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Open Thread

Feel free to use the comments of this thread to discuss issues unrelated to recent posts.


How Economic Decisions Are Made


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – September 8, 2019


  1. jump

    This could be interesting. I’m sure Trump won’t like it.

  2. Bocpages

    Every news report about today\’s \”mental health crisis\”:

  3. Hugh

    Apparently Trump is keeping his troubled properties afloat by funneling government money into them. We all know about his frequent golfing trips to his resorts and his charging Secret Service for everything from rooms to golf carts. There have also been reports of foreign governments (like the Saudis) running up big tabs at Trump hotels in Washington and New York. Then there was the story about US government officials and politicians doing the same in DC. The most notable of these was AG Bill Barr paying $30,000 for a Christmas party at Trump’s DC hotel. Before that, there was Trump floating the idea of hosting the G-7 at his troubled Doral resort. This was first seen as a kind of a goofy one off, but not so much when it starts fitting into the larger pattern. Then we had VP Pence stay at Trump’s Irish resort Doonbeg even though it was on the other side of the country from his official meetings. This recalls Trump’s own attempt to use the resort, rebuffed by the Irish government, to stage his own meeting there in June.

    Most recently we have the report of a US C-17 stopping at a financially troubled Scottish airport, propping it up buying expensive aviation fuel there, near his Turnberry resort, and crew members staying at the resort.

    This raises two, possibly three, points. The first is this is all blatantly corrupt and serially violates the emoluments clause, and it reaches into a lot of areas of government. The second is that it highlights that a lot of Trump’s properties are struggling financially, and it makes you wonder just how bad off he is financially and what the source of his money flows are. Some of these properties have never made a dime of profit so how are they funded? It does explain why Trump has been so manic about not releasing any of his tax and financial information. Third, as with the Saudis, it indicates that he is very buyable. And despite the Russia, Russia, Russia stuff, it makes you wonder how bought he is by the Russians. There was a report that the reason that the criminal enterprise known as Deutsche Bank was the only bank willing to lend Trump money (another indication of his financially strapped condition) was that he had co-signers and these co-signers went back to Russian entities/oligarchs. Then too Don Jr. once opined that all their money came from Russia. We know that Trump is a man with absolutely no principles beyond his me, me, me. We have seen his money-based deference to the Saudis. It explains a lot that the same thing is going on with the Russians.

  4. Gunther Behn

    This, an apparent collection of links to public documents re: Cambridge Analytica (among other players), popped up on Twitter. It’s a topic no one really wants to address because no one knows how to put the genie back in the bottle (you can’t):

  5. metamars

    Lee Stranahan is actually investigating Epstein connections. Israeli and British deep states are mentioned. He also takes on Devin Nunes. Stranahan says only he and about 6 other journalists are actually doing real investigating. I don’t doubt it.

    If you have the means, you might consider supporting his work. He goes into how much more money he made doing fluff, in his former life; and how selling his journalistic soul even now would be so much more profitable.

    Stranahan’s website is

  6. metamars

    Even though I’m a bit of a student of dysfunction in scientific communities, this excellent talk still left me somewhat amazed and disgusted. And the threats communicated to researchers who didn’t want to support the ‘official’ paradigm makes me angry.

    I agree with the speaker that the main thing killing Americans too early is too many carbohydrates (except for special cases like resistant starches), though eating too much protein, especially animal protein, or the wrong fats, is not a stroke of genius, either.

    For a somewhat respectable response, see Joel Kahn @ (advocating veganism). His claim about most long-lived populations eating a lot of starches and mostly plant-based diet seems correct. However, his claim about the only science supporting ketogenic diet is for some form of epilepsy is certainly bogus. He needs to debate somebody more knowledgeable that the guy behind bullet coffee.

    None of these long-lived populations practice a 5 day fasting mimicking diet (see Valter Longo) nor deliberate, long-term caloric restriction, but would most likely live even longer adopting these unnatural processes.

    So, I think in the end that a cyclic ketogenic diet, as advocated by Dr. Mercola, will win the prize for optimal longevity diet*. On the one or two non-ketogenic “feast days” per week, I suspect eating tons of vegetables of the types suggested by Dr Terry Wahls, is probably optimal.

    For more tips on optimal dietary practices, see Dr. Gundry’s “The Longevity Paradox”.

