2:00PM Water Cooler 9/9/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I had a bout of the slows today, and I also need to do a pantry clearout of various horrid bright shiny objects I collected over the weekend. Please stay tuned. –lambert UPDATE Done for today!



At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

Because of the stories about Sturgis, I thought I’d look at South Dakota, where Sturgis is located, and the states that surround it (on the theory that riders would stop along the way). Here are South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota:

And positivity:

Sturgis does show up in South Dakota; Iowa’s simultaneous spike, however, looks like schools and prisons.

* * *


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

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

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

The electoral map. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270. August 18: Still no changes. August 31: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican. Despite the sturm and drang, and the polls, the consensus on the electoral college remains the same: Biden ahead, Trump within striking distance.

Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

So, taking the consensus as a given, 270 (total) – 204 (Trump’s) = 66. Trump must win 66 from the states in play: AZ (11), FL (29), MI (16), NC (15), PA (20), and WI (10) plus 1 to win not tie = 102. 102 – 66 = 36. So if Trump wins FL, MI, NC, and PA (29 + 16 + 15 + 20 = 80), he wins. That’s a heavy lift. I think I’ve got the math right this time!

Time to restore the election countdown:


Biden (D)(1): Deploying the big guns after Labor Day (A):

Biden (D)(2): Deploying the big guns after Labor Day (B):

Biden (D)(3): “Biden campaign pulls out all the stops to woo young voters” [WaPo]. “Joe Biden, upon first meeting his current campaign pollster John Della Volpe at a gala dinner in 2018, started taking notes from their conversation about the student debt crisis and gun violence on the back of a name placard at the table between speeches honoring former secretary of state Colin Powell. Biden made it clear that the issues facing young people were deeply personal to him, well before he announced his run for president, said Della Volpe, who last month took leave as director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics to start officially advising the Biden campaign on the youth vote. Biden spoke about helping pay off student loans taken on by his youngest daughter, Ashley, now 39, as ‘the kinds of things you do for your kids,’ Della Volpe said.” • Liberal Democrats really do have the memory of goldfish, don’t they? More: “The empathy these generations have for other, often voiceless Americans — that’s the same empathy that Biden has,” said Della Volpe, who jumped on Biden’s polling team as it expands in the final months. The campaign is betting that young voters, hit hardest by the economic crisis as the novel coronavirus derails life on college campuses and job prospects for many recent graduates, will identify with Biden’s personal story once they get to know him. ‘It’s powerful when young voters understand his story, his empathy — and how the challenges and trauma in his life have shaped his political views,’ Della Volpe said. “All of that makes him a genuinely kind person, but it has much more meaning in a political context — especially with younger people who remind me that they are living through two recessions and in a dystopia at the same time.'” • Well, maybe we are all rubes. Liberal Democrats certainly think we are. I don’t know, I don’t know…

UPDATE Biden (D)(4): Is Dr. Bronner’s a thing amongst the youth?

Who knows? It is great stuff…

UPDATE Biden (D)(5): “‘Friend, You Understand Friend?’ Gesture Democratic Leaders To Focus Group Of Working-Class Voters” [The Onion]. “‘Voooooote…V-V-V-Voooote…Can you say, ‘Vote’?’ Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez asked a conference room full of truck drivers, home healthcare workers, and retail associates, offering them candy when they provided desired responses to 2020 candidates and shocking them with a small electric baton when they did not.” • Germane to the Greenberg study linked to in Water Cooler yesterday.

UPDATE Biden (D)(6): “Biden’s flexibility on policy could mean fierce fights if he wins” [WaPo]. “When Joe Biden released economic recommendations two months ago, they included a few ideas that worried some powerful bankers: allowing banking at the post office, for example, and having the Federal Reserve guarantee all Americans a bank account. But in private calls with Wall Street leaders, the Biden campaign made it clear those proposals would not be central to Biden’s agenda. ‘They basically said, ‘Listen, this is just an exercise to keep the Warren people happy, and don’t read too much into it,‘ ” said one investment banker, referring to liberal supporters of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The banker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private talks, said that message was conveyed on multiple calls. This reluctance to be pinned down on policy details is central to Biden’s campaign, which has focused on a pledge to ‘restore the soul of the nation’ rather than any particular legislative holy grail.” • Commentary:

I think the Task Forces were useful in the sense that it’s good to have experience in those rooms; “knowing your enemy” is a perk for staff, like keeping health insurance. I didn’t expect anything to come of it; Obama didn’t stand up Biden to implement Sanders’ program, after all.

Biden (D)(7): “Biden expands transition team, adding key campaign allies and top Obama-Biden policy hands” [CNN]. “Biden is adding four co-chairs alongside his long-time confidant and former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman: Jeffrey Zients, the top Obama economic adviser who was tasked with rescuing the floundering HealthCare.gov website; New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who Biden considered for the vice presidential nomination; Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, a top Biden surrogate and national co-chair of his campaign; and Anita Dunn, a senior campaign adviser. He has also tapped a 15-person advisory board, which includes a one-time 2020 Democratic presidential rival, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. That board also includes a once vice presidential contender, former national security adviser Susan Rice; Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general under former President Barack Obama who has advised Biden’s campaign on policy and campaign tactics amid the coronavirus pandemic; and Sally Yates, the former deputy attorney general.” • That’s odd. I don’t see any Sanders people there at all. Good to see Buttigieg getting his payoff, however!

Trump (R)(1): I’ve called attention to Trump’s Borscht Belt comedic rhythms before:

(I believe there was a brief moral panic about Trump riffing on paper straws, but, as usual….)

UPDATE Trump (D)(2): “Top Armed Services Republican ‘dismayed’ at Trump comments on military leaders” [The Hill]. House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas): “I know the president says things for effect a lot, but to have a commander in chief question the motivations of military leaders and basically say they’re in it for themselves is wrong, and it gives our adversaries an opening. Even if you think it, you shouldn’t say it.” • In other words, Trump just reinforced his brand very effectively.

* * *

FL: “Biden is struggling to win Miami Latinos, new poll finds. Will it cost him Florida?” [Miami Herald]. “The poll of 500 likely Miami-Dade voters, released Tuesday, found Trump far behind Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden 38% to 55% in Miami-Dade, where Democrats typically need to run up the score in order to compete in statewide races. That 17-point deficit is well outside the poll’s 4.4 percentage point margin of error. But Trump doesn’t need to win Miami-Dade. He just needs to do better in the Democratic-leaning county to offset possible losses in other parts of Florida…. But the poll found the former vice president splitting Hispanic voters with Trump, with Trump at 47% and Biden at 46%. Those numbers — based on smaller polling subsets with larger margins of error — are driven by Trump’s increased support among conservative leaning Cuban Americans, who supported Trump over Biden in the poll by a crushing 38 points. Just eight years ago, those voters roughly split their votes between Republican nominee Mitt Romney and former President Barack Obama.” • FL Hispanics are not TX Hispanics are not CA Hispanics….

* * *


Realignment and Legitimacy

“America’s ‘elites’ are failing in the COVID-19 pandemic and that’s pushing U.S. voters towards right-wing populism” [Shawn Rosenberg, MarketWatch]. “[T]he liberal democracy Americans know, with its abstract principles, complex institutional arrangements and conflicted, deliberative practices, is difficult for most people to understand and embrace…. Most politically significant now are right-wing populist movements. Their vision resonates with the kind of understandings most people naturally construct. Here, social and political problems have clear and simple causes and can be readily addressed with direct, concrete action. This in turn requires a strong leader and a hierarchically structured government that facilitates the leader’s ability to do what is necessary.” • Since conventional liberal Democrat wisdom focuses on leadership failures at the top, which involve rejection of “expertise” (see Thomas Frank), it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that requiring “a strong leader and a hierarchically structured government” is a consensus across the political class. A conclusion that has obvious implications for the cries of “fascism!”

* * *

“Biden: QAnon supporters should seek mental health treatment” [Axios]. “Joe Biden condemned the QAnon conspiracy theory as “dangerous” and “embarrassing” in a campaign event on Friday, recommending that people who support the sprawling network of falsehoods to seek mental health treatment. … QAnon alleges the ‘deep state’ is engaged in a global fight to take down President Trump and evolved from the 2016 Pizzagate conspiracy theory into a decentralized network that analyzes cryptic prophecies dropped in remote online forums by ‘Q,’ who claims, without offering evidence, to be a Trump administration official with high-level clearance.”

“QAnon is a Nazi Cult, Rebranded” [JustSecurity]. “A secret cabal is taking over the world. They kidnap children, slaughter, and eat them to gain power from their blood. They control high positions in government, banks, international finance, the news media, and the church. They want to disarm the police. They promote homosexuality and pedophilia. They plan to mongrelize the white race so it will lose its essential power. Does this conspiracy theory sound familiar? It is. The same narrative has been repackaged by QAnon.” • Oddly, JustSecurity is joined at the hip with the Atlantic Council; their editorial director works for both. The lawfare world is so cozy! Some perspective, from Jeremy Popkin, A New World Begins: The History of the French Revolution (2019). Ménétra was a glazier, an artisan (via):

So, QAnon is based on tropes that have proved out…. I continue to wonder why the anonymity of “Q” is always treated as a fact, but is never treated as a story. Not that I’m foily.

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

Employment Situation: “Adjusting the Unemployment Thermometer” [Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco]. “Stay-at-home orders issued to slow the spread of COVID-19 may have severely distorted labor market statistics, notably the official unemployment rate. A method to correct the survey biases associated with the pandemic indicates that the true unemployment rate was substantially higher than the official rate in April and May. However, the biases appeared to fade thereafter, making the drop in June even more dramatic than implied by the official data.” • Hmm.

* * *

Mr. Market: “Dow jumps over 500 points as stocks aim for rebound, Nasdaq up 2.8%” [MarketWatch]. “U.S. stocks traded higher Wednesday at midday, rebounding after a three-day selloff led by tech shares that drove the Nasdaq Composite into a correction after reaching a record high last week…. Market watchers saw little in the way of a clear catalyst for Wednesday’s bounce. The tech-led rout came after a rally that some analysts argued had become euphoric, leaving the market vulnerable to a near-term pullback and more volatile trade. ‘Those gains didn’t make a lot of sense,’ said Donald Calcagni, chief investment officer with Mercer Advisors, in an interview with MarketWatch. ‘I think the correction is perhaps the market just coming to its senses a bit. When you have Amazon trading at 120 times earnings and the economy is contracting 32%, that just doesn’t make sense.'”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 65 Greed (previous close: 55 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 77 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 9 at 12:13pm. Whoa, neutral there for a moment!

