2:00PM Water Cooler 3/11/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Owl Week at the Naked Capitalism Water Cooler continues. “Flammulated” is a good candidate for Word of the Day!


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

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching, because I don’t think the peak is coming in the next days, or even weeks. Is the virus gathering itself for another leap?

Vaccination by region:

Early in February, I said a simple way to compare Biden’s performance to Trump’s on vaccination would be to compare the slopes of the curves. If Biden accelerated vaccine administration, post-Inaugural slopes would get steeper. They have not. The fragmented, Federalized, and profit-driven lumbering monstrosity that we laughingly call our “health care” “system” has not responded to “energy in the executive,” but has continued on its inertial path.

Case count by United States regions:

South heads downward again, Northeast flat.

Big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California):

Texas has dropped below New York.

Test positivity:

Jumps in the South. Humongous drop in the West, but is this a data artifact?


Hospitalization is discretionary; they may also be reducing their admissions rate — relative to cases we cannot see in this data! — to preserve future capacity; or because hospitals have figured out how to send people home.

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):

That fatality rate in the West (red) is now jumping around, but it’s still high, which worries me. It’s not going vertical, which is what I feared. Is the reason nobody else is worrying about this is that it’s not really a problem? Is this some sort of statistical artifact as well?

* * *


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

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

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

More to come. –lambert

Biden Administration

“Biden’s Stimulus Is the Dawn of a New Economic Era” [Adam Tooze, Foreign Policy]. “[D]emocratic leadership requires not just the rule of law and the observance of constitutional propriety. It requires more than just reasonable behavior on the part of all the major parties. It also needs to be demonstrated, simply put, by enacting popular policies when they are needed. Democracy is measured by how rapidly and forcefully it responds to crisis, particularly when that crisis hits those with the least security and the least influence. The urgency of those who are most hard up must be visibly felt within the political system. There are moments when democracy consists precisely in ensuring that obfuscation and procedure do not stand in the way.” • Looking at you, Obama! More: “On this all-important metric, the Biden administration is delivering. The $1.9 trillion stimulus package to address the United States’ ongoing social crisis, forced through by means of reconciliation in the teeth of Republican opposition, is a true example of democratic leadership in action, one that Europe would be well advised to follow. Furthermore, in the economic realm, national policies spill over. Far more than in the 2009 recession, the U.S. economy’s rapid recovery that the Biden administration seems determined to unleash will boost global demand. Therefore, it will not just set an example. It will materially assist the recovery of the rest of the world in 2021.” • Well, it’s Adam Tooze, so worth a read! My thoughts on the stimulus are two-fold: First, I would very much like to see the CARES Act and the Biden stimulus treated to a side-by-side comparison. The CARES Act materially decreased poverty, let us remember. Second, the Democrat Party does seem determined not to make 2022 another 2010.

UPDATE “Biden’s COVID-Relief Bill Is a Big F**king Deal” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “Biden just slapped most of his own health-care agenda on top of a $1.9 trillion relief bill and then rammed it through Congress before his administration’s two-month anniversary. This is how progressives have been begging their party to govern for more than a decade: Ignore the Beltway’s fetish for bipartisanship and deliver big, clear gains to the American people. The Democratic leadership has now affirmed that counsel in both word and deed. ” • Fair enough! More: “the Democratic Party has decided to prioritize the maximization of employment over the minimization of inflation risk. For most of the past four decades, American policy-makers have set the opposite priority.” • Fair enough: “The Democratic Party’s appetite for increasing labor’s leverage over capital remains grossly inadequate to the demands of economic justice…. That the Biden presidency has already exceeded many progressives’ (low) expectations is not cause for contentment; it is grounds for progressives to raise their expectations. Some things can fundamentally change.” • The whole piece is worth a read, including the comparison between the 2009 crisis and today’s (on both unemployment and household wealth, 2009 was worse).

UPDATE “The Coronavirus Killed the Gospel of Small Government” [New York Times]. • I’m not so sure. A government that has to “partner” with Dollar General for its vaccination program lacks operational capacity. Same deal with Operation Warp Speed, an enormous public-private partnership (and not at all a Manhattan Project).

UPDATE “‘The mess we inherited’: Biden leans heavily on Trump’s ‘Warp Speed’ but won’t give credit” [ABC]. “Despite calls for national unity and bipartisanship, President Joe Biden and his top aides have declined to give the Trump administration credit on the nation’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout while relying heavily on a system established by their predecessors…. While Biden has purchased additional vaccine supply, it was always expected that Pfizer and Moderna would ramp up their supply throughout the year. Also, Biden’s playbook for vaccine distribution has relied heavily on a system created by the Trump administration, including federal partnerships with state officials and agreements with local pharmacies. In fact, the federal pharmacy program created by Trump aides is what Biden relied on last week to expand eligibility to teachers. And when Biden called for “100 million shots in 100 days” — a pace of about 1 million shots per day — former health officials noted that the U.S. had already hit that pace the week of Biden’s inauguration in mid January.” • This is the argument I have been making for some weeks under the vaccination chart. Show me the numbers that show the Biden administration made any difference!

“Democratic centrists balk at more red ink after Covid spending spree” [Politico]. “Even as President Joe Biden and his allies in Congress begin laying the groundwork for an infrastructure package whose price tag could top the $1.9 trillion bill he’ll sign this week, multiple Democratic centrists on both sides of the Capitol are ready to pump the brakes. They want at least some of the next big bill to be paid for, arguing there has to be some limit to Congress’s deficit spending as the nation claws its way out of Covid’s grip.” • Every time we think we’ve killed the “pay for” zombie, it staggers back into motion, grunting, and biting and turning others into versions of itself. Sheesh.

UPDATE “Opinion: Kamala Harris may be our best bet to prevent a return of Trumpism?” [Max Boot, WaPo]. And not Max’s brother, Das. “[T]he most likely woman, by far, to win the presidency is Vice President Harris. That’s not only because 15 previous vice presidents have become president, but also because Joe Biden, already the oldest U.S. president in history, will be 82 in 2024. He has previously spoken of himself as a ‘transition candidate‘ and signaled that he would serve only one term.” • The way that Harris was simply annointed President-in-Waiting, when she was a terrible candidate who dropped out before her own state voted, boggles the mind. I hope Jill is tasting Biden’s food.

Democrats en Deshabille

Senator Hinchey is a New York State Senator, and a Democrat:

Proof by omission that whacking old people in nursing homes is not a “crisis of morality.” Wonderfully clarifying!

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “06 March 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improves Again” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 715 K to 750 K (consensus 725 K), and the Department of Labor reported 712,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 793,000 (reported last week as 790,750) to 759,000.”

Employment Situation: “Continuing jobless claims in the US, which measure unemployed people who have been receiving unemployment benefits for a while, fell to 4.144 million in the week ended February 27th, from a revised 4.337 million a week before and below market expectations of 4.220 million” [Trading Economics].

