him more than he asked for? Obama got away with a lot, but I think the patience has worn thin especially for Team Blue which doesn’t seem to do much of anything.

        1. Carolinian

          Re impeachment–wake me when it’s over. I thought it was aover.

          Of course logical minds might suggest that with a year until the election the Dems would simply let the voters decide whether to boot Trump. But that, of course, is the problem. They are worried the stupid deplorables won’t “git r dun.”

          This close to an election there’s no way an impeachment vote won’t be seen as purely political. So even if Trump did twist Ukraine’s arm who are the one’s abusing the system?

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        With Trump’s style, Democrats love him in office because he lets guys like Biden not seem as outrageous as they really are. Pence is a Dominionist who calls his wife “mother”, but he kind of looks like an extra on “The West Wing” which won’t irritate “liberals.”

    5. Cat Burglar

      What statute did Trump’s threat to cut off aid to Ukraine violate? I have never seen one mentioned.

      Interference with an election is often cited, but that seems more like the norm than an impeachable offense. There was Nixon’s intercession to slow down the Paris Peace talks to make the Dems look bad going in to the 1968 elections. Reagan exacerbated the Iran hostage crisis to make Carter look bad before the 1980 election. Those are the first that spring to mind, but there have to be more.

      I am guessing that when the whole deal starts making Biden look bad, the outrage spigot will suddenly be turned off, and we will go on the next moral panic.

  8. Donald

    I think Resilc’s cynicism about Greta is aimed at the wrong target Yes, she might end up corrupted and yes, crossing the Atlantic in a pricey yacht was a stunt. In the meantime you have someone telling off world leaders in the terms they deserve.

    The real problem here is that she is right, but they only allow children and teenagers to say such things in public because they are just kids. It’s condescension. But when Sanders tells the truth, he is dismissed an angry old coot who is too offensive and self righteous for our educated liberal elites to tolerate. Besides, he’s not a Democrat.

          1. Olga

            I agree… was just thinking this morning that this seemingly sudden effort to undermine Greta reminds me of the old campaign to cast doubt on the climate change. If you cannot fight the obvious, at least sow doubts… We lost many years because of it.

            1. Krytstyn Walentka

              C’mon people, they raised the same doubts about Rosa Park’s Bus “stunt”.

              If we are going to manufacture consent it might as well be for something good, right? Why does the left always fail to realize that people need stories, not facts.

              Greta is providing a moral compass, a story. And by the look on her face when she saw trump yesterday I like her morals and I am enjoying the show.

              1. Kurt Sperry

                “Why does the left always fail to realize that people need stories, not facts[?]”

                Both are better, but I think culture usually drives politics, not the reverse, and stories are the basis of culture. And stories that are pretty obviously objectively untrue (most any really good story) are often the most powerful of all.

                Acknowledging this and acting upon it are viscerally uncomfortable for secular liberals whereas for the religious conservatives, who are the core of the US conservative political base, it’s not really an issue at all. For many, once the story has been embraced, when the story and the facts come into conflict, the story will—indeed must—win out. Being proudly fact-resistant in an effective, organized way can create a political force that will be very difficult to resist. Persuasion becomes almost impossible, the resistance to factual reality actually makes the force stronger, invites the soaring imagination of the believer into the story. Mundane facts that contradict the stories have little chance against this.

                Of course the left has no voices in the mass media, whereas the liberals have their banal stories like “The West Wing”, TED talks, and PBS costume dramas. the conservatives have angry gods, manifest destiny and conquering military heroes, raptures, heaven and hell. No contest who wins.

            2. Plenue

              I have yet to go through the series ‘exposing’ her that’s been linked a few times here recently. But just on principle I have a big problem with the whole idea of child activists. They’re inevitably coached and manipulated by adults (usually their parents). I don’t much trust the informed sincerity of anyone under about 20. Is it not enough to have adults say they fear fro the kids future, do we also have to coach kids themselves to come out and talk about things they don’t fully understand?

              It’s not any different than the kids who get dragged along by religious nutjobs to hold up ‘God Hates F*gs’ signs. The cause may not be insane, but the manipulation of the kids is the same.

              I’m also not clear what any of this is suppose to amount to. Her calling out world leaders might be cathartic, but it isn’t going to change anything. This is pure theater. We often talk around here about how most of public politics is meaningless kabuki. This is the same thing, just done in the name of something actually worthwhile.

              1. Olga

                Looking back, sometimes I think that I was wiser at 12 or 15. At least, I was not saddled with all the “rationality” that adulthood brings.
                Greta speaks the obvious precisely because she is young – sorta like that child, who noticed that the EMPEROR HAD NO CLOTHES!
                And please… she is not the story – the climate change and its effects are what we should be worried about.
                Hard to believe people – even intelligent ones – are falling into that trap again!

                1. Plenue

                  It would be nice if you were actually consistent. Because I distinctly remember you dismissing the Hong Kong protesters as gullible, manipulated youth.

                  1. Olga

                    First of all, what does Greta have to do with HK? Mixing apples and oranges does not a strong argument make.
                    Second, you remember quite incorrectly. My position has always been that HK’s protests are understandable – if I were a young person in HK, I might very well be protesting, too.
                    What makes me dubious, however, is that if they are protesting mainly for economic reasons, their demands (have yet to see any proposed solutions) make no sense. They will not solve the obvious problems, caused in HK by oligarchic economy.
                    More democracy? When has there ever been democracy in HK? Under the British? You know what the colonial power would have done had protesters attacked an airport?
                    I also object to the hypocritical western reporting on the subject.
                    Plus, tell me how many Gilet Jaunes have been able to run op/ed pieces in NYT?
                    When was the last time you read anything in MSM about the French police violence?
                    Not to mention HK protest leaders meeting with US officials – both in HK and DC? And get their own legislation in DC?
                    Do read Pepe Escobar’s reporting on the ground in HK – very illuminating.
                    (And i’d appreciate not having my comments misconstrued.)

      1. DJG


        Greta Thunberg: Further, what I am seeing already is the usual “let’s gum it to death” mode from the anglophone Internet-o-sphere. There’s no problem that we can’t belittle! Back to business as usual, which is the usual stagnation. (But liberals like to complain about the stagnation–so long as they are not called on to do anything. Think: Republicans = nihilism as public policy. Democratic liberals: nice nihlism-lite.)

        And Bernie Sanders: The idea that zombie politician Joe Biden is the frontrunner among Democrats is further evidence of the same old “let’s gum it to death.” Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi is off dismissing “their Medicare for All or whatever.”

        But it’s that darn Greta Thunberg, problem of the day…

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      I found her “performance” creepy and disturbing, and it had nothing to do with the subject.

      Maybe I’m just too old to “appreciate” being lectured to, finger-jabbed at and threatened by a sixteen-year-old, even if she’s from Sweden, and I suspect I’m not alone.

      This smacks of made-for-youtube manipulation. Intimating, as these theatrics do IMHO, that there are no competent, knowledgeable adults who can credibly make a case for the dangers of climate change and the need for an urgent response, encourages those who would dismiss legitimate concerns.

      This out-of-the-mouths-of-precocious-babes strategy has been tried before with less than impressive results. David Hogg and the shaved-head girl from Parkland come to mind, although Hogg successfully parleyed his psychic wounds into a harvard admission.

      My advice to Greta is not to skip school. Let your passion direct your study. Come back when you’re prepared to participate as a grownup. My advice to her handlers–cut it out. Exploitation of youth is not persuasive.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        the young have the most skin in the game, what with having to live on the planet the longest

        This late GenX/elder Millenial says Go Greta Go

      2. Olga

        To the extent that she is “threatening” adults, she has every right. She’ll be living with the consequences long after we’re gone. Some may not like, but it is hard to argue that we are collectively failing rationally to address climate change. And rationality is supposed to be in the purview of adults. Also, if not her – then who? Have you heard any “adult” step up to the plate? (Unfortunately, as an “adult,” I’ve come to the conclusion that we are simply doomed. That story about developing Amazon “to save it” was the final straw. But I have less to lose than Greta…)

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Have you heard any “adult” step up to the plate?

          Well, there is Bernie, who is too “adult” for some. And AOC.

          1. Olga

            Well, that’s the point! There are no adults…
            Bernie may have and AOC has, too (although her Green Deal – which I would support – has lots of other stuff and for the energy transition (by 2030), she has an unrealistic timeline… but yes, it is a good conversation starter). But that’s pretty much all in the USA, USA.. All of TWO! (And they are easy targets for the opposition, unfortunately.)
            My point is that on the way to at least some redemption, we cannot be too choosy about how we start to do something, anything.
            Let’s not perfect be the enemy of the good (or something like that).
            If it takes a child to get us going, so be it. As I said earlier, casting doubt on Greta reminds me a bit too much of the earlier campaign to cast doubt on the reality of climate change. How many times are going to fall for the same tactics?
            Plus – unless we ourselves are willing to start changing our ways, I am not sure we have the right to criticise others – given the impending crisis.

      3. Dan

        “…she’s the darling of the Davos set, a child of privilege who’s managed to parlay the normal adolescent craving for attention into a sizable cultural presence. Every time she takes the train, she adds to the number of people who look at the attendees at the [private jet-in] Sicily conference mentioned above and say, “So what about your carbon footprint?”

        “That, in turn, is fatal to climate change activism as currently constituted. For years now, since that brief period when I was a very minor star in the peak oil movement, I’ve noted a curious dynamic in the climate change-centered end of environmentalism. Almost always, the people I met at peak oil events who were concerned about peak oil and the fate of industrial society more generally, rather than climate change or such other mediacentric causes as the plight of large cute animals, were ready and willing to make extensive changes in their own lives, in addition to whatever political activism they might engage in. Almost always, the people I met who were exclusively concerned with anthropogenic climate change were not.

        My personal thumbnail observation of the above; Jane, a housecleaner, ex-hippie, rides a bike everywhere, wears no makeup, and eats exclusively organic. Passing her on the road are the multiple Porsche SUV driving, botoxed, pashmina scarf wearing, Hip Mama Magazine buying, permanent makeup frauds, seen hanging around their multiple children’s private school comparing notes. It’s more difficult to trace these patterns with guys, except the obvious things like the big new pickup truck bozos.

        John A, below,

        “Cargo ships produce the pollution = 50,000,000 cars”

        1. Plenue

          “a child of privilege who’s managed to parlay the normal adolescent craving for attention into a sizable cultural presence.”

          What’s with this bizarre assumption that she has much agency in any of this? She’s sixteen. She goes places and does things at minimum because her parents allow her to. I don’t see much to indicate she isn’t just a manufactured, groomed product of her parents.

      4. hermeneut

        I teach Earth science and environmental history in a public alternative high school. Whatever Greta’s true intent, her words and passion exactly capture the informed anger and fear my students express on a near daily basis. I’m startled that you would identify with intransigent world leaders instead of a young person speaking obvious truth to power. Please consider how you might be of support to a rising generation who can see all too clearly that the neat future you recommend (school –> college –> career –> full civic participation) has become a mirage.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          I would compare Greta, unfavorably, to, say, Malala, whose injuries were not only grave but demonstrable and unchangeable. And yet Malala does not adopt the hectoring, combative and aggressive style that Greta does, even though it would be infinitely more understandable if she had.

          That your students are angry and fearful is no surprise. It’s typical of the generation, almost by design. But there is a big difference between “speaking truth to power” and screaming truth at power. One attempts to convince. The other is easily dismissed as ranting, and ranting is rarely persuasive, if that is even its intent.

          I would “support” the aggrieved, rising generation by suggesting that they get a full understanding of the art of persuasion before they misuse it. This is on a whole different level than the sugary cereal aisle at the grocery store.

          1. Olga

            It’s almost as if the context of “adults” being aware of climate change for at least 30 years and having done nothing about it did not exist! (And btw, insurance companies have known about climate change, dating back to 1970s, when they first started noticing various strange weather phenomena, which translated into higher claims they had to cover.)
            I would imagine that from Greta’s perspective, the time to develop the art of persuasion is long gone. I do think that a part of her message is precisely “there’s no time to waste on niceties.” People are burning in fires, drowning in floods, and perishing in heat waves. How can we even ask for politeness?
            I get that her message is uncomfortable – but if one thinks her words are impolite – just wait until a fire – propelled by climate change – sweeps one’s home!
            Don’t mean to pick on you; unfortunately, there are probably many people with the same reaction – but I just think that calling for politeness in the time of crisis is a bit quaint – and ineffective.
            She is impolite precisely because you and I have done absolutely nothing to start addressing the problem!
            More context: NRG, a large generation owner in the USA, had a CEO – David Crane – who prioritised renewables. Once the stock price fell, he was unceremoniously dumped. The company sold off its renewable fleet. That’s adults for you.
            (And a bit off topic – isn’t it ironic that the two most well known truth speakers in the last 20 yrs suffer from a type of autism? Assange and Greta (I use her first name I suppose because she is so young). What does it say about us? A civilisation, in which only the slightly “off” have the courage to state the obvious!)

          2. lordkoos

            If anyone deserves an angry rant, it’s our “leadership” class, and I see that attacking the messenger seems as popular as ever.

            I’m sure millions of people, myself included, enjoyed the spectacle of a young person righteously taking our politicans to task for their wretched failures. Whether or not it will make any difference in the end, who knows, but at least we can enjoy the moment.

            1. jrs

              It’s what we have all thought of saying to politicians at one point. But not really having the ear of any nor imagining we ever would …

          3. wilroncanada

            …suggesting they get a full understanding of the art of persuasion before they misuse it…
            Ah yes, they should take their lessons in persuasion from Donald Trump…or AIPAC./s

        2. Adrienne

          @hermeneut, thanks. I too think Greta’s passion is genuine. Young people today—especially young women–have a breadth of maturity and eloquence that’s breathtaking to me. Yet, they’re still kids, and they don’t have the same kind of control and filters we learn to put on to get along as adults.

          As the SJW’s say, we’re tone-policing Thunberg. “She’s too angry!” is a label applied to uppity females since forever. She has every right to be angry, furious, scolding, finger-pointing, whatever.

          Because yes, us oldsters absolutely deserve to be scolded: we’ve pissed away 40 years and only allowed things to get worse. Thunberg’s message is simple: time’s up.

          We’re out of time.

          Halfway measures mean the death of of the world’s ecosystems.

          Our planet, that which sustains all life, is undergoing imminent and irreparable damage.

          What else do we need to know before we act?

          P.S. I’ve watched yesterday’s talk to the UN Climate Action Summit several times. She is nervous at first, and when she starts her speech her passion and anger erupt in a very natural way. She has no doubt been coached to some degree, but she exhibits zero characteristics of a child that has been over-coached or manipulated. She’s no puppet, and I suspect that as she gains maturity she will be well able to resist the efforts to “brand” her as a mouthpiece of “the Davos set.”

          1. Andrew Subbotin

            Teenagers are not qualified to participate in politics. It is an established legal position all over the world – they are not allowed to vote. The fact that the girl sounds sincere simply means she was indoctrinated at deeper level – not just couched for one speech, but had a worldview downloaded into her, then left loose.
            It might be for a good cause, but the fact that grown ups use an autistic girl-shaped shield rather than stand up and argue their cause honestly arguably hurts their cause

            1. Plenue

              I don’t think it’s arguable at all. All she’s doing is preaching to the choir. No one who doesn’t already accept the reality of climate change is even going to listen to her. Everyone else just sees a cynically exploited kid being used as a PR puppet…which is what is happening.

              And we can debate about how mature or sincere her performance is all we want. It’s still just that: a performance. It isn’t policy, and her PR tour is doing nothing to shape policy, or to force it from happening (no one in power gives a crap that some teenager is lecturing them on camera).

              I don’t give a damn about pretty speeches, whether delivered with sincerity or not.

