Links 12/29/19

The 20 most popular reader’s photos of 2019 TreeHugger

Mile high ugh: What you should know before you eat airplane food NBC

Why airlines make flights longer on purpose BBC

Thousands of Koalas Feared Dead in Australia Wildfires Common Dreams

Volunteer Firefighters to Get Some Pay as Australia Burns Bloomberg

The holiday is over – get out NOW! More than 30,000 tourists are forced to cut short their breaks and are ordered to flee picturesque seaside town before extreme bushfires shut major highway Daily Mail (david l)

Brooklyn subway raccoon continues to evade capture NY Post


Isis’s destruction of an ancient civilisation mattered more to the west than human casualties Indepdendent. Robert Fisk.

California Burning

PG&E: Wired to Fail WSJ

Waste Watch

Retailers grapple with $100bn returns problem FT

How many curbside recycling programs have actually been cut? Waste Dive

Have we reached ‘peak meat’? FT

Class Warfare

Economic Possibilities for Ourselves Project Syndicate

Inside Documents Show How Amazon Chose Speed Over Safety in Building Its Delivery Network ProPublica

Sports Teams Should Be Owned by the Public Jacobin

How Oil Companies Avoided Environmental Accountability After 10.8 Million Gallons Spilled ProPublica

The Holidays Suck For Gig Workers Motherboard

Could the DEA have stopped the opioid epidemic by cutting off the supply? WaPo

Homeless Youth: One Day I’m Going to Have My Own House Capital & Main

Corporatism Is An American, Bipartisan Scourge American Conservative. Review of Matt Stoller’s Goliath. If you haven’t read it already, do so.

Digital Divide: What It’s Like to Be a Student Without Internet at Home Teen Vogue

American Cities Are Becoming Shell Companies for the Rich TruthDig

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Should colleges really be putting smart speakers in dorms? MIT Technology Review

Pentagon Leaders Tell Troops to Stop Using Mail-In Genealogy DNA Kits

Our Famously Free Press

Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media “Just the Beginning,” Says Top Neocon Insider The Gray Zone

Media’s Deafening Silence On Latest WikiLeaks Drops Is Its Own Scandal Caitlin Johnstone

Jerri-Lynn here. Yes, I realize twitter isn’t press. I’m filing this tweet here as it’s closely related to these other censorship (including self) links.

Even amid affluence of tech capital, local news struggles AP

Guillotine Watch

The Decade of the Uber-Decadent House WSJ


Nationalism is transforming the politics of the British Isles – its power as a vehicle for discontent grows ever stronger Independent. Parick Cockburn.


Rahul Gandhi says NPR, NRC will be more disastrous than demonetisation Scroll

India’s internet shutdowns costing mobile carriers big money Al Jazeera

Slowdown may worsen bad loans problem Economic Times

The ‘lathi’: India’s colonial vintage anti-protest weapon Agence France-Presse

Tourists stay away from Taj Mahal, other Indian attractions as protests flare Reuters


Explainer: Hong Kong’s Five Demands – halt the characterisation of protests as ‘riots’ Hong Kong Free Press

China and Russia plan to boost scientific cooperation with focus on artificial intelligence and other strategic areas SCMP

Why China’s crackdown on academic freedom will backfire SCMP (david l)

Trump Transition

Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work NYT


Elizabeth Warren’s campaign sounds the alarm as fundraising pace slows about 30% in fourth quarter CNBC

Election security, ransomware dominate cyber concerns for 2020 The Hill

Biden reveals deep bench of campaign bundlers Politico

Does the Left Have Any Better Ideas Than Obama’s? New York Jonathan Chait. Umm – yes. Seriously, is it any wonder the country’s such a mess, when this is what passes as highfalutin’ political punditry?

Bernie Sanders Faces the Democratic Establishment’s Wrath TruthDig

Health Care

“Don’t Tell Me We Can’t Afford Medicare for All,” Says Sanders, After NYT Details Insanely Higher Costs of US Healthcare Common Dreams And see In the U.S., an Angioplasty Costs $32,000. Elsewhere? Maybe $6,400. NYT

Hospital Group Mum As Members Pursue Patients With Lawsuits And Debt Collectors Kaiser Health News

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Marc Thomas

    There is a coding error in the link ot the NYT article about healthcare prices.

    Also, anyone have a link to the report itself? Or is itnot public?

  2. Geo

    “Seriously, is it any wonder the country’s such a mess, when this is what passes as highfalutin’ political punditry?”

    Somehow the comments under the Chait article are much, much worse than his piece. I’m thoroughly depressed now.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      aye. Galt’s Gulch is over-represented.
      i stopped reading chait a long time ago, unless lambert points him out for some particularly egregious nonsense.(with no healthcare, it’s prudent to avoid hypertension inducing activities)
      and…sitting here, thinking…i cant remember a single thing from the obama years that positively effected me or mine…save for, potentially, the preexisting condition thing(we’ll see, when medicaid drops wife,lol)
      a target on my back for my initial support of him?
      but in chaitworld, i’m the lunatic.

      1. Wukchumni

        We drove from Park City to Galt the other day, and spent a night @ the Gulch, er Best Western. it’s main attribute being that it’s Sacramento-adjacent.

        See if this passage from Atlas Shrugged doesn’t perfect describe our leadership to a tee…

        “Then you will see the rise of the double standard – the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money – the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law – men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims – then money becomes its creators’ avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they’ve passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.”

        1. JP

          Not exactly The Wire.

          I really question the certain and proclaimitory style of Ayn Rand but it, for sure, stimulates my outrage juices.

        2. prodigalson

          The problem of course is that the adherents of Rand will gladly take the place of those leaders, and behave the same way, given the opportunity. A Randian is just an oligarch who hasn’t made it yet. Most of our Oligarchs are either Randian or embody her beliefs. See also Bezos, Musk, etc.

          Give Yang enough money and he’ll do the same, kind of like the report from one of his former employees who he reportedly fired after the employee had a baby, since the employee would no longer put making Yang money as priority #1.

          Our current hyper-capitalist dystopia is the direct result of Ayn Rand inspired “greed is good” put into practice at a societal scale since the 80’s.

    2. Carey

      Seems to me that the Few and their Chait-like minions have little idea how rickety that structure they’re feeding off of; the one they’re worked steadily and deliberately for the last forty years to *make rickety*, really is..

      1. JBird4049

        It seems to be a constant thing in history where those embedded in whatever system there is and supposedly in the know are often more ignorant of the state’s collapsing condition than those suffering under it. Perhaps because whatever is functioning is aimed at the embedded while those under enjoy the increasing dysfunction; thus hiding the collapse from the rulers, their courtiers and the minions like Chait.

    3. richard

      oi! I stopped reading after Straw Mega-Man “The left wing New Republic” made its appearance. Life is too short; i’ll let the crew at chapo handle that one.
      Good on you for doing it though. It builds character, in others. :)

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Thanks for the paywall-free link. Interesting article:

      More to the point, the upskilling discourse totally ignores the possibility that automation could also allow people simply to work less. The reason for this neglect is twofold: it is commonly assumed that human wants are insatiable, and that we will thus work ad infinitum to satisfy them; and it is simply taken for granted that work is the primary source of meaning in human lives

      Historically, neither of these claims holds true. The consumption race is a rather recent phenomenon, dating no earlier than the late nineteenth century. And the possibility that we might one day liberate ourselves from the “curse of work” has fascinated thinkers from Aristotle to Russell. Many visions of Utopia betray a longing for leisure and liberation from toil. Even today, surveys show that people in most developed countries would prefer to work less, even in the workaholic United States, and might even accept less pay if it meant logging fewer hours on the clock.

      The author never mentions how our environmental catastrophe mandates less churn in our world, not more. We need to figure out how to produce what we need–and only what we need–in the most efficient way possible. “Full employment” needs to be abandoned as a goal if it conflicts with the greater current need for production methods that minimize carbon production taking into account worker commutes, etc.

      And a link to Russell’s essay “In Praise of Idleness.”

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps full UNDERemployment should be the new goal.

        ” 32 hours pay for a 32 hour week!”

        And tax-funded ( or whatever you would rather believe funds governmental spending) health care for all legal residents, whether OVERemployed, UNDERemployed, UNemployed, or something else.

      2. Bazarov

        I teach “In Praise of Idleness” every semester in my freshman composition course.

        Russell’s a great writer!

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Caitlyn’s site is still down for me and the link dead ends in a “sign in to read” wall.

      1. xkeyscored

        That’s what I just found – both links working, though the second (Down for Everyone or Just Me?) reports that the first isn’t – Status
        Is down right now?
        It’s not just you! is down.

        I hear her website has pretty limited bandwidth, meaning (I think) if lots of people visit at the same time it can’t cope. Plus it probably has to cope with deliberate attempts to crash it.

        1. CoryP

          Funny, she just posted about how how she has a better plan with more bandwidth. Maybe it’s just a hiccup from the transition

    1. Carolinian

      Both work for me.

      And to the substance of her article–it’s hardly a big mystery that the MSM would black out reports that call into question the accuracy and integrity of their own reporting. If they start questioning the OPCW then they will have to start questioning the White Helmets, all those Youtubes they treat as verified reports etc.

      1. Ignim Brites

        This is a double loser for the legacy media. Those on the left recall with disgust the jubilation of the legacy media over Trump’s retaliatory bombing. Trump supporters will just regard this as confirmation of the Fake News meme.

  3. Geo

    “Don’t Tell Me We Can’t Afford Medicare for All,” Says SanderS

    Was at a Christmas party amongst relatively well-to-do people in Santa Monica and for a while the conversation turned to ridiculous insurance costs, denied procedures for cancer treatments, doctors pleading with the insurers and being ignored, and other horrors. All claimed to have “platinum” plans.

    As someone who hasn’t had insurance in decades and uses the “ignore it and hope it goes away” form of health care I sat by and just listened. Truly heartbreaking stuff. I get how insurance company CEOs justify such things because it’s why they’re rich, but how do the people who deny the claims sleep at night? When politicians talk about all the job losses M4A would cause it seems like a good thing to me. Karmic if nothing else. Maybe they could find work helping people if their insurance gigs go away?

    1. a different chris

      I have a platinum-plan…. or at least it’s the most expensive plan my employer offers, out of 3 levels (btw, there is another interesting thing about all this — how likely is it you will love something that’s basically an arranged marriage?).

      I’ve had a bad year. My “deductible” limit is only $750, though!! Oh wait, but I have bills for over 4x that? How can that be? Oh, well you gotta “co-pay” something, because otherwise econo-humanus will “overuse” the joy of laying in a hospital bed — being told you can’t leave.

