2:00PM Water Cooler 12/4/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I’m engrossed in what I hope is another inspirationally brutal stomping of HICPAC, and so this is an open thread. UPDATE Here it is, I hope it lives up to the billing.

However, as a conversation starter — and I highly recommend that you read this brilliant piece by Thomas Frank, “Nor a Lender Be,” as a contextualizing appetizer — I include this video of Hillary Clinton speaking at COP28. Better move that coffee to one side:


Please don’t tell me she’s running. I can’t even.

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

TH writes “My interest was backlighting on the dried wild flowers—aka weeds. One might look at this and think, hmmm, what’s so special about weeds? I could have cropped it so there was just the contrast of the backlit weeds against the dark green creosote, but for some reason I like it this way.”

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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. griffen

      She is with me, or is it the other way around…They can’t trot out the last campaign slogan…

      A vote for Thee,
      My Dear Hillary,
      ‘Tis better than the rays of sun,
      Your life is enlightening,
      Your ways are mysterious,
      Please tell us all for 2024,
      Once again you shall run.

  1. rjs

    i woke up this morning to some administration flunky touting Biden’s grid building on NPR…so i wrote the show…

    i am absolutely freaked out by the Biden administration’s long distance high voltage transmission approach to connecting renewables to the grid; the problem with their plans is that they have such a large carbon footprint upfront that it will take years of operation to net a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions….start with steel; on transmission towers, one source tells me:

    The installation process began with the construction of footings… The new towers are assembled in sections on the ground. The first sections are then anchored to the foundations and the remaining preassembled pieces are then raised into position by telescopic cranes where they are bolted together. More than 2,400 bolts are used in each of the towers which weigh up to 22,100 kilograms (48,678 pounds) and stand up to 43 metres (140 feet) in height.

    CO2 emissions from steel manufacturing are almost double the amount of steel that is produced: 1.85 tons of CO2 per ton of steel…and that doesn’t count the emissions from mining the iron ore and transporting it to the mills….thus the steel in each transmission tower alone accounts for over 90,000 pounds, or 45 tons of CO2 emissions…SunZia in the remote New Mexico desert will take over 500 miles of new steel transmission towers just to get the power to a Phoenix suburb to start with…so with 5 transmission towers per mile, the steel alone in that section of the grid alone will be responsible for 112,500 tons of CO2 emissions.. that doesn’t include emissions from the concrete footers, nor the months of operating diesel powered cranes and earthmoving equipment, with their own carbon footprint, to put those towers in place..

    California Universities are contracted to be big buyers of power from SunZia – they’re over 900 miles away…the most important cause of power loss in a transmission line is resistance; energy is lost as heat in the conductors; the longer the distance, the greater the resistance; the greater the power loss….that’s just one example….there’s also a 730 mile long, 600KV transmission line from a windfarm near Sinclair, Wyoming to a grid connection roughly 25 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada already under construction…

    if you want to convert to renewables, put the solar panels on the rooftops of the buildings where the power will be used, and the windmills in the parking lots…not in some remote location in the desert or mountains..

    1. Kelly

      You forgot the cement to make the concrete in the footings:

      The cement process is sole reason why the concrete industry makes up ~8% of overall global emissions, plus the mining of the gravel, plus the steel reinforcement bars in the concrete.


      Broken windows theory says that nuclear war triggered by Biden’s emboldment through reelection will create enormous profit potentials and groaf. Oh, that detail?

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      they cannot allow anything like distributed production.
      its a sin, you see,
      hydraulic despotism must be maintained at all costs(to us and the planet).

      and…anecdotes from Amfortas childhood:
      i grew up in a country neighborhood north of houston(now essentially a part of houston)…and when i was 11 or so, they began construction of a highline…as we called it, then.
      it had been fought by all the landowners along its length who had “standing”..ie: whose property it actually crossed.
      we werent them…and i watched them build the dern things…one enormous tower right across the road from our driveway.
      i still possess numerous giant nuts and bolts stolen from that…some of which have found their way into my various monstrous telephone pole constructions….40+ years later(waste not)…because they’d just leave crates of the stuff lying about…and what was a bored and precocious tween to do with all that temptation?
      once the thing was up and running, on a foggy day, you could go stand under the thing with a flourescent light bulb…the tubes,like in classrooms…wave it around, and it would flicker.
      mom worried aloud on such days about what living in such an em field was doing to us.
      and of course, before they turned it on, me and brother and the neighborhood kids climbed the damned thing,lol
      mom never knew about all that…

