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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – February 2, 2019

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – February 2, 2019
by Tony Wikrent
Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

Strategic Political Economy

“Minimum wage would be $33 today if it grew like Wall Street bonuses have” 
[CBS, via Naked Capitalism 1-30-20]

“Wall Street employees saw their typical annual bonus slip
by 17 percent last year to $153,700, according to new data from the New
York State Comptroller. But don’t feel sorry for the banking set just
yet — even including down years like 2018, bankers’ bonuses have jumped
by 1,000 percent since 1985. By comparison, the federal minimum wage has
increased about 116 percent during the same period, according to an analysis
from the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning research center
that used the comptroller’s latest data. If the minimum wage had grown
at the same pace as Wall Street bonuses, fast-food workers and other
low-wage workers would earn a baseline wage of $33.51 an hour, the group

The Carnage of Establishment Neoliberal Economics

[Twitter below, via Naked Capitalism  -20]

Oh, look.More enormous anti-government protests in , , today.

But still barely a word from the corporate media.

Embedded video

5:02 PM – Jan 24, 2020

France’s Anti-Neoliberal Protesters Get Their Second Wind

[Real News Network 1-31-20]

The strikers protesting President Macron’s pension reform are expanding their target to the whole neoliberal system. They’re gathering their forces for a new wave of opposition, says Le Monde Diplomatique’s Renaud Lambert.


The Troubling Decline of International Law

Craig Murray, via Naked Capitalism 1-26-20]
Craig John Murray is a British former diplomat turned political activist,

The foundation of the International Criminal Court in 2002 was the high water mark in establishing the rule of law as the guiding principle of international affairs. As with all the major worldwide institutions of international law, the UK had played a leading role in the establishment of the ICC. I was in the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] at the time, and I remember the quiet confidence that eventually the USA would join up, just as they had with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea after decades of havering. In fact, the ICC has been a major disappointment, of which more later. I refer to 2002 as the high water mark for the rule of international law, because subsequently the tide has turned decisively against it….

As for the International Criminal Court, that has been a severe disappointment which in many ways symbolises the collapse of international law. Its failure to prosecute Bush and Blair for the war on Iraq set its direction from the beginning. Waging aggressive war is in itself a war crime and was indelibly established as such by the Nuremburg Tribunal. That it was not specifically mentioned in the Rome Statute was a flimsy pretext from judges not willing to take on power. The same judges have bottled out of investigation of US crimes in Afghanistan and appear to be in the same process over war crimes in Gaza, where astonishingly there has been no backing from states for the ICC against Netanyahu’s threat to institute sanctions against ICC staff if investigations continue. I used to defend the ICC
robustly over accusations that it was simply a tool of neo-con policy. I now find it very hard to do so.

I posted this comment: Murray fails to mention two important factors. 1)
GATT and the WTO actually facilitated lawlessness by allowing
multinational corporations to engage in trans-border arbitrage of
national laws and regulations intended to protect workers, consumers,
and the environment; and by legitimizing the investor dispute settlement
process which is a gross violation of the political sovereignty of the
peoples of nations to protect themselves using the regulatory, police,
and judicial institutions of their own nations. No small part of the
populist rage decried by elites is a reaction against this facilitated
lawlessness. 2) The current regime of international law has done
seemingly nothing about the tens of trillions of dollars in hot money
and tax evasion in offshore financial centers. Meanwhile, billionaires
have used their billions to buy control of political systems in many
countries. Scholars have concluded, for example, that USA has ceased
functioning as a democratic republic and become an oligarchy. Former
President Jimmy Carter concurs. What part of this hot and dirty money
has gone to financing the conservative and libertarian movements? These
movements have propagated the idea that governments are “in the way,”
further weakening the ability of peoples of nations to use the
regulatory, police, and judicial institutions of their own national

The commenter after me added:

And judgment is turned away backward and justice standeth afar off: for
truth is fallen in the street and equity cannot enter. Yea truth
faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey; and the
Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. — Isaiah 59:14,15


Outbreaks of lethal diseases like Ebola and the Wuhan coronavirus happen regularly. The US government just cut funding for the hospitals that deal with them
[Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, via Naked Capitalism 1-28-20]


How Capitalism Underdeveloped Rural America
[Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism 1-28-20]

In Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town,
Brian Alexander describes an Ohio community whose story is replicated
in thousands of others throughout the United States. Home to a large
glass plant, it was a place where “a factory worker might live three
blocks from a factory owner,” and where owners backed bond issues to
fund good schools and hospitals that attracted skilled employees.

In the 1980s, corporate predators mounted a raid, loaded the company
with debt, dismembered it, crushed the union, and cashed out. The new
owners — hedge funds and private-equity shops — slashed wages and
pensions, and ordered executives to live elsewhere “so they wouldn’t be
troubled by requests for civic involvement or charitable contributions.”

The priority now was maximizing shareholder value, not making things —
let alone squandering profits on community institutions. The
deindustrialization of the United States reached a crescendo after the
2008 crash: non-metro areas outpaced the rest of the country in
industrial job losses, with a 35 percent drop in manufacturing employment.

Populist demagogues like Trump blame those job cuts exclusively on
free trade and factory flight — their liberal critics also cite
automation and a failure to innovate — but neoliberal financialization has clearly been central.


“What the new FICO credit score reveals about the precarious state of Americans’ finances” [MarketWatch, via Naked Capitalism 1-27-20]

 “Fair Isaac Corp. (FICO) FICO, -1.03% is changing how it calculates
credit scores, and the new criteria reveal some of the trouble spots in
Americans’ financial health… Previous FICO score models were not
anchored as much to personal loan data, yet since 2015 the number of
personal loans has risen 42%, making personal loans the fastest-growing category of debt in the country. Currently, there is upwards of $156 billion in outstanding personal loan debt….
With a greater emphasis on personal loans under the new FICO scoring
system, consumers may be more likely to take out home equity loans to
pay off their debt, Jeffrey Taylor, co-founder and managing director at
Digital Risk said. Home-equity loans come with their own risks, however.
Missing missing payments on home-equity loans can lead eventually to a

Predatory Finance

lhan Omar Asked About the Dreams Student Debt Kills, and the Internet Answered
[Teen Vogue 2-1-20]

The issue of student loan debt is especially important to young voters, as polling indicates. According to the Federal Reserve,
there is currently over $1.6 trillion of outstanding student loan debt
owed across the country — that’s a massive increase from 2006, when the
number was around $480 billion.

As of 2018, it was believed that debt was owed by as many as 44.7 million people (nearly 13.5% of the total estimated U.S. population and a bigger portion for younger generations),
averaging out to $36,611 each. But averages aren’t everything, and Pew
Research Center analysis of a 2018 Federal Reserve report found that, as
of 2016, the median student loan debt owed was roughly $17,000….

Writer Wagatwe Wanjuki added that in a study of college sexual assault
survivors she conducted, nearly half of those surveyed said they earned less than $35,000 annually. She wrote on Twitter that debt cancellation is necessary because “Survivors shouldn’t have to literally pay for their schools’ failures.”



“Hedge Funds Not Led by White Men Outperform Nearly 2 to 1”
[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 1-27-20]

“Hedge funds either controlled or managed by a minority or female
leader had a return of about 6.6% over the past three years, compared to
about 3.9% for their peers, the analysis of Bloomberg’s hedge fund
database found…. Macro funds, which invest in broad, global trends, had
the biggest disparity. During the past five years, the funds not managed
by white men outpaced their peers by about 41%, the data showed.”


