Links 2/24/2021

Are Soybeans Driving Deforestation? TreeHugger (Re Silc).

Despite discrimination and drought, Punjabi Americans farm on High Country News

Degrowth: solving the impasse by magical thinking globalinequality

The cash-flush amateurs hunting game cards, handbags and art Reuters

Bank Ratings Get Sex-Equality Revamp, Exposing Nordic Edge Bloomberg

Russia’s Answer to Amazon Looks West After Beating Local Rivals Bloomberg


Exclusive: Two variants have merged into heavily mutated coronavirus New Scientist

FDA issues new recommendations to take on Covid-19 variants Endpoints

* * *

Covid vaccines – ‘spectacular’ impact on serious illness BBC

Op-Ed: Stop Stressing Post-Vax Risk of Spreading Coronavirus MedPage Today

* * *

First COVID-19 vaccines distributed by COVAX arrive in West Africa Axios

Why Biden’s pledge of $4 billion to help vaccinate the world isn’t enough Vox

WHO agrees compensation fund for serious COVAX vaccine side effects Reuters

* * *

Schools may see a burst of the common cold when they reopen, research suggests STAT

105-year-old who recovered from COVID-19 credits gin-soaked raisins for breakfast The Hill


How Trump’s Tariffs Really Affected the U.S. Job Market Michael Pettis, China Financial Markets

I helped build ByteDance’s vast censorship machine Protocol

Mayor, Party Secretary Detained Over Shandong Mine Explosion Sixth Tone

How To Hang On To YOUR Tooling and Molds When Manufacturing Overseas China Law Blog. Granted, talking their book, but still useful.

11 things you may not know about Malaysian politics South China Morning Post


China Is the Myanmar Coup’s ‘Biggest Loser’ The Atlantic.

Coup in Myanmar: growing protest movement defies the military FT

Opinion: Why the Myanmar Coup Will Fail Tricycle. Again, I think we need to know what’s happening out in the countryside.

Myanmar’s military coup creates banking woes Channel News Asia. Possibly payroll woes, too. A thread:


‘My troubles begin after I get a good harvest’ People’s Archive of Rural India

Brand India Aeon


Middle East arms fair goes ahead despite pandemic as forecasters see a 10% drop in Gulf spending CNBC


The Sordid Story of the Most Successful Political Party in the World The New Republic. The Tories.

EU Imposes Further Sanctions on Venezuela as Maduro Visits UN Human Rights Council Venezuelanalysis

Ecuador inches closer to an indigenous president FT

Buttergate: Why are Canadians complaining about hard butter? BBC

Biden Administration

Biden to order review of critical foreign supply chains FT

Biden Stays Clear Of Endorsing Union Effort At Alabama Amazon Warehouse HuffPo

Judge bans enforcement of Biden’s 100-day deportation pause AP

Republican plan would raise minimum wage to $10 but only if businesses are required to ensure worker legality USA Today

Realignment and Legitimacy

How to Teach Troops about the Constitution Defense One (Re Silc).

Anti-Maskers Waging “Spiritual War” Statewide Mainer. Or at least in Belfast.

Capitol Seizure

A Fence Now Surrounds Congress, But Capitol Hill Residents Are Leading The Push To Bring It Down DCist

Republican senator defends pro-Trump protesters who stormed Capitol, falsely blaming insurrection on ‘fake supporters’ Independent

EXCLUSIVE: He was the martyred face of the Capitol riot but now mother of hero cop Brian Sicknick says she believes her son died of a fatal stroke – not a fire extinguisher to the head – while authorities won’t say a word Daily Mail. See also Politifact (and not, oddly, the Times, the Post, CNN, MSNBC, etc.).

Our Famously Free Press

I Can’t Stand Fox News, But Censoring It Might Be The Dumbest Idea Ever Matt Taibbi, TK News. Today’s must-read.

House Democrats, Targeting Right-Wing Cable Outlets, Are Assaulting Core Press Freedoms Glenn Greenwald

Capitol Riots were a Dark Day for American Journalism Counterpunch (Re Silc).

After Facebook, Twitter ban, Trump fans and extremists turn elsewhere Agence France Press

Al Jazeera to launch rightwing media platform targeting US conservatives Guardian. And so it begins.

You say “obtained through hacking” like that’s a bad thing:

Can we have a similar warning for materials based on anonymous sources?

Facebook Announces Plan To Break Up U.S. Government Before It Becomes Too Powerful The Onion

Let’s imagine a different kind of platform economy Sifted


Four ERCOT board members who live outside of Texas resign in the aftermath of the power outage Houston Chronicle

Ex-bank president in Texas gets 8 years for fake loans, arson to try to cover up fraud MBC. Piker.

Groves of Academe

How 5 universities tried to handle COVID-19 on campus Science

Inside COVID isolation at UVM: reporter recounts surreal stay with no masks and limited supervision The Vermont Cynic


Gun provocation reveals tensions in Michigan tourist haven AP

Class Warfare

Online job posting analysis shows the extent of the pandemic’s damage, especially to women and youth International Monetary Fund

Universality or Fighting Over Scraps David Swanson, Tikkun

Taking a Stand in the War on General-Purpose Computing Cheapskate’s Guide

Spot’s RAMPAGE: Pranksters have mounted a paintball GUN on Boston Dynamics’ $75,000 robot dog and are offering the public the chance to control the bot as it wreaks havoc in an art gallery Daily Mail

Antidote du Jour (via Angus Andersen):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Links on by .

About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Eelok

    I tried to read the latest Branko Milanovic blog, but the man just endlessly argues in bad faith on these issues. I’m referring specifically to his engagement with the degrowth school. I understand that his work on global inequality is quite commendable. He cites/links to no one, and provides his own crude interpretation of what the “degrowers” want in order to vaguely bash it as magical thinking. He handwaves away a very nuanced and compelling critique of GDP as a measure of prosperity with nonsense like:

    “people migrate from Morocco to France because France is a richer country and they will be better-off there. American Blacks are worse off than American Whites in all dimensions, not least in terms of their income. This is the background to the Black Lives Matter movement that wants to make Blacks better off and equal in income and health to Whites.”

    Branko has made these critiques repeatedly while ignoring substantive responses from degrowth scholars that leverage insights from physics, ecology, economics, and more to posit that infinite expansion in GDP and the materials that go along with it is simply impossible. He’s made the same thin, tired arguments for years without actually participating in the debate. I find Hickels responses vastly more credible:

    1. Alex Morfesis

      Degrowth or un-growth ?? The “planning” for mormormor has evolved in various phases over the last century…auto emissions caused by suburban development fed when stumbled by convenient anomalies (ie trust fund babies who decided to help lead folks from the cities to where their trusts owned real estate by oopseez…weathered overground)…and zoning to prevent a walking capable life…today it continues with the “lovely” folks who bring us THE “international building code” where thou must not live off grid in a non forested location and though shalt not save money by building properties with mutual walls to reduce energy expenses…lest we forget the urban institute which is really the suburban and exurban promotion institute by “declaring” property as having lived past it’s “useful life” while the rest of the world somehow magically preserves and keeps these properties going for centuries…but no no no…we can’t have any of that in these here United fates of Merika (a little Greek humor…ufm)…and finally the Urban Land Institute, the keeper of all things Jim Crow and the insistor of segregation by insuring the destabilization of urban environments (for their own “unfunded/unfundable” good of course) to help “motivate” folks to enjoy the energy wasting “good life” of gated (to keep “themz” out) communities out there somewhere in the great highway beyond…

    2. Redlife2017

      Yes, it was quite the strawmanning. Especially since I’ve just read a great degrowth book that was just translated into English (from French) which speaks to the very problems he has with degrowth: The Age of Low Tech – Towards a Technologically Sustainable Civilization by Philippe Bihouix

      At least from what I’ve read, there is definitely recognition that it will be very difficult to move to degrowth. But we have to think about what world we want to have as our goal. Bihouix is very clear about the types of things we’d need to do and think about. It’s very refreshing.

      Branko makes the argument that we don’t want to screw the developing world (I agree), but it seemed to me he was more horrified that he might have to make due with not having this same world around him where he can get most anything he wants.

    3. Alan Kirk

      Mother Earth is offering us a choice: do you want to do this the easy way or the hard way? Right now we are consuming 1.75 earths worth of naturally regenerating resources. Either we get that number down voluntarily by only consuming what we need, or face Mother’s immune system response which includes fever (global warming) and the shakes (natural disasters).

