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

Open Thread

Use to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


Quick Takes: Covid, China, Environment & More


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 20, 2023


  1. mago

    Ok. What about the causes and conditions of the Maui inferno?
    The responses?
    The shelter in space dictate?
    The loss of property and family both human and animal?
    The lasting grief and sorrow?
    Those circling real estate vultures?
    The neglect and complicity of the state, its corrupt bureaucracies and those who run them?

    Just asking.

  2. StewartM

    As the Trump trial drama continues, I thought it might be useful to make a brief post to contrast the kid-gloves treatment that Trump gets to what ordinary Americans get.

    First, many people are in jail for victimless crimes–casual drug use or/possession, mere possession of child pornography not involving any purchase (so the argument saying that the porn creators are making money from it doesn’t hold, and as the link below says, many of those arrested are dupes of police sting operations that don’t tell the victim that the images they are being sent are illegal), and/or failures to be able to pay the required monthly fees after release (the source of most ‘parole violations’).

    In addition we’ve created a class of parents, mostly poor men, who are jailed for the inability to pay child support. Of course, jailing these poor men usually results in them losing everything they have and becoming homeless, which lessens their ability to get another job, which means yet another stint in jail. Rinse and repeat

    Our police break down doors at 4 am in the morning, handcuffing the suspects in cases like these. For the poor, bail is often so high they lose everything waiting for trial.

    Meanwhile, our DOJ asks Trump “do you have any secret documents, pretty please?” Only after months is a pre-announced raid made. No doors were broken down, no one was dragged away in cuffs. Likewise, it took forever to indict him for a crime we all could see he incited. Since then despite flagrantly ignoring court orders to maintain silence on the indictments, Trump and his supporters threaten prosecutors, judges, members of grand juries, everyone, and yet, he’s still a free man.

    In a just society, this order of severity vs leniency would be flipped. The little people we should cut slack (and actually we should do away with homelessness, a la Finland, but that’s another post. While it is true that many homeless people do have substance abuse and mental illness issues, those issues are hard enough to tackle even when one has a home; they’re almost impossible to tackle on the street).

    We should expect the best behavior from people at the top. Recently, I listened to a series of lectures on Robert E. Lee given in 2009, and one talked about his political perspectives. Lee tended towards conservatism (though he also tended to being a Hamiltonian nationalist, oddly enough, favoring ‘internal improvements’ to bind the US together). But Lee’s conservatism was also tied to a sense of noblesse oblige, and people at the top should also *act better* than the rest of society, and most notably sacrifice more than the rest of society. This is why Lee while in command of the Army of Northern spurned offers of houses for sleeping (he was a very old 58 when the war ended; the war aged him greatly) and insisted on eating the same fare as his men. When benefactors sent him fine food, fresh vegetables, bread and the like, Lee would write a letter of thanks and then send the food to his soldiers, usually those in the hospital.

    We still had some of this spirit up to 1960. Recall that in 1960, it was Nixon, the conservative candidate, who was leerly of cutting the upper tax rate (c. 90 %). The Republican party was the ‘conservative’ party then, but I think more of the rich back then took responsibility for the nation at large, i.e; ‘we believe in balanced budget, we’re the ones who have the money who can afford to pay the taxes to balance the budget, ergo we should be paying those high tax rates. We should be doing more than the average person’. This sentiment disappeared with the movement conservatism of Buckley and Kirk and Rothbard, Rand and Goldwater and Reagan, the ‘me first, screw you’ conservatism that we have today and which Trump is the logical product of. He represents privilege without responsibility.

  3. Willy

    Capitalism seems to work best in the early days right after some major correction has been employed to try and save it. It seems that over time the little shopkeepers and village merchants get eliminated and corporate powers grow and consolidate and stuff like gaming the system and rent seeking become progressively worse until major dysfunction and cultural decline are inevitable, after which another major correction is again needed to save that capitalism lest some radical governmental system result. A reboot, if you will.

    In my version of rebooting capitalism, we wouldn’t have to go through a Great Depression or a couple Roosevelts or some serious mob violence or any other kind of hitting bottom. Instead, we’d just have a purge, just like in those movies.

    All crime would be decriminalized for a 12-hour period, as long as all the targets were 1%ers (or close enough). Anybody outside that 1% (or close enough) and a full legal trial must result. 1%ers can opt out if they donate all of their wealth to some credible and well-regulated homeless charity.

  4. Curt Kastens

    We are all born stupid. But growing numbers of people are not going to die stupid.

  5. Z

    The heroic pharmaceutical team of Weekend at Biden’s propped up their Lead Stiff this week with the “Joe Biden”, the cocktail of drugs they need to have him/it standing up straight on his strings, to formally announce that the U.S. government will give a whole $700 to each household in Maui.


  6. Willy

    According to the great writer David Brooks, trust in general and culturewide is rapidly fading. Okay, David Brooks is a conservative opinionator also known as cabbagehead, bobo the clown, “that NYT fool”… But he has been linked to by Tony Wikrent Weekend Wrap and I think that if the lowest common opinionator can figure something out, then there might be something to it.

