Links 9/3/2020

Saving Central Asia’s Ice Age antelope Third Pole

Russia’s permafrost is melting Intellinews. On permafrost, see NC here.

Corporate zombies: Anatomy and life cycle Bank of International Settlements. “We find a rise in the share of zombie firms from 4% in the late 1980s to 15% in 2017.” I thought the whole point of being a zombie was not to have a life cycle. Apparently not!

Wirecard and me: Dan McCrum on exposing a criminal enterprise FT

Danske Debt Scandal Triggers FSA Probe and Police Scrutiny Bloomberg

#COVID-19

CDC Sends COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance With Fall Timeline Contagion Live. The CDC letter:

DHL warns of Covid-19 vaccine delivery problems FT. Refrigeration.

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Community Outbreak Investigation of SARS-CoV-2 Transmission Among Bus Riders in Eastern China JAMA. So, that first South China Morning Post story on airborne transmission holds up.

Oscillations in U.S. COVID-19 Incidence and Mortality Data Reflect Diagnostic and Reporting Factors American Society for Microbiology

* * *

We Can Solve the Coronavirus-Test Mess Now—If We Want To The New Yorker

Could Rapid Coronavirus Testing Help Life Return To Normal? (transcript) NPR

The Power of Antibody-Based Surveillance NEJM

A workable strategy for COVID-19 testing: stratified periodic testing rather than universal random testing Oxford Review of Economic Policy

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Does convalescent plasma help treat Covid-19? The NIH says we don’t yet know. Vox

Covid-19 research shows downsides of face shields and valve masks South China Morning Post

Herd Immunity Is Not a Strategy The Atlantic

China?

Hong Kong: Beijing cracks down while the financial centre thrives FT

Why China’s subprime credit crisis would benefit from a debt amnesty South China Morning Post

Pentagon’s latest salvo against China’s growing might: Cold War bombers Reuters

The Koreas

Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (PDF) International Atomic Energy Agency. “However, no operation of the plant that provides the steam necessary for reprocessing activities was observed. Therefore, it is almost certain that no reprocessing activity took place and that the plutonium produced in the 5MW(e) reactor during the most recent operational cycle has not been separated.”

Will Grab ride out the pandemic, or crash without a single dollar in profit? Globe_

The New Normal:

India

India’s stealth capture of border territory angers China, as New Delhi bans more Chinese apps including PUBG South China Morning Post

Infosys to hire 12,000 more Americans – especially the cheapest ones it can find The Register

Australian special forces Instagram account mocks war crime allegations, calls to ‘Make Diggers Violent Again’ ABC Australia

Syraqistan

Turkey Slams U.S. Decision to Ease Its Arms Embargo on Cyprus Bloomberg

UK/EU

Nearly 30,000 tonnes of sewage sludge containing human waste to enter UK Guardian

More than 10% of British shops vacant, survey shows Reuters

Germany’s Far-Right Is Fired Up After Its Fantasy Almost Came True Vice (Re Silc).

More than 200 lawyers file judicial complaint against Judge Lewis A. Kaplan over abusive targeting of human rights advocate Steven Donziger International Association of Democratic Lawyers. See also here.

New Cold War

Novichok, Navalny, Nordstream, Nonsense Craig Murray

Talking to Moscow will help resolve Belarus crisis FT

RussiaGate

Fuming Rachel Maddow Spends Entire Show Just Pointing Wildly At Picture Of Putin The Onion. From 2018, still germane.

Trump Transition

Trump threatens funding to Democratic-led cities over unrest CNN

The Postal Service is fending off pressures before its regulator and federal courts, but it’s already suffered one setback. Government Executive

Mnuchin Denies Meddling in Postal Service to Help Trump Bloomberg

Baltimore postal facility sat on 68,000 pieces of election mail for 5 days ahead of primary, audit shows Baltimore Sun

2020 hindsight brings corrupted radiation testing into focus at the EPA – Part 1 Bay View

2020

Organizer of Trump boat parades in Florida facing charge of threatening neighbor The Hill

Slumlord president Donald Trump shames California Democrats on eviction ban Yasha Levine, Immigrants as a Weapon

Democrats in Disarray

Pelosi claims hair salon scandal was a ‘set-up’ Politico. Who set her up? Putin? No but seriously, why not just have a stylist come to her house? She could offer them ice cream as an extra inducement…..

Legislature leaves much undone CalMatters. “[L]egislative leaders — and Newsom — opted for risk-avoidance and hope that Democrat Joe Biden will unseat Republican President Donald Trump in November and then provide California with many billions of dollars to buy its way out of difficulty.” California Democrat oligarchy slipping some cogs.

Police reforms face defeat as California Democrats block George Floyd-inspired bills Sacramento Bee. But of course.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Court rules NSA phone snooping illegal — after 7-year delay Politico. So pardon Snowden?

Doorbell Cameras Like Ring Give Early Warning Of Police Searches, FBI Warned The Intercept. “Hey Alexa, flush the stash.”

Protests and Riots

Portland mayor to leave home targeted by protesters Reuters. Trump reacts:

So much for Wheeler’s property values…

Aaron ‘Jay’ Danielson had tracked Portland protests. He was near home after a pro-Trump rally when he died. Oregon Live

White Supremacists Are Invading American Cities To Incite a Civil War Washington Monthly

Caught in the ‘kettle:’ The inside story of Swann Street WUSA9. Washington, DC.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

His Brother Called for Help after He Was Acting Strangely. Police Knelt on Him until He Was Brain Dead. The Appeal. This keeps happening.

Internet Calls Death at South Philly Playground a Lynching, Relatives of Deceased Say Otherwise Philadelphia City Life

Imperial Collapse Watch

Fort Hood commander loses post, denied transfer after incidents at Army base NBC

Class Warfare

The Trouble with Disparity Adolph Reed, nonsite.org

The Privileged Have Entered Their Escape Pods Douglas Rushkoff, OneZero (JB). Anybody think the Zong Massacre won’t repeat itself, as Musk heaves the “cargo” out of Starship‘s airlocks for the insurance money?

“All of a Sudden a Lot of These Families Wanted a Yard”: How the Pandemic Gold Rush Is Remaking the Housing Market Vanity Fair. The pandemic is treating some people very, very well. None of them “essential.”

Upper West Sider Who Broke Her (Rent-Stabilized!) Lease to Flee to Vermont Finds Rural Bliss Didn’t Last West Side Rag

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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.

202 comments

  1. zagonostra

    >The Privileged Have Entered Their Escape Pods Douglas Rushkoff, OneZero

    What Rushkoff describes is the bifurcation happening in real time right in front of our eyes(or Oculus) between those with means/income and those on the cusp of economic desolation. The future is here and both Huxley and Orwell got it right, but right for different sections of society.

    …his hermetically sealed, Covid-19-inspired techno-paradise was now complete. Between VR, Amazon, FreshDirect, Netflix, and a sustainable income doing crypto trading, he was going to ride out the pandemic in style.

    …the dominant ethos of the digital age, which is to design one’s personal reality so meticulously that existential threats are simply removed from the equation.

    …don’t let this passing — yes, passing — crisis fool you into buying technology’s false promise of escaping from humanity to play video games alone in perpetuity. Our Covid-19 isolation is giving us a rare opportunity to see where this road takes us and to choose to use our technologies to take a very different one.

    Reply
      1. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

        The evictions moratorium is being ignored because Trump did something good and Democratic leaders from cities to states to Congress failed to act.

        Reply
        1. Pelham

          Yup. And Trump gets no credit for that groundbreaking agreement between Israel and the UAE, which, as Lambert has noted, would have been hailed endlessly if it had happened during the Obama administration.

          Reply
    1. coboarts

      This kind of thing was worked out quite well by, Joris-Karl Huysmans. His book, “Au Rebours,” walks you through the main character’s experience of trying to live alone with complete gratification of his desires. Some suggest that it may have represented the yellow book in “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”

      Reply
    2. Michael McK

      “a sustainable income doing crypto trading” is so far from reality based I assume other elements of his escape fantasy are as delusional. No need for essential workers at all…
      Our ruling class keeps doubling down on their own destruction. The term sustainable seems to have lost all relation to a long term pleasant life. The only sustainable thing the wealthy could have done to give them a hope at a future worth having cash in would be to have supported Bernie Sanders.

      Reply
    3. ArvidMartensen

      From his earlier piece, it looks to me like the rich see it much like this.
      They are sitting at the top of the pyramid, and when they look down, all they can see is a heaving mob of semi-humans, chaotic, dog-eat-dog, scurrying to survive, dark, dangerous.
      And they think that anyone in the mob, given half a chance, would kill them and loot their expensive houses, takeover their bunkers, take their energy-efficient SUVs, the money out of their pension plans, their stocks and bonds.
      Or if they put a foot wrong or were unlucky, maybe they could fall into this dangerous mob and lose everything. Dante’s inferno.
      To live in such a world needs fortresses, denial and cocooning. Tech is good for all three.
      Fear of the mob, loathing of the troglodytes below at the core.
      HG Wells wrote a book about this, where a time traveller ends up in the future where the beautiful people who live above ground and those who live underground are the remnants of human beings. With a twist.

      Reply
  2. Zamfir

    I find this stuff about zombie firms completely baffling.

    As I understand it, a ‘zombie firm’ is a firm with very little profits, that would not survive if interest rates would go up much while their margins would not.

    Is that so bad? According to the textbooks, that’s exactly how firms should look like in a competitive market.

    You can make a firm less zombie, if you can raise prices. Or if you can cut wages. Or the firm goes bankrupt and now it’s competitors grow and can do one of the above.

    None of that is particularly good for ordinary people, is it? A zombie form is just a firm where the business owners don’t have much power.