New Report Reveals Goldman Sachs’ Crime Wave Under Last Three CEOs (Who Got Obscenely Rich in the Process)
Pam Martens and Russ Martens, January 29, 2020 [Wall Street On Parade]

[T]he nonprofit Wall Street watchdog, Better Markets, released an
in-depth and scathing analysis of the past 20 years at Goldman Sachs. A
bold headline summed it up as follows: “$874 Billion in Bailouts, 36 Major Legal Actions, $9.8 Billion in Fines and Settlements with Billions More Coming.”

Better Markets provides the following sampling of the legal actions
against Goldman Sachs since the 2008 crash under the tenure of Blankfein
and Solomon:

  • Manipulation of U.S. Dollar ISDA Fix:
    In December of 2016, the CFTC [Commodity Futures Trading Commission]
    issued a consent order against Goldman Sachs for its attempts to
    manipulate a leading global benchmark used to price a range of interest
    rate derivatives, all for the benefit of Goldman’s trading positions.
    The violations extended from 2007 into 2012, and involved multiple
    traders, including the head of the bank’s interest rate products trading
    group in the U.S. The sanctions included a $120 million civil penalty.
  • Pay- to-Play: In 2012,
    the SEC issued a consent order against Goldman, with a $12 million fine,
    for violating pay-to-play rules, when a Goldman VP made extensive cash
    and in-kind contributions to the gubernatorial campaign of the Treasurer
    of Massachusetts, who then steered securities underwriting work to
    Goldman; Goldman earned more than $7.5 million in underwriting fees as a
    result of this illegal activity.
  • Price Fixing in GSE [Government-Sponsored Enterprise] Bond Market:
    In 2019, Goldman Sachs paid $20 million to settle a lawsuit alleging
    that it engaged in a widespread conspiracy to fix the prices of bonds
    issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As a result of the price-fixing,
    Goldman’s victims, including several pension funds, paid severely
    inflated prices, bilking the savings of millions of hard-working
  • Violations of Client Trust:
    In 2018, Goldman Sachs paid a total of $110 million to the Federal
    Reserve and the New York Department of Financial Services to settle
    allegations of widespread misconduct by its FX [Foreign Exchange]
    traders. This misconduct included disclosure of customer trading
    information to other institutions, allowing Goldman Sachs to profit at
    their customers’ expense.”

Goldman Sachs’s Shell Game:
David Dayen [The American Prospect , via Avedon’s Sideshow 1-24-20]

The mega-bank has created 61 different off-balance-sheet corporations with help from companies based in the Cayman Islands. That looks in no way shady! Tyson Slocum has embarked on a crusade the past few months that would make I.F. Stone jealous. The director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program has stumbled into some genuinely novel evidence about how mega-banks cloak their entry into commodity markets. First, Slocum found associations between JPMorgan Chase and an allegedly non-affiliated entity buying a power station in El Paso, Texas, links that the bank would eventually acknowledge. But Slocum’s discovery regarding Goldman Sachs seems even more revelatory. The banking giant has set up at least 61 different off-balance-sheet entities controlling various investment assets, all of which have the same three-member panel of ‘independent’ directors. The directors were all leased from ‘rent-a-director’ firms based in the Cayman Islands, a notorious tax haven. ‘They’re almost like a dating site, choose your director,’ says Slocum, who is protesting one of the entities as it requests regulatory approvals at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). These transparently affiliated shell corporations enable Goldman Sachs to avoid FERC limitations on sales of electric power, bank regulatory requirements around participating in pooled investment funds, merchant banking restrictions, and requirements to add capital in case of losses. ‘Goldman Sachs has enormous financial and regulatory incentives to keep these entities off the books,’ Slocum says. The sham directors fulfill corporate governance rules without having to put the fate of the shell companies in the hands of anyone with independent thought. In other words, it’s a useful and lucrative fiction, manipulating the securities laws to conceal the truth.”


Unmasking the secret landlords buying up America
[Reveal: The Center for Investigative Journalism, via Avedon’s Sideshow 1-24-20]

America’s cities are being bought up, bit by bit, by anonymous shell companies using piles of cash. Modest single-family homes, owned for generations by families, now are held by corporate vehicles with names that appear to be little more than jumbles of letters and punctuation — such as SC-TUSCA LLC, CNS1975 LLC — registered to law offices and post office boxes miles away. New glittering towers filled with owned but empty condos look down over our cities, as residents below struggle to find any available housing. All-cash transactions have come to account for a quarter of all residential real estate purchases, ‘totaling hundreds of billions of dollars nationwide,’ the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — the financial crimes unit of the federal Treasury Department, also known as FinCEN — noted in a 2017 news release. Thanks to the Bank Secrecy Act, a 1970 anti-money-laundering law, the agency is able to learn who owns many of these properties. In high-cost cities such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami, it’s flagged over 30% of cash purchases as suspicious transactions. But FinCEN also cites this bill to hide this information from the public, leaving the American people increasingly in the dark about who owns their cities. For journalists, it requires undertaking a tremendous investigative effort to find the real owner of even one property, let alone millions. ‘It reminds me of Moldova after the fall of the Soviet Union: oligarchs running wild, stashing their gains in buildings,’ James Wright, an attorney and former Treasury Department bank examiner, told me. […] With anonymity comes impunity, and, for vulnerable tenants, skyrocketing numbers of evictions. It wasn’t until reporters from The Guardian and The Washington Post began to investigate, for example, that residents living in hundreds of properties across the South learned that they shared a secret landlord, hiding behind names such as SPMK X GA LLC


Citibank, Which Foreclosed on Homes Under an Alias, Illegally Held Homes Offthe Market for More than Five Years Says Regulator
Pam Martens and Russ Martens: January 28, 2020 [Wall Street On Parade]

What is extremely troublesome about the OCC’s action, and which
continues a trend among federal bank regulators in the Trump
administration, is just how little the regulators are willing to share
with the American people in terms of facts about the continuing illegal
conduct of these mega Wall Street banks. That obfuscation comes
simultaneously with the Trump administration’s efforts to further
deregulate these serially-charged behemoths.

The OCC Consent Order
in this case says only that it involved “over 200 violations alone
between April 4, 2017 and August 14, 2019.” But Citigroup/Citibank
foreclosed on thousands of homes during and after the financial crash in
2008, often using an alias of Liquidation Properties, Inc., which it
hid its connections to. The OCC Consent Order suggests that the bank
only held hundreds of homes illegally off the market. But if
the OCC had gone back further in time, would the number be in the
thousands? And just how long were the homes kept off the market after
Citibank foreclosed? Was it six years or ten years or 15 years? The OCC
is silent on these critical points.