      1. ambrit

        We had a mid sized regional distribution power line running through some land half way down the country exurb street we lived on south of Bogalusa. On summer days you could hear the lines “humming” to themselves. I observed the “growth increase” which occurred underneath the lines. The grasses in a swampy patch underneath the power lines showed a visible bell curve of lighter growth on the outskirts to tallest growth in the middle of the right of way beneath the power lines.
        I remember the controversy about whether or not cogeneration systems that “tapped” the magnetic fields generated by the high tension power lines were “theft of private goods” or not. I believe that such systems were judged to be theft in the end.

  2. ambrit

    Curious Zeitgeist Report.
    One of my further away neighbours on the street is an Afram PMC family. Father is something ‘big’ at the University. Mother has some sort of executive job downtown. The youngest child, a female, was 18 and just starting at the local University.
    This young woman was classically African American, to use an anodyne term, and suddenly was hospitalized and soon died of Sickle Cell Anemia. All this in the two weeks just past.
    See page four of the PDF to see that Missisippi has the highest rate of Sickle Cell in the US Medicaid population: https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-information/OMH/Downloads/Data-Highlight-16-Sickle-Cell-Disease.pdf
    Covid is not the only Jackpot inclined pathology in our world today.

  3. Roger Blakely

    I am seeing a lot of sick people in Southern California.

    Here is my theory. XBB and its subvariants dominated the scene throughout 2023. Finally in late November, after months of warning, BA.2.86 and its subvariant JN.1 arrived by commercial aviation. No one had any COVID-19 through most of 2023. Now BA.2.86 and JN.1 are making virtually everybody sick. They won’t die. They might not even get sick enough to generate a positive rapid antigen test. But people who thought that COVID-19 was a thing of the past are shocked at how sick they are getting.

    1. Jason Boxman

      I’m seeing more people sick at work then I’ve seen in almost four years. It’s kind of frightening. No one dies. But we know repeat infections leads to worse outcomes. Ect.

    2. rjs

      a lot of flu and RSV are going around too…the CDC had the BA.2.86 variant at 8.8% of the virus samples sequenced during the November 12th to November 25th period, up from 3.0% two weeks earlier…so although it’s growing exceptionally fast, it seems unlikely that it could be the dominant variant anywhere yet….of the 10 CDC regions, BA.2.86 has its strongest inroad in the mid-Atlantic, at 13% of the total…the HV.1 variant has remained the most prevalent variant circulating nationwide, at 31.7% of the virus samples sequenced during the aforementioned period,…Omicron EG 5 is still the 2nd most prevalent variant, but it has dropped to 13.3% of the US Covid total, down from 17.5% two weeks earlier, and down from over 20% of our national total thru August, September, and October..

      however, based on it’s growth rate, BA.2.86 could be dominant by Christmas…people better get ready for a behavioral reset..

  4. LawnDart

    Please don’t tell me she’s running…

    Vegas has her at 80/1, and I’d be tempted to say “so what’s the harm?” but knowing my luck (mostly bad, minus a few miracles) that’d be enough to jinx it and grace her with a win.

    Loved Frank’s piece: I hate every goddamn thing about those people and wish to see their world burn. If it were a democracy, I’d vote for Trump– the middle-finger personified.

    1. flora

      I remember back when a selling point for electing women to office was that more women pols – women being touted as natural peacemakers – would make the US a less warlike country. So much for that theory.

    2. NYMutza

      I agree that Frank’s piece was very good, but his expressed love for Hillary was a bit too much to take. She is pure evil. There isn’t an ounce of goodness there. We came, we saw, we wished she would die.

      1. Feral Finster

        HRC, like most politicians, displays behavior indistinguishable from that of a sociopath.

        However, unlike most politicians, including for instance her detestable husband, HRC either is not able to fake empathy or cannot be bothered to try.

        1. LawnDart

          Psychopath, I think, as she seems more calculating than impulsive. The sociopaths that I’ve known, some with whom I’ve been friends, tend to veer into self-harm, self-endangerment and/or risky behaviors.