            2. MichaelSF

              I have a vague recollection of not (yet) being able to vote but still needing to worry about ending up in the Viet Nam war. I also seem to recall many others of my age who were in that same position being quite concerned about politics and the state of the world, and that was without, AFAIK, being “indoctrinated at deeper level”.

              1. Anonymous

                I feel the same. As a young teenager I saw Allard Lowenstein give a Vietnam speech outdoors at Yale. The 26th Amendment had just passed, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. He argued that soldiers the same age as Yalies were fighting and dying in Vietnam and that the students had a responsibility to organize and take action to stop the war. Despite a reputation as the best political organizer in the Democratic Party for some reason turnout was embarrassingly small. Lowenstein was angry. Gusts of wind blew straight into his face. Leaves and papers swirled in the air. His amplified voice, straining with emotion, echoed off the dorms surrounding the Quad. He scolded the entire student body for not coming out. He sneered more than once, if you don’t come out of your rooms today ” don’t complain when Nixon resumes the bombing again.” (Kent State was 2 years before. And also in 1970 there had been a dramatic Black Panther [Bobby Seale] trial in New Haven,which at times drew 10,000 supporters in the streets.)

                Greta’s ok . She might reach audiences no one else could.

        3. ChrisPacific

          Agreed. I think there is a very strong element of denial and self-delusion in most of the national ‘approaches’ to climate change at present, and part of why people find her threatening is that she challenges that. I have no sense that she isn’t genuine, and I think the views (and emotions) that she conveys are an accurate representation of how most young people feel about the issue. We don’t want to hear it, because it’s uncomfortable. She doesn’t accept that, demands that we hear it, and reminds us that in a few decades when her generation is in charge we won’t have a choice in the matter – and that, depending on how we handle the current crisis, there may be scores to settle. That’s even more uncomfortable to hear, so we fall back on authoritarian responses. She isn’t mature enough to have informed opinions on this. She should go back to school. Above all, she should use her manners. Don’t be visibly angry or upset, even if you are angry or upset, because that’s not how grown-ups do these things. Be clinical and dispassionate, and stick to the approved lines of attack, because we are already psychologically well-armored against those and have a range of strategies at our disposal for deflecting or dismissing them.

          1. meeps

            >She isn’t mature enough to have informed opinions on this. She should go back to school. Above all, she should use her manners. Don’t be visibly angry or upset, even if you are angry or upset, because that’s not how grown-ups do these things. Be clinical and dispassionate, and stick to the approved lines of attack, because we are already psychologically well-armored against those and have a range of strategies at our disposal for deflecting or dismissing them.

            This perfectly encapsulates the attitude of the ruling class for at least half a century and it’s why we are where we are. It’s their way of saying, “you’ve no right at all to be here” which has enabled them in their selfish pursuits and deprived everyone else a fair shot at a future here. The power of oblivion, manifest.

      5. Wyoming

        I would say that her performance was more mature and adult than just about anyone you could possibly name. Precocious? Perhaps. Or just highly accomplished compared to most adults and that tends to intimidate many of those adults. It highlights their inadequacies so they feel creeped out and disturbed. Age doesn’t bestow on anyone the right to be exempt from getting a lecture – if you have managed to get your head where the sun does not shine you have it coming.

        I would say that Ms. Thunberg (you haven’t earned the right to call her by her first name) has shown far more maturity than 99% of the older adults on these matters and that they would be far better off listening to her give them a lecture than expressing their inadequacies by being creeped out by a young adult who demonstrates more maturity than them. There is power in her statements and she expresses them without resorting to six different attempts to belittle or dismiss her opponents by using childish attacks. She is the grownup here.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Compare the “jejune performance” being sniffed at here by some of us, with the performances of “adult” people like Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, and a long string of ambassadors of many nations, especially our “democracy,” in theatres like the United Nations. And of course we should not neglect to mention the audience-participation “performance” of wounded-but-not-dead-yet Binyamin Nethayahu before our very own “world’s greatest deliberative body.” This is what “adults” do, as reported by the very adult paper of record: A little explainer from Vox: And no, in light of events and “history,” I would not characterize Obama as an “adult,” any more than the rest…

          1. Plenue

            Strawman. Hating literal war criminals telling lies, and not liking a groomed child being used as telegenic fodder for a just cause, are not mutually exclusive. PR is an ugly, exploitative thing no matter what it’s used for.

      6. anon in so cal

        Same here.

        I did not realize until yesterday that she is autistic. Naomi Klein wrote a good article about this.

        Her performance was disturbing. It appeared to show decompensation. To the extent she is appearing to become seriously upset/disturbed, it seems to undermine her message.

        Where are her parents? Moon of Alabama has been asking questions about her funding and promoters. Who took those initial photos of her sitting alone on sidewalk last year outside the building?

        I totally agree with much of what she says. But did the UN members really “rob her of her childhood”?

        1. Partyless Poster

          I disagree about the delivery, how can you say that “your robbing our future” and not be upset?
          I think (and history seems to show that) protests don’t get very far until people are seriously angry, think Hong Kong or yellow vests.
          I wonder how long it will be before climate activists get really serious (angry)

      7. Jeotsu

        In 15 years, when she is 31, and the world is ever more rapidly descending into a climate change hellscape, can we expect her to show us any mercy?

        Her whole generation will be inheriting a mess we can’t even fully comprehend — where the dead might well be counted in billions, if widespread agricultural failure kicks in. Just image what will happen if the monsoons become totally unreliable.

        And yet our system means the world will still be run by 70+ year olds, telling these “upstart” 30-somethings to wait their turn, to stop whining.

        We’ll be lucky if they give us the guillotine. We’ve screwed the future. We’re not even smart enough to take any actions that might win us some mercy when the time of torches and pitchforks arrive.

        What will we say to them, 15 or 20 years from now? ‘Sorry about murdering your future…. it was convenient at the time!”???

      8. lordkoos

        She on the spectrum of Aspergers/Autism so I cut her some slack. Your reaction might possibly have more to do with you than it does with her.

      9. jrs

        grown ups are fricken terrified of doing anything much, they have paychecks to preserve at the least.

        So what one is really saying is: wait until she too is neutered by the economic system, as all of us have been. Can you even go to a climate protest if you wanted to and even if you imagined the world depending on it (grandiose of course as one protest won’t likely change our course, but for the sake of argument let’s say). Or would you have to work?

        I rest my case!

      10. witters

        Perhaps the hostility of the ‘too old’ to ‘out-of-the-mouths-of-precious-babes’ is rooted in part in the bad conscience of the ‘too old.’ (‘We might have ruined the world for them, but hey, they are ‘creepy and disturbing’!)

      11. CarlH

        Katniss, I usually find your comments informative and worthwhile. Your comments on Ms. Thunberg are dissappointing. Ms. Thunberg is inhabiting an earth that may not be able to support her through her natural lifetime. I am pissed about the situation as a nearly 50 year old adult. I can not even begin to imagine how angry at the adults I would be if I was a 16 year old looking at the terrifying future. She is an inspiration to me and everyone I know.

    2. John A

      The boat Greta sailed in was made of plastic (oil), and contained plenty of oil based technology. It’s a PR boat for a large shipping company that owns very environmentally harmful cruise liners, container ships and car transporters. Supported by the Grimaldis of Monaco, a notorious tax haven. A 5 man crew and skipper are being flown acorss the Atlantic to sail the boat back, and Thunberg and her PR team will probably be flying back.
      I am all for saving the environment, but these kinds of PR extravaganzas have a huge carbon footprint in themselves.
      The whole system needs changing, and sadly, nothing like that is going to happen any time soon.

      1. bob

        The whole system needs changing and the only person you will allow to do it must always be naked and growing their own food.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Exactly so, I think the cynicism about her is entirely self-defeating. For some people it seems that there is absolutely nothing that someone like Greta can do which doesn’t leave them open to criticisms.