Why private equity keeps wrecking retail like Fairway.
[Slate, via Naked Capitalism 1-29-20]

Climate and environmental crises

“Names and Locations of the Top 100 People Killing the Planet”
[The Decolonial Atlas, via Naked Capitalism 1-27-20]

See the original for the full-sized map. It’s of oil executives,
though, not squillionaires, most of whom are not easy to locate


The Dead Zone Downstream: Gulf Edition
[Grist, the Center for Public Integrity, and Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, January 29, 2020, via Naked Capitalism 1-29-20]

Small family farms, local conservation groups, and university
scientists constitute the driving force of progress, leaving America’s
large-scale corporate farmers silent in the background. There is no
national prediction from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, its
Hypoxia Task Force, or the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicating the
total fertilizer load needed to shrink the dead zone. The problem is
too complex for straightforward answers: Its outcome relies on rainfall,
ocean temperature, soil health, and crop growth rates.

Last year, the dead zone measured as much as 6,952 square miles, larger than Connecticut and much bigger than the 5-year average of 5,770 square miles, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Studies in the journal Science state that the global area of dead zones have quadrupled in the last 50 years, driven by a growing human population and an increase in the need for corn, soybeans, biofuels, and livestock feed.


“Farming’s growing problem”
[Center for Public Integrity, via Naked Capitalism 1-28-20]

“Deep cuts to nitrogen runoff and emissions are critical, researchers
say, both to curb mounting hazards from water pollution and to stave off
the most cataclysmic consequences of rising global temperatures. And
while it’s a smaller environmental danger than carbon, scientists say
fertilizer is an underrated and growing threat — one that’s more
complicated to solve. ‘We’re not producing CO2 on purpose,’ said James
Galloway, an environmental scientist with the University of Virginia.
‘You need to have that nitrogen to grow the food, and the more people
there are and the higher they’re eating up the food chain, the more
nitrogen you need.’ The rate that farmers in the U.S. are using nitrogen
fertilizer is more than 40 times higher than it was three-quarters of a
century ago, far outstripping population growth. Trouble was
anticipated decades ago. But in the U.S., legislators and regulators
alike have avoided confronting the problem directly.”


“Guardian to ban advertising from fossil fuel firms”
[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 1-30-20]

 “The Guardian will no longer accept advertising from oil and gas
companies, becoming the first major global news organisation to
institute an outright ban on taking money from companies that extract
fossil fuels. The move, which follows efforts to reduce the company’s
carbon footprint and increase reporting on the climate emergency, was
announced on Wednesday and will be implemented with immediate effect.
The ban will apply to any business primarily involved in extracting
fossil fuels, including many of the world’s largest polluter.”


“I used to be a libertarian. Then the US healthcare system taught me how wrong I was”
[Adam Weinistein, Independent, via Naked Capitalism 1-28-20]

 “But if you’re an American and you’re reading this, be honest: When’s
the last time you looked around in a clinic lobby, a specialist’s
office, or a hospital waiting room, and saw agency and dignity? We are
all numbers — insurance IDs, group plan numbers, medical billing codes,
far-into-the-future appointment times. All our lives, we have been told
that long waits, impersonal care, incompetence, and indignity are the
province of other countries’ socialized healthcare systems. What, then,
do you call the Kafka-esque 21st century American medical badlands?”


“Trends in Unmet Need for Physician and Preventive Services in the United States, 1998-2017”

[JAMA Internal Medicine, via Naked Capitalism 1-28-20]

“Conclusions and Relevance: Despite coverage gains since 1998, most
measures of unmet need for physician services have shown no improvement,
and financial access to physician services has decreased.”


“‘Block grants’ no more: Trump’s Medicaid overhaul has new name, same goals”
[Politico, via Naked Capitalism 1-30-20]

 “The Trump administration will rebrand its Medicaid block grant program
and look to safeguard the policy against an expected wave of legal
challenges from patient advocates, according to two officials with
knowledge of the plan set for release Thursday. The forthcoming block
grant program comes with a new name — “Healthy Adult Opportunity” — but
retains the original mission long sought by conservatives: allowing
states to cap a portion of their spending on Medicaid, a radical change
in how the safety net health program is financed. The block grant plan,
which invites states to request capped funding for poor adults covered
by Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, also would let states limit health
benefits and drugs available to some patients. Medicaid advocates
already have vowed to make the block grant an issue in this year’s
election, particularly after President Donald Trump repeatedly pledged
to protect Medicaid during his 2016 campaign.

Democrats have also long warned the Trump administration that they would vigorously oppose any effort to cap Medicaid spendingafter Congress rejected the idea during the failed effort to replace Obamacare.”


9 things Americans need to learn from the rest of the world’s health care systems
[Vox, via Naked Capitalism 1-30-20]


Anti-Abortion Laws: A War Against Poor Women
[openDemocracy, via Naked Capitalism 1-29-20]

The political fight against anti-abortion legislation is in fact a
class battle, and the reality is that abortion is only illegal for poor
women. Women with resources can always interrupt their unwanted
pregnancies. Either they know a doctor who performs medical abortions
for an exorbitant price, they have the resources to travel to a place
where abortion is legal, or they have the means to buy an abortion pill
in their own country or elsewhere.

Restricting access to safe abortions keeps poor women in poverty,
perpetuates the cycle that prevents them from social mobility and allows
wealth to remain in the hands of the rich, particularly white men.

Deciding if and when to have a child is essential for a woman’s
economic and psychological well-being: it has implications for her
education and for entering the workforce. In a 2018 study based on
interviews with 813 women in the United States throughout five years,
researchers found that women who had abortions denied to them were more
likely to be in poverty within six months compared to women who were
able to interrupt the pregnancy. Women who were denied abortion were
also less likely to have full-time work and more likely to depend on
some form of public assistance. Both effects “remained significant for 4


“The answer to America’s health care cost problem might be in Maryland”
[Vox, via Naked Capitalism 1-27-20]

 “Maryland is the site of two big experiments in containing health care
costs. The first: Since the 1970s, the state has set the prices
hospitals can charge for medical care, known as all-payer rate setting.
The second experiment: Since 2014, it’s also capped how much health
spending can grow overall, including how much revenue each hospital can
take in…. Maryland has become a model for other states. Pennsylvania,
for instance, has started experimenting with a small-scale version of
the global budget system to keep rural hospitals afloat. But there are
still problems with its model: On its own, the system hasn’t shown
insurance premiums dropping, employers can still push more costs onto
workers, and drug companies are increasing prices rapidly. Perhaps more
important, adopting Maryland’s model nationally won’t directly extend
health coverage to the almost 27 million uninsured Americans. Still, any
attempt to expand health care coverage in America — whether through
Medicare-for-all or a more robust public option — will have to confront
the issue of cost.” • Part of a series from Vox.


“Universal Health Care, the South African Way”
[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 1-27-20]

“This is South Africa, where the inequities have for years been an
exaggerated version of those in the U.S. The African National Congress
party, which has led the country for more than 25 years and holds 58% of
seats in Parliament, has committed to enacting universal health
insurance, outlining the framework in a draft law published in August.
Significant questions remain, including which drugs and services will be
covered and how the whole thing will be financed. But with the
country’s biggest labor group behind it, the bill’s fate is clear: South
Africa will soon join the majority of the developed world in providing
some form of nationalized health care. The grand experiment is a more
mature version of the health-care debate in the U.S.”