          In my opinion, the worst part about Hillary is that she’s seen by many as a goddamn role-model. Think about that… friggin women and girls are encouraged to emulate her behaviors!

          I think you’re right to note the fake empathy-thing though– it is important.

          1. Feral Finster

            Of course, HRC is seen as a role model. Do whatever it takes to get ahead.

            One could say that a lot of successful people throughout history fit the psychopath/sociopath model. For power is to such people what catnip is to cats.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > expressed love for Hillary

        I think that’s a bit strong. Frank writes, in 2016:

        Hillary Clinton is not a callous or haughty woman. She has much to recommend her for the nation’s highest office: for one thing, her knowledge of Washington; for another, the Republican vendetta against her, which is so vindictive and so unfair that I myself might vote for her in November just to show what I think of it. And she has, after all, made a great effort in the course of the past year to impress voters with her feelings for working people.

        Frank immediately takes away the last sentence in the next paragraph. And I remember, in 2008, thinking that she’d stick it to the Republicans but good over impeaching the Big Dog, so I can’t really hold that against Frank. So I suppose we’re left with “callous or haughty.”

        There Frank is indeed, albeit “balanced,” wrong. But I think he skewers Clinton’s milieu — and it is, after all, Her milieu — so effectively that I can’t believe he feels anything like love. And to be fair, this article was written before, and is a lead-up to, Listen, Liberal!. I would imagine the liberal reaction to it — ostracism — opened his eyes completely, and I doubt he’d write that paragraph again.

        1. Feral Finster

          I wonder whether that was damnation by faint praise.
          Whatever, I don’t mince words. There’ll be no slip twixt cup and lip.

      3. steppenwolf fetchit

        How will the commentariat respond when Frank, Chomsky, et al beg and plead with the “progressive electorate” ( which they will) to vote for the Democratic Ticket in order to prevent the Greater Awful from winning?

        1. Acacia

          I for one won’t be even slightly surprised about Chomsky.

          He used to be a critic of the USian Empire, and sometimes he still sounds that note, but something else has changed.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Last time around he said that people had to vote for Biden in order to save the environment. Plus Orange Man bad, m’kay.

  5. Screwball

    Sorry Lambert, I cannot listen to that woman. Asking people to do so is cruel and unusual punishment. I honestly don’t know who’s voice is more fingernails-on-a-blackboard than Hillary? She’s also like a bad rash that won’t go away.

    Now to change the topic, this school semester is almost over. The most difficult semester I have had in the last 5 years (freshman STEM class). I have talked to others who feel the same way. This is small state college in Ohio. I will get through the year. If next semester is this bad I am done after the next semester. I expect a large exodus from others as well. They are that fed up.

    It seems the young people are not up to speed, or even close. Too many Zoom meetings, lockdowns, remote learning over the last few years? I don’t know. But I have never had this many who were down right lazy, clueless, and simply don’t give one good poop – about anything – except maybe their phones. One thing they are really good at – excuses – and boy do they have plenty.

    Probably not a popular opinion, but that’s what I see.

    1. Martin Oline

      I think with the down turn in admissions the colleges and universities will see even more uninspired students than before. I taught a few years after retirement at a community college and was appalled how administration would ‘gift’ us with low level achievers. The whole class would suffer for the benefit of one or two students who would likely not graduate and certainly never hold a job. What was that movie? Idiocracy? A 2006 American science fiction comedy film directed by Mike Judge and co-written by Judge and Etan Cohen.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I fixed it for you.

          Like so: like <a href=”[URL]”>here</a>

          You open with the < and close with the >. “If you open it, close it.” Think of the HTML as a screen door with the “/” being the spring.

      1. Screwball

        Yes. What I call the “spread.” Meaning; the difference in abilities to learn between the highest and lowest levels of students. The spread is getting much larger. Unfortunately, my class doesn’t require a prerequisite so anyone can take it. I teach Computer Aided Design (CAD) which a large part is geometry.

        Has anyone had a geometry class? Why yes, we all have. Good. What is a diameter? The size of a circle. Good, what is a radius? Crickets. Not good.

