The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Open Thread

Use the comments to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts (no Covid.)


The Fed Wants To Crush Wages So Corporations Can Price Gouge


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – May 15, 2022


  1. bruce wilder

    Why do you think money (as a set of institutions) is so difficult for people to understand? And, by “understand” I think I have to extend my meaning in context from a personal intellectual comprehension to some kind of politically workable common or shared understanding.

    The neoclassical theory is crap (and obviously so) which makes much of what professional, academic economists preach just so much deceptive fog — and very few of them are hiding better insight. MMT has the advantage of a self-discrediting opponent in neoclassical Econ 101 treatments, but they do not absorb any of the more technical achievements of mainstream work on financial markets.

    What prompts these questions are the numerous issues breaking into headlines. Sri Lanka has literally descended into chaos and famine. The Western sanctions against Russia have failed completely as purely financial measures. The Euro may be sliding toward a catastrophic demise as weakened Italy (run by an unelected central banker!!!) teeters on the edge. The weird mania for crypto currencies has tripped over the reality that they are ponzi schemes. Dollar inflation is moving from a canter to a full gallop. And conservative Republicans are now the only opposition in U.S. politics to war and total corruption — how insane is that?

    But I digress. I am honestly curious about why it is so impossible apparently for people in general to think about what to expect from money and the financial system. I watched YouTube clips from the movie, The Big Short, three or four weeks ago and it is very clear on the basics: money is a way of keeping score and the fix is in. Obama took a chance to restore financial integrity after Bush and Clinton and trashed it for personal enrichment. The U.S. cannot recover from that short of the violent revolution Willy dreads or total collapse, imho.

    Never mind the economic analysis, the moral case was clear enuogh to a great many of the common people in 2008, but they were told Obama et alia saved us from financial collapse, not that they delivered the country to financial perdition. poof!

    Some things are really not that complicated. A prohibition on usury is not complicated.

    A resilient financial system has to be a decentralized mix of for-profit and non-profit units, each with a discrete focus. Giant “universal banks” able to corrupt the system with self-dealing and hold everyone hostage when they get in trouble because of sheer size is not good institutional design.

    There is one kind of stupidity, which will rant nonsensically against public debt, and another which just gives up on questioning the corruption and bad faith.

  2. jo6pac

    I went got gas for 2003 ranger at $5.15 and next day it was $5.45. I’m sure glad I’m retired and don’t have to go anywhere except the store 10 miles away.

  3. bruce wilder

    So-called Private Equity is a testament to the ability of some smart people to figure out “money” well enough to game the system to their own huge benefit while wrecking the economy for everyone else, but somehow, no one can figure out how prevent the gaming and so there is no effective opposition, not even a particularly good critique, imho. Mother Jones offers the heartwarming story of a dog trainer who was fired from PetSmart and hired the next day at PetCo; hooray for the competitive free market, I guess.

  4. Willy

    I was interested in violent revolution until I met realitychecker, a once regular around here who as the moniker suggests, always had be to checking everybody else’s reality. He could be a real pill, yet was often wrong IMHO. He also liked to proclaim that we’d all eventually die horribly in some climate-financial cataclysm if we didn’t start our revolution immediately. At first I was in. “So how do we start this revolution?”, I queried.

    He declared that we’d have to do this revolution without him, citing old age as his reason. I asked if he could at least be our consultant, coach, cheerleader, angry old man keeping ‘The Man’ off our lawns, whatever… and he refused to do any of that. I was dismayed. And a bit confused.

    Then I caught him chatting with another guy who used to call the rest of us stuff like “Stalinst snowflakes”, on long dead threads. Chatting it up like good buddies. Two good buddies chatting it up in relative secret on long dead threads. Back then this place didn’t have one of those “realitychecker said at 12:01 5/14/22” comment notification thingies. Also back then Ian also didn’t scan the comments like now, telling us he’d heard pretty much everything anybody could ever say and he just wasn’t interested anymore. So I initially assumed that this style of commenting was some kind of discrete gay pickup technique left over from the 90’s.