Creating new economic potential – science and technology

You Blew It, Andrew Cuomo
[Railway Age, via Naked Capitalism 1-26-20]
The New York governor’s persistent interference in New York City Transit has provoked the resignation of “Train Daddy” Andy Byford, one of the world’s leading managers of urban transit systems, hired exactly two years ago to restore order to NYCT. Byford was succeeding, but stealing the spotlight from the inept Cuomo. Byford’s resignation was followed a day later by the resignation of Pete Tomlin, who Byford had hired to modernize NYCT’s Communications-Based Train Control. Cuomo’s sabotage of simply improving transit in USA’s largest city stands in sharp contrast to the many new additions and improvemmnets to transit systems being built — and alredy built in the past year, as sometimes reprorted here — by cities in countries other than libertarian infested USA.


[Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism 1-28-20]

“GM will manufacture a self-driving people-mover for its San
Francisco-based subsidiary Cruise, and plans to invest $2.2 billion to
recast a plant that had been slated for closure. It will also invest
another $800 million in suppliers…. The refurbished 35-year-old factory also will be the production site
for several electric pickup-truck models, providing a boost for research
in that arena. Ford Motor Co. last year invested in electric
pickup-truck startup Rivian, which has also won backing from
Inc. for work on electric delivery vans.”


Consortium To Develop Road Map For Hybrid-Electric Airliners
Graham Warwick, January 27, 2020 [Aviation Week and Space Technology]

Led by French aerospace research agency Onera, the IMOTHEP project (for Investigation and Maturation of Technologies for Hybrid-Electric Propulsion) has received €10.4 million ($11.5 million) in funding under the EC’s Horizon 2020 research program. IMOTHEP will perform a detailed investigation of technologies for aircraft with unconventional configurations and innovate propulsion architectures that provide synergistic benefits through the close integration of propulsion and airframe….

European industry and academia are already studying unconventional configurations for ultra-efficient airliners. Under the Clean Sky 2 civil aeronautics research program, teams lead by Onera, German aerospace center DLR, Netherlands aerospace center NLR and Rolls-Royce are studying “novel and radical” designs for an Airbus A320-size aircraft that could enter service around 2035.

Onera, for example, has developed a research configuration, called Dragon, for an aircraft with distributed turbo-electric propulsion. This has two turboshaft engines mounted on the aft fuselage driving four generators that power 40 electric ducted fans arrayed under the wing trailing edge.

The research agency’s analysis suggests that, with moderate technology assumptions, the Dragon configuration could reduce fuel burn by 7% compared with an equivalent 2035-technology conventional turbofan-powered aircraft.

“World’s largest solar telescope takes its first shot” 
[Science, via Naked Capitalism 1-30-20]

“This new close-up of the turbulent boiling plasma of the solar surface
is the debut image of the largest telescope ever built for staring at
the Sun. Sporting a 4-meter-wide mirror—twice the size of any existing
solar scope—and a vantage point 3000 meters up on the summit of
Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui—the Daniel K. Inouye Solar
Telescope (DKIST) will reveal unprecedented detail of processes that
channel energy from the Sun’s interior into its atmosphere, the corona.
Researchers hope that by zooming in on cell-like structures like those
shown above—each about the size of Texas—they can learn what causes the
Sun to launch powerful flares out into space.”

A new tidal energy project just hit a major milestone in Scotland
[We Forum, via Naked Capitalism 2-1-20]

MeyGen, the world’s largest tidal array, has completed the longest ever run of uninterrupted generation by a multi-megawatt tidal turbine, powering almost 4,000 homes in 2019. The four giant turbines have now exported 24.7 gigawatt hours (GWh) of predictable renewable power to the national grid. And this is just the first phase of a project that could eventually power 175,000 homes with more than 250 submerged turbines….

Like giant underwater windmills, the turbine rotors are driven by the fast-moving currents, which in turn drive generators that then produce electricity. They are fixed to the sea bed and connected to the grid via an armoured cable.


Green energy could now be cheaper than fossil fuels thanks to breakthrough 
[New York Post, via Naked Capitalism 2-1-20]

Wind, solar and other “clean” energy sources are now as cheap or cheaper than dirty fossil fuels at the industrial level, even without taxpayer assistance. And the gap is getting wider.

Costs of cadmium telluride, a key component in solar paneling, could plunge, thanks to a new breakthrough just unveiled at Washington State University’s Center for Materials Research. “We can have a 45 percent cost reduction in producing the raw material,” says Santosh Swain, a researcher at the center and co-author of the study. (He bases the calculations on general industry estimates for current cost levels).

That could get solar power costs below the US Department of Energy’s 2030 cost targets for renewable energy way ahead of schedule, he says. “The US Department of Energy has set a target of getting [to] less than 3 cents per kilowatt-hour,” he told MarketWatch. “This technology already proves we can definitely get there.”

The potential breakthrough was published in the Journal of Crystal Growth, a source for workers engaged in research on the experimental and theoretical aspects of crystal growth and its applications.

Information Age Dystopia

Amazon employees launch mass defiance of company communications policy in support of colleagues Amazon
[Washington Post, via Naked Capitalism 1-27-20]


Leaked Documents Expose the Secretive Market for Your Web Browsing Data
[Vice, via Naked Capitalism 1-28-20]

“The documents, from a subsidiary of the antivirus giant Avast
called Jumpshot, shine new light on the secretive sale and supply chain
of peoples’ internet browsing histories. They show that the Avast
antivirus program installed on a person’s computer collects data, and
that Jumpshot repackages it into various different products that are
then sold to many of the largest companies in the world.”


How to delete what Facebook knows about your life outside of Facebook
[Recode, via Naked Capitalism 1-29-20]


“IoT Trouble: The Sonos Example — And More” 
Jean-Louis Gassé  [Monday Note, via Naked Capitalism 1-28-20]

 “It was one thing to fight a cranky operating system or application on
one’s laptop. It created a culture, a folklore. Managing the dozens of
devices in a smarthome is a set of tasks for which we are ill-prepared,
it’s not more of the same.mNor are we prepared for what happens to our
privacy when the IoT devices that share information about our activities
become ‘required’ by market forces or, worse, mandated by new laws and
regulations. Imagine what marketers — and government agencies — could do
with such information. And pause. There is no could, it will happen,
there’s too much ‘stored value’ in these network of connected devices,
the appetites will be too strong.”


The Rise of the Video Surveillance Industrial Complex
[The Intercept, via Naked Capitalism 1-30-20]

Democratic Party leadership insists on suicide

It’s worth remembering why Ellison lost to Perez
[Minnesota Tribune 2-27-17, via J Smith replying to ShaunKing on Twitter 1-27-20]

The easy frame for the contest between Ellison and Perez was that it was
a referendum on the direction the Democratic Party should take after
its stunning defeat in the November election. Ellison was considered the
champion of a more leftward direction for the party; Perez was the
continuity choice, and the favorite of loyalists to Obama and Hillary

But for most of the Minnesotan’s backers, his defeat had a
larger explanation: in a choice between a representative of the
Sanders-Warren left and a representative of the Obama-Clinton era,
Democrats ultimately chose continuity.To them, that is
proof that the Democratic Party is unwilling to learn from the mistakes
that cost it the 2016 election, and will have a difficult path to
winning elections again.
MSNBC’s Owners Shower Biden With Campaign Cash
[Sludge, via Naked Capitalism 1-30-20]

 “A Sludge review of Federal Election Commission records shows Biden is
the preferred candidate of the station’s owners, the behemoth Comcast
Corporation. Biden has received 17 large campaign contributions from
executives and vice presidents at Comcast, including eight for the legal
maximum of $2,800. Of all the other candidates still in the race, only
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has received any Comcast
executive contributions—Buttigieg received a single contribution from
Comcast Managing Director Amy Banse. In addition, Comcast’s top
lobbyist, David Cohen, co-hosted Biden’s kick-off fundraiser in April
and he is listed as a bundler for the campaign, meaning that he has
collected at least $25,000 in contributions from others for Biden.”