    * My guess is not his current version. According to “Dr. Boz”, when you cycle off a ketogenic diet, it can take 5 days to recover the full benefits of the keto. So, I’m going to guess that going keto for something like a week to 10 days, before feasting with carbohydrates, will prove to be optimal.

  7. anon y'mouse

    re: metamars comment on someone providing valuable services which do not make him any money, but he could make money selling idiocy–

    nearly our entire economy is slanted this way. hence the last post on this website about the money system.

    lots of money to be made selling people things they don’t need, that cause multitude of negative side-effects which the greater society has to deal with. and these companies are either making money on both ends of the deal through their owning of other companies, or outright like the current pharma scandal.

    clothing and goods that can’t be repaired and end in toxic landfills. food that is essentially fuel dumped on the landscape and then further toxinified as it grows, is packed and processed. food that is the opposite of nutrition, but does keep you alive long enough to develop further health effects from its use. it just goes on and on, and they keep making money off of it.

    and yet someone in the other thread says “what will we do when it falls?” the question might be how can a system where a vast number of parasites keep us penned like feedlot cattle ever fail? sadly, the only way i can foresee it is climate collapse, in which case we are toast.

  8. Larster


    Good overview of the self dealing that is prevalent in the Trump administration. I believe that the golf course business is a loser. It is very hard to obtain steady business in these expensive properties, due to the high costs for lodging and golf. Most country club managers would second this observation. Secondly, when you are paying a premium, you want availability of all menu items and thus wastage is a big expense.

    I also think the C 17 episode indicates that someone is combing all travel by military and government employees in order to gin up revenue. This is absolute corruption.

  9. KT Chong

    On a lighter note, here is a very interesting casualty of the US-China trade war: the TikTok challenges. If you have never heard of them, here is a sample:

    For these challenges:

    * The challengers do NOT have to be Chinese, BUT they had to be in China, and obviously they have to be TikTok users.

    * The rewards for some of the challenges are really nice, like credits for shopping and/or restaurants in China, paid vacations to the US or Europe, etc.

    * Anyone in China can join the challenge, but I have never seen seen any White people in China (expats/tourists/whatever) participate in this or any other TikTok challenge, even though they could have – and IMO White girls would have a good chance of winning one of the dance challenges if they had just submitted.

    * An important rule for this particular TikTok challenge was the dance had to be performed by a group of at least four people, so solo dancers or a dance group of less than four were not eligible, (so they did not even bother reading the rules.)

    * For this particular challenge, “Shine Like Superstars”, a group of four Chinese girls in Hunan ended up winning, although their clip is not included in this video.

    * IMO users voted for them to be the winner not because they could dance, but because they were the prettiest. So guys did not even stand a chance.

    * Actually, I do not remember ever seeing any guys ever winning a TikTok challenge, (unless it was a couple or mixed-gender challenge.) Even male users overwhelmingly voted for girls to win in every challenge. Then again, I have been checking out these TikTok challenge videos to check out the girls.

    Here, another challenge – the “Every Color” challenge – I think this is the currently on-going or the last challenge:

    A couple other collection videos of various dance challenges:

    So, in 2017 TikTok was going to bring these challenges to America. The weekly/monthly challenges and rewards would be separate and specific in the US. However, the plan has since been suspended/scrapped due to the trade tension and trade war between China and the U.S. So the TikTok challenges became a casualty of the US-China trade war.

  10. Mike Barry


    A fourth point would be that this is all being done right out in the open, proving that we’re a nation of yellabellies.

  11. Herman

    @ Bocpages,

    I might be misinterpreting you but I agree that much of the reporting about mental health misses the big picture. There is a mental health crisis. In the United States rates of suicide, depression, anxiety and other mental health problems are rising. There is evidence for similar problems in other countries as well.

    Unfortunately so many of the reports fail to acknowledge that people are miserable because life really is getting worse for most people. It is not just due to having a “bad attitude” or “toxic” belief systems. Although people sometimes have negative mental patterns I don’t think the current crisis can be explained entirely by negative mental patterns. There are real, material changes that are occurring in the world that are making life worse for people and to the extent that the culture is becoming more toxic that is also likely due at least in part to economic and technological change.

  12. bruce wilder

    American politics has become all about avoiding the real.
    The old joke was that the first lesson at the Psychiatric Institute was, “just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean they are not out to get you.”

    That convoluted double-negative construction was meant to convey the insight that delusion may have a payoff in denial.

    Politics is the pastime of the upper middle-classes: the highly-paid professionals, business owners, corporate executives, financiers, landlords, who have been drawn into rewarding places in the perverse economy anon y’mouse describes. Sure, it is also the hobby of billionaires, but it is entertainment and sport for the professional and business classes.

    There was a time, in a different economy in a different phase of development, when many of the people in this class did well by doing good. They were the local community boosters, advocating for projects to develop the economy locally, regionally or nationally. That spirit drove much of the New Deal down to the 1960s.

    Now, we are caught up in a struggle between those who are invested in globalization and others whose interests and vision are local or nationalist, both of whom are predators or parasites and both of are riding the tiger of “populist discontent” with the emerging results of destroying the country not to mention the whole natural world.

    “Corruption” has become the driving theme of all politics because it has become such a large part of the whole economy. The dominant ways to make a lot of money rely for means on destroying people and the social systems that sustain them, running down infrastructure and all the public goods and constraints on private predation and parasitism.

    Most of the people who are doing this and are economically dependent on the process, even as they fear rising precarity, do not want to give it up or even acknowledge it. Their minds glom onto other narratives to avoid reality. Many get really angry. But not at the things that would matter if policy were to attempt to make things better.

    And, the truth is, end the corruption in the short-term and the system would collapse. And there is no way to end the corruption in the long-term without attacking it in the short-term. Because the corruption is the system at this point.

    Everything has to change and, economically, a lot of assets have to disappear, many fortunes large and small with them. A constrained economy could be a relief to a lot of people caught up in the enormous effort to sell crap and cope with the economic precariousness that make their lives so stressful. But it would not feel like relief, it would feel like system collapse. It would feel like collapse, because that is what it would be, what it has to be.

  13. Hugh

    I agree with Bruce. I do think that while the old system collapses we could be moving to a new one with things like Medicare for All, a jobs guarantee offering meaningful work and a living wage, retirement with dignity, homes for the homeless, mental health for the troubled, and do all this in a sustainable, low carbon or zero carbon way.

  14. y’mouse, hail and well met, I’m pretty sure I’m the one who asked “what do we do when it fails?” Parent, grandparent, soon-to-be great-grandparent, I’m not necessarily willing to concede to toast. It’ll get uglier before it gets pretty, but the point I was trying to make there I’ll try again to make here: the shit is hitting the fan, what are we going to do about it? Give up? Are we Lucky Man: no one will save us so we’ll lay down and we’ll die? Talk about it till we choke on our own flatulence, turn blue in the face?

    Larster, having watched twenty-some golf courses take over my hometown over the past twenty years I’ve long thought golf courses were put semi-profitable place-holders for future residential development. Usually not the best suited, but not the worst, and the water is leaching back into the aquifer.

  15. anon y'mouse

    better the 20-some golf courses become food forests and other localized food production. granted, the environment is probably toxic from herbicides, but there may be plants that can be grown that can ameliorate that in few seasons.

    my only answer is to re-localize all dependency production chains, and do so in a way that the things produced are fully biodegradeable. half our problems are from improper land usage, which i think you are pointing out, and the other from our built things being wrongly made from the design stage onward til they become refuse. even the buildings.

    perhaps the biggest mental blockage: there is no “away” that refuse people, things, and contaminants can be put. here on spaceship earth (the only one we have or are likely to have), you just have to deal with what is there as it is. you can’t send it off to the dump, and excess people off to the cities to find something useful to do with themselves that earns money. i find the need to earn money the biggest blockage to all of this. that is how we are kept enchained to this system of destruction. hence my stated desire to end that system and find something else.

    re-localizing will only be perhaps possible if we live through the fall of the Godzilla keeping all of this going, and then only if our government doesn’t turn towards the idea of keeping a giant penal-colony slave state going for its corporate owners.

    and yes, i sound like a crazy prepper. i don’t see any way to have an advanced technological society without nuclear power, and we have proven to be too irresponsible for it. i am limited in my outlook. all i have been able to see for the last 20 years is a need to reduce down to the material level of the pre-industrial age. and no, i haven’t been able to do anything near it yet, although i keep studying for that exam.

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