    As I quietly lurked, it dawned on me that this wasn’t an angry lefty and a neocon redneck as I’d assumed, but both libertarian conservatives. I wondered, why would a libertarian conservative spend so much time doing reality checks on lefties (he was anti-Islam for example), after trying to inspire them to do violent revolutions?
    I became suspicious of intenet anonymii who always try to inspire violent revolutions.

    Plus I’ve known a few refugees from violent revolutions gone bad who had to get the hell outta their native lands. And that bizzarro world of Jan 6 of course. However, realitychecker did refer me to a book called “Public Enemies” by Jess Money, which I did obtain but sadly lost in a move. Maybe somebody else with more time than I (and preferably better revolutionary street smarts) could give it a read and the rest of us a wise summary.

  5. Trinity

    “The demand to give up the illusions about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.” — Karl Marx

    As far as I can tell, the plan is still to enslave the population, globally. The mentally ill don’t need or want ~8 billion people, however. It seems some fraction of that will work well for them.

    NASA is still planning a 3 year manned space flight to Mars by 2030. I’m pretty positive a geologist will be on board. The plan is to inhabit Mars permanently, supplied from a base on the moon “untethered from Earth”. This puzzled me for a bit, until I realized that it will be “safer” on the moon than on the earth (for planning purposes). Fewer weather problems on the moon (but we shall see). Another thing I’m sure of is that it won’t be astronauts who will be doing the mining once they have it all built out.

    That we are being managed by the mentally ill is pretty obvious at this point. It’s an illness that spreads, buoyed by the encouragement of class warfare and competitiveness instead of sharing/supporting each other and the reality of our interdependence. They deliberately and craftily set us against each other, and their efforts toward this are only going to get worse.

    There is no cure except to eradicate the weeds, including the roots and all the seeds, because based on my experience they inculcate their insanity in the next generation effectively. And then we have to build a society such that this can never happen again. Perhaps as time goes by and the disasters continue to pile up, the population will be more inclined to build such a society, but old habits die hard and their propaganda is still very effective.

  6. anon y'mouse

    why would anyone expect clarity on money? it’s an intangible thing that due to history or custom or psychological need, people have an inclination towards desiring it to be a real “thing” that has stability. we are expecting many mutually opposed things of money and then wondering what in hell is going on. you can’t have floating values and “markets” and so on and stable, eternal “value” of money when someone needs to eat the same number of loaves of bread day after day.

    we require money and banks to do useful things and lend for useful endeavers—materially useful. then we allow mass speculation into things that aren’t materially useful at all except they do make money for the right class of individuals–those generally who already have too much money and don’t want it just sitting there due to their inordinate greed or drug addiction to the high of making more or even their genuine realization that their power rests upon having significantly more money than anyone else and being able to game the entire system to maintain that advantage. and then those people engaging in rentierism and speculation and market perversion claim that these things must continue because they are producing “value”.

    the problem with money is that it is a way of keeping score that appears both morally neutral and yet secretly validates to the world whatever means it took to generate that “score”, and yet materially more loaves of bread have not been made.

    it’s almost like we need different ways of counting genuinely productive and useful things and to stop keeping score for all economic activities with the same medium. either that or we just need to confiscate large scores from whomever may hold them so they can’t game the system, and outlaw all of their currently legalized gambling. pulling the arm of the slot machines they essentially own and winning repeatedly and doing it over and over again is scored the same as producing baby formula, and producing baby formula by dangerous means is scored the same as producing it by safe means and tends to win out over safe means because it saved a few million, and the “score” is all that counts. the money score validates the evil activities and penalizes the “good” activities, and even there with an eye towards the environmental effects of our economy, one can say that the money score essentially validates destruction of the world and it’s genuine useful things–water, air, soil, insects, animals…

    those are my dim thoughts before a full cup of coffee.