    Reply
    1. timbers

      Often the term zombie company refers to business that have so much debt they could never pay it off based on their business revenue.

      But instead of doing what usually happens, they are not allowed to die or go bankrupt, which would allow resources to flow towards more useful activity that might actually benefit people.

      Like airlines, Netflix, Uber.

      As more and more companies fall into this category, the Fed has responded with lower and lower interest rates and lenders with lower and lower standards of lending because the Fed is throwing free money at them (which helped cause the original creation of zombie companies in the first place with too much debt). This encourages more debt and thus makes the zombies net consumers of resources, not producers offering value to society.

      If “economics” says throwing more and more resources at companies engaged in economic activities in which they can not make a profit and in fact consume more (financial) resources than they produce, they are in fact making society generally poorer and poorer over time.

      And mind you this does not even get into how all shady aspects that easy money encourages with this interest free, easy peasy money the Fed is throwing at the rich and corporations ends up being used to like:

      1). Buy up companies like Toy’s R Us and Petco.

      2). Pay the new owners fantastic “performance” fees or just plain super huge non performance fees, but borrowing all that free easy peasy money the Fed is shoving into the economy for the rich, and loading the companies and so much debt that the are doomed.

      3). Leave taxpayers to fund the monies for things like unfunded pensions, because the new owners took that money and paid themselves fantastical bonuses.

      Reply
      1. Zamfir

        I am vey skeptical about using profitability as the core measure of providing “value to society”. The relation between those 2 is complicated, and not always in the same direction. Facebook is a very profitable company!

        Reply
        1. timbers

          Agreed…it’s just a word and even the accounting meaning of profit is being manipulated. Maybe revenue instead? Without constant injection of money/debt these companies can’t survive on their revenue.

          Reply
          1. Zamfir

            Ah, but that’s not quite the same…

            Afaict, the companies on these lists do typically have positive cashflow from operations. Just not enough to reliably cover interest payments.

            Reply
      2. Wukchumni

        Look at the importance of keeping home values high to a county at this point of the game. Property owners damn well pay their property tax, with the ultimate penalty being quite severe should you let things go too far…

        The other forms of revenue via tax are greatly diminished and now that everybody in mother us a has gotten used to shopping @ GUM, er Amazon, what street retail tax fishing expeditions you had are either going out of biz or barely hanging on.

        The fiddling with the real numbers (who is buying homes in the Big Smokes right now. cities which constitute the lions share of the market?) to make things go upwards towards the apogee of appreciation is fascinating to watch, presstidigitation.

        Think of most people’s savings, and few relatively have money in the bank, and they count their prosperity more vis a vis appreciating value on their abode. Were the market to reflect reality and show price decreases, it’d be like throwing so many bundles of Benjamins on a roaring fire.

        Reply
    2. Anders K

      The problem is when a sufficient amount of capital is locked up in zombie firms their liquidation then becomes very hard to accomplish.

      Essentially at some point the zombie firms become too big to fail, which means that the financial conditions that keep them stumbling around and “alive” will be maintained. This makes the financial system more fragile.

      Reply
      1. Bill Smith

        “The problem is when a sufficient amount of capital is locked up in zombie firms their liquidation then becomes very hard to accomplish.”

        Why?

        Do you mean something more along the lines that the owners of zombie firms with more capital than others will run that capital down instead of liquidating?

        Reply
        1. Anders K

          Basically, when a lot of capital is locked into the zombie firms, stakeholders in the firms will exert a natural “grass roots” pressure on the regulators to prevent “natural” market correction (spoiler: there’s nothing natural about our markets, nor should we have that as a sole goal). Small capital companies run into problems with coordination and usually just fall over before they can become a zombie swarm.

          Basically you end up with companies that needs X to keep on going (low interest/free money/whatever) but since they are so many, and cumulatively so big, whoever regulates them can kid themselves that the zombie firms are regular companies, that “just need a break, man.” Or whatever they need to tell themselves and others that moves the companies from zombie status to regular status.

          This means that the policy space for the regulators shrink, since they cant increase interest (or stop doing whatever it is to keep the zombies walking).

          Couple this behaviour wirh people actively making regular firms into zombies as per timbers post above and you end up with lots of resources spent on the zombies, and less on regular companies, creating a positive feedback loop that breaks when a big enough shock happens (with the attendant problems).

          Reply
          1. John Wright

            Another problem is that the lenders may not want to recognize the bad loans as losses.

            In the early 1990’s Donald Trump was underwater in his property empire.

            One can suggest the lenders could have foreclosed on Trump.

            https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/04/nyregion/donald-trump-taxes-debt.html

            “By the end of 1991, the amount of cash that Mr. Trump had personally available to him had fallen below $1.7 million and was expected to fall below $800,000 within months — a small cushion given his monthly expenditures”

            “His lenders forced him to live for a time on $450,000 a month.”

            Foreclosing on Trump would have meant recognizing the losses in the mortgages, something the lenders may have been reluctant to do.

            Trump remained as nominal “owner” and eventually the property market turned around and pieces of his empire were disposed of, creating the Trump we now know.

            It is difficult for me to believe the lenders were working from a long term “shareholder value” perspective when they let Trump have the upside while they had the downside.

            Reply
            1. JEHR

              I guess by this definition of Zombie, that any business which supplied the owner with enough money to live on, enough to pay his employees, enough to pay his rent and enough to pay off his debt (if he had any) would be considered a Zombie. But–if he had a profit and owed a huge debt he would be considered a lovely little business that others could invest in and make money off. How gross is that! In the past when businesses were small and not just wanting to make ginormous profits, they actually performed a worthwhile service to the customers and community they served without worrying about those pesky “shareholders.”

              Something is woefully misconstrued in the thinking of those who define my business described above as a Zombie. There are things in life that are better without making a profit: healthcare, utilities, water, to name a few. Not everything should be commodified.

              Reply
            2. Anders K

              Well, thats part of what I was trying to get at with the capital being tied up in the firm and the stakeholders. Ultimately, I think most financial entities want the loans to float rather than recognise the losses, and they will join with the zombie firms and try to convince the powers that be rhat This Time It’s Different, and no, of course *our* banks could never do what those bad bad Japanese banks did, why, they’re Our Banks, and thus Exceptional and thus Different. Q.E.D.

              One of the downsides of the seemingly all prevalent There’s Always a Greater Sucker business plan is that it supposes someone else being the buyer of first resort (buyers of last resort paying too little).

              This whole non-nationalization of companies (but keep on giving them freebies, that’s what makes Capitalism great! ) sickens me.

              Reply
              1. rtah100

                I cannot share the horror of zombie firms. I would rather live in Japan than USA, which is full of zombie firms.

                Narrowly, if a firm can survive on the kindness of others, even if its existence is causing surplus capacity and depressing prices, it is providing employment and a consumer surplus. So there’s a benefit before there is a profit.

                Moreover, logically, somebody in its market is going to have to fold if nobody is making money: when they do, the surplus is removed and the zombie is not a zombie. You ain’t dead till you give up, so it pays to hang on in there….

                Conversely, if the other players are making money, just not as much, then surely the market is functioning and attracting new capacity which depresses prices. So what if they are not profitable – they might be a new entrant or they might be an established firm repurposing fully depreciated assets on one last fling at success. Who cares? Microeconomics is not a morality play any more than macro is.

                Turning to capital structure, the fate of all debt is equity – zombie companies that cannot service their debt out of profits do not need bankruptcy, they need conversion of their debt to equity. Now, they may still be horribly low margin businesses but if they have positive EBIT, what exactly is undead about them?

                On a wider scale, the fate of all profits is to be competed away. Zombie firms are just the end stage of capitalism – again, look at Japan. If the flows balance, the workers and suppliers get paid and the customers served, does it need to make a profit? If subsistence living is not a crime for natural persons, why not for firms?

                Finally, profit is not everything. Surely we hear know what – I think the zombie narrative is being pushed by the usual vultures who would dine well on the corpses.

                Amusingly, if you read the paper, it is a study of firms with low margins and low share prices. So Tesla is clearly not a zombie. :-) Perhaps we need a category of Nazgul for nifty fifty zombies.

                Oh, and apparently 60% of zombies recover anyway, so please remember the optionality embedded in a break-even firm!

                Reply
                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  I read an analysis that said Japan may be a model for a “livable no-growth economy”.

                  Helps when 50% of your government financing (bonds) are owned by the entity that issued them (Bank of Japan). If things gets worse they can always cancel the debt they owe themselves. Or the Emperor can get on the radio and say “we must all sacrifice for the good of the nation” while giving everyone a haircut, since most of the rest is held by Ms. Watanabe and the Post Office.

                  Reply
      2. Wukchumni

        When I first read the link above it registered as ‘films’ in my mind, and permit me to alter just a few words in your passage:

        The problem is when a sufficient amount of capital is locked up in zombie films their liquidation then becomes very hard to accomplish.

        Essentially at some point the zombie films become too big to fail with so much CGI, which means that the financial conditions that keep them stumbling around and “alive” will be maintained. This makes the financial profit system more fragile.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I knew a fellow numismatist who traveled to South America to mostly buy stuff in the early 80’s, and he told me his schtick was to get a hotel room in Buenos Aries and stay there for a month or 2, and lets say the room rate was initially $25 a night for a nice place, thanks to hyperinflation, by the time he checked out a few months later and paid his bill, the new rate was $3 or $4 per night in US$.

          Reply
        2. Lost in OR

          Back in 2000 or so, the criticism directed at Japan’s response to the Asian Flu was that keeping the zombie companies alive would zombify the economy itself. Then Japan stagnated during the lost decade. Then during the 2008 GFC, the US and EU did the exact same thing. And now we’re doing it again.

