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

Quick Takes Nine

As usual, just some links with takes. I bookmark more than I can write articles on, and some things aren’t worth a full article but are still worthy of comment.

Note: There is one article on Long Covid and vaccines. No vax comments will be allowed thru. If you want to talk about that, comment in the last open thread and link. Otherwise the comments will be swamped by anti-vax.

Swedish Unions Taking On Tesla. What’s important isn’t the direct strike, it’s that sympathy strikes are legal in Sweden. That explains much of the decline of unions in other countries, and that they have stayed strong in Sweden.

The Tesla strike has attracted secondary action from eight other unions and is threatening to spread to neighbouring Norway

Since that article, more unions have indeed started sympathy strikes. As for Musk, he’s virulently anti-union, and needs to be broken

The Atlantic Meridian Overturning Current (AMOC) could shut down anywhere from 2025 to 2075. Consequences?

In their model of the AMOC, London cools by an average of 18°F and Bergen, Norway by 27°F…

Sea levels in the Atlantic would rise by a meter in some regions, inundating many coastal cities. The wet and dry seasons in the Amazon would flip, potentially pushing the already weakened rain forest past its own tipping point…

…it will severely disrupt the rains that billions of people depend on for food in India, South America, and West Africa. It will increase storms and lower temperatures in Europe.

Long term readers will know that I have been particularly concerned with changes in rainfall patterns and the end of monsoons.

Vaccination appears to lower prevalence of Long Covid:

A new study based on 4,605 participants in the Michigan COVID-19 Recovery Surveillance Study shows that the prevalence of long COVID symptoms at 30 and 90 days post-infection was 43% to 58% lower among adults who were fully vaccinated before infection.

This does not mean that vaccines may not also cause harm, calm down anti-vaxxers (and remember, no comments on anti-vax in this thread, put them in the open thread.)

Economic Damage to Israel As Of Late February:

Tourism in Israel decreased by 70-75%, 7% of citizens became internally displaced and 14% of dual citizens left the occupied territories.

Not precisely a surprise, and the internal displacement quantifies the damage Hezbollah is doing: that’s almost all from the norther settlements they are shelling and hitting with missiles.

How Much Damage Can Hezbollah Do To Israel In A War?

Well, according to Israel’s Haaretz (screen shot since they are subscription gated):

I’ve been saying this for a long time, but it’s good to put numbers to it. To go further, this means Israel will be hit as hard as Lebanon. Hezbollah has been very clear about this: if Israel bombs Lebanon indiscriminantly, Hezbollah will destroy as much of Israel as it can.

It should also be noted that Israel needs airfields, and they can be targeted by Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s missiles, on the other hand, are much harder to find and destroy.

Apparently China has rest station for delivery and sanitation workers.

This is interesting, because a couple years ago Beijing cracked down on abuse of delivery workers, forcing the delivery firms to increase wages and improve conditions. But apparently they didn’t just do that, the government stepped in to help them directly.

It’s both gladdening and dismaying to see that China can and will do things like this, and we don’t. Anyway, the thread is worth reading. Please do.

Understanding Chinese Ship and Naval Build Capacity

Not much to say. The Japan analogy is excellent. The US has, in many ways, a great military. But they can’t replace losses or even manufacture enough ammunition.

I made this criticism for the first time in the 90s, with regards to smart munitions. All very nice, but in a real war the US would soon be using dumb munitions. Nowadays, the US and NATO can’t even make enough dumb munitions to fight a real war.

It’s an oversimplification to say that oil sanctions on Russia had no effect. It’s not just about price, but quantity and a lot of price is determined in bulk deals. The Chinese did not pay Russia well for their bulk deal. Still, it’s clear that anti-Russia oil sanctions haven’t done what their creators hoped:

And that concluded Quick Takes, though I’ve still got a lot of saved articles, so there may be another one soon.

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 3, 2024


Principles Of The Green Age After The Collapse: #1


  1. bruce wilder

    What China is doing for delivery and sanitation workers — the lowly and marginal as it were — does contrast with the willful neglect of American public authority of urban environments, the marginalized (pretty much everyone needing health care interventions) et cetera.