        1. hemeantwell

          Are you seeing any indication that their level of motivation might be related to an at least vague sense that climate change is going to limit, and possibly ruin, their future? Polling I’ve seen doesn’t suggest that, but I wonder about a kind of CC-related dysphoria steadily taking the wind out of their sails. So they seem lazy and distraction-centered, but that’s just it, distraction is the remedy..

          1. Screwball

            No, not even a sign of that. I wish I could put my finger on it, but I can’t. So many seem really unmotivated. They don’t seem to care about learning, just do as little as possible, yet enough to get a grade and move on. Giving extra points for attendance does not help. If they know I am going to go over things I can’t grade them on, but things they should know, they don’t show up or just get up and leave. I don’t need this, seems to be their thought process.

            I take points off for work that looks like crap – then explain why it does (it should be obvious) – and why it matters. They don’t care. They continue to turn in sloppy work anyway – knowing I will take off for the way it looks. Some have quit coming to class with only a few assignments left, and then end up flunking. They were not doing that bad, they could have made it if they had just finished their work. Nope. I guess they don’t care about the hundreds of dollars they (or their parents) just flushed down the crapper.

            Up until this year, it wasn’t like this, not even close.

            But they are really attentive and good with their phones.

            1. Even keel

              Reminds me of that weird piece on Taylor swift the other day. The author pointed out that the weird thing about incel culture isn’t that the young men are frustrated about being lonely, but that they can’t seem to be bothered to do anything about it.

              General lack of motivation. What is the root cause? Lack of agency?

            2. Acacia

              I have also dealt with this over the years and for a while it seemed to be getting worse.

              Re: attendance, I used to permit up to five absences per semester, but then I discovered other faculty were allowing only two. Adopted that policy and now tell the students day one in the syllabus that with more than two absences they will probably fail. I also make participation a large percentage of their grade, where that means engaging and talking in the class discussion — just showing up to class is not enough. If they don’t participate, their grade takes a ~30% hit.

              Since I started doing this, I have seen more engagement and have had far fewer issues with flaky students trying to give me excuses about their absences.

              Basically, to get a passing grade, they are going to have to do all the work, weekly assignments, engage, and come to class. If they don’t care about that, they will fail and I just focus my energy on the other students.

              I have also seen many signs of Internet and cellphone addiction. A number of students with their phone right on the desk and they impulsively check it every couple of minutes. At first it was weird to see this and realize that some of them are addicted to the point that they are taking their phones into bed at night and constantly checking their social media. Some faculty have “no phone/tablet/PC” policies in the classroom. I am not so keen on policing this, so I just tell them that a lot of research has been done on students who multitask and the results are that they get lower grades (one number I saw was around 11% lower). I tell them that spending a lot of time with their devices will also impact their participation grade and I make a note of this when they do. Again, potential -30% hit.

              Unless the school is really pressuring you to pass a bunch of non-performing students, it might be possible to set up the course such that either they do the work at a level that you find acceptable — or else they will just fail. Decide what the lower acceptable limits are for you and tweak the grading such that they must do that to pass the course. Also, if possible, set it up such that if they don’t perform, they will be on track to fail the course within 3 or 4 weeks. Explain all the policies on the first day, and then it’s up to them if they want to take the class, pass, or not. Instead of “you are off track… shape up or ship out”, it can be more like “you are going to have to rise to the occasion if you want to take this class”.

        2. Martin Oline

          Several decades of CAD classes as a student (OttoCAD to Creo) left me the impression they were more motivated. As an instructor, Machine Shop related technical classes have a great spread.

          1. Screwball

            I think you mean AutoCad. Creo, or what used to be known as Pro/Engineer is my fifth child I like to say. Thanks for the memory.

            Creo is top end software, and a big part of how we have all these nice things we do (along with others). Almost everything today is 3D modeled. I should have a job, but I don’t, and I’m pretty good at it.

            The multinational I worked for decided I was too old for them when I was 59 and sent me on my way (almost 10 years ago), along with a bunch of others (hundreds), which was only the beginning of several years of house cleaning. The jobs went overseas. Product design can be done from anywhere. But I digress…

            IMO, our educational system has taken on the same business model as our corporations and turned it into an assembly line, when we really need a job shop. We put too many in the position to fail, than succeed. Round pegs, square holes. Because money.