          Reply
    3. Samuel Conner

      My perception (possibly quite flawed) is that the problem is bigger than the micro issue of the state of individual firms.

      Subject to the above caveat, “zombie” firms have more debt than they can service. The principal is owed to lenders who have a book of non-performing loans to such firms. Some of these firms (and perhaps it is a lot more than “some”) do not have sufficient assets to make the lenders whole were they to be liquidated to collect on the loans.

      When the problem is widespread enough, it could affect the solvency of the lenders, and potentially of the entire banking system.

      I think there’s an echo of 2007-8.

      Reply
    4. You're soaking in it!

      These “zombie firms” are examples of what Minsky called “Ponzi finance”; not only would they not survive higher interest rates, but they actually can’t service their current interest payments from profits, much less ever pay down any of the debt they run on. Their only hope for survival depends on infusions from new “investors”, otherwise known as “bag holders”, since these companies should really already be in bankruptcy.

      At some point the Ponzi scheme must end, and when it does there are a lot of bankruptcies across the board as debts used to keep these companies alive don’t get paid, and the knock on effects hurt a great many seemingly unrelated people. If there are enough of these zombies in your economy the whole thing can stop functioning, as in the Great Depression, or very nearly, the Great Recession.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Watching the Bruce McNall Ponzi game was my favorite, that is up until more recent $henanigans.

        Nothing made any sense as far as where the semollians came from to own a world class thoroughbred stable, a good sized Hollywood movie studio and the LA Kings, and it went on for years…

        You always find out how Ponzi schemes work after the fact, and quite late in the game before McNall was prosecuted, one of the banks with a name everybody knows had lent out $20 million on ‘rare stamps’ and taken said collateral in compensation, and were getting cold feet and decided to get an expert’s appraisal on the booty, and a philatelist (try and say that word 5x fast) I knew was called on the do the appraisal and he got up to $17,000, to give you an idea of how hoodwinked they’d been had.

        In another instance a bank had loaned many millions on ‘sports memorabilia’, and wanted to see said goods, which were being held by the lendee, and in a bit of an inspired panic, bought up every last cheap ‘common’ sports card for 2 Cents each from the then fledgling sports card business, 2x or 3x what they brought on the free market, with the idea of having a warehouse full of boxes of sports cards, and overwhelm the appraiser with sheer quantity, and believe it or not, it worked.

        Reply
      2. chuck roast

        If your bonds contain covenants that minimally protect the buyer and give the issuer leverage to issue more bonds in lieu of cash then the Ponzi can go on…and on…

        Reply
    5. rhodium

      They have been dubbed zombies because they are firms that should be bankrupt because they perpetually lose money from their business operations. Businesses with thin margins and effectively no long-term average profits are not zombies. The big giveaway for what constitutes a zombie corporation is their tendency to perpetually load up on ever more debt. They generally justify this with fantastical growth projections (which this may make sense for a new company) but at some point it becomes apparent that there will be no end to this, and as long as they can get away with it they will make up for negative cash flow by perpetually acquiring new debt and rolling over old debt.

      The ratings agencies are supposed to smack these companies with junk bond ratings, and they do. They’ve been more honest after 2008 it seems. The dumbest part about it though is that “investors” don’t seem to give a hoot. They are desperate for larger bond yields, and possibly insane, so they keep funding these companies even though these zombie companies cannot pay them back in the aggregate. Investors get their money back incrementally when bond payment is due and the company pays them by issuing new debt. The debt snowballs and we just get ever closer to the event horizon and a financial crisis when suddenly defaults start ripping through the system and people are afraid to lend. The fed partly caused this by lowering interest rates below inflation, and they may end up bailing out the whole sector to avoid a crisis.

      That begs the question though, should we bailout companies that enriched their CEOs and executives and shareholders with money they didn’t earn, and simultaneously bailout “investors” that were dumb enough to give it to them? We are back at the same moral hazard question of the past two decades then. Where is the bailout for the humble citizen who does honest work or got screwed by the system? Why are irresponsible rich people rewarded for holding the economy hostage?

      Reply
      1. Zamfir

        One question then is: are junk bonds really worse than equity, as a financing method?

        Suppose the company has positive EBIT. Customers get a product, suppliers get paid, employees have a job, there’s money to cover depreciation, and there is even money left over to pay investors

        It’s just that the bond holders were promised X dollar, and there’s only money for less than X. so they either roll over the debt or or take a haircut. They might even have anticipated on those possibilities – the risk was part of the deal. Get X in good times, but we might not have good times.

        In another universe, there would be less bond holders but more shareholders, also hoping for X in good times but getting less than X in bad times.

        That is all super interesting for the investors, but for the rest of us? The product get made, everyone else gets paid. Why should we want to move resources away from that, to another industry where the investors gets more (but customers quite possibly get less)

        Reply
    6. Jessica

      One of the negative effects of zombie firms is that since they do not need to try to make a profit, they can charge artificially low prices and thus smother companies that otherwise would have a future.
      By the way, just because a zombie firm fails to meet capitalist criteria of rationality does not mean that they meet some other, more humane criteria. They don’t.

      Reply
  3. WillyBgood

    What a tour de force by Adolph Reed. I am humbled and thankful for his gentle explications of such emotionally complex and loaded ideas.

    Reply
    1. David

      It’s a good piece with a wider application: it reminds us that when you encounter a political initiative, the first question to ask is “what is this an alternative to? What is not being done instead?”. Here, the answer is obvious – redistribution of wealth. But it goes beyond that, because you redefine the problem as being subjective rather than objective, and therefore in principle intractable by objective means. So long as you can define the real problem as Racism(tm) or Sexism(tm), the problem becomes what is supposed to be happening in peoples’ heads, rather than what happens in reality . Since, for example Racism(tm) can never be abolished, since its very existence and extent are subjective interpretations of reality, the problem is insoluble, no matter how many compulsory courses of Antiracism(tm) re-education may be organised. Because the fight against Racism(tm) can never be won, the fight against unfair distribution of wealth can be indefinitely postponed. Idem for police violence or almost any other social problem.

      In many ways, this is just an updating of the idea of Sin. A couple of centuries ago, it would have been argued that all social and economic problems could be cured if people were not so sinful. Unfortunately, Original’s Sin being what it was, there was nothing you could do to make people better, so you just have to live with the problems. Have we actually advanced since then?

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thanks for this David, you express it very well. I’ve always thought that ID politics is more and more taking on the stance of a religion – one in which each celebrant is trying to be purer than everyone else. The result is like a snake eating its own tail.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Each celebrant is preTENding to try to be purer than everyone else. And all of them together are preTENding to be purer than the non-members of the cult. While also psychologically extorting non-members and unbelievers into joining the cult.

          And clever Cult Priestesses like Professor Diangelo are working Religious Conversion rackets
          for their own monetary and moral superiority stuff-strutting gains.

          Reply
      2. John Anthony La Pietra

        IIRC, the “dismalist” term is “opportunity cost”. In this application, should we say “political opportunity cost”? Or maybe “policy cost”?

        Reply
  4. Jesper

    About: Infosys to hire 12,000 more Americans
    I couldn’t quite figure out if the 12,000 is an addition to the currently employed or if it is about replacement due to staff turnover. The difference between the two is in my opinion quite important.
    It is as when I read a claim from LinkedIn that Customer Service is a growing industry based on the number of Customer Service jobs being advertised. I have the impression that the full story is that fewer people are being employed in Customer Service (due to automation etc) and the number of job ads are more due to the high (and increasing even higher) staff turnover in Customer Service.

    The claim by LinkedIn (number tree on the list is more than likely a fancy name for Customer Service)
    https://www.siliconrepublic.com/careers/linkedin-emerging-jobs-2020
    And about six months later this story appeared and I believe that at least a few people in the LinkedIn Customer Success were among the people being made redundant:
    https://www.siliconrepublic.com/companies/linkedin-announces-plans-for-major-layoffs-across-the-globe

    Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Not to mention this, from yesterday’s Water Cooler, entitled “Covid Gag Rules at U.S. Companies Are Putting Everyone at Risk”:

        “In the past few months, U.S. businesses have been on a silencing spree. Hundreds of U.S. employers across a wide range of industries have told workers not to share information about Covid-19 cases or even raise concerns about the virus, or have retaliated against workers for doing those things, according to workplace complaints filed with the NLRB and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Workers at Amazon.com, Cargill, McDonald’s, and Target say they were told to keep Covid cases quiet. The same sort of gagging has been alleged in OSHA complaints against Smithfield Foods, Urban Outfitters, and General Electric. In an email viewed by Bloomberg Businessweek, Delta Air Lines told its 25,000 flight attendants to ‘please refrain from notifying other crew members on your own’ about any Covid symptoms or diagnoses. At Recreational Equipment Inc., an employee texted colleagues to say he’d tested positive and that ‘I was told not to tell anybody’ and ‘to not post or say anything on social media.’”

        https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-08-27/covid-pandemic-u-s-businesses-issue-gag-rules-to-stop-workers-from-talking

        Cheap, plentiful tests aren’t worth much when the policy is “Don’t ask, don’t tell 2.0.”

        Reply
    1. VietnamVet

      The core problem of daily antigen testing is that it places testing and the response onto the Deplorables. The upper class would no longer control testing, diagnosis and receive healthcare rents. Second, daily antigen testing needs a national public health system to develop school and work bubbles, treat those who test positive for free, isolate the infected, and catch the scofflaws.

      Yes, it will work. It will cost lots of money that the ruling class does not want to spend, but it is less than the amount lost already in the Pandemic Depression. Plus, in reality, the effective control the coronavirus requires the restoration of democracy and the rule of law. Fat Chance, even though, all this would end the unrest and save trillions of dollars that will be lost in a second American Civil War. This time around with nuclear weapons locked and loaded.