      BTW, it turns out you can leave on you own recognizance, as I did on the first trip after it became clear all I was doing was waiting for doctors to find time off the links to see me. But still, it is not a lot of fun to tell them you are done lying there…and although I was correct in this case, I don’t really enjoy making medical decisions because, you know, I’m not actually a doctor.

    2. Summer

      The dumb $@%# have the money for “Space Force.”
      When you hear that, it becomes obvious it isn’t about “money.”
      But this isn’t ultimately about healthcare either. It’s about fighting a form of belief, arising out of translagions of various religions as much as anything, that the poor people need to be punished.

    3. Chris Cosmos

      We Americans have a very interesting aspect to our psyche at this time–we take pride in our ability to endure suffering. The health-care system is obviously a criminal enterprise as are most of our sectors from the military to prisons to finance and so on. People who work for organized crime, i.e., insurance companies don’t think about the harm they cause because another feature of American culture is that we live in fantasy worlds as divorced from reality as online gaming or Walter Mitty-fantasies.

      I had hoped that Obama-care would not pass because I believed the high-cost of health-care would open alternative health-care which is, in most cases, the best way to go. Most diseases are caused and enhanced by negative forms of stress particularly the feeling of helplessness so ignoring systems and just relaxing may be the right way to go–my wife, who has never had insurance simply refuses to get sick–when she says she’s feeling sick she just says no and it works–but then she’s one of those witchy women so….

      Still, I don’t thing the sort of fatalism I see around me is healthy for society so M4A, I think, would relieve stress we Americans feel–particularly those with limited income which would, in turn, make us healthier and maybe begin to crack down on the criminal enterprises that feed on human misery. One of the reasons that a universal system is opposed by industry is that they fear that if such a system were successful people might look around and look for other problems to solve using a socialist ethic.

    4. Craig H.

      > how do the people who deny the claims sleep at night?

      All processes which destroy human beings (and raccoons for that matter) are designed so that responsibility, guilt, shame, and embarrassment are diffused and obfuscated. The next time you are sitting in a meeting and wondering why everybody is wasting their time sitting in this meeting take heart. Committees get things done.

    5. JTMcPhee

      The first-line UNsurance Corp employees, how do they sleep at night? Many don’t sleep well at all.

      I call it UNsurance, because you are always UNsure whether you will have “access” even, let alone “coverage, from month to year. UNsure what your costs will be, UNsure if your medications are still on the “formulary list,” UNsure if your doctors will still be “on plan,” UNsure whether your doctors will have crapified the “care” they offer to meet UNsurance-dictated metrics, UNsure if the Corp will find some flaw in your application or paperwork or the coding by the “provider” as a basis for denial and “retroactive revocation of UNsurance. Just UNsure. Except you can be sure you get less and less for more and more of that money stuff, the getting of which makes it all so UNsure…

      I probably spent a quarter or more of my clinic working days as a nurse, either on hold or tricking my way through the phone tree jungles to help patients get that magic elixir, “coverage.” Got to talk with hundreds of different call-center and UNsurance Corp workers, almost all working to scripts on the screens at their “stations.” Some came across as authoritarian types who had found a comfortable niche: “Denial Department, how may I thwart you?” with just a hint of a snicker. Others, you could tell, genuinely suffered from playing the role their AlgoMetrics ™ forced them into, on pain of getting fired for not hurrying the supplicant along to the one-way exit door. Some few offered ways to get past the multiple “screens” set up to ensure “negative coverage decisions,” a dangerous and subversive action, it seemed to me. The ones in the Philippines and other foreign call centers seemed to have an easier time of slamming the door, maybe because callers, were to them, mostly Others.

      It’s a rotten system, obviously, designed to enrich the Few and dispossess the many. I do feel for the many mopes who have to play the pawns in the games ,?as the sacrificial frontliners staffing the phones and generating the dry, heartless denial letters, and the nasty demands for payment of all those so-often-fraudulent premiums and “shares” and such.

      It’s class warfare— too bad the whole 90 percent can’t get that clear and learn to act on it.

    6. Samuel Conner

      I’ve read that there’s a serious shortage of nursing staff in hospitals.

      The FTA boosters always talk about how “retraining” will solve the problems of those who have to “adjust” to the export of their jobs. I never hear “retraining” mentioned when insurance industry jobs are at stake.

      1. HotFlash

        Indeed! also physiotherapists, phlebotomists, technicians (aka machine operators), food servers, dieticians and cooks, housekeeping staff and even gardeners. Not to mention compassionate companions and patient advocates, eg, hand-holders, company-keepers, taking-for-a-walkers, and just sympathetic listeners. I would love to see a project that celebrates the life of each person — photos, videos, recorders of memoirs. Much better way to keep busy than denying claims, so it seems to me.

    7. inode_buddha

      “Was at a Christmas party amongst relatively well-to-do people in Santa Monica and for a while the conversation turned to ridiculous insurance costs, denied procedures for cancer treatments, doctors pleading with the insurers and being ignored, and other horrors. All claimed to have “platinum” plans. “

      If you really want to be an ass, act all astonished and exclaim, “I thought those kinds of things only happened in Russia!”

      Because that is what we were taught for decades.

      1. Wukchumni

        Funny name in that the spot price of Platinum per oz has dropped precipitously since Obamacare came out in 2013, nearly by half.

    8. Karla

      Private “health insurance”
      Your health, their profits.
      Your illness, their profits.
      Medicare For All, you profit.

    9. drumlin woodchuckles

      The karmic burden should fall on the rich CEOs and the rich major shareholders and bondholders who drive and defend this system.

      The mere employees who merely apply rules they never got to write or even affect . . . deserve little or no karmic burden of their own within this no money = you die system. Because if they don’t do the job they have been given, they will have no money and they will die. They should get another job? What other job?

      Now . . . if we GET CanadaCare for all legal residents of America, then all the mere employees of Big Insura can go to work in America’s new CanadaCare. They will carry out whatever instructions they are given. If the Lords of America’s New CanadaCare order them to deny coverage, that will be the fault of the Lords of America’s New CanadaCare. If the Lords of America’s New CanadaCare order them to find and stop provider-fraud against America’s New CanadaCare ( same as finding and stopping provider-fraud against the Medicare America already has) , then that would be to the credit of the Lords of America’s New CanadaCare . . . if America GETS New CanadaCare.

    10. Ford Prefect

      I read “The Color of Law” by Richard Rothstein over the past couple of months:

      Towards the end of the book he started looking at how the issues that historically impacted black people in housing due to historic racist government policies are now starting to impact white lower and middle-class people as inequality grows. But the white people don’t understand why this is happening because they historically were not impacted by low minimum wages, lack of worker protections, predatory finance etc. in a number of job classifications until they had to take these jobs as the industrial sector got hollowed out and moved to China.

      As I got into the last couple of chapters, it dawned on me that the US healthcare insurance system is effectively the same as minimum wage and housing policies. It worked well for most of the white majority for much of the post WW II period but as more and more people get separated from a comfortable middle-class life, it is becoming intolerable because they are now falling into the gaps and policies that were deliberately put in place decades ago to prevent blacks and hispanics from getting much benefit.

      Most of the rest of the developed world was fairly monolithic in racial make-up during the period when the development of their policies were occurring, so universal coverage of numerous things was considered appropriate. The globalization of people has meant that many other races and cultures are now moving into those countries and the backlash is beginning (Brexit as the most visible).

      I think the US is at a crossroads. Does it focus on broadening the societal benefits that the top 20-30% now enjoy, including giving those benefits to classes that historically were deliberately excluded? Or does the US decide that the benefits should largely get locked in for the top 10%-20% and the rest can just fend for themselves?

      In order for the first option to happen, people will need to address racism because that historically is why many of the policies were put in place and in order for themselves to benefit, they will also have to extend the benefits to people of color as well. This is probably going to play out in the rural heartland first, as their healthcare systems collapse due to distance and expense of covering low density populations, but in order to fix them they will likely need to simultaneously fix the inner city health care system as well which is a very different population. This is the challenge that was largely solved decades ago in every other developed country but the US has not tried to face it yet.

    1. xkeyscored

      There’s been quite a lot of silence concerning the Chagos Islanders*. The UK is still refusing to return the islands to their original inhabitants. (Wikileaks played a significant role in the UN decision in the islanders’ favour; leaked documents showed the UK gangsters were well aware that many of the inhabitants were the children or grandchildren of native-born inhabitants).
      * Readers may be more familiar with the name Diego Garcia, one of the islands in the archipelago. John Pilger has an hour-long documentary “Stealing a Nation” about it:

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        That’s correct about the Chagossiens. The first more or less permanent settlements were from Isle de France, now Mauritius, under French colonial rule, 1715 – 1810. I am Mauritian Creole. Chagossiens, aka Ilois, speak the same language as us. Our Creole is similar to that spoken in Louisiana. We are also Catholic.

        1. HotFlash

          Thank you, Col Smithers,
          Merry seasons and happy everything to you, sir. I cherish your voice for its knowledge, wisdom, and humanity. NC has *THE BEST* commentariat ever. A huge thanks are due to Ms Yves, M Lambert, M Jules (who, I gather, has to read all the comments so we don’t have to — what a hero!), and Ms Scoville. God bless you, every one.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you.

            I hope your loved ones and you are able to enjoy the festive break.

            Happy new year.

            The NC community is a beacon of sanity and solidarity.

  4. GramSci

    re: Goliath
    “One of the most compelling answers to this question comes with a riveting history of the unwitting alliance between American monopolists and the Nazi regime in the years leading up to the outbreak of World War 2.”

    Unwitting?? Was that Matt Stoller’s word? They were Social Darwinists, the lot of them.

    1. Synoia

      Many people believed Fascism was good ruling method in the 1930s, and it had much support in the Upper Class in the UK.

      Oswald Mosley comes to mind.

      1. Summer

        Fascism doesn’t get off the ground, not now or then, without Upper Class support -wherever it is found. It is a project of the Upper Class, easily digested by people already ground down by authoritarian forms of rule, whether from govt, personal, or professional sources.

          1. Paul McCartney Tribute Band

            Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl but she doesn’t have a lot to say.
            Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl but she changes from day to day.
            I want to tell her that I love her a lot …
            … but I can’t: I’ve got a belly full of wine.
            Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl; some day I’m gonna make her mine.

            1. HotFlash

              Thank you Karla! I do believe my head just exploded. As I said just a few lines above, the NC commentariat is *THE BEST*!

              1. Hepativore

                Say, did you not used to be a regular commenter on Balloon Juice? I thought I remember seeing your pseudonym there in the comments section. This was long ago, when I used to be a regular reader there.