            Might not matter if we teach the skills or not, the jobs go elsewhere anyway. Oh, hey, money again.

            I’m not optimistic in what I see.

    2. i just dont like the gravy

      Just you wait until most youth farm out their brains to ChatGPT and its ilk when doing homework. I thought I had it easy with Google. Now the “AI” will even do the work of answering the questions for you.

      Silicon Valley and its consequences have been a disaster for the curious mind.

  6. DJG, Reality Czar

    Lambert Strether: Brilliant article by Thomas Frank. Highly recommended.

    I read the article rather than watching the video. The article explains in wonderful detail exactly what is going to go on in such a video. One more virtue-quest TED talk.

    There is an irony, though: The Hillary Clinton whom Frank characterizes as “not callous and not haughty” no longer exists, if she ever did. It strikes me as Frank’s one mistake–odd, given that he is usually a good judge of people.

    You should read the essay just for footnote 1:
    “1 I am taking Democrats to task here, but of course Republicans do it too. The culture wars unfold in precisely the same way as the liberal virtue-quest: they are an exciting ersatz politics that seem to be really important but at the conclusion of which voters discover they’ve got little to show for it all besides more free-trade agreements, more bank deregulation, and a different prison-building spree.”

    RussiaRussia was ersatz politics. The endless warmongering strikes me as “haughty.” So is it possible that her moment truly has passed, and what we see here is Hillary Clinton publicly repeating and repeating the flaws in her character?

    1. Feral Finster

      That HRC didn’t bother to campaign in WI or MI or OH, preferring to stay in sunny California and yukk it up with the donors was the height of hauteur.

      Her disdain for the little people is palpable. And she lost the closest thing to a rigged election this side of a banana republic because she could not or didn’t not try to hide it.

  7. Stephen V

    Thanks Lambert. I’ll never be able to un-see this:
    there’s an exhibit on the subject at the Clinton Presidential Library that shows Hillary giving a speech in the Gaza Strip in front of a sign that reads, women’s empowerment through micro-lending.

  8. Randall Flagg

    About the picture of the dried flowers, AKA weeds..

    I remember years ago looking on the internet for a nontoxic weed killer or thereabouts, and happened upon a website that had such a product.
    I can remember the exact words at the top of the page but it was one of two sayings which I often think about when thinking about all things gardening and crop growing.
    “There is no such thing as a weed, it’s just a plant growing where you don’t want it to.”
    “ There is no such thing as a weed, God doesn’t make mistakes.”
    Not looking to start any problems with the second one, just passing along.

    1. wol

      I painted the south bedroom walls the soft taupe color of backlit dogfennel seedheads, which are plentiful here, south central US. There’s also a lot of beautiful yellow-orange sawgrass on the roadsides, etc in winter months. The local chi-chi nursery sells dog fennel, mostly to gardeners in England.

      1. Randall Flagg

        I remember when we purchased the farm we have now, the lower pasture was fence to fence Goldenrod, after a few years of mowing it turned back to a grass pasture. I have no doubt that if I left out alone for a few years removing the cows the Goldenrod would remerge.
        I feel torn between having a grazing pasture for the cows versus letting it grow for the pollinators in the fall. It reminds me to let a few areas in marginal areas to grow wild to provide for the pollinators in the late summer and the fall, It’s staggering to realize how much our food system depend upon those little workhorses… year round!!

  9. petal

    Doug Bergum has dropped out of the presidential race. I counted up all of the mailers and I had received 12 from his camp, 13 from DeSantis, 1 from Vivek Truth, and 14 anti-Trump ones from the Koch Bros org Americans for Progress.

  10. Michael Hudson

    You’re absolutely right to focus on how evil micro lending is.
    In Central Asia, for instance, female suicide rates are way up by victims of micro lending.
    Women are the center not because they are entrepreneurs but because they are more prone than men to be embarrassed socially for not paying. Microlending is even more vicious than payday loans, using social pressures that are absent in the latter.
    That’s an untold story still.

    1. CA

      In Central Asia, for instance, female suicide rates are way up by victims of micro lending….

      [ Very, very important understanding. ]

    2. Reply

      If some transcript showed ulterior motives behind the micro-lending happy talk, would anyone now be surprised?
      Debt servitude under the guise of fill-in-the-blank, paying instant returns. Gaah!

