2:00PM Water Cooler 4/9/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, more soon. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

At reader request, Birds of Australia. A duet.

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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:

A little dip, hopefully supply not demand. • 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, albeit in an upward direction.

Case count by United States regions:

Now a slight rise.

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

The big drop in New York, but flattening. Florida on the continues its slow climb.

Test positivity:


Still heading down.

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):

Good to see those deaths dropping. The fatality rate in the West is dropping now, for some reason as unknown as why it rose.

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“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

“Five reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border” [The Hill]. “Conditions on the southwest border represent a serious political challenge to President Biden, with illegal crossings and asylum requests increasing significantly in March. The situation mirrors immigration flashpoints such as the unaccompanied minor crises faced by former President Trump in 2019 and former President Obama in 2014.” • Surprise! More: “Here are five reasons why the United States faces a chronic state of crisis at the southwest border.” 1) Conditions in Central America, 2) Human smuggling is a business, 3) No legal pathways, 4) Border infrastructure, and 5) Regional enforcement. And: “We’ll see if they follow through. They could panic and do stupid things like every other administration has always done,” said [said Frank Sharry, the founder and executive director of America’s Voice, a progressive immigration advocacy group].”

“Biden Faces The Grim Reality Of A Disengaged Nation” [Heisenberg Report]. “One problem is the trust deficit. Misinformation spread on social media has driven many Americans crazy, to put it bluntly. Another issue is the education deficit. Americans simply don’t understand much about the world, which makes it very difficult to reason with them. Finally, there’s attention deficit. Americans don’t have the patience or desire to process complex issues, let alone ponder how to go about addressing vexing problems. At one point Wednesday, Biden became visibly frustrated. ‘I don’t know why we don’t get this,’ he said, exasperated.” • And misinformation, miseducation, and the attention deficit are all very profitable. Perhaps elites are recognizing that pivots in the world they have made are not was easy as they thought. “If a child, an untrained person, an ignorant person, or an insane person incites trouble, it is the fault of authority for not predicting and preventing that trouble.” –Frank Herbert, Dune.

Democrats en Deshabille

“In her own words: Woman describes Cuomo’s alleged groping at mansion” [Times-Union]. ” The call came on a weekday in late November. The governor inexplicably had a technical issue with his mobile phone and needed assistance at the Executive Mansion. He contacted one of his top executive assistants at the Capitol, Stephanie Benton, and made a blunt request: The governor wanted a specific female staff member to handle the minor assignment — a woman roughly half his age. That woman had joined the administration a few years earlier, eager to pursue a career in government and to put her bachelor’s degree in political science to good use… In a recent interview with the Times Union — her first public statements on the matter — she described what happened when she reached the office on the second floor: The governor came out from behind his desk, and began groping her in a sexually aggressive manner. ‘And that wasn’t just a hug,’ she said. ‘He went for it and I kind of like was, ‘Oh, the door is right there.’ … I was mortified that a woman who works here is going to come in and see. … I was terrified of that happening, because that’s not who I am and that’s not what I’m here for.’ As panic set in, it flashed in her mind that insulting the governor could cost her the career she had been working so hard to build.'” • My goodness, I just can’t understand why there isn’t an enormous moral panic about this.

UPDATE “The Democratic Party’s Consultant Factory” [The Intercept]. “The progress the party has made in diversifying its lower and mid-tier ranks means that it is not unrealistic to expect those operatives eventually move into the highest positions, both within the party committees and at the top-grossing firms. So far, the consulting ecosystem has absorbed these new voices with no disruption to business as usual, leaving in place a structure in which major Democratic Party firms spend part of their time working on behalf of candidates and the party, and the rest of their time working for corporate clients. Firms and operatives who reject that approach continue to be shut out, as the party’s position with working-class voters of all races continues to weaken.” • 

Republican Funhouse

“Gaetz Paid Accused Sex Trafficker, Who Then Venmo’d Teen” [Daily Beast]. “In two late-night Venmo transactions in May 2018, Rep. Matt Gaetz sent his friend, the accused sex trafficker Joel Greenberg, $900. The next morning, over the course of eight minutes, Greenberg used the same app to send three young women varying sums of money. In total, the transactions amounted to $900. The memo field for the first of Gaetz’s transactions to Greenberg was titled ‘Test.’ In the second, the Florida GOP congressman wrote ‘hit up ___.’ But instead of a blank, Gaetz wrote a nickname for one of the recipients. (The Daily Beast is not sharing that nickname because the teenager had only turned 18 less than six months before.) When Greenberg then made his Venmo payments to these three young women, he described the money as being for ‘Tuition,’ ‘School,’ and ‘School.’ • 

“Marjorie Taylor Greene rakes in over $3.2M in first quarter” [The Hill]. “Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) raised a staggering $3.2 million in the first quarter of 2021, her campaign said, indicating the furor over a slew of controversial remarks have not made a dent in her campaign bank account. Greene’s campaign said in a press release that it had raised the money from more than 100,000 individual contributions in all 50 states and that the average donation amounted to $32.”


“Republicans Are Poised to Gerrymander Their Way Back to the Majority” [The Intercept]. “Yet Democrats are in a peculiar position: With control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, they have the opportunity to ban gerrymandering, restore a semblance of democratic balance to House races, and at the same time give themselves a fighting chance to hold on to the lower chamber. But it’s far from a guarantee that the party will do it. Democrats may choose instead to voluntarily march themselves into a political abyss for no reason other than their own inertia and lack of imagination.” • Also too, donors. More: “It’s not out of the question that Democrats could buck the midterm curse. Popular conception of the midterm drop-off is misunderstood. The president’s party doesn’t lose seats primarily because voters change their minds or disapprove of the president’s performance, or even because they’re unhappy with the economy. All of those elements are a factor, but the biggest variable in the equation is who shows up to the polls.” • Jpe Biden owes me six hundred bucks, so I’m highly motivated.

Stats Watch

Inflation: “March 2021 Producer Price Final Demand Again Increased Significantly” [Econintersect]. “Year-over-year inflation pressures significantly grew again this month.”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 03 April 2021 – March Rail Movements Up 14.2% Year-over-Year” [Econintersect]. “Week 13 of 2021 shows the same week total rail traffic (from the same week one year ago) improved according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. Total rail traffic has been mostly in contraction for over one year – and now is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic….We are now seeing great rail growth as the data is being compared to the coronavirus lockdown period last year.”

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UPDATE The Bezzle: “Breakingviews – TuSimple $8 billion IPO destination looks out of range” [Reuters]. “TuSimple, though, has virtually no revenue – just $1.8 million in 2020. And while the company is targeting 2024 for commercial production, actual use of fully driverless tech on open roads could be several more years away as authorities decide whether and how to allow it.”

Tech: “With ‘smoke ring’ technology, fusion startup marks steady progress” [Science]. “A private company betting on an innovative fusion technology announced today that its latest device can sustain high temperatures for long reaction times—a major step toward a reactor capable of producing more fusion energy than is consumed by the device. The company, TAE Technologies, is still far from that goal, which huge government efforts are also pushing toward. But its achievements so far have drawn $880 million in investment—more than any other private fusion company. The company also announced plans to scale up to a larger machine, which it hopes will reach fusion conditions by 2025…. Investors appear to believe him. The company has attracted big name funders, including Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, Google, the Wellcome Trust, and the Kuwaiti government. Norman’s results alone have helped TAE raise $280 million, and Copernicus is already 50% funded. ‘Many people are very impressed by how they’ve opened up the wallets of venture capitalists,’ [plasma physicist Cary Forest of the University of Wisconsin, Madison] says. “If they can maintain this Moore’s law type progress, maybe they can get there.'”

UPDATE Tech: “California billionaire’s real estate firm to begin allowing tenants to pay rent in bitcoin” [CNBC]. “Billionaire Rick Caruso’s eponymous real estate company is jumping into the world of cryptocurrency, announcing Wednesday it will begin accepting bitcoin as rent payment at its residential and retail properties….. The moves from Caruso’s Los Angeles-based company represent the latest institutional adoption of bitcoin, which is seen as one factor helping the world’s largest cryptocurrency soar in price in recent months.”

Manufacturing: “Ford, GM cutting more production ahead of White House meeting on chip shortage” [Reuters]. “General Motors and Ford both said on Thursday they will cut more vehicle production due to a semiconductor chip shortage that has roiled the global automotive industry…. A U.S. auto industry group this week urged the government to help and warned that a global semiconductor shortage could result in 1.28 million fewer vehicles built this year and disrupt production for another six months.”

UPDATE Manufacturing: “Why Shortages of a $1 Chip Sparked Crisis in Global Economy” [The Register]. “Samsung described the quarterly revenue and operating profit as the highest in the company’s history…. Samsung is less affected by the [chip] shortage than others as the giant chaebol makes many of its own components. Although one Samsung factory in Texas was shut down in February due to power outages, operations returned to normal in late March.”

Infrastructure: “One Big Chinese Lesson for America’s Infrastructure Plan” [Bloomberg]. “There’s a vital lesson in the way China has managed to roll out so much investment in such a short time. Effective infrastructure depends not so much on top-down directives and funding, as on giving local governments and private businesses the right incentives to develop the facilities they need. In America, municipal and state governments still struggle to capture the economic benefits brought about by their infrastructure investments. It’s little wonder they’re not building enough. Capturing the land value of improved infrastructure is fundamental to the modern Chinese economy. The model is brutally effective. First, governments secure land on the fringes of cities, where the property rights of individual landowners are often weak. Next, build the transport and communications needed to transform rural real estate into far more valuable development land. Finally, sell shovel-ready residential and commercial plots to real estate developers at vastly inflated mark-ups. This system has been so effective over the past decade that about 29% of China’s consolidated government revenue in 2017 came from real estate sales, according to Caijing.” • Not sure that Amtrak map does this….

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62 Greed (previous close: 64 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). One year ago, just after the end of the Before Times: 26 (Extreme Fear). Last updated Apr 7 at 12:23pm.