                I have not spend much time on Balloon Juice as I got disgusted with the place since it became an echo-chamber of Clintonites and Obots circa 2015. Even now, the mere mention of Sanders makes them rage and dogpile the person who brought him up in the comments.

                I came to Naked Capitalism as a refugee from Balloon Juice since they started turning on the non-neoliberals. I am not the only one, as I have seen a few other people here who used to frequent Balloon Juice as well.

            2. Ford Prefect

              The US is one of only a few non-totalitarian countries that does something like the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of every school day. I grew up in Canada. The first school event I went to in the US where everybody suddenly leaped to their feet, slapped their hand on their chest and started babbling blew me away. I had never seen anything like this except in historical news reels from Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. I just looked around me with my mouth gaped open wondering if I was in the middle of a cult.

          1. Henry Moon Pie

            From UK Le Guin’s translation of the Tao te Ching, Ch. 75:

            People are starving.
            The rich gobble taxes.
            That’s why people are starving.

            People rebel.
            The rich oppress them.
            That’s why people rebel.

            People hold life cheap.
            The rich make it too costly.
            That’s why people hold it cheap.

            But those who don’t live for the sake of living
            Are worth more than the wealth-seekers.

    2. Wukchumni

      Around 25 years ago I met a German-American fellow in his 80’s in Santa Monica, and I like to pick brains, and ascertained that he was on the design team of the ME-262 jet fighter that came up with the swept wings concept, and because I knew enough about the subject matter to be conversant enough to hold a conversation, he was quite impressed.

      At one point he asked if I knew where the engines for mid 1930’s Nazi planes came from, and I told him I wasn’t sure, and he laughed and told me they were imported American designs sold to Adolf under contract-and built in the fatherland.

    3. Baby Gerald

      Poor word choice, that. ‘Undercover’ is the word that comes to mind, not ‘unwitting’. Germany looked like a perfect investment to the robber-baron class that was running into new scrutiny under FDR. Germany boasted an intelligent, orderly workforce with no pesky labor unions to protect them and a state government in full alignment with their industrialist aims and ready to deficit spend to get itself back on even terms with its competition. They viewed Germany as such a great investment they used high power firms like Sullivan & Cromwell to work out all kinds of secret arrangements to keep up business even when we were officially enemies.

        1. JBird4049

          Well, the first use of the new concentration camps was for the incarceration of the socialists, communists, trade unionists, homosexuals, and any other political opponents including some conservatives and anarchists, which didn’t get that much notice in the 1930s in the United States for some reason. Also, it was only by securing the support of the army’s leadership as well as the owners of the banking and manufacturing interests that Hitler was able to gain enough power to get the chancellorship. So the American corporations were very happy to arrange secret, profitable, albeit legally questionable, and later treasonous, arrangements with the Nazis.

          I do not think that corporations in the United States have changed much since then.

    4. Off The Street

      The whole Business Plot issue needs a wider airing to remind people of those captains of industry who were blithely working against the US and its elected representatives. There were so many familiar names that would reappear to haunt later generations, like Prescott Bush with his abbreviation spawn like HW, W and now P.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Prescott Bush had financial dealings with the Third Reich, even after war was declared in December of ’41, and I imagine that it was only his influence that stopped him from going to federal prison – for treason.

      1. JBird4049

        Good book. Edwin Black’s writings are usually dry, calm, and plainly scary although some of his writings starts on the “Hitlerites.”

    5. LifelongLib

      I was surprised that the review (haven’t read the book) called J K Galbraith an ally of neoliberalism. I always thought he was one of the good guys…

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i think that he was, although he felt a little elitist at times in my (admittedly hurried) reading.
        the killing/subversion of the “countervailing force” of Big Unions…to keep Big Bidness and Big Gov in check…is the source of many of our major problems, today, although i reckon all that hyperbigness was a large problem in itself, and still lean way towards the bust up all the big guys way of managing things.
        He was a sort of Veblenite…economics as more art than science…anti-reductionist…not everything fits into the equation/model.
        he was also a pretty good writer as far as economists go.
        after my streetcorner encounters with wild eyed Larouchites(!!), Galbraith was my introduction to economics(affluent society and a couple of others were laying around the house for some reason).
        many people panned it, but i thought The Triumph was hilarious.

        1. Stephen V.

          Regarding Big Kapital and Unions there is a forgotten chapter of history. Hoover is considered a conservative, so who cares about him?

          An Ex‐President Emerges from the Wilderness

          On November 30, 1939, the Soviet Union’s Red Army took the offensive against the “peace‐loving people” of Finland. Immediately, Finnish representatives sought help from Hoover, their humanitarian hero from the 1920s famine.32
          It was a curious predicament for Hoover, having denied President Roosevelt any assistance in aiding the people of a wartorn world. In distancing himself from the presidency, Hoover had a unique opportunity as a post‐president to act on his anti‐bureaucratic ideas as a private citizen. By directly asking Hoover to assist with their needs, the Finns circumvented the American government, allowing Hoover to come to their aid as an independent agent. To ensure that the Finns would receive the required aid, Hoover began designing a plan that would highlight associationalism in order to prove it a capable alternative to direct government involvement.

          Progressive associationalism, according to Hoover, relied on individual initiative to preclude the need for state action through service‐oriented organization. “Progress of the nation is the sum of progress in its individuals,” he wrote; “acts and ideas that lead to progress are born out of the womb of the individual mind.”33
          He thought it a fallacy to believe that the government could benefit society with greater efficiency than those who operated of their own individual will.34 Relying on this ideology would avoid what Joan Hoff Wilson refers to as the “smug paternalism” of those in power while preserving “participatory democracy” against the encroachment of bureaucratic methods.

          Hoover argued for limited government that decentralized power to local organizations.

          1. flora

            I’ve written many times that Hoover was a great engineer, a great humanitarian, but the wrong president when the stock market crashed. His belief in that private and individual actions to right imbalances and combat system-wide bad, failed or corrupt practices didn’t resolve the systemic problems of the Great Depression. The economic and system forces that were breaking down required the counter force of the government to right. Each individual might have wanted to change how they conducted their business, but did not lest the competition get the better of them. Only by govt regulating all of them were they convinced they could do or must do what was required without being at a disadvantage wrt their competition.
            The following is from an Atlantic magazine article:

            Less than a month after the Wall Street crash, [Hoover] began what would be weeks of meetings at the White House with hundreds of “key men” from the business world. There the president briefed them on everything he had done so far and urged them to cut as few jobs as possible for the duration of the slump. He also encouraged public and private construction projects, signed bills recognizing the right of unions to organize, and used the fledgling Federal Reserve both to ease credit and to discourage banks from calling in their stock-market loans.
            At what John Kenneth Galbraith would later skewer as “no-business” meetings, the key men of industry pledged their full support, then went home to slash wages and cut as many jobs as they could. By the end of 1930, the gross national product had dropped by nearly 13 percent, unemployment had shot up to nearly 9 percent, and over 600 banks had closed.


            When the subprime mortgages blew up the economy in 2008-9, Obama called key bankers to the White House and exhorted them to change business practices that lead to the meltdown. They made nice noises but changed nothing in their business practices. When Obama lectured insurance companies and Pharma to stop raising prices, they too made nice noises, but did not change their business practices. The systemic problems not only remained, they’ve gotten worse, imo.

            To my point: There are some systemic problems that require government intervention and correction for the safety and well being of the whole public. In some cases, private initiative alone can’t remedy the systemic problems.

        2. jsn

          He believed that sufficiently advance tecnologies could only be produced in large, integrated corporations.

          He also believed public institutions had to interface deeply with these corporations to ensure they stayed on a generally beneficial developmental path.

          Crushing labor and deregulating business subverted his vision. I think, as I believe he did, that we need government engagement to the same level of complexity as whatever level of technology we choose to live with. Boeing and Google/Facebook would be my evidence for this claim.

        3. Amfortas the hippie

          should be “i think that he was…” a Good Guy/
          list of his most vocal critics proves that out.

      2. ChrisPacific

        I’ve only read one of his books, but based on that I don’t think that it’s accurate to call him a neoliberal, at least in the modern sense (i.e., believing that unfettered and unregulated free markets always and everywhere produce optimal outcomes, for some definition of optimal). He was one of the key overseers of the US production build-up that helped them to win WW2, which history regards as highly successful and which was a long way from any kind of neoliberalism (in fact he was accused of having Communist leanings, according to Wikipedia).

        That said, since this is a review of a Stoller book I’m guessing that it’s an oversimplification and that Stoller was making a more nuanced point of some kind. I’d need to read the book to assess whether or not it was justified.

        1. John A

          I remember seeing Galbraith interviewed where he likened the trickle down theory to giving a horse oats and a sparrow then eating the digested oats in the horse dung on the road.

          Incidentally, these days every dog owner is expected to clean up after their pooch but for some reason it is still socially acceptable for horse riders to ignore dung coming out of the rear of their animals. Why do they get a free ride, as it were?

      3. mpalomar

        Yes, seems a misrepresentation of Galbraith’s views. His government work was first coined during the New Deal and I don’t recall him ever signing on to the notion that privatising government function was a worthy pursuit. There were a few odd takes in that article, indicative of the source. Such as,
        “The ills of modern society, government, and virtually all else are intrinsically linked to concentrated wealth and power in his view. It can be irksome at times to those who wish for additional nuance,”
        Haven’t read the book but it’s 600 pages and hard to believe Stoller didn’t squeeze in some nuance.

        The author, Saagar Enjeti is the other half of the Hill, along with Crystal Ball, and usually has interesting takes but he misunderstands Galbraith if he thinks he’s seminal to neo-liberalism.

      4. jsn

        Bear in mind the source: TAC is just getting around to a little self criticism on its alignment with the Neoliberal project.

        And, from the introduction to the review, the author really hasn’t started a self evaluation in this context yet.

        He’s still looking for nuance to wiggle through with his anti left bias in tact.

      5. GramSci

        Somewhere out there there is a video of JKG recalling Veblen in the fondest of terms. I couldn’t find it, but I did find this.

        1. LifelongLib

          There’s certainly a chicken-and-egg issue, but I think that some of the private opulence is in fact driven by public squalor. If walking and mass transit suck you need a car. If parks are unavailable or squalid you want a house with a yard. And on and on. Everyone is forced to provide their own amenities which ultimately is far more expensive than having them publically available.

            1. LifelongLib

              No you’re not supposed to live in parks, but if nice ones (and other public amenities) were readily available you might be content with an apartment rather than a suburban-style house.

              As for mass transit there’s plenty of evidence it was deliberately destroyed, in part to drive the market for cars.

      6. Wukchumni

        I wouldn’t call JKG an ally of neoliberalism, nosireebob.