    But you didn’t have to tell me. Maybe all Brooks did was sum up what almost everybody everywhere already knows, and he (or his handlers) had been getting tons of messages demanding such a writeup.

    Me, I don’t have a doctor or car mechanic. After years my unquestioned trust in those businesses got broken after many repeated incidents of money extraction and outright incompetence with little recourse available to me. I worked for a major multinational for five short years and saw so many incidents of comically sad corruption it’d make ‘The Office’ look like a workers utopia. Major appliances last half as long as before. Famous Ivy Leaguers frequently talk like high school dropouts. Been cheated by insurance companies. Education is now a money extraction racket. Etc, etc, etc…

    American military adventurism used to create banana republics. Now all it can achieve is chaos for the many and profit for the few. Little wonder why trust in even our once most trusted institution is fading.

    So if a capitalism reboot isn’t an option, then how about yet another Purge movie about just that?

  7. Z

    I mentioned a while back that if the financial markets held up in the face of rising interest rates and didn’t have any derivative meltdowns that I’d suspect that there is an un-metered money pipe gushing from the Fed into Larry’s and Stanley’s Asset Inflation Factory Blackrock that is holding the whole, ugly edifice together.

    Thus far the financial markets have held up well and the U.S. stock markets in particular have been “remarkably” resilient and robust despite the Fed’s interest rate increases.

    Stanley … Stanley Fisher, that is, former head of the Israel Central Bank and second at the Fed when Yellen was in charge of it* … would know his way around the Fed’s portals, I’d imagine, and if the Fed is looking the other way while overseeing the banks, as they’re wont to do, it would make sense that since Blackrock is hooked into the Fed’s money machine … they are tasked with “supporting” the markets on the Fed’s behalf as part of the COVID legislation that Money Man Mnuchin, Sneaky Shnucky Chuckie Schumer (D-Wall Street), and Larry (Who Elected This Fink?) largely authored … that they would be the conduit.

    If you think that’s some crazy notion, I ask you this: Do you believe that our rulers haven’t thought of this obvious solution to covertly preventing a meltdown in the hundreds of trillions of dollars derivative market that they use to rig and muscle around markets, including the oil markets, and are oblivious to this weakness in our system and would just let the whole financial system, which is the source of their power over us, collapse due to some ideological obsession with “free” markets?

    *You may recall that back in the Robfather Rubin II Administration (often errantly referred to as the Obama Administration), due to the wild success of Occupy Wall Street and the subsequent shame that came to bear on the Fed, there was a brief spell when there was a dire shortage of U.S. economists who were willing to cater to Wall Street for a mere hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. So, the Fed, in desperation, was on the verge of conducting an international head hunt to locate someone qualified to press ‘START’ on the money printer on Wall Street’s command but then Yellen happened to bump into Stanley at a bar mitzvah and was lucky enough to land him to back her up at the Fed.


  8. bruce wilder


    are you following Geoff Cygnus on TikTok or the former twitter?

    paranoia has plenty to feed on in the malevolent incompetence of officialdom: both during the crisis and in the aftermath, stupidity is an insufficient explanator.

  9. mago

    Thanks for the leads BW, will take a look.

  10. Curt Kastens

    A lot is being made on anti imperialist blogs about how China is going to use the BRICS
    relationships to challenge US hegemony. I do not see BRICS being helpful to the anti imperialist cause at all.
    First of all if you look at the original members, China and India do not get along at all. That could change in the future. But until it does the effectiveness of the group is limited by that conflict.
    Second of all South Africa is getting hammered by climate change issues now. Climate change issues will only be worse for South Africa in the future. It is in danger of becoming a failed state.
    Third of all Brazil’s society is very divided. Changes in goverment policies there could turn 180° at any time, with the death of just one person.
    Fourth, China and India and Russia are being hammered by climate change at least as bad if not worse than western Europe and North America.
    The anti imperalist are making talking points about the addition of six new members to the Brics club. But these members are pathetic. Ethiopia is involved in a five sided sivil war and it is at odds with Egypt another new member. Egypt has lots of talented peopel for now. But again the warming climate threatens to turn all of them in to German asylum seekers. Argentina based upon what I have been reading recently seems to be an economic basket case on par with the United Kingdom, but without nuclear weapons, nor an MI6. Iran another new member has as many talented people as Egypt, 80% of which hate their own government it appears. Beside Iran is also getting hammered by climate change AND it is next door to the soon to be failed state of Pakistan. Then there is Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They actually add something to the Brics for the time being. But are the leaders of these countries reliable. Is thier oil production reliable? Are the Saudis cutting back on oil production voluntarily? Or, are they telling lies to hide declines in production due to geological factors?
    I would like to see western leaders end up with egg on their faces before the collapse of industrial civilization. But we can not pretend that if western leaders get what they deserve that it will delay the collapse of industrial civilization.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén