2:00PM Water Cooler 4/1/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this is a bit short. More soon. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Another migratory bird from the Birds of the Atlantic Flyway. From the Note: “See 1:27 for a masterful run.”

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#COVID19

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.

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 curves. If Biden accelerated vaccine administration, the rate of vaccination post-Inaugural would kink upward, as the policies of a more effective administration took hold. 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:

An ugly upward trend, now with a downward blip, I’m guessing caused by a drop in New York (see the chart of Big Sttates below). All I can say is that if you have a system that has worked for you, keep at it. And avoid closed, crowded, close-contact settings, evem so-called outdoor dining. Don’t share air!

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

Big drop in New York. Hopefully, it’s not a reporting issue.

NY: “Coronavirus Update New York City: NYC could be ‘completely out of this within 6 to 8 weeks’: Health official” [ABC7]. “Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city has given out more than 4 million doses, with the 4,058,854 total doses more than the total population of Los Angeles. ‘We will start comparing to state populations because we have run out of cities to compare,’ he said. Mayoral advisor Dr. Jay Varma says he is hopeful the city ‘can be completely out of this within six to eight weeks of very aggressive vaccination.’ Varma says that’s only if people ‘double down’ on the precautions and not let up now. ‘Unfortunately we are not seeing the declines we want to see, so we remain very concerned,’ Varma cautioned. De Blasio said he is also concerned about the possibility of a fourth wave in the city, but the rapid pace of vaccinations gives him hope.” • Crossed fingers.

Test positivity:

Hospitalization:

Hospitalization data is the best data we have, because hospital billing is a highly functional data acquisition system (ka-ching). That said, 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):

Good to see those deaths dropping. The fatality rate in the West is where it was last May.

* * *

Politics

“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

Biden Administration

“Biden’s Big Bet: Tackling Climate Change Will Create Jobs, Not Kill Them” [New York Times]. Important:

Accelerating the shift to wind and solar power is likely to create tens of thousands of construction jobs, economists and industry officials say. But those jobs typically pay far less than those in the fossil fuel industry.

Anthony Prisco, the head of the renewable energy practice for the staffing firm Aerotek, said a standard solar project would employ about 250 workers for just under a year. About one-third of the workers make $30 an hour or more; the other two-thirds have fewer skills and make hourly wages of less than $20.

By contrast, the construction of a gas-powered electricity plant typically lasts two to three years and employs hundreds of skilled, unionized tradesmen — electricians, pipe-fitters and boilermakers — who make $75,000 a year or more, including benefits.

“When you’re talking about the transition to the new green economy, the first question has got to be how are people going to make a horizontal economic move,” said Sean McGarvey, the president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, in an interview last month. “I can tell you that in the onshore wind and solar industry, for my members we’re talking in some cases a 75 percent pay cut and they’re losing benefits.”

Jim Harrison, the director of renewable energy for the Utility Workers Union of America, said that it typically takes hundreds of workers to operate and maintain a nuclear or coal plant, several dozen at a gas plant — and about a dozen at a wind farm. Solar fields can often operate without a single worker on-site.

Mr. Biden has acknowledged that his plans could leave around 130,000 oil, gas and coal workers without their livelihoods. He included a $16 billion program to help fossil fuel workers transition to new work like capping leaks on defunct oil wells and shutting down retired coal mines.

“Biden administration launches $10 million ad campaign, leaders’ network to encourage vaccination” [CNN]. We were wondering about this. Here it is: “The Department of Health and Human Services is spending $10 million to air four new TV ads this month, two administration officials told CNN, framing vaccination as a way for Americans to fight back against the pandemic and reclaim their lives with the slogan “We can do this.” One of the ads is in Spanish and another, narrated by Henry Louis Gates Jr., the prominent intellectual, author and filmmaker, is aimed at Black Americans…. . Beyond TV ads, the administration’s vaccine confidence campaign centers around efforts to equip trusted voices with the information and resources to tout the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine. The administration honed in on those efforts after research showed that Americans were most likely to rely on doctors and community leaders as they decide whether to get vaccinated.Nearly 300 organizations — including doctors’ groups, sports leagues, rural organizations, unions and religious groups — have signed up to be part of that effort, which the administration is calling the COVID-19 Community Corps.” • Alphabet groups…

“Ruh roh! Biden pooch drops doggie doo in White House hallway” [Associated Press]. “President Barack Obama’s dog Sunny liked to sneak off and poop in the mansion, his wife, Michelle, once said.” • So, not just Biden. (I so hate the recent resurgence and ubiquity of “poop,” which, being infantile, is not taboo to say, unlike sh*t.)

“Biden Removed From White House After Biting Aide” [Babylon Bee]. “‘We are so shocked,’ said Chief of Staff Ron Klain of the incident. ‘He has always been so docile and well behaved– always limiting his interactions to sniffing and friendly licks. He’s never bitten anyone like this.'” • When the Babylon Bee is funnier than The New Yorker….

“Pete Buttigieg: I Really Do Feel in My Conversations with GOP a Shared Appetite To Serve the American People” (video) [Grabien]. • Not an April Fool!

* * *

The kind of ad I’d like to see:

So we have any Wisconsin readers who can comment on Nelson?

Democrats en Deshabille

“Democratic Firm Is Accused of Firing Workers for Speaking Up” [New York Magazine]. “Rao and Klem say the company gave them no explanation for their dismissals. The timing was odd, too: Civis was working on Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, and the election was only days away. On the Google Hangout meetings, managers did not give a reason for laying off so many staff members at once, according to the fired employees. With nothing else to do, the group text began to put the pieces together. By the end of the day, they’d learned that Civis had fired 11 people. All were vocal activists at work, known among co-workers for their willingness to question company practices in meetings. Instead of experiencing confusion, Klem and Rao began to feel betrayal. They hadn’t been fired by a large, soulless corporation. They thought they’d chosen a different career path with a different kind of employer. Civis advertised its progressive principles to the world, and it sought employees committed to “social good,” as the company says on its website. Now it had abandoned the same workers without notice, without health care, without cause, in the middle of a deadly public-health crisis.”

“As Cuomo Sought $4 Million Book Deal, Aides Hid Damaging Death Toll” [New York Times]. “A New York Times examination of the development of Mr. Cuomo’s lucrative book deal revealed how it overlapped with the move by his most senior aides to reshape a report about nursing home deaths in a way that insulated the governor from criticism and burnished his image.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“There’s Finally a Name For Trump’s Murderous Masculinity” [Mel Magazine]. “Much has been written about former President Donald Trump’s distinct form of masculinity. Gender-equity educator Jackson Katz calls it ‘old-fashioned machismo‘; Steve Bannon likens it to an American soldier ‘climbing the cliffs on D-Day’; and many, many, many others simply dismiss it as ‘toxic.’ But James W. Messerschmidt, a distinguished professor of sociology and chair of the criminology department at the University of Southern Maine, sharpens the characterization in a recent article published in Men and Masculinities, calling Trump an exemplar of ‘dominating masculine necropolitics.'” • Well, Obama’s good at Rule #2 of neoliberalism too: “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.” So it’s not just Trump. I wonder if “the necropolitical class” would have legs?

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “27 March 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improves” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 625 K to 730 K (consensus 699 K), and the Department of Labor reported 719,000 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 729,500 (reported last week as 736,000) to 719,000.”

Employment Situation: “March 2021 Job Cuts Trend Lower” [Econintersect]. “Job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers fell 86% in March to 30,603 from the 222,288 job cuts announced in the same month last year, when the fallout from the COVID-19 lockdowns began to impact businesses across the country.”

Manufacturing: “United States Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The IHS Markit US Manufacturing PMI was revised slightly higher to 59.1 in March of 2021 from a preliminary of 59, pointing to the second-highest griwth in factory activity on record. The overall expansion was supported by the steepest rise in new orders since June 2014, although production was reportedly held back by supply shortages. Supplier lead times lengthened to the greatest extent on record. At the same time, inflationary pressures intensified, with cost burdens rising at the quickest rate for a decade. Firms partially passed on higher input costs to clients through the sharpest increase in charges in the survey’s history.”

Manufacturing: “United States ISM Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Manufacturing PMI jumped to 64.7 in March of 2021 from 60.8 in February, well above market forecasts of 61.3. It is the highest reading since December of 1983. Faster increases were seen in production, new orders (the highest since January of 2004) and employment (the highest since February of 2018) and inventories rebounded. Meanwhile, both new export orders and supplier deliveries slowed a bit and price pressures remained elevated….”

Manufacturing: “ISM Manufacturing Is Giant, Screaming Fireball” [Heisenberg Report]. “Products scarcity was reported in… well, in almost everything, for lack of a more formalized, academic way to put it. Prices rose for aluminum, copper, chemicals, plastics, wood, lumber, transportation and ‘all varieties of steel.’… The survey also betrayed ongoing supplier difficulties due to the pandemic, which are now colliding with ‘strong growth in economic activity.’ Needless to say, that economic activity is likely to get stronger still in the months ahead…. If you’re wondering what this presages for growth, Fiore noted that ‘the past relationship between the Manufacturing PMI and the overall economy indicates that [March’s print] corresponds to a 6.2% increase in real GDP on an annualized basis.’ We’re in uncharted territory here. With just a few exceptions, there’s no historical precedent for any of this.”

* * *

Shipping: “The Suez Canal Puzzle – Pulling the Pieces Together” [Maritime Executive]. “Data can tell us what cargo is affected by a disruption. But more importantly, data can help us to deal with the ripple effects of incidents to avoid an aggregation of waiting time at the canal and the destination ports. We therefore need to secure that enough data are shared providing everyone situational awareness and enabling informed and intelligent decisions. In this article we elaborate on queue numbers and how such information may support deriving enhanced predictability for reduced waiting time in destination ports in Europe, in Asia and at the East Coast of the United States. Incidents such as the blocking of the Suez Canal should provide us with the necessary incentives to share data and act collaboratively upon the situational awareness.” • No discussion of the physical size of the ships at all!

Shipping: “Ships are moving through the canal at a rapid rate…. but vessels that had been idling outside the canal are arriving almost as fast as the backlogged ships can be cleared. The ongoing backup highlights the fragile nature of the ocean-borne supply chains at choke points like the Suez” [Wall Street Journal]. “Some 292 ships were waiting on both sides of the canal two days after the blockage was cleared, a net reduction of just 33 ships from an earlier backup, and dozens more ships are on the way.” And: “In 2017, a local shipping agent complained about pilots demanding cigarettes and other goods to let his ship pass; one pilot said such demands were once commonplace. But shipping companies that banded together under the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network report a decline in reports of demands for cigarettes and fewer threats to the safety of crew and vessels.”

Shipping: “A banner year for e-commerce has built booming demand for the most common symbol of online business: the cardboard box” [Wall Street Journal]. “U.S. producers in 2020 churned out nearly 407 billion square feet of corrugated cardboard, which the Fibre Box Association says amounted to 477 additional miles of the packaging material filling fulfillment centers, delivery vans, porches and recycling bins.” • [slaps forehead] Go long corrugated cardboard. I should have seen this long ago (plus tape, staples, bubblewrap, popcorn…).

Tech: “South Korean regulator recommends Apple be prosecuted for hampering fair trade probe” [The Register]. “South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission has recommended Apple’s local outpost be prosecuted for hampering its investigations into its affairs and slapped it with a 300 million Won (US$264,000) fine. A Wednesday statement by the Commission (FTC) alleges that when investigators visited Apple South Korea, they found the internet and intranet turned off and therefore could not inspect Apple applications or access data relevant to their probes. Apple staff dragged their heels when asked to restore access. The statement also alleges that senior Apple execs prevented investigators from entering the company’s offices, with an official’s arm pulled during a visit. Apple also did not allow access to meeting rooms, further hampering investigators ability to do their jobs.”

Tech: This thread suggests Facebook supervisors take bribes:

Man, though, a written contract? I dunno….

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 56 Greed (previous close: 51 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 1 at 12:24pm. One year ago, just after the end of the Before Times: 22 (Extreme Fear). Mr. Market clambers back to Greed.

The Biosphere

“Green investing ‘is definitely not going to work’, says ex-BlackRock executive” [Guardian]. “As the former chief investment officer for sustainable investing at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, Fancy was charged with embedding environmental, social and governance (ESG) corporate policies across the investment giant’s portfolio. Fancy was a leader in a movement that has given many people, including investors, activists and academics, hope that after years of backing polluters, Wall Street was finally stepping up to confront the climate crisis. ‘I have looked inside the machine and I can tell you business does not have this,’ Tariq told the Guardian. ‘Not because these are bad people but because they run for-profit machines that will operate exactly as you would expect them to do,’ said Fancy… Investors have a fiduciary duty to maximise returns to their clients and as long as there is money to be made in activities that contribute to global warming, no amount of rhetoric about the need for sustainable investing will change that, he believes.”

How to game “net emission reduction” targets, a thread (dk):

“Scientists Collected Human DNA From the Air In a Breakthrough” [Vice]. “a team led by Elizabeth Clare, senior lecturer at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), has provided the “first proof of concept demonstration that air samples are a viable source of DNA for the identification of species in the environment,” according to a study published on Wednesday in the journal PeerJ….. The discovery of this exciting new eDNA source is bound to impact multiple scientific disciplines. Unlike DNA collected directly from one individual animal, eDNA samples can be gathered passively from an environment with no animals immediately present. These samples often contain a mixture of genetic fragments from multiple organisms that just happen to end up in filters at a certain place and time. For this reason, eDNA is better suited for large-scale ecological studies of populations and biodiversity, such as tests for the presence of invasive species or making inventories of species that live in a selected habitat, as opposed to detecting and monitoring individuals.” • Bats, eh?

“11 Frequently Asked Questions About Attracting Hummingbirds” [Birds and Blooms]. “How do hummingbirds drink nectar? This is a bit of a tricky one. Hummingbirds seem to use their tongues in a way that scientists never expected —a hummingbird tongue’s tubes open down their sides when they insert it into a flower or feeder. When they pull the tongue back in, the tubes zip closed around the nectar, bringing it back into the bird’s mouth. They are one of the few species of birds that swallow liquid without throwing their head back to allow gravity to help them swallow.” • This article is mostly about crack sugar water feeders. Sugar water feeders never worked for me, and in any case I think they’re wrong: You should attract hummingbirds with flowers. Bee balm, being red, has always worked great for me. Plus, it’s invasive!