        He strikes me more of a financial gadfly, not afraid to call a spade a spade, and seemed to have contempt for those of grandiose wealth, and wondered out loud about such things as why there is always a buyer for every seller of stocks, that sort of thing that nobody ever really talks about.

      7. chuck roast

        In the early 70′ there was general “cleansing” of the teaching staff of the Economics Department at Harvard. Sam Bowles, Art McEwan and other Marxists were denied tenure at the behest (apparently) of many influential alumni who were disturbed that this citadel of capitalist influence could eventually be controlled by commie-symps.

        Herb Gintis was canned also. Although Gintis was less a Marxist then a kind of ethereal genius.

        The story was that Kenneth Arrow and the neo-classical gang of faculty supported the firings while Galbraith, Vassily Leontief and the left-over new deal liberals sided with the grad students.

        This is of interest only to the extent that the grad students at Harvard, Michigan and Wisconsin were the soul of the new-left economics that was developing during this period. When the firings occurred, the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE) was dealt a setback from which it still has not recovered. I’ll always be grateful to John Kenneth Galbraith for his support for my brothers and mentors.

        Would someone please write the definitive book about this!

    6. flora

      This para from the ‘Goliath’ review seems to explain what’s happening at Amazon:

      This pivotal shift [focusing solely on lower consumer cost instead of on workers’ safety] was combined with a growing technocratic elitism amongst a managerial class who came to embrace the inevitability of economic progress and the worship of cheaper prices above all. The American worker be damned as long as prices are low!

      See today’s linked ProPublica article “…How Amazon Chose Speed Over Safety…”

      1. Carey

        The work “consumer” itself was a big-time Tell. First hear it on the radio
        around 1970, I think, and begged to differ from the characterization then,
        not quite in my teens. Kinda like “homeland”, post 11 September™…

        setting us up, since.. ?

    7. drumlin woodchuckles

      Unwitting? It was not unwitting. It was carefully considered and carefully done, to deliberately on purpose bring the Nazis to power in Germany.

      And Standard Oil of New Jersey”s emergency-speed transfer of tetraethyl lead to the German Air Force so it could safely fuel its Luftwaffe Planes in time to invade Poland . . . was also carefully considered and wittingly done, in order to help the Germanazi Hitlerians get the invasion launched on schedule.

      Deliberately. On purpose.

      The American private-sector ruling class was strongly pro-Nazi.

  5. Synoia

    Sales Shopping

    I don’t want to undermine the commercial value of sales nor the consumption joy they can bring when done wisely.

    What is consumption joy, and how is it possible to do it wisely?

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I think here we are entering the realm of religion. In the USA consumerism is the State and popular religion. Joy, obviously, can only come from consuming products and services because that is the meaning of life. Even American fundamentalists are primarily consumerists and secondarily Christians, for the most part (I live in the South). This religion (from religio, to bind) is so essential to our collective psyche that it is nearly impossible to exist outside that religion. I try and am happy doing so, but I have always been an outsider. I see no joy coming from consuming goods and services–tried it by spending on myself and others and it doesn’t work for me.

      1. Carey

        >In the USA consumerism is the State and popular religion

        Ex nihilo, or a carefully-manufactured condition?

  6. Wukchumni

    Isis’s destruction of an ancient civilisation mattered more to the west than human casualties Indepdendent.
    Kind of amusing worrying about the past when we could generally care less about how somebody a few thousand years hence will think about us in terms of what we’ve left behind, which wont be much aside from what they dig out of the always most reliable source, our dumps. It’ll be confusing to them in the upper levels, for thanks to fine Chinese-made consumer goods which are not capable of being repaired and fall apart quite quickly-yet still look like new, there’ll be much speculation on why we threw so much of them away?

    Just back from an xmas roadtrip to Denver, and en route in Utah we stopped to see Native American wall art ranging from a few thousand years old, to more recent artistry a few hundred years old, not that far from newer retail buildings we’ve erected in a few fortnights worth of rush-rush, that are purposely constructed to have a lifespan of a handful of decades, if that.

    Somebody who’s talented with a battery powered Dremel tool, could easily make new petroglyphs on plenty of walls all over the southwest that have the required ‘desert varnish’, showing what we were all about in a picture panorama that would still be there in 4019.

  7. oliverks

    I have been wondering why Johnson doesn’t support another Scottish referendum. Perhaps I am thinking about this incorrectly, but getting “rid of Scotland” would surely improve Tories odds of retaining power in 5 years time. Right now they have 4 seats in Scotland, and even if they picked up a few more next election, they would get rid of 49 left leaning seats.

    That would seem to be a big win for him. What am I missing here?

    1. oliverks

      Sorry, The Tories have 6 seats not 4, but the general point remains the same. It would be like getting rid of California for Republicans.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Conservatism is about power. Not being able to exert power over the Scots would be a loss for the Tories, and seeing a relatively prosperous Scotland next to a reduced Brexit UK could have its own set of consequences.

        In the US, national right wing parties are for states rights until a blue state tries to do something vaguely progressive. The appearance of good government is a threat.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          aye. case in point is texas, where the gop was all about home rule, localism and listening to the people(sic)…until those people wanted to regulate fracking, or boost the local minimum wage.
          then …with no irony at all!…the gop was all about regulation from Austin…even deferring to federal law! when necessary.
          I tried repeatedly at the time of all this to get my state rep and sen on the phone to chew them out for this hypocrisy, but neither had a working phone…nor a working email address…at the time.
          the Right only likes Nakedness when it’s Naked Power.

        2. oliverks

          I guess the question is do they prefer the additional power of another electoral victory or keeping Scotland in the union.

          In 5 years time, the Tories may face a much tougher electrical environment. With Brexit gone, a key supporting issue may now be hurting them. They would be facing their 5th election, and there will be backlash at some point in time.

          It would be too late if they realize they are heading to defeat at that stage. Planning now could save them in 5 years.

          1. Anonymous2

            Yes. I know Tories who are keen to get rid of Scotland. I suspect people like Johnson regard Scottish independence as a card they can keep up their sleeve for a time when they might want to play it.

            1. oliverks

              It would seem to make sense to play it sooner rather than later, because it would probably take at least 2 years to organize, and then some more time to implement.

    2. Kaligula

      …why Johnson doesn’t support another Scottish referendum. Perhaps I am thinking about this incorrectly, but getting “rid of Scotland” would surely improve Tories odds of retaining power in 5 years time…

      Very excellent question!

      Perhaps these 2 reasons??

      (1) Conservative Tories tend to be nationalistic & getting rid of Scotland diminishes the UK

      (2) Wouldn’t North Sea oil go with Scotland if it leaves UK? That would mean lots of moolah and Tories might be too greedy to let that go.

      Anyone has any more ideas?

      1. oliverks

        Moving the nukes wouldn’t seem to be much of a problem. As I understand it the oil is starting to run out, but all the same could be divided between the countries. Fishing I am less certain about. Is that a large enough lobby for the Tories to care about?

    3. Yves Smith

      Most Tories, particularly in the ones in the countryside like Clive’s famed mother-in-law, are both bizarrely Little Englanders yet would find the breakup of the UK upsetting and might lead them to doubt their Tory faith. Not that they would evah vote for another party but they might stay home.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think Fintan O’Toole has explored this most effectively (in my opinion, his analysis of the deeper cultural and historical reasons behind Brexit matches the actual polling and other data the best). English nationalism has always been a strange beast, because since the 18th Century it actively suppressed itself in order to create a more useful ‘British’ nationalism, which has become increasingly irrelevant in the modern world. As an outsider, I always found the dualism in Britain very odd, with rabidly ‘British’ people in Scotland and Northern Ireland clinging to a nationality which never made a lot of sense within the context of the EU, and the general English contempt for the Celtic fringes combined with an apparent willingness to spend lots of money to keep them on board. The additional complication is of course is that culturally and socio politically much of the north of England has far more in common with Scotland/Wales than it does with the Shires.

        I’ve never seen this combination to be particularly stable, and I think the key element that ties it all together has been the need for the left to have Scottish/Welsh votes and the right to feel that their power and status is greater because of the Union. I think that as the Scots increasingly become both an annoyance and an irrelevancy the Tory party will almost inevitably develop a consensus that they are better off without them, although it will never be stated as such in public.

  8. Summer

    Each day I look at election headlines and can”t believe the farce of it all.

    In the meantime, more details come out about this Total BS:

    “To get Democrats to vote for the NDAA,” Space News said, “Trump went along with one of their top priorities to grant federal workers 12 weeks of paid time off after the birth or adoption of a child or to handle family health emergencies.”

    It was a trade-off of the most profound historic proportions: paid parental leave for government employees, common in countries all over the world, for a measure that would turn space into an arena of war.”

    You have to laugh, especially when more and more of the government is being privatized.
    And TAKE THAT “green new deal.”

    Only one thing could help throw a wrench in this stupid BS waste. But who would have the courage to tell that truth?

    1. Wukchumni

      I see this as a giveaway to his voters in Mississippi who are the most qualified to be astronauts, because they all took up space in school.

      1. polar donkey

        There used to be a rocket plant in Iuka MS. Relatively close to Huntsville AL. Could put rockets on barges and send them down Tombigebee waterway.

    2. Bernalkid

      my blood pressure impairing hijinks noted recently include considering closing $100mm drone base somewhere in west africa after just opening it and building a new base on top of the syrian oil fields we are so proud to possess
      the spice must flow

    3. Geo

      I find it odd how little attention is paid to the fact the Space Force originated in the same PNAC document that was the blueprint for our GWOT and so much of the past two decades of NeoCon fiascos.

      “Control the new ‘international commons’ of space and ‘cyberspace,’ and pave the way for the creation of a new military service–U.S. Space Forces–with the mission of space control.”

    4. Big Tap

      Typical corporate Democrats. Give the Federal employees only, 12 weeks of paid time off for parental/adoption leave, but tell the rest of workforce not for you. With the Democrats if it costs their donors (Corporations) any money forget it but if it’s on the government dime why not do it. SJW policies promoted by corporate Democrats cost businesses little money but a $15 an hour minimum wage can’t be done because it hurts their party’s business support. Using the proper gender pronoun is no cost at all for corporate America. .

    5. rd

      I think Pelosi & Company viewed it as highly unlikely that the Republicans would provide enough funding to the “Space Force” for it to do much more than hand out Buck Rogers stickers to kids. This is a country that has not been able to replace the space shuttle yet and is still relying on multi-decade old Soviet rockets to support the space station.

      So they traded a “visionary concept” for actual paid family leave for real people.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Volunteer Firefighters to Get Some Pay as Australia Burns”

    Yeah, not so fast Bloomberg. They forgot to mention the important bit. Where it only applied to those firefighters in New South Wales and none of the other States. So, no joy to those firefighters doing it tough in other States like South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. They are still on their own.

    Maybe he did it for political reasons to set the different States against each other and not him but count on a climate-change denying neoliberal to do something like this. No word either about firefighters from other States that have traveled to New South Wales to fight fires nor about those firefighters from the US and Canada.

    Initially he offered it to only public servants. As our capital is a city-State where most people work for the government, it might have made him a bit popular there but it reeked of the political class taking care of their own, hence the expansion. This is like health-care in the US. Either everybody gets it or it is set up for failure and financial manipulation-

    1. polecat

      I don’t see why the other states couldn’t rustle up enough feral blokes (and of course blokeresses), and … with sharpened stainless steel boomerangs at hand, surround the entirety of your capital city-State, as a Humongous gesture of displeasure .. disallowing any movement in or out, as to send a visceral message, that it’s in the governing interests’ to play nice, and do what’s right … or meet their fate at swingin arms of the MaddMaxians.

      Disclaimer : speaking sorta, kinda, maybe rhetorical-like ….

      1. Wukchumni

        Ockers seem more Max Mad at their happy clapper of a hapless leader, who went AWOL until they could book him and get a mugs shot of him drinking a snappy cocktail in the Sandwich Islands, Danno.

    2. norm de plume

      As I have said to family and friends, the use of the term ‘paying firefighters’ is a useful red herring. It implies payment for services rendered, ‘making money’, a contractual agreement to perform a task. This is mischievous; it should be referred to as ‘compensating firefighters’, which aligns with the purpose of the plan. No volunteer should be ‘paid’ for fighting fires (they could not then be called volunteers) but equally no volunteer should be worse off financially for performing this absolutely necessary work.

      Yes, trust ScoMo to come up with a cockamamie Clayton’s plan like this, faux-decisively hasty with more holes than Joe Biden’s cerebral cortex. I understand the bureaucratic nightmare of assessing the losses suffered by individual volunteers, but surely a one off, one size fits all lump sum will, despite the superficially fair nature of it, end up creating resentments over perceived disparities of effort or levels of contribution (‘he only worked for two days’!), and also over large discrepancies between the capacity of volunteers to wear temporary losses of income (the rentier millionaire at the end of the street who fought fires but hardly needs the dough, vs the self employed tradie who lost a lot more than 6 grand…)

      BTW, I have no regard for Julie Bishop to speak of, though I’m told she dresses well, however I will give her props for giving the PM a wicked touch up in a speech at a Lib function:

      “The Prime Minister is testing the theory that the best way to resolve a crisis is to be as far away from it as possible.”

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work” article needs formatting with a a href= at the beginning and a closed tag at the end.

    And are those ducklings in the Antidote du Jour wearing formal-wear?

    1. xkeyscored

      It’s got a lot in common with
      Why China’s crackdown on academic freedom will backfire SCMP (david l).

  11. Summer

    Re: “Should colleges really be putting smart speakers in dorms?” MIT Technology Review

    It’s subcription blocked, but I wanted to see which colleges were going to do this. Is MIT going to do this? (Snickers).

    1. RWood

      Of such matters?

      Yet another study, this from MIT, finds natural gas dirtier than coal: Methane leakage rates are between 1.5% and 4.9% and “fugitive emissions can be escaping from where natural gas is being extracted and produced, all the way along to the end user”

  12. Stephen V.

    Here in NW AR it is easy to feel like one is at the epicenter of Peak Meat–a major er, protein producer is just up the road.
    Yet astoundingly to the east of us, 2019 saw the shutting down of a 3-year old hog farm (Chinese export! ) due to polluting the Buffalo River watershed.
    How many universities have a well-endowed Poultry Science Dept. ?
    I have met veteranarians making big bucks researching feed formulas for CAFO chicken.
    And yet on the ground “contract” growers compete with each other for pennies to the pound and the mortgage holding banks get their payments off the top when the flock is sold. If I had a nickel for every time an over-enthused prospective *farmer* comes in to my office with pre-approved multi-million $$ mortgage. I scream NO don’t do it, but money talks and b.s. walks as the saying goes. There has to be a wage earning spouse or the whole enterprise goes upside down in a hurry.
    It seems to me like chicken apocalypse has been just around the corner for some time.
    They’ve reached the end of biggest fastest in terms of bio-manipulation.
    This is before we get to looming yuge disease issues / overuse of abx (they just call the drugs something else). CAFO as incubators for epidemics.
    Then there’s animal cruelty. For this see H. Arrendt: The Banality of Evil.
    Cheers peeps. I appreciate you all.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media “Just the Beginning,” Says Top Neocon Insider”

    Ever notice the same people and the same organization’s coming up again and again? Organizations like the German Marshall Fund, the Foreign Policy Initiative, PropOrNot, the Washington Post and USAID and people like George W. Bush, Bill Kristol, Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton and John Podestra? It can’t be that big a tent if you see the same people’s names coming up again and again.

  14. Wukchumni

    Friends were skiing @ Park City in Urah, and it was kind of on the way home from Denver, so we went and it wasn’t on my multi-resort season pass*, so we endured the unendurable, i.e. my first lift ticket over $200, which I have to say played into my mind that day while hurling myself down steep embankments repeatedly on purpose. Noticed an interesting thing there in that Filipinos seem to be the dominant help not so much @ the resort, but in all other capacities in town. An odd fit in the freezing conditions (it was 11 degrees when we left a few days ago) and something I wouldn’t have imagined, as I think of them more as being in the employ of countries in the Middle-East.

    * if I ski as much as we have scheduled this winter, my $619 pass will whittle down to a little over $30 per day on the slopes

    1. Mike Mc

      Look around next time you’re in Vegas. Many if not most dealers croupiers pit bosses etc. now Filipinos. Still plenty of Hispanics in kitchens and hotel work, no real clue why other than the usual – willing to work cheap, work crap shifts/hours etc.

      Grew up in Vegas in the 1960s when the whole area was well under 100,000 total population. Still love it but way too many people (and too much stuff) there now. Climate change may resolve all this rather quickly.

      1. Wukchumni

        That’s interesting…

        I haven’t set foot in a Vegas casino in maybe 20 years, although we sometimes drive by en route to somewhere, as per last week on our way to Bryce Canyon NP. We needed gas and wanted to get past the Strip and got off on some road in North Las Vegas and had to drive about a mile to find a station, and then endured the absolute worst traffic imaginable trying to get back to Interstate 15. I’d guess it took the better part of 45 minutes to go half a mile. That would get really old after a while.

  15. Wukchumni

    President has been making overtures in regards to the legions of homeless here in the Golden State that certainly make it seem as if they’d be put onto trains and sent to the east somewhere. (that is if we had choo-choos capable of doing that)

    How will the populace ensconced in their warm beds with 4 walls around them, take this news one wonders?

    1. inode_buddha

      I doubt they’ll find any work in the Rust belt. Maybe he can send them to that Boeing plant down south.

  16. Phillip Allen

    NC is about the only place on the internet where I’m willing to violate the cardinal rule, Don’t Read The Comments. Gratitude to YS, J-LS, & LS, the behind-the-scenes NC team, and the NC collective commentariat for the thought and care that has made Naked Capitalism such an oasis.

    Blessings of the new year to everyone who reads these words, to your house and all creatures who shelter within.

  17. Wukchumni

    I heard that D’oh! is considering opening up a House of Waffles, due to his wishy-washy stance on testifying on account of a potential subpoena. Can we be done with his monkeyshines sooner rather than later, or will he have to complete his czaring role as the ersatz leading contender?

    1. rowlf

      Weird, as general practice on post WWII era hangars is to have fire suppression systems, which are usually very aggressive. Maybe since the hangar was used for storage they let the fire suppression system maintenance slide? Did some maintenance officer recently complete an online MBA course?

      Since the most likely fire is a fuel the systems are set up to fill up the hangar with foam. People have suffocated in the foam so safety training always emphasized getting out fast at the first sign of foam being generated. I was on a crew that set the system off once while performing work on an aircraft and luckily one of the crew was able to run and hold the shut-off button until the fire department came to reset the system.

      One of our big fears was to be inside a tight space like a fuel tank if the system went off.

      Fire Suppression test

      1. oaf

        The foam systems with which I am familiar may contain PFOAs/ PFASs. While offering mitigation in some forms of disaster; cleanup may involve hosing the chemicals into storm drains. Some of which may have containment for watershed protection. There was an inadvertent discharge at a local airport several months ago. I had been checked out on the system as a maintenance person working in the vicinity; and always thought how easy it would be to set it off by accident during recurring testing. Fortunately I was long gone from there when it went off!!! More immediate were concerns about possibility of inhalation of the foam. Along with absorbing through the skin.

      1. Wukchumni

        according to Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs in a news release issued. The hangar was used for overflow snow removal equipment and transient alert equipment. No other buildings were affected by the fire. No one was injured.

        That’s one hell of a fire considering items consumed, and what in the world is ‘transient alert equipment’?

    1. Carolinian

      So we finance it, or our kids do, 45 million of us owing a collective $1.6 trillion in student debt that not even Bernie Sanders could make disappear. You know what makes it disappear? Death. A friend whose husband died unexpectedly of a heart attack a few years ago told me that the major upside of being a widow in her 40s was that his death canceled out his more than $100,000 in student loans. “We thought we’d be paying that off forever, and then it was just gone,” she said with a breath of relief. When death is the bright spot in your financial life, things are bad.

      Sounds like “die quickly” is the neoliberal advice for college debt as well as medical debt–class warfare that actually kills people.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      yup(shiver) my eldest son turns 18 just after new years, so all that weighs heavy on our minds.
      he’s got the “texas tomorrow fund”…so we’ll see if they hold up their end.
      avoidance of debt is high on my priority list.
      i’d rather sell a kidney than saddle him with all that.

      1. polecat

        If it were me, I’d keep the kidney, ditch the saddle .. and parcel out 10 acre (or whatever’s available for the parting) .. complete with mule, or 20 ! He’d be much better off, no?
        Better yet, encourage him to build on his new aquisition, a new-age monastery .. as an information clearinghaus repository for whatever the locals will need to keep things kinda rollin … when things get REAL hinky !
        Think of the converts he’d acquire. He could possibly even anoint .. once his fellow monks have voted, and the smoke has cleared … his ol’ man the grand title of ‘Pope Amfortas the 1st’ !
        What’s not to like ??