The Biosphere

“On the correlation between solar activity and large earthquakes worldwide” [Nature]. This is astonishing: “This paper gives the first, strongly statistically significant, evidence for a high correlation between large worldwide earthquakes and the proton density near the magnetosphere, due to the solar wind. This result is extremely important for seismological research and for possible future implications on earthquake forecast. In fact, although the non-poissonian character, and hence the correlation among large scale, worldwide earthquakes was known since several decades, this could be in principle explained by several mechanisms. In this paper, we demonstrate that it can likely be due to the effect of solar wind, modulating the proton density and hence the electrical potential between the ionosphere and the Earth. Although a quantitative analysis of a particular, specific model for our observations is beyond the scope of this paper, we believe that a possible, likely physical mechanism explaining our statistical observations, is the stress/strain pulse caused by reverse piezoelectric effects. Such pulses would be generated by large electrical discharges channeled in the large faults, due to their high conductivity because of fractured and water saturated fault gauge.” • This is like science fiction, in the “sense of wonder” created.

“The Oysters That Knew What Time It Was” [Wired]. “Brown concluded that the organisms were sensitive to external geophysical factors, perhaps minute fluctuations in gravity, or even subtle forces that hadn’t yet been discovered. In his rivals’ experiments, supposedly proving the existence of independent clocks, Brown argued that the subjects weren’t cut off from the environment after all. They were bathed in—and influenced by—subtle, rhythmic fields that varied as the Earth turned.” • Some of which cause earthquakes!

“Hundreds of Americans Planted ‘Chinese Mystery Seeds'” [Vice]. “Since the seed story originally broke, I have been obsessed with learning more. To do this, I filed 52 freedom of information requests; one with each of the departments of agriculture (or their state-level equivalent) in all 50 states plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico. I also filed requests with the USDA and several of its labs. Thousands of pages of emails, spreadsheets, reports, and documents, as well as audio voicemail recordings, have been trickling in for the last month, and they have been enlightening in many ways. Based on documents I’ve read, the scale of the mystery seed operation was much larger than I had originally suspected and than was originally reported. Conservatively, it is safe to say that tens of thousands of Americans received what they perceived to be Chinese mystery seeds in July.” And: “The “brushing” idea is still what USDA and other agencies are saying, but, at least in the emails I’ve reviewed there’s very little talk about how the scam worked or why it happened. This campaign also seems to be much larger than any other known brushing campaign or any other seed mailing campaign.” • I was skeptical of the “brushing” explanation for exactly that reason: scale. More: “One thing is clear to me, from reading these documents. American people do not seem particularly well-prepared for scams of this nature. The emails between public officials and scientists, who were dealing with a difficult situation, seem efficient, professional, and appropriately cautious. But communication from the general public is concerning…. We know that the FBI, CBP, and USDA are all still investigating.” • “Report back to me when, ah … I don’t know, when it makes sense.”

“Fungal mycelium and shutting down phytophthora in peppers” [John Kempf]. “A bell pepper field had phytophthora problems severe enough to cost the entire crop. Ridomil Gold treatments were known to be completely ineffective. Instead of anti-biotics, we applied pro-biotics, microbial inoculants of mycorrhizal fungi, a range of bacterial species, and biostimulants through the drip irrigation system. Within weeks the soil is filled with these thick strands of mycelium/plant roots and the crop recovered completely. The phytophthora symptoms disappeared. What have you seen something similar to this in the soil? What do you think this might be?” • Check out the horrid pictures!

Health Care

“”Effect of Calcifediol Treatment and best Available Therapy versus best Available Therapy on Intensive Care Unit Admission and Mortality Among Patients Hospitalized for COVID-19: A Pilot Randomized Clinical study” [Science Direct] (I should hat tip an NC reader for this, but can’t find the link. Whoever you are, take a bow!) The main focus of the article is Vitamin D, but get this! From the Procedures:

All hospitalized patients received as best available therapy the same standard care, (per hospital protocol), of a combination of hydroxychloroquine (400 mg every 12 hours on the first day, and 200 mg every 12 hours for the following 5 days), azithromycin (500 mg orally for 5 days. Eligible patients were allocated at a 2 calcifediol:1 no calcifediol ratio through electronic randomization on the day of admission to take oral calcifediol (0.532 mg), or not. Patients in the calcifediol treatment group continued with oral calcifediol (0.266 mg) on day 3 and 7, and then weekly until discharge or ICU admission. Outcomes of effectiveness included rate of ICU admission and deaths.

How is it that I only find out that hydroxychloroquine is in the standard protocol for treatment in Spain by reading a reasonably obscure science paper? It’s not our standard protocol, if it exists, is anything to boast about. Compare our deaths-per-day with Spain’s:

The chart at least shows — assuming the data to be comparable — that Spain and the US looked very much the same, until Spain doing something right, whatever that was. I do try not to let what I conceive to be realism shade over to cynicism and thence to nihilism, but it looks to me like Taibbi is not exaggerating at all: “[R]ooting for a drug to not work in the middle of a historic pandemic [is] the clear subtext of nearly every news story on [hydroxycholoroquine] dating back to March.” That does not bode well, at all, for coverage of vaccines, where the same team spirit and rooting incentives apply, except orders of magnitude more intensely. (Note also that the hydroxycholoroquine coverage is not only the responsibility of the press, but of the, er, experts they quoted.)

“Why an approved coronavirus vaccine may not end the pandemic quickly” [MarketWatch]. “But one reason for the market’s swagger, at least until September, was the work from multiple companies on a coronavirus vaccine. Evercore ISI hosted a call on this subject, and the takeaway was sobering. Speaking before the news that AstraZeneca halted its COVID-19 trial because of an illness, analyst Josh Schimmer pointed out that in most vaccines, pharmaceutical companies settle for lower rates of immunity in exchange for better tolerability. Now, he said, companies are pushing the protective profile to go for maximum effect, knowing it may come with more side effects. He put greater than 50/50 odds that the first vaccines will work well — which he defined as either 90% reduction in event rates, or a strong benefit for severe cases…. But the next most likely scenario is they work but not great, like the flu vaccine, in which case, the impact on alleviating the pandemic would be limited. ‘I don’t know if a 60% efficacy COVID vaccine gets us out of this mess quickly,’ he said. (The minimum effectiveness is 50%). In that scenario, the hope would be that the second wave of vaccines work better, to “switch vaccine horses midstream if better ones come along.’ There is a lower chance the vaccines don’t work, or make infections worse, or have problematic side effects, he added.”


“Modern Monetary Theory Is Bunk And Would Lead To Disaster” [The American Conservative]. “Economic agents demand money for reasons other than paying taxes, mainly as a medium of exchange to buy goods and services and as a store of value in which to save part of their income. Were these agents to perceive that a particular government were recklessly spending via money-financed deficits, the demand for its currency would collapse due to a loss of confidence in the issuer. This in turn would result in a hyperinflationary episode similar to the one that has recently taken place in Venezuela.” • It seems that belief structures are as hard to eradicate as kudzu.

Groves of Academe

It had to happen:

“Listen to science, my fellow Democrats: Diversity training does not cure bias and racism” [USA Today]. “But my team has its own blind spots about science, too. And if you think otherwise, just Google “diversity training” and “evidence.” You’ll find a long set of studies suggesting that these trainings don’t work, or even make things worse. But we keep touting the idea, science be damned. … Analyzing more than 800 companies that used diversity trainings over three decades, sociologists Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev found that improvements fostered by the trainings were rare and short-lived. More commonly, diversity training reinforced precisely the negative behaviors it was designed to reduce.” • Well, if you’re a PMC consultant who’s got kids to send to college, that’s a pretty good model!

Guillotine Watch

We are ruled by Harkonnens:

Class Warfare

“Amazon’s Leadership Principles Interview: What To Expect And How To Prepare” [Interview Steps]. “Amazon’s leadership principles establish the framework for how everything operates at Amazon. They were written by Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, and are recognized as the values that motivate Amazon employees and are a driving force behind Amazon’s success. Amazon is known for having a passionate and confrontational culture where employees are constantly challenged and customers always come first…. Many Amazon employees quit before their second year. The type of work and challenges that Amazon employees confront on a day-to-day basis requires a special type of workforce. In order for Amazon to continue being the “everything store” and one of the world’s most innovative companies, Amazon strives to hire employees who live and breathe Amazon’s 14 leadership principles.” • “Leadership principles”…. That reminds me of something, if I could just put my finger on it… Anyhow, here’s a snippet from one of the 14: “They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.” Yeah, through bootstrapping the company by not paying state sales taxes, regulatory arbitrage, stealing product ideas, fake products, etc., etc., etc…..

“The Philosopher Redefining Equality” [The New Yorker]. “[Philospher Elizabeth] Anderson’s democratic model shifted the remit of egalitarianism from the idea of equalizing wealth to the idea that people should be equally free, regardless of their differences. A society in which everyone had the same material benefits could still be unequal, in this crucial sense; democratic equality, being predicated on equal respect, wasn’t something you could simply tax into existence.” • I keep thinking the New Yorker will peak, but it always exceeds my expectations.

News of the Wired

“Global patterns of ecologically unequal exchange: Implications for sustainability in the 21st century” [Science Direct]. “Ecologically unequal exchange theory posits asymmetric net flows of biophysical resources from poorer to richer countries. To date, empirical evidence to support this theoretical notion as a systemic aspect of the global economy is largely lacking. Through environmentally-extended multi-regional input-output modelling, we provide empirical evidence for ecologically unequal exchange as a persistent feature of the global economy from 1990 to 2015. We identify the regions of origin and final consumption for four resource groups: materials, energy, land, and labor. By comparing the monetary exchange value of resources embodied in trade, we find significant international disparities in how resource provision is compensated. Value added per ton of raw material embodied in exports is 11 times higher in high-income countries than in those with the lowest income, and 28 times higher per unit of embodied labor. With the exception of embodied land for China and India, all other world regions serve as net exporters of all types of embodied resources to high-income countries across the 1990–2015 time period. On aggregate, ecologically unequal exchange allows high-income countries to simultaneously appropriate resources and to generate a monetary surplus through international trade. ”

* * *

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

SV writes: “Our Hydrangea this time of year has bees, wasps, and flies of every description.” Encouraging!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. diptherio

      Another suggestion for pandemic reading lists: I highly recommend N.K. Jemesin’s Broken Earth Trilogy (the first book is The Fifth Season). It’s in the fantasy/speculative fiction genre, if that’s your thing. Pretty dark, overall, but boy is it a page turner.