Health Care

“Prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the UK: 1 April 2021” (PDF) [Office for National Statistics (UK)]. Long Covid: “Self-reported long COVID symptoms were adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of 674,000 people in private households in the UK, with 196,000 of these individuals reporting that their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities had been limited a lot. Of people with self-reported long COVID, 697,000 first had (or suspected they had) COVID-19 at least 12 weeks previously, and 70,000 first had (or suspected they had) COVID-19 at least one year previously. Prevalence rates of self-reported long COVID were greatest in people aged 35 to 69 years, females, those living in the most deprived areas, those working in health or social care, and those with a pre-existing, activity-limiting health condition; however, it is not possible to say whether these patterns are because of differences in the risk of coronavirus infection or susceptibility to experiencing long COVID following infection.” •

“Trump-Touted Drug Lives On as Covid Therapy Despite Trial Flops” [Bloomberg]. “Myron Cohen, associate vice chancellor for global health and medical affairs at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, says this illustrates a broader medical issue that is not unique to Covid-19 — it’s hard to move people away from their own anecdotal evidence. ‘Hydroxychloroquine was just filling a vacuum,’ Cohen said. ‘In the long run, health providers are going to accede to drugs that have been proven to work.'” • Personally, I was waiting for large studies to come from India, where it was prescriped as a prophylactic. If those studies arrived, I missed them. If liberal Democrats hadn’t been openly rooting for HQ to fail, I think HQ would have fallen out of favor sooner than it did.

Alert reader Rob’s epic vaccination experience:

I’ve been trying to get vaccinated since I first became eligible three weeks ago.

In Orange County, New York— where the infection rate never fell that much and is now rising again, distribution is through the national drugstore chains.

The drugstore websites suck, provide no immediate link to make an appointment, and at least one of the three chains requires that you apply for a store card before you can make an appointment.

Three drugstore chains means going to three different websites.

On my first try, the only appointment available was 21 miles away X 4 trips = 84 miles.

On my second try, it was 25 miles X 4 trips = 100 miles.

The quickest public transit takes just under 24 hours each way according to Google.

Together, this means that I need a car, iphone, insurance card, store card, a third of a tank of gas and two half days off work to get vaccinated.

The stores require that you download an ‘app’— three different chains, three different apps.

The apps are spy devices through which the stores ‘monetize’ their customer’s comings and goings.

I don’t have an iphone and my life’s goal is to die without ever having had one.

Nine out of ten of my neighbors don’t have cars.

When I was four living in a small town in the mountains of Virginia, the Federal government distributed a polio vaccine in sugar cubes given out at the elementary school.

The location was walkable.

No appointment was needed.

No ID was needed.

The entire town walked to the school at the designated time, stood in line for as long as it took to be handed a sugar cube, ate it, and was vaccinated against polio.

Rob, Rob. When you were four, there were no financial intermediaries! We live in a more advanced era, now.

“About 46 million Americans can’t afford quality health care, according to Gallup” [Yahoo News]. “Quality health care is unaffordable for an estimated 46 million Americans, according to a new study from Gallup and health care research firm West Health. A web survey of 3,753 adults living in all 50 U.S. states conducted from Feb. 15-21 via the Gallup Panel, a research panel built to be representative of the entire U.S. population, indicated that an estimated 46 million people (or 18% of the U.S. population) would be unable to pay for health care if they needed to access it. ‘I wasn’t particularly surprised — one of the big takeaways from this is that over the course of the last year, the pandemic has a way of pushing the urgency of the health care crisis off of front pages, since COVID is obviously a health care issue,’ Dan Witters, senior researcher at Gallup, told Yahoo Finance.” • ”I wasn’t particularly surprised…..”

Games

Livin’ the dream:

Sports Desk

For your Seventh Inning Stretch entertainment:

Groves of Academe

Very funny and very good:

Definition of a meme: “[H]umorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by internet users.” I would urge that these are not, in fact, memes, because the variations are essential, not accidental. They are snowclones (templates), but visual.

The Agony Column

“Two Killed After Plane Crashes During Gender Reveal” [Daily Beast]. “Two pilots died in a crash after their plane revealed to the expectant couple that they would be having a girl via a trailing sign that read ‘It’s a girl!’ According to The Sun, one of the party attendees on the boat said before the plane took a nosedive, ‘It’s all good as long as it doesn’t end up crashing into us.'” • This keeps happening….

Black Injustice Tipping Point

The California oligarchy:

Class Warfare

When the Bessemer Amazon votes will be counted:

“Journalist Investigates Amazon Warehouse Life And The Pitfalls Of ‘One-Click America'” [NPR]. Alec McGinnis: “The loss of community in these jobs is one of the big parts of what’s changed, the fact that you used to know all the people you worked with, you were maybe related to some of them. After you left work at the steel mill on Sparrows Point [in Baltimore], you would often, of course, roll out of your shift and go to the bar, go to the diner, whatever it might be with the people you worked with. Now you go in, you do your shift, your 10-hour shift — it’s very grueling, repetitive, demanding — and then you get the heck out of there. A former millworker who lives nearby says … that they’ve had full speed bumps [put] in because people are just desperate to get out of there.”

“Strike set for Alabama coal mines barring late agreement” [News Courier]. “More than 1,100 workers at two Alabama coal mines and related facilities owned by Warrior Met Coal Inc. will go on strike barring a last-minute labor agreement, the United Mine Workers of America said Wednesday. Negotiators have not been able to reach a deal on a new contract, and workers will walk off the job Thursday night unless continuing negotiations succeed, said union spokesman Phil Smith.” • Alabama is a hot spot right now!

“‘We work for a magazine whose logo is a literal dandy with a top hat, but we are part of the labor movement.’ Interview with David Muto of the New Yorker Union.” [Strike Wave]. Muto: “The company spent a lot of time, especially in the beginning, saying, “This is the best magazine in the country. Why should we have to change our practices?” This came up a lot, during any number of issues, but it came up around the fight over just cause. And we’re saying that we are workers, we deserve the same protections that all workers do, but also, if our bosses are saying that this is the best magazine in the country—and we would agree, we love working there, we think it’s great, we think it’s the best—we think that the best magazine can afford to pay its workers better. If they claim that this is the best magazine, then they should be able to pay commensurate wages and to come to an agreement on a strong contract overall. The most prestigious magazine in the country should easily be able to agree to a strong contract that sets its workers up for long term growth.”

“The Boat Stuck in the Suez Canal Shut Down Global Commerce. So Could Organized Workers” [Jacobin]. “Part of the joy of the boat was seeing it do something we’ve rarely been able to — bring the whole thing to a stop. Maybe the master’s tools won’t dismantle the master’s house, but it was pretty funny to watch his boat turn against him for a few days.” • Well worth a read.

Target, apparently:

“Both Sides Now (w/ David Harvey)” (podcast) [Bad Faith]. “We ask Marxist economic geographer and CUNY professor David Harvey about how to discern incremental reformism from true revolutionary change, what Marx would do if he were a squad member, and what Harvey’s post-capitalist fantasy looks like.” • Briahna Joy Gray has a lovely laugh…

News of the Wired

I haven’t included any April Fool’s jokes, because they tend to be cruel. This one is not:

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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 (AMM):

Before (unhappy):

After (happy):

AMM writes: “Flat Italian parsley in wall planter on door to landing vs screen porch. Just that small protection from wind makes all the difference.” Great metaphor

Readers, thank you very much for the big initial response of spring plant images. But I’m still feeling a little short…

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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.