Employment Situation: “The number of job openings in the US rose by 165 thousand from the previous month to 6.917 million in January 2021, beating market expectations of 6.6 million and moving closer to its pre-pandemic level of 7 million. Job openings increased mostly in state and local government education (56,000); educational services (21,000); and mining and logging (10,000). The number of job openings was little changed in all four regions” [Trading Economics].

Housing: “4Q2020 CoreLogic Homeowner Equity Report: Homeowners Gained Over $1.5 Trillion in Equity In 2020” [Econintersect]. “The Home Equity Report for the fourth quarter of 2020 shows U.S. homeowners with mortgages (which account for roughly 62% of all properties) have seen their equity increase by 16.2% year over year, representing a collective equity gain of over $1.5 trillion, and an average gain of $26,300 per homeowner, since the fourth quarter of 2019. As competition for the dwindling supply of for-sale homes drove prices up, average annual homeowner equity gains in the fourth quarter of 2020 reached the highest level since 2013. ‘ • I’m guessing that, politically, this is wind beneath Biden’s wings.

* * *

Retail: “Amazon Quietly Began Building a Grocery Chain During Pandemic” [Bloomberg]. “Grocery analysts say Amazon Fresh stores are likely cheap to launch and even cheaper to run—the perfect weapon to stake a long-term claim in a famously low-margin industry.” • The article has an image with a big banner in back of the produce section: “WELCOME TO FRESH WOODLAND.” Focus-grouped within an inch of its life.

The Bezzle: The digital artists I follow hate NFT:

The Bezzle: Another artist on NFT:

The Bezzle: And Stålenhag on NFT:

I’d like KHive and crypto bros to trade places for a day. Would the world be better off? I’m guessing it would be a wash. For example–

The Bezzle: One more artist on NFT:

Tech: “How Facebook got addicted to spreading misinformation” [MIT Technology Review]. “Everything the company does and chooses not to do flows from a single motivation: Zuckerberg’s relentless desire for growth. [Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, a director of AI at Facebook] AI expertise supercharged that growth. His team got pigeonholed into targeting AI bias, as I learned in my reporting, because preventing such bias helps the company avoid proposed regulation that might, if passed, hamper that growth. Facebook leadership has also repeatedly weakened or halted many initiatives meant to clean up misinformation on the platform because doing so would undermine that growth. In other words, the Responsible AI team’s work—whatever its merits on the specific problem of tackling AI bias—is essentially irrelevant to fixing the bigger problems of misinformation, extremism, and political polarization. And it’s all of us who pay the price.” • I am extremely reluctant to grant the class represented by the political faction that brought us RussiaGate the standing to fix anything regarding “misinformation, extremism, and political polarization.” Break up the platforms, maybe outlaw the algos entirely, and let 100 flowers blossom. As it is, we’re going to end up using the platform’s monopoly status to create an information monoculture (which is what eliminating “misinformation, extremism, and political polarization” means to a liberal Democrat).

Manufacturing: “Exclusive: Boeing nears 737 MAX order from Southwest worth billions – sources” [Reuters]. “If confirmed, the deal would head off a partial defection to Airbus SE by one of Boeing’s largest customers and provide Boeing much-needed support after the nearly two-year grounding of the 737 MAX family, following fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. The order would include dozens of firm orders and potentially significant options, the sources said. U.S. carrier Southwest said it does not comment on fleet decisions and has nothing to announce. Boeing declined comment.”

Manufacturing: “China’s $4,230 Electric Cars Tap Huge Market Tesla Can’t Reach” [Bloomberg]. • Sure, Made In China™ ≠ The Mark Of Quality™, but $4,230? Holy moley!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 51 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 48 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 11 at 12:34pm.

Health Care

“The Week Our Reality Broke” [New York Times]. The Deck: “The empty shelves; the people in masks on the bus; the email saying the office would be closed. A year ago, we realized that everything was about to change. For a brief moment, it felt like we were all in this together. What happened?” • A collection of stories — no doubt the Times’ opening shot in a bout of enforced perfomative mourning — and the headlines — you guessed it — all begin with “We.” Who is that “we,” again?

Lambert here: Not, again, to preen unduly, but NC readers were well aware of Covid months, plural, before March 11, the date the Times believes “our” reality broke. Let me re-up these links from yesterday: We ran multiple Covid stories in Links on 1/20/2020, 1/21/2020, 1/22/2020, 1/23/2020 (our first masking link), and 1/24/2020. Yves ran “China Coronavirus Watch: Updated – Another Chinese City Locked Down to Prevent Spread” on 1/23/2020. We ran Eric Fiegl-Ding’s “HOLY MOTHER OF GOD” tweet in Links, 1/25/2020. I created my first Links “bucket” (then “#2019-nCoV,” now “#COVID19”) on 1/28/2020. In short, dear readers, if you followed Naked Capitalism carefully, you had the goods on Covid well before the Times believes its own readers did. “We,” forsooth.

And speaking of enforced perfomative mourning:

That Slavitt can get all weepy about mementoes the trusting and naive send him — while at the same time having acting as a lobbyist against #MedicareForAll, the lack of which silently kills 80,000 people a year, for profit — makes me want to hurl. Life’s little ironies…

“States lift Covid restrictions, drop mask mandates and reopen businesses despite warnings from Biden officials” [CNBC] • Proving, if proof were needed, that Biden faces the same issues with our Federal system that Trump did; all the Administration can do is warn, and that not effectively. Opening are: Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, Mississippi, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. For partisans, that includes two Blue states. Blue New York, New Jersey, and California are also opening up, but more slowly. So all we can do is hope to dodge two bullets: The variants, and school reopening (without a thought given to ventilation except by the locals, per CDC’s Walensky).

The Biosphere

“BOEM Completes Review for First Offshore Wind Farm in Federal Waters” [Maritime Executive]. “The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued its long-awaited final environmental impact study (FEIS) for the Vineyard Wind project off Massachusetts, which will be the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in federal waters…. The study paves the way for a formal record of decision on Vineyard Wind’s EIS review, and it will almost certainly result in a permit approval matching BOEM’s preferred alternative option. As such, it represents a landmark victory for the developer and for the U.S. offshore wind industry, which has been closely watching the permitting process for this pace-setting development. ‘By any measure, this is a breakthrough for offshore wind energy in the United States. Not even two months into a new administration, years of delay have finally culminated in a thorough analysis that should soon put this infrastructure investment on its way,’ said Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association (ACP). ‘We enthusiastically applaud the Biden Administration for completing a thorough analysis and moving ahead rapidly with the final steps to approve the Vineyard Wind project.'” • Let me be petty: I hope this spoils Obama’s view and knocks a few million off the value of his pleasure dome.

“Ultra-weak gravitational field detected” [Nature]. The bottom line: “perhaps quantum gravitational effects will finally be observed.” • This is both a neat experiment, and a nice little potted history of gravity in science (readable by a layperson like me).


Long thread on a game titled “Hollow Knight,” from which I pulled this exchange:

OK, I give. What the heck are “power ups” and “the double jump”? And are there, like, 40 million gamers that know what this means, but not me?

The Agony Column

“‘A collective trauma’: New report details the effects of stress in America in 2020” [NBC] (original). “A new report from the American Psychological Association shows just how stressful life in America was in 2020. The APA’s ‘Stress in America’ report, published Thursday, provides a stunning example of how mental health directly impacts physical health. “We’ve gone through a collective trauma,” said Arthur C. Evans, chief executive officer and executive vice president of the APA. The resulting stress, the report found, is showing up in drastic weight changes and increased alcohol use.” • I can testify to the weight gain (though fortunately I resisted alcohol; or more precisely, did not even need to resist it, for which I am thankful). The article is mostly about familioes, conforming with the drive to open schools. Here is a chart that shows the class aspect of stress:

I’m so old I remember when essential workers were really important and we were praising them and practicing our performative empathy. So it goes.

* * *

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

GW writes: “Here is a soft coral, amazing how those little polyps (with the help of algae) build such structures.”

GW also writes: “I love the pics that people send to you.” So do I! And I hope so do you all.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Otis B Driftwood

    “… the Democrat Party does seem determined not to make 2022 another 2010.”

    Disagree. Reneging on the $2k stimulus and $15 minimum wage actually means 2022 will be worse.

    1. ambrit

      Curiously, this could put the Republican politicos in a box. To run on this issue, they would have to, at the least, fake supporting some truly “progressive” issues, the minimum wage hike and ‘full’ cheques. I can imagine the sheer torrent of doublethink the Republican Party will have to undergo at the midterm election cycle. If the Establishment Republicans stay true to form, I can see Trump levering this ideological disconnect into a second term in 2024. If he can back a slate of “Progressive” Republicans in 2022 and take a few scalps, that would be the ‘proof of concept’ he needs to make a strong run in 2024 and further crush the Establishment Republicans.
      In true politico fashion, he can be ‘bad’ while looking ‘good.’ If he can peel off a few “Flexian Democrat” politicos, he would have a viable movement.
      We live in interesting times.

      1. flora

        Interestingly, Josh Hawley and a few others are doing just this; he’s supporting some programs and making some criticisms that the latest package doesn’t do enough to help Main Street and rural areas. His criticisms are, I think, ones that progressives can embrace. Hawley can also say, with using correlation as an argument (even if correlation isn’t causation, etc, but rhetorically it has strength), that Dems only enacted the latest $1400 relief check because T and the GOP Senate first did a $1200 relief check.

        I’m fine with both parties trying to outdo each other in helping Main Street. It’s been 30 years since that’s happened. ;)

        1. Darthbobber

          Of course, that was the House, the Senate AND the president, with minimal opposition in either party. Which makes the CARES act hard to frame as an R Vs D thing.

          In any case, whatever Hawley may SAY, he voted against the package, which is about as far as most of the electorate’s interest goes.

          1. flora

            Erm, so the “uni-party” acts in concert, and if times change for the voters then the uni-party’s actions will change to keep winning votes? ;)

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Disagree. Reneging on the $2k stimulus and $15 minimum wage actually means 2022 will be worse.

      I’m not so sure. See the numbers in the Levitz article. They’re enormous. True, the Biden administration punched left hard, but voters will care more about paying the bills. (My view is that the Stimulus package will increase working class purchasing power, but not political power.)

      1. Otis B Driftwood

        If every item in the package is worded like this, you should be worried:

        No one in the United States will have to devote more than 8.5 percent of their income to paying for health insurance for at least the next two years, while ACA plans will become premium-free for a large number of low-income workers.

        This says nothing about the actual cost of healthcare after deductibles, copays and medications. Is that going to me no more than 8.5 of income? Hardly.

        That said, I’ll be happy if this package provides genuine relief to struggling Americans. And, if it does, thank Bernie Sanders, not Joe Biden.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Health insurance should not exist. Period. Full stop.

          We need single payer in this country.

          1. RMO

            A question to ask: what does the insurance actually do if you need health care? I’m reminded of this Python sketch where the Vicar has a policy that is a great value, if you never need to make a claim, as no claims will be paid. But it’s a very affordable plan!


            “You will pay no more than 8.5% of your earnings” or “it’s free!” doesn’t mean much unless it actually results in being able to get good health care.
            “Sure my new car has no brakes, claymore mines instead of airbags and dumps carbon monoxide into the interior, but it only cost $5,000!”

      2. Darthbobber

        Given that the Republicans obligingly voted en bloc against the package containing even the 1400, and also against a minimum wage increase (and if they’d wanted to back some of their alleged moderate’s noises they could have floated a ten or 11 buck proposal), it’s hard to see how either of these directly damages the Democrats.

        Whether these emergency expenditures add up to enough to do them any good by November of next year is another matter. This was the relatively easy part, and how exactly they deliver on the rest of the claimed agenda (even if one blithely assumes good faith) is pretty unclear, given the filibuster line they refuse to cross.

        Given how low the bar was set by Obama, it was easy to exceed expectations set by that administration’s response. The CARES act by itself had already done that, and with the addition of this and a couple of smaller bills in between, I believe the total from last spring to this is already at more than 400% of the total stimulus and relief efforts forthcoming from Obama and his 60 Senators. But exceeding those expectations is one thing, and actually solving the intersecting problems is another.

    3. tegnost

      I’m curious if the 1400 is subject to garnishmnent still. That will be a bitter pill for a lot of poor people who got the other stim checks, and if that’s what happens, it gets garnished, people will be majorly po’d as it will happen with zero warning. They’ll look around and see people getting checks and wonder where theirs is?… well not wall st people…their stock prices will take a moon shot.

      1. tegnost

        with that in mind I’m reserving judgement on the stimulus. For one thing this was being negotiated in november, those checks were needed months ago. Just sort of catching people up before summer when the expected recovery when they’ll all be expected to go find those jobs and be good consumers well as sirota pointed out they didn’t change any of the structural problems that put us where we are so expecting a bit of dough to fix it all is naive at best. I mean we’re talking about the dems here, myself is not going to just forget 20+ years of abusive behavior because they bought some roses on valentines day…

        1. flora

          an aside: The American Bankers Assn. * (the ABA) , representing all banks and not just the five TBTF banks, has come out strongly against garnishments of C19 relief checks. Most of these ABA banks are community banks and know what is good for their local communities’ economies and their local communities’ businesses. There was a link in yesterday’s WC.
          (Small community banks are great defenders of their local economies, though I know it’s easy to trash-talk all banks as if all banks are just like the Big-5.)

          *”The American Bankers Association is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association for the U.S. banking industry. Founded in 1875, ABA represents banks of all sizes and charters, including community banks, regional and money center banks, savings associations, mutual savings banks, and trust companies, with the average member bank having approximately $250 million in assets.”
          -per Wiki

          (Understand that an asset base of $250 million is relatively small for a bank, even though it sounds large in an individual kitchen-table talk.)

    4. lyman alpha blob

      I’m with you on this. And the Tooze headline – “Biden’s Stimulus Is the Dawn of a New Economic Era” – really chaps my nethers.