      1. Jessica

        I second the recommendation of the Broken Earth Trilogy.
        One aspect of it is Harry Potter if the Muggles took the dangers that young not-yet trained wizards and witches pose very, very seriously.
        Unfortunately, her latest The City We Became is marred by the author’s racism.
        On the subject of alternative Harry Potters, Vita Nostra is the Russian entry. Much, much darker and very Russian.

        1. Nick Crowley

          It’s strange. I can’t find anything about NK Jemesin being racist, either it be in public commenting or in her writing.

    2. zagonostra

      A good summary of Koestler Life is “Stranger in the Square” which is fascinating reading but sad in that when he committed suicide his healthy younger wife and collaborator followed suit. His many books on science lack the cumbersome jargon of modern day science book and is amazing considering English wasn’t his native language…great author.

      1. urblintz

        “considering English wasn’t his native language” thanks for including this. I speak at several languages well enough to be considered “fluent” by many. I’m not, not by a long shot. On the other hand, my father was by profession a polyglot (Ph.D/professor of Spanish Language and Literature) and was fluent in three languages. But to write like Beckett, Conrad, Nabokov. Brodsky and Koestler (among others) in a second language requires, imho, a rarified genius and is terribly underappreciated.

    3. Arizona Slim

      One of my favorite books of all time. And, true confession, my father loaned that one to me while I was in grade school.

    4. ShamanicFallout

      Reminds me of Dylan

      ‘Darkness at the break of noon
      Shadows even the silver spoon,
      The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
      Eclipses both the Sun and Moon
      You understand you know to soon
      There is no sense in trying’


  1. IMOR

    How does associating Clinton with Harris further help one iota? Biden with Clinton, maybe. But every single person who still has any regard for Mrs. Clinton (no matter the size of that remainder) is and was already guaranteed to vote for Harris– but some portion of Harris voters dislike the association with Clinton. Also, who pulls the trigger on a donation to an event featuring Mrs. Clinton and Harris who wouldn’t have zombielike contributed because of Clinton solo?

    1. Wukchumni

      Look if ‘Rail Runner Joe’ is determined to plagiarize Hillary’s 2016 run, why go with an ersatz loser when you can have the genuine article?

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Obama’s sock puppet Kamala would do better to emulate her figurehead’s strategy: stay in the basement. The more people see and hear her the less they will like her. This is the problem with the way the DNC ran “the primaries”, forcing a truly un-popular candidate down peoples’ throats. Her “I am the fount of all reasonableness and you’re stupid if you don’t agree with me” smug superior attitude is truly repugnant, even Joe comes off more real than that, loveable crazy old uncle at the Thanksgiving table sniffing up the nieces but once you scold him for that he’s kind of OK and funny to watch

      1. Drake

        I find her useful as a heuristic. It can be hard work to sort through principled positions with all their shades of grey and unintended consequences — if she didn’t exist I’d have to do that. Just knowing what side she comes down on, and instantly knowing I’m on the other side of that, is somewhat liberating. Besides, she’s not going anywhere until Hell takes delivery.

        1. Jos Oskam

          “…she’s not going anywhere until Hell takes delivery…”. Love that statement. Probably going to steal it some day :-)

          Still. Here we have two women who both failed in the presidential race. What’s the attraction of being called to a “grassroots event” by a couple of losers?
          Inquiring minds want to know…

        2. Big River Bandido

          The Hell line is great but *my* favorite was

          Just knowing what side she comes down on, and instantly knowing I’m on the other side of that, is somewhat liberating.

    2. nippersmom

      I have a visceral reaction to the site of Hillary Clinton’s smug, arrogant face. If it were possible to make me any less inclined to vote for Biden, associating her with his campaign would do it.

    3. Tom Doak

      I had the same reaction, until I realized I had the wrong perspective. It’s not whether it’s good for Harris that’s important, it’s all about Hillary and her supporters continuing to feel important.”

      1. Calypso Facto

        Hill also has to ensure the Clinton Foundation can still bill for services rendered, right? I doubt Lady Macbeth ‘works’ for free, even for Harris…

        edit: sorry that is an insult to Lady Macbeth

      2. Mark Gisleson

        “it’s all about Hillary and her supporters continuing to feel important”

        I would love to someday learn just how large that ‘scene’ is, how active their listservs, if they have secret websites or just a news and blog list they consult. And then I want their demographics because I’ve always suspected that they are the least diverse people ever.

    4. Fiery Hunt

      It’s not about votes or changing minds.
      It’s about contributions and status-seeking donors.

      That’s all they know.

    5. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s about donors. The “Biden youth outreach” isnt about voters but reassuring older donors who are worried about the youth vote they are doing something. They even are setting up to blame young people for not knowing Bidens “story”.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        As others have mentioned, it’s the Hillary 2016 playbook. “We just didn’t have the right branding.” No. The dogs don’t want to eat that dog food.

      2. christofay

        Biden/Harris is reaching out to Youth Voters. They saw Markey won by wearing trainers so they’re signaling to the skate boarder vote by Harris wearing Chuck Taylors.

        1. landline

          Made in Asia by slave laborers Chuck Taylors. Not the vintage US made ones that I used to buy before Converse (now Nike) offshored production.

          Fitting for the Dems. Style over principles.

          There are US union made shoes, most notably Thorogood postal worker shoes. Maybe Kopmala should check out those. Of course, one of her mentors’ husbands (Richard Blum aka Mr. Dianne Feinstein) is busy profiting from the sale of the post offices.

          I am still predicting a Trump victory. Just wait until Biden has to debate.

    6. Dalepues

      Great comment @Clinton:

      Blatant Sockpuppet
      Yes, that’s why it’s called a “grassroots event”… you’ll have to sell a lot of “grass” to be able to afford the ticket to “root” for Hillary in person at any of her “events”.

    7. km

      “How does associating Clinton with Harris further help one iota?”

      Lord knows that I detest Harris, and if such a thing is possible, I may even detest HRC even more, but did not Thucydides teach us that “War is a matter not so much of arms as of money.”?

      Win or lose, Team D isn’t going to refund so much as a nickel of that sweet bundler cash that will be paid for the dubious privilege of luncheon with that duo.

    8. DJG

      IMOR: There seems to be a significant slice of the mainstream / liberal Democratic Party that can be described as upper-middle-class white women who define feminism as careerism. They are also the main group within the party who were all-too-happy to kneecap Bernie Sanders. Careerists usually think that revenge is something that one does before the next board meeting–they don’t have a long-range view.

      I have been noticing a correlation between members of this wing of careerist feminists and subscribership to the conspiracy-fantasy-lite stylings of Heather Cox Richardson, Suddenly Distinguished Historian.

      So the Clinton & Harris fandango is not exactly designed to attract commenters at Naked Capitalism. But it is designed to attract a well-heeled group that believes itself entitled to the presidency.

    9. D. Fuller

      The choice of Harris reminds me of Geraldine Ferraro. Once saw a cartoon of Dukakis driving a a “Ferraro” while saying, “This will get me a lot of women votes”.

      I guess Biden wants the wealthy, hates-where-she-came-from (poor people who become wealthy tend to do this), Minority NEOLIBERAL business conservative female vote.

      1. Big Tap

        I think Geraldine Ferraro was with Mondale – 1984. Dukakis, the guy who looked like an idiot in a tank, was with Lloyd Bentsen good friend of JFK. He knew him. If Harris ever becomes president theirs’s always Steve Mnuchin for Treasury secretary.

  2. Synoia

    We’ll talk about the Biden-Harris team’s plans to get our country back on track…

    1. Define the desired track.
    2. How does”back on track” Address the change which is the real necessity.

    Examples: Medicare for All, Manufacturing and Manufacturing jobs, to name two.

    1. Jos Oskam

      So right. And I would like to add to the examples: Stop endless foreign wars and quit sanctioning the heck out of every country in sight. It causes the whole world to hate the US’s guts. No matter how you slice it, in the long run that is not going to be a winning strategy. Or one must suppose that in the long run we’re all dead. Just kidding. Sort of.

      And by the way, “back on track” makes me think of something quite similar. Like “great again”. But shirley it must mean something completely different. After all, its the Dems saying it, so it must be. But still…

      Is there anybody who seriously believes this kind of blather is going to beat Trump?

      1. Billy

        “endless foreign wars and quit sanctioning the heck out of every country in sight” which serves the needs of the HalluciNation.

      2. Acacia

        Dollars to donuts that Biden/Harris will get “back on track” by doubling down on the foreign wars, sanctions, cruise missile and drone attacks, torture, and moar.

        The DNC roll out of Cindy McCain and Colin Powell was just an hors d’oeuvre.

    2. jsn

      To get back on track we’d have to go back to the switch where the Democratic machine replaced Wallace with Truman on the presidential ticket.

      We’ve been barreling down the wrong track since before most of us were born.

      1. D. Fuller

        Good old Truman who once stated to the effect that Republican voters preferred real Republicans over fake Republicans.

        Truman being the.kind of politician that current Democratic leadership emulates, but without high taxes, etc.

    3. Glen

      Judging by what’s going on in DC, the goal is not to do anything to help Americans. The goal is to not get blamed for the New Great Depression.

      Same is true about the election, Wall St and the billionaires have already won, both candidates do their bidding.

      And the poors are fighting each other.

      Nothing will fundamentally change.

      1. Glen

        Sorry to be so non-responsive to your post. All the items you list would be good, and are common sense at this point.

  3. Drake

    Keeping in mind yesterday’s yard-sign discussion, I just finished a several mile walk around the local neighborhood (NW metro-Boston just inside 128 corridor, PMC-land with a heavy concentration of software engineers) that took me past a few hundred houses and vehicles. I saw exactly zero yard signs or bumper stickers of a political nature. The most popular yard sign was “We support [town name] librarians”, of which I saw five, two on a street corner not obviously belonging to anyone. What the nature of that support was, why the librarians needed it, and why, say, teachers or police officers didn’t was not apparent.