      Reply
  5. larry

    On the Navalny matter, Craig Murray strikes me as being a crackpot. Anyone disgree? I’m sure there are. I also ask Cui bono. We will see how this plays out re the evidence the German investigators make public, other than their own statements.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      No worries here. The presence of Novichok was confirmed – by Porton Downs and we know that the British would never lie about such a thing. Just wait until the Germans find polonium present in Navalny as well. News at ten.

      Reply
      1. Olga

        Best comment!
        And corollary – how does one remain sane in an increasingly unhinged world, at least as reflected in the msm…?
        The charming Dracula parrot is so appropriate!

        Reply
    2. farragut

      Which behaviors has he performed which make you think he is a crackpot? ? Also, please define the term “crackpot”? .

      Reply
    3. Dalepues

      I don’t think he’s a crackpot, but this series of clauses don’t really make sense to me:

      “What I do have difficulty with is the notion that if Putin, or other very powerful Russian actors, wanted Navalny dead, and had attacked him while he was in Siberia, he would be alive in Germany today. If Putin wanted him dead, he would be dead.”

      Bad editing? Shouldn’t it read, “he would not be alive in Germany today.”?

      Reply
      1. Samuel Conner

        CM is expressing skepticism (“I have difficulty with this idea”) of the idea that

        “If Putin had wanted Navalny dead while Navalny was still in Russia, he could possibly be alive in Germany today”.

        The semantics are valid. It strikes me as a compelling argument.

        One might also ask,

        How can Russia be so incompetent at dealing with people under its control and yet, as it is supposed by some to be, so effective at influencing the outcomes of US elections?

        Reply
          1. Mel

            I read it like you did, the first time through. You’re right — it’s a crypto-double-negative (or something.) Doesn’t help that the sentence is that long.

            Reply
    4. paul

      You are mistakenly stricken.
      This latest novichok nonsense, as his article makes clear, is as risible as the last one.
      Craig, presently being railroaded in court by a vindictive judiciary, is a decent and very brave man.
      Consider contributing to his defence fund.

      Reply
      1. rtah100

        Craig is being railroaded by a vindictive prosecutorial authority, alleging he enabled the identification of witnesses entitled to confidentiality.

        It is to be hoped the judiciary is not vindictive. Although it would be very brave to allege it if the result goes against him, given the marvellous and genuine Scottish version of contempt, “murmuring the judges”!

        Reply
        1. paul

          There is no jury in this situation.
          Which is how our courts like it, and the wretched traitors who wish their respect

          They will see a honest, even noble man robbed purely for his name

          Reply
    5. David

      Murray remains extremely bitter towards his former employers (the British government) and is inclined to go over the top sometimes, attributing to them things that in his quieter moments he must realise, from his professional experience, are unlikely if not impossible.

      But here I think he is largely on firm ground: it’s hard to conceive of the Russian state doing such an incompetent job. Whether the poisoning is connected with Nordstream or whatever is another issue, and I don’t suppose he knows any more than the rest of us.

      He does get one important thing wrong. As he rightly says, “Novichok” (roughly “the new guy”) is not a chemical as such but a family of agents, designed in the 80s to circumvent the upcoming Chemical Weapons Convention and to be easier to use on the battlefield. They are binary agents – ie assembled in the field from precursors not subject to CWC jurisdiction. But they are not things you can make in the kitchen sink: they are highly sophisticated compounds with chemical names a yard long. Whether such weapons would be any good for assassination, I have no idea. Some information has emerged about Soviet plans for the use of Special Purpose Disruption forces in any conflict with NATO, and it’s known that assassination was one of their roles. I’m inclined to think that the Soviets would have developed, and the Russians retained, dedicated chemical weapons for that.

      Reply
      1. paul

        Craig does not seem bitter at all,just duly contemptuous of the kind of government that threw him under the bus for pointing out that torture is illegal and therefore should not be ignored, even amongst friends.
        I’d certainly be bitter (if I was brave enough in the first place), but he is not.

        Reply
      2. Olga

        Not sure that I’ve detected extreme bitterness against his former employer in his writings (he recently posted a column, fully endorsing regime change tactics (sans assassinations, he drew a line there)). If he is bitter now – the gratuitous prosecution, carried out as we speak, may be a good reason, though. He’s usually quite cogent and analytical (with above exception).

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I would just say that I think his former employer, like similar entities around the globe, are worthy at this stage only of our scorn and utter contempt, and I give Murray full scope for expressing it loud and clear. There is no such thing as hyperbole when chronicling the betrayals, which are universal and legion. They lie to us, everywhere and always, from the wars to the false policy “choices” they put forward to the “candidates” we are supposed to gag and pull the lever for. They had only one covenant to uphold in order to remain legitimate: the social contract, and they have ripped that to tiny little shreds. In return I think we owe them the same level of respect you would give a petty thief running out of your house with a TV set, or a conman caught preying on impoverished Grannies. Ridicule, shaming, and a swift boot to clear them out of the neighborhood. They do not deserve a platform where *anything* they tell us should be taken at face value. This is not nihilism, it’s good judgement based on experiencing the avalanche of lies they ram at us each and every day. I still believe good people can get good government but the current manifestations around the world are nothing but bad bad bad.

          Reply
      3. Polar Socialist

        I remember reading way back then that it was not that much about circumventing the Chemical Weapons Convention (which was, at the time, over a decade away) but simply not having to storage and handle toxic artillery shells which in Iraq had been proved to be rather dangerous and difficult for even trained troops.

        If two compounds could be found that were safe to handle and store as such, but turned into efficient nerve agent when mixed, that would solve the problem. This research project was named as “novichok” by Mirzayanov, who never had anything to do with, in his book. The actual researchers never used that name.

        According to the documentation provided to the OPCW when Russia gave up all their chemical weapons, the project basically failed. Only a few of the studied compounds were toxic, even fewer stayed in a form suitable for using in artillery shells. None were toxic enough to have an actual effect on target (distribution by artillery destroys a lot of the stuff when the shell explodes, so it has to be on VX level of toxicity).

        OPCW documentation had all the formulas, and several labs around the worl, like Porton Down, have checked them and validated the results to the extent that they have been added to the list of known chemical agents.

        Reply
        1. David

          This of course was the original rationale for binary weapons – safety and ease of use. But it was clear at the time that CW use was absolutely fundamental to the Red Army’s concept of operations: not to kill, necessarily, but to create confusion and force NATO troops to wear protective gear. There was no way they were going to give up this capability, whatever the Foreign Ministry signed. Even now, I think, the effectiveness of the weapons isn’t clear, and of course declarations are only declarations. But all this is a bit beside the point. I read recently, I think in The Automatic Earth, that the Germans had actually used a vaguer term describing the agent used – an organophosphate or just a nerve agent – and the accusation of “Novichok” is essentially journalistic exaggeration. I’m quite sure the Soviet Union developed much more precise and effective agents for assassinations.

          Reply
      4. Brian (another one they call)

        Craig Murray was asked to do things by his ‘government’ that were outside of legal, moral and ethical standards. He has explained this often, and perhaps a read of his history and current travails would be a better primer to learn of the retaliation against a whistle blower that revealed the UK government plans to destroy anyone that gets in their path.
        Look at the history of the Skirpals. A 1 (or 3) year investigation led to nothing and is de regueur for accusations. He likes to point out the intersection of the crime and then the coverup. There are so many.
        Mr. Murray is hated in Whitehall and Downing because he is fighting for an independent Scotland.

        Reply
        1. paul

          …and reminding them of Julian Assange’s political persecution/execution.

          He’s also hated by the current SNP leadership cabal, hence his appointment with the courts.

          Reply
      5. Ignacio

        Though the exact reactions and precursors have not been publicly disclosed (for good reason when the precursors are chemical compounds commercially available used for other purposes) one can imagine that setting the reactions is not that complicated once you know the recipe but you will need some equipment to prepare it. Such synthetic reactions: 2 components mixed, may be with a helping catalyser, in some organic or aqueous solution at some pH, at some temperature (possibly somewhere around 50-75ºC) will need some equipment and can’t be done in a sink. For safety reasons, during the reaction you will need protections and reactions should be done in a hood with exhausting fumes unless you can bear the risk of dying yourself doing it as at high temperatures the resulting venoms might be rather volatile. Then, whenever you want to apply the venom to someone you will still need protections (gloves, masks, etc.) while ensuring the venom reaches your target. You must also consider that, unless you want to be identified as the interested killer, the venoms can be analysed and identified. For these reasons I consider these as fictional venoms: good to make an anti-Russian narrative but not very practical indeed. Then we have this fanciful term Novichok so nice for a fiction.

        Reply
        1. Ignacio

          Anyway, Craig Murray didn’t claim, at least in this post, that such Novichoks can be made in a sink. Just that ordinary chemicals can be used as precursors for these venoms.

          Reply
    6. Donald

      I feel that in all these cases where intelligence agencies or governments are our chief source of information, we should be agnostic. If most reporters were like Seymour Hersh, then the press could be counted on to either dig up the truth or at least point out that we don’t really know. But most reporters are little more than stenographers.

      I don’t bother constructing my own conspiracy theories, but I also refuse to give too much credence to what the mainstream press passes on from governments. There is nothing wrong with being agnostic.

      I made this point on another blog and someone seemed to think I was a conspiracy nut. Sigh.

      Reply
    7. km

      What specifically makes you think so and why?

      If we’re going to play “cui bono” why would the Russian government poison a rather marginal political figure, using novichok, no less, right when the United States was pressuring Germany not to finish the Nord Stream pipeline and instead build facilities for more expensive US-shipped LNG, and then release this alleged novichok poisoning victim to Germany?