119 comments

  1. Samuel Conner

    > I wonder if “the necropolitical class” …

    The new term reminded me of the Twohy film “Chronicles of Riddick”.

    Alas, there is no hero to save us from the necromongers.

    I wonder whether JB would qualify for “three-quarter dead”.

    Reply
    1. Michaelmas

      I’m being rude and shoehorning this in here up top because I want to ensure other NC readers see it and give their input. It strikes me as pretty questionable, but maybe I’m missing something. As follows —

      I’ve just been reading the paper ‘A Prothrombotic Thrombocytopenic Disorder Resembling Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia Following Coronavirus-19 Vaccination’ which is the German study released on Monday arguing for a correlation between the AZ-Oxford COV19 adenovirus vector vaccine and blood-clotting.

      Link is here, w. option to download PDF —
      https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-362354/v1

      Six researchers have co-authored it. I read their conflicts of interest statement down at the bottom.

      [A] Two of the six co-authors make the following statements —

      Dr. Thiele reports grants from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, during the conduct of the study; personal fees and other from Bristol Myers Squibb, personal fees and other from Pfizer , personal fees from Bayer, personal fees and other from ChugaiPharma, other from Novo Nordisk, personal fees from Novartis, other from Daichii Sankyo, outside the submitted work

      Dr. Eichinger reports personal fees from Bayer, Bristol Myers Squibb, Daichii Sankyo, and Pfizer, and Pfizer, all of which are outside the submitted work.

      [B] One co-author makes the following statement —

      Dr. Greinacher reports grants and non-financial support from Aspen, Boehringer Ingelheim, MSD, Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS),Paringenix, Bayer Healthcare, Gore Inc., Rovi, Sagent, Biomarin/Prosensa, personal fees from Aspen, Boehringer Ingelheim, MSD, Macopharma, BMS, Chromatec, Instrumentation Laboratory, Portola, Ergomed, GTH e.V. outside the submitted work.

      ———

      Me again. it’s sometimes inevitable that a limited number of experts exists in certain areas and at some point many of them have taken money from the obvious big players.

      Nevertheless, is this level of conflict of interest — three of the six co-authors have taken or are now taking money from Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb (a latecomer to the COV19 vaccine game, with their own candidate on the way) — really considered acceptable and legitimate?

      Reply
      1. IM Doc

        If you look at every member of the FDA advisory panel that approved the Pfizer and Moderna and J&J EUA – you will find more conflicts of interest than you could write in a novel. This would have never been tolerated a generation ago. And that is just one example.

        What I am saying is it is not just the journals and the medical literature – the corruption is everywhere at the highest and lowest levels.

        I have many friends and colleagues who work in our large national medical agencies – when I talk to them I often become nauseous. The exact same is true in our great medical universities and centers everywhere. All corrupted by Big Pharma and Big Hospital and Big Insurance bucks. This fact is a large reason why I personally am no longer in academic medicine. My forebears on this planet instilled in me the idea that I am going to have to stand and account for my life one day when I meet my maker – and I could no longer fathom working in that environment. The corruption is tentacled everywhere in ways you could never imagine.

        Sorry to be so depressing – but it is truth.

        Reply
        1. Cuibono

          it is indeed. anyone who thinks the effects are not highly corrosive is likely being paid to not think so. and yes, this is an evidence based statement.

          Reply
        2. Michaelmas

          IM Doc wrote: ‘The corruption is tentacled everywhere in ways you could never imagine …Sorry to be so depressing.’

          Thanks for answering. I’m capable of imagining quite a lot — I looked at the conflicts of interest statement at the bottom, after all — and I’ve been around biotech VC, which is not the same thing as Big Pharma and Big Ag but has to deal with their world.

          That said, I need to read the paper again slowly and make sure I understand its claims, especially given the natural incidence in the population of the pre-existing conditions that might incline individuals to the blood-clotting problems it talks about.

          Nevertheless, off the top of my head: –
          Firstly, those claims look like they might be tenuous;
          Secondly, given that, it seems clumsy and blatant to have a paper that might be construed as a hit-job on the AZ-Oxford vaccine — and a wide differential in the production and distribution costs between that vaccine and the Pfizer-BionTech exists, as you know — come from German scientists of whom half are taking money from Pfizer and Big Pharma competitors.

          Reply
  2. Randy

    As much as I want to say Biden is terrible (and he still is on some things, eg his imperial foreign policy), I have to admit to feeling surprised and positive at his willingness to embrace big domestic spending. We’ll see how his infrastructure stuff looks like once it’s been wrung through congress but even the idea of spending that much was a joke as recently as… just before Biden.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      We are on the 25th Friedman Unit of infrastructure week. Even then, I feel like it really started to hit in 2004. Credit is due when results are in. We are now 70 days in, and the President’s main accomplishment was basically an emergency spending bill that may have been possible in the Fall with leadership.

      Reply
    2. curlydan

      I was thinking the same thing. But then I think his spending habits might be part of his “fabulist” nature. Biden literally seems to take more credit for programs, actions, etc than Al Gore. In the debates last year, he claimed to be involved in literally everything under the sun from 2008-2016. So maybe Biden just sees spending as a way to get some more stuff done that he can later take credit for.

      He sees he’s got a big pot o’ money and just wants to spend.

      Reply
      1. voteforno6

        Hey, if we have to rename Medicare to Bidencare in order to expand it to everyone, I say let’s do it. It would also have the benefit of sticking it to Obama, which Biden probably wouldn’t mind too much.

        Reply
    3. Pelham

      Depends on how one looks at Biden. From an Obama perspective, he’s definitely better. From a Sanders and realistic perspective, he’s awful. Didn’t Sanders propose spending $14 trillion over 10 years on infrastructure and climate change mitigation to avoid about triple that amount in damages later on? That’s probably what we need.

      Relatedly, in the press I keep seeing back-patting commitments from governments and corporations to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 — with no perspective offered. Didn’t the UN say we needed to reach net-zero by 2030 to avoid catastrophe? Getting there by 2050 would appear to be pointless.

      Reply
    4. Adam

      Krystal Ball tore apart Biden’s infrastructure plan on Rising today. It was pre-negotiated down and is only about $200 million a year ($2 billion over 10 years).

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        An order of magnitude off. That should be 200 billion per year for ten years.
        I watched her piece too. It made me think; “Nothing is going to fundamentally change.” [We’re buggered.]

        Reply
  3. km

    “There’s Finally a Name For Trump’s Murderous Masculinity” – name for that is “overcompensating”.

    There’s nothing “storming Omaha Beach” or whatever about Trump.

    Reply
    1. miningcityguy

      Trump is a flabby orange blob of a guy whose only physical activity is riding around in a golf cart, stepping out of it and hitting a ball. In the working class community in which I grew up and in which I still reside there is no way in which he would he would be regarded as masculine.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Can you imagine Trump and Obama on a basketball court together? No, I can’t imagine it either.

        Reply
    2. ObjectiveFunction

      Well, you have to distinguish physical appearance from social behavior.