    The next most popular sign were those indicating that a student was a proud member of the class of 2020, though why we should celebrate this for 5th graders was also not apparent. There was one ‘sold’ sign, one ambiguous real-estate sign I interpreted as ‘for sale’, and one promising sign that caused me to take a detour down a side street that turned out to be simply an ornate but faded ‘welcome’ sign. By the high school there was a sign reminding people to return their census form.

    There were exactly three bumper stickers I could distinguish. Two were “this car climbed Mt Washington” on cars parked side by side in an apartment complex, and another nearby said “eat plants”. Once I saw a moving pickup truck in the distance with an ostentatiously mounted American flag in the bed, but it was too far away to determine if the truck had any obvious political leanings.

    That was pretty much it, excepting signs encouraging more respectful behavior regarding canine bodily wastes. These sorts of signs actually outnumbered all the others by a significant margin counting a walk I took over the weekend, although only a few houses accounted for the majority of them, making a sort of barrier out of them in places.

    I assume political signs originate with the campaigns themselves at some level. Is the Biden campaign not supplying these signs, at least in safe Dem areas? This area was blanketed with Clinton/Sanders/Stein stuff in 2016.

    1. Billy


      People more concerned with economic survival. Irrelevant who “wins” in a political duopoly. America needs a second political Populist Party and a restored economy.

    2. Another Scott

      I’m honestly, surprised by this. In the Boston suburbs where I walk, I see a lot of the Black Lives Matter signs, along with those that have a laundry list of identity politics beliefs. I’ve seen a few ones for the Republican challenger for Congress, as well as a lot for State Rep. The only presidential signs that I’ve seen are for Trump, and those require me to drive to non-PMC communities.

    3. Biph

      I’ve noticed a dearth of yard signs too, there are 2 Trump signs in my neighborhood and I noticed a Veterans for Biden sign in the yard of a house I pass on my way to the grocery store and that’s it. Even the house that had a Trump-Pence flag up in 2016 and 2018 just has an american flag up. Maybe this changes as we get closer to the election, but I’m also thinking people on both sides are worried about vandalism from the other. That’s the main reason I keep my car bumper sticker free.

      1. neo-realist

        One can give expression to what they are about on a car bumper w/o falling into a democratic/republican dichotomy: Feature bumper stickers from you favorite radio station, a favorite band, a club, favorite sport team(s). Hit people sideways so that they don’t have a visceral reaction to your property while giving expression to your personal politics.

        1. Biph

          The secondary reason is I don’t want strangers walking up and starting conversations with me, it’s why all my t-shirts have no writing on them.

          1. Wukchumni

            You can always find my car, it’s the one with a very official looking license plate frame that reads:

            ‘For Unofficial Use Only’

          2. neo-realist

            I tend to be adverse to small talk as well, however, I will make an exception for a strongly held common interest:).

    4. a different chris

      > Once I saw a moving pickup truck in the distance with an ostentatiously mounted American flag in the bed, but it was too far away to determine if the truck had any obvious political leanings.

      If I lived alone I seriously would consider mounting a BLM and a Confederate Flag in the bed of my pickup.

      Would be a conversation starter – of course I don’t actually like conversations. Hmmm….

      PS: Apparently Ammon Bundy is a big BLM supporter. People are weirder than you think.

      1. Drake

        You could tell people the truck was meta homage to BlacKkKlansman. Carry a “Bad MuthaF****” wallet to lend it credence.

    5. Procopius

      I presume the Biden Campaign and/or the Democratic Party do provide signs, but only to people who meet some sort of means testing. They wouldn’t be suggested/recommended by the kind of high priced consultants the DNC favors.

  4. JWP

    “Modern Monetary Theory Is Bunk And Would Lead To Disaster”

    It’s a shame most of the dissent against MMT doesn’t read up on what is required for a country to operate under MMT. Venezuela, the example, does not fit the criteria for it, and nullifies the authors entire point. As we see now, trillions in spending has led to deflation, throwing any neoclassical assumptions into the trash,

    I was in a debate about MMT at work the other day, and it was ended quickly because of lack of understanding. The claim was MMT is bad because it print money and doesn’t increase productivity. The failure to understand MMT is an explanation of how the economy works is vastly misunderstood. Until the public learns more about it, Fed& friends will abuse the money printing unchecked.

    1. Billy

      How about only providing MMT for the purchase of domestically produced capital goods that produce more essential consumer goods and food, not services, and use MMT to also waive taxes on profits from income derived from those goods, like depreciation in reverse.

    2. Wukchumni

      I think a lot of the appeal of MMT is on account of computer based money not being able to hyperinflate (the last hyperinflation episode was currency-based in Zimbabwe) because so much is hidden in the ether that would become rather obvious if we went to the bother of printing until the cows came home, so there’s that.

      Can anybody think of an instance where any country that was the sole issuer of their money and relied upon said ‘money tree’ to keep things going and on a stable basis, where that ever worked out?

      Venezuela isn’t a good example, but luckily Argentina certainly is.

      They’ve issued Pesos that have lost 98.4% of their value when compared to the US$ in the last 20 years, why’d that happen, especially when you consider they export a lot of food, like say us?

      1. Jessica

        Argentina has much debt in currencies that it does not issue. That makes it impossible for them to do MMT.

        1. Jessica

          Also, MMT works as long as it forces spare productive capacity back into operation. Longer term, it works as long as forcing spare productive capacity back into operation triggers investment in more productive capacity and that in turn is not exceeded.
          Historically, most advanced capitalist societies have suffered from endemic shortage of effective demand. In other words, people aren’t paid enough to buy all that they produce. This is why natural disasters are often good for the economy once the initial chaos is sorted out.
          In situations of scarcity of resources, there is no spare capacity and MMT would quickly trigger inflation.
          Right now in the US, there is a huge shortage of effective demand, so there are many ways that money could be sent out to the population in large amounts without triggering inflation.

      2. occasional anonymous

        “Can anybody think of an instance where any country that was the sole issuer of their money and relied upon said ‘money tree’ to keep things going and on a stable basis, where that ever worked out?”

        Most countries with a central bank, I would imagine.

      3. rtah100

        Wuk, your comment has given me pause for thought. I am a paid up (I printed them myself) supporter of MMT but I suddenly realise we need to study looting under MMT.

        Imagine you are a kleptocrat in a commodity exporting nation. You’ve got the magic keyboard and maybe control of a government branch or two besides. What would you do? Why, you would print a lo of local currency, buy up the cash crop (and any other locally traded asset – possibly with duress) and sell it for dollars. Soon there is no food, a devalued currency and a lot of dollars in your pocket, at wish point you exit stage left pursued by Bank Julius Baer.

        I think I would call this Galadriel’s warning – on being offered the Ring, she said she would be as beautiful and terrible as morning and all would love her and despair but she passed the test and chose to dwindle. The problem for MMT is who is fit to be the Ring bearer? I would trust Warren Mosler and Stephanie Kelton but perhaps the reason the FIRE sector abhors MMT as an explicit and popular policy is simply because it does not trust itself (or its members trust not each other) with the keys to the printer….

        I am serious that we need to study looting under MMT – I think we would find some interesting diagnostic behaviour of the sectoral balances and market dynamics.

          1. rtah100

            That was very interesting – thank you for pointing that NC post out!

            It did mention MMT and kleptocracies but it did not explore them together, though. I think this is an important area – if the tools of MMT are not in doubt, we still need to understand how to use them for building a society rather than looting it….

    3. hunkerdown

      I love how this de la Horra guy so transparently whines about his career as a neoliberal shill becoming utterly obsolete. I don’t love the commenters at TAC and their childishly misplaced concreteness of economic coordination rights.

      1. JWP

        I noticed the comments section on this article was filled with people saying Hitler used MMT and therefore it is bad, along with tying in socialism. Nowhere was any of the sustenance of MMT discussed; probably because the article didn’t discuss it either.

        1. Wukchumni

          When Darwins, threads lose, but yes Hjalmar Schacht instituted a similar program to our CCC & WPA in public works in Germany, the difference being that the fatherland was pretty much broke compared to the flush USA. He was let go in 1939 by der Fuhrer, pretty much convinced Germany was coming close to bankruptcy.

          It all worked, until it didn’t. Something else happened in 1939, what was it now?

    4. Glen

      How can one argue about whether MMT works? The Fed has pumped $30 trillion or so into Wall St since 2008. It works.

      The question is if we can get the money to the right places. The $1200 stimulus given to Americans was the most effective boost to the American economy ever done, way more effective than the $30 trillion to Wall St.

      1. Wukchumni

        It has really been Military Monetary Theory, and yes it has worked because of our status as the worldwide cop on the take, but of what use is our vaunted worn out military now?

        We’re just another food exporting, oil importing country.

        There’s lots of us on this orb, as it turns out.

        1. JWP

          A lot of Military Monetary theory is based on three things. 1. If you employ everyone with the military it must be funded and supported to no end. 2. That same military will then police the world and reinforce the currency that those policies weaken. 3. The bogus claim that war and military investment tis good for the economy.

          1. RMO

            “Military Monetary Theory” is the ultimate and extreme proof that when Keynes said that in a recession/depression even paying one bunch of people to dig holes in the ground and another bunch to immediately fill them back in would be worthwhile he was right. The point is that there are many, many better ways to spend that money than either holes or the military. It’s been established for decades now that spending on the military is by far the least effective way to stimulate the economy. Pretty much anything would be better but the military-industrial-congressional-media complex has managed to keep obscene levels of military spending constant while at the same time whenever something that would actually, you know, benefit 90% of the citizenry and the world gets proposed scream about “But the deficit!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    5. ChrisPacific

      I was in a debate about MMT at work the other day, and it was ended quickly because of lack of understanding. The claim was MMT is bad because it print money and doesn’t increase productivity.

      Ding ding ding! There is your problem. The whole point of spending money in MMT is to increase productivity. Remember, we’re assuming a non-zero rate of employment here, so there is a degree of productive capacity in the economy that is currently sitting idle due to lack of funding. MMT advocates providing them with something to do via a jobs guarantee, thereby increasing productivity.

      You might ask, whether getting more people into work and participating in the economy would be a better use for the money than, say, bailing out failed banks, or pumping up stock buybacks via abundant cheap financing. (In fact, the whole problem with the current system is that the link between money creation and productivity has Remember, the question is not whether we should create money – the Fed and private banks do that every day. The question is what it would be used for under an MMT approach by government, what controls would exist to ensure it was deployed responsibly and effectively, and how both of those compare to the answers under the current system.