      If Tooze is trying to compare Biden’s start to Obama’s, well fine – nobody except the bankers got any help from Obama. But to call this the dawn of a new era is pouring it on a little thick. I seem to recall my family of three receiving a $4500 stimulus check from Trump last spring, and another $1800 from Trump again in the winter. Supposedly we’ll be getting $4200 from Biden. Last I checked, $6300 is more than $4200. And I’m so old I remember getting a stimulus check from our previously most hated buffoon of a Republican president (who has been totally rehabilitated now!), George W. I think that was $800 and I don’t even remember what they sent those out for. So “Dawn of a new era” this is clearly not.

      What it actually is, after slashing the promised $2000, reneging on the minimum wage, and telling us ahead of time there would be no M4A in the middle of a pandemic, is the absolute bare minimum they could get away with without coming off looking worse than the man they told us for four years was an existential threat to everything good and holy.

      Once everything the Republicans didn’t like was stripped out and the bill was assured of passage, all the Republicans voted against it anyway after getting what they (and many Democrats) wanted because of some sort of presumed necessary posturing, just like they did with Obamacare in 2009/10. It’s all kayfabe, so enough with the ‘dawn of an era’ hagiography.

      Wonder what we would have gotten had there been no Jan 6 riot?

      1. The Rev Kev

        “Biden’s Stimulus Is the Dawn of a New Economic Era?” More likely “Biden’s Stimulus Is the Dawn of a New Economic Error.” So after a year of the pandemic with deaths not seen like this since the flu pandemic of a century ago, what have average Americans gotten in return. No medicare for all which would have taken a very heavy boot off the American economy as a side benefit. No regular checks to support them while they stay home. No minimum wage. All they have gotten is governmental pocket change to shut them up which will be immediately spent on food, gas and bills. And all the Progressives? Where are they? In the last bout of negotiations they seem to be MIA and no, sending off a bunch of tweets does not count. Even Cenk Uygur was saying that they should have held up the last bill to get a $15 minimum wage but there was nothing but crickets.

        1. Michaelmas

          Tooze is contemptible. He played the role of fluffer and hagiographer to Tim Geithner, in return for Geithner playing the role of primary source for Tooze’s book, CRASHED.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            For some reason I had the impression that Tooze was some sort of heterodox economist type and picked up CRASHED but hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet. Thanks for the heads up – now I think I’ll just skip it.

              1. Michaelmas

                To be scrupulously fair, what I’m primarily reacting to is Tooze’s promotion of his book in the media by boasting — essentially — about how he gained unprecedented access to Geithner, and to Geithner’s recollections and wisdom from being in the center of things.

    5. Grant

      I think the Republicans votes on this are not going to be defensible to most people. So, I fully expect them to go all in on cultural issues. They will try to bait the Democrats into debates on transgender issues, or try to make a lot out of immigration or issues at the border. If economic conditions improve, it is impossible to predict how that will turn out. Will people give Biden credit for improving conditions, or will improving conditions allow more people to once again focus more on cultural issues and less on core class/economic issues?

      What I can say is that the Democrats do not and will not offer up policies that will address any of our structural issues, they could make things worse (surely did for decades leading to today), and the Republicans will actively make things even worse. The left is growing though, it is, just not fast enough, and I think the far right is perfectly happy with entirely ditching democracy to maintain power, and the right includes the neoliberals. They are just as undemocratic in Democratic Party primaries as the right is in the general, and they are both opposed to most any meaningful form of economic democracy you can imagine.

    1. Toshiro_Mifune

      And are there, like, 40 million gamers that know what this means, but not me?
      Oh… I would say that estimate is a bit low. But yes, even this 50 year old understands power-ups and double jumps.

    2. Deschain

      40 million? Off by an order of magnitude, plus.

      Double jump is an ability that allows your character to jump again, while in the air, after having already jumped. Completely not physics based, but a good game mechanic.

    3. aleph_0

      Just replying to say that getting the double jump means that the character unlocks the ability to jump once again, mid-jump in mid-air. It’s a weird move with a weird history, but it’s become standard in these kinds of games over the years.

      Also, Hollow Knight is good, but overrated. The crazy difficulty spike at the end for the “true ending” is massively self-indulgent design (the boss fights, and the hard platforming section that came out of nowhere), and this comes from someone who has beaten many difficult games.

      1. cocomaan

        I have a feeling that Naked Capitalism readers and Dark Souls players have a large overlap.

        Detailed oriented masochists!

          1. BlakeFelix

            Oh, God… I got Nioh 1 and 2 from game fly, and I thought that I would replay Nioh 1. The horror, the dying… They really are good games.

        1. chris

          I have this vision of Yves and Lambert being asked to consult for a “The Last of Us” style take on surviving corporate takeovers :p

  2. flora

    re: “Biden’s Stimulus Is the Dawn of a New Economic Era” – [Adam Tooze, Foreign Policy].

    The quote you highlighted at the top is correct, imo, and describes what the political actors and what Congress did not do during the subprime loan and GFC crisis.:

    “[D]emocratic leadership requires not just the rule of law and the observance of constitutional propriety. It requires more than just reasonable behavior on the part of all the major parties. It also needs to be demonstrated, simply put, by enacting popular policies when they are needed. Democracy is measured by how rapidly and forcefully it responds to crisis, particularly when that crisis hits those with the least security and the least influence. The urgency of those who are most hard up must be visibly felt within the political system. There are moments when democracy consists precisely in ensuring that obfuscation and procedure do not stand in the way.”

    Where “{D]emocratic” references the political system of representation (in ideal form) and not a particular party. Maybe the political actors and Congress have a broader view now of the whole country. Fingers crossed.

    1. a different chris

      >There are moments when democracy consists precisely in ensuring that obfuscation and procedure do not stand in the way

      I didn’t read it yet, did Mr. Tooze mention the “parliamentarian”? Because that’s a grand and uplifting sentence if you, again, ignore said parliamentarian.

      Joke’s on me, I always complain that we would be better off with a parliamentary-style government and then pops us this creature. Sigh.

      I would like to think they folded on the min-wage upping to save it as a stick on the Republicans for the mid-terms. Doesn’t take any gravy off their 6-figure potatos in 2021 so why should they not. “Like to think” is of course as something below “hoping”, as I did post a week or so ago that I finally realized that the Dem party didn’t act like 80’s Republicans because that’s how they hoped to stay in power, but because that’s who they are.

      As far as your Hawley comment above, yes. The problem Hawley will have is that we do complain quite appropriately that the Dems are beholden to the rich, but do not forget that the Republicans are wholly owned and one Trump Electoral College victory will not change that. “Who they gonna vote for, Democrats hahahaha” says the rich.

      So his career will be thankfully short-lived if he gets too far out in front of his skies on this.