      It must be remembered that the constant cry of ‘don’t listen to any environmentalist who flies/has a car/ is one that was quite deliberately started by right wing Koch think tanks. People really need to think very hard before they indulge in such knee jerk cynicism.

      1. vlade

        The problem is that some of her stints are just dumb, and open her to attacks like these. This is not how you persuade the ones on the fence.

        I.e. the PR stunts being dumb help the opposition to take the public eye from the real message. If she wanted to be env friendly, she should have gone on a cargo ship. Not so sexy, but trivial marginal impact (although TBH, marginal impact on a scheduled flight is also trivial).

        1. PlutoniumKun

          But then again, she is just 16, and the dumbness of her choices actually demonstrates that she isn’t the tool of some marketing execs, as some believe. Being dumb is kinda the whole point of being 16, which i think is one reason she genuinely resonates with school kids.

          1. vlade

            Sure, but being my cynical self, she needs not to persuade the 16 year old, but a lot of adults.

            Who tend to become much more cynical with moves like these. Even if they were impressed by the refusal to fly within Europe – but now this looks too much like stunt rather than a real conviction.

            Arguably, the worst that could happen to her now is to be even nominated for Nobel, that would pretty much guarantee a lot of adult voters ignoring her.

            And by the time the teens are voters, they might get cynical too, but more importantly, it may be a bit too late.

        2. Olga

          But isn’t that just the problem? That there still are people on the fence… and who need persuading.
          How much more proof does one need to see that we are in big trouble?
          She is no doubt reacting to that fact (i.e., fence).

      2. Donald

        I agree. There is literally nothing she could do that wouldn’t be criticized. If she had come on a cargo ship as vlade suggests, people would find some way to criticize that. Perhaps as self-glorifying in a different way.

        And yes, the question should be why the adults aren’t doing it?

        And notice how even here we are arguing about the trivialities of Greta’s real or imagined sins, because some imaginary perfect activist could have done it better and won everyone over. If so, then let those activists get busy and show us how it is done.

        And on that note I’ll bow out.

    4. Asher Miller

      I agree. I found that comment distasteful and really unproductive. I thought I was the most cynical person in the room …

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Companies Are Using a Depression-Era Law To Escape Trump’s Tariffs — And It’s Costing Them”

    I know that the point of the article was about problems that American companies were having dodging Trump’s tariffs but what grabbed my attention was the part where it said: “the products delivered by American foundries were expensive, arrived late and sprung leaks when put to use. We lost fundamental manufacturing skills, especially in the foundries, and castings. Those are things based on training and experience over decades. Those people retired, there’s no one coming up through those industries, and it’s gone.”
    I find that very ominous that. How can you bring industrial capacity back to America if you will be starting from nearly a blank sheet. So much will have to be built up piece by piece in a multi-decade effort involving huge sums in investing in research, development, training, education and managerial capabilities. Trouble is that I cannot see a Trump style government be willing to kick in a single dime much less developing an industrial policy that lasts longer than the next election.

    1. JTMcPhee

      In the present circumstances (ascendancy of globalism and combustion-consumption culture trashing the planet,) what utility is there in bringing back stuff like heavy metalworking? In the context where race-to-the-bottom vulture capitalism seems to ineffably end up running the corporations that would be beneficiaries of any kind of broke-d___ “industrial policy” that might come out of that thoroughly bought and paid for imperial capital? Under whichever “party” banner the organs of state power are nominally operating? Maybe a good reason it’s called “capital-ism,” eh?

      And a “green new deal” would result in what, again? In terms of “bringing back the [really not so good] good old days?” E.g., I note that a lot of the chatter about that GND and other “going forward” notions talks not in terms of pure “government” action and the ever-popular “public-private partnerships,” but of “private-public partnerships,” an interesting inversion in this age of Ross Perot and Elon Musk and Lockheed-Martin and Jeff Bezos and Bill and Melinda Gates, and of course the Clintons…

      Continuing the random walk here, and musing about the future I fortunately will not live to see, there’s a move afoot by “the government” and of course the MIC and various brilliant billionaires, to “fix the climate” by shooting stuff like sulfates or aluminum micro particles into the upper reaches of our “the” atmosphere. An “engineering fix to an engineering-created problem,” again, with significant funding from Bill Gates, if you read on down into this article that sets the engineering efforts to control the climate in broader context: DARPA is all over this, as no doubt are “government” entities in other places. Note that “the US government” is actually pleased, in some of its parts, and of course “our” corporate interests, that global warming is “opening up the Arctic, finally, to fuller exploitation.”

      Ill winds indeed, that blow no man good…

    2. Phacops

      Alas, any concerted effort to re-establish the foundations of manufacturing would need a consistent industrial and mercantile policy carried through multiple administrations. Plus, I don’t know of people who see manufacturing as a desirable career path.

      I certainly didn’t, only getting into drug and device manufacturing when funding for basic research was collapsing in the 70s. But then I discovered the AT&T Statistical Quality Handbook (first brought out by Western Electric) and I had a calling as I enjoyed that approach to applied science. But then, as with losing other basic manufacturing experience, I see this going by the wayside, displaced and diluted by less technically rigorous approaches.

      But then, ask people what they think constitutes skilled trades and the response is likely to be things like carpenters, electricians, plumbers and the like, rarely careers that are the foundations of manufacturing like machinists, die makers and their ilk.

    3. coboarts

      So once all that investment in site, equipment, tools and training is made, that generation of production is set. The countries to where we outsourced our engineering, management and other technical skills made that investment, which has given hem the competitive edge for the current generation of production. The real race is for building the next generation of production, which will be based on more advanced manufacturing systems than currently in use. At least an older geographer who still believed in some aspect of competitive advantage over comparative advantage (wages and allowed pollution) might so think.

  10. Steve H.

    I’ll use this for a mea culpa: before the last presidential, I made a prediction market bet that Trump would win. Still the best cash ROI in my portfolio.

    However, I thought by now he would be gone, having taken Koch cash to make way for Pence. I was wrong.

    But I’m okay with that. Our combat deaths have not shot up, we’re not in a shooting war with Russia (Clintons) or popping nukes over Megiddo (Pence). And the spoked unspokes have given me chronic eyebrow cramps.

    To your point: I live in Indiana, I have been effected by Pence policies. He is the Worst Possible Case of all the inliers.

  11. ambrit

    With the indulgence of the site administrators, I herewith present another installment of my dystopic “Tale of an Accident, (and what happens next.)”
    Our story so far: I was a passenger on a public bus that collided with an SUV. Being somewhat hurt, I was taken to the local hospital, treated and released. The SUV not being insured, the bus company, a department of the local City, is handling the claims arising from the accident through their insurance carrier.
    The wheels of accident assurance grind slow, to say the least. This seems to be a standard of the field. However, the ambulance company, a typically neo-liberal “privatized” ‘service,’ is acting as if greed were their only motivation to be in business at all.
    I have told this company that the insurance adjusters were the people they were to deal with. The adjuster handling the case agreed and acted on that assumption.
    Yesterday, I received a dunning letter for the balance of the ambulance charge, roughly a thousand dollars, from a collection agency. All this while the insurance adjuster was dealing with the ambulance company; to which end, the ambulance company was demanding payment up front for the ‘medical records’ involved in my trip on their conveyance.
    To say the least, my opinion of the ambulance company can best be demonstrated through ellipses…….
    When the ‘bean counters’ gain control, civil society is doomed.

      1. ambrit

        I was wondering if, in our present “Great Private Market Driven Society” I might now find myself on some sort of ambulance black list. I hope that this idea is illegal, but, nowadays, I’m not so sure.
        I’m thinking of telling any collection agency “Telephonic Recovery Specialist” that might call that I’m recording the call for quality control purposes. (This behaviour is legal here in Mississippi as long as the call is relevant to me. I assume that a bill collection call aimed at me would rise to that standard.)

        1. False Solace

          Being on the blacklist of companies like that might turn out to be a blessing. Assuming there are other more ethical ambulance operators still in existence.