“‘Kind of pointless’: In battleground Michigan, impeachment takes back seat to everyday issues” [Reuters, via Naked Capitalism 1-29-20]

 “‘You’ve got elderly who need help. You’ve got veterans who need help.
You’ve got poor people who need help. Impeachment doesn’t really help a
person who is struggling,’ said [Victor] Burch, 40, who took up cutting
hair after he lost his job at a plastics factory in the 2007-2009
financial crisis. Burch, an undecided African-American voter, added:
‘Close up the barber shop and say: ‘Let’s just sit and hold hands and
watch and see if Trump is going or not’? We can’t do that.We don’t live in that type of tax bracket.’

Voters like Burch and places like Livonia will be at the epicenter of
November’s presidential contest. Michigan itself is a crucial
battleground state that Trump carried unexpectedly in 2016 by about
11,000 votes, propelling him to the White House along with wins in
Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But interviews with two dozen voters in
Livonia over recent days showed that months of impeachment hearings,
testimony and political storms in Washington had done almost nothing to
alter their views. Instead, many were focused on issues of the day, such
as jobs, healthcare, immigration and education.”


The Most Popular Crook in America: The ominous approval ratings of Larry Hogan, the corrupt Republican governor of Maryland
[The New Republic, via Avedon’s Sideshow 1-24-20]

The Maryland Democratic machine actually resisted the prospect of electing the Democrat who won the primaries so much that state elective officials told the press they were supporting the Republican. Ben Jealous was a union guy with progressive policies, so Democrats backed a man who Alex Pareene calls,  The Most Popular Crook in America.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan repeatedly steered state transportation development money to projects that would increase the value of his real estate holdings, according to a lengthy investigation by Washington Monthly‘s Eric Cortellessa. Cortellessa reports that Hogan, who ostensibly left his brother in charge of his real estate brokerage firm when he was elected, has, in fact, maintained ownership and control while serving as governor; the trustees he handpicked to run his company have continued to keep him apprised of its business dealings. And as governor, he has advanced highway and road construction projects that directly boosted the value of land owned by his company. Those efforts have proved extraordinarily lucrative: During his first three years in office, Hogan reported $2.4 million in income, more than four times his salary. No other governor in the history of the state has made as much, according to Maryland’s former Secretary of State John Willis. Hogan, he told Washington Monthly, is the only governor in the history of Maryland ‘to have made millions of dollars while in office.’ […] Hogan, on the other hand, is exactly the ‘normal’ to which politicians like Joe Biden promise to return us when they try to speak into existence a Republican Party that they can ‘work with.'”


Does Bernie Sanders Know What He’s Doing?
Pachacutec, Feb 16, 2016 [Ian Welsh 1-30-20]

Bernie Sanders is taking a lot of heat for making promises everyone
agrees can’t be achieved in today’s Washington. However, Sanders is not
just smoking free-love-sixties-dope when he talks about universal health
care, free college tuition, stopping deportations, and drastically
cutting the prison population.

I used to teach negotiation to MBA students and lawyers seeking CLE
credit, and have included negotiation content in executive coaching and
other consulting work I do. One of the things I’ve sometimes taught was
how to use audience effects to gain leverage in negotiations…

Bernie Sanders, like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Franklin Delano
Roosevelt, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter before him, wants
to use mass appeal audience effects to renegotiate the country’s
political and economic contract. The strategy, writ small in Gandhi’s
train ride tale, is perfectly applicable–and has proven successful
through history–in bringing about successful, peaceful, radical change.

These movements operate by forcing conflict out into the open, on
favorable terms and on favorable ground. Make the malignancy of power
show its face in daylight. Gandhi and the salt march. MLK and the Selma to Montgomery marches. FDR picking fights and catalyzing popular support throughout the New Deal era, starting with the first 100 days.
OWS changed American language and political consciousness by cementing
the frame of the 1% into the lexicon. BLM reminded America who it has
been and still is on the streets of Ferguson.


The Party’s Over: Bernie’s Last Dance With the Dems
[Counterpunch, via Naked Capitalism 2-1-20]

….there is a difference in kind between Bernie and the other Democratic
candidates, a difference unlike the differences among them. It’s the
difference between a principled Social Democratic program to meet human
needs, based on and supported by a mass movement, and a program of
neoliberal tinkering to protect profit-making possibilities, based on
and supported by capitalist donors/the donor class.

His nomination would be a radical departure and would
radically disrupt the Democratic Party and the whole political game, and
he would have a great chance to win, opening new and substantively
different and left, social-democratic possibilities in the U.S.

Nowhere is this more evident than in his Medicare-for-All program,
and nothing has been more revelatory then watching fauxgressives like
Warren and Buttigieg moonwalk away from it. Bernie’s universal coverage
single-payer program establishes healthcare as a human right, not a
commodity. It concretely benefits the lives and enhances the social power of
the great majority of citizens by taking public control of an essential
service, and eliminating a predatory capitalist industry.


Bernie Sanders’ real obstacle is not Trump. It’s the Democratic establishment
[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 2-1-20]

You can sense their panic, rising like tree sap. As time grows shorter and the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire trend in Bernie’s favor, the Third Way-style Democrats voice increasingly desperate warnings that a party that lost to Trump may be about to make a mistake. The Wall Street set throws more money at Joe Biden; the famous columnists who backed the Iraq war sound the alarm about unelectability; the candidate who lost to a reality television clown joins in
the doomsaying. A Hollywood casting agency specializing in budget
comedies could not assemble a less credible group of opponents. One of
Bernie Sanders’ greatest advantages in the race is that many of the most
unlikable hypocrites in America despise him.

It is amusing to recall that one of the go-to criticisms of Bernie, by
the Clinton wing of the Democratic party, is that he is not even a
Democrat. Indeed, he spent decades in Congress as an independent. The
fact that he obtained power outside of the confines of the party machine
enrages those who sacrificed their own idealism to play the game – his
rise to the presidency would imply that they all sold out for nothing….

Fortunately, the Democratic party is no longer going to be defined by
its establishment powers. It is going to be defined by the people who
are inspired to come out to vote. For the past four years, it has been
clear that Sanders and Trump each represent a direct response to the
severe (and warranted) disillusionment of average Americans, who have
seen the American dream of economic mobility die during their lifetimes.

Trump represents the dark path of racism, nationalism and division;
Bernie represents the other path, of socialism, multiculturalism and
solidarity. The Democratic establishment, left over from a political era
they don’t know has already disappeared, imagines that a Biden or a
Bloomberg or a Buttigieg might be able to keep the whole structure from
falling apart. But they’re wrong. America has already started down a
path away from what got us here. The only question is which path that
will be.

Any sane and moral political party should want to do everything possible
to make Sanders’ vision become a reality. The alternative is not a
fresh flowering of centrism. It is something much, much worse.