    3. Mikel

      “Microlending permits all manner of networking, posturing, and profit taking among the lenders while doing nothing to change actual power relations—the ultimate win-win.”

      And how many of them were told “interest rates won’t go up” at the beginning of and during the teaser rate era of easy money, low interest rates for banks?

      Then, all that hype about the internet. As with with microlending, now people are debating the connections between social media and suicide.

    4. Acacia

      Wasn’t Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, one of the “pioneers” of microfinance in Indonesia?

      Women’s World Banking dot org NPO.

  11. ChrisRUEcon

    Folks … I never thought I’d say this … but #RussiaRussiaRussia has finally been replaced …

    … by …

    #HamasHamasHamas (via X/Twitter)

    I really don’t think the Zionists realize how badly they’re losing when it comes to the discourse.

  12. digi_owl

    So apparently KISS of all bands have had themselves “digitized” so that their likeness can tour forever…

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      I think the end state is probably something like The Gorillaz … a band of avatars essentially. The only question is: do people want to show up to see just the avatars if the real band behind the music isn’t actually there? I know this probably hits Gens X & Y as anathema, but I don’t think millennials would care much.

    2. ambrit

      Well, no big change from the “originals.” Such “glitter” bands are mostly facade and put on anyway. Much of the allure of attending such ‘events’ is ‘belonging’ to a “group experience” anyway. So, why should “virtual” experience be any different? It’s all in our heads, right?

  13. Jason Boxman

    I realize why I babble to myself constantly like I’m senile. There’s no way to express outage silently. Rage and disbelief find expression somehow.

    I realize that people “doing their own research” is rational and why liberal Democrats demonize it. People know they’re being lied to. The technocrats cannot be trusted. Sadly people can’t necessarily infer truth out of their own research either. That’s the whole point of the technocrat class. So when they’re captured and dishonest we’re all screwed. Modern society is too complex to dutifully research and learn everything and still pay the neoliberal time tax and live a good life.

    1. Screwball

      Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. I question my sanity daily. Maybe I’m just a Screwball. :-)

      Look at it this way, the best conversation you might have today is with yourself. Any others makes you want to spit. Sit back and watch the show; it’s almost free.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the best conversation you might have today is with yourself

        I don’t agree with this at all, certainly if we include virtual venues, like this one, in our ideas of “conversation.”

    2. ambrit

      “.. research and learn everything and still pay the neoliberal time tax and live a good life.”
      I know which of the three I’d jettison.
      Another point is that the “technocrat class” is just another class of worker. Aim above the technocrat class and “liquidate” their ‘overlords.’ Like any other tool, the technocrat class is liable to change hands easily and with minimal friction. Co-option is a viable strategy.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the “technocrat class” is just another class of worker.

        It’s not that simple. The PMC have different forms of social and symbolic capital from the working class. Economic capital tool, in the form of houses, savings, inheritances — though not enough to climb into the capitalist class, where you purchases the labor power of others.

        1. ambrit

          I realize how fraught it is to enter into a “discussion” of forms with you, but here goes.
          “The PMC have different forms of social and symbolic capital from the working class.” I would suggest that these “social and symbolic forms of capital” are internal to each class utilizing them. The allure of any “secret sauce” is precisely the “secret” nature of it. I’ll go further and posit that such ‘forms’ are independent of and just marginally overlap with the “concrete and material benefits” that constitute the proto-Capitalist element of the class. Henry James’ story, “The Real Thing” described this phenomenon well over a hundred years ago.
          The “concrete and material benefits” of each class are ultimately determined by and access to controlled by the Capitalist class. Roughly speaking, no factory, no jobs, for anyone. Herein lies the crux of the ‘value’ of the ownership of the means of production.
          The class interplay comes in with the bargaining inherent in determining the terms of the cooperation required to accomplish anything in any multi-person enterprise. The Technocrats might imagine that their intellectual strengths determine the outcomes of such bargaining. However, the Capitalist class maintains a veto over the very carrying out of any scheme, regardless of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the other classes involved in any potential action. In light of this, the Technocrat class must step up into the Capitalist class if it wants to initiate any enterprise. Thus, the theory of class fluidity comes into play. The newly minted Capitalists begin to exploit the remaining Technocrats and Workers just as had their predecessors. To both Old Guard Capitalists and the New Capitalists, the intellectual specializations of the Technocratic class, including the social and symbolic capital, are there to be used to further their own ends. In a word, they are “tools.” Tools nonetheless for their internal systems of differentiation from the Working classes “below” them. With a little thought, the Technocrats should realize that, just as they consider the Working classes as being “below” themselves, so too does the Capitalist class consider the Technocratic class as being “below” them. In this, to the Capitalists, the Technocrats are differentiated from the Workers in degree, not nature.
          Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Modern society is too complex to dutifully research and learn everything and still pay the neoliberal time tax and live a good life.