    4. Halcyon

      The trouble I have with his argument (as someone who the commentariat will know has a special interest in climate) is that it’s essentially very easy to say any challenge commensurate with paris involves magical thinking.

      Let’s say you’re a super-duper technoutopian green growth type. You require the world to shift its energy use onto renewables while continuing to prioritise economic growth. In a decade, we’d need to halve emissions: that’s the near-term and most difficult challenge. At best you’d need to have wealthy nations and China well on the way to electrifying EVERYTHING and powering all of that electricity with renewables or nuclear in a decade to get there. That can sound like “magical thinking.”

      Or you go down the Shell route and say we can still get to Paris while phasing out fossil fuels more slowly… providing we plant forests twice the size of Brazil towards the end of the century to mop up the extra CO2 that we would have emitted in that time. No, really, that’s what their recent scenario says.

      No one says this is going to be easy. And I think rational observers suspect that we would need a combination of shifting technologies and shifting use patterns and yes, sacrificing endless and meaningless economic growth in favour of quality of life in a lot of cases. So to simply say that “solving climate change wholly through degrowth / cleantech / negative emissions is incredibly difficult and people who advocate it make it sound easy” is not really analysis imo. Our options to achieve Paris are all incredibly difficult and possibly bordering on magical thinking through various lenses.

      There’s an ongoing conflict between green-growthers and degrowthers in this field that is a little unproductive. I don’t view it as a dichotomy. What we want is to see how much of a quality of life we can provide for people within limits that won’t utterly wreck the biosphere and climate. That will require both the adoption of new, clean technologies and the abandonment of growth-at-all-costs as the priority.

      Also, often so-called degrowthers are not exactly committed to having sudden massive drops in global GDP… I feel and have said to them that the term “post-growth” is harder to strawman in this way.

      I liked this take on it:

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’d agree with you on this. The whole argument is missing the point. Obsessing over such an ill-defined process as ‘growth’ is a waste of time. Its all about resource use and emissions and finding the fastest viable way of reducing both significantly without destroying peoples quality of lives. This is not easy, but it is essential. All else is a distraction.

        1. coboarts

          What seems to be missing is what i would consider the first step – redefining what is quality of life

        2. chuck roast

          I am not smoking dope…yet. But using GDP (for US $20T in 2020) for anything except justifying the war budget (for US 700B in 2020) is the very definition of neoclassical obscurantism. When I do reach for the doobie I’m thinking of the World Happiness Index (WHI). Maybe a World Contentment Index (WCI) might be preferable, but we don’t have one…I’ll work on that as soon as I fire up the doobie…the WHI is what we have. Apparently, Finland led the way for the 2019 WHI. This, in addition to developing the very best ice hockey goalies. Let us contemplate Finland.

      2. Grateful Dude

        I agree that unsustainable growth is the wrong facet of this problem to neutralize.

        I intuitively think that focusing on eliminating waste will solve most of this. Use less. Eat less (horror). Drive less. etc. Integrate systems, maybe globally as in grid – don’t need batteries. Waste (trash, garbage) is already clogging the planet, including carbon in the atmosphere. My sense is that everything I throw in the trash represents a failure of civilization.

        1.Life-cycles of manufactured goods must design for recycling or reusing their parts and provide that service to consumers.
        2. Shrink-wraps and all single-use plastics must be biodegradable or banned: the plastics recycling market (so I’ve heard) was wrecked by the plastics producers.
        3. All chemicals in all products sold that may be taken up biologically by humans must be prove to be harmless. The testing protocols will be law.
        4. No synthetics chemicals should ever be consumed by humans in our food. Their use in drugs should be carefully monitored, they’re (almost) all synthetic – patent medicine is their business model.
        5. Food must be raised organically and animals treated humanely even if they are executed (slaughtered in ag parlance; eew).
        6. Fossil fuels must stay in the ground. Where’s the plan to transition to a carbon-free-energy future? How long? With what? Why do we need so much? Try public transportation, local farms and local food (avg plate of food travels 1400 miles), staying home (not an option for on-site and/or physical labor.
        7. Energy footprints of manufactured and transported goods should be calculated and public.
        8. Free fiber-optic internet for everybody so we can just stay home and live in our neighborhoods and communities while our collective mindspace together is unlimited.

        In other words, back to the 19thC with fast internet. Social issues some other time.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps Herman Daly’s “steady state economy” phrase was a good one for this purpose.

    5. Kurt Sperry

      He handwaves away a very nuanced and compelling critique of GDP as a measure of prosperity with nonsense like:

      “people migrate from Morocco to France because France is a richer country and they will be better-off there.”

      Can you please humor me and explain exactly how this is “nonsense”?

    6. Darthbobber

      I’m always a bit put off by people who do semi longform polemics without directly quoting those the polemic is ostensibly directed at or showing any sign that they have understood their actual arguments. Though the method is seemingly quite common now across ideologies and beliefs.

      I’ll unpack the bonzo one on migration that you singled out because there’s quite a bit done with it. The handwaving attribution of migration to “opportunity” is common enough, and of course begs a lot of questions. Like what happened to the level of “opportunity” in the place being abandoned that causes sudden waves of exodus. Sometimes its because the internal politics of countries halfway across the planet caused people to turn a country into a kill zone. Most often it is itself a product of the perverse priorities driving the idealized growth. I recall Hobsbawn in The Age of Empire, the third of his trilogy on the long nineteenth century, spent a chapter on the waves of migration set off during that era. In many cases the detonator was that “opportunity” where people had historically lived dropped to near-zero, from things like the shift of agriculture in many places to a more directly capitalist model, the loss of access to the land by large segments of the population (The first forebears of my dad’s side of the family in this country arrived here because they were forcibly replaced with sheep where they came from.)

      ANd you obviously have huge internal migrations in countries. In the early 80s, as the American auto industry was near collapse, my hometown of Wichita filled up for awhile with carloads of people with Michigan and Ohio license plates, due to the fact that our aircraft plants, while not what they once were, did sometimes actually hire significant numbers of people. They wouldn’t have been considering finding work in Wichita, selling out at firesale prices where they were from, and moving their families if it worked out had there still been anything for them in Michigan or Ohio. They of course had no reliable hope of success in Wichita, and for every person this worked out for another dozen went home or continued their migration elsewhere. But yeah-“opportunity beckoned.”

      And cities like Lagos, Nigeria or Mexico City continue to host a huge influx of immigrants from other parts of the country even in the absence of significant opportunity, again because taking a shot at being that elusive person for whom it works out well becomes your most tenable option once life in your original home becomes economically impossible. And its at least partly the idea of growf at all costs that causes this endless process of actually existing “creative destruction” to be portrayed as an unavoidable and indeed sometimes praiseworthy side effect of the march to blessedness.

    7. Ian Ollmann

      I feel like degrowth is an exercise in very provincial thinking distinctly out of place in a world rich with innovation. Growth is in itself fine, if we could just cut the undesirable side effects such as deforestation, carbon, etc. down. Why don’t we do this? Capitalism doesn’t capture these costs correctly and so the appropriate information “hands off!” isnt contained in pricing.

      Growth isn’t the problem. Unfettered capitalism is.

  2. John A

    Re: The Sordid Story of the Most Successful Political Party in the World The New Republic. The Tories.

    The article fails to mention one of the biggest elephants in the room: the First Past the Post voting system where the proportion of votes for each party (or strictly speaking the local candidate for each party) very rarely coincides with the proportion of seats won. Until or if ever this system is reformed the Conservatives will always have a natural advantage. When Blair finally won in 1997, the very wise Robin Cook, for a time Labour Foreign Minister until he opposed overseas adventurism, who suffered an untimely death, advised him to make such reform top of the agenda. Blair cockily thought he had cracked it, and declined. But then again, Tony Blair was very much Tory Plan B.

    1. jackiebass

      The same is true in the US. Gerrymandering is what does it. Both parties support Gerrymandering. The difference is republicans are smarter than democrats. Gerrymandering happens at the state and local level. Republicans focus on winning control of state and local governments so they control the process. Democrats focus on the biggest prize , the presidency. They may have the office of president but republicans control more of the government so republicans make policy.