  5. Stephen V.

    Sorry peeps, but Vit D3 toxicity is a scam of sorts. Why IU instead of micrograms like everything else? I’m taking 50K units per day for the past few weeks. Ain’t dead yet. (I know that’s a low bar, but still).
    The Calcium problem is resolved by taking Vit K2 !

    Vitamin D toxicity, also called hypervitaminosis D, is a rare but potentially serious condition that occurs when you have excessive amounts of vitamin D in your body.

    Vitamin D toxicity is usually caused by large doses of vitamin D supplements — not by diet or sun exposure. That’s because your body regulates the amount of vitamin D produced by sun exposure, and even fortified foods don’t contain large amounts of vitamin D.

    The main consequence of vitamin D toxicity is a buildup of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause nausea and vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination. Vitamin D toxicity might progress to bone pain and kidney problems, such as the formation of calcium stones.

  6. diptherio

    Good news on vaccines (not):

    “In a statement this week, WHO said two children in Sudan — one from South Darfur state and the other from Gedarif state, close to the border with Ethiopia and Eritrea — were paralyzed in March and April. Both had been recently vaccinated against polio. WHO said initial outbreak investigations show the cases are linked to an ongoing vaccine-derived outbreak in Chad that was first detected last year and is now spreading in Chad and Cameroon.
    Last week, WHO and partners declared that the African continent was free of the wild polio virus, calling it “an incredible and emotional day.”

    On Monday, WHO warned that the risk of further spread of the vaccine-derived polio across central Africa and the Horn of Africa was “high,” noting the large-scale population movements in the region.”


  7. Grant

    “Economic agents demand money for reasons other than paying taxes, mainly as a medium of exchange to buy goods and services and as a store of value in which to save part of their income. Were these agents to perceive that a particular government were recklessly spending via money-financed deficits, the demand for its currency would collapse due to a loss of confidence in the issuer. This in turn would result in a hyperinflationary episode similar to the one that has recently taken place in Venezuela.”

    I have a really radical idea. Study money creation in the real world, how much of it is created by the state and how much banks create. Study inflation, which is complicated. Study hyperinflations. Study MMT, and actually read MMT economists, not only their critics. Do that, and THEN write an article about MMT, money creation, inflation and hyperinflation. I am a stickler for writing about stuff only after a person studies the issues they are writing about.

    Where do private banks and credit money fit in to this article’s argument? Can private money creation impact inflation? Productive capacity and whether we are full employment? Okay, the state or a bank creates money, if there is a proportional increase in goods or services to buy? If so, would inflation increase? In the example given, Venezuela, is the country’s struggles at all in regards to inflation a reflection of the economic war against it and issues in the real economy? How about Germany in the 20s? Was the WWI debt, cutting it off from global financial markets and other countries closing their borders to German imports a factor? The gutting of the productive economy, the taking over of important resources, or the decisions by the entirely privatized central bank at the time? Does Zimbabwe have any issues in regards to the real economy, or is it otherwise a good, healthy economic system that was ruined by crazy money creation? Where the money goes after it is created? What if the state creates money and it sits in the savings account of Bill Gates? Are any of the hyperinflations caused a collapse in the real economy and is hyperinflation impacted by exchange rates? Is money a story of value in the example above, or something used to measure whether the exchange rate of something is increasing or decreasing. Seems that the author is talking about money being a unit of account, not a store of value. What about non market impacts, and the fact that private banks cannot realistically be expected to take non market impact into account when making investments? Seems important when non market impacts increasingly dominate our lives.

  8. urblintz

    re: diversity training and philosophers redefining equality

    ” More commonly, diversity training reinforced precisely the negative behaviors it was designed to reduce.”

    “…A society in which everyone had the same material benefits could still be unequal, in this crucial sense; democratic equality, being predicated on equal respect, wasn’t something you could simply tax into existence.”

    Can morality be legislated?

    1. hunkerdown

      Not really, but you can stand aside when the people discipline their self-entitled masters, much as Mao did with the feudal lords. If you wonder why there are horny 17-year-old ammosexuals pledging fealty to “property”, wonder no more.

    2. zagonostra

      I was hoping to read some philosophy not a hagiography, the rather long and boorish article ends with:

      Anderson answered with a sober nod, like Cinderella glancing at the clock, and then, her face brightening, she turned back to a table filled with strangers who had become friends

      I’ll take a dose of a Nietzschean epigram over anything I read in this article.

      “Having a talent is not enough: one also requires your permission for it – right, my friends?” (151-Beyond Good and Evil)

      1. pjay

        I had the same reaction to the article. But the goofy hagiography aside, I could not for the life of me figure out what Anderson’s “philosophy” was. Every time I thought I had it, she (or perhaps the writer) twisted away. I know she values “flexibility,” so maybe I’m trying to box her in excessively. But seriously, I quit reading this twice, then came back determined to figure out what the hell she was arguing. I couldn’t. Could anyone provide a synopsis of her philosophy? She’s a MacArthur fellow, so I assume it is innovative and important. Surely there’s more to it than the quote Lambert cites, but if so I missed it.

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      Someone’s morality is almost always reflected in legislation. It may be the morality of the legislator/author which, in our system, usually reflects the morality of that legislator’s donors.

      1. Synoia

        Someone’s morality…

        I though that was “Someone’s Moronity” which was reflected in Legislation.

      2. JTMcPhee

        i guess that “someone” is the Powell Memo recipients and their minions, who now openly bribe legislators to give the whitewash veneer of “legislative legitimacy” to legislation that is drafted by lobbyists and all based on the moral principal of “FCU the general public and GIMME MORE!”

  9. Keith

    “FL Hispanics are not TX Hispanics are not CA Hispanics….” Lambert

    But, but, but aren’t they just all brown votes? Identity is one thing, but let’s not get ridiculous about it, one group for black votes worked nicely, why don’t the brown votes follow that formula, too — Democratic Pollsters and Politicians

    1. Arizona Slim

      One of Slim’s best friends is a naturalized American. Came here from Mexico. And she’s as Republican as they come.

  10. MikeW_CA

    “Modern Monetary Theory Is Bunk And Would Lead To Disaster”. Two things.
    1. MMT is a description of how money works, not a prescription for public policy.
    2. Would lead? We’ve been practicing it for most of the 21st century, and we know the result.
    Republicans cut taxes – the deficit increases (that is, Federal spending is covered by newly-created money) – inflation fails to result.

    1. Ignacio

      “Were these agents to perceive that a particular government were recklessly spending via money-financed deficits, the demand for its currency would collapse due to a loss of confidence in the issuer.”

      Imagine a reckless government in the pursuit of full employment. How dare! That must spur a loss of confidence indeed!

      1. Laputan

        It doesn’t matter how many times the old axioms are disproven, the popular conception of economics continues to be more or less Malthusian. I’m beginning it’s like the deep South style racism; it’s going to take generations to purge.

    2. fresno dan

      September 9, 2020 at 3:32 pm

      I agree. Believing in MMT as a solution to inequality, lack of health care, improvement in the environment is kinda like believing that electing a democrat will assure health care for all Americans (uh, remember Obama).

      Dick Cheney: You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter. We won the mid-term elections, this is our due.

      When was the last republican president who submitted a balanced budget???
      MMT funded Iraq, and tax cuts. If somehow, it were possible to get republicans to acknowledge that republicans practice aggressive deficit spending or MMT (call it what you will) is it credible to believe that the polices that both parties defacto support and don’t support (health care) would change?
      Trump doesn’t care about the deficit. But ALL the deficit Trump generates goes to military, police, and tax cuts. Democrats supposedly to a lesser extent…

      1. Grant

        “I agree. Believing in MMT as a solution to inequality, lack of health care, improvement in the environment is kinda like believing that electing a democrat will assure health care for all Americans (uh, remember Obama).”

        Who argues that MMT is a solution to anything? It is a description of things like money creation, deficits and debt that seems pretty accurate. What the state does with the power it has is another matter. The issues we are having are a reflection of structural problems in the economy. We could have the state pay for hospitals or war. Who has the power to make the decisions, what are the class and ideological compositions of that group?

        In regards to the environment though, yes, public sector spending and public banks are absolutely necessary to deal with the crisis. Banks create most of the money and only use the information in markets when making investment decisions and when lending/creating money. Since environmental impacts are almost entirely missing in markets and since we cannot monetize most of those impacts, we are toast without lots of public sector spending and pretty comprehensive economic planning. What I can say about MMT in this regard is that there is nothing to stop the state from doing this, other than the corrupt, right wing oligarchs that control it and don’t want the state to play that role.

        1. ChrisPacific

          There are two MMTs – MMT as description of how currency works at a national level, and MMT as a set of public policy recommendations. The jobs guarantee, for example, would fall into the latter category. Some recommendations in the latter category are strongly implied by the former – for example, MMT-as-description shows that austerity during a recession is stupid and destructive, so MMT-as-policy says don’t do it.

      2. Ignacio

        No, MMT is not a solution to inequality it depends on how you use the concept. If you apply MMT only for military spending or bank rescuing inequality increases.

      3. Synoia

        When was the last republican president who submitted a balanced budget???

        Good question. Leads to the observation that Republicanism is traditionally unbalanced.

      4. Phil in KC

        Nixon juggled the books around and produced a 3.2 billion dollar surplus for fiscal 1969. That’s it. 51 years ago. Pubs have controlled the WH for 27 out of those 51 years. Dems slightly better, four surpluses in 24 years, all under Clinton.

  11. drumlin woodchuckles

    About diversity training which ” More commonly, diversity training reinforced precisely the negative behaviors it was designed to reduce.” . . .

    One could more truthfully reword that to read . . . More commonly, diversity training reinforced precisely the negative behaviors it was secretly designed to deliberately reinforce. Deliberately and on purpose, with totally cynical malice aforethought.”

    It is a lucrative self-licking ice-cream cone. That’s all it ever was. That’s all it ever will be. Because that is exactly all it was ever carefully designed and precision-engineered to be right from the start.

    Diversity training is a racket. It is one of many rackets within the broader anti-racism racket or family-of-rackets, one might say.