      1. Phillip Allen

        Please don’t rule out parliamentary systems solely on the basis of the existence of the appointed “parliamentarians” in the US House and Senate. This office is something that derives from the edifice of Roberts Rules of Order. Not all legislatures have them, but many do. The US system is ‘parliamentary’ in that sense, and differs from what USians tends to think of “parliamentary systems” – UK, Italy, France, etc. – more in lacking a functioning multi-party ecosystem than anything else.

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      and yet, flora, I find this little gem a tad too triumphal: “is a true example of democratic leadership in action, one that Europe would be well advised to follow.”

      The usual U.S. discourse, Baptist testifying and Methodist sermonizing. The bill was just passed, and Tooze is among the Elect. The Seventh Seal hath opened, revealing The Way.

      Plus this gem: “This means the stimulus is designed to deliberately generate a high-pressure economy.”

      Economists claiming to know things: I’ve seen this commercial before.

      1. flora

        Well, as a Methodist who has received much sermonizing (heh), I can only say that whole polities move slowly and move for reasons of which reason knows not. / ;)

        (pace, Blaise Pascal)

        1. flora

          adding, less triumphal that real (analog) world, imo.:

          “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of… We know the truth not only by the reason, but by the heart.”
          – Blaise Pascal

          All the tech AI forces in the world will never comprehend this quote. imo.

          1. flora

            adding, and going on too long:

            Once-st upon a time the ‘church and state nexus’ was the problem blocking progressive govt. action. Breaking that ‘church & state nexus’ gave rise to the ‘enlightenment’ age. Now there seems to be a ‘corporation & state nexus’. I think we need to break the ‘state & corporation’ nexus to rescue progressive govt and democracy. My 2 cents.

  3. Mikerw0

    As to the China electric car article.

    I assume it is basically a golf cart. Simple, limited range which is key to keep battery cost down, and basic functionality. Question is how will they charge them?

    1. hunkerdown

      Power equals voltage times current. 240V countries make almost twice as much power available on a standard household-type plug, compared to 120V countries. It’s not implausible to load 187 miles worth of power (around 40kWh for a smaller EV) into the vehicle in roughly 17 hours, using a lightweight onboard power converter which might constitute a few percent of the whole vehicle BOM cost. That should be sufficient for small trades, delivery drivers, or local administration. If not, China does have a standard for power plugs for larger appliances as well.

      Hopefully, China won’t make the same mistake of tearing up their public transport infrastructure to make “access” to a bad idea “equitable” as Bloomberg puts it, rather than “according to their need” as the Bearded One put it.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      This is the thing about EV’s. The simplicity of the drivetrain gives manufacturers all sorts of options that conventional cars don’t allow for. Its not just in China, the Citroen Ami is an example of a very cheap EV city car. What we are likely to see is the distinction between bikes and scooters and kei cars and mini cars and full sized vehicles shrink. Standardised batteries and drivetrains, along with increasing use of very light construction materials will mean far more companies entering the market, filling numerous potential niches.

      The reality is that the vast majority of journeys taken by cars don’t need to be taken by a giant lump of steel with a huge engine. There will be more types of vehicles to fit all the different types of journeys people will make. Maybe in the future people will still have trucks and big cars, but they’ll be used for only those tasks for which they are needed – for the overwhelming majority of journeys it will simply be cheaper and easier to use the EV alternative, whether its a scooter of a light mini-car of somewhere in between.

      The major car companies realise this, which is why they all want to be the Apple of EV’s, while everyone else is left in the low margin business of producing the car equivalent of cheap android phones. But there isn’t likely to be room for more than a handful of Apple Cars.

      1. eg

        One inhibitor to the evolution towards smaller, lighter vehicles that you describe is the fact that all those vehicle types occupy the same road, and an “arms race” of self-defence emerges, resulting in SUV dominance. Not sure how a repeat of this is avoided?

    3. RMO

      The car they are talking about is this one:


      It’s more than a golf cart aka low speed electric vehicle (though those are around too – Jalopnik writer Jason Torchinsky has a series of articles about him buying a Changli and importing it), much more akin to a Smart Car or one of the small electrics currently selling in Europe.

      PlutoniumKun: One of the main things holding back the success of the shorter range, simpler, cheaper EV’s that would be suitable for the majority of people’s car needs is that most of the people with needs that would be met by that sort of car live in the sorts of places where charging them daily at home would be difficult. Out in the suburbs where everyone has their own driveway and/or garage a home charger is easy to accommodate, but they also need more range. In the city, where long range isn’t required for most days driving you’re far less likely to be able to plug it in at home so you’ve got to find an available public charger and use it with the result that you end up requiring longer range because you can’t just charge every night at home. I know of one person who dropped the idea of an EV because he couldn’t convince his apartment to let him install a charger with metered power supply in his spot completely at his own expense.

      Odds are that the next time I get a new car it will be an EV. It’s the interiors and the damn tech rubbish the companies seem hell-bent on cursing them with that turn me off, though that is becoming unavoidable on conventional cars too. Tesla is the worst for that though the new VW I.D.4 is dam close. Go look at some reviews or pictures of the interior. It’s awful.

  4. Samuel Conner

    > OK, I give. What the heck are “power ups” and “the double jump”? And are there, like, 40 million gamers that know what this means, but not me?

    LOL. This reminds me of an episode of the wonderful reboot of Dr Who, in which The Doctor is frustrated and — I think — a bit alarmed that, although he basically knows everything since he has travelled the length and breadth of space and time, there is something that everyone seems to know — concerning him — that he does not know. “Why does everyone but me know this? Why don’t I know this?”

    1. Glen

      Just take a high res screen shot and process with AI for enhancing to 4K.

      What am I missing?

    2. Mark Gisleson

      I looked at it, thought about buying it, then realized I’d already gotten all the value from it I’d ever get. : (

      In compensation for your good work, I’d offer to mail you some of my mixtape cassettes from the ’80s as a fair trade, but I’m pretty sure I threw them all out the last time I moved. Would you settle for some MEGA links to some digital content I’ve selectively curated?

    3. flora

      When did Farmville and Second Life – type worlds become an upscale digital version of the Christie’s Auctions and Private Sales house? /heh

    4. lyman alpha blob

      Asking seriously – can someone explain how these things are worth anything, much less thousands of dollars? If you can take an icon or some other graphic and turn it into an NFT, why can’t someone else take the same graphic and do exactly the same thing? I don’t see how these things can be unique which is seemingly what would make them valuable.

      1. Phillip Cross

        I think it’s a bit of straw buyer fraud combined with a devious fomo inducing marketing scheme, with a dash of money laundering sprinkled on top.

        Coca cola spends $4,500,000,000 a year on advertising, so what’s a few ten million changing hands between friends, if they end up with a legal “infinite money from nothing” business model afterwards?

        All nice and anonymous and unhindered by local laws too!

        It is so infuriating to see but NYT, Bloomberg etc breathlessly buying into it all, and adding to the hype.

        69 million for an animated gif at christie’s? 69.. nice.. get it? How dumb do they take us for?