      1. Terry Flynn

        I’m splitting hairs somewhat and I’m basically on same page as you in supporting need for reform but the problem here wasn’t gerrymandering (though that undoubtedly exists). It’s the system of voting itself – it was widely reported at the time (1997) that Blair was expecting only a modest victory and thus was ready to talk reform to the voting system.

        His (surprise) huge majority made him cocky. Labour lost their one opportunity to change the voting system. Gerrymandering certainly didn’t help them but was pretty irrelevant to the debate at that time. Electoral reform was the more crucial issue to stop the Tories from repeatedly getting into govt on the basis of small national votes. To be clear: correcting gerrymandering without changing the system of voting would help non-Tories but wouldn’t necessarily stop the problem of “too many Tory govts”.

      2. Robert Gray

        > The same is true in the US. Gerrymandering is what does it. Both parties support Gerrymandering.

        Indeed. This is something that gets my goat because with the power of modern computers it could be so easily rectified, given an honest inclination to do so. But because of the power of vested interests, it never will be, I’m afraid, short of fire and brimstone.

    2. Gordon

      The article also fails to mention another elephant hiding in plain sight: that the Tories are superbly organised in a way that works with the UK’s unwritten constitution like a glove, but the other parties aren’t.

      In our system the Prime Minister has more or less the powers of a medieval monarch – and is equally exposed to being summarily deposed if he/she gets anything important wrong which is a pretty huge evolutionary pressure to select the best – meaning in context the one who can best balance personalities, policies, power plays and more.

      So, Tory leaders are allowed immense power; they appoint ministers, mastermind policy, and even control the central party management via their appointees. Dissenters invariably exist, constantly plotting and scheming but they must be careful not to go too far or they will forego advancement.

      All this means there is always a Plan B (and often Plans C and D) being worked up ready for the next dethronement. And when that happens it’s all change – it was the ex-leader’s fault, not the Party’s.

      However, leaders don’t control the constituency parties which guard their independence fiercely. So, they do have to listen to the base very, very carefully via both formal and informal channels. If they lose that, their political life expectancy is very short – as Theresa May discovered.

      And, counter-intuitively, that means that the Tory party is actually pretty democratic.

      Conversely left and centre parties prefer to get everyone (but in practice a smallish band of insiders) involved because ‘democratic’. That means cumbersome committees, unresolved conflicts and a leader who is the person best able to survive the internal system. Whether they are any good in a wider political sense is secondary. And when it goes wrong the party takes the blame while the old internal battles rage without any obvious way to turn onto a new tack.

      So, they are astonishingly self-absorbed, remaining convinced of their own superiority but bewildered by the desertion of their base.

    3. Maritimer

      “the First Past the Post voting system where the proportion of votes for each party (or strictly speaking the local candidate for each party) very rarely coincides with the proportion of seats won.”
      Same thing in supposedly “democratic” Canada. Elections are often won with 40% of the vote which can give a numeric Majority to do whatever the elected Party wants. And they call this Democracy!

    4. chuck roast

      There is a caveat here that I don’t understand. As a member in good standing of the Labour Party, does one have to pay dues? Is this a consideration? Am I getting this wrong? I thought that the recent Corbynista growth in labour was due to new dues paying members.

  3. zagonostra

    >Universality or Fighting Over Scraps David Swanson, Tikkun

    Why should smokers get health coverage? Because human rights are for humans, the human without a flaw does not exist, and a government agency to identify all smokers is not something I want to pay for or live with.

    Why should someone get out of their student debt when I didn’t? Because I’m not sadistic. I do not wish for others to suffer if I’ve suffered, but rather, just the reverse.

    “If Joe Biden wants to be FDR or LBJ… he should create something universal and lasting. It would be lasting because it could not be attacked as supposedly only benefitting a certain hated group. Nor could it be attacked as inefficient and in need of privatization. It’s the means-testing bureaucracy that’s inefficient. It’s the privatization solution that’s even more inefficient. There’s nothing more efficient than nonprofit universality.”

    The problem with this analysis is the underlying assumption, that JB want’s what is good for the country as a whole, the common good, instead of those individuals and groups that that have helped him personally throughout his whole carrier. DS’s arguments are sound, logical, and moral and inevitably they will fall on the deaf ears of policy makers.

    To keep people divided, misdirected, and focusing on the red/blue split is one of the means by which the ruling elites operate. To keep people focused on what China, Russia Iran, Korea, are doing, or a sub-group like smokers, is to keep people from looking at what happened in Texas too closely or the millions going without healthcare and millions living on the cusp of losing their homes.

    Yes, Universality is the key to avoiding a Hobbesian life for a mass swath of the populous that is ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’’ but that’s not the telos that motivates the powerful and their organs of manufacturing consent with a society that is characterized by discontent.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I see no evidence that Joe Biden wants to be FDR or LBJ as much as the media wants us to think Joe Biden wants to be FDR or LBJ. Joe Biden wants to maintain the status quo and while he may demand you think of him along those lines, he has no interest in doing anything to make those comparisons valid. (And, of course, I’d argue FDR is the bare minimum of what we need in the moment, LBJ not even reaching that mark.)

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        reckon if wound up and left to run in a vacuum, biden would become a folksy analog of nixon.
        with the pressure we’re allowed, today, from the left, he might land somewhere near reagan, with carterish aw-shucks.

        bosses will never let us have another fdr.

      2. Ian Ollmann

        I’m not sure Biden wants to do anything but be a quiet and competent administrator.

        The problem is that we need a LBJ or a FDR. There are too many problems that need progressive action. Business as usual is just going to invite more revolution, because business as usual does not operate to the service of the people.

  4. timbers

    Republican plan would raise minimum wage to $10 but only if businesses are required to ensure worker legality USA Today

    Stopping the flow of illegal labor into the US will do more to raise wages then the proposed $15 wage by 2025. If they are saying as I understand based on reports yesterday, that all US workers must be verified as legal via E-Verity, then I would not be surprised that verifying all US are legal would do more to raise wages in the US, than raising minimum wage to $15 by 2025.

    Not just because $15 by 2025 is basically almost a planned wage reduction not increase, but because the flood of labor both legal and illegal, both low wage and high, probably does more to drive down wages in US.

    If I were a guest at a party and they served me $15 by 2025, I’d throw it in their face and leave the party. What an insult.

    1. apber

      According to reputable sources (shadowstats and the Chapwood Index) inflation has been 7-10% compounded for at least the last decade. I keep receipts so I can quite easily prove this. This is an enormous tax on income. If politicians were honest the minimum wage should be at least $50/hr. to compensate.

      1. timbers

        7-10% annual inflation is my gut estimate, too. Housing up 10%, car prices surging, medical costs. All these the Fed removes in various degrees & ways from it’s inflation reports. 10% inflation over 4 yrs? Where does that put $15? About $9 and change?

    2. Randy

      I get that editors write the title but employers already have an obligation to verify immigration status. This is about using e-verify, which states are already increasingly requiring employers to use on their own.

      It doesn’t matter the system though. People will find a way around it so long as their are incentives do so. So long as the US pursues policies in Latin America that drive immigration (drug war, market liberalization, supporting death squads and rightwing coups, etc) and so long as Americans continue to have little appetite to actually do these jobs even when states crack down and drive immigrants underground (see eg Georgia’s experience), we will keep having poor people from abroad doing this work on the down low.

      1. cocomaan

        Yep. It’s super easy to engage immigrants in work. We all know how to do it, in one way or another. One landscaping business I talked to last year just goes down to the local Home Depot parking lot every weekday morning to round up undocumented help.

        Everyone knows it’s happening. Drug dealer is on the corner, every day.

      2. tegnost

        yeah it seems to me that any change in immigration will come from the immigrants themselves either going home or not showing up at all. Government policy will retain the “nudge, nudge… wink, wink” of the last 30+ years…

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Use the carceral state for the people who really deserve it . . . . the illegal employERS.

      3. Lee

        In my neck of the woods: Day Labor pick up sites in the East Bay (Yelp)

        A lot of residential maintenance and remodeling crews operating in my relatively prosperous neighborhood are definitely not from around here, don’t speak English, don’t socially distance, and don’t wear face masks. They are typically hired directly by homeowners or contractors who pay them off the books. This, of course, depresses wages paid for such work and creates a socially hostile working environment for the local citizenry, who are notably absent from day labor gathering points, in spite of the high rate of unemployment in the area.

        1. timbers

          Doesn’t look like any sort of “e-verify” going on here IMO.

          Of course, the e-verity thing needs to be enforced with sharp teeth. Guess one can not take that for granted.

          I’m sure it could be done. Could be.

        2. tegnost

          and prop 22 passed with I think 58% of the vote so no one needs to wonder what is important to californians

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            My understanding is that prop 22 was slickly sold to deeply ignorant and possibly clue-proof people.

      4. PeterfromGeorgia

        E-verify only verifies whether the SSN is valid and attached to the name using it. E-verify does not inform the users if the SSN is being used in other locations. When I worked at a firm handling employment law for chicken processors, the “common knowledge” amongst low level HR staffers at the plants were that applicants would “rent” id and SSN from someone and then use these documents to get hired. The Feds don’t care as they get extra SS taxes, the company gets cheaper labor, and the worker gets work.

      5. Ian Ollmann

        I really don’t think that the United States Government is so powerful as to be responsible for all, or even most, or even more than a few of the problems in Latin America.

        Personally, I feel that if a Central or South American is willing to put up with all of the crap of coming here just to contribute to our economy, WE SHOULD LET HIM. They are nice people, respectful, and hard working. After a period, if he is interested in citizenship, then that should be allowed too. The reason they undercut our workforce is precisely because we afford them 2nd class personhood. Give them equal status in the workforce, and the average American will find that he is not losing his job to an immigrant because they work cheaply, but because the immigrant is doing a better job. That is perfectly fair, and would be a reminder to us all to do our best instead of resting on our laurels. Citizens already enjoy a language advantage and likely an educational advantage. If you are still worried about losing your job in a fair economy, you don’t have a lot going for you.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          NAFTA was engineered on purpose to destroy the Mexican corn-growing farmer economy in order to drive millions of peasant farmers off the land and into the maquiladoras envisioned along the US-Mexico border. But then several million of the envisioned maquiladora jobs were set up in China instead.

          So the economic exiles from the Mexican countryside kept on moving into the US. Because of NAFTA. Which , in all fairness, was a 3-way conspiracy between the ruling groups of Mexico, America AND Canada, not just America.

    3. marym

      During the Obama years Democrats claimed that stronger e-verify controls must be part of other immigration reform, which never happened. Republicans had an anti-immigration president and both houses of Congress without imposing new e-verify requirements.

      Meanwhile, denying a living wage to the hardest working, most exploited, most “essential” citizen, legal resident, and undocumented workers hasn’t been helpful to US workers, whatever reasons politicians claim to justify it.

    4. CloverBee

      The only way to ensure compliance is for employers to face harsh consequences for employing Illegal labor. Imagine if the raids on slaughter houses resulted in Corporate Executives and local site managers going to prison or facing harsh fines. Or if a family faced harsh fines for employing illegal domestic help? Wages would rise for Americans very quickly, and there would be a push to find a legal status for the currently illegal.

      Immigrants get around E-Verify very easily by purchasing legitimate SSNs and getting a fake ID to match. E-Verify does not take note that this SSN is being used in 5 different states at the same time, much less 2.

      This is a pro-forma move by the Republicans for their base, but really results in no changes that would harm access to cheap, exploitable labor.

  5. Antoine LeBear

    Re: Op-Ed: Stop Stressing Post-Vax Risk of Spreading Coronavirus
    This op-ed tries to make the case that reporting must stop warning that the transmission by vaccinated people may still occur because… it vindicates anti-vaxx. It gives no proof the vaccines reduce transmission, only think that it should. It does not source its argument that most transmission occurs with very sick, high viral load patients (it does seem the asymptomatic carriers are still a menace according to other publications). It does not mention the fact that if you do this you will have vaccinated people wearing no mask and taking zero precaution even among vulnerable people.
    What a load.

  6. taunger

    I too am disappointed when meeting the degrowth strawmen used in the magical thinking article. It does seem apparent that any reversion to the mean in terms of co2 emissions (long term mean) will involve population reduction that would make a coronavirus blush

    Thankfully, it’s not something I need desire, as in the long term …

    1. Phacops

      Well, we could start by removing payments for children in our tax code, and add a surtax for all child dependents. Of course the Green New Deal proponents never consider this. I have no incentive to reduce my carbon footprint until people stop pushing out babies in an already overcrowded world.

      1. Bruno

        Phacorps, you think there are too many people? If I knew of a good medium I would invite you to go there for a full consultation with Doctor Kevorkian about your oh-so-special condition.

        1. chuck roast

          This would typically be called an ad hominem attack if anyone were watching. As a guy with no children, no automobile and no home ownership I can easily see how the tax code is totally arrayed against me and in favor of over consumption and (excuse me) over production. I don’t hear any GND virtue signalers discussing the hugely carbonized tax code.

      2. lordkoos

        Expecting humans to be rational about not having children vs the strong instinct to reproduce is a losing game. While having fewer kids is obviously one of the best things humans could do for our planet, I have no idea how that could be promoted. What will almost certainly happen as we continue our unwise & idiotic behavior in the face of climate change, will be death on a vast scale. Much of which could have been avoided were we a more rational species, but this is who we are.

        The US government and elites in general seem to have already given up on any real response to climate change, at this point they seem to be under the impression that if you have a lot of wealth, you and yours will be fine. Or that they can live on Mars…

    2. Eelok

      And the degrowthers I’ve paid attention to don’t even suggest that it’s impossible to decouple CO2 emissions from GDP (overall materials is a separate matter), only that according to all of the best scientific work on the matter it’s impossible to do it in time to avert catastrophic climate change. One of the better parts of Hickels’s new book was a thorough critique and debunking of the carbon capture assumptions built into the IPCC models for staying below 1.5c. It doesn’t hold up and is the very definition of magical thinking.

    3. Ian Ollmann

      No, that isn’t necessary at all. The problem is the blinkered thinking common to most adults in the US that in order to get energy, you need to burn something. It is absolutely unnecessary. We can produce 100x more energy than we currently do with solar alone. Combined with storage, and an efficient energy grid, CO2 is largely not needed as a product.

      There are a few industrial processes that emit CO2 without combustion, steel making and concrete. However, we know how to do those things too without CO2. It merely takes the will to say enough is enough and ban new sales of carbon burning equipment, and we can start down the road to massive CO2 reductions. Nature will eventually sponge the stuff up, if we just stop making it.

      CO2 free concrete has been known since the Romans. It is longer lasting too.

      The remainder is agriculture, for which I am sure we can make excellent inroads in time.

  7. Wukchumni

    Despite discrimination and drought, Punjabi Americans farm on High Country News
    February which is usually the big earner for precip has been a bust, with nothing forecast for the rest of the month, which leaves us in want of a March Miracle. This is the 2nd winter of about 50% of an average snowpack in the Sierra, and I noticed last year that even after a very robust 2019 winter that things were drying out much quicker than during the 2012-16 drought.

    If only the internet could come up with virtual water, our problems would be solved…

    Orchards are the predominant source of food grown around these parts because the finished product is worth more than crops grown yearly, and you don’t have to grow the latter if the water isn’t there, but not so with the 666 million* nut & fruit trees in the state, if you don’t they’ll die, and it takes 5-10 years for trees to become viable as producers (i’ve been watching a pistachio orchard on Hwy 198, it’s been 8 years since they were planted and not one nut yet…) so there’s extra emphasis to keep the trees alive no matter what, and that means using groundwater to a large extent when there’s a drought. In the dark days of 2014-15 groundwater was used pretty much exclusively, causing much subsidence here that the Friant-Kern Canal was so messed up, that $206 million in Covid relief was appropriated for a cheap fix. (to do it right the bill would be closer to $500 million)

    Much of what is grown in draining aquifers is strictly for export, it isn’t as if Americans are eating more almonds & pistachios, and what’s happening is essentially a race to the bottom, and you hope you don’t hit salty water, which means game so over not just for now, but forever.

    Such short sided thinking by us, we could have used that resource for hundreds of years, but we’ll race through it willy nilly now-because markets.

    * a guestimate, there are probably close to 200 million almond trees alone!
    I was doing drought research from the 1976-77 bout, and in the state there was around 25 million nut & fruit trees in the ground back then~

  8. Howard Beale IV

    “The cash-flush amateurs hunting game cards, handbags and art” – Seems a lot of folks have forgotten about Ty’s ‘Beanie Babies’ – and how the CEO got clipped by the IRS for taxevation using offshore accounts.

  9. Lorenzo

    ‘Held to ransom’: Pfizer demands governments gamble with state assets to secure vaccine deal

    Pfizer has been accused of “bullying” Latin American governments in Covid vaccine negotiations and has asked some countries to put up sovereign assets, such as embassy buildings and military bases, as a guarantee against the cost of any future legal cases, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.

    Pfizer asked for additional indemnity from civil cases, meaning that the company would not be held liable for rare adverse effects or for its own acts of negligence, fraud or malice. This includes those linked to company practices – say, if Pfizer sent the wrong vaccine or made errors during manufacturing.

    1. flora

      The Gates Foundation has a huge investment in Pfizer and BionTech.
      I remember well how Microsoft grew their market and Windows os suite of tools in the late 80’s and 90’s by… uh… “evaluating” applications by other software companies sent to them for paid inclusion in the MS OS suite. (The apps were never bought and paid for, they were rejected as unsuitable for Windows. And yet an equivalent app would soon appear under the MS brand in Windows. MS faced an anti-trust suite for bundling IE- their version of Netscape – in their operating system instead of making it a stand-alone purchase. Suite was dropped by the W admin.) The MS company’s infamous practice became the topic of jokes and cartoons, and destroyed a lot of very good up-and-coming software startups.

      The Pfizer hasn’t fallen far from the chief investor’s tree, imo. ;)

      1. Isotope_C14

        I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the AstraZeneca vaccine is perfectly efficacious against the new variants, including the South Africa, but it would be much more profitable to create doubt regarding it. That would sure jive with the MS brand of manipulation.

        I hear due to working where I work, the only choice I will get is the AstraZeneca, and I hear a couple of my co-workers will be vaccinated with it next week.

        1. flora

          Thanks for the link. An aside about funding of the WHO: The two highest contributors are the US govt at ~15% and the Gates Foundation at ~10%.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Just go to Google and put the following into the search bar-

      “Ecuador inches closer to an indigenous president”

      It should be top of the results page and will open up as a normal page for you.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            If this didn’t work for me, I wouldn’t be linking to it. (That’s why I link to the WSJ, Foreign Affairs, etc. very rarely.)

            To put this another way, I have never linked to an FT article that I was unable to read, using the technique given.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Did you flush your cache , I mean remove cookies? I did (on Firefox) and came up with the article but behind a survey I had to take, I assume before I could read the thing. I declined to take the survey so I don’t know if it was just a lead in to a sucker punch.

    2. Steve Sewall

      At Reddit (I’m a member) the full article appears for me when I enter into Search

      “Ecuador inches closer to an indigenous president”

      and then click the light blue “ft/com/content” hyperlink.

    3. Wukchumni

      Ecuador got rid of it’s sovereign currency-the Sucre, about 20 years ago, and was replaced by the US $, which was good for stability in the face of their currency going through hyperinflation hell. All the Sacagawea and Presidential Dollar coins went there and are commonly used in circulation, probably on account of seignorage, would be my guess. You certainly never see them in circulation in the USA, do ya?

      Would an indigenous president break precedent, not wanting to be yoked to us?

      The Sucre maintained a fairly stable exchange rate against the U.S. dollar until 1983 when it was devalued to 42 per USD and a crawling peg was adopted. Depreciation increased rapidly and the Sucre’s free market rate was over 800 per USD by 1990 and nearly 3000 by 1995. The sucre lost 67% of its foreign exchange value during 1999; its value nosedived an additional 17% over the course of one week, ending at 25,000 sucre per USD on January 7, 2000.

      On January 9, President Jamil Mahuad announced that the US dollar was to be adopted as Ecuador’s official currency, although the US dollar had already had wide informal use in Ecuador before this decision was made. The US dollar became legal tender in Ecuador on March 13, 2000, as sucre notes ceased to be legal tender on September 11, 2000. Sucre notes were exchangeable at a rate of 25,000 sucre per dollar at Banco Central until March 30, 2001. (Wiki)

  10. The Rev Kev

    “How to Teach Troops about the Constitution”

    Is this really a wise move? I mean teaching troops about what is in the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and what it all means? Soldiers aren’t stupid you know and might really taking it to heart. Too many would see too many parallels with the complaints in the Declaration of Independence and modern-day America. Others would question why they should be ordered to attack Iran by the President when the Constitution states that that is the job of the US Senate. What if soldiers took it all to heart and practiced the Bill of Rights and refused to suppress the rights of other Americans on the grounds that it is against the Constitution? The next thing you know, you might have a serious outbreak of law and order.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Considering democrats’ current efforts to abridge the Constitutional guarantees of free speech and a free press as a matter of “national security” as detailed in the Greenwald link, how can any attempt to chase these people out of the capitol permanently NOT be regarded as protecting and defending the Constitution????

      But taking the author’s premise far more seriously than it deserves, the military could let a no-bid contract with some for-profit “university” to determine the curriculum and do the “teaching.” Prospective recruits could be required to complete it prior to being sworn in, and would be responsible for any tuition and fees the “university” decided to charge. As Constitutional “interpretation” changed in the country over time, required re-education “continuing ed” credits would be provided by the “university” at the soldier’s expense.

      In the event a recruit couldn’t afford the “education,” he or she could be given a student loan at exorbitant interest, with payments automatically deducted from the soldier’s pay. Discharge of the financial obligation in the event of job-related maiming or death could be evaluated on an individual basis.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘the military could let a no-bid contract with some for-profit “university” ‘

        Maybe they could get John Yoo to teach this course as he knows a lot about the Constitution as he is a law professor. /sarc

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the military could let a no-bid contract with some for-profit “university”

        Constitution University, Inc. I smell a business model! I’m surprised Newt Gingrich didn’t think of this already.

    2. David

      There’s a long history of this going horribly wrong in countries where the military are specifically told to “defend the constitution.” It permits the commanders, and the individual soldiers even, to play constitutional lawyer and pick and choose which orders to obey. It’s been used as a justification for coup d’états quite frequently. In fact, the position is simpler than that: the military in every country are obliged to obey lawful orders (which are usually carefully defined and taught in training) and obliged to disobey unlawful ones (ditto). You can’t and shouldn’t require individuals to make such judgements by themselves.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > There’s a long history of this going horribly wrong in countries where the military are specifically told to “defend the constitution.”

        That’s what the Generals are doing in Myanmar right now…..

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Is this really a wise move?

      It’s a terrible move. I especially liked that part where the troops had to sign that they’d been educated, as if they’d been called into HR for some infraction. Holy Lord.

  11. CH

    Facebook Announces Plan To Break Up U.S. Government Before It Becomes Too Powerful

    I saw a post yesterday on Reddit that said, “If governments aren’t regulating your corporations, then corporations are regulating your government.”

    BTW, has there been any coverage here of the bill in Nevada that would supposedly allow corporations to create their won governments? I’d like to see an analysis.

    1. Jason

      If governments aren’t regulating your corporations, then corporations are regulating your government.

      Which means, by extension, corporations are regulating you (us).

      1. cnchal

        > Which means, by extension, corporations are regulating you (us).

        True. Consider Uber and it’s ilk, with combined losses equivalent or greater than the sinking of the entire fleet of Nimitz aircraft carriers, investing $200 million to pass prop 22

        A prime example of money as speech.

      2. Maritimer

        Corporations are Citizens. But Citizens are not Corporations. Consider the tax implications of that. Those corporate tax deductions/shelters/etc. sure look good to me.

    2. skippy

      Straight out of the Hans Herman Hopple rule book …

      Seems the only question is whether you like your kool-aid red or blue colour … or Rumsfeld pesticide byproduct artificial sweetener or GMO overblown organic sweetener … nothing like the ***taste of freedom*** of choice … eh …

  12. Carolinian

    Re Dems seeking to “cancel” Fox News–Trying to gain control over the internet is one thing. Trying to gain control over America’s television sets is completely different. You have to wonder in what fantasy world Dems think that cable providers–already faced with a crisis of cord cutting among their younger, web savvy customers–would then eliminate right wing channels that keep their older customers paying those bloated monthly bills. Like the recent impeachment this smacks of Pelosi-think at its worst. Those Republican senators declined to commit political seppuku and it’s hard to imagine cable CEOs being any more enthusiastic. Divide and conquer only works if you can actually, you know, conquer.