    We really need to master the vampire’s language so we can use the vampire’s tools to dismantle the vampire’s castle.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Today as well. On my last trip to Texas, I noticed Dr. Bronner’s story bottles at both HEB and Walmart. I was in South Austin, which has its own crazy vibe, but still.

      BTW, my oldest was just named union steward for his local. Dad is proud!

  12. ChrisAtRU

    Biden (D)(3)

    “Liberal Democrats really do have the memory of goldfish, don’t they?”

    Indeed. Is this the same Biden who said, “The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break. No, no, I have no empathy for it. Give me a break.”

    Thought so … “that’s the same empathy that Biden has” cuts both ways I guess.

  13. Jessica

    When adjusted for population, Spain’s Covid-19 deaths went back above the US’s about two weeks ago. Cumulatively, they have 633 deaths per million compared to 588 for the US. Only Peru and Belgium have higher cumulative deaths per million.
    I agree that hydroxychloroquine has been ridiculously politicized and that its rejection in the US calls into question the integrity of the US medical establishment, but Spain is no model of success.

    1. Jessica

      Oops, my bad.
      Two weeks ago, Spain passed the US for the number of CASES per million, NOT DEATHS. It is still well below the US in new deaths, even when taking into account that its population is around 1/5 that of the US.
      The cumulative death figures per million are correct though. 633 for Spain, 588 for the US.

    2. Ignacio

      Those high numbers were reached very early in the pandemic as Spain was surprised by the fastest growing number of cases (highest R0, twice as fast than Italy or France so rather than bad management I would blame lack of awareness those early days)… that had gone unnoticed. Yet the US seems to be getting close to those numbers pretty fast and you cannot blame lack of awareness.

  14. Calypso Facto

    Biden: QAnon supporters should seek mental health treatment

    Is that going to be state-mandated treatment, then? Do they also have to pay for it or will it be provided by the state? These dem psychopaths (just to use a completely fake condition with entirely political overtones, gotta speak their language) are so obsessed with !Russia! and the cold war boogeymen of their youth yet I guess they haven’t read Master and Margarita or know about the usage of psychiatric wards to oppress political prisoners. Or maybe in classic Dem fashion, they DO, and they’re just saying the quiet part out loud. All these scumbags have is money and sneering disdain for the deplorables. For the first time in my life I have found myself in grudging support of the enemy of my class (the republicans) simply because if we’re going to have two right wing parties in this country, then I’ll take the slightly more competent side with the very occasional drip of policy between insane culture war bs. Awesome job, Team Blue!!

    1. BoyDownTheLane

      Wait a Minetra…


      scholar William Reddy. “… the manuscript appears to be nothing but a catalogue of barroom tales arranged in chronological order. Ménétra speaks in order to impress the way people do in bars: as if to say “Wait till you hear what happened to me!” He tells of his fights with his father, his workplace accidents, his run-ins with highwaymen, his amorous adventures with maidservants and masters’ wives, and above all his glorious activities as member of the secret journeymen’s brotherhood, Les Compagnons du Devoir. …”


    2. neo-realist

      What occasional drip of policy are you getting from the republicans? Massive military spending? Massive tax cuts for the 1% Pretending a pandemic doesn’t exist and killing hundreds of thousands in the process? Enabling armed vigilantes to attack protestors and POC? Having federal agents kidnap unsuspecting protestors off the streets and detaining them? Those are some very specious drips of policy.

  15. Anonymous

    “When Joe Biden released economic recommendations two months ago, they included a few ideas that worried some powerful bankers: allowing banking at the post office, for example,and having the Federal Reserve guarantee all Americans a bank account….” [bold added]

    Someone please show me an MMT proposal to allow all citizens to use their Nation’s fiat in account form?

    So beware of bankers (e.g. Warren Mosler) bearing gifts…

    1. ChrisAtRU

      “Someone please show me an MMT proposal to allow all citizens to use their Nation’s fiat in account form?”

      What does this even mean???

      Your bank account is already at the Fed by proxy through whatever bank you’re using. The “Fed is just a banks for banks …” per Bernanke as he joyfully explained how the government paid for trillions in QE – just credit the banks’ reserves! Genius!.

      Postal banking is to serve the needs of the un- and under- banked: the people who live where there are no banks; or need a car to get to a bank; or need some ridiculous minimum amount to have an account. There’s a post office in every zip code!

      Here’s a good article from Raúl Carillo, who is part of the MMT community: “Why Banking at the Post Office Could Be a Better Option Than Payday Loans—and Wall Street”

      … from 2014!

      1. Anonymous

        Your bank account is already at the Fed by proxy through whatever bank you’re using.

        No it isn’t. Bank accounts are mere liabilities for fiat, not fiat itself as would be the case with accounts at the Central Bank itself.

        And those liabilities for fiat are thus largely a sham since, for example, the non-bank private sector may not even use fiat in account form but only in the form of grubby coins and paper Central Bank Notes.

        And banks themselves create liabilities for fiat when they “lend.” But because those liabilities are largely a sham toward the public, the banks can create vastly more deposits than they otherwise could and expect to get away with it.

        So let’s have honest banking and that means that all citizens should be allowed to use fiat in account form and not be forced to use government-privileged private bank deposits instead.

        1. ChrisAtRU

          #Sigh … I’m not going to get caught up in semantics with anyone who calls fiat a sham. From Randy Wray:
          The typical dichotomy posed between “fiat money” that has “nothing” backing it versus a “hard money” or “commodity money” with gold or silver behind it is actually false. All “modern money” systems (which apply to those of the “past 4000 years at least” as Keynes put it) are state money systems in which the sovereign chooses a money of account and then imposes tax liabilities in that unit. It can then issue currency used to pay taxes.

          So for those who care to further understand, see Randy Wray’s great explanation here:

          MMP Blog #14: IOUs Denominated in the National Currency: Government and Private

          1. Anonymous

            I’m not going to get caught up in semantics with anyone who calls fiat a sham.

            I never have and never shall call fiat a sham.

            What are largely a sham toward the non-bank private sector are bank deposits which are mere liabilities for fiat, not fiat itself.

        2. jsn

          You may have something useful in mind, but your language is failing to convey anything comprehensible.

          “fiat in account”, “mere liabilities for fiat”, “liabilities are a sham”, “can create vastly more deposits than they otherwise could” & “government-privileged bank deposits” apparently have clear meanings to you, not apparent from this text.

          1. Basil Pesto

            I was wondering if it was just me being an economics idiot (which I am), but I’m glad it’s not. I’ve noticed that Anonymous’ posts often fail to draw replies and I’m wondering if their difficult to understand nature is why.

            Anonymous, it might be helpful if you could formulate your proposal/s and reasoning in numbered steps that a middle-school aged child could understand. I just cannot follow along with what you’re saying much of the time.

            1. Anonymous

              Here’s a little thought experiment to encourage understanding:

              Let’s say physical fiat, coins and Central Bank Notes, is totally abolished.

              Then note that what’s written on checks “Pay to the order of _____ _____ dollars” would be TOTALLY a sham except for those with Central Bank accounts, accounts which non-banks may not have, since it would then be impossible for non-banks to obtain dollars.*

              As it is, citizens may still use mere coins and paper CB notes so private bank liabilities can only be said to be largely a sham wrt the non-bank private sector.

              *An exception is Treasury Direct which allows citizens to SAVE but not not USE dollars in account form.

  16. Jomo

    Re: “Diversity training does not cure bias or racism,” Curing bias or changing someone’s mind is not the point of diversity training. Diversity training communicates to the employee the expectations and requirements that an organization has concerning how one who is not like you is treated both as a customer and/or coworker. If you do not meet these expectations and requirements of the diversity training, then you will be counseled. Your counseling will go something like this: “You had diversity training on the expectations and requirements, yet you did “X.” Do you understand how “X” does not meet the expectations and requirements? Do you agree to not do “X” again? Do you understand that if you do “X” again you will be fired for misconduct? Is there any other part of the diversity expectations and requirements that you do not understand? Now is the time to let us know so we can clarify the expectations and requirements for you, because compliance with all requirements and expectations is essential for you to keep your job.” After counseling, if you mess up again in this area, the manager has the leeway to begin action towards your dismissal because you know the rules and consequences for not following them.
    Note that the counseling is not about what you personally believe or whether you are white, black, or brown, or whether you are a racist or a sexist, or any other kind of hater. Note that the training has been given to everyone in the organization, so if you don’t comply and are fired, it is not because of who you are, but because you did not follow the expectations and requirements. You will have no grounds for pursuing a lawsuit over your dismissal. You have been treated the same as everyone else. If you have a diverse workforce, the value of diversity training to managers for effective control of the workforce and the workplace environment is obvious. Without it, things can get messy pretty fast. Trump is not doing Federal Managers any favors by canceling this training. And Yes, I have been a Federal Manager.

    1. a different chris


      Thank you. As a Freedum Lovin Amerikan I feel I should be free to behave and treat others however I want…until I think about trying to work in a place where we all act like that. Ugh.

      Guidelines are a good thing.

    2. R. S.

      This is not diversity training that was cancelled. This was extremist racial ideology that has been banned from Federal organizations for a few months. This extremist ideology calls for treating people of different races differently, of separating races, and openly advocates for discriminating on the basis of race. You can rest easy that if Biden wins, then this extremist racial ideology will be reinstalled.

  17. TroyIA

    On the lack of Sanders people on the Biden transition team –

    Bernie reminds me of Ringo Starr trying to offer song ideas for the Beatles. Sorry Bernie but your input isn’t needed now go out and campaign for Joe.

    1. Wukchumni

      Ah, that explains it and that mysterious gap in his career before being elected in 1972, Joe was the 5th Beatle.

    2. RMO

      Or like if Marvin Gaye was offering songs to New Edition and they were only interested in his possible services as a roadie.

    3. ChrisAtRU

      Alternate #RogueOne Take: Bernie Sanders is Galen Urso … ;-)

      He’s done his part, at potentially great personal cost to his reputation and legacy, but now others must finish what he started.


    4. voteforno6

      Meanwhile, there have been some successes with some lower tier races. I suspect that we wouldn’t have seen people like AOC if he hadn’t run for President in 2016.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      What will be Sanders’s potential legacy? The large numbers of people who gathered together into an incipient movement to get him nominated.

      What will this Sanders legacy amount to? Whatever the several million Sanders supporters are able to stay together and grow more tightly cross-bonded and inter-organized to learn, discuss, decide and do.