      Anyone who’s watched ‘the Apprentice’ or one of his rallies knows that Trump projects a waddling ‘bulldog’ kind of masculinity: head down, scowling, chin thrust out. A lot like another fat kid with Authoritah, Winston Churchill. Or another fat kid with Authoritah, Henry Kissinger.

      He doesn’t smile for strangers (that awkward strained smirk at rallies doesn’t count), except for posed portraits, or when surrounded by adoring supermodels (but then it’s for the rubes: Don’t You Just Wish You Were Me?). But in general, he projects: ‘I’m In Charge Here, and It Is Not My Job To Be Pleased Or Satisfied.’ Compensating or not, as Sam Kriss pointed out, he is a deeply strange man.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        Aaw, Churchill was famously witty, if also able to deliver the brutal riposte, and generally on the “manic” end of bipolar, so he’s show up in meetings with all sorts of half mad but maybe inspired ideas, all very high energy. He also was a detail freak, a very hard worker, willing and able to master a lot of bureaucratic detail and peppering officials with queries and suggestions. He managed teams of researchers on his books very successfully. So despite a tendency to go off in overmany directions, he was able to retain and manage excellent secretaries to provide the needed structure and follow up. Not very Trumpian despite Trump’s emulation of his bulldog face.

        Reply
  4. grayslady

    Lambert, you would attract more hummingbirds with a feeder than just with flowers. Flowers only produce a certain amount of nectar each day. Hummingbirds need to eat almost constantly while awake. By 5:00 pm, the flowers are out of nectar but the birds are still awake and hungry. Also, the hummers are in competition for nectar, and there’s only so much to go around each day. Buy yourself a good feeder (I prefer the Hummzinger–no yellow color, since yellow attracts wasps) and keep your hummers happy. I have pre-ordered the plants that will turn my deck into an all-you-can-eat buffet for the little dears, but I also keep two feeders full of fresh sugar water. Hummingbirds like to have a back-up plan.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      They can go to another yard! I’m not feeding my hummingbirds crack!

      (They do, I think, cycle through the neighborhood, visiting different sources of nectar at different times.)

      Reply
  5. petal

    Lambert, have there been any Australian bird songs done? Bin chickens, kookaburras, parrots, tawny frogmouths, etc? There are so many wonderful species of birds Down Under. When walking through U of Newcastle’s bush campus to and from classes back in the day, I kept a small bird book and a notebook in my bag to keep track of the ones I saw. I think by the time I left, my list was up to ~28 species. The soundtrack was epic.

    Reply
    1. Utah

      I’d love to hear those!

      Likewise, it’s the greater sage grouse lek (breeding) season. They have really fun calls and dances. Though the dances would probably make a great antidote.

      Reply
    2. Synoia

      Target Time Clock Froud

      If you stand there to read and digest the message, while taking off your coat, is that time clock fraud?

      When is management going to treat adults as adults as apposed to delinquents? There is a definite presumption of gilt d in that directive.

      Reply
      1. Josef K

        I understand it is well established that managers at many businesses commit actual time clock fraud by deleting hours worked by employees they ahem manage.

        Adds another layer of disgusting to this.

        Reply
    3. CuriosityConcern

      What’s that New Zealand bird that uses the booming bowl?
      I remember reading about it in Douglas Adam’s Last Chance To See.

      Reply
  6. savedbyirony

    Interesting vaccinating development in Ohio, starting next week the state will be vaccinating on all College campuses any and all college students who want the J&J vaccine. According to Gov. Dewine they are trying to get this entire demographic vaccinated by late April.

    Reply
    1. wadge22

      They will be offering the J&J (specifically) at my local Summit county fairgrounds to anyone 18+, with an appointment of course, starting the 3rd thru end of May. Not sure yet how hard an appointment will be to get; they are bypassing the county lottery system that was linked to by NC recently. This is being put on by Summit County Public Health (some sort of independent org), although they mention it’s part of the state program. I’m pleased I can get it there and know it’s J&J, I had feared not being able to know in advance what needle awaits me, and possibly “wasting a shot” should I wish to abort. Sometimes stubbornness overcomes me.

      My brother managed, with frequent web checks during his WFH sched, to score an appointment 40 minutes north up in Cleveland at CSU Wollstein. I have heard from other people that is an easy place to get it. He got his first Pfizer shot yesterday. It’s in a stadium so handles the masses well, he said they sit lots of people in folding chairs set up spaced out, then come through with carts and do everyone in your row.

      Both of my parents got their (two dose, unsure which otherwise) shots already at CVS or the like, also aided by being able to check the computer or sit on the phone all day every day. They too wound up having to drive 40-50 minutes (southwest, away from ‘everything’), although that was just about their commute time when they worked and isn’t especially far to drive for folks around here. They were conveniently (and fortuitously) able to get two appointments together (both doses). Theirs were a through the car window in a parking lot type job, I believe.

      Availability seems fairly impressive from my little bubble view, to be honest. Although the people I’m referencing have their advantages, as I noted.

      Reply
  7. Pmith

    I was vaccinated this week with the J&J vaccine at the Central Valley Pharmacy in Orange County, NY. I called the phone number (you can Google it) and made an appointment for the next day. (I believe they may be booked up now, though.) They were very nice! It was quite a contrast to pressing “refresh” on the CVS website while waiting for new appointments to drop at midnight…

    Reply
    1. pjay

      LOL! I immediately had the same thought. But to extend the quote: “… A *Shared Appetite* to Serve the American People” – for bipartisan palates.

      Reply
        1. MDA

          That’s also the first thing I thought when I saw the quote. Before leaving my own comment I searched the page for “cookbook” and laughed when I saw other NC readers had the same idea. For my money, it’s another sign that NC has a great community.

          Reply
        2. Alternate Delegate

          For those who aren’t in on it: the reference is to Damon Knight’s 1950 short story To Serve Man. And even if you know the punchline, it’s worth reading for that horrified feeling of watching an oncoming train wreck you can’t stop. Sort of like our current politics.

          Reply
  8. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here’s a possible phrase for Trump’s ” masculinity”.

    Malignant metastatic machismonoma.

    Reply
  9. Fiery Hunt

    RE: Alison Collins…

    So after this oligarch got booted from the school board for being that which she’d crucify anyone else for being,….she does what any Red Blooded American would do:

    She sues for $90 million!

    The self delusion, the entitlement, the arrogance, the hypocrisy….Yeah, just stunning

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Everybody say it together . . . Blak Raycyst Pigg.

      ( Re-spelled to evade the Wokeness Filters)

      Reply
    2. Stephen C.

      I hope that the trial goes forward and lots of tacky emails and texts between board members become public, just so as to demonstrate to the public how Social Justice has become the latest weapon in Tammany Hall.

      Would be sad to see the SF public schools budget have to cut programs for disadvantaged kids, having had to pay out 90 million to this political animal.

      Reply
  10. DJG, Reality Czar

    Ahhh, the spaghetti harvest of Ticino.

    I recall being in Friuli for the harvest of gnocchi. The jolly peasants (and the Furlani are fairly jolly) had to use scissors to detach each gnoccho from the vine.

    For dinner, I had gnocchi with venison, which the owner of the little place where I was staying kindly translated as “Bambi.”