      For that matter, why does nobody ever seem to die from this super duper deadly ZOMG novichok?

      Reply
      1. Maxwell Johnston

        Kit Knightly at off-guardian has a hilarious summary of the “navalny novichok poisoning”: https://off-guardian.org/2020/09/02/navalny-novichok-poisoning-the-very-unlikely-story-so-far/

        Navalny’s not my cup of tea, but his team does a good job at exposing corruption in Russia. A lot of this corruption is at local and regional level; i.e., far from the Kremlin’s radar screen. Obviously Navalny was poisoned. But the notion that VVP (or anyone in his entourage) had anything to do with the poisoning is pretty absurd. Navalny has a lot of enemies. Some of the less elite targets of his exposes–especially those in Russia’s “flyover country” who lack high-level protection in Moscow–might very well have had the incentive and means to whack him. And of course that’s exactly where Navalny was when the poisoning took place.

        Reply
        1. Polar Socialist

          Navalny’s not my cup of tea, but his team does a good job at exposing corruption in Russia. A lot of this corruption is at local and regional level; i.e., far from the Kremlin’s radar screen.

          Not so much far from Kremlin’s radar, but far from Kremlin’s influence. Let’s take for example the recently arrested governor of Habarovsk area, Sergei Frugal; everybody has known for years he’s a ruthless mafioso, who had build his own ’empire’ in the region. Only now the central authority managed to break into his organization and get enough evidence to send in a team to arrest him. Navalnyi and his entourage, naturally, rushed in to defend Frugal and participate in the protests.

          Most of Navalnyi’s funds anti-corruption work is reading trough the public tenders (all are published) and finding mostly procedural errors and then making a lot of noise. Same with the several “unions” he has started, like the Doctor’s Union (the president is his personal doctor), they have very small membership, and mainly arrange provocative media events in the presence of western journalists.

          Navalnyi’s anti-corruption fund itself is under investigation for money laundering, and on the brink of bankruptcy (he already once declared it dissolved), because he lost a court case against Moscow schools (defamation using falsified evidence) and had to pay huge compensation. His main target, Yevgeny Prigozhin, just bought the compensation debt from Moscow, so now his fund owes Prigozhin truckloads of rubles.

          Now many Russians are wondering why he got special treatment, being allowed to leave Russia while others can’t (most borders are closed due corona virus) and while being in middle of several court cases and investigations. He’s either friends with powerful olighargs or an agent of FSB.

          Reply
          1. Maxwell Johnston

            Ah yes, the public tenders. Actually Russia (like China) is far ahead of “the West” in many aspects of applying the Internet to daily life and transparency (or non-privacy, depending on one’s POV). I’ve never understood from where Navalny gets his financing. Life is expensive: political campaigns, legal fees, traveling, PR, staff payroll (and he has a lot of staff…..). And now medical expenses in Germany. Who pays for all this stuff?

            Reply
        2. km

          And why use a novichok-type poison, something guaranteed to bring on all kinds of heat and Western MSM attention, just like clockwork?

          Haven’t they heard of “tragic car accident” or “robbery gone wrong”? These people seriously need to get out more.

          Reply
          1. Maxwell Johnston

            Yeah, I know. VVP obviously has a fetish for Agatha Christie. He wants to perfect the poisoning technique. Car crashes and failed robberies (or alternatively, “shot dead while trying to escape”, and let’s not forget Stalin’s love of defenestration) are so low-rent and unimpressive and common.

            Reply
            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Can we just acknowledge for a minute what is at stake here: the erection of a foreign “enemy” so the hideous diversion of resources to the industry of slaughtering people can continue unabated. In this case the policy was concocted in the 1930’s, pursued with hysterical glee in the 1950’s, extended in the 1970’s and 1980’s, then revived by Obama and his ilk as a lever against his political opponents. When I triangulate Biden’s terrifying pronouncement that “we will no longer cozy up to foreign dictators!” with the all-encompassing anti-Russian myth making of the party he is in it makes me want to break ground on a background bombshelter.

              Reply
    8. PlutoniumKun

      Murray has a sort of self righteous tone that I think can come across as a bit crackpotty – when I first started reading his blog I did it with caution, I thought he was always walking the tightrope between a clever and tin foily. Especially writing about the Alasdair Salmond affair – his claims of a huge conspiracy seemed to stretch credulity. But so far, it seems that he was entirely correct.

      But he’s been proven right more times than wrong and he has an admirable habit of addressing his own errors and rigorously backing up his claims. I’ve come to trust his blog as a good source.

      Reply
        1. paul

          …earth to commentariat…earth to commentariat!

          Uh, we just got trolled.

          Why’ll I remember this place is not a chatboard.

          WTF does your comment mean?

          Reply
          1. witters

            Still, he and David seem to me to have a peculiar reading of, and reaction to, Craig Murray. A man I find to be a rare example of clean human decency and intellectual honesty.

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith

              Huh? What did I say? I said nothing re Murray. And PK was merely suggesting that he lost control of his register as a writer in the piece at issue. That has nothing to do with his character.

              Reply
  6. Krystyn Podgajski

    “All of a Sudden a Lot of These Families Wanted a Yard”: How the Pandemic Gold Rush Is Remaking the Housing Market Vanity Fair. The pandemic is treating some people very, very well. None of them “essential.”

    Yeah, I had high hopes for getting some housing relief from the pandemic but I just see the same and higher rental prices. Now I am headed back to live in my van in October. I don’t mind really, more agency, and I am not essential in any way :).. I probably chose the worst area for this effect, a lot of tech here and a lot of people already working from home. But the poor just got screwed more by COVID, pretty predictable.

    Anecdote, a friend’s sister put her horrible house on the market in this area. Two days on the market it sold over asking. The house was not staged and needed a lot of work, but it had a yard so…

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Wolfstreet did a survey of post covid rental prices and the lowest was Akron, Ohio. The highest was still San Francisco (where I believe you used to live?) although dropping fast. The gist was that big city rents are dropping while some small city rents are going up as the population shifts.

      Not Akron though. I know somebody who grew up in the rubber city, now in the doldrums.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Fresno was a hot spot in numbers going up in terms of demand, and I get it, the very heart of the CVBB and some would claim desirable., Naaaah, who am i’m kidding, it’s all about the Benjamins.

        Note to those bringing your pooch from somewhere Tenderloin-adjacent, the favorite breed in town is…

        Meth Lab

        p.s.

        I’ll say something nice about Fresno in closing in that when you’re in the Trader Joes there, you could be in any other city, and that’s pleasant to think about.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          p.s.

          Fresno was a spoof done in the vein of rich vain people with Carol Burnette Harvey Korman and the usual players, based on those awful 80’s long winded wealthy dynasties we were supposed to care about.

          She plays a raisin magnate…

          It’s 4 hours long on youtube if you’re interested, here’s a short trailer.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmBpVWVM2y8&t=2s

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            I spent what felt like an eternity in Barstow getting Panda Express, but it was like 20 minutes tops.

            It’s a methy place, another tweakerville like Porterville here, which is far enough way-thank goodness.

            Reply
        2. Milton

          Recently departed all-time baseball great, Tom Seaver, was from Fresno. I’m stll hanging on to his ’71 Topps card since the kids don’t seem to want old things anymore.

          Reply
      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        Same area, she moved in with her new boyfriend after a divorce. The kids are with the husband and the house was too big.

        Reply
  7. Livius Drusus

    Re: The Privileged Have Entered Their Escape Pods .

    I worry that the COVID-19 crisis will make inequality worse and that too many affluent people will find the “new normal” agreeable and want to keep it going even after a vaccine is discovered. Imagine a future where the wealthy retreat to high-tech gated communities with big houses and spacious lawns, do all of their work from home and never have to deal with the proles that deliver their food, supplies and other means of existence due to permanent social distancing.

    Science fiction? We are almost there right now. I imagine that once drone delivery is perfected even the delivery workers will be out of work. But don’t worry, the permanently unemployed will get a UBI just large enough to ensure that they do not starve to death.

    Life for the masses will be reduced to indulging in screen-based entertainment along with hefty doses of psychotropic drugs, all necessary to stave off the unbearable mental anguish caused by social isolation, poor diets and a lack of purpose due to being made redundant with no hope of ever having a dignified, independent existence.

    Maybe once in a while protests and even riots will be allowed as long as they don’t attack any of the vital parts of the system involving power, economics or technology and are only directed against statues of dead white men and other safe identitarian targets. Class solidarity will be impossible as the masses will be kept in a state of constant anger and division over culture wars and identity politics thanks to TV and social media. This is the future that we are heading toward right now.

    Reply
    1. Drake

      Reminds me of a few Philip K Dick novels, except they were set on Mars or moons because Earth was unlivably hot for anyone but the super-rich.

      Reply
    2. MT_Bill

      What’s this “heading for” BS?

      That future is already here, it’s just not fully distributed yet.

      But don’t worry, they’re working on it.

      Reply
    3. Tom Bradford

      Imagine a future where the wealthy retreat to high-tech gated communities with big houses and spacious lawns, do all of their work from home and never have to deal with the proles that deliver their food, supplies and other means of existence due to permanent social distancing.

      The future? Sounds like the ‘Lifestyle Retirement Villages’ sprouting up all over the place now – may be two-bedroom chalets rather than ‘big houses’ but everything else as described plus heated pools, sports facilities, entertainment centres and on-site medical.

      ie: http://www.sandersongroup.co.nz

      Reply
    4. kareninca

      What makes you think the permanently unemployed will get a UBI large enough to fend off starvation? Boy are you an optimist.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        Yes, we’ve explained that the amount required would be so large as to be politically unpalatable as well as highly inflationary, since it would not add to productive capacity. But you’ve made the point in a much more clever manner.