        *Insert H. L. Mencken quote*

      2. ambrit

        It is an analogue of what happens in present day business ‘communications’ technology. All the meta data an individual churns out is hoovered up and aggregated, then filtered, then analyzed, then “weaponized” for the purposes of linking said individual to highly ‘targeted,’ ads, links, and ‘communications.’
        Essentially, the ‘wet world’ person is digitized and traded around amongst parasites of various sorts.
        The Electronic Indenture. “All you belong to us!”
        Who says that Terran humanity hasn’t ‘evolved?’ We have gone from being “slaves to our passions,” to being “slaves to those who manipulate our enslavement to our passions.”
        For example, three of the top twenty websites by traffic volume are porn sites: pornhub (#8), xvideos (#12), and xnxx (#19.)
        Where I got my figures from: https://www.semrush.com/blog/most-visited-websites/
        Ah, Terran humanity! Sublime!

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        A Democrat is President. One, who isn’t as obsequious as Obama. As bad as Shrub was, we just had 12 years of anything goes. The flight to “safety” may have begun. What is safe? We are at record levels of wealth inequality. What are the rich really going to buy?

        For all of the “wokeness” of the donor class these days, watch out for this.

        I read both the recent Atlantic articles on elite private schools, and all I could think was for what these people are spending to get kids into Stanford, why not just the kids a couple of Subways and be done with it? Especially for the aspirational class who blow money to rub shoulders with the really rich. The lesson is rich people do stupid stuff all the time. Of course, the kids at these schools aren’t so much kids as much as they are trophies

        1. eg

          Presumably the purchase of a couple of fast food franchises for der kinder is insufficiently “braggable” at brunch.

          1. Count Zero

            Yes it is tainted by “trade” — and the risk of having to actually DO something. Money can make money without ever leaving the clean and spiritual world of abstractions — while you brunch.

  5. jr

    Field report: Mid-Town Manhattan

    Source: Citizen app

    Undetermined number of protesters marching to NYT headquarters as of 52 minutes ago.

    Note: there have been sporadic small demonstrations in Manhattan and Brooklyn throughout the week.

  6. Zar

    RE: Double jumping and Power Ups

    The genre of game that Hollow Knight belongs to typically gives the player many large areas to explore. When you start the game, most of these areas are inaccessible or impractical to travel through — the baddies are too tough to get past, your character can’t jump high enough to reach the entrance, etc. But the genre’s games also tend to provide “Power-ups”, which are new abilities you find while exploring that remove these barriers.

    Double Jumping is a very common power-up, often found near the beginning of such game, which lets the character jump a second time in mid-air by pressing the controller’s jump button again before the character lands. This lets the player reach places that were too vertically challenging before. (“Double Jump” is just the genre’s metaname for it, mind you. This game’s insect-themed, and its name for it is “Monarch Wings”.)

    A person who doesn’t obtain Double-Jumping as early in a game as they expect might feel as if the game is too “linear” because their weakling character has access to too few paths — generally regarded as a Bad Thing in a genre that is supposed to emphasize (or produce the illusion of) the player’s freedom to choose their path. And all the while, they’ll spy ledges and doorways just out of reach of their character’s measly single jump. They’ll have to retrace their steps after obtaining the Double Jump to reach these places later.

    Players might dislike feeling weak or being tantalized in that fashion. But the process is useful for producing the sense of well-earned progression and growth (and “power” too) that comes from gaining new abilities and access. It’s up to the game’s creators to strike the right balance.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thank you, this is very helpful. I feel there’s this enormous art form out there that at some point is going to explode outside the game box. Or maybe it already has, and I’m not seeing it.

      1. Phillip Allen

        There is an ongoing fusion of game design and film. Popular action films especially have long been the plot fodder for console and computer games. Since 1993, games have been used as the foundation for game-based US films – animated, live action, or hybrid, longer for Japanese films. I was quite surprised when I looked for a list of such films. Worldwide the number of productions is far greater than I expected, and the total revenue producers are taking in is impressive.

        I’m finding posting a link too challenging at the moment (major toothache), but it’s on Wikipedia under “List of films based on video games”.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Half (some hyperbole) of people dressed up at comic book conventions are there as video game characters. Everything with fandom for other areas exists for video games. Video game IPs have rarely made successful ventures into other media.

        This really happened

        To a large extent, player choice is an important factor, but I feel like the commercial failures of these games venturing into movies and tv has been a problem from discussing them outside the video game lane.


        I don’t care for shooting games myself, but this commercial is fairly accurate about who plays.

      3. caucus99percenter

        In East and Southeast Asia, video games have long been accepted as the third leg of the ACG (or in Japan, MAG) visual-culture stool, along with manga and anime. The three — manga, anime, and games — cross-fertilize and borrow from each other to such an extent that they may be regarded as inextricable components of a single subculture.


      4. cocomaan

        If you count by the number of eyes, 15 million people watch Twitch every night, which is 50% more than the next prime time cable show.

        That doesn’t count all the people watching YouTube for video game stuff, or playing video games without watching them on twitch.

        It’s a huge business and a huge cultural artifact.

        Myself, I do not watch shows, for the most part, or many movies, especially not by myself (wife and I share time with movies). In the very rare occasion that I have free time to myself and am sick of hobbies or whatever, I play a video game to relax.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          In regards to people watching other people play games, video games are cheap over the course of their life. CHEAP. Hideously cheap. Compared to other forms of entertainment, short of going to the library, its like stealing when you consider the console or PC cost and electricity. Its hard to track kids, but there is evidence video game players by and large skew towards the less affluent end of the economic classes. Its why the Pentagon spends so much time recruiting on video game platforms.

          Certainly last Spring and Summer, parents were desperate to find extra consoles for the kids.

          1. Cocomaan

            Our library rents video games! We see a ton of circulation of them, I think about 50 times a year per game.

  7. Parker Dooley

    “Proof by omission that whacking old people in nursing homes is not a “crisis of morality.” Wonderfully clarifying!”

    Well, any stick to beat a pig.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Actually, hogs are notoriously indifferent to sticks and farmers instead rely on weighted canvas “hog slappers.” They make a lot of noise on impact and that as much as the slap gets the hog’s attention and sometimes they’ll actually move. Sometimes.

    2. a different chris

      I agree. I don’t know anything about Ms. Hinchley, but I did think that was a tiny bit unfair.

      In that she may well (or may not, like I said I dunno) have become exhausted trying to pin Cuomo down on actual real governing stuff so, well go the “Al Capone conviction” route if and when you must.

  8. The Youth Explainer

    A video game like Hollow Knight lets the player control a character that jumps around on platforms, kills enemies, and gains additional powers of maneuverability and lethality as it proceeds through the game.

    A power-up is the in-game visible manifestation of gaining the additional powers. While you could just have an extra button added to your arsenal of ways to approach the level – press B to Bounce – the power-up appears on-screen for the player’s character to grab, upon which the new power is awarded. It’s just more gratifying that way, like the difference between suddenly feeling slightly more full versus grabbing and eating an apple.