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I once did the spaghetti harvest of Ticino when I was in Europe. The best spaghetti trees are on sharp hillsides to catch the sun better. That is why they recruited people with one leg amputated. They fitted them up with a shorter artificial leg so that when fitted, they could move around those hillsides faster. You couldn’t keep up with them. It was harder work than picking the potatoe trees.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        I seem to remember seeing a presentation at the local VFW Hall by a Professor Quatermass about the Area 51 Agricultural Program. The boffins there were trying to ‘adapt’ the spaghetti trees to grow on Mars and discovered that the trees originated from there!!!
        I also read that the famous “Spaghetti Sauce” was developed by the trees to protect the tender spaghetti catkins from the intense ultraviolet light encountered at the high elevations where the best spaghetti tree yields are found. Collecting the precious ‘sauce’ is an art form in itself. How the farmers do the collecting of “spaghetti sauce” at industrial scale is beyond me. Perhaps Channel 4 will have a special on it next year.

        Reply
      2. John Anthony La Pietra

        And here I thought it was a deliberate attempt to twit Pastafarians with sacrilege against the FSM. . . .

        Reply
    2. timotheus

      My sibling and I watched the “spaghetti harvest in Ticino” gag when it first aired in the 1950s (I think on Jack Paar) and never forgot it. We laughed till we cried.

      Reply
  11. DJG, Reality Czar

    Trends in COVID infections. I am highly concerned that we are going into a new wave.

    Last weekend, Illinois had inched up to 1,800 to 2,000 new cases a day. Two days ago, the number reported was 2,500 new cases. Now I see that yesterday’s report is 3,500 cases.

    Something is going seriously wrong. Are people just dropping their masks and going to indoor dining? Is it some false sense of security? Is one of the vaccines that much less effective than reported?

    Reply
    1. savedbyirony

      It is the effect of variants and especially B.1.1.7, at least in Ohio. Our numbers are rising, quickest up north by the Michigan boarder. Virus fatigue and slight loosening of some restrictions are not helping but the B.1.1.7 is spreading here, becoming the most common strain detected.

      Reply
    2. IM Doc

      I really hate to say this – but I believe you are correct. It is all of a sudden happening in my little area of the world. Very slowly – just like it did before. Until we have better clarification – I would urge all to continue taking precautions and be safe.

      There is a voice in the back of my head that is becoming increasingly worried about one little piece of data that seems to be missing from all these press reports.

      I have seen several releases today from Michigan and the NorthEast that are discussing that the case numbers are going up substantially. I have a very simple question. Are these mostly vaccinated or unvaccinated people that are involved in this surge? It is actually a very important question to be asking right now.

      I worry that the fact that this is not being discussed anywhere in these news reports is a bad sign that there are more vaccinated patients becoming ill than our media/political/health leaders would like to admit.

      I am very untrusting of anything that has to do with Big Pharma – and increasingly our national health agencies – you can call it thirty years of very hard lessons.

      I will reiterate. I feel this is a very important question for EVERYONE to know. I have no knowledge of this one way or the other. However, I fear that if this was mainly unvaccinated people, we would be hearing this blasted from the rooftops. The fact that this is not being discussed out loud – is concerning at best.

      And again – this just may be my PTSD from Big Pharma paranoia speaking.

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        IM Doc, thank you again for your contributions to this site. In addition to being a first-rate doctor, you are asking questions like a true scientist.

        I think that the very simple question in the third paragraph of your comment should be tested like a hypothesis. As is done in, y’know, the scientific method.

        Reply
      2. rowlf

        I’d also like to say I appreciate your posts. Outside of stressing out the moderators here my day job is working with engineering substantiation and records databases, then identifying what is wrong and/or missing. A much nicer environment to work in than trying to make sense of pandemic information and misinformation. While not perfect I find the signal to noise ratio here at NC way better than anywhere else.

        Reply
      3. Cuibono

        at least where i work the reports are that the numbers of fully vaccinated (2D+14) who test positive is quite low so far but i have no idea how solid the case finding is for that. I will ask.

        Reply
          1. Cuibono

            new figures from todays Pfizer press release show 91% protection i think.
            But that is after 2D +14…

            two studies have shown increased infections in the first 14 days so caution is warranted!

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith

              Yes, and the headlines say protection “up to” six months.

              The big Imperial College surveys in the UK (100,000 each time, all over the country) indicated getting Covid conferred immunity of at least six months. Some have argued getting Covid confers immunity of at least eight month based on antibody and Tcell levels.

              We were also told the vaccines would/should confer better (as in more lasting) immunity than contracting Covid.

              But now that Pfizer wants to sell more boosters, have the facts changed or is it Pfizer’s spin?

              Reply
                1. Yves Smith

                  Either way, I don’t like the picture. Did the scientists we’re all supposed to trust misrepresent the vaccines? Or is Pfizer fudging its findings in the direction of getting more vaccine sales?

                  Reply
              1. Kevin Carhart

                Just on language per se for a second…..
                I’m glad you identify “up to”. It makes me bang my head that this term is in the press all the time. If I ran America’s schools, we would do a week just solely on how to read “up to”.

                Reply
      4. antidlc

        “I have seen several releases today from Michigan and the NorthEast that are discussing that the case numbers are going up substantially. I have a very simple question. Are these mostly vaccinated or unvaccinated people that are involved in this surge?”

        https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/young-unvaccinated-adults-fuel-covid-19-hospitalization-surge-in-michigan.html

        COVID-19 hospitalizations are steadily increasing in Michigan, largely driven by a jump in cases among younger adults who have not been vaccinated yet, the Michigan Health & Hospital Association said March 24.

        Reply
        1. IM Doc

          I HAve read this article just now.

          Unfortunately, this is a standard issue example of a strategy used repeatedly by those trying to obscure things.

          Raw numbers please.

          So the 30-39 age group has increased 500% and the over 80 has just gone up 30% according to this article.

          The baseline in this situation of hospital patients would be very low in the 30s but high in the 80s.

          The latest data I can find suggests that overall hospitalization for Covid is about 100 times more likely for 80 year olds than 30 year olds. The actual number is 82.9 times but using 100 makes my following example much easier to understand.

          I have no raw numbers but we will pretend there were 10 hospitalized thirty somethings in the state 2 weeks ago. That would make the 80 year olds at 1000.

          The 10 have increased by 500% for a total of 50 so 40 more.

          The 1000 80 year olds have increased by 30% or 300 more.

          40 likely non vaccinated young patients vs 300 likely vaccinated old patients. Now we have a much worse story for the vaccines than the headline would suggest.

          I have simplified this greatly with the 10 and the 1000 but this was derived from the fact that the difference between the age groups is really right at 100 times.

          These pharma people really know how to manipulate numbers to make things really benefit them – I have watched it for 30 years.

          I have done journal clubs my entire career to expose this for students. When raw numbers are not given – just percentages – the likelihood of games being played rises exponentially. When you see anything from medicine expressed in just percentage forms without raw numbers your skepticism red alert should go off.

          Until a news outlet is telling us the actual raw numbers of vaccinated or not, it is really difficult to know what to make of the situation.

          In this situation, it would also be helpful to see case numbers as well not just hospitalization numbers. Limiting to just hospital numbers leads to other obscuring issues.