        Reply
  8. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Scanning the headlines yesterday, seems that the 2020’s are going to be rough:

    (Per Congressional Budget Office, still doing good work despite their bosses)

    Highway trust fund to run out in 2021

    Medicare hospital fund to run out in 2024

    Social Security DI fund to run out in 2026

    Social Security OASI fund to run out in 2031

    Of course, with the exception of Medicare I think these are easily solvable. They just require the captured DC stooges to raise taxes, for example, on Social Security taking the cap off the payroll tax so that it doesn’t max out around $135k in annual income would do the trick. Of course, that would require that the stooges do something useful, rather than their usual go-to move to bailout private sector cronies.

    Reply
    1. Milton

      No. Just require congress to expand funding into each of those “entitlement” programs. When will the defense fund run dry? It doesn’t. Why? Because we simply keep increasing the monies to pay for its expanded scope.

      Reply
    2. Lee

      I don’t see how a currency sovereign runs out of what it has the sole power to create unless it runs out paper, ink, or digitally transmitted credits. As much as I simply adore the idea of taking boat loads of cash away from the rich, and believe that such action would likely have salutary social effects, we in fact don’t need their money for government to do what needs doing.

      Reply
      1. HotFlash

        No, we don’t need their money to pay for government services. The reason we need to tax them heavily is so they can’t buy our government.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Joe and all the other Catfood Democrats have asbestos feet. Hold their feet to the fire all you like. They will never feel it.

          Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “Upper West Sider Who Broke Her (Rent-Stabilized!) Lease to Flee to Vermont Finds Rural Bliss Didn’t Last”

    This is a bit sad this. She really was a fish out of water. This is like the 1988 film “Funny Farm” where New Yorkers moved to Vermont but bit off more than they could chew-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVzkcK0yhUc

    It is a pity that she could not take the time to explore the woods of Vermont and see what her region had to offer. Actually it is getting a bit like Green Acres this posting-

    ‘Green acres is the place to be
    Farm livin’ is the life for me
    Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
    Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside

    New York is where I’d rather stay
    I get allergic smelling hay
    I just adore a penthouse view
    Dahling I love you but give me Park Avenue’

    Reply
    1. RMO

      I find it beyond sad. ““But after about a month, I’m like, ‘There’s no people here. There’s nothing going on.’ And after three times of drying my clothes in the backyard on the clothesline, I’m like, ‘This is wearing off very quickly.’” and “To see the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain feels a little sterile” I find it beyond sad that someone cannot seem to see the beauty in space, peace, quiet and nature – but I do recognize that preferences differ and some people have a need to be in a place more crowded with human beings. My best friend is that way actually, whereas when I am in a city I find it oppressive and nerve-wracking. I can’t take even a medium size and moderately dense city like downtown Vancouver for more than a couple of days. I’m also stunned that this woman was so lacking in self knowledge and generally stupid that she dropped the rent stabilized apartment and moved right out to Vermont without, you know, trying it out for a month first.

      Reply
    2. Maritimer

      I live in a rural coastal area. Half the real estate here is owned by only seasonal residents. Some stay only a few years, having notched this on their Bucket List and moved on. Part of it is having another place to renovate, redecorate, buy new furniture,etc. Spend that loot.

      One thing I watch closely for is Upscale Infrastructure like cheffy restaurants, designer boutiques, toney bakeries, etc. Tractors, big honkin ATVs, giant Ridems, and obligatory spotless Pickup are de rigeur. Fortunately, here we have not reached that yet but, when we do, “There goes the neighborhood!” These wealthy vagabonds need Upscale Infrastructure to keep their Credit Cards busy else they wither and waste away into non-consuming dust.

      In all of this, there is also a phony veneer of what the place used to be mostly generated by the Tourist hustlers and the Real Estate shills. They create a fake lifestyle that never existed but which the city suckers want to consume and emulate and be a part of—yer friendly country neighbor.

      Reply
      1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

        Lifestyle:-

        My “wellness*” is perturbed because I suspect that my lifestyle isn’t a Lifestyle lifestyle . Oh the humanity!

        Pip-Pip!

        * “Wellness” as observed in Hungary a few years back: Going outside the thermal establishment to have a smoke whilst wearing a towelling bath robe.

        Reply
  10. Pat

    The more I have thought about it, the more I think that “set me up” really is just throwing fuel on the fire. If you accept the story at face value It highlights how little connection Pelosi has with the city she represents. It shows her as unable to do the basics required of most people every day like check what is and isn’t allowed in the city you have entered. It highlights the rules don’t apply to me and her sense of entitlement. (No one should give her a break on not wearing a mask, even if the salon had been able to open she would have been required to remain masked the entire time, and all news on openings have included that)

    And it leads people to Lambert’s response, why not just have the stylist come to her home.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It not really different than affluenza. Traditional modalities would demand more from people in positions of power or who are capable of knowing better. American elite morality demands to little people be held accountable for failures of elites if they are caught. The idea Pelosi should be better is completely alien of her.

      Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      I look marvelous, but I don’t feel marvelous about the obvious setup @ the not ok LP Salon…

      …as you know, my credo: It is better to look good than to set a good example

      p,s,

      Had another nightmare with Nancy Pelosi & Livia Soprano somehow the players in my part and I just couldn’t tell them apart

      Reply
      1. edmondo

        Here’s how you can tell them apart:

        Livia was more warm and motherly; Nancy is part of an organized crime enterprise called the Democratic Party.

        Reply
    3. Carolinian

      As someone has pointed out she is also throwing a small business owner under the wheels of her luxurious, gelato equipped bus. Will the Dems ever admit they have a Nancy problem?

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Older Team Blue types simply have to die out. Warman continuing the investigation into baseball players (no owners were called) in 2007 should have been the warning sign of how Pelosi operates. Her best days are when nothing happens. Or the ad hoc and unofficial committed to condemn Rush Limbaugh for being a prick. Did they bring up FCC regulations? Nope. And did the hold symbolic hearings over abortion clinics being shuttered? Nope. A rich person was insulted by a known jerk. Pelosi leaps into action.

        Reply
    4. Eureka Springs

      I take responsibility, for once in the 1980’s I believed Pelosi’s progressive words and voted for her. I now know it was a setup and she owes me and millions more an apology.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        You can’t be prosecuted, on account of the statute of limitations running out, however Nancy seemingly has no limitations.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          She reminds me what the French said about their politicians a century ago or more. So many were so old that when one died, you had to push them over to make sure that they were dead.

          Reply
      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The reason for her rise to power is instructive. She had the biggest mansion and could use it for the best fund raising parties. That’s it.

        Reply
    5. Dr. John Carpenter

      Of course it’s more fuel on the fire. Have you seen any video of Pelosi being asked to account for anything? You can almost see the contempt dripping off every word when she has to explain her self. It’s as if she’s appalled at the very idea that she’s even questioned.

      It seems to me there’s a million better ways she could have handled this situation, but that would have required her to take responsibility, admit to being wrong and possibly even apologize. Instead, she took the same approach she’s been using for decades: blame someone else and admit no wrongdoing. By the end of the news cycle on this story, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this was somehow the Russians fault.

      It’s also interesting that the story has become all about the mask and not so much about the fact than an elite got special treatment during a time when the salon should have been shut down. I guess this is so common, it’s just taken as a given anymore.

      (Incidentally, I got a hair cut and a shampoo yesterday. Yes, I had a mask on the entire time, as did everyone else.)

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        (Incidentally, I got a hair cut and a shampoo yesterday. Yes, I had a mask on the entire time, as did everyone else.)

        I kind of vaguely remember what getting a haircut was like, and since the plague have relied on a $30 Conair with about a dozen plastic attachments wielded by my wife who has only ever cut somebody’s hair most recently, mine.

        She’s ok at it, but there’s lots of room for improvement, and who am I to complain.

        Reply
        1. RMO

          The last time I had my hair cut by a professional was 1985. I was in my mid-teens. I learned at that point that no matter who I went to, no matter how highly recommended they were I would always come out looking like my hair was trimmed with the aid of a bowl and a hedge trimmer. Fortunately I don’t need to keep my hair short and it seems to max out at the level of my shoulders – It seems to break off without going any longer than that. A few times a year I need to attack it myself with scissors in a sort of “weeding and thinning” manner which leaves it about the same length but not as thick. Perfect pandemic hair – and fortunately my wife likes me looking like a character in the Lord Of The Rings movies.

          Reply
      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Hopefully the Trump team will find this the gift that keeps on giving. Hopefully the Trump team can turn this into napalm to keep burning Nancy with it over and over and over again.

        Reply
    6. Katniss Everdeen

      Don’t overthink this y’all. As I’m sure you remember, the “setup” thing works when people want to believe.

      [Marion] Barry served 4 terms as Mayor, but his defining moment for most people is what he did in a hotel room during his tenure … smoking crack with a young woman, and as FBI barged in the room screaming, “She set me up!”

      Barry — who was a folk hero in D.C. — became the butt of jokes and almost a staple punchline on shows like “SNL.”

      But after serving time for drug possession, he became mayor once again.

      Barry became a paradigm of politicians … how they could do wrong, yet still remain popular with the electorate.

      https://www.tmz.com/2014/11/23/marion-dead-dies-mayor-crack-cocaine-arrest-washington-dc/

      Reply
        1. Katniss Everdeen

          No, he wasn’t.

          At this point, if you’re looking for pelosi to suffer some fallout from this, and I am, I think the best you can hope for is “the butt of jokes and almost a staple punchline” part.

          She strikes me as seriously averse jokes made about her scrupulously cultivated “regal” persona. She’s an eighty-year-old woman who, as seen on the salon video, wears pointy-toed heels to have her hair washed when she’s the only customer in the place, fer chrissakes.