“How the G.O.P. Became the Party of the Left Behind”
[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 1-28-20]

“In the 1990s there was no strong correlation between the economic
standing of a place and the partisan preference of its voters: The
Republican Party received roughly the same share of the vote in richer
and poorer counties. By 2000, however, the electoral map had started to
shift…. Now, the Republican share of the vote has increased across the
nation’s most economically disadvantaged counties, while the most
successful counties have moved toward the Democrats…. By 2016, the
nation’s political map corresponded neatly to the distribution of
prosperity: Mr. Trump won 58 percent of the vote in the counties with
the poorest 10 percent of the population. In the richest, his share was
31 percent.”

Corporate Democrats Target Sanders as his Popularity Rises

[The Real News Network 1-30-20]

The Intercept’s Akela Lacy says Sanders is being targeted by wealthy interests who would be damaged by his presidency


And similar crap, across The Pond

The Center Blows Itself Up: Care and Spite in the ‘Brexit Election’.
David Graeber on how the “center” threw the British election to the right to defeat Corbyn
[New York Review of Books, via Avedon’s Sideshow 1-24-20]

[…] This simultaneous embrace of markets, and of rules and
regulations, represents the soul of what’s sometimes called ‘centrism.’
It’s a decidedly unlovely combination. Nobody truly likes it. But the
talking classes had reached an absolute consensus that no politicians
who departed significantly from it could possibly win elections. In
2015, the handful of ‘hard Left’ MPs of the Socialist Campaign Group,
who fell well outside this consensus, were largely considered mildly
entertaining Seventies throwbacks. The election of one of them as party
leader was therefore treated—both by the party establishment and their
allies in the left-of-center media outlets like The Guardian—as an
embarrassing accident that had to be immediately reversed. Corbyn was
declared ‘unelectable.’ In order to demonstrate this, dozens of Labour
MPs initiated an immediate campaign to render him so, via an unceasing
barrage of press briefings, leaked documents, attempts to create false
scandals, and a campaign of sustained psychological warfare directed
against Corbyn himself—essentially waging an active and aggressive
campaign against their own party. Tony Blair even openly stated that he
would rather see his own party defeated than come into power on Corbyn’s
leftist platform.

[…] Most sitting Labour MPs had begun as Labour
youth activists themselves, just as most centrist political journalists
had begun their careers as leftists, even revolutionaries, of one sort
or another. But they had also risen through the ranks of Blair’s machine
at a time when advancement was largely based on willingness to
sacrifice one’s youthful ideals. They had become the very people they
would have once despised as sell-outs. Insofar as they dreamed of
anything, now, it was of finding some British equivalent of Barack
Obama, a leader who looked and acted so much like a visionary, who had
so perfected the gestures and intonations, that it never occurred to
anyone to ask what that vision actually was (since the vision was,
precisely, not to have a vision). Suddenly, they found themselves
saddled with a scruffy teetotaling vegan who said exactly what he really
thought, and inspired a new generation of activists to dream of
changing the world. If those activists were not naive, if this man was
not unelectable, the centrists’ entire lives had been a lie. They hadn’t
really accepted reality at all. They really were just sellouts.”:



Open Thread


Iowa Caucus


  1. John

    Thank you for this, Tony.

  2. bruce wilder

    The last several links on Sanders’ candidacy and the corrupt self-destruction of the Democratic Party establishment reflect the preoccupations of many of us as the voting starts.

    For those who want to understand “the Mandos majority” and their anti-change-anything-but-the-drapes mentality in regard to all that is surely broken in American politics, economy and foreign policy, but especially economy, I want to draw attention to a short Interfluidity essay from August 20 last year.

    Lambert at NC linked to it on Jan 30 in commenting on a N.Y. Times essay worrying over the possibility of a Sanders nomination leading to general election defeat.

    Doing the right things in any policy area will bring about “collapse” in some important sense of the structures built around doing the wrong things.

  3. Z

    Gonna have to break some eggs to make a bigger and better omelette for most of us.


  4. Mel

    Absentee control and the extinct glass manufactory in Ohio, and …

    Andrei Martyanov’s blog has an article about Russia’s response to sanctions, and the economic lemonade they are making with the sanctions’ lemons. There’s a comparative graph rating Russia as a recovering economy making strong progress.
    An innocent commenter asks if they can therefore find some good investments for themselves in Russia. I think the precise answer will be “No.” It looks to me as though Putin’s proposed policy is that if you don’t work in Russia, and have not worked in Russia, and are not going to work in Russia, then you have no business in Russia. There will be no reason to hand out benefits to outsiders, even in exchange for a bit of foreign currency that Russians can’t spend because of the sanctions

  5. Z

    In regards to the “The Party’s Over” essay regarding Sanders, it’s a great essay with a lot of great, and I think accurate, observations. It is hard to argue with the writer’s insights, and I agree with all of them to some extent, including the criticisms.

    I’ll say this though, when I think about Sanders I also keep in mind how old he is and the effort he has put into this revolution he’s led. His campaign in 2016 also served as a central rallying point for DSA and led to AOC getting elected among other things. The role of DSA in changing the political tide has been greatly underestimated IMO. Of course, our rulers’ media-propaganda complex is never going to call attention to it. His campaign and DSA have energized the young.

    And I’ll say this in regards to his “sheep herding” progressives into the democratic party: they don’t have to follow him if they rob him of the nomination and he still calls for democratic party unity, and most won’t at this point, much less than in 2016 I predict even after 3+ years of Trump. And if the democratic party invited him to the show in 2016 thinking they could use him for that purpose and that it would be to their ultimate benefit, well how is that working out for them?


  6. Z

    Like I wrote about a few threads back, I wouldn’t be surprising to see Sanders f’ed over by the dems by them handing over the nomination to a Bloomberg-Warren ticket through the super delegate process, which has probably already been conditionally agreed to. Warren, like all poor political actors, is overplaying her part by consistently publicly criticizing Bloomberg. She has barely gone after any candidates directly except her “friend” Sanders; not even Biden who basically wrote the bankruptcy bill she made so much hay over and dough from. Warren will bite her lower lip and claim that defeating Trump is all that matters and that’s why she’s now with Bloomberg when in actuality that’s what she’s been planning all along and deceiving the U.S. voters by running as if she’s in opposition to him.

    That’s part of the plan I’d imagine: have Warren try to drive a gender divide into Sanders’ support and also cast a net wide to the left of Bloomberg, have Bloomberg ramp up his campaign and have the media get giddy about his “building momentum”, and have stumbling working class sellout Joe Biden stay in the race until he at least gathers up votes in the south that both Bloomberg and Warren have no chance to get. Prevent Sanders from gaining a majority, have Biden drop out due to “health issues” and then combine Biden’s and Warren’s votes to Bloomberg’s “surge” and call it a Bloomberg-Warren ticket. Sprinkle on promises of Young Republican Pete as SoS and maybe Castro for the INS job and make it an identitarian delight. Maybe throw in promises of decriminalizing pot to get young voters on board.

    But so many people are so sure that the DNC’s weighty thumbs on the process will fully determine the outcome. They’ll try, no doubt, but they don’t have total control. The more moves you make them make, and the faster you make them make those moves, the greater chances of mistakes, and the more people that they’ll probably have to involve in their conspiracy. And if someone from their clan breaks off with big enough and incendiary enough evidence of their corrupting the process again, their plans could go up in flames before they ever have the chance to bring it back into the smoky backrooms with the super delegates.