          Reply
      5. marym

        Illinois
        “According to IDPH data from early March, of the more than 1.6 million people who are fully vaccinated, 217 reported a positive test more than two weeks after their last vaccine dose.” (Link)

        03/31/2021 – seems to be a report based on email from IDPH this week – 399 cases/2.1M fully vaccinated (Link)

        Reply
      6. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I have seen several releases today from Michigan and the NorthEast that are discussing that the case numbers are going up substantially. I have a very simple question. Are these mostly vaccinated or unvaccinated people that are involved in this surge? It is actually a very important question to be asking right now.

        Something to watch, no question.

        Reply
    3. BillS

      It looks like steps for reducing aerosol transmission are gaining some traction in Europe (finally). This is an excellent interactive article from La Repubblica (in Italian only) illustrating how CO2 levels can be used to estimate covid transmission probability in closed spaces and how providing adequate ventilation could allow restaurants, etc. to open. (Article originally from El Paìs.)

      Reply
  12. Grant

    “Biden’s Big Bet: Tackling Climate Change Will Create Jobs, Not Kill Them”

    It is almost like we need pretty deep structural changes to deal with what is coming for us. Like, single payer could remove the need to rely on a job for healthcare. A federal job guarantee, public banking and other things could also address structural issues we need to deal with. But, if the assumption is that we deal with this crisis with the present system, the same rough institutions, the same rough set of policies, with creative destruction expected to replace one industry with another, we are then in big trouble. This system isn’t up to the task. We need pretty comprehensive planning, far beyond anything this country has seen.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      A political party devoted to running on that concept could apply it if it won overwhelming electoral power. Otherwise, not.

      Little state-sized versions of such a part could get elected and do what planning they could within single states or groups of states.

      Reply
      1. Stephen

        The trouble with implementing such a program at the State level is the restriction placed on States to finance expenditures from taxation. As they are not sovereign issuers of fiat currency, States cannot monetize their debts the way the federal government can, nor can they generate revenue through seinorage. It must be at least funded at the Federal level, even if the programs are administered at the State or local levels

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Yes, that is true. But as long as the Fed Government is immune to far-sighted planning, some planning-based doing will have to take place at the state level, or nowhere at all.

          Many New Deal Labor Reforms and Improvements were first legislated into existence in New York State years before being taken national by the New Deal.

          CanadaCare began in the one province of either Saskatchewan or Manitoba . . . whichever of those Prairie Provinces the Social Credit Party first began it in.

          So “something better” will have to start somewhere or nowhere at all. And if it is to start somewhere, it will have to be started within one or several states even given the iron revenue-raising constraints under which the states operate.

          Because which is better? A few tax dollars at the state level anyway, or precisely ZERO MMT dollars from a planning-hostile Federal Government?

          Reply
          1. eg

            Canadian Medicare was founded in Saskatchewan by the CCF (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation). Three years later it was introduced by the Social Credit party in Alberta. /pedantry

            Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Well, pedantry is useful. It is always better to know more than to know less. And it shows how a good thing could move from one province to another.

              Perhaps that could happen with intelligent long-range planning-action, first in a state or two, then in several. Perhaps several such contiguous states could begin co-planning a self-contained Separate Survival economy for if/when America breaks up into pieces.

              Reply
        2. Alex Cox

          But wait. Can’t states issue scrip, a form of currency redeemable within the state to buy things, or pay taxes?

          I don’t know the answer … But I think it has been done and don’t see why it would be illegal.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            I suspect that if States tried to issue scrip, that the federal government would come right down on them like a ton of bricks. Wall Street would not tolerate the competition to their “financing” and the feds would be loath to have the States have any sort of financial independence from them so there would be a harsh crackdown.

            Reply
            1. hunkerdown

              They do. They’re commonly called tax anticipation notes. They’re sort of like short-term muni bonds that enhance cash flow until the next biannual real estate tax comes due. They aren’t prohibited to trade but there’s no formal secondary market.

              Reply
    2. Pelham

      A proposal in the UK, I believe, would make the government the master employer for gig workers, with gig companies required to bid for them as needed. I suggest adopting that idea and expanding it here to all workers. Then perhaps we could bring some David Graeber-like rationality and humanity to the system and, for instance, pay “essential” workers more than bankers. If we’re all just “human resources,” let’s have a resource bank that’s democratically controlled.

      Reply
    3. Stephen

      Decoupling the provision of Healthcare from corporate employment would unleash a flood of new business formation and entrepreneurship. I wonder what percentage of the American workforce resigns within the first year.

      For this reason alone it will never be implemented, not to mention the other financial interests who require the status quo to continue.

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        If this does happen, I predict that our National Anthem will temporarily change.

        The new Anthem? “Take This Job and Shove It!”

        I am especially fond of the Johnny Paycheck version.

        Reply
  13. IMOR

    NYT “Biden’s Big Bet” – Aerotek source quote.
    Aerotek is hardly the worst but one of the biggest wage/earnings boosts you could ever give the American people would be to cap the cut of the gross allowed to temp agencies/placement / labor contracting ‘services,’ which runs 20-50%. This would be on the way to requiring actual hiring by resource extraction/health care networks/tech firms- you know, actual employees whether short term or no. These parasites have been among the heaviest millstones dragging down real wages and household incomes since they boomed in the mid80s.

    Reply
  14. pjay

    Ex Blackrock Executive on Green investing: “Investors have a fiduciary duty to maximise returns to their clients and as long as there is money to be made in activities that contribute to global warming, no amount of rhetoric about the need for sustainable investing will change that, he believes.”

    I was a college undergrad at the peak of the environmental movement. We all understood this back then, and that any real environmental progress would require *constraints* on capitalism. Though there was some disagreement on the type and degree of regulation required, the basic contradiction between private and public interests and the failure of “markets” in this area was common knowledge. Unfortunately, that was in the 1970s, nearly half a century ago. Immediately after the great legislative victories of the Nixon era, the first post-Watergate New Democrats entered Congress. They began to work with Friedmanite conservatives to lay out a grand plan for *deregulation* of one industry after another. I heard the term “neoliberal” for the first time. Major degregulation began under Carter, and the basic policy trajectory – and legitimating ideology — has continued ever since.

    The “common knowledge” of the 1970s regarding the environmental contradictions of capitalism has basically been “disappeared,” so that when an ex-Blackrock exec states an obvious truth, it seems newsworthy. Gosh, if “markets” won’t do it, then I guess we’re doomed. There is no alternative, is there?

    I keep experiencing nostalgia for the 1970s for some reason. A brief era of hope before we all went back to sleep.

    Reply
  15. lobelia

    Apropos of needing to give directions to avert a criminal Medical Industry disaster of epic proportions, I’m reminded of how very special and totally necessary still, concise paper (hardcopy) maps are (especially for essential workers who have no online access, nor pricey GPS in their vehicle).

    Someone would have to pry my late nineties, wonderful, multiple county Thomas Guide from my dead hands. Don’t know where you are, pull to the side of the road (always keep a flashlight in your (glove compartment) and look at the detailed map, no power required; do not look at GPS while driving – multi tasking has been a nineteen nineties failure (Clinton/Gore, which is not at all to say I have any kind words for Poppy Bush, or Reagan) from day one. Multi Tasking™, a feature not a bug, of US domiciled Multinational Corporations, 99-100% Incorporated in teeny tiny Delaware, though domiciled hundreds to thousands of miles away.