          Reply
      1. chuck roast

        The locals loved Marion because he gave them jobs. Of course the city almost went bankrupt, but that’s another story and does not relate to a needy person actually having a job.

        Reply
    7. Janie

      Re: why doesn’t the stylist come to Pelosi’s home? Licensing and inspections. Jurisdictions have differing requirements. Some places allow blow-drying but not coloring, for example, outside of an inspected area.

      Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “CDC Sends COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance With Fall Timeline”

    And if a vaccine went out just before Election Day, what would it be called? ‘Freedom shots’? Would the package of each one have the word “Trump” printed on it? Would the package itself be coloured red, white and blue? Would you have to sign a legal waiver before receiving it? Would it really be the Beta version of this drug and half of the injections would be just a simple placebo for the sake of an experiment? What would the motto be? – “Vote with Complete Safety?” I think that the precautionary principle would apply here.

    Reply
    1. Ignacio

      I made a comment on this that got stuck in the ether. The CDC letter is vague enough talking about ‘large-scale deployment’ that could well be emergency deployment for HC personnel and other sensitive workers (Teachers?). Besides it is not the CDC but the FDA the institution in charge for vaccine evaluation and i doubt they would give a green light for vaccine approval so soon except, may be, for emergency use. The population at large won’t probably be the autumn subject of such large scale deployment programs. No freedom shots still available until later in 2021 is my best guess.

      Reply
  12. Redlife2017

    Very horrible news: David Graeber has died. From his wife:
    Yesterday the best person in a world, my husband and my friend .
    @davidgraeber died in a hospital in Venice.

    I am actually beside myself. He was an amazing friend to Corbyn and was always there for the left. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is one of my treasured books and helped shape my way of thinking about so many things.

    Reply
    1. jefemt

      Might be my tin hat always being in reach, but reading his bio and titles/body of work, I cant help but think, was he offed?

      Reply
    2. vidimi

      Just wanted to share this too. A great tragedy, a bleak world just got bleaker. Having never met him, I am in huge shock.

      2020 keeps getting worse.

      Reply
    3. jgsf

      Debt: The First 5,000 Years is one of my treasured books and helped shape my way of thinking about so many things.

      Same here. First read it after a recommendation on this very website. He will be remembered. He/we are the 99%.

      Reply
    4. ambrit

      The details of his death will be important.
      A decline and fall over two days is suspicious.
      Someone said that he had tweeted that all the tests were negative.
      This is one situation where a little paranoia is warranted.

      Reply
    5. PlutoniumKun

      Shocking indeed, I had no idea he was ill. He wasn’t always right, but his ideas and writings were always stimulating and fascinating, I confess to not having read his books, but I learned a lot from his various essays and other contributions.

      Its a major loss.

      Reply
    6. David

      Horrible news. What I liked about Graeber was that he was a trained expert on something (an anthropologist) and so it was natural for him to say “where’s the proof?” This made him unpopular in a world where subjective feeling and ideology rule.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Bad news indeed and too soon…

        My path was strewn with evidence of the last 2600 years of money in its every guise, and although it was initially only Europe with coined money it soon spread everywhere, replacing perceived rarities locally such as Wampum or other shells that increased in value the further they were away from the ocean-the original financial shell game in the USA if you will.

        And one thing about money, it’s something that nobody ever threw away. Probably the commonest artifact.

        Reply
  13. Ignacio

    Re: Bonus antidote. The Australian budgies are amazing. My brother in law found a blue one in the street years ago and brought her to our house were we bred her for some years when the little birdie became our best friend. The budgie learnt soon how to open the cage and she was allowed to fly freely around the house, play games with us and have baths under the kitchen tap. I enjoyed lots of hand vs. pick ‘figths’ in the kitchen table. After several years, one day the little bird started to show depressed, too quiet, though never rejecting our company, until she died. I can assure you that was a sad day for us. We will always remember her. Our Emily.

    Reply
    1. Pookah Harvey

      I put this post in before the Graeber post appeared. Graeber was a brave man that came forward to right the real wrongs of our society. I don’t think he would mind a little levity

      Reply
  14. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Could Rapid Coronavirus Testing Help Life Return To Normal? (transcript) NPR

    The next time someone says that if Trump had provided better “leadership” the nation’s covid response would have been “better,” what you should hear is a lame defense of the indefensible–why a system that was never meant to take care of everybody, didn’t take care of everybody. (Emphasis mine.)

    Dr. Michael Mina: “In the U.S, we have a major focus on clinical medicine, and we have undervalued and underfunded the whole concept of public health for a very long time. We saw an example of this for, for example, when we tried to get the state laboratories across the country to be able to perform the PCR tests back in March, February and March [sic], we very quickly realized that our public health infrastructure in this country just wasn’t up to the task. We had very few labs that were really able to do enough testing to just meet the clinical demands. And so such a reduced focus on public health for so long has led to an ecosystem where our regulatory agencies, this being primarily the FDA, has a mandate to approve clinical medical diagnostic tests. But there’s actually no regulatory pathway that is available or exists — and in many ways, we don’t even have a language for it — for a test whose primary purpose is one of public health and not personal medical health

    “That’s really caused a problem. And a lot of times, it’s interesting if you think about the United States, every single test that we get, with the exception maybe of a pregnancy test, has to go through a physician. And so that’s a symptom of a country that has focused, and a society really, that has focused so heavily on the medical industrial complex……

    We did not perform like other countries because we are NOT other countries, and “leadership” of all stripes is committed to keeping it that way. I’m sure they’re counting their lucky stars that they have the bad orange man to blame and half of a willfully blind population will slurp it up and beg for more.

    Reply
    1. Detroit Dan

      “bad orange man”

      Yeah, the Dems have really latched onto the Trump is Hitler meme, and that anyone who denies this is also Hitler.

      I’m leaning toward the Unity 2020 campaign at the present, and looking to talk one-on-one with friends and family regarding the Democratic insanity (identity politics, Russiagate, health care system, …).

      Reply
      1. neo-realist

        Trump needs to stop having federal agents snatch law abiding protestors off the streets and whisking them away like some KGB/Latin American dictatorship, and stop enabling and praising nationalist vigilantes who shoot protestors. If he isn’t Hitler, he is very much the authoritarian that would be super dangerous in a second term unshackled by having to be half way palatable to the critical mass.

        Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    “Pentagon’s latest salvo against China’s growing might: Cold War bombers”

    Buried in this article is the admission that the US Navy cannot simply sail up to China anymore and attack it. The Chinese navy has more ships which are newly built and are just as capable as US Navy ships. This explains why the new reliance on bombers to get through but like in the Battle of Britain, the Chinese would be seeking to defend their homeland whereas US aircraft might have to come in from a long distance and would be vulnerable.

    And in a war I would not be surprised if Guam get slammed as it would be a major base against China. And of course there would be nuclear armed Chinese submarines that might get close to the US coastline in case the Pentagon got some funny ideas about using nukes first. And you can bet that the Chinese would be spending a lot of resources for aerial defence. Hmmm. Maybe it would be better if there was no war against China and maybe Washington should stop flying nuclear-capable aircraft in the direction of China.

    Reply
    1. Bill Smith

      Guam, Wake, Tinian, Saipan, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and others scattered around the Pacific that would be used under the ‘bare base’ concept. And I am deliberately not mentioning South Korea and Japan or Taiwan (for other reasons).

      But the article has some serious bomber hype about a single B-1 being able to deliver more ordnance than an entire carrier battle group in one day. Assume 50 F-18’s, surface and submarine escorts that make up a carrier battle group.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Watching The Sand Pebbles from 1966 is quite instructive now. Steve McQueen and young Candice Bergen star on USN gunboat plying Chinese rivers.

        The Chinese do all the work on board for the most part and when they are coerced to leave in the midst of revolution, the ship does to hell in a handbasket…

        Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I hear the Littoral Combat Ships are being fitted with decks to allow the F-35 to land-but not take off, and there’s no worry about offspring from the affair, as they’re both fixed.

        Reply
        1. epynonymous

          The Marine version of the F-35 (the LCS is USMC) can take off vertically.

          Maybe the deck refit is just to make them more Osprey friendly though. Those engines get hot.

          Reply
    2. kgw

      Bombers? As Mike Tyson put it, “Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.”

      There will be an extreme amount of very fast-moving “flak” to fly through on the way to China…
      It will get real ugly, real quick.

      Reply
  16. Basil Pesto

    Premier League cancels £564m Chinese TV contract in blow to clubs’ finances

    This could be a sign of things to come. European football’s top leagues, particularly the English, have seemed to be operating in an ever-inflating bubble
    for two decades with out of control transfer fees and wages, and it might be about to burst. TV rights deals in the last 6 or so years have spread the wealth around significantly among England’s top flight clubs (and not, you’ll be surprised to learn, at the grassroots). The lack of crowds have proven a significant hit to the revenue of clubs as well, of course.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      There have been some strange goings on with football and lucrative Chinese contracts – there was the strange case of Wigan Athletic too. David Conn is, incidentally, one of the best writers on football finance, a fascinating topic in its own right.

      This doesn’t just raise questions about crazy spending in football, you’d also wonder whats going on when such a major player seems not to have been able to pay what it is contracted to pay, as seems to be the case with that Chinese TV station. One wonders if its connected with crackdowns on lending and ponzi’s within China.

      Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      Its kind of fitting that professional* athletes were the first of really anybody that made a million a year for their talents and then only exploding from there, causing much jock itch envy from Wall*Street, say how can those guys make so much and none of em’ even went to an Ivy, fer chrissake.