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i’ve been placing that bug in both their ears since they could talk.
          but the Wide World beckons…a la Jack London(howls at moon for effect)…as is perfectly natural, if only for exogamous purposes.
          My modified plan is to maintain the Homestead/Hermit Kingdom long enough for them to have a place to return to when it all goes tits up….which i have been expecting imminently for 20+ years.
          my youngest is currently the most likely to return to the farm ere my dotage sets in with a will.
          one of the numerous exigency plans, if the property taxes get egregious, is to convert the whole thing to a druid monastery and environs…although, given that it’s Texas, the druid part may need to be kept well inside the esoteric, cloistered side of things.

    3. marieann

      My son went to school in the 90’s and we could easily afford the $6000/year…that’s Canadian dollars.

      He applied to a really good school, out of town school but was turned down, my husband and I were secretly pleased because we did wonder how we would pay for it

      1. Monty

        When I went to university in the 90s, not only was it free to attend, but I also received a small annual grant to help with the other costs of living.

    4. Henry Moon Pie

      So how does our capitalist system maintain control as it tightens the screws ever-tighter on the plebes? Hoping the government can keep a lid on as things get tougher and tougher is a lot to ask, and eventually all those cops and National Guard and airborne divisions get expensive.

      What’s needed is to get people to accept various forms of “internal” control, and of all those, the best is debt. Once you’ve taken the plunge into the monthly payment plan, your freedom to navigate through this life is severely limited. Unbearable bosses must be borne. Family-destroying hours must be tolerated. Unscrupulous or even reckless work assignments must be accepted. Publicly revealed political views must be in harmony with the company line.

      And what better to keep a lid on unrest by injecting some of that “internal” control on young people, some so young they need a co-signer to hand over their lives?

      As things have gotten worse for the median over the past 40 years, the means of “internal” control have proliferated, but none are more effective and more immoral than the locking away of our young into a hamster-wheel life.

    5. rd

      An expensive private university is almost financial suicide if you are in the 50% to 95% income zone. You generally don’t qualify for anything but loans but you don’t have the after tax income to cover $50k – $75k for 4-6 years (many don’t graduate in 4 years for various reasons).

      If you are in the bottom 50% and can get through the steeplechase course of life to academically qualify for one of these universities, then you will generally get a lot of grants if they have decent endowments. The people in the top 5% can afford the costs without help.

      The irony is that the name brand schools generally don’t help much for Bachelor degrees. The students are generally better off at schools focused on teaching undergrads which are also often much lower in cost. It is grad school where they usually start to shine, but most people can’t afford to keep going to school then.

  18. nbtt

    “Isis’s destruction of an ancient civilisation mattered more to the west than human casualties”

    this reminds me of the faux horror of the liberal press + academic elite over the Indian citizenship amendment act (CAA).

    The affront to the “secular nature of the constitution” matters more to them than the open ethnic cleansing, rape, kidnapping, forced conversion, forced marriage of non muslim minorities in the muslim countries of South Asia.

    1. Mark Alexander

      Great news! Thanks for the link. I have fond memories of so many great cartoons, like the one showing cows (or maybe it was deer?) standing on hind legs and smoking, until a car comes along…

      1. urblintz

        My favorite was the two dinosaurs, grazing: “Look, Beatrice, over here… peas the size of your brain!”

        1. eg

          Also, “Boneless Chicken Farm” and “Medvale School for the Gifted” featuring a child pushing on the entrance door marked “Pull”

          1. Laughingsong

            The two spiders who spun a web across the bottom of a playground slide, with one of them saying, “If this works, we’ll eat like kings!”

            1. inode_buddha

              One of my favorites was when one spider jumps out and yells “Boo” at the other one, who promptly defecates a pile of spiderweb

    2. Off The Street

      The Far Side was eagerly anticipated along with Calvin & Hobbes, back in a mini-Golden Age of comics.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Interesting coincidence with the stock market peaking. Sure looks like the Fed’s control over interest rates is destabilizing. It may be just that the banksters have figured out how to game it.

      Not that I would know. Yves has said it isn’t that big a deal, but a new record sounds pretty sinister.

        1. Yves Smith

          With all due respect, they are all wet.

          The Fed is clinging to a no-longer-all-that effective method of hitting its policy rate, which is interest on reserves. It never used this approach prior to the crisis. It worked pretty well when the system was flooded with liquidity and banks had tons of excess reserves, but started which no longer works when the Fed was tightening and banks could make more money other places than in the repo markets (we discussed FX swaps are markedly more profitable). Rather than go back to its pre-crisis mode of intervening in the repo markets DAILY as it did as a matter of course from its NY Fed trading desk, it is trying to pretend repo doesn’t matter yet throwing $ at it MERELY TO HIT ITS POLICY RATE which is a nothingburger. This is what being a central bank is all about, fer Chrissakes.

          A second aspect as to why the Fed is behind the curve is that new post crisis rules require big banks to keep a ton more liquidity on balance sheet. This means they can’t play their historical role of stepping in to help fund the money markets, or at least no where near as actively as they did historically. So this falls on the Fed and the Fed stupidly didn’t see it coming and is still super inept about how it is responding.

          Do they make a case that the policy rate is too low, which could be a basis for argument? It has been for quite a while.

          The Fed could also take steps to make repo irrelevant but it won’t do that either. Oh, and the two top people on the NY Fed trading desk “quit” in June, which probably isn’t helping.

          The rally has WAY more to do with Trump convincing Mr. Market that China trade tensions are easing + perceived to be good job #s than the Fed stumbling all over itself with Fed monetary economists not bothering to understand how money markets work and changing how they operate.

              1. dcrane

                I know that it is the same site. I guess I should have asked a question. I’m not knowledgeable about economics so I have only a loose impression that the cheap money available due to extremely low interest rates (due to Fed policies) since the crisis has been keeping the market high. If this is somehow true generally, why is it not reasonable to argue that the Fed re-opening the money spigot in this way (the balance sheet had been on a long term decline) would again stimulate the stock market? Your answer, which was indeed interesting, was more along the lines of explaining why the fed has been acting in this manner.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I know Yves has a different opinion but from my reading the Fed seems to be “stealth” monetizing the Federal debt, normally the Treasury issues debt in order to fund government operations and that debt is then sold off to investors. But the dollar has been high so foreign purchasers of US debt (bonds) have been too slow to match the accelerating USG deficits. In 2019 the Treasury issued new debt to the tune of $11.5 trillion, 70% of it with a term of six months or less, which means that instead of keeping the lights on in the US with longer term debt (10 or 30 years for example) we’re forced to rely on very short-term funding markets. That short-term debt needs to be rolled over (re-funded) on short timeframes, and when the interest rates on the shortest term debt (overnight repo) spiked up over 10% the Fed either had to step in, buying the bonds themselves, or the lights would go out. So they told the market they would be buying something like a half trillion in the next 90 days.

      (Like Japan, the idea of the entity who issued the debt turning around and buying it from itself has always had an Alice in Wonderland quality to me).

      Another view would be that the Constitution clearly says that only the Treasury can create dollars, not commercial banks like we have today (who create USD when they make loans). So essentially the NY Fed is taking the role of the Treasury in this case, which should slightly please the MMT crowd. But of course the Fed cannot call this “QE4” and cannot admit they are monetizing the debt since outright monetization was always something only done by banana republics and is looked at by most economists with abject scorn.

      Complicated situation and maybe I have it all wrong.

      1. Oregoncharles

        ” the idea of the entity who issued the debt turning around and buying it from itself has always had an Alice in Wonderland quality to me”.

        I think that’s the real root of objections to MMT, or for that matter fiat currency. It feels like a con game – and could be, if governance went bad. An “if” that doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, right now.

        It means that money is a medium, not a substance. People tend to be very queasy about that.

        1. Yves Smith

          Money has no fundamental value. People mistakenly attribute fundamental value to gold. That is false in practice, particularly when the survivalists think they’d be able to use it, in times of social breakdown. For instance, women in Vietnam would often get their dowry in gold beads. During the war, when they would sell them for food or medicine or to try to buy off rapists, they’d fetch a tiny fraction of their metal value at the time.

          1. Wukchumni

            I couldn’t tell you anything in terms of arbitrage during the Vietnam War in country, other than the commonest item held was quite thin 24k taels which weighed about 20% more than a troy ounce, and could be easily cut up in order to facilitate any transaction, and they came in a paper sleeve, here’s what they looked like:


            A gent I worked for got on a big old jetliner to Guam maybe a month after the fall of Saigon in 1975 (gold in any form had only been made legal to own on Jan 1, 1975 in the USA, previously the only item allowed was pre-1933 dated gold coins of any country) with 2 briefcases full of cash, and when he told me the tale of the taels maybe 15 years after, he had booked his return flight to come back a week later, and he ran out of money on the first day.

            He paid around 10% back of the spot price, and related that he could’ve brought 2 dozen briefcases full of green, and that might’ve lasted a couple more days, as they were all net sellers, in order to start their new lives in the USA.

            1. Yves Smith

              Sorry, your comment is not on point.

              The reality is in times of crisis supposed stores of value are worth very little if you are on the wrong end of a gun, are starving, or need medicine. In the war, women traded their dowry gold beads, not taels.

              In the same spirit, I had a buddy who was down on his luck ($3 million in debt personally at the age of <30 due to a bad deal, which he made back, he was that kind of guy) who would go to the wino areas of town and buy food stamps back when they were actual stamps for 10 cent on the dollar.

              1. Wukchumni

                Not sure you could compare somebody paying 90% of worth in fair dealings all above board, to somebody doing illegal activities and paying 10 Cents on the Dollar.

                Sorry, but your buddy sounds like a criminal.

                1. Yves Smith

                  Wowsers, is that a defensive response. The point of the story was that something with an indisputable financial value, food stamps, in fact will trade at a severe discount when people need to monetize it.

                  And as for your finger-wagging, I assume you smoked marijuana before it was legal. And you might have even sold some to friends upon occasion. So who are you to talk?

                  Get three million in debt and tell me what you would do if you couldn’t eat. Easy to moralize from an armchair. And he was not inducing people to sell, he went to a part of town where that sort of trading happened in the open, so he was participating in an existing activity.

                  And my examples of Vietnamese women, which you continue to ignore, were selling gold at more like 10 cents on the dollar too.

                  1. Chwee

                    I have a uncle (via marriage) who grew up in Budapest in the immediate aftermath of WWII. Times were still extremely tight then, but gold was a common currency used – in the form of necklace chainrings. Depending on what was being purchased, it could be just 1 or 2 links etc. Aka gold can be easily made fungible.

                    Quite a few of the jews who were still trying to make it out of Nazi Germany… surrendered up some of their gold at the border in order to gain passage. Did they get full value worth? Of course not.. . but if they did not have the gold, they wouldn’t have been able to get out. That is the point – gold still serves as a store of value. We are using overpriced fiat currency to purchase gold now – and we will still have something of value to trade with when SHTF. The original nominal values paid for that gold – it was monopoly money anyways.