    Too afraid to search it, I wonder if Thomas Guides, or AAA TripTik hardcopies are even available anymore (particularly with the same detail and affordability).

    gotta run

    Reply
    1. barefoot charley

      Maps are arcana–AAA continuously scales back their very useful series across the US, and, worse, when young punks (say in their 40s) see us chatting over a map in the car, we see them pointing and grinning at us old chuckleheads who don’t know what a phone is for. They don’t even know they’re lost. Those technoids who want to live forever baffle me.

      Reply
  16. marym

    Voter suppression

    As of March 24, legislators have introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states. That’s 108 more than the 253 restrictive bills tallied as of February 19, 2021 — a 43 percent increase in little more than a month.

    These measures have begun to be enacted. Five restrictive bills have already been signed into law. In addition, at least 55 restrictive bills in 24 states are moving through legislatures…

    Most restrictive bills take aim at absentee voting, while nearly a quarter seek stricter voter ID requirements. State lawmakers also aim to make voter registration harder…

    Many bills seek to undermine the power of local officials.

    04/01/2021 https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-laws-roundup-march-2021

    Reply
  17. Dr. John Carpenter

    I feel like that “time clock fraud” sign could have the opposite of the intended effect for some workers. I seem to recall young me being subjected to some similar messaging as part of training at a McJob and and realizing I was giving away my time but not doing those things on the clock. (Not to mention the graffiti I remember from working construction: Boss makes a dollar/I make a dime/That’s why I sh*t/on company time.)

    Reply
  18. The Rev Kev

    ‘Julia Rose
    This is where things get juicy…I was then connected with a supervisor at @Facebook through a mutual friend who said they could get my accounts back for $65K and 2.5% of my company (contract below)+ was told to label myself as a MALE to decrease my chances of getting taken down’

    Isn’t this what used to be known as a shakedown? it sure sounds like one. And I bet Facebook used an algorithm to determine how many successful companies they could lean on for extra ‘contributions’ for Zuc’s retirement fund-

    https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=shakedown

    Reply
      1. Robert Gray

        Even better (IMNSHO):

        Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered
        I’ve seen lots of funny men;
        Some will rob you with a six-gun,
        And some with a fountain pen.

        ‘Pretty Boy Floyd’, Woody Guthrie

        Reply
  19. allan

    Citadel Securities names former CFTC chair Heath Tarbert as chief legal officer [Reuters]

    Citadel Securities has appointed Heath Tarbert as chief legal officer, the electronic trading firm said on Thursday, months after he resigned as chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). …

    Tarbert, a former corporate attorney and senior Treasury Department official, stepped down as CFTC chair in January. He was nominated by former President Donald Trump to be both chair and one of five commissioners at the CFTC, taking office in July 2019.

    His appointment comes as Citadel Securities gets embroiled in January’s GameStop saga that put a spotlight on the huge role the company plays in the U.S. retail trading market, accounting for around 40% of executed retail trades. …

    I love the smell of revolving doors in the morning. It smells like … like … a swamp that was filled, not drained.

    Speaking of Citadel, will Biden’s DOJ have the gumption to investigate Ken Griffin’s $2 million contribution
    to a super PAC seemingly exclusively devoted to reëlecting Kelly Loeffler while Citadel
    had a pending market-maker acquisition that had to be approved by Loeffler’s husband?

    Reply
  20. kareninca

    My new obsession is “breakthrough cases.” I will now be doing searches for stories on that every day.

    “Over 100 people in Washington state have tested positive for COVID-19 more than two weeks after becoming fully vaccinated against the disease, officials said.
    The Washington State Department of Health is investigating reports of the so-called breakthrough cases, which it said are expected with any vaccine.
    Out of the 1.2 million people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Washington, epidemiologists have reported evidence of 102 breakthrough cases in 18 counties since Feb. 1, representing less than 0.01% of all fully vaccinated individuals in the northwestern U.S. state. Most cases were patients who experienced only mild symptoms, if any, according to a press release from the Washington State Department of Health.
    However, at least eight people with breakthrough cases have been hospitalized. The Washington State Department of Health is also investigating two potential breakthrough cases where the individuals died. Both patients were over 80 years old and suffered from underlying health issues.” (https://abcnews.go.com/Health/100-fully-vaccinated-people-contract-covid-19-washington/story?id=76784838)

    The article says .01 percent of fully vaccinated people. But there could be loads more people who are breakthrough cases but whose symptoms are so mild that they weren’t tested. It’s not as if they’ve been regularly testing all 1.2 million people since they were vaccinated. Are they even regularly testing a random subset of them? And are all of the breakthrough cases – whether noticed and reported or not – infectious?? And, this is early days. Most vaccinated people likely haven’t had a chance to be re-challenged, by the original version or by one of the variants.

    Also, if out of 102 cases there were eight hospitalizations and two deaths, that is a bad percentage. Of course, per above, the breakthrough cases that are noticed are probably the ones with worse symptoms.

    Reply
    1. Cuibono

      this becomes a problem because of all the blather about 100% protection against death etc

      the vaccines are likely very good. just when you hear 100% bandied about, know you are dealing with idiots.

      Reply
    2. eg

      I wasn’t under the impression that COVID vaccination was claimed to prevent infection so much as to forestall the worst effects of infection?

      Reply
  21. David in Santa Cruz

    I was a prosecutor for 34 years and tried scores of criminal cases to verdict, including homicides and rogue policemen. The level of uninformed blather from people here who otherwise present the appearance of intelligence is dispiriting, to say the least. A criminal process is far more complex than can be conveyed in a smattering of cherry-picked Tweets and YouTube clips.

    George Floyd and Derek Chauvin are both victims of our callous and inhumane neoliberal socio-econimic order, full stop. The only certainty is that there will be no justice for either of them, or for the residents of Minneapolis — because America can never expunge the horrible stain of slavery.

    Reply
    1. phoenix

      and yet one is alive and the other is dead because he was kneeled on for over 9 minutes. Give me a break. Chauvin is no victim.

      Reply
    2. Wellstone's Ghost

      Derek Chauvin chose to become a policeman.
      I will leave his intentions for becoming a policeman aside as I don’t know what those were.
      No one forced him to do that.
      Derek Chauvin chose to kneel on George Floyds neck for over 9 minutes until he was dead.
      A decision he made despite having three other officers with him at the scene.
      Derek Chauvin is not a victim in this circumstance.
      He is a murderer.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        And having Floyd in cuffs, so he was no threat to the cops, just being obstinate about getting in the car. As Rev Kev said a while back, the answer was to get a “paddy wagon” as in a van with an open back, and loaded him in that.

        And if you watch the vid, they did get him in the back seat, horizontal, and dragged him through. Why not instead hog tie his legs and then work on shutting each door?

        Reply
  22. drumlin woodchuckles

    I can’t remember which post-thread had something about hummingbird tongues, so I will bring this video about hummingbirds and their tongues here. It is an off-center video, but the part explaining how the hummingbird tongue works and how the hummingbird works its tongue is fascinating.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Biagyb7AcK8

    The tongue explanation begins at timepoint 1:02 on the time slide bar at the bottom of the video.

    Reply

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