      And then we were off to the races, with a MLB player inking a 12 year deal for over $30 million a year just a few months ago, certainly the high water mark, congratulations Mookie!

      And now the bubbly edifice is wearing thin, and something will have to be axed, what could it be?

      * Hometown hero for me was Andy Etchebarren-the catcher for the 1966 & 1970 Orioles World Series winning teams. I’d guess he pulled down $20k to $30k per season in salary plus WS pay-which really meant something back then, and opened a liquor store in a strip mall to pad his income in the early 70’s.

      Reply
    3. periol

      There is political stuff behind this as well. That said, I would argue that wages and transfer fees are not out of control, but are simply scaling to match insane amounts of money being made my owners and management in sports.

      The given reason for ending the contract is the Chinese broadcaster simply refused to make the last payment. No reasons are being given, but Hong Kong is happening…

      ———

      https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-8693953/Premier-League-CANCELS-biggest-foreign-TV-deal-China.html

      “Chinese state broadcaster CCTV Sports caused a stir in July by switching its coverage of Liverpool’s 5-3 win over Chelsea to its digital channel, and last December they opted not to televise Arsenal’s Premier League match against Manchester City at short notice after Mesut Ozil criticised the China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims.

      CCTV have not broadcast the NBA since October in protest at a tweet posted by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morley, who expressed support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.”

      Reply
  17. vlade

    I’d suggest anyone following the CalPers fiasco reads the Wirecard FT story.

    If, for nothing else, it shows that if you continue to bring the light to the dark places, the truth will out despite the resources WC was throwing at extinguishing it, and the official places help.

    Reply
    1. Jesper

      My take is that the auditors failed and the regulator might not have realised how bad/blind auditors can be.
      The auditors failed to verify bank balances, here are the guidelines:
      https://www.dummies.com/business/accounting/auditing/how-to-check-bank-reconciliations/
      https://www.irishtimes.com/business/financial-services/ey-failed-to-ask-for-wirecard-bank-statements-for-three-years-1.4289546

      A senior auditor at another firm said that obtaining independent confirmation of bank balances was “equivalent to day-one training at audit school”.

      I expect the ‘self-regulating’ (meaning the big regulate the small while the big get away with whatever they want) body will try to shift the blame and point towards disclaimers etc to the point where it might look like external audits are next to useless…
      https://www.irishtimes.com/business/financial-services/ey-prepares-for-backlash-over-wirecard-scandal-1.4291444

      & ever wondered who the auditors were who failed to detect some shenanigans in Anglo Irish Bank?
      https://www.irishtimes.com/business/financial-services/questions-for-ey-over-its-handling-of-anglo-irish-bank-s-audits-1.3612912

      Overall, €7.2 billion was routed into Anglo’s deposit accounts shortly before the end of its annual financial reporting period. The loans then matured three days after the end of the financial year.

      Several characteristics of the transactions should have raised red flags for auditors, such as the back-to-back and short-term nature of the payments, and their timing just days before the financial year-end, Purcell’s report says.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        maybe we should sic the welfare auditors on them.
        the actual fraudsters would be looking over their shoulders from now on.
        we live, now, under a sword of damocles, waiting for medicaid to get out it’s claws, due to some esoteric addendum to a memo that can’t be found in the mess on the website. 10 different answers from 10 different people,lol.
        it’s prolly just me freaking out from the uncertainty inherent in the opaque and overly complexified “system”…but still…it’s been pretty derned effective in getting me to attempt mightily to cross all the T’s.
        sic ’em on calpers…and the entire financial edifice.

        Reply
  18. Wukchumni

    Slumlord president Donald Trump shames California Democrats on eviction ban Yasha Levine
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I remember seeing a homeless person Calgary in March, as I braved the seemingly arctic in walking to the mall 125 feet away from our parking space, wondering how it must suck to be abodeless in a really cold area in the winter, so I can’t blame people for investing in fabric mini homes when push>meets<shove in California, where the outdoor camping craze continues to build with new subdivisions of class being added daily.

    Reply
    1. fwe'zy

      California Dems need the evictions to happen, to make the homeless situation so horrifying that normies will allow them to ram through housing deregulation. There are plenty of existing buildings to rehab, for a wide range of living standards, before we fling ourselves at yet another construction boom that lags demand. Immense fortunes are made turning open space into concrete jungle, even when the buildings stay empty.

      Reply
  19. Wukchumni

    The coast is clear for the rest of the year and has been since about the middle of July, as to when the Marmot Cong does hit & waddle runs on radiator hoses in search of antifreeze, but you still see about 25% of the cars draped in tarps @ trailhead parking lots, such is their legend.

    The most inspired one I saw recently was somebody using copious rolls of plastic Seran Wrap in making their jalopy undesirable, in theory.

    The ‘Cong does the Big Sleep soon, They enter their burrows in September to early October and don’t emerge again until the following April or May.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I have suggested this before.

      If marmots are really such a problem, gnawing so much on so many radiator hoses for antifreeze; why not give them marmot feeders loaded with lengths of radiator hose with just enough antifreeze to keep them chewing?

      Reply
  20. jr

    “Gavidia made national headlines earlier this year for organizing “Trumptilla” boat parades in support of Trump around the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.”

    McCloskey/Gavidia 2024 Stand up for Schmaltz!

    Reply
  21. Wukchumni

    Sports Dept:

    The shape of the hoped for new world of recreational skiing is being sized down and you need reservations in order to hurl yourself a steep embankment repeatedly, along with other measures, skewed more to season pass holders…

    Face coverings will be required to access the mountain, including in lift lines and while loading, unloading and riding on chairlifts and gondolas.

    To maintain physical distancing on our chairlifts and gondolas, we will only be seating related parties (guests skiing and riding together), or:

    Two singles seated on opposite sides of a four-person lift.
    Two singles or two doubles on opposite sides of a six-person lift.
    Two singles on opposite ends of our larger gondola cabins.

    https://www.epicpass.com/info/winter-experience.aspx

    This means long lift lines extending to the parking lot, creeping along, that is, unless you allow only 1/3rd of the previous amount in seasons past on the slopes.

    With climate change lurking like some Godzilla pillaging Greenland currently, but on the horizon, and lost income from having a lot less skiers/snowboarders, it’s a risky buisness.

    Reply
  22. Tomonthebeach

    Photos of Aaron Danielson posted by the NYT supposedly were taken during the fatal Portland Counter-Protest in which he was shot dead. The picture shows him ready for combat – not peaceful protest. The two men were clearly equipped to beat up unarmed protesters as their garb was not defensive but offensive.

    Examining the photo of him and his “pal,” Danielson appears to be wearing a bullet-proof vest under his black T-shirt (that is ironic). He is wearing brass-knuckle gloves, is armed with an expandable night-stick, as well as wearing ammo pouches strapped to his leg (still visible in the pics of his body on the pavement). He is also wearing a huge military surplus back-pack with a lot of pointed rods sticking out of it (little flags?). His pal is sporting a paintball rifle, cable ties for handcuffs, pepper spray, and a home-made wood night-stick. The right-wing media rhetoric does not jibe with the photographic evidence. Danielson was prepared to assault people. I doubt the brass knuckle gloves were to overcome a nose-picking habit.

    Reply
  23. martell

    Great article from the Washington Monthly. Was it generated by a progressive neoliberal algorithm? Or was it in fact written by a Santa Barbara based human author? Hard to tell.

    In any case, here’s what the author or algorithm claims to know about Portland. Violence in this peace loving, well educated, and (naturally) liberal city is due to the combined efforts of an occupying police force and groups of outside agitators, all consisting mostly (or is it entirely?) of resentful white men from the burbs or (worse) rural areas who’ve been brainwashed by diabolical Republican agents into indulging the racism and sexism to which they were already disposed. Those same Republicans have managed to gain control over the courts and much of the rest of the political system through various underhanded means despite the best efforts of smart, good, and, above all, pragmatic Democratic politicians to combat them. The recent shooting in Portland occured during an invasion of the city by Republicans from without, aided by Republicans within, and encouraged by agents of the Republican Party at the national level. Yes, the local body count as of today is 1 to 0 in favor of Team Blue, and that is regrettable, but also understandable, as this is war, and not a war of our choosing. It has been forced upon us.

    Very funny, especially when paired with the Oregon Live article that precedes it in the Links (and gives it the lie). The shooting occured an hour after the caravan action had ended, it was unprovoked according to one witness, and the victim lived in town (so neither hillbilly nor burbbilly). The shooter is quite likely someone who’d been arrested while taking part in a BLM protest for, among other things, illegal possession of a handgun (probably the same weapon used in the killing). But all charges were dropped and he spent little or no time in custody, because that’s how we do things in enlightened Portland, apparently. He’s also the same guy who was seen accompanied by his daughter at a protest at Wheeler’s residence. She, the daughter, was photographed carrying a baseball bat.

    Reply
  24. Dan Cullen

    Why was he forced to lie naked on the wet pavement in the rain? Why couldn’t they have allowed him to at least kneel? Why was an obviously compliant and disturbed human being having a mental health crisis treated like some kind of frat boy joke? What kind of recruitment and training (both initial and ongoing) do these animals attend which allows them to treat human life so cavalierly? Do any other white folks wonder how insanely agitated and anguished he/she would be if he/she were black? I do. Fuck! Btw, I spent 30+ years on the Chicago Fire Dept. and responded to hundreds of mental health calls they were never funny to me and if any of my men treated the sufferers with disrespect they were told in no uncertain terms that such treatment was intolerable.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      This appears to be a Blue Privilege problem, not a White Privilege problem.

      The hucksters of “White Privilege” may very well be secret agents of the Police Conspiracy, working to prevent discussion or even mention of Blue Privilege and how to crush and destroy Blue Privilege.

      Reply

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