    A double jump is a type of maneuvering ability. The player character initially jumps, then, at any point before landing, the player presses the jump button again, resulting in a new jump taking place starting from however high off the ground the character was when the button was pressed. Lets you get to parts of the screen that would otherwise be inaccessible.

    Yes, there are 40,000,000 gamers who know these terms but their parents, partners, and coworkers might not. Nothing wrong with it either way.

  9. Swamp Yankee

    I’m pretty sure Vineyard Wind is well off shore, away from possible sightings from land (even the Islands).

    Interestingly enough, one of my students, an Iraq vet who became a low-level police officer on Martha’s Vineyard, had a lot of really compelling stories about the island during the off-season. She said that the opioid epidemic is huge on the island among the year-round population, but that because the jail for Dukes County (Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands) is so tiny, many get let out on their own recognizance, and then are essentially sheltered by family/kin/friendship networks, so that there are actually a great many fugitives who the locals will not give up to the authorities.

    Cape Cod in the winter can be pretty grim, but the Vineyard and Nantucket are that much more isolated and wild between October and May, and the highly clannish and closed society of year-rounders protect their own.

    I imagine those traits are increased/selected for by the mass invasion of the 1%ers and 10%ers every summer.

    Also, great slang — “Wash Ashores” for mainlanders who settle on the island.

  10. CanChemist

    Covid variants / B117 in Ontario, Canada:

    Globe and Mail, front page: “‘We now have two pandemics’: Variant COVID-19 cases soar in Ontario”

    “We now have two pandemics,said Peter Juni, director of the science table and a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Toronto. The traditional pandemic, which is under control, and the new pandemic, which is not under control.

    Dr. Juni warned another lockdown will likely be needed and may have to be stricter than earlier ones.”

    Provincial update on projections just issued:
    Pretty dire overall… pandemic is picking up overall, variants are now widespread, and there’s a serious issue with backlogged non-covid medical issues including cancer.

    Meanwhile the local politicians continue to hear no evil, see no evil.

  11. vw

    Hollow Knight IS a masterpiece!!

    I can’t comment on the gameplay aspects, as I have only ever watched others play it. (it seems pretty difficult, fair warning) The true excellence of Hollow Knight lies in its background art, narrative and pacing, as well as the bold yet brilliant decision to hide the true extent of the map from you. The myriad worlds you explore seem endless – if you find something interesting down any given path, it may be a LONG time before you return there, as there’s few ways to get back exactly where you were. This gives a sense of actual exploration and discovery. Every time you log in, you uncover more and more of a fully populated world, each section with its own wonders to behold. Not to mention the multiple hidden endings…

    Something which is perhaps too obvious to mention for your average game reviewer, though, is the setting of the game. You are an anonymous little bug who is traveling through the ruins of a once-spectacular kingdom, now populated by shambling zombies who were one its citizens. There is more than a hint that the king who built this place fell prey to hubris – that he tried to force bugs to become something they were never meant to be – and that this devastation and ruin is the inevitable end, which even his increasingly desperate machinations could not in the end prevent. There is a neighboring kingdom far more “buggy” – and utterly terrifying to travel through as a result – yet, they are still thriving. Does this sound, cough… familiar in any way?

    I’ll just give one last plug for the aethetics of the game (beautiful, haunting, iconic) and then suggest any of the Let’s Play videos you can find on Youtube for the non-gamers who might be interested in checking it out :)

  12. dcblogger

    Rupert Murdoch has been pouring toxic sludge into American discourse for decades, but sure, lets worry about Faceborg.

  13. Michael Ismoe

    I hope Jill is tasting Biden’s food.

    If she goes, who would run the country? Maybe Joe is her food taster?

    1. RMO

      Ever since the election I’ve been thinking that Joe would be a fool to let Harris get behind him at the top of a set of stairs or to accept any drink or food she offers.

  14. montanamaven

    Oh and for anyone here who has Hulu, I highly highly recommend the film “Nomadland”. It will probably win the Oscar and deservedly so. Finally a film about invisible people. Some of the nomads are there because they lost their homes in 2009, but some have chosen this van dwelling life. Unlike most Hollywood films lately, it is not didactic. It is not making a statement. It does not preach or is holier than though. It just is. Chloe Zhao is a masterful film director and deserves to win Best Director. the sound and the cinematography is perfect. You can actually hear snow fall. It may make some people feel even lonelier than they do now in this pandemic, but there is a healing quality about it if you accept that you are a small speck in the vastness of the universe as portrayed by the real star of the movie, the American West.

    1. Carla

      Re: Nomadland — I read the book. Very good.

      I’m also a Dr. John Campbell fan, montanamaven! Loved his “Precis” on ivermectin research.

      Re: Vaccine reports. My partner and I got our Pfizer shots at the same time, and had mildly sore arms after each dose. No other side effects that we were aware of.

  15. verifyfirst

    “I’m so old I remember when essential workers were really important and we were praising them and practicing our performative empathy.”

    Ha. I’m so old I remember when essential workers were really important and chain stores were falling all over each other to volunteer higher hourly pay to our “heros”.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, I’m seeing those signs in praise of those heroic health care workers. They tend to be in, shall we say, our most well-to-do neighborhoods.

      When I see one of those signs, I say, “Pay them more!”

  16. Andy Pyle

    West Virginia’s State Motto is “Montani Semper Liberi” – “Mountaineers are Always Free”. With Joe Manchin it is “Mountaineers are Always Cheap”.

  17. fresno dan

    The headline unemployment rate of 6.2% significantly understates the current situation.
    Here is a table that shows the current number of unemployed and the unemployment rate (as of February 2021). (the table shows the REAL unemployment rate is more realistically 9.4%)
    Then I calculated the unemployment rate by including the number of people that have left the labor force since early 2020, and the expected growth in the labor force.
    Sorry if that was posted, and it is 4 days old, but I get so annoyed with the purposefully naive unemployment rate. The arguement is made (on FOX) that there is no need for the stimulas because everything will be back to normal shortly and ….INFLATION!!! eeeeck!!! !! ….but in the meantime, there are a LOT of people without income, and the official unemployment rate is just ridiculous.

    1. eg

      Pay no attention to the U3 which is so widely broadcast — the U6 is the real deal, if you can find it

  18. Hana M

    Thank you for the trip down sentient memory lane and NC’s early COVID warnings, which I did indeed read. Thanks to you I had already figured, well, it might make sense to stock up on groceries (including a massive jumbo package of (you guessed it) toilet paper. And I’d talked to my gym about putting my membership on hold. And I’d already laid in a stock of masks from my hardware store. Oh, and a massive supply of books! By the time “we” and even WHO, had caught up I was ready, at least in physical terms.

    Still, it’s been a helluva year and I am deeply grateful to have gotten my first dose of Pfizer’s vaccine today. I got my appointment more or less by pure dumb luck or Divine Providence and with the help of several wonderful neighbors, despite MA’s disaster of a vaccine booking “system”. I should have known Charlie Baker (MA’s governor) would blow the rollout–after all he is a former healthcare and hospital industry executive!