          2. rd

            Canadian Tire cash is a classic study in “What is Money?”:

            There are even complexities in how it is handled for sales tax where it can legally be used to pay the sales tax in a Canadian Tire store but another retailer accepting it for payment should use it as payment for the item but the sales tax should be calculated on the value of the entire purchase before the use of the Canadian Tire cash as a discount on the purchase.

            The history of the Spanish in the Americas was also an interesting study in “What is Money” in the first few decades before disease and guns killed off many of the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas.

            To this day, you can still buy Hudson Bay Company wool blankets with “points” on them that defined how many beaver pelts were required in trade for the blanket. Beaver pelts were the de facto currency of trading in the Great Lakes and Hudson Bay region for a couple of centuries.

            1. Wukchumni

              Canada used playing cards as money, once upon a time…

              During the expansion of the French colony in New France (in what is now Canada) in the 17th century, currency used had to be imported from France. When the colony faced insolvency owing to great expenses fighting the Iroquois and a diminishing beaver trade, intendant Jacques de Meulles introduced card money to pay soldiers; this soon spread into general use, including commerce. The introduction of card money allowed the colony to reduce deliveries of specie, which could be lost at sea to weather or attack; no specie could be produced locally owing to a lack of precious metals. The currency caught on, and values equal to 100 livres are recorded. Eventually, an estimated two million livres in card money is thought to have circulated.


      2. Yves Smith

        Please see the above. This is all a massive technical failure by the Fed and has squat to do with anything fundamental.

        And using repo is not “stealth monetization’. The Fed used to intervene daily in the repo markets for decades pre-crisis to hit its policy rate and no one blinked. The Fed is now trying not to use repo as its primary method of managing policy rates as it did pre-crisis and is still clinging to its now-not-effective post crisis approach of interest on reserves….yet is being forced to do repo anyhow.

  19. richard

    my favorite was like three lions, staring silently over at a bunch of gazelle that they are just tensed to run after, a perfect image of predator poise, and this real dorky lion kind of loudly doofuses in from the back and says “Hey guys,what’s going on? You looking at something?”
    I don’t remember if there was a caption. It was very funny; for how often are we that dorky lion? Messing up our friends by clodily stomping about? Well, I am anyway.
    Thanks again to Yves and Lambert and Jerri-Lynn and anyone else responsible for opening up the comments section during their break time! I do appreciate this place so much, and everyone here. Best of luck to all of us in 2020.
    Oops, this went in the wrong place. I was meaning to reply to urblintz in the Far Side thread.

  20. Oregoncharles

    “Italian reporter @SMaurizi had a tweet on OPCW and Douma arbitrarily blocked by Twitter. It contained important info and did not violate any rules. ”

    Is anyone actually surprised? I realize this is a problem for Lambert’s work flow and quite a bit of reporting here – including the quoted Blumenthal tweet – but Twitter and the other social media belong to the enemy. The present dependence of left and alternative communications on those hostile corporate media (at this point, I could argue that they ARE indeed MSM) is extremely dangerous.

    A related point: social media like FB seem designed to be disruptive. Just in my experience, a high proportion of internal conflicts flow directly from Facebook – which, at the same time, is crucial to our outreach. It’s a bad situation; unfortunately, the attempts to set up less-corporate media seem ineffectual. NC and Johnstone offer an alternative, based on their own websites. Being excluded from social media or even Google makes it more difficult, but fortunately those two, at least, have persisted, at some personal cost to their creators.

    Don’t trust Twitter.

      1. Yves Smith

        Not true. You need to curate who you follow.

        “Black Twitter” is a fantastic source. A whole big vibrant community of people sharing daily indignities and strategies. This one is priceless.

        I can’t find the older tweets on this incident quickly but people in replies said what the cop said was bullshit. Tags of state and Federal officials come back with no info. This isn’t novel. He basically says he pulled her over for suspicion of stealing the car. Black women driving expensive cars apparently get pulled over all the time. And his tint excuse was nonsense.

        Matt Bruenig who is an anti-propaganist has over 100K followers. Gabriel Zucman, an academic expert on inequality, publishes all sorts of damning factoids daily and they get retweeted ton. Matt Stoller is not a propagandist and he has a big following and gets into fights all the time. The often demonized Jonathan Turley, who is conservative but regularly bashes Trump, can’t be depicted as a propagandist because his views don’t hew to orthodox patterns. And what about Artist Taxi Driver with his daily anti-Tory rants? I could go on.

        Twitter isn’t perfect by a long shot but it is way more democratic than the MSM or Facebook.

  21. Oregoncharles

    “Brooklyn subway raccoon continues to evade capture”
    At least there’s some good news.

    Raccoons are much too clever for our good. Probably our successors.

    1. ambrit

      I dunno. “Planet of the Coons” sounds somewhat louche. R Crumb got into some “hot water” in penning several similar themed comix once.

  22. ChrisPacific

    I really wish Cockburn wrote for someone other than The Independent. When he writes something I want to read it, but it means enduring the waking nightmare that is their UI design.

    1. Carey

      >it means enduring the waking nightmare that is their UI design.

      As with almost all websites, each ‘update™’ being more unpleasant, opaque, and less user-friendly than the last; NC/WC being a glorious exception.

      Almost like it’s planned

    2. norm de plume

      It has been dreadful for many years. Forbes is even worse – lucky I hardly ever need to go there!

  23. Wukchumni

    Our tactile local weekly newspaper: The Kaweah Commonwealth (named in homage to the Socialist utopian group here in the 1880’s that also published a newspaper of the same name) went kaput last year, the only thing keeping it going being legal notices, when you got right down to it. The owners looked hard for a buyer, but you’d probably have better luck trying to sell a buggy whip factory. They’ve gone online and changed the name, but it just isn’t the same, more of a blog now.

    Mark Twain was once published in this Northern California newspaper.

    More than a century later, the Mountain Messenger appears to be nearing its final days.

    Editor-publisher Don Russell had spent the past year trying to sell the state’s oldest weekly newspaper with no luck. He is planning to retire by the middle of January, at which point publication will end.

    The Mountain Messenger has been able to hang on because of income generated from running legal notices. As the only adjudicated newspaper in Sierra County, it is the county’s sole qualifier to publish them under state law. If the paper stops printing, there would be no such outlet.

    1. flora

      About local papers being the paper of record for legal notices, that tradition is being challenged in many places ostensibly as a cost saving efficiency, when the challenge may be simple political hardball politics. Doesn’t bode well for small papers.

      But, we’ll always have
      Fox, MSNBC, and NPR. /s

      Fox News is good if you want hate in your heart without having to think about it.
      MSNBC is good if you want to watch millionaires condescend to you about topics they don’t understand.
      NPR is good if you like endless war but only when the paperwork is filed properly.

  24. Carey

    I just got N.N. Taleb’s ‘Incerto’, and am wondering if any NC/WCers
    have a recommendation about what to read first?
    I’m inclined to start with ‘Antifragile’- not sure why- but I’d love to
    hear other ideas.

  25. Wukchumni

    Life in these United States, Wyoming edition:

    Stopped for gas in Rawlins, Wy on Interstate 80, and heard the cashier talking to a local in regards to a teenager of somebody from back east who moved to their burb a year earlier, and had been bullying her son, and she said to said local: “Don’t they understand that 95% of the people here are packing?”
    Meanwhile, who would’ve thought you’d need to bring a gat to church, that’s a new one.

    Gunman shoots 2 at White Settlement church before churchgoers return fire, killing him, officials say

      1. Wukchumni

        Give us this day our CCW permit
        Can’t forgive one who trespasses
        Nor can we forgive those who shoot at us;
        And lead us into high velocity temptation,
        But deliver us from hole’y situations

  26. ambrit

    The Fun Never Ends, Medical Edition, Addendum.
    My extended family has been through the wars evidently. I got a phone call from my middle sister this evening. Mom had a fall while staying with them in Missouri and broke her pelvis. Plus her pinky finger. That’s bad enough, however, in the true spirit of neo-liberalism, the Liberty Missouri hospital would not honour Mom’s Florida Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicare Advantage insurance. They would not admit Mom from the ER to the regular hospital without some sort of guarantee of payment. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri said that they would not honour the Florida policy as it was from another entity. So, Liana has to buy two air travel tickets to go with Mom back to Florida so as to enable the Florida Blue Cross and Blue Shield policy. (She says Southwest did a bang up job of accommodating the pair of travelers.)
    But wait! There’s more!
    Back in Florida, the local hospital my Mom has dealt with before would not admit her until she had received approval for payment from the Florida Blue Cross and Blue Shield people. Those benighted apparatchiks refuse to even consider approval until Mom has been vetted by her Primary Care Provider in Florida. That person is out of town on vacation. Finally, the back room nurses have constructed a work around for tomorrow, involving another Physician vaguely associated with their practice.
    The Rot (TM) is now everywhere!
    Somewhat jokingly, my sister says: “I don’t know what I’d do if I encountered a BCBS executive.”
    I replied; “I know. Make it look like an accident.”
    She started laughing uproariously; “Now I know we were wrong to make fun of you for being a leftist.”
    If this keeps up, the 1% will soon see the 10% begin to abandon them.

    1. flora

      I am so sorry. That is the got’cha hell of Medicare ADVANTAGE plans. They are private insurance and they use networks, just like regular private insurance HMO plans. (And they are very Advantageous to the insurance companies.) Don’t get sick or require medical care if you travel. Traditional Medicare + supplemental plans are accepted nationwide at any doc/care center that accepts Medicare.

      So sorry your mom and family have to deal with this outrageous private insurance system. I wish your mom a full and quick recovery. (Medicare 4 All, not Medicare Advantage 4 All.)

      1. ambrit

        Thanks. My sister is a Republican in Missouri of all places. Now she is wondering about forcing the State delegation to push a M4A-Lite plank. (Why do Republicans refer to every version of a program that they steal from the Left as a ‘Lite’ variety. It’s not like wines, is it?)
        She has always been a big Sci-Fi fan, as in working behind the scenes helping to organize cons and such. I told her to read Gibson’s “The Peripheral.” (She wasn’t familiar with ‘The Jackpot.’)

        1. inode_buddha

          “(Why do Republicans refer to every version of a program that they steal from the Left as a ‘Lite’ variety. It’s not like wines, is it?)”

          Because they are embarrassed to be seen pushing straight-up “lefty” ideas amongst their peers and potential voters. And of course they can never admit that a straight-up “lefty” idea might work on its own, so they have to tweak and modify it just enough to make it “lite”. Preferably loaded with get-out clauses and weasel wording.