  7. someofparts

    Maybe the point of what Washington is doing in Europe is to convince the idiots to wreck their own economies so the US can come in later and privatize their public institutions and coerce them with predatory debt the way they have always done in South America.

  8. multitude of poors

    Anyone know of a fairly sizable Word Press based website predominated by renters trapped in this country forever, who’ve never been able to afford a home, or ever will be; an increasingly sizable portion of the US population (which, apparently a secret to most, includes a multitude of late stage boomers and always has, see: Retirement The New Silver Tsunami )?

    It’s been unbearable for some time to visit the larger sites (I’m not referring to this site) where people frequently discuss their good fortune sometimes in dedicated posts and additionally, increasingly post youtube, podcast, paid subscriber; twitter feeds (yes I know about, and even facebook links that many of the increasing poors can’t access because they can no longer afford both the time, and the technology upkeep to do so, and additionally can’t stomach visiting anything to do with Facebook; Google (youtube); or commenting on twitter; which all helped destroy the world right along with vile Amazon.

    Basically looking for a site where the increasingly US homeless is the first and foremost subject, daily. Thanks for any input I really desperately need to feel like I’m human again, and I sorely miss the older sites that were predominately text (much like this one, versus links to increasingly inaccessible; unaffordable; or undesirable sites. I’m currently being thoroughly psychologically terrorized and stripped of dignity by my landlord’s son on his twitter account which I visit, though can’t comment, to learn my fate (have always paid my rent on time and watched out for repair persons possibly effing up his father’s appliances, but no matter. There are no eviction protections in this ghastly, heartless, Silicon Valley hellhole city where I became trapped after the brutal blows of the last two recessions, and the Great Recession following cancer while uninsured and unemployed. Increasingly I witness techie neighbors doing fine (so far) deploying drones which go past one’s windows, etcetera.

    For those commenting here who may rent in California, or who are good landlords who want to keep tenants safe and pass the once modest and highly affordable property to their offspring—one of the most brutal blows passed by Demorats in California lately was Proposition 19; during the middle of the pandemic in 2020, to top off the sadism.

    It will force Landlords who bought places under 40,000 to make their current, mostly boomer renters, homeless while bringing millions in tax revenues to the state. Much can be found on ballotopedia and at the government sites for SCA3 (Senate Constitutional Amendment) and ACA11 (Assembly Constitutional Amendment). It’s the most vile Legislation I’ve ever witnessed and not one profit or nonprofit (i.e. CalMatters) news site ever noted the question of what happens to the renters in those circumstances.

    My particular rent would go up by at least $700 dollars, or the place would be sold for almost an insane million dollars, given the enormous amount of hidden flaws in this apartment (the developer quickly went out of business after building numerous such flawed developments for this Company Town in the late 70s), including a very likely (suspected by the first landlord before she died) PG&E flaw where I pay some of the neighbors electricity. Of course, all of my Legislators pushed it, and two of them took PG&E money after PG&E was convicted of felony manslaughter. See the excellent ongoing ABC10 Sacramento series of scathing pieces on PG&E by Brandon Rittiman, titled: FIRE-POWER-MONEY.

    Regarding my website query above, if I ever regain my footing again, which is increasingly looking unlikely; I might try to start such a site myself.

  9. multitude of poors

    Adding two points, to my comment above (thanks so much for posting it, Ian).