      1. ambrit

        Thanks and I hope that the Spanish system is more civilized than ours. (An admittedly low bar to cross.)
        Elsewhere I wondered if I could sue the ambulance company for “Pain and Suffering.” We’ll see. This saga has more to play out.

    1. Dan

      Here’s my humble non-lawyer suggestion:
      Send a repeat letter to the ambulance company giving them all the contact information for the adjusters. Act befuddled and mention that the whole thing sounds like it might be possible insurance fraud somewhere within their organization.

      If they don’t lay off via the collection agency, you will have no choice but to contact the state regulatory agency that licenses ambulances for medical, motor vehicle and compliance reasons. Send via U.S. Mail and e-mail.

      You want to let them know that you could endanger their entire operation if they don’t just give up on extorting money from you via the collection agency, and send you a 100% forgiveness letter via overnight mail.

      1. Titus

        As a sometimes lawyer, I’d say unless you have a lot of resources, that’s the kind of thing you can get sued civilly for for about 10 different things. If you have small claims in your jurisdiction, sue the highest ranking officer of this outfit. Then it’s just you and them, no lawyers. And again, if necessary. Get a judgement, get an attachment, put the ambulance up for sale. At first it may seem like a hassle, but it beats being only angry about it.

        1. ambrit

          Thank you for the clarification. One does have to tread lightly in the minefield that is our legal ‘system.’
          Small claims has a maximum monetary limit, does it not? Still, I have used small claims court in Louisiana to bedevil a contractor who tried to stiff me on a sub-contract I carried out. The aggravation value alone is worth the ‘price of admission.’

      2. ambrit

        Ah. Countermeasures! I like it already.
        Also, perhaps a “Pain and Suffering” lawsuit, just for the fun of it. “Our client has developed “Cognitive Bias Derangement Syndrome” due to the anxiety caused by the Defendant’s hostile and threatening actions, Your Honour.” Etc. Etc.
        Maybe we could develop a class of offense I’ll call the “Private Equity Influenced and Corrupt Organizations.” (PeICO for short. Pronounced, Pee-co.)

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Use of “Hidden Debt Loophole” Spreads Among Australian Corporations ”

    If this surprises people this sort of stuff going on in Oz, just remember that this is the same country that gifted Rupert Murdoch to the world. Sorry about that.

  13. William Hunter Duncan

    How is it the vapping thing got such a quick response (THC?), but it took so many years for Health Care/Media to raise the alarm about the scourge of opioids?

    1. Lee

      No Sackler et al hype money for THC. There was a massive, well funded full court press convincing the medical community and the public, quite falsely, that Oxycontin was a more effective, less addictive solution to pain management than existing, much cheaper opioids. THC, OTOH, has been demonized, again falsely, for decades, so if a problem does arise it awakens old fears. There are issues with cannabis use, but nothing a bit of public education and quality control can’t solve.

  14. Craig H.

    > Early power shut-offs are new reality as California enters peak wildfire season

    Google is of little assistance to me on this, but I think we are past peak wildfire season in northern CA. We had a rain shower last week and we do not get much of the Santa A. wind. This year was a vast improvement over last year which was the worst I ever saw. (Mostly breathed and smelt as I did not actually see any flames except on my computer monitor.)

    1. Car Burglar

      It really depends on the year — I can remember lots of Red Flag Warnings in September in some years. We were almost burned out of our house during February, a few years back, caused by a tree falling on a service line to a house. Twenty miles south of us, a 10,000 acre fire is burning today.

      This week, our electricity provider, SCE, shut off our power for 28 hours to mitigate the fire risk. I was working far from home, but my roommate reported that she lost a lot of the food in the refrigerator. Because she works at home online, she lost a day’s income. (As I wrote recently, she was the same one that saved the neighborhood from being burned down by shoveling out the SCE transformer fire down the block.)

      A local guy stopped by to tell her about an upcoming “Community Meeting” SCE wanted to hold so that unidentified “experts” could tell us about the power shut off program. If the meeting is ever held, it looks like the entire hall will be filled with local experts on the program! A very different kind of question-and-answer session than SCE planned was going to happen.

      But now our area has been removed from the shutoff program. While the inhabitants of the Eastern Sierra are pretty impecunious, a large number of them live there because of the imposing beauty of the place, and are highly effective political organizers. A few years back, when a developer planned to bulldoze our low-income rental neighborhood to build condos and ranchettes, he was sent packing. My roommate told me, “I think they thought we were just a bunch of hicks they could roll over again, but they found out they were wrong.”

      People are really angry. They know that whatever losses they incur from the shutdowns are the result of deferred maintenance and investment by investor-owned utilities — ratepayer losses are in effect being funneled into the pockets of the SCE execs and stockholders. My hunch is that the shut offs are generating a big political headache for the utilities, and that they fear ratepayer anger may spotlight the sweet bailout deal they got passing fire damage costs to customers.

      Electric companies that can’t even keep the lights on. Third-world America. Some meritocracy.

      1. Steve H.

        > This week, our electricity provider, SCE, shut off our power for 28 hours to mitigate the fire risk.

        This is an extraordinary statement to me. These are (semi-)planned power outages by the service provider, without the consent of the customer, and it seems with limited communication (other than OFF).

        My sense from childhood is that OFF is a result of unforseen extreme events (hurricanes, Carrington) or insufficient capacity. But the intent is to have the power ON as long as possible in extreme events, and the hope is to build up capacity to fix problems.

        Now, increased capacity has a perverse feedback loop in increasing likelihood of an event. And the response to the event is OFF. I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around the left-handed twist of it.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Private Companies Gathering Plate Data Are Selling Access To People’s Movements For $20 A Search”

    It won’t stop there. I mean just scanning the license plate for cars I mean. They can be used to scan for speeding and now there is a State in Australia that is bringing in scanners to detect people using mobiles illegally while driving. So the only question will be if these scanners, in the end, will be operated by police or by private companies for profit-

    1. Olga

      Can we devise some clear spray paint for l. plates that would distort the scanner’s signal? I see an opportunity here!

      1. Wyoming

        Ahh, another outlaw! They are everywhere. You sure you are not from AZ – we are pretty much a whole state full of outlaws.

        The equivalent of your spray paint is already widely used. As you drive around today look at how many plates are obscured by license plate frames many of which include a smoked plastic cover over the whole plate. The primary purpose of these items is to obscure the plate from being easy to read by police (or your scanners). Then in many states (like AZ where I live there is no front plate at all).

        As I patrol in my local community (I work with the police) I routinely come across vehicles with plates that I cannot determine what state they are from (because the state name is covered by the frame and states today don’t have only one or two styles of plates – AZ has like 50 types) and/or the plastic covers cannot be read until you are literally right on their bumper. Not to mention that you cannot read a plate at all from the front as there is no plate (and a good percentage of those committing some sort of violation are coming at you).

        There is a trade-off between privacy and public safety. The greatest threat to your safety are the dangers inherent in driving. Speeders, red light runners, distracted drivers, impaired drivers, and the variety of criminals wandering around in their cars are far more likely to hurt you than someone trying to come in your house. Making it hard for the police to manage these threats means more people get hurt and more officers get hurt.

        I am not sure where the balance on privacy and managing illegal behavior needs to fall. I see both sides of this issue and it is not simple.

        1. Olga

          Oh, goodie – I just need to buy one of those. Obstructing an L. plate – I thought – may be against law in some states. But making it hard to read by a scanner might not be. Kinda like wearing glasses with a really wide rim in an airport (and a hat).

          1. False Solace

            In Minnesota “It is unlawful to cover any assigned letters and numbers or the name of the state of origin of a license plate with any material whatever, including any clear or colorless material that affects the plate’s visibility or reflectivity”. Which means you aren’t allowed to play fancy games with plate readers. You will be surveilled… or else.

  16. Lee

    In what may turn out to be a preview of the U.S. presidential election, with the ruling class hellbent on stopping Bernie Sanders at all costs, big business in Seattle is carrying out an unprecedented assault of corporate PAC money against socialist and progressive candidates in this year’s elections.

    Financial markets’ and big business interests’ response to the election of socialists is predictable: they will make the economy scream. The question is what will the government’s response be. Will it seize the means of production on behalf of the general population and keep things ticking over to provide the necessaries? Will the guys ‘n gals with guns, i.e. the state, be used to employ force against the guys ‘n gals with money so as to prevent the latter from sabotaging the economy? Have people been talking about this and I’ve missed it?

  17. Dan

    “Drones were made in Iran, given to rebels, therefore it’s Iran’s fault and justification to bomb Iran.”

    Therefore “it’s OK for any affected country to bomb Bethesda, Beverly Hills, or Saint Louis, because rebels somewhere used weapons given to them by the U.S.?”

    Does selling weapons from a commercial company morally exempt the weapon maker’s country from retaliation, or not?

    Shouldn’t we be bombing fentanyl producing chemical plants in China? That would be minding our own business and fighting for Americans, more so than fighting a favored country’s war for them.

  18. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Yang’s UBI

    I’d imagine algorithm writers are already hard at work figuring out how to separate low income “consumers” from their extra $12,000 annually.

    As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one way to construct an effective UBI–make it a real UBI.

    I’d set the amount, available to anyone over 18 who wants it, at a $15 (for example) minimum wage for a 40 hour workweek. I’d withhold the employee portion of Medicare and Social Security while crediting the full employer / employee contribution to any participating “taxpayer.” No federal income tax would be due. M4A would take care of “healthcare.”

    Participants would be free to further their education but, and here’s the kicker, they would be prohibited from taking any job that paid EQUAL TO or LESS THAN the benefit. Employers, including giggers, would need to ensure MORE than the basic benefit in order to hire a worker–no exceptions.

    I’d enforce this on the employer side, dropping an anvil on the head of any who tried to skirt the requirements by paying under the table.

    Get a job, and you give up your UBI.

    I’m sure there are plenty of issues with such a plan, but politicians shouldn’t be able to pretend that giving everyone some extra spending money is a “basic income.” It’s more like a monthly allowance.

    1. anon y'mouse

      as someone who believes an UBI could be a useful thing, i agree that “they” are calculating how they can steal it.

      the landlords will put up their prices.

      the foodbills will go up because package quantity will go down.

      premiums on all things will increase.

      if the UBI is given in our overly privatized country, it will do little to benefit the people. it will act as a subsidy to the owners of everything in existence.

      people will end up as they are now—working for a pittance and on public assistance.

      we need to provide a lot more public services (offering jobs to those people who might not want to sit around on an UBI) in order to not have this happen. so, public housing, public food co-ops. public utilities. free public colleges, trade schools, universities and free public museums, parks and recreation centers. free public transit, actually designed for humans to use and get places in a timely manner. and not sitting in fifteen different aid offices filling out eligibility paperwork to get it, either.

      all of these things not operated at profit would provide some jobs to offer to those very UBI recipients. i wonder how it would balance out? meaning, who would be left to merely obtain UBI and “not work” and would those people be genuinely not working, or would they then be able to take up their time caring for children and the elderly, volunteer working, cooking healthy meals, gardening, and producing home handicrafts of actual utility? i will bet you, in my utopian system, only those who have actual physical or mental disabilities of some kind will be left watching soap operas.

      the problem with the UBI as it is thought about is that it is a simple money hand-out like giving a bum on a corner $100 and expecting him to not be there the next day. it would have to be a much more ambitious program, with even more publicly provided services than we do already in order to even have a chance of working. and that is why it won’t work. because they are trying to devise themselves out of giving direct public services entirely through the UBI.

    2. Alternate Delegate

      And that’s the Speenhamland approach that didn’t work in 1795 (see Karl Polanyi: The Great Transformation).

      Today’s problem is that increasing productivity and automation mean that “jobs” are going away (which is why a Jobs Guarantee won’t work, either), but there is still a need to allocate resources in order to organize production. As Henry George and many others have pointed out, those resources are precisely the common inheritance of humanity. And everyone needs to eat.

      Once you understand the problem that way, the answer is clear: the government collects taxes on all resource claims (formerly known as “property”) and distributes the proceeds as a true Universal Basic Income to everyone.

      Yes, it replaces welfare. It’s an ownership share in the planet.

      1. Alternate Delegate

        P.S. The three roles of government: universal education, universal healthcare, and universal basic income. None of them welfare.

      2. tegnost

        Dean Baker convincingly begs to differ…productivity, which is low by historical standards, would be through the roof if automation were replacing jobs.

        IMO there is a darker possibility, which is that automation is destroying jobs but there is little effect on productivity because of some other unmeasured crisis is keeping the number down and bringing into question the purported benefits of automation.

        1. tegnost

          re “ownership share in the planet”, are you saying that the planet owes everyone a thousand dollars a month worth of consumption, and does this income go to everyone on the planet, or does america just own the planet and rent it out to everybody else? And I think it’s absurd to think that there won’t be any jobs. I mean the brain trust of NC has got to be a massive job, do we have to go without NC, because I’d really rather not, thanks…

      3. False Solace

        We haven’t even attempted to make a dent in the ongoing environmental catastrophe. Until we’ve dealt with that and ensured that every individual who needs care has it, nobody has any business saying jobs are going away.

  19. Jason Boxman

    It’s worth noting the foreign trade zones discussed in ProPublica seem to overwhelmingly benefit petrochemical companies and pharmaceuticals; definitely what we ought to be subsidizing, eh? Maybe I can be a foreign trade zone, too.

  20. Steve Roberts

    Just wondering, how many people against Charter / Magnet schools have taught in public schools? The threat of kicking those kids out and sending them back to general public is the only thing that maintains any form of control. My niece teaches at a magnet school for advanced kids and it’s a daily battle to keep any type of order once the kids no longer care.

    The traditional public schools are very small and are basically just places to send kids who literally can’t fit in anywhere else in the system. Many have criminal records, mental disorders that aren’t being treated and parents who stopped caring long ago. It’s their last stop before expulsion.

    1. petal

      The article you posted: I guess I am confused about taking the whole class out instead of the student(s) causing the problems? Seems it would be a lot more disruptive to the class than just removing the problem student(removing student from “his audience” as they term it). When I was a kid, we had a disruptive kid in my particular class, and if he acted up, he was sent to the asst. principal’s office to be dealt with. End of. There was no marching the whole class out of the room. I don’t get it. Seems counterproductive, between interrupting the lesson to get everyone else out in the hallway or wherever, and it also gives problem student a “wow, I made this big reaction happen, cool!” thought.

    2. Tom Doak

      The traditional public schools are very small and are basically just places to send kids who literally can’t fit in anywhere else in the system. Many have criminal records, mental disorders that aren’t being treated and parents who stopped caring long ago. It’s their last stop before expulsion.

      This is possibly the most depressing thing I have read on NC. Public schools have been hollowed out to serve only as a threat to those who won’t behave at charter school? And everyone who is there is a future deplorable??

      1. anon y'mouse

        did you notice that their description was not at all different than prison?

        i always felt that i was in prison when i was in public schools. the chain link fences, armed security, bells and infraction discipline reinforced the idea.

        we don’t even need a school-to-prison pipeline.

      2. rd

        Its also the kids too poor or with bad family structures to escape to alternatives.

        However, in the suburbs many of the schools are excellent as the property taxes paid to support the schools are significant because people want to have good schools in the suburbs.

        One of the most unequal things in this country is the funding mechanism for public schools. Small school districts relying on local property taxes means that districts are segregated by wealth (which usually also turns into racial segregation). Even funding schools on a county basis instead of subdivided into numerous school districts would probably make a big difference in education equality.

    3. John k

      Many parents would think it worthwhile to pay the cost of charter schools if the only benefit was that disruptive kids were ejected, not least because the disruptive kids want to be, and sometimes are, copied.
      Society needs to find ways to get these kids to either modify behavior without penalizing the non disruptive kids, for both the kids’ and society’s sake or separate them from the more serious students.
      Just thinking out loud, but maybe a program where they learn a trade, something where they work with their hands?, rather than traditional 3r’s, which they might not be enthused about.

  21. Krytstyn Walentka

    RE:‘The Bells Start Going Off.’ How Doctors Uncovered the Vaping Crisis.

    Leaving this here for posterity. I bet you they will find that vaping illness is caused by too much nicotine and not any other chemical.

    What makes me say that? The other symptoms: Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea, coughing..

    See here for a complete list.

  22. Jeremy Grimm

    Looking through today’s links the link:”Gene-Editing Unintentionally Adds …” left the most butterflies in my stomach. I was also struck by how apt the quote from that link:
    “The requirements for expertise and effort do much to explain the second major problem, which is that the industry, and not just Recombinetics, is not showing much interest in self-examination. Far greater even than the GMO industry before it, there is a cowboy zeitgeist: blow off problems and rush to market.”
    I notice Japanese researchers discovered the added DNA, not U.S. researchers. I suppose it might be difficult to obtain a research grant for looking for potential problems in any technology that’s paying large dividends to Big Money. The metaphor of kids playing with matches in a basement flooded with gasoline comes to mind.

  23. Summer

    RE: Twitter…hide replies

    Same line of controlling the narrative applies to the YouTube verification changes.
    Can just smell the the fear as the establisment’s total corruption is on display.

    The revolution will not be tweeted .Toss that kool-aide.

  24. rd

    Re: Social Security

    The economy and Republicans are relying on the American consumer to keep everything chugging along. If the political uncertainty continues, at some point consumers are likely to cut costs and start saving more to cover a Social Security shortfall. Here is an obvious sector that could get hit:

    We have about half to one-third the house that realtors, banks, and developers would like us to have. The mortgage and property tax difference has largely been going into college for kids and retirement savings. So student debt in the family is very manageable and retirement savings are significant. However, the policy makers are not happy with us because we have not helped float the economy the way we should (probably why GDP growth is lagging). However, I expect us to enjoy retirement in a few years.

  25. Another Scott

    I finally had time to read the Business Insider article on the Green New Deal. This has been one of my biggest concerns about the GND since it was announced. Part of it has to do with the person writing it, Ed Markey, who was one of the biggest Democratic proponents of deregulating telecommunications and electricity in the 1990s.

    But another factor is how tied renewable energy already is to deregulation and neoliberalism. For example, the Virginia Energy Reform Coalition includes FreedomWorks and the Reason Foundation and calls for a competitive electricity market similar to ERCOT. Non-profits, municipal utilities, electric co-ops and even the US military need to enter into PPAs for renewables with companies with higher cost structures because the tax credits dwarf the contractor’s higher costs. Rather than trying for direct subsidies, Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, are trying to make tax credits permanent, which would ensure that electric generation is permanently owned by private entities.

    1. Olga

      Ironically, electric energy prices in ERCOT in the last five years have fallen so much that fossil fuel generation cannot make any money. If you look at its price map, there are many hours when it is blue – signifying negative prices. (Clearly not sustainable, but that’s a different conversation.) Plus, no one is stopping consumers from adding solar panels on their roofs – and with a battery pack, one could even disconnect from the grid.
      (I am not recommending deregulation, but renewables are the way to go. particularly, since they could lead to decentralisation.)

  26. Tim

    We need a Consumer Protection Agency warning placed on all advertisement that makes use of big data research to take advantage of people’s innate weaknesses to get them to buy something.

    CONSUMER PROTECTION AGENCY’S WARNING: This Advertisement was developed using “big data” and possibly even your personal data to strongly persuade you to purchase something you may not otherwise desire to purchase.

    It couldn’t be that hard to regulate and implement.

  27. Dita

    Thanks for linking to Jaron Lanier’s videos. I first read his ideas about being paid for the harvesting of your data in his book You Are Not A Gadget. He was in there early trying to find solutions and I hope now is a better time for his ideas gain traction.

  28. notabanktoadie

    re However, UBI is a flawed idea because any UBI that provides an adequate income would be inflationary …

    Perhaps so but let us also keep in mind that the economy does not run on fiat* but on private bank deposits and the banks themselves create deposits when they “lend” (“Bank loans create bank deposits”) but not for the general welfare but for the private welfare of themselves and of the rich, the most so-called “credit worthy.”

    And ANY bank deposit creation is potentially inflationary (e.g. housing prices).

    To be sure, even entirely private banks with entirely voluntary depositors might safely create SOME deposits but vastly less than our current heavily privileged depository institutions may do.

    Moreover, whatever the merits of a UBI, will anyone argue that ALL fiat creation beyond that created by deficit spending for the general welfare should not be in the form of a Citizen’s Dividend to all citizens equally rather than, as it currently is, in the form of welfare for the banks and the rich?

    *Except to a lessor extent on mere physical fiat, paper bills and coins.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, money supply increases do not cause inflation. The notion that money supply has anything to do with anything was decisively disproven in by central bank experiments under Thatcher and Reagan. Changes in money supply correlated with no macroeconomic variable.

      UBI is net fiscal spending. It creates additional demand. That is inflationary when it does add to productive capacity, and UBI would create tremendous additional demand without increasing resources.

      1. skippy

        For a really good time I could offer him something which makes QTM even more disconnected from reality:

        Pilkington argues that the interest rate at the most basic level is determined by the relative social powers of creditors and debtors. This relationship is mediated by historically contingent legal and economic institutions, like the central banks, which subordinate creditor power to the whims of governments, courts and technocrats. It is only based on these fundamentally-determined interest rates that the price mechanism comes into play.

        Is it just me or have some just completely surrendered to economic fetishes ….

        1. notabanktoadie

          The Quantity Theory of Money is flawed because it does not distinguish between:
          1) the bank deposits of the rich who have a low propensity to consume.
          2) the banks deposits of the poor who have a high propensity to consume.
          3) bank deposit creation (“lending”) for productivity increases since these are meant to lower prices below those of competitors.
          4) bank deposit creation for consumption since these raise demand.

          But let’s assume that ALL bank “lending” was to increase productivity by, say, eliminating jobs via automation.

          Does it seem just to you that people should lose their jobs without just (or any) compensation due to “lending” by a government-privileged usury cartel extending what is to a large extent, in essence, the public’s credit but for private gain?

          1. skippy

            Its a trip wire of mine when people use the nomenclature usury as a broad brush.

            Credit lending is more an issue of contracts than of any notion of some peoples conception of public or private money, thought the free banking period bore that out.

            Just to be clear I’m not folly to accept the narrative that sorts like AMI are pushing, administer government fiat by an undemocratic cable of ideologues and then let contracts resemble the wild west an let the chips fall were they may.

            1. notabanktoadie

              The traditional definition of usury is any positive interest rate and I’ll stick to that. And if it has an ugly ring, it’s because it is ugly because, for example, the interest required may not even exist in aggregate thus guaranteeing that some cannot repay their debt.

              Nor is any interest required to promote borrowing because loans can be slightly over-collateralized to cover credit risk.

              Plus shares in equity, common stock, are a means of finance that require no borrowing, much less at interest.

              There’s nothing inherently immoral about lending at interest but it is a means to subjugate and enslave which is why creditors must NEVER be privileged by government.

              As for “free banking”, banks have never been truly private but privileged by government one way or another, explicitly or implicitly. Some examples:
              1) Needlessly expensive fiat, e.g. the Gold Standard.
              2) the suspension of species redemption decrees by governments during bank panics.
              3) lender of last resort for the banks.

              The implicit privilege I most harp on is the failure of monetary sovereigns to provide inherently risk-free debit/checking services in their fiat to all citizens – leaving them at the mercy of private banks.

              As for “full reserve banking”, we should not forbid bank deposit creation – let the banks create all the deposits they dare to – but without any government privilege, including captive depositors.

              1. skippy

                Postal banks.

                The rest seems grounded in watery terms like freedom, laws will have that effect, especially since markets are a result of them, so basing a view on the improbable is self defeating.