“Southwest braces for water cutbacks as drought deepens along the Colorado River” [AZ Central (Carolinian)]. “Unrelenting drought and years of rising temperatures due to climate change are pushing the long-overallocated Colorado River into new territory, setting the stage for the largest mandatory water cutbacks to date. Lake Mead, the biggest reservoir on the river, has declined dramatically over the past two decades and now stands at just 40% of its full capacity. This summer, it’s projected to fall to the lowest levels since it was filled in the 1930s following the construction of Hoover Dam. The reservoir near Las Vegas is approaching a threshold that is expected to trigger a first-ever shortage declaration by the federal government for next year, leading to substantial cuts in water deliveries to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. ”

“Concerned about water quality, Fort Worth companies pour money into the Trinity Basin” [Star-Telegram]. “A diverse group of conservation organizations, government agencies and multinational corporations have formed the Texas Water Action Collaborative, or TxWAC, to address the challenge head on. While there are plans to add more companies, the list of founding members includes Molson Coors, Frito-Lay North America, PepsiCo North America, Coca-Cola North America and Keurig Dr. Pepper. The new partnership, modeled after a similar initiative in California, seeks to invest millions into projects that will improve water quality and quantity in the Upper Trinity River basin, which is centered in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. Besides private companies, the Trinity River Authority, the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service and the water district are all on board. Texas is unique in that more than 95% of land is privately owned, requiring solutions that engage landowners directly, said Joni Carswell, the CEO of Texan By Nature, the environmental nonprofit founded by Laura Bush. Her organization is taking the lead on coordinating the group’s communications and matching corporate money with conservation proposals.” • Not the state, apparently.

The Biosphere

“It Had Been Beautiful” [The Baffler]. “In 2020, after another dry summer and mild winter, it was found that crown defoliation, a main indicator of tree health, had risen to thirty-six percent in 2019 and that trees destroyed by pest infestations in German forests had increased almost six-fold since 2018. ‘Anyone driving through Germany at the moment can already see the catastrophe with the naked eye, almost everywhere,’ wrote the journalist Christian Stöcker in his column in Der Spiegel. ‘Wooded slopes, whether in Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Thuringia or Bavaria, look like the backs of mangy animals: ugly brown spots everywhere, sparse patches, large areas with trees that can be recognized as dead from afar.’ In addition to the pests, which forecasters warned had not yet reached their peak, years of industry and traffic pollution, agriculture, and fertilization had leached the soil of nutrients. Meanwhile, long-term acidification had forced the trees to migrate their roots to the upper layers of the earth: the exact depth where drought was hitting the hardest. At the same time, reforestation was becoming more convoluted as foresters felt less sure which trees would survive in a warming climate. As a result, foresters and forest owners were locked in a managerial quagmire.

Health Care

UPDATE “The World Needs the Not-for-Profit AstraZeneca Vaccine, Minus the AstraZeneca Drama” [Bloomberg]. The deck: “A series of unforced errors by the British pharma company has turned hope into hesitancy.” • The article is well worth a read, because the list of unforced errors is a long one. Still, I cannot help but feel that AZ is developing a non-profit vaccine that will help the developing world, they are very much a white crow among the black crows of the for-profit company, and their errors have been magnified in a way that the errors of others have not. Can any vaccine mavens comment?

UPDATE “That Fyre Fest tweet with the sad sandwich will be auctioned as an NFT for medical expenses” [The Verge]. “Trevor DeHaas is auctioning his 2017 tweet of the ‘dinner’ he received at Fyre Fest as an NFT. But unlike the Fest itself, the tweeted photo of the limp cheese slice on wheat bread with some greens and a sad tomato in a styrofoam container isn’t a grift; as first reported by Axios, DeHaas is hoping to raise $80,000 which he plans to put toward his medical bills. ‘With how hot the NFT market is right now I figured I’d give it a shot and could hopefully raise enough money that I wouldn’t need to rely on a GoFundMe to pay for my medical expenses,’ DeHaas said in an email to The Verge. ‘The last thing I want is to guilt trip someone into buying the NFT and copyright to pay for my medical expenses but I would like the auction winner to know that their money would be going to a good cause.'” • The sandwich:

The most American story ever.

Feelings, nothing more than feelings:

Feral Hog Watch

UPDATE “Where Boars Hog the Streets” [New York Times]. “The wild boars of Haifa, in short, are no longer particularly wild. Once largely confined to the many ravines that slice through this hilly port city on the Mediterranean, the boars have become increasingly carefree in recent years and now regularly venture into built-up areas, undeterred by their human neighbors. ‘It became like an everyday thing,’ said Eugene Notkov, 35, a chef who lets his dog play with the boars that putter around the local parks. ‘They’re a part of our city,’ he added. Bumping into one is ‘like seeing a squirrel.'” • Or like cats in Istanbul. The photos are astonishing!

Groves of Academe

UPDATE “The Real Development Was The Friends We Made Along The Way” [Oliver W. Kim]. “[“Development Economist Albert O. [Hirschman (d. 2012)] formalizes this insight with his famous notion of backward and forward linkages. Backward linkages are the demand created by a new industry for its inputs, like steel for an auto plant or milk for a cheesemaker. Forward linkages are the reverse–the knock-on effects of a new industry’s outputs on the firms it supplies. Backward linkages, Hirschman goes on to explain, are better at spurring growth than forward ones. Rather than plopping down a steel factory somewhere, with no customers assured, it is far easier to build the auto plant first, sourcing the car parts from other countries as needed, then gradually entice local producers to enter the market. Instead of a Big Push across all industries at once, Hirschman calls for the Targeted Strike–choose the sectors with the most potential to create demand for other inputs, and support those.” • Wednesday was Hirschman’s birthday, the occasion of this wonderful summary of Hirschman’s life. Compare his life to our current crop of economists, emitted by the Harvard/Yale/Chicago pipeline! And I wonder what Biden’s infrastructure plan looks like, viewed through the lens of a development economist like Hirschman.

UPDATE “Remembering the Father of Supply-Side Economics” [Bruce Bartlett, The New Republic]. “The economist Robert Mundell died on April 4. Although known primarily for his work on international economics—he’s popularly known in economic circles as the “father of the euro”—he played a vital role in the creation of what came to be known as supply-side economics: the idea that big tax cuts will so stimulate economic growth that revenues will not fall. Important supply-siders such as Arthur Laffer and Jude Wanniski credited Mundell as the originator of their ideas. And while these ideas have engendered decades of hotly contested debate, Mundell’s foundational work is still very vital today, even to the pandemic recovery that America has embarked upon in the early days of the Biden administration.”

This Day in History

UPDATE A happy day:

The Agony Column

“An Interview With the Man Who Keeps Uploading My Feet to WikiFeet” [The Cut]. “I like the painted toes. I like an arch, the more pronounced the better. I’m kinda weird with the toes, I like a rounded big toe. If it’s more square it’s okay, but the rounded is better. I definitely like the soles. But I like the arches, that gets you turned on.”

The Conservatory

“Real Life Rock Top 10: March 2021” [Greil Marcus, Los Angeles Review of Books]. “The Gang of Four offered a drama of false consciousness produced by consumerism, and a dramatization of the state of mind that came with it: the inability to think straight. This isn’t a matter of words, whether sung in a hysterical rush by King in “I Found That Essence Rare,” “Return the Gift,” “What We All Want,” or “Natural’s Not in It” (“The problem of leisure / What to do for pleasure / Coercion of the senses, we are not so gullible / Our great expectations, a future for the good / Fornication makes you happy, no escape from society”) or quietly analyzed by Gill in “Anthrax,” “Paralysed,” or “Why Theory” (following up the most unlikely song title in pop history with a staccato lecture that’s also like the kind of bar talk that happens when the drunk next to you has reached the state where everything is absolutely almost clear [“We’ve all got opinions / Where do they come from? / Each day seems like a natural fact”]). In Gang of Four songs, lyrics are a kind of guide vocal to the intellectual argument being made sonically, as one or two instruments are dropped out of a song as if at random, and then crash back in, as rhythms are scattered and reassembled with pieces missing so that as the progression of a song continues you hear the song questioning itself.”

Our Famously Free Press

“The Mess at Medium” [The Verge]. “Medium entered the year with more than 700,000 paid subscriptions, putting it on track for more than $35 million in revenue, according to two people familiar with the matter. That’s a healthy sum for a media company. But it represents a weak outcome for Williams, who previously sold Blogger to Google and co-founded Twitter, which eventually went public and today has a market capitalization of more than $50 billion. Medium has raised $132 million in venture capital, but its last funding came in 2016. Williams has been funding the company out of his own pocket since then, sources said…. Most of the company’s readers look like Williams: 71 percent are white, 55 percent are male, and 53 percent make more than $100,000 a year, according to internal numbers shared with me.” • Weird that Medium never turned into Substack.

“How QAnon helps its followers find conspiracy in chaos” [MSNBC]. “We recognize ourselves in a few wisps of nimbus cloud, see the curve of a smile in the night sky and form a man out of moon rock; the religiously inclined might recognize, in the patterns on a Maillard-browned bit of toast, the face of a holy savior. Pareidolia is an ancient phenomenon that’s part of a subclass of a broader set of human behaviors, the tendency to see patterns where none exist. The equally lovely Greek word for that tendency is apophenia. To the apophenia-prone, life is not a jumbled drawer jammed with oddments of numbers and times and chance meetings; there are hidden patterns and significances to nearly everything, just as, to our ancient counterparts, a few clustered celestial bodies might form a bear or a plow or a queen perched all night on a throne of stars. Down here below Cassiopeia, on the dim and bounded Earth, apophenia has its drawbacks.” • Like RussiaGate?