      Jane Jacobs wrote Dark Age Ahead in 2005. Among other things, she argued that the recent failure of the professional classes to self-regulate was a sign of civilization collapse. I thought the book a bit diffuse, even wooly-minded when I read it then, but I might feel differently if I read it today.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’ve got to look at Hoergers methodology. It’s not immediately evident from his tweets or his site.

      That said, I’m sure he’s directionally correct (and I think the “1 in ___” framing is excellent scientific communication).

  14. Glen

    Headline in NYT:

    White House Warns Ukraine Aid Is Running Out, Pressing Congress for More

    Are we suppose to overlook the fact that Ukraine had a signed peace treaty in hand over a year ago that would have ended this practically before it got started? And it would have cost the American tax payers nothing?

    So let’s go over what America got by not having a peace treaty:

    A whole lotta dead and injured people – I’m not sure how many.
    A destroyed Ukraine.
    A re-armed and revitalized Russia.
    Russia in an unshakable alliance with China.
    An exposed paper tiger NATO and Western military.
    EU economy in decline.

    All because what amounts to a roomful of neo-cons in America thought this was a good idea. This foreign policy catastrophe makes even being lied into the Iraq war look like a lesser mistake, and I never thought I would see that in my remaining lifetime. Bravo neo-cons! Spend forty years wrecking your own country and THEN decide to go after Russia and China. You are amazingly, amazingly stupid! I’m sure you’ll all get big promotions.

    1. Acacia

      Yeah, but USian investors get to strip the carcass… or maybe that was one of the goals from the beginning?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > So let’s go over what America got by not having a peace treaty:

      There are some positives:

      • Lot of European manufacturers setting up in the US, especially from Germany. (It would be a grim jest if the EU ended up financialized, while we moved on from it.)

      • The Baltic becomes a NATO lake, when FInland (and Sweden?) Join NATO. The same in the Arctic.

      So at least all those Ukrainians fed into the meatgrinder died for something.

  15. Tommy S

    Thanks so much for that readable post of the Harpers article. I read that when it came out. My jaw dropped. And yes I had read and knew ALL about her and Bill through the 90’s, and that she was controlling some dlc/dnc purse strings even then over nafta and Iraq sanctions votes etc…..but to do this ridiculous presentation for the ‘women and the girls’. after the crash……and after half a million Indian farmers had committed suicide over debt by then……I couldn’t believe it. One thing though. Did I make this up in my head? I thought there was a bit in this article where at the end they all sang a song together… We Shall Overcome?… no kidding.(??)

  16. Terry Flynn

    Open thread observation re digital rights. I’ve been aware of the Streisand effect going on w.r.t. YouTube trying to stop ad-blockers, leading to anti-anti-ad-blockers, rinse and repeat. I don’t know if I’m just late to the party but just discovered the ongoing set-to people are having with Amazon in removing DRM from their purchased e-books. It’s whack-a-mole out there.

    Obviously one must observe the law in whatever jurisdiction one resides, but allegedly using Windows 7 and older PC e-reading software can work nicely in stopping Amazon from ever stealing your own purchased and owned content from you in the future. Maybe this is old news but just thought I’d say, given the whole YouTube hoo-ha.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > in removing DRM from their purchased e-books.

      There are many advantages to printed books. Not only are they easier to read (modulo disability issues), you can actually own them (even borrow them!). Post-Jackpot, I predict many fewer but much better printed books.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Yeah, my dad said he’s buying no more books for his kindle and only buying printed ones in future. I’ll likely do the same.

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