                1. notabanktoadie

                  Post Offices could serve as convenient branch locations but the accounts themselves should be at the Central Bank or Treasury itself as part of fundamental reform to abolish all special privilege and treatment of depository institutions.

      2. notabanktoadie

        Changes in money supply correlated with no macroeconomic variable. Yves

        The money supply or bank reserves? Because bank reserves are not part of the money supply and thus increases in them alone should do nothing to the non-bank private sector.

        But bank deposits ARE part of the money supply and there are four sources for these:
        1) deficit spending for the general welfare.
        2) bank “lending” (“Bank loans create bank deposits”) for the private welfare of the banks themselves and the rich, the most so-called “credit worthy”.
        3) welfare for the banks (when the increase in bank equity is distributed as dividends), e.g. Interest on Reserves, e.g. asset purchases, etc.
        4) welfare for the rich in the form of positive yields on other inherently risk-free debt of monetary sovereigns and asset purchases by the Central Bank from the private sector.

        But whether welfare for the banks and the rich is inflationary or not, it unjustly increases the POWER of the rich and the banks relative to everyone else. Nor is it necessary for low interest rates given that fiat is not only inexpensive but also the property of monetarily sovereign governments who may properly charge for its use via negative interest on large and non-citizen accounts.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Money supply. I don’t use technical terms casually. Any search of the literature shows that the Reagan/Thatcher money supply experiments were flops.

      3. notabanktoadie

        That is inflationary when it does [not?] add to productive capacity, Yves

        Otoh, de-privileging the banks would be deflationary by itself since the ability of the banks to create new deposits to replace old deposits as they are repaid would be greatly reduced. A Citizen’s Dividend equally to all citizens would be an ideal way to counter that deflation and could be adjusted as needed afterward.

        and UBI would create tremendous additional demand without increasing resources. Yves

        As I said previously, regardless of the merits of a UBI (and it might well create price inflation), how can anyone argue that ALL fiat creation beyond deficit spending for the general welfare should not be in the form of an equal Citizen’s Dividend?

        Because fiat creation on the order needed would weaken (using the US as an example) the dollar? But so what? Doesn’t the US need to get its citizens doing productive work again rather than provide foreigners with welfare proportional to how much inherently risk-free US sovereign debt they own?

        1. notabanktoadie

          And besides, the demand for the US dollar is (unjustly) suppressed since only depository institutions may use it in account form.

          (As if we were still on the corrupt Gold Standard when fiat was too expensive for the entire population to use to any large extent).

    2. vlade

      The inflation comes from imbalance between realisable demand (i.e. demand that the population can afford) and real supply.
      If we say that the adequate UBI is inflationary, it must thus mean that with the UBI, we cannot provide adequate supply for “reasonable” (i.e when everyone’s needs are sufficiently met)
      We’re now on an assumption that w/o UBI, the world is not inflationary, and only UBI’s introduction makes it so (simplified, but still.)
      I can see only two reasons for that.
      Either, with UBI, part of population will not work, thus reducing the available supply. Or that the reasonable demand cannot be met, full stop – with, or w/o UBI.
      Realistically, only the first reason would be anti-UBI, as the second would say that there are no conditions, UBI, JG or whatever, where we could satisfy the reasonable demand of the population.

      What does it mean “everyone’s needs are sufficiently met”?

      It clearly means no-one should go hungry, or be homeless, or do not have access to a good base level of health care or education. But the main point is, most of us wants to have “everyone’s needs are sufficiently met” with, or w/o UBI. So the baseline demand we want to satisfy is THE SAME regardless of whether we do UBI, JG or whatever.

      I believe that our food production is large enough to feed just about everyone w/o it having impact on inflation. We do want to feed everyone with or w/o UBI, and if we assume that, the only way inflation can come here is via the reduction of the available labour. Agri is labour intensive – but really for the more luxury end (fresh fruit, some veggies etc.). For basic staples it tends to be very mechanised and the cost would be marginal IMO.

      Again, we want to provide good base level of health care and education to all regardless, free at the point of consumption. So what difference would UBI make there? The only one I could see is (again) that it reduces the available pool of staff required. TBH, these are for me more callings than jobs, so I’d question how much it would reduce it really. But I could be wrong.

      The largest problem with UBI there is “homeless”, although I’d argue that this is a larger problem in the countries that treat real-estate as an asset, not liability, and really needs a political solution regardless of the UBI or not. I can see how solving homelessness increases inflation, but I’m not persuaded that the impact with UBI is that different than w/o it. In fact, I’d argue that UBI might help here, because one of the problem with homelesness and overcrowding is a push to move into areas where the jobs are, leading to depopulation of rural areas. Guaranteed sensible income could reverse that, as the push to depopulate

      I’d also like point out that most of the countries already have a sort of UBI, except it’s “universal” only for people over a certain age. It’s called “pension”. In a few decades about a third of the UK’s population will be on it, and another 10-20% will be too young to work. And this part of the population is exactly that one that would you the most of the two items I mentioned above, healthcare (pensioners) and education (youth).

      TLDR form:
      – we want to provide some good basic level of living – with, or w/o UBI.
      – if we assume inflation is driven by imbalance between real resources and real consumption, then providing that basic level of living may be either inflationary regardless of UBI (because it’s not achievable with the current technology), or driven by the reduction in supply (we want to meet the same demands with or w/o UBI, see point 1)
      – I do not believe that the UBI would materially reduce supply for education or health, or basic food.
      – Housing is hard, but it’s hard w or w/o UBI, and UBI may have impact on housing distribution (which may actually help).

      I.e. “inflationary UBI” means that we cannot fulfill point one (good basic level of living) w/o substantially same level of employment we have now, if we can fulfill it at all.

      JG is here different only if we assume that to fulfill that baseline we need extra labour. JG is not inflationary only if the “guaranteed” jobs on aggregate do not change supply/demand equation (it holds on wages too, as a JG would put a floor on the wages in exactly the same way as a UBI would).

      1. notabanktoadie

        Nice comment but a quibble:

        (it holds on wages too, as a JG would put a floor on the wages in exactly the same way as a UBI would). vlade

        Actually, a UBI, by not consuming so many hours a week of a person’s time as a JG would, would allow that person to work for lower wages in the private sector during those hours, if for example, he liked the work, liked his fellow workers, did not own enough property to fully occupy his time, etc.

        But so what? Income is income whether from wages or a UBI.

        Nice point about some work being a “calling.”

        1. skippy

          The rub comes in because a UBI flows straight to Capital, same drama as with Coppola’s QE for the people.

          The original proponents of this – the Chicago school – had conceptualized a need for other reforms to go with a UBI, because of concerns over politicization E.g. reduced democracy to stave off demands to increase its amount, sorta like reduced democracy during the neoliberal period to limit wage increase under the argument of fighting inflation.

          Are you seeing a pattern here …

          What is Capital’s preferences for allotment of income again.

          1. notabanktoadie

            The rub comes in because a UBI flows straight to Capital, skippy

            And wages from a JG don’t?

            The problem is unjust asset ownership – especially that of land.

            What is Capital’s preferences for allotment of income again. ibid

            And what is yours? Wage slavery to government to supplement wage slavery to the private sector?

            Mine is neither a UBI or a JG but that ALL fiat creation be for the general welfare – not for the private welfare of the banks and the rich.

            1. skippy

              No wages from a JG are administered regionally as needs dictate from a social democratic administration.

              Don’t even know what unjust ownership means, completely subjective, need legal definitions to understand.

              Lots of abstract notions of slavery are unhelpful.

              1. notabanktoadie

                No wages from a JG are administered regionally as needs dictate from a social democratic administration. skippy

                I don’t see how that solves the problem of incomes flowing to rentiers.

                Otoh, a new Homestead Act (Lambert’s “Vote yourself a farm!”) sounds good to me. It would end homelessness (at least for citizens, let other governments do likewise for their citizens) and provide land to work and to work on thereby allowing citizens to become self-sufficient to a large degree.

Comments are closed.