          The conservatives and right-wingers in my own family have been telling me for the last 50 years that socialized medicine will collapse the countries that practice it. They believe that what will happen is something like a “gold plan” for every citizen, at the rates that they pay private insurers, with a huge bloated bureaucracy on top of that. They believe that the only way other countries can do it cheaper is due to inferior services. They completely overlook the elephants in the room (executive compensation, regulatory capture), or assume they are a natural and normal part of the scene.

          That is the problem I have with most right-wing ideas — they simply don’t account for human venality, as if it is invisible to them.

            1. inode_buddha

              … and for decades we were taught that this kind of crap only happens in Russia, due to shortages caused by Communism…

              my experience with the right wing is that they really don’t get it until it happens to them.

              And by then it’s too late.

    2. The Rev Kev

      That is some seriously messed up procedures, ambrit. At what point will people say that the system is no longer worth defending. Anyway, I hope that your mum is ok though this will be one Christmas and New Years that your family would prefer to forget. Here is to a speedy recovery for her.
      Just had an idea for a popular book. It would just be one with people’s experiences with the health care system. The stories would have to be vetted to make sure that it could not be tied up in law suits but could you imagine what would be in such a book? It would be insanity cubed.

      1. ambrit

        Even better would be a “reality show” based around the experiences of the medically bedeviled.
        Teams of contestants would be tasked with obtaining medical ‘help’ for various ailments. Hilarity is sure to follow.
        Realistically, a podcast series. Let’s steal Lambert’s catch phrase and call it; ‘The Trip To Pain City.’

        1. polecat

          Lets think of a catchy showy moniker … how ’bout .. ‘Feared Factored 10.0’

          On today’s exciting epipen-sode .. we see which playa succumbs to anaphylactic sticker-shock first ! ..
          then, during the second portion of our show …. after our obligatory $poncered ‘opiates-r-us’ commercial breakage …we’ll see who’ll eat an entirely gross surgically-striking surprise billing !

          So stay tuned to this unaffiliated insured network …..

    3. smoker

      nope, the fun [etcetera]™ never does seem to end, and it’s way, way, way past the time one should feel they’re required to describe their ghastly experience in such polite™, yet utterly dystopian terms, such as ‘fun,’ – or impart amusing and witty satire, in order to heard – to even be able to share their hideous experience without being censored by the powers that be.

      1. ambrit

        The censoring process seems to be ramping up in the Social Media sphere.
        Previous anti-establishment movements were guided and facilitated through semi-professional groups of real people. If the Powers (TM) manage to slip in an artificial mediator between individuals and groups, such as a social media platform algo, I fear that the ‘fruitful ferment’ that group dynamics could produce will be ‘strangled at birth’ through targeted gatekeeping and the ‘disappearing’ of non-official forms of thought and expression. In ye olde dayes, a mimeograph machine, or a small press could be utilized to spread dissenting views. Given some ingenuity, such could be carried out even in the teeth of “official” oppression. Anything ‘online’ is in a different realm altogether. There are so few nodes of control available that suppression is easily possible. Deny access to the few extant nodes, and you cripple any internet based “movement.” Governments around the world are already exploiting this aspect of the ‘online’ reality. In Kashmir, as an example, the Internet was the first ‘thing’ closed down. Not only were “flash mobs” stymied, but so were the nascent internet based social spheres.
        Enough for now.

        1. Yves Smith

          An example: a contact hadn’t heard of the caught on video incidents of Joe Biden getting awfully hands-y with girls who were often visibly uncomfortable. This is again in the news due to him being heckled in NH over it. I went to find YouTube clips.

          Not that long ago (say 18 months) there were competently executed but clearly layperson compilations from a few years back even then. A couple had tons of views, over 1 million each.

          I can’t find them. There are only way more recent ones (in terms of when uploaded) and a heavy slant to MSM ones.

          So the faux objective prioritizing of “authoritative” meaning MSM + recent is deep sixing important records.

          1. inode_buddha

            It maybe a good time to download and save a copy of that clip of Biden re: the (russian?ukranian?) prosecutor, just for future reference…

            1. ambrit

              What I consider the probable danger here is some algo that prevents the re-uploading of such data. (Say, the Biden clique hires some internet “moderators” to constantly scan and ‘correct the record’ on anything popping up concerning him.)
              Now that I think on it, there is a healthy and I suppose profitable trade in “reputation curation” on the internet.
              I have yet to read of an electronic samizdat.

  27. Oregoncharles

    Attn. Amfortas (and everybody): ?

    The answer is yes, set in a rather erudite discussion of what the counterculture came from and is (ie, an outgrowth of the Romantic movement). This discussion actually goes right back tothe Sixties, when there was a conscious contrast between “cultural” and ” political” – The Yippies were an effort to combine them. In reality, neither can stand alone. I felt more atttached to the cultural side at the time; my background in anthropology says culture is more fundamental and more radical – despite my present commitment to politics.

    Interesting to speculate on where a “new counterculture” might come from.

    1. Jessica

      “Interesting to speculate on where a “new counterculture” might come from.”
      A lot of survivors from the “old counterculture” have retired or will be and will have some time on their hands. On the other hand, a fair number of the young may give up on trying to “make it” as that demands sacrifice of integrity and for many simply becomes impossible. This could be an interesting combination.

      1. Carey

        >On the other hand, a fair number of the young may give up on trying to “make it” as that demands sacrifice of integrity..

        The educated and newly disaffected… lots of em, if what I hear from the trenches is correct (pretty good sourcing).

    2. Jessica

      One thing that this article (and the book that it reviews?) misses is that a crucial formative aspects of the 1960s counter-culture was how much it was cut off from its predecessors, even cultural ones, by the intensity of the McCarthyist purges in the 1950s. The counter-culture in Europe (1968 in France, into the 1970s in Italy) had not suffered such purges and as a result had a much solider political grasp and more fruitful interaction between the cultural and political sides of things.
      The next counter-culture will have the Sixties, as well as what has been accomplished during the intervening years of reaction, to draw on.
      Of course, the next counter-culture will take what it finds to be useful and leave the rest.
      Oh, one last thing. The next counter-culture has just got to do a better job of getting along with the working class. Just saying.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > Oh, one last thing. The next counter-culture has just got to do a better job of getting along with the working class. Just saying.

        Yep. The positive aspect of precarity, perhaps.

        1. polecat

          What! …. no Burning Man ners ?? I’m shocked !

          Well then, Life is just not worth living !!! … if I can’t land my private jet on some salt pan out in the middle of Gaia-Noooo!!-swears .. kickin it with the other tech bros, playin rope-pull with my bullet-uh, resistant electric musk oxen…. then no one can !

    3. Wukchumni

      Things could develop much slower back then, we went from the Beatniks to Hippies & Yippies in around a decade, now most everything seems to have a shelf life that’s tiny, in comparison.

      Even fads lasted longer, you’re of the right age to have worn a Nehru jacket, was it part of your wardrobe, circa 1966?

      1. Jessica

        Who knows? Perhaps the most intense identity politics folks, which I don’t think will play a role in the next counter-culture, can serve as a distraction and let a real counter-culture mature slowly in their shadow. It is a problem that things no longer have time to figure themselves out before huge numbers find out about them through social media.

    4. Henry Moon Pie

      Thanks for the great link. Teaser excerpt:

      Counterculture is not a revolution. It is an insurrection in the name of life. Counterculture is not interested in creating a new perfected nation state. It is not going to recognize the state’s unlimited authority. There are other things that counterculture does not recognize. It does not recognize the idea that the repayment of debts is a morality. In reality, debt has always been a form of social control as we are seeing in spades now with criminal levels of student debt. People in debt tend not to abandon their employment even if that employment makes them miserable. They “can’t afford to quit.” So, Bernie Sanders’s call to forgive student debt is also a call for the elimination of the morality of debt, or I hope it is. That morality has always been a scam.

      I agree strongly with the author. Our situation is so dire that more than a political or economic solution is required. This millennia-long journey down the agriculturalist route, combined with a century of manipulating the human animal to be a better consumer and wage slave, has left us with limited cultural abilities to adapt to a new world where humans live in harmony with the Earth rather than destroying it to make more plastic junk.

      One way of understanding our situation is as a thesis/antithesis from which no synthesis has emerged for 50 years. The counterculture threw down a fundamental challenge to the prevailing culture of the time–the culture with which we’re still limping along now. That challenge was along anthropological, sociological, theological and moral grounds. It sought a complete orientation away from individualism and toward community, away from materialism and toward a harmonious “reunion” with the Earth, away from power and violence toward mutual aid and peace.

      Our situation is akin to child birth. Nothing is more terrifying, even to a stupid “coach” standing by, than when child’s birth stalls and the child is stuck halfway between where it’s coming from and where it’s going. Both mother and child are under grave threat in that situation, and so are we in this “stuck” cultural situation.

      Our politics has been driven by the 60s cultural battles for 50 years. Kudos to Professor White for pointing us back to that era. It’s the only way we’re going to get “unstuck.” And I think it’s the only way we’ll ever get the depth of change that’s required in our current dilemma. Going back to the 30s won’t save us. Some problems are similar, but the cultural situation is drastically different and the environmental threat is much greater. The New Deal didn’t have to concern itself with the kind of cultural split we’ve been living with for 50 years, and it wrongly ignored key cultural issues of that time because of political expediency. We need to move forward, not back, and toward a new cultural consensus that promotes harmony among humans and between humans and the Earth and its creatures. That new cultural consensus is essential to building a new politics and economy without high levels of coercion.

  28. Carey

    Damn, I like today’s antidote-ducklings!

    Dunno if I was a bird (a dear girlfriend said I was, once), or am going to be one in the future. Either way’s fine.

  29. Jessica

    The longer the powers that be manage to fight off medicare for all, the more people will see that the health insurance industry’s predation is not an aberration, but only a leading edge of what most of the economy is like. In addition, the predation will make its way higher up the hierarchy, undermining their legitimacy among even more of the population.
    That the powers that be are not making a strategic retreat on this, like their failure to reign in those who destroyed Boeing, formerly one of American capitalism’s crown jewels, demonstrates that they have no long-term strategy even for their own sake.
    My own theory is that a knowledge-driven economy requires quite different organization and leadership from a capital (plant and infrastructure) driven economy and that the failure of the powers that be to adapt to this change and our failure to replace them are why the rot is so deep at the top of society.

    1. polecat

      I hear tell, once the elite-sponcered hinkyness gets outta hand .. that various ‘dectomies will become all the Rage, via reverse ‘repos’.

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