Class Warfare

“Amazon workers in Bessemer have voted not to form a union” [Ars Technica]. “A majority of workers have voted not to form a union at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer, Alabama. The result of the NLRB’s initial vote count was 1,798 votes against the union and 738 in favor. Hundreds of additional ballots were not counted because their authenticity was disputed. But the “no” side already has a majority of the 3,215 votes cast, making the issue moot.” • Mike Elk:

(“Hot shop” defined.)

“Anti-Union Amazon Workers Explain How Mandatory Anti-Union Meetings Turned Them Against RWDSU” (videos) [Payday Report]. “While captive audience meetings are often depicted as being hostile situations, Jeremiah Okai said he found the meetings were ‘cool.’ ‘They were cool, they were just telling us what the union did,’ said 19-year-old Okai. It was the presentation about union dues that helped persuade him to vote against the Amazon union in Alabama. ‘[The union] is going to take money away from me,’ Okai said. ‘I don’t want no money taken away from me.'” • Kudos to Elk for actually talking to workers (he met them in the parking lot). What a concept.

“Blowout in Bessemer: A Postmortem on the Amazon Campaign” [Jane McAlevey, The Nation]. The deck: “The warning signs of defeat were everywhere.” A good compilation of errors: “Plant gate as focus, no house calls. In the vast majority of successful campaigns, how and where conversations with workers take place is crucial. On a web search engine, if you enter “Amazon changes traffic light pattern in Alabama,” the results show dozens of stories, highlighting one of many tactics Amazon deployed to frustrate the activists and organizers in the campaign. While nefarious, it’s completely within the norm of hard unionization fights in the United States. On Twitter, when the story first hit, people who had experienced the same thing took to social media to say, “Yeah, that happened in northern Ohio, too—in our election where the company dominates town politics.” None of these tactics are surprising with one read of Confessions of a Union Buster. What was concerning to experienced organizers, however, was the realization that the majority of the face-to-face contacts with workers were happening at the plant gate.” And: “Workers watching coworkers take a stand in large numbers is what wins, not rallies with out-of-state superstars, not famous football players, not famous actors and actresses, not even Bernie Sanders or the president of the United States. (Though President Biden’s video is still worth applauding for many reasons: future campaigns and the general legitimacy of unions, not the least.) When there are more outside supporters and staff being quoted and featured in a campaign than there are workers from the facility, that’s a clear sign that defeat is looming.” • :-(

“Why the Amazon union vote is bigger than Amazon” [The Verge]. A good wrap-up. This caught my eye: “It’s been a hard fought campaign on both sides. Organizers expect the vote to be close, though Connelly is optimistic. More than 3,000 workers had signed cards expressing interest in a union in the runup to the election, an organizer previously told The Verge, more than enough to win if they all voted yes.” • In other words, if Obama hadn’t betrayed labor by not passing card check, the union wins. Thanks, Obama!

“Randi Weingarten has a vision to get kids back to school — and strong words for Jews who say unions are the obstacle” (transcript) [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]. Weingarten: “American Jews are now part of the ownership class.”

News of the Wired

UPDATE “How to survive the end of the future: Preppers, pathology, and the everyday crisis of insecurity” [Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers]. Fascinating if you can penetrate the academic tone. For example: “Within debates over crisis determination and appropriate public and private anticipatory action, the “prepper” is often used as a benchmark against which to measure the rationality of responses. Wedded in media and wider cultural representations to far‐fetched visions of the apocalypse, what actually constitutes crisis for preppers varies along a spectrum of belief and practice.1 Ranging from short‐term personal disruptions to longer‐term societal collapse, what the experienced and anticipated crises that drive prepping share is the individual’s dislocation from infrastructural services and the absence of sufficient state action to protect, rescue, or remediate. Preppers respond through a range of material practices including stockpiling food, medicine, and equipment to shelter in place (“bugging‐in”), by packing a range of mobile carries to facilitate quick escapes and enable survival on the move (“bugging‐out”), by developing survival skills, and, in some cases, by learning self‐sufficiency skills to adapt to an imagined post‐collapse environment. Their stockpiles are often hidden to guard from future theft by security forces or by the unprepared “hoards” in imaginations of future crisis. But they are also concealed to avoid the ridiculing eye of a society in which preppers are constructed as selfish or “tin foil hat wearing loonies.” However, the recent media coupling of prepping to political anxiety over Brexit and ecological anxiety over climate change – politically fraught but more socially accepted crisis concerns – has temporarily recalibrated the coordinates of difference between rational and irrational, condoned and pathological anticipatory subjectivities.” • I think I could shorten this to say: “Given the givens, the preppers don’t look so cray cray.” Again, this is an academic study, but it’s still a useful survey.

UPDATE “Collections: Clothing, How Did They Make It? Part IVa: Dyed in the Wool” [A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry]. “The popular image of most ancient and medieval clothing is typically a rather drab affair, with the poor peasantry wearing mostly dirty, drab brown clothes (often ill-fitting ones) and so it might be imagined that regular folks had little need for involved textile finishing processes or dyeing; this is quite wrong. We have in essence already dispatched with the ill-fitting notion; the clothes of poor farmers, being often homespun and home-sewn could be made quite exactly for their wearers (indeed, loose fitting clothing, with lots of extra fabric, was often how one showed off wealth; lots of pleating, for instance, displayed that one could afford to waste expensive fabric on ornamentation). So it will not be a surprise that people in the past also liked to dress in pleasing colors and that this preference extended even to relatively humble peasants. Moreover, the simplest dyes and bleaching methods were often well within reach even for relatively humble people. What we see in ancient and medieval artwork is that even the lower classes of society wore clothes that were bleached or dyed, often in bright, bold colors.”

Archetype (1):

Archetype (2):

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TH writes: “One of our dew adorned hibiscus plants in the early morning light.”

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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. flora

    re: One problem is the trust deficit. Misinformation spread on social media has driven many Americans crazy, to put it bluntly.

    Hmmm… seems like they’re leaving out a few other reasons from their list. Just a guess. / ;)

  2. Grant

    “‘[The union] is going to take money away from me,’ Okai said. ‘I don’t want no money taken away from me.’”

    Yikes. Yes, there are dues because it costs money to negotiate, to represent workers in disciplinary actions, etc. But, studies show that unions increase wages and benefits. I mean, if the dues are $50 a month and the union raises wages $200 a month, should you not join the union because of the $50 dues? I have to just conclude that with unions barely existing and labor history not being taught, it means that many workers (especially young workers) don’t have a ton of information and knowledge to draw on. They also live in a dysfunctional society that lies to them about most everything that impacts them.

    It just seems that in this country, nothing ever really gets better. There is never a moment where there is a chance that things can go one way or another to improve society and the decision to benefit society and not oligarchs is chosen. We are just stuck, with things no longer working and things getting progressively worse. The environmental crisis is going to be a lot of fun in the US. We are going to fall apart.

    1. Socal Rhino

      Money from your check would be immediate and certain. Studies show? Why would this be compelling to a worker at Amazon?

      More work needed I think, and in progress already if the twitter account of the head of the Flight Attendants union is any indication.

      1. Grant

        Studies show that unions raise wages, increase benefits, can protect workers and give workers a say in where they work. Are you asking me how it would be relevant if it can be shown that being in a union would increase wages so that the benefits more than outweigh the costs (both of which would be immediate)? Or that having some say at work and some protection at Amazon wouldn’t bring immediate benefits? Why exactly would Amazon fight as they have if these things weren’t so?

        I keep on hearing some call for the breaking up of Amazon. I personally wish the company was nationalized and some semblance of worker self management or co management was put in place. I don’t think the size of the company is bad actually, to me the problem is the size of the company given that it is a private and for profit business, which is also not cooperatively owned and is internally very inequitable. I am thinking more than anything of the recent book by Verso books, The Peoples Republic of Walmart. Maybe it could be turned into a giant worker cooperative. I mean, Mondragon employs tens of thousands of workers and operates in 35 different countries, so it isn’t impossible. Neither is going to happen, but I also don’t see the state breaking the company up too.

        1. Socal Rhino

          Not questioning relevance of better pay or benefits, just the argument to convince the worker that the immediate cost is worth a potential benefit in the future. I guess experienced organizers can speak about this, just off-hand I’d think actual examples might be one way – here is what happened when these other shops joined the union.

          1. Procopius

            In the quote from the Amazon worker, he says he found the Amazon story, which he believed, very helpful in his decision making. You know that “studies show …” but he doesn’t know about those studies. Perhaps you don’t grasp what it means that these workers are being paid minimum wage, at best — assuming part of their wages isn’t being stolen. There’s a reason why governments support payday loan sharks. I used to live on the outskirts of Detroit, where Walter Reuther was a folk hero, and we knew the truth about that “Henry Ford $5 a Day” lie. The people in Alabama have been living with “right to work” since 1953, with constant anti-union propaganda from both employers and government. I’m pretty sure most Americans don’t know about, or don’t believe in, the studies you refer to.

      2. Pelham

        Excellent point: $50 out of the paycheck now, MAYBE a better deal sometime down the road.

        Plus, I wonder whether Amazon’s sheer planetary size was a factor in the voters’ thinking. How could a mere union challenge a colossus of — by a very long shot — unprecedented size and reach?

        1. deleter

          Not sure of the situation in Alabama, but I’m
          pretty sure union dues would have to be negotiated as part of the contract. I was a Teamster for 16 years and that’s the way it was,
          at least up to 2014.
          I can’t see Amazon’s HR withholding the money without one.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Yikes

      Yes, but education on issues like that is the union’s job (though to be fair, legislation and the NLRB may have so stacked the deck that this is impossible). Why on earth was this local left alone with no help?

      1. Grant

        I agree, but we should be realistic about what can be done in the short term when so much is done to mislead people and when labor hisory is not taught. I mean, right wing parts of the country actually bar schools from teaching Howard Zinn. I think this is the domain of movements. To your point though, the local should have gotten a ton more support. Frankly, I don’t think having famous people showing up to support the union is a good thing too.

        I am going through something in this area now. I am high up in our union, we are thinking of switching unions and it involves a lot of discussion and outreach among members. We have a union right now, and many workers know nothing about what unions do, and many don’t seem to realize that THEY are the union just as much as the president of the union is. It will be as strong as they make it. If the same ten people are at the union meetings, most workers are not involved and only reach out when they need something and if the workers think the union is something external to them and is there when they need something, the union will be pretty weak. And as someone with experience as a rep in a few unions, that is the norm. We really need existing unions to start to work on getting their own members involved and for unions to far better coordinate activities and to act in solidarity with one another.

        1. Pelham

          Labor history certainly wasn’t taught in public schools when I was a student in the ’50s and ’60s. But somehow I had a rough and accurate idea of what unions were all about, as did most of the kids I knew. How we came to know such things is a bit mysterious, but the local railroad repair shop was unionized, and the local dungarees factory went through a brief and unproductive union drive about that time.

          A close millennial acquaintance, however, has no inkling of labor history and struggles. However, she’s right up to the minute on identity issues.

          1. Grant

            Interesting. I would argue that you knew of such things because a far larger percentage of society was in unions. Unions were active in cultural activities. There were actual leftist movements still, and unions still had some leaders that were pretty radical.

            My experience in unions though is that most of the workers don’t really do tons to make the union more than it is. You usually have a few committed people that go to the meetings, represent other workers, and the vast majority do nothing, don’t go to meetings, don’t show solidarity with union members when they are vulnerable and could use support, but then expect the union to do stuff that it can’t do unless more workers are active. The union is everyone in the union, not the reps or those at the top. I always had to talk with people when they would discuss the union as something external to them, when it was them, me and everyone else. I ran out or patience hearing people complain about the union when those same people did absolutely nothing to make the union more than it was. Part of this comes from how worthless union leaders are though, and many national leaders are paid well, and are really just part of the Democratic Party machinery. They aren’t working class and frankly don’t care to fight much or to challenge anyone with power. They get paid well, speak at conferences, meet with politicians and then accept pathetic crumbs thrown at their members, because it proves they did SOMETHING.

            1. rowlf

              Having been a member in several unions, I think automatic dues check off, like automatic payroll taxes, are evil. Union members should have to manually pay their dues every month (and taxpayers should manually pay their taxes).

              The automatic payments lets everyone sleepwalk through their connections to the group, and lets the collectors of the funds ignore the membership.

              1. Grant

                Well then you must love Janus. Okay, you work in a place, there is a union and you don’t have to pay. Can the CBA the union negotiated not apply to you if you don’t pay? Are you not eligible for benefits the union had to negotiate for? CBAs have protections for workers so you can’t just be fired because the boss doesn’t like you. You are on your own there too? What you are saying would make sense if you are entirely on your own if you don’t pay dues. If not, then all you all calling for is widespread free riding. Your comment doesn’t apply to the union I am in. We (the people working to make the union an actual thing) are small and responsive.

                1. rowlf

                  In the International Association of Machinists (IAM) we once had to go to the union hall every month and pay our dues and get our dues books stamped. How the IAM represented you could be on a relative scale.

                  Are you a union or is your local a business?

            2. The Rev Kev

              ‘You usually have a few committed people that go to the meetings, represent other workers, and the vast majority do nothing, don’t go to meetings, don’t show solidarity with union members when they are vulnerable and could use support, but then expect the union to do stuff that it can’t do unless more workers are active.’

              You could also say the same of voters in a democracy too.

          2. Socal Rhino

            I had a course in labor history in the 80s in an engineering school of all places. Taught by a former mediator. Probably my first exposure to understanding politics as the interplay of power rather than ideologies. And a good antidote to nostalgia.

          3. Mo's Bike Shop

            In the 70s strikes made the evening news on a regular basis. Both sides (shudder) were covered. Then Raygun fired the air traffic controllers.

            And any good union man could get out a wry blipvert in any conversation.

          4. Procopius

            Well, I was in high school during The McCarthy Years, in a suburb of Detroit. It is true that labor history was not part of the curriculum, but several of our teachers talked about it frequently, especially Mrs. Miller, our Civics teacher, who was a natural activist. We also got some of the oral history of Detroit, including some of the things the City Fathers would rather be forgotten, like what happened in 1943.

    3. Miami Mitch

      I replied in a similar way in the Links comments this morning; I do not understand why this is so surprising. Taking money from the workers, at this point, to them, is worse than working at amazon. No amount of “organizing” will over come that. It is pointless to blame the organizers.

      Trying to explain to them in the “long term” it will be better for them is like trying to tell people that biking to work in the summer is better for the climate in the long term than driving their car. How is “education” working for climate change, or diet induced diabetes? Education makes us smart, but experience gives us wisdom.

      Wait till the U.S. hist rock bottom, then things will get better.

      1. Grant

        “Taking money from the workers, at this point, to them, is worse than working at amazon.”

        I don’t buy this logic. Amazon currently takes from the workers. There is a direct correlation between the wealth of Bezos and the wages and benefits provided to the workers there. Higher wages for workers means the surplus generated within Amazon would be smaller and there would be less money given to Bezos. This logic reminds me of the discussion around single payer, where critics point to tax increases in the system to fund single payer (putting aside MMT insights, just how it is framed) but not taking into account the reduction in out of pocket expenditures. Studies show that unions raise wages, it really isn’t controversial. So, saying that dues have to be paid doesn’t mean the union couldn’t be a net benefit if wage increases more than paid for the dues. And workers would have some say and some protection in what is a horribly undemocratic and inhumane working environment. Putting aside the pay and dues, is that not worth something?. How about working class solidarity anyway? To me, this really reveals the mindset of workers in modern America (or the south at least) and it ain’t pretty. Neoliberalism has ruined a lot, but more than anything it has ruined how workers see themselves and their connections to other working people. We are far more individualistic and we are worse off for it.

        1. Pelham

          You make good points, but what are the chances the union could have delivered? Amazon would have every incentive to make an example of the Bessemer fulfillment center, and the union isn’t nearly as impressive. Plus, ANY amount the union would claim in dues would probably be quite a burdensome chunk for these underpaid workers.

          1. Grant

            But, is this discussion not about a company that is crushing workers, funneling money to an oligarch (money that emerged from paying workers far less than the value they produced with their labor) and creating an authoritarian work environment? I mean, what is not working in a union doing for workers at Amazon? I have no illusions about a single union taking on Amazon. I think a strong movement could. That movement doesn’t exist, but it surely has to start somewhere, and I would think that a union actually defeating that giant behemoth in this organizing drive would have galvanized people, workers elsewhere. It seems that this is exactly what Amazon feared, not this particular union in one location. It isn’t as if Amazon itself was scared of this small union in one location. It was afraid of it beating Amazon and providing a model for workers elsewhere.

            But in regards to this particular situation, a union can pool resources to bargain for higher wages, but it also gives legal protections to workers and gives them at least some say in the place that they work. If you ask me, this is really just a sign as far as how much work the left has in front of it. Forget reforming the Democratic Party, there is a ton of work to do just to get workers to see themselves in a different way, and to see a future that doesn’t exist at this point. Neoliberalism has utterly destroyed people’s capacity to see another way of organizing society and the economy, and man is the hill steep.

            1. Miami Mitch

              Your issue is that you’re not thinking like one of the workers.

              Movements are not created from organizers, organizers are created from movements.

              1. Grant

                I am in a union, going through a process potentially transitioning to another union, and I am knee deep in this stuff right now. I am thinking as both someone looking at the bigger picture and in talking with workers in our union. Some of what I am saying is based on what I am hearing from workers. I am really frustrated. A lot of workers complain about the union. None of them show up to meetings, do anything in solidarity for other workers (even in their departments) when they could use support, etc. They do nothing to make the union more than it is, but expect things from the union as if it is external to themselves. Same exact thing happened when I was in another union in a previous job. And part of what can happen is that the union could break apart. If some workers don’t want to transfer, others do, if we go in a direction and enough unhappy with that direction drop off, the union is effectively gone. I don’t think a number of them care, which is mind blowing given where we work. I can’t force them to go home and to think a bit about what the working environment would be like with no union, and how bargaining for higher wages would be radically different if they are by themselves. The work environment where with work with no union at all would not be easy, it isn’t as is. I think there is just a complete lack of seeing the bigger picture with any of this. Really. Not just macro issues, down to what it actually means to be in a union, what is needed for workers to make it stronger than it is. We try and try and try, we almost bribe people in different ways to get involved, and they can’t be bothered. But they will complain if the union isn’t doing enough in their eyes (because most of them can’t be bothered to do anything, the union is basically about ten people that actually show up to meetings and try to represent workers), or if the gift card during holidays isn’t enough. We are also small union, so people not being involved is really harmful. It is hard to build movements in places where workers have zero idea of what a union is or should be and can’t be moved to care or put time into researching things a bit. You could talk to me until the end of time and make all the sense in the world. I have to be willing to actually do something and to take your words into account. I don’t see much hope for working people in the US.

                1. rowlf

                  It is a tough road. For a while I belonged to a very militant industrial union and my group managed to take control of the local, only to have the International step in and say our election was invalid (We threatened their dues stream after the Eastern Airlines strike and we did not vote for a concessionary contract to pay for the LBO of our company.) That was an eye-opener and a kick to the crotch.

                  After that a lot of us organized to bring in a craft union. After the second run we were successful. On the plus side the new union was very open and democratic. ALL of the old contract negotiation records were made available to us and often the times when the old union said the company was dragging feet it was the union breeding puppies. The craft union’s policy was also that union members could attend and observe negotiations with the company. (Good usually until a union negotiator was spotted playing solitaire on his laptop during negotiations.)

                  The new union got lucky and pants’ed the company during negotiations, roiled the industry, and the company took revenge. The weakness of the craft union was it was required to have two different groups under it, was too democratic instead of paternalistic when needed and the company was able to get it off the property.

                2. GERMO

                  Grant’s comment aligns 100% with my experience in my union, sadly. We must press on of course but it is hard.