    China, despite building out an enormous and varied industrial capacity, has fallen woefully short of creating a place in the “machine” for everyone. The U.S. by disinvesting has shrunk its economic base, throwing millions out into the street. China was never able to draw hundreds of millions off the farm or past the 9th grade educationally. There are a lot of people in China consigned to the margins.

    China’s elites are concerned. America’s elites are concerned, too, but it is hard to say what they are willing to allow to be done — not much and nothing that would touch the billions of the billionaire class or corporate rentier wealth.

  2. Purple Library Guy

    American elites would be fine with a more prosperous lower class if only that could somehow be squared with taking everything the lower class has. As things stand, every dime anyone who does not own things for a living has left, is “money left on the table” from their perspective. In fact, they actually want MORE than everything we have, and often get it; ideally we should all be deep in debt.

  3. bruce wilder

    You will own nothing, owe everything and be happy with what you have (not).


  4. Stewart Millen

    Can the US re-invest in shipbuilding to regain its former superiority?

    The answer is probably ‘yes and no’. “Yes”, if we took directorship away from companies from Wall Street, by hook or crook. so that companies can actually make true long-term investments to restore capacity and advance technology. “No”, if we lave the current ownership class in-charge, an ownership class that can think of nothing but short-term paper profits.

    Ditto with ammo.

    I agree with you on dumb munitions, just like a am leery of drone warfare. Mass has a quality all of its own, in a long conflict. The broadsword dulls the edge of the saber after repeated hits. The reason why we don’t go back to our successful WWII style is:

    a) we can only raise and maintain a mass popular military if there is the popular resolve behind it, and that popular resolve won’t support an involvement in wars that advance only the interests of Western capitalists and are not important to American people

    b) we would have to invest in and improve the lives of our poors, as they form the bulk of the fighters (educated people get drafted too, but they are needed more in the non-combat roles)

    c) we would have to shift from complex, gee-whiz, ‘wow’ weapons to weapons can be mass-produced and have small margins. In addition to this, the government needs the ability to set prices for contractors so that the government doesn’t get ripped off.

    I personally suspect the latter point is important, as the very reason why the Pentagon gets gouged because Congress has hamstrung government employees getting lower prices. The reason why Congress would do this is the moola that defense contractors in turn give friendly Congresscritters both in donations and (most importantly) in comfortable retirements. A lot of political funding would go away if we really controlled prices and hamstrung the MIC.

  5. surreal

    I’ve been saying this for a long time, but it’s good to put numbers to it. To go further, this means Israel will be hit as hard as Lebanon. Hezbollah has been very clear about this: if Israel bombs Lebanon indiscriminately, Hezbollah will destroy as much of Israel as it can.

    It should also be noted that Israel needs airfields, and they can be targeted by Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s missiles, on the other hand, are much harder to find and destroy.

    Will Israel then use nukes?

    “I have a caution. Even if the day comes when the governments of the major powers are prepared to confront Zionism it could not be taken for granted that Israel’s leaders would say: ‘Okay. We’ll do what you want.’

    My reason for saying that is a statement Prime Minister Golda Meir made to me in one of my interviews with her for the BBC’s Panorama programme in 1972. At a point I said to her, ‘Prime Minister, I want to be sure I understand what you have just said… You did mean that in a doomsday situation Israel would be prepared to take the region and the world down with it?’

    Without a pause for reflection Golda replied: ‘Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying.'”

    This is from the same Haaretz article Ian quoted from:

    “The war with Hezbollah would become a multifront one. The missiles would also be fired from Syria, Iraq and Yemen and perhaps even Iran. There would be a major danger that the West Bank would ignite and that Israel would find itself in a war the likes of which it has never experienced. It can’t be totally excluded that there would be those in Israel who would consider resorting to strategic moves using the most extreme means imaginable.”

    This is nuclear war game planner* Chuck Watson on nuclear escalation in general, and some thoughts on Israel:

    *All nuclear war gaming ends up in full scale nuclear war, though it actually seems conceivable that Israel could nuke targets regionally without any retaliation by the big powers. And obviously nobody near them has nukes.