    1. Also, as regards those large websites (again not this one), have always feared and been revolted by the Silicon Valley induced acronyms and ‘initialisms’ (for purists; always despised LOL™, whichever type one calls it) from day one, because it’s always symbolized an acceptance of the nauseating theft of time from those impoverished and beleaguered by time demands to prove they’re fit to live. It perfectly equates with the sadistic boss who requires your issue (which usually requires at least 10 paragraphs if not an entire book or two). Of Course Jack Dorsey Founded, Silicon Valley Twitter, is the perfect anecdote of that (for those who don’t snuff noses at anecdotes instead demanding white papers with huge populations (“n”) well after the enormous crime against humanity has been perpetrated and anyone with a brain, didn’t need a white paper to verify that a ghoulish crime had been committed). I.E. only Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Larry Ellison, etcetera are allowed the time to thoroughly “express themselves” I seriously doubt they ever are feel required to use such: language destroying; time sucking and dignity robbing for the reader; frustrating; and increasingly confusing language.

    2. Bernie Sanders and The Green Party would have made far, far, far more headway, if both had have fully addressed the centuries long vicious manner in which the average renter has been subjected to since the US became a country. I believe such Average Renters are possibly the largest ‘constituency’ that the Globalists, US Power Brokers, and Managerial Class ‘pundits’ are in utter fear of being given a powerful “lobby.” For just one vile example (to my understanding, the last I checked a few years ago) under Federal Law, apartment landlords are not required to verbally disclose asbestos on the premises, they are allowed to just orally ‘tell’ the tenant of such danger.

  10. different clue

    @Bruce Wilder,

    Maybe “money” is not as easy to understand for most of us as it may be for you. If that is so, then “most of us” will need to read some good books and other things on the subject very slowly and carefully in stages. Slow-reading, not speed reading. One good thing that such books could help people achieve is to understand that “money” and “weath” are two different things. And that the money-lords very carefully foster a confusion in peoples’ minds between “money” and “wealth”.

    I used to read a paper called Akwesasne Notes at the University Library. It sometimes had editorial cartoons in it. One such cartoon was a picture of a wilderness fur-trapper, grinning at us readers and saying ” Its getting to the point where the only people who can afford furs are millionaires and fur trappers”.

    Perhaps some thought-breaker experiments can be useful. “Make your money grow”. Really? Grow? Plant a dollar bill in the garden ( if you have one) and water and fertilize it. Will it grow? Maybe you just didn’t use enough money. Plant a twenty dollar bill in the garden and water and fertilize it. Will it grow? Maybe you still didn’t use a strong enough money. Plant a fifty dollar bill in the garden and water and fertilize it. Will it grow?

    Oh! Oh! Those aren’t “real” money. Those are “fiat” money. I see. Well okay, then.
    Does “real” money grow? Gold coins are the realest money there is. They provide their own reality-backing one gold-coinful of gold at a time. So . . . plant a Krugerrand in the garden and water it and fertilize it. Will it grow?

    “Make your money work for you.” Does money work? Let’s find out! Put a dollar bill in a hamster wheel and see how fast it can run. Dollar bill not strong enough? Put a 50 dollar bill in a hamster wheel and see how fast it can run. How fast did it run? Does money work?

    Someone named Frederick Soddy once wrote a book called Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt: the Solution of the Economic Paradox.,_Virtual_Wealth_and_Debt

    Someone once brought a whole downloabable pdf file of that Soddy book to a comment on Naked Capitalism. But that was a million words ago. It would take hours of patient speed reading to find it now. If someone with more time and energy than I have were to find it over there and bring it over here, that would be a real service to the people over here.

    Here is another book where the author wrote very slowly and carefully and patiently to explain what money was in society and how different societies tried to engineer different stable moneys into existence .. . . including pre-neoliberal America.

    Here is a NOmazon source for that book.

    Money is NOT! easy to explain and it is NOT! easy to understand. It takes time and patience and an avoidance of mainstream disinformation about it to begin with.

    Food will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no food.

    Water will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no water.

  11. Z

    For those who believe that Russia is more or less a stepping stone to go after the larger prize China ask yourself this: if the U.S. and China had good relations would our rulers be just as aggressive towards Russia? I’d say yes, perhaps even more so since they’d be better able to isolate Russia.

    Russia is the bigger prize to our rulers IMO because the difference between Russia and China is that our rulers believe they can rule Russia, they’ve essentially did it before during the Yeltsin years, but they have no hopes to rule China. They want to weaken China financially, keep them and the rest of the world handcuffed to the dollar, but they’re not delusional enough to believe that they can take financial control of its resources like they did with Russia.

    Russia is just what came first and if they can get rid of Putin and put a pro-Western puppet in his place or, better yet, divide it up into more easily bullied and corruptible pieces then China will be weakened and our rulers will press more on China as well but that will primarily be with sanctions and trade agreements that punish and exclude China than with military force, proxy or otherwise, unless China makes a move for Taiwan.


  12. Z

    Just a hunch, but I think there are some highly valued U.S. people, probably some CIA, trapped with the Azov in that Mariupol steel plant the Azov are hunkered down in. There’s probably some other westerners with them as well and maybe some Israelis.

    If they are trapped in there, the Azov almost certainly won’t let them leave. They’re the Azov’s only way out. The U.S.ers’ release need to be part of a deal that involves the Azov and they know that. Those USers are their biggest asset.

    Zelenskyy has called on the Azov trapped in Mariupol not to surrender but the U.S.ers, almost definitely mostly mercenaries and CIA folks, don’t want to die for Ukraine, they’re in it for the money. And they know if they surrender it is likely that they’ll eventually be freed by the Russians once the war is over. They’ll probably be the first ones on the slate for prisoner exchange.

    When Austin flew into Kiev to meet with Zelenskyy last month he was talking big shit about weakening Russia, but while he was doing that a highly ranked UN official, it might have been the grand poobah of it all, was negotiating with Putin about opening a humanitarian corridor in Mariupol. If I remember right, it got opened briefly but then quickly got shut down again.

    A few days ago Austin talked to a highly ranked Russian official and surprisingly called for an immediate cease fire. Russia did not agree to it. There was then a ridiculous outcry by the west about evacuating the wounded from the steel plant.

    Ukraine keeps offering to exchange prisoners which Russia has rebuffed. They are also trying a Russian soldier for war crimes and I only saw one photo of him but he looked to be about 16 years old, though I’d imagine he is older. He looked like he was selected to garner sympathy from the Russian public.

    It might not only be who these U.S. people are, but how many of them there are. If you got a few dozen folks from the U.S. trapped in there, you also got about 20 wives and 30 parents who have someone in there.

    If they do die there is some danger that some of the families might start making noise about the whole ordeal on the social media and accuse the Azov of not allowing their loved ones to surrender. That could cause PR problems for the production team of Weekend at Biden’s and that possibility might have got Congress and Fourteen Hundred and Zero Sense Joe rushing to pass that $40 billion bill for Ukraine. Might have decided to get in as much as they could now while they could.

    Anyway, I suspect that whatever comes of that situation in Mariupol is going to be a bigger deal than almost anyone is currently imagining. That would be a pretty safe bet since no one is expecting anything to come of it at all.


  13. different clue


    So, Zelensky has called on the Azovazis in Mariupol not to surrender? Zelensky is smarter than he looks.

    The various flavors of Ukranazis are a threat and a problem for Zelensky. He dare not seek a split-the-difference peace with Russia because they will assassinate him if he does. If he can get them all safely exterminated in Azovstal, then that key storm center of Ukranazis will be too dead to reach out and touch him. Maybe others by themselves will be too weak to assassinate him. By telling them to never surrender, he gets Russia to solve his Azovazi problem for him. If that is his goal, he probably discounts the death of foreign volunteers, mercenaries and EUFUKUS agents as being acceptable collateral damage. And what’s EUFUKUS going to do about it? Admit they were there?

    The RussiaGov would probably like to take the EUFUKUS agents alive to put them on display before God, the World, and CSPAN. But the Azovazis will kill them all. Oh well . . . . they should have chosen some nicer people to back.

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