                  Regarding Amazon’s win, I recently read that the union’s original effort was for a bargaining unit of under a thousand workers there, and that Amazon intervened or lobbied or whatever to have that expanded to several times that size.

                  I would assume that was part one of the strategy — insist that various additional layers of workers be included who would be easily peeled off, perhaps because they were already in more desirable jobs, shift leads, or whatever, and for that or other reasons, could be expected to vote No. (It’s probably a typical move). Then, part two, challenge hundreds of the ballots just to make darn sure.

                  If the union or some of the unthinking workers themselves must share some blame for this loss, it really should be in the context of the immense effort and basically bottomless budget Amazon had to make sure the vote went their way.

                  In any case this is what I consider some bad news. :(

    4. Toshiro_Mifune

      IDK…. I was in the SEIU back in the 90’s. The experience was…. lacking. I remember being told how much extra I was going to get for being in the union when I got hired, which was really nice. Until I looked at my first paycheck and realized that the extra for being in SEIU was $35 per week and union dues were $50 per week *. Also, I got a glossy bi-monthly (or maybe it was quarterly) magazine from the union for being a member. I remember thinking that 1) This was pretty expensive to print 2) I would rather have had them save that money to have gotten me at least enough extra to cover the dues 3) I kept receiving it for several years after I had left the job which was kind of wasted money.
      I should state – I absolutely support worker solidarity, and very strongly. Unions though, well, that’s a different story. I am not in a union job currently so I don’t know if or how much they have changed since the last one I was in in the late 90s (the ILA).
      There’s a lot I could write here (like about the ILA and kick backs to the shop steward to make sure you were on the schedule) but suffice it to say if we want strong unions those unions themselves have to be better then what they were.

      * – I was a part timer at IIRC 32 hrs per week

      1. Keith

        I was in SEIU, via NAGE, in the early aughts. It really was a useless union. We, I was an elected official in the local, spent time and money protecting people that should have been fired and really making management miserable with constant threats of ulp’s. From what I was told, AFGE, before them was even worse. That being said, federal employee unions are pretty useless, basically just another lobbying group.

    5. hemeantwell

      Please note the contrast between Elk’s and McAlevey’s analysis. In the excerpts here Elk, by “talking to workers,” only records opinions that are presented by people who have not been engaged by the union in a context in which they feel safe and are given a chance to talk through their objections and potentially be reassured in a long discussion with an organizer. McAlevey quite rightfully bangs on the idea of home visits, *repeated* home visits, and other engagements away from work. If the union couldn’t bring itself to organize away from the plant, that’s a serious mistake, and it’s one that unions keep making in high-profile drives over the past few years. It makes it all the more likely that you’ll find workers expressing forms of interest that explicitly involve an immediate concern about bux and *implicitly* are very much about feeling safe. This is social-psychology 101, and unions keep failing at it.

    6. dcblogger

      I once met the man who organized JP Stevens, he told me that he NEVER passed out union authorization cards until 95% of the workers said they wanted to join. He told me that attrition starts the minute you pass out the cards. I also met textile workers in Emporia Virginia (just across the line for Roanoke Rapids) and they told me they went down to Roanoke Rapids NC and showed workers their pay stubs. That is part of what wins Union elections, not “careful studies show” let them see what a union pay stub looks like.

    7. Phil in KC

      Funny, when I was a kid in my early 20’s, a union job connoted good wages, generous benefits, a pension plan, lots of paid time off, and secure employment until you retired early at 55. The men who worked in union jobs had nice cars, boats, took vacations, and seldom seemed worried about finances. Their kids went to college without much sacrifice.

      So what happened? Guys my age know how the unions were gradually destroyed cut by cut, and then the unions helped in their own destruction. A sad story. No one remembers the dead from the Ford massacre, for example. Yet I grew up with men who refused to even ride in a Ford vehicle out of respect for their union brothers.

      1. Wukchumni

        How supermarkets* managed to stay unionized is a bit of a mystery to me…

        A few years ago in Mammoth after skiing, I was sharing the jacuzzi in our rental condo complex with a couple about my age from SoCal who were supermarket checkers pulling down $33 an hour plus bennies. they’d been at it since their late teens, and mentioned that when they eventually retired, the supermarket would be able to replace them @ half price, in terms of what they earned.

        As far as I can tell, the job is no different than any other checker who toils @ Wal*Mart, Target, or any other place that scans bar codes, and that would be all of them.

        * Not all of them, I shop @ WinCo supermarket, an ’employee owned company’ i.e. non-union

    8. Greg

      It’s still “At Will” employment regardless of union membership. Most of the employees will not be there 10 years from now.

  3. Mark Gisleson

    Here’s hoping that the Amazon “win” in staying union free will make it easier for consumers to boycott Amazon. It feels strange saying this, but the best way to punish our oligarchs would be to promote personal austerity. Stop buying things you don’t need, and what you do need try to buy locally from locally owned businesses and when you have a choice, buy the brand that makes its products here in the USA.

    But mostly stopping buying stuff.

    1. flora

      …and what you do need try to buy locally from locally owned businesses and when you have a choice, buy the brand that makes its products here in the USA.

      Yes. Thanks.

      1. Anonapet

        Uh, no.

        Until we have an ethical finance system then small, local businesses are part of the problem too since they use, in essence*, the public’s credit but for private gain.

        But strangely and sadly, an ethical finance system is considered “balmy” by some who should know better.

        *because of government privileges for banks.

        1. flora

          Not sure my neighbors who have a local book store can wait that long. ;) Locally owned businesses are as important as local/locally owned newspapers, imo.

        2. Phillip Allen

          I disagree. Small businesses are no more part of ‘the problem’ than individual workers. There is no person or group of any description that is not enmeshed in the financial system, but those who actually have power to affect the course of events is a tiny, tiny subset. (Big club what you ain’t in.) Small businesses are key to the survival of small communities throughout the country, if they are not to become wastelands reduced to dependence on monopolies – or more than they already are. I believe that small businesses will be key to any human-scaled, ethical system we might create in the future. If things unfold the way I think they will, world-spanning corporations will be gone, one way or another, and all life will be much, much more local.

    2. Keith

      Well, part of the issue is Amazon and other big box retailers have great return policies. There is a local feed store where I live with cheaper prices, but a strict return policy. Instead, they make you deal with the manufacturer, where as Amazon, Lowes, Home Depot, etc will just take the item back, no questions asked. Also, likely because employees for the big box don’t really care one way or the other, whereas with the smaller ones they may often try and “protect” their employer.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Almost all my purchases are at a local hardware store and the local grocery coop (not a healthfood store, just small town folks insisting on having a local grocery). Yes, I pay higher prices but because I can walk, it saves on car expenses.

        I’m retired now and live alone so I can make my own rules. After two years of proving to myself that I don’t need a car, I just let my drivers license lapse, canceled my car insurance and — because I’m a misanthrope burned out from too many political campaigns — I’ve gone email only and have canceled my phone. I try to check my bank balance weekly and usually find myself refreshing the page to make sure I’m not looking at a cached version because there’s almost no money going out at all.

        I don’t expect others to take such radical action, but this is working for me. More than just working, it’s radically improving my life. I guess this isn’t about a boycott so much as a movement towards a simpler lifestyle. Slowly I’m converting friends and family by showing that it’s possible. They see I’m not suffering, and they see that my cost of living is less than they would have thought possible. And more than anything else, they envy my almost empty basement and garage. Not having a ton of stuff is actually empowering.

        1. Keith

          Any use or wear. Basically, if it comes out of the box or you put it on, you and the manufacturer have to Duke it out. Returns they do is like if it us an unwanted gift or wrong item, providedthe above do not apply.

      2. crittermom

        > “… where as Amazon, Lowes, Home Depot, etc will just take the item back, no questions asked.”

        That lax return policy can also have a down side, as I recently found out.

        I’d ordered 4 cheap mini blinds from Home Depot last year & a friend picked them up for me.
        My project was then put on hold, so I had just set them aside.

        When I finally began to install them recently, I discovered that one had obviously been returned & re-taped. It was missing the wand.
        Since so much time had lapsed I was forced to buy another blind to replace it.

        The replacement arrived last week to my home & it, too, was an obvious return, missing all the hardware! (But at least it had the wand)

        So I used the hardware from the one I was replacing to complete the job.

        I was quick to call HD yesterday & let them know that 2 out of 5 I’d received as “new” were incomplete returns, due to perhaps a too lax return policy?

      3. Yves Smith

        You don’t need to have a great return policy. You need to use a credit card.

        You return the item in a way you can prove you sent it back. You dispute the charge (damaged, not as described, etc). Credit card companies always side for the consumer IF you can prove the item was returned. You have 120 days to dispute a credit card charge. The merchant agreed to the card issuer rules when they signed up for a merchant account, so the chargeback rules trump any return limits that the merchant tries to impose (like returns only two weeks after purchase).

        Now your return does have to be bona fide. You can’t use it for a month, break it, and hope the credit card company will bail you out.

    3. FreeMarketApologist

      Per the earlier article, “…A U.S. auto industry group this week urged the government to help and warned that a global semiconductor shortage could result in 1.28 million fewer vehicles built this year and disrupt production for another six months….

      Perhaps having 1.28m fewer vehicles being built is a good thing. They don’t get built, they don’t get bought. People repair what they have, or save their money. Alternatively (or in addition), perhaps the auto industry should think about putting fewer semiconductors in cars.

      1. Altandmain

        Working in the auto industry, I don’t think that you understand the implications.

        The used car market is going to be even more expensive now than before. That’s going to hurt the working class.

        A lot of working class people who work at the plants and their suppliers are going to be temporarily laid off. They may face financial difficulties in the meantime. This will have cascading effects on the communities that they live in. Many of these places are smaller towns and they rely on the factory.

        The folks who want to buy cars will are going to do it, although the ones unwilling to wait will have to pay a mark-up. Once the semiconductor shortage is over, many people will be working overtime to make up for the lost production. That’s what we hax to do when I was at the US big 3 and we had machines that went offline.

        People who want to buy cars seldom change their minds due to a temporary shortage.

        These shortages are harmful to the working class disproportionatetly. People who want to buy cars seldom change their minds due to a temporary shortage.

        1. Altandmain

          Oops typo at the end, but you get my point.

          This is not the win that you think it will be. The cost will hit the working class.

    4. taunger

      But that does not work on an individual basis, it must be a collective action. And if enough people were to stop buying that it made a difference, then we would have missed a bunch of better goals/tactics that those numbers could achieve.

    5. XXYY

      I don’t like to be negative, but a boycott isn’t just individual people virtue-signalling by deciding not to patronize some place. It’s a coordinated political campaign that has specific goals, and makes it very obvious to the target what is happening and why.

      Sales dropping off 3% or 5% for no apparent reason are not going to spur any particular change. Sales falling off 3 or 5% because a group of people have publicly pledged not to patronize the company unless they do X will get a lot of attention. Obviously, X has to be something the company is willing to do if they feel enough pain for a long enough time.

      Usually boycotts take about 5 or 10 years to organize and produce results. Not saying a boycott of Amazon or any other target can’t work, but it’s a serious collective project that takes a long time.

    6. Carolinian

      As Hemingway would say, “wouldn’t it be pretty to think so” (Sun Also Rises). But I doubt my brother is going to close his permanently open Amazon page. The moment for the labor movement to put up a fight was arguably in the 1980s. It’s a much bigger hill to climb now and Bezos is taking full advantage. He’s so unfazed that he even helped out with the making of Nomadland. Gig labor is like Grapes of Wrath but fun! (in Bezos think).

      1. tegnost

        Yes, my tech friends view unions only slightly less favorably than trump and a likely source of the inflation scourge which will certainly devour all the productive capacity promised by the decentralized gig workforce if allowed to run free. It’s all prime all the time.

    7. marieann

      “But mostly stopping buying stuff.”

      This …so much. It is a wonderful feeling to “not shop”. You save money, save time, save the environment, save your mental health…there is no downside

  4. JBird4049

    First, governments secure land on the fringes of cities, where the property rights of individual landowners are often weak. Next, build the transport and communications needed to transform rural real estate into far more valuable development land. Finally, sell shovel-ready residential and commercial plots to real estate developers at vastly inflated mark-ups

    So more profitable asphalt everywhere? Oh Hell, no. That is one think California does not need. It is dystopian enough.

    I would love, love, love to have an Eichler home, but what the state needs is more multifamily housing for everyone. There is too much land covered in single family homes, and not just the comparatively small Eichler style ones, but “little” baronial freaking mansions. Not public warehousing, but the excellent Vienna style housing that just anyone (excepting the billionaires) would want, or at least not mind, to live in.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I wonder if China’s lesson is “Trains, not cars.” I wonder if the real estate concentrates and builds around a railway station the same way it does round a freeway exit. I doubt it.

      1. JL

        “Street car suburb”. This was the same in the US end of l9th beginning of 20th C’s. Private companies built street car lines beyond the built-up areas of cities and made money from the real-estate which increased in price by virtue of the new accessibility for better off commuters. Many city’s inner suburbs were created by that process. Once the real-estate had been sold and the companies had to rely on fares they became rather unprofitable and often municipilization ensued around the l920’s only for them to be discarded in large part due to the national economic policy in the guise of real-estate/ auto/rubber/oil following WWII, and nefarious cartel machinations. The national rail-road boom of the mid 19th Century also relied on the creation of towns and associated real-estate profits as much as fare and haulage fees initially.

      2. Lost in OR

        That’s exactly how it worked in Portland. Oregon has an Urban Growth Boundary that forces development within city limits and saves farmland for farms. Inner cities have been developed, redeveloped, and then upgraded. Rapid transit has been extended to outlying cities followed by developments sprouting around each stop. This works.

        1. Duck1

          Sorry moved up here 7 years ago and all I see is unmitigated sprawl in areas like Washington country and in the southern fringes. Portland itself has implemented a yuppie conversion ethic with overpriced condos in formerly minority areas. This is all being interfered with by the recent breakdown of civil society as riots become a daily ritual. I live in Washington state which is obviously not included, but of course the sprawl continues up the interstate highways in Washington state.

          1. Duck1

            anecdotal but to me it seems like ag land in potential development areas is not being cultivated

      3. Tony Wikrent

        ” I wonder if the real estate concentrates and builds around a railway station the same way it does round a freeway exit” It does – and some urban planners design specifically for that. About a decade ago or so, I read about the extension of the DC Metro into Virginia, and how planners designed for greater residential densities along the route, and zoned the Metro entrances specifically for retail to service the planned for population growth. Having lived in Arlington County in the mid-1980s, I think it worked out very well. From the 2009 report on national infrastructure by the National Governors Association:

        In Virginia, Arlington County has focused high-density commercial
        and residential development around the Metrorail station
        in the Rossyln-Ballston corridor. As described earlier,
        Arlington County’s government began planning dense redevelopment
        around rail stations when designs for the Metrorail
        system emerged in the 1960s. Typically, this redevelopment
        targets the tallest and most dense development within one
        quarter mile from the Metro station entrance. Boundaries for
        these stations have been drawn based on a combination of
        major transportation routes, census geography, and neighborhood
        boundaries. They have been carefully planned for walkable,
        mixed-used development. In addition, over 50 percent
        of the county’s tax base is now concentrated in transit corridors
        that comprise less than 8 percent of county land. Office
        space in these areas has increased from 4.1 million square
        feet in 1969 to 30 million in 2003, while housing in the immediate
        vicinity has increased from 4,300 units to 34,000. Arlington
        County now has more private office space than downtown
        Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Denver.

        Looks like the NGA report is no longer online, or buried in google search results. Email me if you want a copy. It was a great report, and still of tremendous value today. I should have remembered it and blogged about before Biden was sworn in.

    2. rowlf

      Eichler home

      When I was a kid in the 1960s by living by Riverside International Raceway that style of house was the koolest thing ever and put a zap on my brain. At the time I was living in military housing open to the desert and adjacent to a slab city of an old WWII Army base. The Salton Sea was the future. Thanks for the name of the design.

  5. Nels Nelson

    The Bloomberg article about what the US could learn from the Chinese about infrastructure financing reminded me of a recommendation I made while working as a planner for my state’s highway department. The recommendation came as a result of a request from the head of the planning section for ideas to increase funding for highway infrastructure.

    The following is what I recommended.

    For our purposes, we should look into what is called “site-value taxation”. It is not an alternative to the current property tax, but it is a windfall recapture device. It is supported by the belief that increases in land value from public investment belong to the community – not to the landowner. Land value is a function of social and economic traffic that the land generates. Excluding resources that a parcel of land may contain (lumber, minerals, water, fish and game, etc.), it has economic value often simply by virtue of its location and accessibility. Land acquires worth through human effort. This effort can be done by an individual or through a collective community and is thereby social in nature. Value derived from social effort gives society the principled right to its claim.

    An example from the private sector is analogous to what value capture attempts to achieve. Walt Disney built Disneyland in the orange groves surrounding Los Angeles. He purchased only enough land to build his theme park. Land that previously had been used for agricultural purposes became more valuable as commercial property. The land surrounding Disneyland was purchased by speculators and sold to developers at a much higher price. This was not lost on Walt Disney who felt that his investment had increased the value of the surrounding land. This windfall was lost to him as he had missed the opportunity to capture the increase. It also limited the potential for expansion of his park because he would have to pay the higher cost for the surrounding land. When Disney began plans for the development of Disney World in Florida, he was determined not to let the same thing happen. From the outset, he would capture the value accruing to the land surrounding his investment. He purchased much more land than was needed for his attractions. He would develop the land over time and sell the land he didn’t need to capture the increase in value he created. He sent in buyers secretly over many years to buy up the land prior to the announcement of his new park. Walt Disney was practicing value capture from a private standpoint. This is considered good business.

    Value capture can return the social surplus created by public investments to the public, reduce the temptation for graft and provide other benefits. By raising the taxes on impacted lands, value capture removes the invitation of title holders to speculate. Furthermore, raising the holding costs encourages the titleholders to seek immediate return on their investment. This facilitates more robust economic activity in the area where the public has placed its investment. This fosters more concentrated development in contrast to sprawling and slow-developing ventures.

    Because public fiscal policy today involves much more than simply collecting revenue to support the purposes of government, it is important to evaluate alternatives in the light of the principles of sound tax theory. At times it is important that a revenue source be neutral. It should be designed to distort economic behavior as little as possible. In other cases, since it is the behavior itself that has a cost to society in the form of externalities, it is important that a charge be imposed on that behavior that will recover the cost or correct the behavior.
    Transportation policy has evolved in ways that distorts our economic choices in highly destructive and costly ways. Value capture has qualities that are consistent with sound economic and tax principles. Its implementation may provide the means of correcting some of the ill effects of past decisions and support the next generation of transportation services. It deserves serious consideration.

    Needles to say it was never given any consideration.

    1. Wukchumni

      When Disney began plans for the development of Disney World in Florida, he was determined not to let the same thing happen. From the outset, he would capture the value accruing to the land surrounding his investment. He purchased much more land than was needed for his attractions. He would develop the land over time and sell the land he didn’t need to capture the increase in value he created. He sent in buyers secretly over many years to buy up the land prior to the announcement of his new park. Walt Disney was practicing value capture from a private standpoint. This is considered good business.

      Disney did the same thing in anticipation of being awarded the contract to build a ski resort in Mineral King in 1965, using as many as 3 & 4 shadow buyers in 1963-64, they purchased about 30 acres which the company still owns, although nothing can be developed on the land as its within the confines of Sequoia NP.

      The parking lot for Eagle-Mosquito Lakes & White Chief Canyon is on Disney owned land, and is easily the worst looking Disney owned property utilized by the public-although few are cognizant of ownership.

      It’s an ugly mixture of broken asphalt, protruding rocks, gravel & dirt, with the Marmot Cong holding squatters rights.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I wonder what would happen if somebody erected a sign on it say that this parking lot is owned by Disney – and then let social media do the rest.

        Come to think of it, what if somebody came out with a map of the United States but with all that rural owned by Bill Gates marked out prominently. The info for that is in public records and he can hardly complain about mistreatment for this.

  6. km

    What frosts my cornflakes of late are public health officials who refuse to admit doubt in their conclusions, flaws in their methodology or holes in their data, out of fear that their opponents will seize on this or that the Great Unwashed will get the wrong message and not do what is expected of them.

    It is dishonest, and looks dishonest. By the same token, efforts to suppress dissenting views makes it look as if the public health establishment lacks confidence in its own message, or worse, has something to hide.

  7. tommystrange

    Regarding Gang of Four, if you like them, you also might like Au pairs, early killing joke, Young Marble Giants, Delta Five, and of course the Slits.

  8. fresno dan

    “In her own words: Woman describes Cuomo’s alleged groping at mansion” [Times-Union].
    My goodness, I just can’t understand why there isn’t an enormous moral panic about this.
    I’m not saying this alone accounts for Trump’s following, but it is awful hard to look at the dems and perceive any honor, truthiness, or ethics in their yammering. Endless coverage of Gaetz from unnamed authority sources (and maybe, just maybe, the Floyd trial should teach us that the law enforcement authorities don’t always have our best interests at heart) – I hope Gaetz gets 90 years, if for nothing else Gaetz republican law and order politicking. But WHATEVER happened to “I believe the women?”

    1. Pat

      I want to remind people that Cuomo also was responsible for decisions that likely killed more than a few senior citizens and then hid those statistics to sell a book hawking his leadership. The moral panic about that disappeared in the bonfire of harassment stories.

      At the time the case against Cuomo shifted from his deadly decisions and cover up of said decisions during his Covid Savior period to bullying and sexual harassment, I knew that it was partly to enable the legislature to ignore their part in Cuomo’s deadly missteps. But I also had the sinking feeling that this would enable Cuomo to escape accountability. That was a big part of the reason I kept saying don’t say it is over until he is staked and explodes in the sun.

      I am not saying his actions were acceptable, just that believing woman has proven to be determined by tribe and partisanship for leading Democrats. Cuomo, Biden, Clinton etc are all in with In Crowd. And that makes it all “alleged” even when there is proof.

      Accountability is a rare and fleeting thing.

    2. The Rev Kev

      ‘But WHATEVER happened to “I believe the women?”’

      That movement disappeared when Joe Biden was accused by a women of sexual assault – and other women told her to shut up and take one for the team.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Speaking of Tara Reade – I was just reading an article by her where she talks about podcaster Ryan Wentz who, after doing a bland criticism of AOC about her word salad answer to a question on the Palestinians, was visited by two California highway patrolmen and interrogated by them about if he was actually threatening AOC, if he had guns, asked him about his family, asked him if he had mental health problems, etc. Article at-


        And it is only less than three months in the Biden Administration that this is happening.

  9. Carolinian

    Terrible about the Western drought. Here our trees are falling to the dreaded chainsaw bug as increasingly scarce Canadian lumber becomes tract housing and the old oaks are off to the chip mill or perhaps destined for those Scandinavian pellet stoves. But water we have–boy do we…

    1. Lost in OR

      Oregon isn’t in a declared drought… yet. We’ve had several weeks of gorgeous weather when historically we’d still be in the rainy months. Last year it was cold and wet right into the second week of June and then we had a terrible fire season. This could be a very interesting summer.

  10. Wukchumni

    I’m a water prepper although nobody would really know as I have no hoard on hand, but at my beck & call there’s a hard rock well, a river and a couple of spring fed creeks, for redundancy.

    Its my most important investment, highly liquid and unlike most things nowadays, something you can’t conjure up online.

    Took a long walk on the High Sierra Trail in Sequoia NP the other day, and to look out towards the Great Western Divide, even on distant 12k to nearly 14k peaks, there’s lots of empty gaps where all you see is granite framed by small amounts of snow, in early April!

    Saw my first black bear of the year, a too thin brown yearling walking real awkwardly, almost as if it was punch drunk, spiked with tequila.

    There’s no way of really knowing how long a drought will endure, but lots of evidence of epochs that lasted decades or even centuries in the southwest and all the Native Americans really had was fire in terms of being able to change their climate.

    Most peoples wealth is tied up in real estate and as they say you can’t take it with you, and if this big dry is here to stay for an extended period, it’d be weird having big city Californians not being able to afford Akron or environs, in their new role as lack of equity refugees.

    1. Carolinian

      My friend in Arizona says the blistering heat has already started–Spring a missing season.

      It was the same when I briefly lived in NYC except there Winter would continue until June. Or at least to this Southerner it felt like Winter.

      At any rate someone is moving here to provoke all this construction. I just hope our new residents like mosquitoes.

      1. Wukchumni

        Arizona has had virtually nothing in the way of monsoons the past couple summers, Mother Nature is trying to tell them something.

        It’s going to be interesting how various states in the Colorado River Compact react to much lessened water resources, which will put a lot of companies out of business.

        1. Phillip Cross

          “how various states in the Colorado River Compact react to much lessened water resources”

          The same way they react to everything…building MOAR charmless desert subdivisions, and gold courses, of course!

  11. WorldAbounding

    Gang of Four is a remarkable band. This one always brings me to tears:

    “We Live As We Dream, Alone”

    Everybody is in too many pieces
    No-man’s-land surrounds our desires
    To crack the shell we mix with others
    Some lie in the arms of lovers

    The city is the place to be
    With no money you go crazy
    I need an occupation!
    You have to pay for satisfaction

    We live as we dream, alone
    To crack the shell we mix with the others
    Some flirt with fascism
    Some lie in the arms of lovers

    We live as we dream, alone
    We live as we dream, alone
    We live as we dream, alone

    We live as we dream, alone
    We live as we dream, alone

    Everybody is in too many pieces
    No-man’s-land surrounds me!
    With no money we’ll all go crazy
    (We apologize)

    Man and woman need to work
    It helps us define ourselves
    We were not born in isolation
    But sometimes it seems that way

    We live as we dream, alone
    We live as we dream, alone
    We live as we dream, alone

    We live as we dream, alone
    We live as we dream, alone

    We live as we dream, alone
    The space between our work and its product
    Some fall into fatalism
    As if it started this way

    We live as we dream, alone
    We live as we dream, alone
    We live as we dream, alone

    We live as we dream, alone
    (We live as we dream, alone)
    We live as we dream, alone
    (We were not born in isolation)
    We live as we dream, alone
    (But sometimes it seems that way)

    (The space between our work and its product)

    We live as we dream, alone
    We live as we dream, alone
    (As if it always must be this way)
    We live as we dream, alone
    We live as we dream, alone
    We live as we dream, alone
    (With no money we’ll all go crazy)

    1. Phillip Cross

      One of the worst, most delusional online fandoms (assuming there is an organic “fan” element to it, (highly dubious)). They were calling Marianne Williamson a racist last week. Ridiculous.

    1. witters

      Remember, and play often. Though “Why Don’t You Kill Yourself/You Ain’t No Good For No-One Else” is brutal.

  12. Cuibono

    “and their errors have been magnified in a way that the errors of others have not”
    Possible: check
    motive: check
    science: obscure

    Perusing US and European safety data i don’t see much difference in the three major players of the west.
    Mexico data seems to show the Russian vaccine the safest.

    one does wonder just how inept AZ is and why? they have made so many mistakes.

  13. chuck roast

    Re: Coumo

    “That woman had joined the administration a few years earlier, eager to pursue a career in government and to put her bachelor’s degree in political science to good use…” Political science…at least they had the courtesy not to capitalize it. Political science is about as scientific as economics. Odd that political scientists seem under no illusions that their discipline is even remotely scientific, whereas practitioners of economics view their activities as more science than art.

  14. lyman alpha blob

    RE: California billionaire’s real estate firm to begin allowing tenants to pay rent in bitcoin

    What with the transaction lag time, sounds like someone is going to need to drastically extend that five day grace period…

  15. chuck roast

    “An Interview With the Man Who Keeps Uploading My Feet to WikiFeet”

    I love this blog, man!

  16. Keith

    I hope I am not derailing here, but I have noticed the failure of govt and services to be a recurring topic of interest, so he is my little anecdote from eastern Washington state.

    I purchased and received yesterday ducklings and goslings from a CA hatchery. Of the eleven birds I purchased, all but three died, including the four birds which were the reason for the order, Silver Appleyards. They were hatched on a Monday and dropped in the mail for three day delivery, which should be Thursday. The post office, however, decided that their deadline would be Friday. In the end, they got to me by Thursday.

    In my first purchase last year, the flow was hatch on a Monday, promised by Thursday, but delivered by Wednesday. In this one, 9/10 survived. A made a second order last year, where I went halvcies with a neighbor. In this episode, they were hatched on Monday, promised by Thursday, but arrived on Friday. We lost over 50% of the birds. (I don’t have an exact number as I just gave the survivors to my neighbor, which were a thank you gift.) In this delivery, the updates stopped for a day. In my most recent delivery, I noticed per the post office updates, it took nearly twenty hours to go from Spokane to Pasco, WA, which is generally 2.5 hour drive. My thoughts have been related to how the post office is treating live animals being shipped, as when it is expedient, the birds generally survive, but when the updates show anomalies, we have a large die off.

    The seller of the birds, late last year sent out a plea to all their customers to contact their representatives about the post office, due to funding and delivery issues. This is my other dilemma. I have already tried contacting my Representitive, Dan Newhouse, about a previous mail issue and a VA issue. They ignored the former and took several months to respond to the latter. Regarding mail, I also contacted Sen. Patty Murray. Her office did respond, but only to say that Orange Man is bad, send me money. Never addressed my mailing issue aside from posting a link to a campaign talking point.