    Immediately previous to where I cued that video, Chuck casually excuses Israel’s policy of nuclear ambiguity, saying he understands why they don’t want to deal with the treaty hassles every other nation on earth does! The US of course just signs but doesn’t ever ratify the agreements, and doesn’t adhere to them anyway.

    In other parts of the video Chuck excuses some of the US’ monstrosities regarding past war crimes, but I imagine that has to do with his position. He can only say so much. On the whole, he is pretty honest about the US’ utterly insane nuclear policies and our insane hegemonic lust.

    Israel, like the US, has no nuclear ‘no-first use’ policy. Every other country does. Israel will use nukes on its own, with or without US approval.

    Israel dropped about 20,000 tons of conventional bombs on Gaza over the course of 3 weeks. That is 20 kilotons. One nuke can do that same amount of damage in 18 milliseconds. There are nukes that are 100-500 kilotons which are considered very large ‘strategic’ weapons, over 500 are the largest, and the US has had on alert ‘megaton’ weapons which Chuck, in a softer voice, simply describes as ‘catastrophic.’

    Israel has many nukes that are up to 100 tons that we know about, and some bigger. They have land, sub and aerial delivery systems for all of these. Targets in Europe and of courser Iran can easily be hit.

    US leadership is no longer afraid of nuclear weapons. The last administration to seriously care was Reagan. Most of the people now running things don’t have the same fear of these weapons that the WWII and Korean generations had. Truly frightening.

  6. NR


    Israel, like the US, has no nuclear ‘no-first use’ policy. Every other country does.

    Actually, there are only two countries that have a nuclear “no first use” policy: China and India.

    China and India are currently the only two nuclear powers to formally maintain a no first use policy, adopting pledges in 1964 and 1998 respectively. Both NATO and a number of its member states have repeatedly rejected calls for adopting a NFU policy, as during the lifetime of the Soviet Union a pre-emptive nuclear strike was commonly argued as a key option to afford NATO a credible nuclear deterrent, compensating for the overwhelming conventional weapon superiority enjoyed by the Soviet Army in Eurasia. In 1993, Russia dropped a pledge against first use of nuclear weapons made in 1982 by Leonid Brezhnev, with Russian military doctrine later stating in 2000 that Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons “in response to a large-scale conventional aggression”. Pakistan has also made similar statements, largely in reference to intermittent military tensions with India. North Korea has publicly pledged to refrain from a preemptive nuclear strike, while threatening retaliation up to and including WMD against conventional aggression.

  7. bruce wilder

    Can the US re-invest in shipbuilding to regain its former superiority?

    bring back the days of the Clipper?

    in WWII, heroic efforts yielded vast numbers of standard designs of versatile ships, but neither the ships nor especially the yards were remarkable for their efficiency.

    when the public interest meant something, the first in a naval series had to be built in a public shipyard to give the govt insight into “should costs” — i think it might still be the law, which Congress routinely makes exception to. but in our neoliberal predator state, is it even conceivable that a public shipyard could exist to build a great naval vessel?

  8. anon y'mouse

    why remilitarize at all?

    yeahyeah, because we have no new model for the world, tech dev or anything else.

    it’s a deadweight loss and the space for this kind of thing is becoming smaller and smaller.

    or is this just a push by our betters who fear for the coming climate apocalypse? fears that in the mad scramble, they won’t stay on top?

    i say jettison all of this shit. it doesn’t really help anyone. it’s designed purely for killing and waving penii around.

    shouldn’t we be moving away from that kind of thing, and only employing force when necessary? why encourage these power mad idiots to make better shells or recruit more intelligently? is it really a matter of survival?

    what could we have done with all of this stuff (the resources and manufacturing capability) if we weren’t blowing things and people up with it?

    it always amazes me how invested supposed leftists are in military tech and abilities. i mean, far beyond just keeping track. scratch a left and you get someone who played too much Risk as a child or had orgasms over histories of the Punic wars or something.

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