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

Open Thread

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Smiling at Death


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – June 12, 2022


  1. NL

    I have not been here for a while.

    But anyway, do you know that the combatants on both sides of the war in Ukraine receive awesome monetary compensation?

    If you Google “15 million hryvnias compensation”, you will find out that that is the compensation that the Ukrainian DOD pays families of the dead solders (divided evenly among the closest family members). Now, it you punch 15 and 6 zeros in a handy currency converter, you will find out that at the official exchange rate that amounts to — wait for it — half a million dollars — $504,111.9!!! Now, get this, according to cbs news, Ukraine loses 200 soldiers dead each day or — $100 million dollars per day — that’s a billion in 10 days!!! $3 billion in a month. Does the Ukraine have that kind of money — obviously not, so who will be paying this? Will this money come out of that US $40 billion support bill? Will we pay for this? There is a rumor that the Ukrainian side does not collect its fallen solders, precisely because they don’t want to recognize death and make the payout. This’s gotten to be some ‘trick’ or an error in adding zeros after 15 — there is no way all those families of the dead solders will receive compensation of this size — and will receive nothing especially if Russia wins — which the families likely recognize, and this creates an incentive for them to fight… The Ukraine DOD also pays 100,000 UAH ($3,360 — $40K per year, or almost twice the poverty level for a family of 3 in the US) per month to those who are alive.

    Russia, on the other hand, pays only $82K to the families of dead solders in certain categories. Of course, Russia has oil and gas revenue through the roof to pay for this and its industrial base remains intact, so that these payments may stimulate demand. What can one buy in Ukraine — not much — the people will want to use this money to move to Europe.

    Goldman of AT says that the Russian strategy is to depopulate Ukraine — he gets this only half right — the Russian strategy is to repopulate the Ukraine with people of Russian identity (I use the word identity here on purpose). Let’s not forget that millions of Ukrainian citizens left Ukraine for Russia after 2014. Russia even made applying for Russian citizenship for these people easy. The Ukraine regime was even happy with that and promoted migration of Russian identity individuals to Russia by erecting large billboards — “Not happy, get a ticket on the train and get out to Russia”. Now two things will happen — a) those who have bought into Ukrainian identity and European superiority (/racism) will move to Europe (many already have) and those who have not will remain and be augment by the returning from Russia. And that — kids — is the meaning of denazification…

    In the world of money the Ukrainian and Russian oligarchies need to pay for lives, and during a war — supply and demand — when the demand for bodies is high, the price of a life goes up and threaten the solvency of the oligarchy. So, here’s when the war in Ukraine will end — it will end when the population of either Ukraine or Russia will realize that the payments for their bodies are not forthcoming…

    There is perhaps a bigger lesson in this… I hope you did not miss a rather ‘funny’ opinion by one Niall Ferguson on the détente with China in Bloomberg. Half way through the text he notes that the US plans to REDUCE the defense budget as a share of GDP from 3.3% in 2021 to 2.7% in 2032 — poor guy exclaims “If all this adds up to a coherent grand strategy, then I’m Sun Tzu.” Ha, ha — he is absolutely correct — he is not Sun Tzu, because if he were, he would realize that the decision on the détente has long been made (as I remarked on this here and elsewhere long ago). One never admits defeat or weakness before a retreat. This is in our genes honed by the evolution.

  2. Ian Welsh

    The Ukrainians are now only counting soldiers as dead if they die under medical care. All others are missing.

  3. Z

    It’s Russia Day today, so make sure to wear your “Rootin’ for Putin” T-shirts. You know, the one with Putin riding bare chested on the back of a bear firing two pistols in the air like Yosemite Sam.

    Though Putin gets a lot of grief in our rulers’ statestream media for the “Putin tax” and “Putin’s price increases” what they won’t tell you is that he just dropped his prices on those shirts for Russia Day to a mere 500 rubles at Mad Vlad’s “Everything’s Got To Go!” Warehouse. And this year, for only an extra hundred rubles, you can also get a ‘Z’ in bear paw print script on the back of the shirt.


  4. Ché Pasa

    So what do we do if at least 10% and probably much more of the military, police and security services in the US is indoctrinated in a fascist world view and does not support the government qua government but only that part of it that fits their world view and ideology? A part that happens to be growing in power an influence.

    Many have pointed out that fascism doesn’t require majority support to control the operations of government or to be the face of it. In fact, it may control levers of power better as a minority under the control of a relative handful, an elite, who are positioned effectively to seize and hold power in the face of a weak and dispirited opposition — even though that opposition may be in the majority.

    I’m afraid we’re very near that point if not well past it in the US, and there’s no sign of a turn-around. Alarums have been sounded for decades to little or no avail. A large number of Americans have grown up knowing nothing else but proto-fascist government and ideology, and those of us who came up during another time — a time of resistance — are (quickly) dying off.

    I was spurred to write about this again on learning of some meetings going on out here in the wilderness to prepare, if you will, for a) civil insurrection — call it a civil war if you want — against the established, sitting government; b) the seizure and transformation of those elements of government through which power over ideological enemies can be exercised.

    I knew that these sorts of meeting had been going on for some time. Apparently the Jan 6 Commission presentations have catalyzed a ready-implementation phase — they’re not going to sit down quietly and take a tongue-lashing from the likes of Bennie Thompson and the dreaded Liz Cheney. They just aren’t.

    Of course what goes on out here has no relation to what happens in urban America, no, none at all…

  5. Astrid

    And if you wear Z’s pro-Putin t-shirt in the West, you get all your social media and financial accounts cancelled for free! Such a deal!

    Given the difficulty of getting stuff shipped from Russia and paying in Rubles thanks to Western sanctions, getting that t-shirt might need a little more challenging than Z is suggesting above. But that’s okay, you don’t need an official pro-Putin t-shirt or even profess actual pro-Russia sentiment to get cancelled, just question the MSM narrative with factual video clips and photos will do.

  6. bruce wilder

    I continue to marvel at the bizarre narrative of the Russia-Ukraine conflict put forward by the New York Times.

    The topic has been downgraded considerably in importance on the website. The Russian advance is now “slow and methodical”. And, one of the lead stories — part of a series over several days now — is “McDonald’s” reopening across Russia with a new logo and under new ownership.

    The coverage remains steadfastly favorable to Zelensky and sympathetic to the suffering of ordinary civilians in the war zone.

    A report that soldiers have occupied an apartment block near a shelter goes unremarked.

  7. NL

    Hey kids, have you ever played with the Lego power miners set (available at every store where Legos are sold)? You have? — then you have imbibed colonialism and racism from the cradle. Beautiful (white) technologically advanced power miners invade a foreign realm to exploit it for its resources (crystals) — but the endogenous population, which are ugly and stupid monsters, depend on these crystals for their livelihood — explode the monsters with dynamite and crush them with the machines… ha, ha… so much fun. Just look up the commercials at Youtube…

    And if you have not played power miners, there is plenty of other sources of the same. Have you heard how the European white people discovered the world and invented everything? I bet you have and believed it all. So, when we decided to outsource production to Asia we weren’t worried, cause why should we? — we are the best and the brightest — no one can do better than us, we just outcompete and outinvent anyone — many an article in 1990s expounded just that.

    Anyway, on some days it seems to me that we will knockout out Russia and China one by one and validate our beliefs, and on the others, my mood turns sour, and it seems more likely that the powerholders would rather spend the money on their women and luxury items instead of the bodies needed to subdue the adversaries. Just imagine if our DOD had to pay half a million for every fallen soldier…

  8. Z

    AMLO, the president of Mexico and a leader who has got plenty of backing from working class Mexicans, is bringing dignity to his country and to the Americas south of the U.S. by demanding respect from our rulers. We’ll see how long the U.S. will allow that to last with AMLO refusing to attend the Summit of the Americas (((an event in which the U.S. gives out door prizes … and some door prizes delivered straight to their hotel door … to the most U.S. submissive leaders of those countries))) because the U.S. wouldn’t invite Cuba’s leaders to it and more importantly, and more grating to our rulers, he recently nationalized Mexico’s lithium resources. Those sorts of non-obsequious actions by AMLO could potentially lead to the CIA rolling up their sleeves and getting seriously involved in their favorite dark art: regime change.

    If that would happen and AMLO got overthrown by some coalition of pro-U.S. (((bribed and blackmailed))) Mexicans in powerful positions Mad Vlad’s might just hold a special blowout sale for pro-AMLO rebels on some of the NATO-supplied munitions to Ukraine that Mad Vlad is warehousing right now with each and every Ukrainian solder’s surrender. There’s certainly plenty of established gun-running conduits in Mexico with all the narco wars there to confidently ensure next day delivery.

    In that scenario, if the pro-AMLO rebels lose they’ll have to flee somewhere and it’s certainly possible some of that could find its way across the border and into the U.S. to be held by resentful pro-AMLO rebels.

    So, wouldn’t it be karmic and ironic if one of the deplorables in our rulers’ rigged obstacle course of Congress ultimately got offed by the munitions they so enthusiastically voted to send to Ukraine?

    A man of Mad Vlad’s marketing acumen might just seize on the publicity and remove their Switchblade decals and relabel as them as Boomerang drones.


  9. Z

    “It’s All Got to Go!”

    Do I have a bid from the well-dressed Syrian man in the back? Yes, I do! One million rubles I hear. One million rubles. A mere million rubles. This is fine stock folks, lightly used, barely a scratch. Some of it never had a round fired through it, arrived to the Ukraine from the United States in April and reclaimed and refurbished here at Mad Vlad’s in May. Can I have a bid? Okay, well one million rubles once, one million rubles twice. Now we got 1.5 million rubles from the fine Iranian gentleman with the white Bakhtiari in the back! Do I hear two million rubles? Can I get two million rubles? Yes, we do! To the Lebanese man smoking a pipe off to my left …


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