      Sanders catalyzed their coming together in their several millions. It is up to them now to do something, nothing or something else with that incipient togetherness.

    6. neo-realist

      George Harrison had a similar problem. Much of that pent up creativity ended up on the terrific All Things Must Pass album.

  18. RMO

    So, apparently some Tesla Model Y’s have the benefit of what I hesitate to even call a kludge or “hillbilly engineering” out of respect for many ingenious kludges and many (truly) ingenious “hillbilly” engineers and

    Pallet strapping and edge molding used to secure a cooling condenser… It’s normally hidden behind the front trunk liner. How did the owner find this? He was taking apart and reassembling various body panels because he wanted to get the panel gaps and fit up to an acceptable standard and Tesla wasn’t willing to do that for him as they considered the wonky assembly within their tolerances. The next car I buy will be electric and I admit that the Tesla Model S I had a chance to drive was very impressive (and way out of my budget) but no way will that car be a Tesla – for many, many reasons.


  19. JWP

    A fun Economics note from my Trade class today. The professor went into a huge neoliberal markets are god rant. His point was about the US selling and giving masks before the pandemic got going here and that the US “wasn’t letting markets work by giving masks to other countries”. I think he failed to realize markets can allocate poorly, where at the time, the “markets” would have it that masks should be sold and traded to those who need it the most (China, Italy). Acknowledging this would have showed the flaw in the theory that markets do not have a long term horizon or risk mitigation aspect, and therefore aren’t a dictating force for pandemic policy.

  20. Knative

    Qanon are not Nazis. Elite democrats and Neocons are not equal to Jews before the Holocaust. Nothing is going to happen to people like Bill Richardson or Bryan Singer.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      They may well become a powerful group of neo-nutsies, however; ready to jump head-first into whatever
      wood chipper the mysterious Q inspires them to jump head first into.

      1. Knative

        I listen to a podcast called qanonanonymous where they document qanon craziness and their Save the Children rallies were insane. There are a lot of them in the US I guess but they poll at like 9%.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          9% of America’s population of 350 million would be about 31 million people or so. Which is a lot of Neo Nutsies.

  21. Pelham

    Re the Biden task forces and Biden pledges that he fully intends to go back on: Granted, there are those who saw past the facade and expected nothing. But the setup reminds me of the movie “Quiz Show.” After Herb Stempel fesses up to the fact that he was given the answers to the quiz questions, fooling all the gullible little TV viewers, his wife replies, “I was one of those people!” I’ll bet there are plenty of people who want to believe Biden is genuine. He’s all they’ve got. Too bad.

    Along these lines, we could throw in Kamala Harris’ guffawing dismissal of her poignant “little girl” moment during the debates shoving a shiv into Biden over busing. This sort of stuff is routine but all the more deeply and irredeemably contemptible for its commonality.

  22. Pelham

    Re the US absence of hydroxychloroquine: Makes you wonder what will happen if the Russian vaccine turns out to be highly effective.

    1. DJG

      Pelham: The level of foolishness and bigotry is so thick in the U S of A that even if the Russians cured Covid tomorrow, the liberal-ish among us would have to deny it. I mentioned in a Zoom call last night with friends that I had read an interesting article a couple days back here at Naked Capitalism about the preliminary results and the use of two viruses in the Russian vaccination.

      Response? Knowing chortling. Russians!

      Is there a word in the English language for not investigating potential cures for a devastating disease because one bigoted and besotted by propaganda?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        There could be words for the general syndrome or disease of which this could be a symptom.

        I would suggest . . . stupiditis. Or moronitis. Or idiotitis. Or some such thing.

      2. hunkerdown

        The phrase “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face” comes to mind. There may be plenty more in the DSM-V.

      3. Drake

        “Is there a word in the English language for not investigating potential cures for a devastating disease because one bigoted and besotted by propaganda?”

        Capitalism? Would be so great if antibiotics were profitable. We might have developed some over the last 50 years.

      4. neo-realist

        Let get a successful Phase 3 first with a few thousand patients before we say for sure that this is effective. Maybe some peer review other than what Putin says.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Really? The “interesting article” referred to in the post you replied to was about an article in Lancet (ranked as 6th of medical journals), a peer reviewed 11 page study by the Russian team about phases 1 and 2.

          Phase 3 has already started, first of the 40000 subjects have already been selected, informed and vaccinated. One of them was Sergey Shoigu, minister of defense. Since a Russian MoD participated in the research, it’s a case of eating your own dog food.

          1. neo-realist

            Let wait till the Phase 3 (w/ India?) is finished and get data on the 40000 inoculated before we pass judgement on its efficacy and safety.

  23. Héctor

    From Madrid, regarding the abrupt downfall if COVID deaths in the first wave: the difference with the US was a VERY HARSH LOCKDOWN. As in “police tracking down everybody in the streets to check for compliance”. Hydroxychloroquine is not widely used by medical staff (I know personally hospital doctors and emergency paramedics) and not at all by regular population.

  24. DJG

    Knowing that knuckleheads like these are likely to get jobs in the (not yet hatched) Biden administration gives one pause, doesn’t it?

    –one-time 2020 Democratic presidential rival, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
    –a once vice presidential contender, former national security adviser Susan Rice;
    –Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general under former President Barack Obama who has advised Biden’s campaign on policy and campaign tactics amid the coronavirus pandemic
    –Sally Yates, the former deputy attorney general

    I’m sure that Rahm “Good Riddance from the Citizens of Chicago” Emanuel is angling for something or other, too.

    Buttigieg is the latest example of the game of American Fail Upwards. I can hardly wait for his impending Trust tour–in which, without a doubt, he’ll explain his untoward behavior in Iowa.

    1. edmondo

      Good to see Buttigieg getting his payoff,

      Hardly. I suspect he will show up either at the VA (those VA hospitals sit on some valuable real estate) or more likely he gets his dream job. He wants Tom Perez’s job. Who better to kiss butt of all those big pocketed donors but the best buttkisser of all time.

      This guy will be around longer than a staff infection, and is just as useful.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      The seeds I received are growing very very well. One of the plants is producing a gigantic seed pod.

      1. The Rev Kev

        If it is shaped like and egg and starts to peel like a banana at the top, don’t look in but go get some gasoline ready instead.

  25. fresno dan


    A staff assistant for Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) callously compared a three-time cancer survivor’s fear of not being able to afford health care during COVID-19 to having to forgo new clothes, according to WRAL. “Just like if I want to go to the store and buy a new dress shirt. If I can’t afford that dress shirt, I don’t get to get it,” the staffer told Bev Veals on a recorded phone call. “Sounds like something you’re going to have to figure it out.” A spokesperson for Tillis said that “immediate disciplinary action has been taken” for this staff member’s “completely inappropriate” conversation. Veals said she’s had to use retirement savings to keep her insurance after her husband was furloughed from his job.
    So this guy says the quiet part out loud – and that is completely inappropriate. Because OF COURSE buying a fancy new shirt is completely equivalent to getting medical care to LIVE*
    And to paraphrase Stalin, one person without health care is a tragedy, 44 million is a statistic…


  26. Elizabeth

    Field report from northern Iowa: I drove to the downtown area and saw a big red Team Trump bus parked in front of a hotel. I wasn’t aware of a Trump bus, but for a cold, rainy day, there were a lot of cars and people walking around like they were just leaving the event. Our downtown is pretty quiet usually in mid-afternoon. I remember when the “No Malarkey” bus (Biden) came through earlier this year, there wasn’t this big of a crowd as today. I haven’t seen any Biden signs, but plenty of Trump banners, bumper stickers.

  27. Duck1

    This might interest some. Obviously originated from a right wing blog “SurvivalBlog” but reads as a rather realistic intelligence assessment of some demonstrations in Michigan recently. Seem to have been the mostly non-violent type, but a complex internal security organization is described that controls the protest. Sounds like people are packing and long guns present at some. I am a social security age type who was an anti-war protester in the sixties, seventies and it leaves me scratching my head:

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      It would appear that the Antifas are very aware of the real and genuine threat of government infiltrators in Antifa disguise and also Stormtrumper infiltrators in Antifa disguise.

      Perhaps the Antifas should begin training for earnest self defense against the Intrumpahamwe Militias of the near future ( right around and after election time) rather than dissipating their strength and energy now.

      1. MichaelSF

        Casting Sting as Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen was so wrong. I found the later mini-series version to be very true to the book, with lots of dialog that I recognized. I hope this new version will not butcher things.

  28. Odysseus

    Were these agents to perceive that a particular government were recklessly spending via money-financed deficits, the demand for its currency would collapse due to a loss of confidence in the issuer.

    That word “recklessly” is doing an awful lot of work there. As written, the sentence is strictly true. But the impressive thing is the sheer denial that quality spending by a government entity is even possible.

  29. Odysseus

    What if governments could spend without collecting taxes or raising debt?

    Evil Genius wording, ensuring that this will usually be read opposite what MMT means. Currency issuers do indeed have a capability to spend that is not dependent upon revenue. However, this sentence strongly implies that taxation is entirely unnecessary, which is opposite the MMT recommendation.

    If these people wanted clarity in their communications, they could easily have it. They don’t want that.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The distinction between ” taxation is necessary to raise revenue for government spending” as against
      “taxation is necessary to absorb any excess government revenue spent into existence to begin with . . . so as to maintain a head-room safety margin for government to spend money into existence without inflating or hyperinflating the money” . . . is a distinction without a difference.

      Yet the MMTists insist that there is some kind of real difference between taxation for one stated reason as against the other. What is the purpose of this insistence? Can the MMTists bring themselves to see that the uninitiated onlooker suspects some kind of mental trickery is being played?

      1. Grebo

        The distinction is important. The first formulation implies that spending cannot exceed taxation for long without bad things happening. Most of the time the opposite is actually the case.

        Since money is constantly leaking out of the real economy—due to imports exceeding exports and payment of interest to banks—if the government does not run a deficit the real economy will.

        Increasing government spending does not automatically result in inflation so neither should it automatically result in tax rises. As long as there is spare capacity in the economy the two fiscal levers are only loosely coupled.