  19. LaRuse

    Lambert, thank you for pointing out that NC had the goods on COVID as early as it did. Thanks to the coverage from NC, I wasn’t wholly unprepared when the bottom fell out a year ago this week. I had extra food in the pantry, OTC meds stocked, general preparedness. No, I didn’t have enough toilet paper – I really didn’t see that shortage coming – but among other things, we kicked off a mortgage refinance the week before the bottom fell out to restructure our debt in case hard times really landed. We avoided the truly hard times (we are all still employed) but being prepared has put us in positions to help out friends and family that haven’t been so fortunate in the past year.
    So thank you to the entire NC team for everything you do.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Opinion: Kamala Harris may be our best bet to prevent a return of Trumpism”

    This sounded utterly stupid this until I saw who wrote it. Of course it was Max Boot. And so many of the women that he names as great people – Merkel, Thatcher, Indira Gandhi (so popular her own bodyguard murdered her), Hillary Clinton, Nikki Haley – are there as they only support neocon objectives which is what Max Boot is all about. As President, Kamala will do for women what Obama did for black people in his eight years of being President. Yeah, that bad. Eight years of Kamala and women will be happily going back to the kitchen. Kamala is the sort of person who would quite happily privatize Social Security to Wall Street if she could get the post-Presidency deals that Obama has gotten. And you would have rags like the Washington Post upholding Kamala’s “legacy” and carrying her water for her as a model for young women everywhere.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Indira Gandhi was very popular in majority non-Sikh India. She was not popular with elements of the Sikh community. Her bodyguard assassins were Sikh.

      That Sikh assassination of the non-Sikh-majority popular Gandhi made the Sikhs in general so unpopular with non-Sikh India that many Sikhs were killed in the subsequent riots.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I read about that but was Ghandi so blind? That would be like old Joe having for his Secret Service people only those who belonged to the Kamala Harris Fan Club.

    2. Hepativore

      Sadly, I do feel that it is going to be eight years of Bidarris. The DNC will never allow a primary challenger against the Democratic incumbent in 2024, and you can also expect eight more years of Bidarris hagiography and cheerleading on the part of most conventional media outlets.

      Everybody is indeed going back to brunch, and punching any hippies that cross their path along the way.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        Kamala Harris is Sarah Palin with a better complexion. She doesn’t appear to have the brains or gravitas to pull off an election by herself ….. unless it’s a rematch with The Donald.

  21. Gran

    “Every time we think we’ve killed the “pay for” zombie, it staggers back into motion, grunting, and biting and turning others into versions of itself.”

    As I said a couple days ago, I think the left must start to talk about (or maybe increase its understanding of) the insights from MMT. Pelosi, for example, paid tribute to Pete Peterson on the House floor, recently pushed for pay go, and has in no way renounced her prior positions. As a result, I see nothing at all that the spending that is part of this bill will not lead to austerity in the future. I think people are getting ahead of themselves in proclaiming the death of austerity, simply because it was ditched today. The death of austerity would have to arrive at many of the insights of MMT, even if not consciously. I think that many changes to money creation and banking itself need to be put in place to deal with the environmental crisis. In particular, I personally think we need to support a stronger role for public banking, and we should work to make it easier for local and state governments to form public banks if they want to. California made it easier to form public banks, but there are still many challenges for municipal governments when it comes to forming public banks, and the federal government can do a lot to make the formation of public banks easier, less costly and less complex.

    I don’t think any of the left politicians are going to push for this though, at least the national politicians. Bernie hired Kelton, so he would be the best person to do so, but I have seen nothing of her economics in his policy positions or how he frames things like spending and deficits. Someone has to start forcing this into the conversation, and people like Paul Krugman will fight the left just as much as the right and banking interests will, even if not for the same reasons.

  22. Jeff W

    “WELCOME TO FRESH WOODLAND” sounds like an invitation to gnaw on some nice tree bark or something. (You can, actually, but it’s not exactly the first thing that springs to mind when I think of supermarket produce.)

  23. RMO

    “I’d like KHive and crypto bros to trade places for a day.”

    I’d like interstellar hydrogen atoms and crypto bros to trade places for a day. The world would definitely be better off.

  24. michael99

    “Biden’s COVID-Relief Bill Is a Big F**king Deal” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine].

    The child tax credit had not been on my radar. That is one of the most impressive provisions of the bill – if they make it permanent and it’s paid automatically in periodic installments as mentioned. Levitz says that this represents the repudiation of Bill Clinton’s welfare reform.

    Found a paper on the history of the CTC, produced by the Congressional Research Service, dated March 1, 2018. Link

    Here is the summary from the top of the paper:

    The child tax credit was initially structured in the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-34) as a
    $500-per-child nonrefundable credit to provide tax relief to middle- and upper-middle-income
    families. Since 1997, various laws have modified key parameters of the credit, expanding the
    availability of the benefit to more low-income families while also increasing the value of the tax
    credit. The first significant change to the child tax credit occurred with the enactment of the
    Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA; P.L. 107-16). EGTRRA
    increased the amount of the credit over time to $1,000 per child and made it partially refundable
    under the earned income formula. The refundable portion of the credit—the amount that exceeds
    income tax liability—is often referred to as the additional child tax credit or ACTC.
    Subsequent legislation enacted in 2003 and 2004 accelerated the implementation of the changes
    made under EGTRRA. In 2008 and 2009, Congress passed legislation—the Emergency
    Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA; P.L. 110-343) and the American Recovery and
    Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; P.L. 111-5)—that further expanded the availability and
    amount of the credit to taxpayers whose income was too low to either qualify for the credit or be
    eligible for the full credit. ARRA lowered the refundability threshold to its current level of $3,000
    for 2009 through 2010. The ARRA provisions were subsequently extended several times and
    made permanent by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 (Division Q of
    P.L. 114-113).
    At the end of 2017, Congress enacted P.L. 115-97 which, in addition to making numerous
    changes to the tax code, temporarily changed the child tax credit. Specifically, the law increased
    the credit for many (though not all) taxpayers by doubling the maximum amount of the credit
    (and increasing the maximum amount of the ACTC to $1,400), increasing the income at which
    the credit begins to phase out, and reducing the refundability threshold. In addition, this law
    temporarily modified the identification (ID) number requirement of the credit, requiring taxpayers
    to provide the Social Security number (SSN) for every child for whom they claimed the credit.
    P.L. 115-97 also created a new temporary “family credit” for non-child credit eligible dependents
    (children ineligible for the child tax credit or older non-child dependents). Non-child credit
    eligible dependents excludes otherwise eligible dependents who are citizens of Mexico or
    Canada. The credit is equal to $500 per non-child credit eligible dependent. The amount is not
    annually adjusted for inflation. The phaseout parameters of the child credit (i.e., phaseout
    thresholds of $400,000 married filing jointly, $200,000 other taxpayers, 5% phaseout rate) apply
    to the family credit. The family credit is not annually adjusted for inflation.
    All the modifications to the child tax credit and the new family credit are currently scheduled to
    expire at the end of 2025.

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