    Hedge Funds Not Led by White Men Outperform Nearly 2 to 1

    Identity Politics rearing its ugly head once again. The implication is, Hedge Funds are not inherently evil, it’s who runs the Hedge Funds. Put some LGBT people in charge and everyone will learn to love Hedge Funds. Get out of my face with this crap.


    Bloomberg will not choose Warren as his running mate. Beto O’Rourke is a strong possibility. His youth and enthusiasm balances Bloomberg’s dotage. Plus, Bloomberg is looking to flip Texas and Beto can substantially help in that endeavor. Beto wouldn’t overshadow Bloomberg but instead would complement him as a goofy, affable, not-overly-ambitious and non-threatening sidekick.

    As Bloomberg’s Attorney General, may I suggest Adam Schiff. Schiff then can get down to the business of putting Trump behind bars for life. What a glorious day that will be.


    Trump represents the dark path of racism, nationalism and division; Bernie represents the other path, of socialism, multiculturalism and solidarity. The Democratic establishment, left over from a political era they don’t know has already disappeared, imagines that a Biden or a Bloomberg or a Buttigieg might be able to keep the whole structure from falling apart. But they’re wrong. America has already started down a path away from what got us here. The only question is which path that will be.

    Once again, the hidden and implied message is that if it’s not Bernie and/or the DNC screws him, you should vote Trump as the shot of schadenfreude you know you want and we all deserve. What a sickening thing to promote.

    My wife and 21-year-old daughter took a long hike in the forrest this morning and we discussed this the entire time. We will all vote for Sanders in our state’s Democratic primary and if Bernie doesn’t become the Democratic nominee and Bloomberg does, we will vote for Bloomberg in the general. Obviously, if Bernie is the nominee, we will vote Bernie in the general. If it is any other Dem candidate and the Dems screwed Bernie over which it appears they’re going to do, we will not vote at all.

    We ALL, my wife & daughter & I, agree that a vote for Trump is a vote for suffering on steroids. It’s a vote for increased rapes. It’s a vote for unwanted pregnancies. It’s a vote for treating women even more egregiously like sh*t. It’s a vote for filthy air and water. It’s a vote for no healthcare except for the filthy rich. It’s a vote for epidemic homelessness. It’s a vote for no possibility to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. It’s a vote for fascism. It’s a nihilistic vote. Only sadomasochists would vote for Trump as a shot of vengeful schadenfreude should the DNC screw Bernie out of the nomination.


    Yang was also a consideration as a Bloomberg running mate, but this is the straw that breaks his political credibility. It proves he fails to see the danger Trump symbolizes. Because Trump symbolizes, is a harbinger of, fascism, he must be taken to task and taking Trump to task is incarcerating him for his crimes of which there are many. It puts a symbolic knife in the fascist movement Trump symbolizes and heralds. Trump needs to be locked up for the remainder of his days just like Manafort is. Maybe give him Epstein’s old cell and Epstein’s old sheets.

    Lock Him Up!!!

  11. highrpm

    bishop paul s morton solos a signature rock/gospel song titled, “open the floodgates of heaven.”
    just as the religionists are known for their sky god fixations, the leftists are known for their sky bank fixations. when asked recently how much his programs were going to cost, sanders glibly replied, “i don’t know.” wth? responsible leadership. let the kids pay for it.

  12. bruce wilder

    A vote for Obama turned out to be a vote for immunity from prosecution for banksters and torturers, murder by drone, militarization of the police, extending the joys of perpetual and pointless war to Libya and Yemen, record deportations of illegal immigrants and declining life expectancy.

    I think Bloomberg would be an attempt to return to the “normal” of Bush II and Obama
    Would Bloomberg be better than Obama? I see no reason to think so. Obama begat Trump. The “Trump” Bloomberg begets after the financial system collapses or he follows Israel into a Middle East Armageddon may well be smart and personally competent. Did you think of that?

    If the DNC takes choice away, then there’s no choice. Full-stop. It is self-deceptive to get yourself worked up into the delusion that Bloomberg would represent even a slight deviation from the trajectory the U.S. was on that got us to Trump. The DNC would not want him if Bloomberg did want to deviate from their preferred path to further perdition.

  13. bruce wilder

    @ highrpm

    maybe Sanders could return the F-35 for a refund?

  14. nihil obstet

    highrpm — And the point of engaging with the question “how will you pay for it” is? The real economy has more than enough slack to pay for virtually anything. The game of creating fantasy spreadsheets is played only by the rich to maintain power. The Fed’s “quantitative easing” has poured tens of billions of dollars each month into the financial economy to keep the stock market booming since 2009. How will they pay for it? The Pentagon can’t account for $21 trillion. That’s more than the U.S. GDP. Responsible leadership? I could go on and on.

    Money is simply an accounting method for tracking resources. How will you pay for programs that make America stronger, when the resources are there unused, is a fool’s game, one the rich make sure their lackeys play against those who would use the resources for the benefit of the people. And one they make sure their lackeys don’t play to restrict their own profiteering.

  15. Eric Anderson


    You sing the praises of a billionaire who is seeking to buy democracy.

    You’re a sick fuck.
    Find someplace else to leave your mucus trail.

  16. edmondo

    I just stopped by to see how many pro-Sanders articles you could squeeze into one post. Apparently a lot.

    Whatever will you do when Bernie endorses Bloomberg?

  17. highrpm

    #getthings done

    vote hillary 2020

  18. highrpm

    you’re living in la la land. how do you pay your fixed costs, food/ clothing/ shelter? iou’s? lefties believe. the big bank in the sky. “open the floodgates.” everything is free. all glory laud and honor to bernie and liz.

  19. Tom

    The notion children contribute to poverty is debunked nonsense. On the contrary they are the best long term investment a person makes. The real issue has been and always will be: What is proper compensation for women to have children and raise the next generation? That is where the debate needs to be and why I am for a UBI of 2k a month which gives a woman fuck you power to employers and enables her to have leverage in work negotiations. Combine with free higher education, and a complete overhaul of education to an apprenticeship learning model can work wonders.

  20. nihil obstet


    Ah, yes, the great right-wing myth — the family budget is just like the federal government budget. The rich people’s lackeys chant that one a lot, too.

  21. Hugh

    highrpm is using the incredibly wrong comparison between a country’s finances and a household’s. How many households do you know that can print their own money, tax their neighbors, write laws, and support a military and law enforcement? Me either.

    Money is not some primary matter of the universe. It is a social construct, a medium to move resources around a society, at its best to create and maintain the society its members want. A society’s resources are comprised of its land and what that land contains, its people, their knowledge and skills, and the institutions and industrial base they have created. If you get confused about money as it works at this level, and most people do, think about resources and where and how they should be directed and allocated.

  22. Eric Anderson

    “It is a social construct, a medium to move resources around a society, at its best to create and maintain the society its members want.”

    So … law.
    Or, more accurately, a subset of property law.
    Property, being a “social construct of rights and duties to create and maintain the society its members want.”

    If we can make the law do whatever we want, we can do the same with money. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to profit from your ignorance.

    I’ll always come back to this.

  23. Eric Anderson

    That this concept is So. Damn. Hard. to get people to understand reveals the sway cultural hegemony has upon feeble minds.