    1. cocomaan

      I think it’s more and more clear that the reason Democrats are still pursuing Trump, still harping on 1/6, engaging in the censorship game, playing diversity-baiting games, is that they have no platform. They have nothing to offer. Their entire platform was anti-trump and now that he’s gone, they have to govern.

      Had a feeling that the Democrat’s ferocious 2020 campaign was going to end with a poisoned chalice. Governing is difficult in good times let alone now, when nothing seems to work. The mail is broken, healthcare is broken, energy is broken, education is broken. No plan to rebuild anything.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        What else do they have? Their whole strategy was to shout “bipartisan” rebranded as “unity” and then be applauded for holding pageants and then yell at the left when the nihilists, “centrists”, found common ground with the GOP. Of course, the Party of No not interested in pageants as much as power isn’t going to do Team Blue’s work for them.

        Spring is here! Going outside was like an assault on my senses.

      2. km

        Failing businesses often offer symbolic concessions to raise morale. Everyone can be a vice-president and every day can be casual day, as these things cost the company nothing out of pocket and hopefully the employees won’t ask why there is no money for raises this year and the health insurance deductible just went up again, but the boss just got a new sailboat.

        Team D cannot offer bread, at least not without torking off its corporate masters, so it offers circuses.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The mail is broken, healthcare is broken, energy is broken, education is broken. No plan to rebuild anything.

        Obviously, we can’t be improving the material conditions of the working class, because that would mean a second FDR, and nobody wants that, not on your Nelly.

        This time around, liberal Democrats want to save capitalism through wokeness. Let me know how that works out….

    2. The Rev Kev

      I think that I see your problem here. The Democrats don’t really want to cancel Fox news and the like. They only really want to cancel anybody that is a Republican. :)

        1. Aumua

          Well I don’t care who she is, or was. She’s spouting nothing but hard right rhetoric here so she belongs on Tucker’s show.

      1. Carolinian

        When CNN suggested booting Fox a few weeks ago Carlson had a reported piece taunting Fox’s rivals and Jeff Zucker’s tiny stature in particular. I say reported because I don’t get get cable at all and long ago cut the cord over disgust with CNN. Have never watched Fox.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “A Fence Now Surrounds Congress, But Capitol Hill Residents Are Leading The Push To Bring It Down’

    I certainly hope that they get rid of this fence as yeah, it is not really a good look for America. I’m sure that the impetus is there to build a permanent fence but this should be resisted. Consider this. That fence went up lickety-split, right? It is almost as if there was a plan of where that fence should be set up, the fence panels stored not too far away to build it, and a plan to use the troops and transport to quickly set it up. But there is another reason why there should not be a permanent fence.

    Others may have their own theory when the wheels started to come off the Roman Empire but I would date it to the years between 271 AD and 275 AD. Up till then, Rome was steadily expanding in all directions. So confident were the Romans that they still used the Servian Wall from four or five hundred years before. They had confidence in the Pax Romana & the Roman Amy and took pride in the fact that they did not need to fortify their city. But in the 3rd century the Romans struggled to beat back invading barbarian armies and so walls were ordered to be built surrounding Rome. It kept them safe but I think myself that it lead to a gradual loss in confidence in themselves over time.

    And if they try to make a permanent fence around the sacred buildings of Washington, I think that it will have a similar effect on America as this fence would be there not to stop barbarians or invaders but their own fellow Americans. That has to have some sort of effect over time.

    1. Wukchumni

      Others may have their own theory when the wheels started to come off the Roman Empire but I would date it to the years between 271 AD and 275 AD. Up till then, Rome was steadily expanding in all directions. So confident were the Romans that they still used the Servian Wall from four or five hundred years before. They had confidence in the Pax Romana & the Roman Amy and took pride in the fact that they did not need to fortify their city. But in the 3rd century the Romans struggled to beat back invading barbarian armies and so walls were ordered to be built surrounding Rome. It kept them safe but I think myself that it lead to a gradual loss in confidence in themselves over time.

      As luck would have it, the formerly 95% pure silver Denarius was debased in 274 AD to the point where it was merely silver-washed copper with no silver content.

      Denarii were the financial workhorse of the empire, the army was paid in them, and then all of the sudden they lost their buying power as everybody became hep to what had happened, the first episode historically of monetary hyperinflation.

      For hundreds of years under the old standard, 25 Denarii equaled 1 gold Aureus, and then it went to 3,000 Denarii equaling 1 gold Aureus.

      I think that through ‘high technology’ the ancients were able to create ‘silver’, and it must have been quite the stimulus for alchemists to attempt to do the same with gold, and gold-plating is no big deal now vis a vis electricity, so they would have debauched both metals given the chance.

      1. Wukchumni


        Then as now with the USA & the almighty buck, the Roman Empire’s coins were essentially the known world’s reserve currency, there were others that minted coins in Europe-adjacent, but hardly any, call em’ penny ante types. The Romans had pretty much a stranglehold on specie.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      To hear Mike Duncan tell it, the wheels came off much earlier in the 3rd century and the empire had essentially been busted up into three separate pieces not all ruled by Rome. Aurelian came in, kicked some (golden? [sorry, just couldn’t help myself with the classical double entendre]) ass, took some names, and reconsolidated the empire to its former glory, if only briefly.

      The Spartans prided themselves in not having a walled city, the thought being their superior military would never allow invaders to get close in the first place. Or maybe that invaders would just get tired out slaughtering the peasant Helots that surrounded Sparta proper, giving the elite Spartans a chance to escape. Hard to tell since those Spartans didn’t really write much about themselves.

      The Spartans pretty much fade from history after winning the Peloponnesian war, and in a book I read recently about ancient Greek Thebes from Paul Cartledge, he mentions one reason is that the Spartans essentially bred themselves into oblivion. Sparta was no melting pot, and the elites kept the elitism to themselves to their point that their population dropped substantially. Thebes takes over in the mid-4th century BC as the most powerful Greek state for a brief period of time, even holding Philip of Macedon hostage for a while, which was not forgotten by the Macedonians. Philip, and later Alexander [whose name translates as “I bet you wish you’d built a bigger wall” ;) ] sacked Greece, razed Thebes to the ground, and that was pretty much the end of the city state form of governance, and it’s been empire ever since.

      Not sure what the above has to do with anything, except that a state’s endurance with or without walls may vary, and that I enjoy talking about ancient history. I hope the walls in DC come down too, whether taken down voluntarily by the government, or otherwise.

      1. Wukchumni

        Don’t underestimate the money angle in the Roman Empire falling apart, as the only other instance coins were hyperinflated was during the ‘Kipper und Wipper’ period 300 years before the Weimar paper money hyperinflation, when instead of silver-washing copper coins to make them look the part, issuers simply valued copper coins @ around 30-50x the previous stated face value. This was one of the factors for the cause of the Thirty Years’ War.

        To quote the words of Nikolaus Kopernikus in 1517, “The greatest and most forbidding mistake has to be when a ruler tries to make a profit from the minting of coins by introducing and circulating new coins, with an inferior weight and fineness, alongside the originals and claims that they are both of equal value…”.

        These words should have been remembered a hundred years further down the line.The so-called “Kipper and Wipper period” saw the highest inflation in the history of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. The start of the Thirty Years’ War marked the beginning of a drastic deterioration in the quality of coins in Central Europe which lasted until 1623.

        1. Wukchumni


          This is what a German blogger of the time would’ve done by pasting these broadsheets on a wall for all to see. Doesn’t sound any different than now, does it?

          “Through this beast all vanishes one-two-three
          Like a fire, it burns all things away
          There’s naught that can its hunger sate,
          In short, it is ill-gotten gain,
          Born straight from out of the brood of greed.
          For it has this special quality,
          It gobbles gold, wealth, strength gradually.
          Where ill-gotten gain has taken root,
          Good fortune there cannot remain.”

          “If someone owned the world entire,
          His spirit for money still would thirst,
          And a great poorness would still prevail.”

          Wording on contemporary German broadsheets, 1622.

          From a rather amazing book put out by Yale University a decade ago, and giveaway priced @ just $15

          1. skippy

            The problem with the monetarist methodology is it focuses on a thing, inanimate object with no agency, and not on the sociopolitical events which proceed every alteration in whatever token of exchange is used E.g. these inanimate objects are just a representation of a complex set of social contracts and how they play out in the shifting that occurs in social networks.

            Per se long before Rome … Egypt had experienced the whole gambit of what a hard currency has to offer, from war in protecting its sources, too subjugation of others to source the raw metals, then after all that they ended up looting their own gold buried with the dead kings to restock the state coffers …. yet at every twist and turn the best periods where when the State had a jobs program that front ran everything else.

            The deal with Rome had more to do with wheat than any coinage [see Carthage and North Africa], which then got even more out of shape with dramas for farmers due to the elites getting out of hand. Same could be said wrt up thread about Sparta – one trick pony heraldic DNA society that banned any innovation driven by their slaves being clever from experience in a task.

            To put it another way … logistics always proceeds whatever token of exchange is used i.e. if your token is not flexible enough to deal with unforeseen demands on quantity required to allow the necessary economic activity then there is only one result. On the other hand you have the drama of what people will do with it and its distribution through out the economy, M – M seems to be the flav-of-the-day with our elites in the networking scrum of power. Some how this always seems to proceed your umbrage wuk …

            1. Wukchumni

              Greed plays heavily in both instances i’ve cited, with the resulting financial carnage a not well known historical totem. I’m more interested in the financial finale of this folly in a similar fashion to what will become of us who are doing the same thing albeit digitally, and when I say us, i’m talking about the entire world, not just an empire or handful of countries.

              How they got to that point is no different than how you would describe the events leading to the debauching of the Weimar Mark, a century ago. Effect needs a cause.

  14. Brooklin Bridge

    I noticed this article on a move for 12 hour work days, 7 days a week on the World Socialist Web Site. Has this been in links?

    It begins:

    The drive by Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) to impose a 12-hour, seven-day schedule for skilled trades at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) near Detroit, with the support of the United Auto Workers (UAW), has evoked broad anger. […]

    Empire collapse going according to plan? Yikes…

    1. cocomaan

      Yikes is right, wow!

      The so-called Alternative Work Schedule (AWS) was first introduced in auto plants as part of the 2009 concessions imposed by the Obama administration in collaboration with the UAW during the forced bankruptcy and restructuring of the US auto industry. The new rules allowed shifts of longer than eight hours with no payment of overtime and the elimination of the traditional time-and-a-half rate for Saturday work.

      Gotta love how everything comes back around.

      I have to say, that while this is bad, the fact that nobody read the union contract means that this “snuck through”. Union reps need to be held responsible and replaced with people who are willing to read the damn contract.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        I’m not entirely clear after reading the article, but they mention a 4×10 schedule…which from my perspective…when it is an option i can choose from a palate of weekly schedules….is one I would settle on every time. Both now as a tech worker, or also in laboring days simply because ‘3 day weekends’.

        Is the loosening of overtime to ‘allow’ 4×10 shifts the Trojan Horse that opened the gates? Maybe some of the ‘hidden in the contract’ stuff was couched in that sort of ‘Look everyone…4×10 option good!’ sections and clauses.

        That said – if I was a Union rank and filer, i would be pretty much – ‘Heads. On. Pikes.’ Metaphorically speaking, natch.

        (wie sach man…’go long pinkerton stock?’)

      2. verifyfirst

        I don’t know if you have ever seen the printed drafts of the new national contracts these workers have to vote on–they are about the size of an old time Chicago phone book (550 plus pages?). Changes are identified by strike thru and underlines. The ratifications are done very soon after the contract is settled–a Highlighter is provided, about 20-30 pages long, which is supposed to identify material items and explanation meetings are held for rank and file.

        After the national contract is ratified, each Local negotiates and ratifies a separate local agreement–this workers tend to know more about, since they are closer to those issues. This article does not say if the enabling language for seven days/12 hours (which would be insane) is in the national or the local agreement.

        And yes it is true Rahm and Obama screwed the workers good in 2009. Nobody will be surprised about that……

        1. cocomaan

          Did not know that about the contracts, but still, this is not the first rodeo. Someone in the union forgot to pass down the ability to read and comment and otherwise arbitrate if this went through!

          But it’s kind of par for the course for most organizations these days: very little is being passed down, information is hoarded, and old timers cling to their positions without making any efforts at legacy. It’s all short term thinking.

          As Jacobite said above, this seems to have been a long time coming, starting with a snowball that’s now turning into an avalanche.

    2. Mikel

      Probably some connection to the this type of plan for workers and expectations for automation and the delay of all those infrastructure programs people keep talking about.

  15. fresno dan

    Capitol Riots were a Dark Day for American Journalism Counterpunch (Re Silc).
    Does it matter what really did occur? Many people feel that anything damaging to Trump and his fascistic followers is all right by them. They may suspect privately that accounts of Trump’s plot against America are exaggerated, but the fabricator of 30,573 falsehoods over the last four years is scarcely in a position to criticize his opponents for departing from the strict truth.
    If the US government really was the target of an armed insurrection, then this will be used to justify repression, as it was after 9/11, and not just against right wing conspiracy theorists.
    A problem with a giant news story like the Capitol invasion is that at first it is over-covered before we know the full facts, and then it is under-covered when those facts begin to emerge. This has been true of US media coverage. But even at the time it seemed to be a very peculiar armed insurrection. Only one shot appears to have been fired and that was by a police officer who killed Trump supporter Ashil Babbitt who was involved in the storming of the Capitol. In a country like the US awash with guns, this absence of gunfire is remarkable.
    Yet over the last seven weeks – without the world paying any attention – the story of the murder of Officer Sicknick has progressively unraveled.
    As noted in another of today’s links, we have gone past the MSM event horizon for Sicknick – he was killed by the capital riot and anyone who doesn’t believe that is a nut. Indeed, the voluminous amount of wrong reporting will be used to establish what the “truth” is…it has been reported in every major US newspaper.

  16. Alan Kirk

    Found the Treehugger article misleading to the point of being blatant propaganda, implying that the 77% of soybean crop going to animal feed could be use for human consumption. In truth, one of the best uses of the parts we don’t eat is to feed it to animals; stacking functions is what we strive for in Permaculture. Animal systems, especially those utilizing mostly intact ecosystems, like cows on pasture are worlds better for our environment compared to industrial agriculture which leaves behind a moonscape. The forests are being knocked down for soy production for humans, not the worthless byproducts fed to animals.

    1. cocomaan

      I think this is it ( but in any case, another FAO ag report showed that the higher emissions reported for meat production comes more from poor implementation of agricultural best management practices and that with some tweaks globally (particularly in china and Brazil), you could see a huge reduction in emissions from meat production.

      A lot of the anti-meat information skirts unfavorable information. Having backyard chickens, goats, or a family cow can be extremely beneficial to a homestead. Protein from soy just isn’t the same as protein from other sources, like milk and meat and eggs.

      Living near a corn and soy crop field has given me a real education in how field crop ecosystems work. There’s a lot of little animals and insects living in those fields who are wiped out every year.

      1. ELW

        “Protein from soy just isn’t the same as protein from other sources, like milk and meat and eggs. ”

        Correct me if I’m misreading you, but this reads a bit like the old myth that there’s such a thing as “animal protein.” Of course, any specific food (e.g. soybeans) is going to have its own amino acid profile, but there aren’t any amino acids whose dietary requirements can only be satisfied through animal-based foods.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “‘Buttergate: Why are Canadians complaining about hard butter?”

    If only Canadians bordered another country where they could source alternate brands of butter. And that they could keep on doing so until that Canadian company got the word to knock it off – or lose those customers forever. I’m sure that such a country could be found.

    Re that 105 year-old granny and her gin-soaked raisins for breakfast. I wonder if pouring Jack Daniels on Corn Flakes for breakfast would work too. Asking for a friend.

    1. marieann

      Some Canadians do border another country…they even have family in another country….unfortunately they cannot cross into that other country at the moment, and haven’t seen their family for months.

      The butter is harder but only in the winter.

  18. Wukchumni

    The cash-flush amateurs hunting game cards, handbags and art Reuters
    $200k handbags & $150k fantasy game cards!

    I wonder what the most valuable man’s wallet would be, maybe a few hundred bucks? (that is if it wasn’t stuffed full of Benjamins)

    And a small cardboard rectangle worth $150k, of course some youtube influencer owns one, its what we all aspire to, right?!

    1. chuck roast

      Blockchain – a solution in search of a problem. At long last, a physical object (a Pokeman card) presenting a problem (easy to fake) for which it provides the seemingly perfect solution.

  19. semiconscious

    re: Online job posting analysis shows the extent of the pandemic’s damage, especially to women and youth International Monetary Fund

    again, blaming ‘the pandemic’ for the damage actually wrought by the lockdowns enacted in response to the pandemic – 2 very different things, as previous pandemics accompanied by no lockdowns demonstrate:

    “It is notable that a committee that advised WHO last year on non-pharmaceutical approaches to tackle a pandemic did not suggest lockdown as a method of controlling the spread of disease. This is because of the enormous social and economic consequences that would hit the most vulnerable communities the hardest…”

  20. unhappyCakeEater

    Taking a Stand in the War on General-Purpose Computing

    as a lowly support tech many moons ago, i realized than most of my users viewed their desktop computers much like they did their televison, with little recognition of the layers of abstraction involved in making that particular button do its thing when clicked

    sometimes id get to work with a scientist or engineer who wanted help with the program they wrote themselves, to solve some obscure problem only they had. These folks would learn python or c or vb etc, to help with science or engineering problems- not because they wanted to be programmers.

    they both used the same x86 beige box, but from opposite ends of the universe

  21. Mikel

    RE: “Facebook Announces Plan To Break Up U.S. Government Before It Becomes Too Powerful” The Onion

    Totally believable except for the part about it being announced and them being the only tech feudalists that are going for that.

    1. lamovr

      Sorry wrong reply spot, W.

      I quit Fry’s when I realized that they had no shame. They would re-shrink wrap defective returns and put them back on the shelf for another sucker. I switched to Newegg mail-order and never looked back.

    1. WhoaMolly

      I remember almost to the day when Fry’s became ‘dead to me’.

      For years Fry’s was my go-to place for parts, upgrade components, and the occasional computer, monitor, or hard disk.

      Then it seemed to me that almost overnight Fry’s went from a place where I felt like being in a tech company surrounded by engineers and geeks — to a place where it felt like being in a used car lot surrounded by avaricious 20-something salesmen on a quota.

      The transition happened about the same time that powerful computers became ‘disposable’ items. I can buy a $500 Dell today that will do everything I want, without upgrades. But not a single component is upgradeable. Even the battery is soldered in. I guess the new regime is ‘use it and pitch it’. I still use business level laptops from a few years ago that allow me to upgrade SSD, hard disk, and memory. In a couple year’s I will probably be forced to go the ‘disposable’ route, but I’m going to stick to my antiques as long as possible.

    1. jhallc

      Just outside of Boston there is a electronics store called ” You do it Electronics”. It’s fondly called ” You Blew It, Electronics” by its patrons. It’s a one of a kind operation and the place to find those components that Radio Shack never seemed to carry. I’ve rebuilt a lot of microphones from the 50’s and 60’s that I use for playing the harmonica thru and they are the one place I can get the parts I need. Also, if you have an old vacuum tube amplifier from those times, of which I have way too many, they have most of the components to fix/rebuild them as well. I would hate to see them disappear.

      1. Carolinian

        Fry’s has/had huge stores that featured the new but obscure–shortwave radios for example and lots of computer components.

  22. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Anti-Maskers Waging “Spiritual War” Statewide Mainer. Or at least in Belfast.

    They can protest all they want I suppose, as long as they leave that nice little bookstore in downtown Belfast alone. Went there for the first time last year and half the books there were ones I had in my own library and the other half were ones I planned to read someday. Heaven.

    And thanks for the source, Lambert. I hadn’t realized that Mainer was the reincarnation of The Bollard, which I always enjoyed reading back in the beforetime when you could peruse local weeklies in coffee shops.

    1. chuck roast

      Yep, same fringe guys as The Bollard. Used to be able to smell the chicken plant in Belfast from Searsport. That’s because the summer breeze blows from 210 every afternoon. This presents a problem to certain mariners. I used to call it the Hotel California…you can check in, but you can never leave. Single-handed sailing down Pen Bay in these conditions can be exhausting…tack after tack. Eventually I gave up on the harbor. Good ice cream and beer though, and a helpful harbormaster.

      The dope “economic development” mavens in Augusta had no clue about the winds. Consequently, they gave big time subsidies to the free-loaders who turned the old chicken factory into a very high-end boatyard with an expensive heavy marine lift. Well, the rich guys with the big yachts wouldn’t go up past Camden or Castine so the free-loaders cried poverty and demanded more state aid. I don’t know how that turned out, but the place sure got bourgeousified. Congrats on the bookstore. We can only hope they get a nice economic development subsidy for their expansion. :-)

  23. antidlc

    Texas Electric Bills Were $28 Billion Higher Under Deregulation
    Competition in the electricity-supply business promised reliable power at a more affordable cost

    Texas’s deregulated electricity market, which was supposed to provide reliable power at a lower price, left millions in the dark last week. For two decades, its customers have paid more for electricity than state residents who are served by traditional utilities, a Wall Street Journal analysis has found.

    Nearly 20 years ago, Texas shifted from using full-service regulated utilities to generate power and deliver it to consumers. The state deregulated power generation, creating the system that failed last week. And it required nearly 60% of consumers to buy their electricity from one of many retail power companies, rather than a local utility.

    Not surprising, but this appeared in the WSJ.

  24. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Mayor, Party Secretary Detained Over Shandong Mine Explosion

    China enforces regulations and holds both corporate and political leadership responsible for a preventable disaster. What a novel concept.

    Wonder how many heads will roll at ERCOT? or PG&E? Whatever the estimated number might be, I’ll take the under.

  25. jr

    Department of I Got It All Figured Out

    I think I figure out what the aliens are up to. We’ve all seen the videos, we know that they know that we know that they are here. But, according to the Israeli space agency director, the aliens aren’t going to show themselves right away. We aren’t ready. I was heartbroken to hear this, as I think they are our best shot at surviving into the long term future.

    Then I bump into this guy:

    David Jacobs is the world’s leading expert on alien abductions. He claimed in a few UToob videos I watched to have a good grasp of the hierarchy of the aliens is and a bit of a glimpse into their plans. Namely, interbreeding with humans.

    Now, assuming all this is true, it got me wondering as I lay in bed last night. The aliens are interbreeding with us and moving out into the population. But they don’t want to show themselves. Why?

    Of course! Because we are a bunch of murderous trousered chimps who would start killing the “hybrids”, ourselves, the neighbors cat, in our panic! “Invasion! Our liberty is being stolen! Bernie has an alien love child!” The world would burn! Even more!

    Now, personally I’m in favor of a peaceable alien takeover. It’s probably to our benefit to have some of the monkey bred out of us and we are mucking things up royally anyway. Think of it as a “jump start” on the Galactic totem pole. Perhaps the “Insectaliens” who are apparently running things are under some higher authority to clean up the neighborhood, “Christianize” the savages so to speak. I’m against such things in principle but it’s going down anyway. Gotta keep the long goal in sight.


    Dr. Wallace Breen

  26. shinola

    Re: Taibbi & Greenwald on pressure to censor FOX news makes me think of that old “First they came for…” thing:

    First they came for FOX news but I did not speak up for I was not a FOX news viewer…

    1. WhoaMolly

      The Tiabbi article is a must-read. Lucid, clearly explained, and written by someone who understands the journalism profession and the news business.

      The overt anti-free-speech moves of the party in power are shocking. I never thought I would live long enough to see such a thing in the America.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The overt anti-free-speech moves of the party in power are shocking. I never thought I would live long enough to see such a thing in the America.

        Liberal Democrats cheering it on, too. I came up as a Democrat, and I never thought I’d see anything like this (or RussiaGate, either).

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    I see the Treehugger author gleefully replicates the false meme that ” beef emits carbon” by deliberately confusing ” beef” with “soy fed beef”. I see that Treehugger is still devoted to covering up and cone-of-silencing the emerging reality that grassfed beef reverse-emits carbon.

  28. ArvidMartensen

    Loved the antidote of cows. Cows are smarter than most people give them credit for. Also warm, friendly, good mothers, great pets if you have the room.

Comments are closed.