  30. ProNewerDeal

    fwd Pathologist Dr Chris Martenson (twice-weekly iirc) COVID Sep08 podcast https://youtu.be/DZuCrwYa80s reviewing a new study from Israel that sufficient VitaminD is correlating with lower COVID prevalence rate. (IMHO consider mentioning the study in Links)

    TX Physicians’ group has this risk index of common tasks https://www.texmed.org/uploadedFiles/Current/2016_Public_Health/Infectious_Diseases/309193%20Risk%20Assessment%20Chart%20V2_FINAL.pdf . For example bars, & churches with 500+ attendees are a high-risk 9/10.

    What if any are the implications of the Vitamin D study with respect to the activity risk index? Can a person who supplements with Vitamin D3 (& doing other “preventative maintenance” actions including good nutrition/vegetables, exercise, etc) & has no risk factors (obesity, immuncompromised etc) “afford” to take somewhat higher risk? How does this advice change relative to the current 1-week prevalence level of new confirmed-COVID tested within the week in the population, for instance at the German “warning” 50/100K, & at the “safe” 10/100K level where “high risk” activities like bars/church/gyms/(schools?) are “safe enough”.

    In my County in IL last weekly report is at the risky 98/100K level. (Side note: I wish the US would do serious mitigation measures including a nationwide lockdown with UBI & universal masks for 6 weeks or as long as needed to crush to 25/100K or at least 50/100K prevalence, but I don’t see that occurring, even with JoeTheBiden winning the Nov election)

    I’d love to read your take, especially from any commenters experienced in biology/medical related occupations, like Ignacio or mikethemadbiologist. Thanks & Cheers

  31. Carolinian

    For those who passed over this link from this morning’s Thomas Frank post, this is very good.


    I particularly found the segment about Bernie’s loss in SC to be interesting. The authors suggest that it was the youth and incompetence of his staff here that had more to do with his poor SC showing rather than other factors.

    Authors say staff grew worried when the audiences for his appearances were almost all white (something I personally witnessed).

    But then some of us always questioned whether Bernie at 78 was playing to win or just running because he was expected to run.

    1. notabanker

      The first debate with Biden was all I needed to see. Sanders is either the stupidest lifetime politician to walk the planet, or he never had any intention of winning. Biden should have been splayed out for all to see, instead he punted and attacked Trump. Lost all respect for him after that. It was a farce.

  32. ProNewerDeal

    Have there been any empirical studies about work productivity by occupation, for the subset of occupations that have been mostly working remotely during the COVID pandemic, vs the pre-COVID physically go to the office/worksite status quo ante?

    I feel we are fortunate that the COVID pandemic happened after the mass adoption of PCs & the internet. Had the pandemic happened say before 2000, I feel (at least in the USA) many employers would forced workers to work at the traditional worksite & the Infection & Death Rates would be much worse.

    OTOH, assuming the productivity is even 80% of pre-COVID level or higher, I fear a massive wave of Offshore Outsourcing in the next few years.

    Pick your poison: remote work-possible occupations have Offshore Outsourcing risk
    remote work-Impossible face-to-face occupations have COVID/future pandemic health risks

  33. jr

    “[Philospher Elizabeth] Anderson’s democratic model shifted the remit of egalitarianism from the idea of equalizing wealth to the idea that people should be equally free, regardless of their differences. A society in which everyone had the same material benefits could still be unequal, in this crucial sense; democratic equality, being predicated on equal respect, wasn’t something you could simply tax into existence“

    I found this article abysmally written. Please, please let the woman lay out her arguments. Instead we get tidbits interspersed with stories of her dress habits and how she is a nerd. If you are going to print an article by a philosopher, let them say what they have to say and spare us the filler. Unless you don’t really understand what she is saying. I know I don’t:

    “As the students listened, she sketched out the entry-level idea that one basic way to expand equality is by expanding the range of valued fields within a society”

    Expanding the range of “valued fields“? So, equality means thanking your trash collector? But not paying him a living wage?

    “ “People now have the freedom to have crosscutting identities in different domains. At church, I’m one thing. At work, I’m something else. I’m something else at home, or with my friends. The ability not to have an identity that one carries from sphere to sphere but, rather, to be able to slip in and adopt whatever values and norms are appropriate while retaining one’s identities in other domains?” She paused. “That is what it is to be free.”

    Huh? So a fractured social life is freedom? If you have a completely different identity in all those different places, get help. And how does one adopt values and norms fluidly, from “sphere” to “sphere”? What if you hang out with vegans AND cannibals? And what exactly is the difference between carrying one’s identities between spheres and retaining one’s identity “in other domains”? I smell the rotten bouquet of a Critical word salad…

    “ As a rule, it’s easy to complain about inequality, hard to settle on the type of equality we want. Do we want things to be equal where we start in life or where we land? “

    Both, ding dong.

    “When inequalities arise, what are the knobs that we adjust to get things back on track?”

    I’d love to know too, perhaps you should tell us.

    “Individually, people are unequal in countless ways, and together they join groups that resist blending.”

    Ho hum.

    “How do you build up a society that allows for such variety without, as in the greater-Detroit real-estate market, turning difference into a constraint?“

    Wait, what? Allowing variety creates constraints such a racist real estate agents? Someone please tell me I’m reading this wrong.

    “How do you move from a basic model of egalitarian variety, in which everybody gets a crack at being a star at something, to figuring out how to respond to a complex one, where people, with different allotments of talent and virtue, get unequal starts, and often meet with different constraints along the way”

    So, instead of stars….snowflakes? Both suck. How about seizing the means of production and building a new world where everyone can be a star and eat too? Or is feeding people just another redistribution scheme and what we really need to do is respect how they deal with that “constraint”.

    “ The problem, she proposed, was that contemporary egalitarian thinkers had grown fixated on distribution: moving resources from lucky-seeming people to unlucky-seeming people, as if trying to spread the luck around. This was a weird and nebulous endeavor.”

    No, they’re talking about spreading the wealth around. Luck isn’t a tangible. I’m willing to bet that access to resources will go a long way towards mitigating perceptions of luck or non luck. Nothing weird or nebulous here, in fact it’s concrete and old news.

    “ By letting the lucky class go on reaping the market’s chancy rewards while asking others to concede inferior status in order to receive a drip-drip-drip of redistributive aid, these egalitarians were actually entrenching people’s status as superior or subordinate”

    Then they aren’t egalitarians. Drips are not a redistribution of wealth and concessions of inferiority are not leveling.

    “In Anderson’s view, the way forward was to shift from distributive equality to what she called relational, or democratic, equality: meeting as equals, regardless of where you were coming from or going to. This was, at heart, an exercise of freedom.”

    An exercise in fantasy. In an exchange between a person of greater means and one of less, there can be no equality. There is always, at a minimum, the threat of inequality.

    “ A society in which everyone had the same material benefits could still be unequal, in this crucial sense; democratic equality, being predicated on equal respect, wasn’t something you could simply tax into existence. “People, not nature, are responsible for turning the natural diversity of human beings into oppressive hierarchies,” Anderson wrote.”

    How in the world do you just get people to equally respect one another? This brings to mind Ivy League larvae on their poverty safaris. You can’t tax away racism but you can ameliorate the material problems facing contending groups, clearing the field for progress in relations. What did Marx say about philosophers and changing the world?

    “Like her idea of relational equality, this model resisted the temptation to flatten human variety toward a unifying standard.”

    Like the need for food and shelter? Nothing comes before that, everything else flows from that. A philosophy of politics that is not founded in that is a bunch of balloons loosed upon the winds.

    “In doing so, it helped expand the realm of free and reasoned economic choice.”

    Free from any basis upon which to form a plan; people’s material needs are the guide.

    “The leftist theory envisions identity communities: for once, give black people (or women, or members of other historically oppressed groups”

    No, leftists don’t think this. Faux-ggresive identitarians think this because it’s in their privileged class interest and because it’s easy to write books about stuff that ultimately has no basis for determining truth. Which then in turn makes it easy for “journalists” to do their job.

    “ The challenge of pluralism is the challenge of modern society: maintaining equality amid difference in a culture given to constant and unpredictable change.”

    As long as there is economic inequality, there will never be other kinds of equality. It’s where all those different groups meet. And why is our culture so given to constant and unpredictable change? Is that just a natural state or does it have something to do with that inequality?

    “Rather than fighting for the ascendancy of certain positions, Anderson suggests, citizens should fight to bolster healthy institutions and systems—those which insure that all views and experiences will be heard“

    Finally some rubber hitting some road. Now please tell me how an economically unequal society is supposed to maintain niceties like healthy institutions and systems….see, in the real world those with wealth and power use it to subvert such things. Take our society, for example.

    “ Anderson offers a different corrective path. She thinks it’s fine for some people to earn more than others. If you’re a brilliant potter, and people want to pay you more than the next guy for your pottery, great!

    And then you take your money and pile it up and crush your competitors and buy the towns leaders, leading to

    “..:.a rip in the democratic fabric, and it’s increasingly the norm“

    “ Andersonism holds that we don’t have to give up on market society if we can recognize and correct for its limitations—it may even be our best hope, because it’s friendlier to pluralism than most alternatives are”

    Really? How do you correct a thing that intentionally defies and subverts attempts to limit it? Sure, it’s friendlier to pluralism, as long as those plurals stay in their place.

    So stronger institutions will protect equality in a world of economic disparity. No accounting for the corrosion of those institutions by the very system they try to regulate. Freedom is having equal access despite one’s differences. How does one enjoy freedom of access if one is broke? I’m all for a pluralistic society, as long as it’s not the “multicultural” vision of separate but equal, but I’m for feeding and housing them first and foremost.

  34. Brookings Resident

    In regards to South Dakota, SDSU started classes on August 19th. And since then, Brookings county, where SDSU is located, has also seen a dramatic rise in cases. So, I don’t think Sturgis is the only reason for an increase in the number of COVID cases in South Dakota. SDSU is a college that barely gets any national media coverage. And, they have a COVID-19 dashboard that is quite unimpressive and not very transparent. It reports only the number of self reported active cases with students, faculty, and staff. As a community member, I expect them to report more on their outbreaks through news media like the local Brookings Register. I’m very disappointed in the administrators of SDSU, but not surprised at their actions. They have a budget crisis and need the revenue from the students living on campus and attending classes.

    On a more positive note, the town of Brookings finally passed a local ordinance to require face coverings.

  35. Fritzi

    Do the redefinitions of equality by “philosopher” Elisabeth Anderson count as a “Ridiculously Obvious Scam”?

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