    Issue here was post office was delivering my packages to a post office over three hours away and not open on weekends, requiring me to either take leave or let the post office send back to sender. I opted for the latter to save leave, as the package was a gift for the birth of my daughter. We have family send only via Fed Ex or UPS, both of whom will actually deliver to my door, something the post office refuses to do. Other issues with the post office including a post carrier speeding around my property because he was lost and bragging about having damaged other postal vehicles, not making a delivery because a package was too big or heavy (contact PO worker in a Prius), and others I have forgotten about.

    What I think is interesting here is the incompetence of a govt company agency to perform, and the inability of a citizen to exercise a first amendment right to petition their representative in dealing with govt. After all, what good is petitioning when the politicians choose to ignore you. In Florida, my experience was very different, as reps and senators would trip over themselves to assist a potential voter, but Florida is a competitive state with competitive districts. One last thing, Newhouse was one of the few Republicans to vote for impeachment on the “insurrection” or “coup” (yes, I actually heard that on the radio). He will get primaried. I suspect the media will focus on his impeachment vote, when in reality I suspect it will be more in the live of having been ignoring constituents, as I assume I cannot be the only one being ignored.

    1. grayslady

      I can relate. I ordered some special salvia from a California grower. Apparently they have learned that unless they want dead plants arriving, they ship FedEx 3-day, and they only ship on Mondays. The freight costs me as much as the plants. Unfortunately, retail stores never get the interesting new plants in until after the date when many of us want to plant them. Some online nurseries used to ship Priority Mail. Not any more.

  17. Tom Stone

    There has been no runoff in Sonoma County, none of the seasonal creeks have run at all.
    And that runoff is what flushes the Russian River, literally.

    It’s been the driest I have seen it in the15 years I have lived in Sonoma County, we’re already in “Moderate Drought” and it is only going to get worse.
    Last year was California’s first 1MM acre plus wildfire in recorded history, it won’t be the last.
    I expect to evacuate again this year and here’s a tip for anyone who lives where an UWI fire is likely.
    Pick up a box or two of those big contractor’s garbage bags, place one in the top drawer of each dresser and in the same part of the drawer.
    Do the same for any wardrobe.
    And yup, closets too, I put them top left, they take up almost no room and when time is short it’s nice to take your shorts with you.
    Socks, too.

  18. flora

    Re: UPDATE “The Democratic Party’s Consultant Factory” [The Intercept]. “The progress the party has made in diversifying its lower and mid-tier ranks means that it is not unrealistic to expect those operatives eventually move into the highest positions, both within the party committees and at the top-grossing firms. ”

    So, back to Dem machine politics then? Harry S. Truman was promoted in KC politics by the Pendergast machine. The Pendergast machine and the larger Dem party elites never forgave Truman for striking out on his own once elected to rein in govt contracting corruption and war profiteering. In the national election he was supposed to be a populist place holder edging out Wallace, but then FDR died in office. The Dem machine(s) went nuts. That’s old history now. ;)

  19. Eustachedesaintpierre

    Clothing, how did they make it ?

    About 60 years past the official end of the Medieval period Pieter Breugal the Elder painted The Wedding Dance, that would be in my opinion a good illustration of what clothing peasants wore, which likely didn’t change that much over a couple of centuries or perhaps longer. The Harvesters is another that backs up the conclusions in the article, but not so much in a manner intended to impress females, that very likely would nowadays be the cause of massive offense.

    Hunters in the Snow features figures in more drab colours, a painting featured in Tarkovsky’s Solaris & the Mirror & more lately in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. For myself I had what appeared to be hours to study it as a youngster as a framed print of it hung opposite a certain headmaster’s office, where I would be left to stew before another caning.


    1. Duck1

      the lad in the blue t-shirt dancing I think with the bride in black seems ready to go to bed (heh)

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        I don’t doubt it & perhaps leading to a regretful Hey Nonny Nonny
        Those who preferred wearing black gradually put at least a partial end to public bawdiness & codpieces never resurfaced unless you count the lead singer of the band called Cameo. All of which probably saddened Breugal who supported the Protestant fight against Catholicism.

  20. cocomaan

    some great articles today like the prepper one and the Hirschman article, a guy I never heard of but who I am definitely going to read more of

  21. Heart of the Matter

    Beyond the obvious ridiculousness of Biden claiming credit for $600 sent out under another President, is the idea that two brand new Senators would be able to claim credit for the amount approved by a Congresss they weren’t yet a part of.

    It’s also nonsensical to pretend that everyone who got the first $600 also got the $1,400, since they means-tested the latter.

    Of course, had they lost those seats, they would cheerfully have blamed republicans for blocking $2,000 checks. Bets hedged.

    They didn’t count on some Democrats helping to trim down the amount, and add means testing to boot.

    1. Yves Smith

      They means tested the first too. There are some who didn’t get the $600 who will get the $1400. The means test looks at different years of income and needless to say, even for people who have been able to work, quite a few have had big swings in income.

  22. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “. . . . he played a vital role in the creation of what came to be known as supply-side economics: the idea that big tax cuts will so stimulate economic growth that revenues will not fall. And while these ideas have engendered decades of hotly contested debate, Mundell’s foundational work is still very vital today,”

    An entire long winded celebratory eulogy, yet what is carefully omitted are the spectacular failures of the applied theory. The failure of the myth is carefully avoided, perhaps in the hope that a revised and resuscitated swindle, based on the same speculative fable can be sold, or more aptly resold after it has been repackaged, once again, by a new breed of academic and political hustlers. Apparently, the memory hole is a useful and necessary tool for the political apologists and historical revisionists that serve the ruling class, as the discrediting and the debunking of the supply side/trickle down myth appears to have had no [lasting] effect on the true believers and the PR advocates.




    But, then again,


  23. George Phillies

    April 9 — Lee surrenders at Appomatox.
    Forgotten, Later dates: Johnston surrenders the confederate army of the Carolinas. Then the
    Army of Mississippi surrenders. Then the Army of the Trans-Mississippi surrenders. Someplace about then, in the trans-Mississippi, is the last battle of the War of the Slaveholders’ Rebellion. The Confederates won. Finally we reach Juneteenth, June 19th, 1865, when Union forces reached Galveston and freed the slaves of Texas. At that point, the War of the Rebellion had in fact ended.

  24. Tony Wikrent

    “Ford, GM cutting more production ahead of White House meeting on chip shortage” [Reuters].

    Serious enough for a White House meeting, hmmmm? Well, I hope someone remembers to bring up this from the 1992 campaign, regarding the issue of a national industrial policy:

    “computer chips, potato chips, what’s the difference?”

    George H.W. Bush Sr. economic advisor, Michael Boskin.

    Boskin is STILL a professor of economics at Stanford, apparently. Why?

    I’m going to send him an email and tell him, imho, none of his prestige wealth, or material comfort is merited.

  25. Acacia

    FYI: What is Left? Class Analysis and the Present Crisis

    While class analysis rooted in Marxian political economy was once central to leftist strategy and theory in the US, it has been alloyed and significantly displaced by a pluralistic field of non-Marxian theories of oppression along lines of ascriptive identity. This theoretical situation emerged from the last major transformation of the US Left: the defeat of the labor movement and rise of the new social movements throughout the 1970s and 80s. These social movements have been essential to improving equality of access to the market-driven institutions of US capitalism. However, they have done little to challenge the class power of the market itself and have accompanied the narrowing of participation in many leftist circles to a professional-managerial class stratum that administers and benefits from this “democratization” of the market.

    Includes a keynote by Walter Benn Michaels, who has worked together with Adolph Reed, Jr.

    1. JBird4049

      >>>significantly displaced by a pluralistic field of non-Marxian theories of oppression along lines of ascriptive identity.

      Restated, the Empire’s propaganda is working.

  26. eg

    Ontario recorded its highest daily number of COVID-19 cases yesterday, along with the highest ICU occupancy.

    Vaccination is increasing, but the related rates are not in our favour.

  27. kareninca

    Someone posting under today’s Links as Raymond Sim wrote the following, in describing how dire things are likely to become:

    “And ACE-2 affinity is only part of the story. Search “HLA-A24” for instance. Not recommended for anyone in danger of falling off the wagon though.”

    Could someone explain this to me? I am finding that HLAs (human leukocyte antigen alleles) are very specific to particular populations. And they seem to affect how susceptible someone is to covid. So this may explain why Africa is doing so well so far (“One potential genetic contributor to the lower incidence of SARS-CoV-2 in Africa may be the occurrence of different HLA alleles in Africa compared to other regions. “)(https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2020.601886/full).

    One thing this shows is that we likely can’t easily compare how effectively different regions are responding to covid, just by looking at infection rate. Since a population may be doing better or worse than another, due to its HLA alleles, rather than any particular human actions. Or even if the human actions are having some effect, the HLA alleles could be far more of a factor.

    But I am finding nothing about HLA-A24 as such, other than that it is far more common among Asians than among Caucasians. So I’m wondering what the particular issue with that allele is.

  28. Mark Dempsey

    About immigration: Not mentioned in the “five problems” is the fact that the U.S. has been attacking its southern neighbors for literally centuries. Between 1798 and 1994 the U.S. was responsible for 41 changes of government south of its borders, creating a constant stream of military and political refugees (Isabel Allenda, Salvador’s niece lives in Marin County, California).

    This says nothing about the 34% decline in real median income in Mexico following the economic attack we call “NAFTA” (Source, Ravi Batra’s Greenspan’s Fraud). … something one might anticipate after shipping a bunch of subsidized Iowa corn down south.

    About China’s infrastructure plan: we give away the store to “developers” (actually land speculators) in the U.S. See this for the story (it’s from 1993!… still germane!)

Comments are closed.