    Capitalism doesn’t need use force to enforce it’s rules. It just has to make you feel stupid for thinking anything different.

    That’s cultural hegemony.

  24. Stirling S Newberry

    bombastic combative valorous ruinous
    theatrical Shakespeare allegiances
    tragedy Of course.
    ludicrousness glutted fictional faux-Presidential
    step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch.


    You sing the praises of a billionaire who is seeking to buy democracy.

    Not true. As far as buying democracy, it was bought and paid for long ago to the point it really no longer exists if it ever did or if any semblance of it ever did. What we have now is oligarchs within the oligarchy buying their way to the Oval Office to rule directly rather than relying on the muddling political class. I’m simply advocating that since this is what we now have, perhaps it’s prudent to support the oligarch who can do the most good versus the most evil. What part of this do you not understand?


    There is no denying advertising something as free in the context of a hyper-consumeristic society necessarily sets the stage for hoarding and hoarding in the case of services versus products means an abuse of the service rather than an efficient and effective use of the service. Let’s take sex change operations for example. LGBT, like any movement in this special interest system that currently dominates the political landscape, seeks to gain more power and to perpetuate itself. Those within the LGBT special interest power group seek to change the culture. They seek to get to children when they’re very young during their most formative years and baffle them as to the notion of gender. This same power group, should it have its druthers and at this rate it will, then seeks to reward those who want to determine their gender and do determine it to be contrary to their biological attributes. Within this special interest power group, those who undergo sex change surgery receive special status within the hierarchy and this sends the message to those, because we are social animals after all who want to belong to tribes in the least, who want to climb the ladder within this special interest power group that in order to ascend to prominence within the group and to be accepted fully they must undergo this radical transformation as well. Within a decade, but certainly no more than two decades, a not insignificant percentage of members of this special interest power group will be availing themselves of a “free” sex change and when you couple this with all the other abuses of something advertised as free, you realize such a system of service delivery is doomed to fail and will fail.

    Next up, the diabetes epidemic and how it will swamp any healthcare system advertising itself as free if that system fails to address the root of the diabetes epidemic.

    I’m an advocate of taxpayer funded universal healthcare but with the caveat that said system MUST reform healthcare entirely from top to bottom because to attach “free” to what we have now means it’s failed before it even gets passed into legislation and implemented.

    While cost estimates vary widely, the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery estimates that “bottom surgery” costs about $25,600 for male-to-female patients and about $24,900 for female-to-male. The center provides estimates for other common trans-related surgeries, such as breast augmentation ($9,000), bilateral mastectomy (up to $10,900), facial feminization (up to $70,100), and facial masculinization (up to $53,700).

  27. bruce wilder

    What part of this do you not understand?

    The part where the oligarchy *is* the problem, *is* the evil and ur source of evil.

    Robert Reich in Sunday’s Guardian: Trump is not the cause of our divided nation. He is the symptom of a rigged system that was already dividing us. It’s not enough to defeat him. We must reform the system that got us here in the first place, to ensure that no future politician will ever again imitate Trump’s authoritarian demagoguery.

  28. Eric Anderson

    Look out! Here comes 450!


    This alone is enough to vote for Bloomberg versus Trump if that is the matchup and I believe it will be. Of course, it’s not just that alone. There’s so much more than that when comparing Bloomberg to Trump.

    Appearing Monday in Scarborough, Maine, Bloomberg spoke about his work with the Sierra Club. Through his philanthropy, Bloomberg has financially backed the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

    “We have just closed the 304th coal-fired power plant in this country,” Bloomberg told the audience. “And yes, it deserves a round of applause.”

    Bloomberg added: “You’ve just got to stop the use of coal. It’s not the only thing to do to save our planet. But it’s certainly one of the things.”

    That 304th plant is Dairyland Power Cooperative Genoa Station No. 3, which was brought online south of La Crosse in June 1969. It is due to be retired in mid-to-late 2021, according to a statement from the La Crosse-based co-op.

    Eighty employees will be affected.

    President Donald Trump’s Wisconsin campaign quickly fired back at Bloomberg.

    “Applauding the loss of jobs is appalling,” said Trump Victory spokesperson Anna Kelly. “If Mike Bloomberg was truly concerned about the environment, he would not be lighting millions of dollars on fire for a vanity project.”

  30. Tom

    Well Iowa speaks today and knives are out. The way the system is set up in Iowa, Sanders could win the most votes and still be screwed out of delegates. So his team is working hard to prevent that by making the process public.

    Out in Syria, Assad did something stupid again and killed several Turkish Soldiers. Now Turkish Forces are directly engaging his forces and Russian Forces are hanging back. Multiple Turkish Air Strikes on Regime Forces today and heavy artillery fire on Regime Forces. Assad is incapable of not being a cartoon villain for a single day and Erdogan’s patience is not infinite.

  31. Willy

    But Trump just ridiculed Bloombergs height. That’s gotta count for something.

  32. Hugh

    I’m now onboard the Bloomberg train. So for only a minor 6 figure fee, I’m offering him these surefire campaign slogans:

    Better Crumbs For The Rubes!

    Together We Can Make Me Richer!

    I Understand Your Pain. Billionaires Are A Minority Too!

    You Owe Me! No, Seriously You Probably Do!

    Oh, and to show I’m on the level, I offer this bit of advice for free (although if Bloomberg should want to pay me for it I won’t refuse a generous donation). Re his height, I’m not tall, but that has never kept me from looking down on anyone. Also tell Trump he shouldn’t be ashamed of having such a small penis, not everyone can be as well endowed as Mike.


    But Trump just ridiculed Bloombergs height. That’s gotta count for something.

    This means Trump highly respects Bloomberg. I mean, Putin is a short pipsqueak. Shorter than Bloomberg by a couple of inches in fact and Trump has such admiration for Putin he may as well be gay. Trump loves short, rich, powerful men. Maybe Bloomberg should hold off choosing his running mate until after the election when he defeats Trump and choose Trump as his VP. He can send Trump to China for 8 years digging up dirt on the Bidens.


    There’s nothing like a keyboard to pacify a revolution. All you revolutionaries. The oligarchy has thrown down the gauntlet. They are daring you and this is the most you can muster? Voting for a 78-year-old geriatric is your revolution? It’s your answer to the oligarchy? It’s unfortunate revolutionaries like this didn’t exist in 1917 in Tsarist Russia. The tragedy of the Russian Revolution would have been avoided. All those countless lives would have been spared for what was a miserably failed project. History proved it was all in vain. The Tsarists rule again in Russia after a blood letting the likes of which the world has never experienced heretofore. The keyboard came too late for them. The shame. The shame.

    When blood & soil Eric is ready to lay down his life for what he so firmly believes and is willing to sacrifice the life of his son as well, THEN I will take his conviction seriously. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than a bits and bytes silicon rebellion. Dust in the wind.

    Meanwhile, I’ll take sensible gun control legislation with teeth. I’ll take carbon neutral in ten years for $1,000, Alex, to include the shuttering of the remaining coal & gas power plants. I will take an earnest and effective shift to universal healthcare via medicare expansion. I will take a national effort to tackle the diabetes epidemic and demolishing the sugar lobby is a part of that strategy. There’s more I’ll take versus empty, unattainable promises. So much more and yes it will be called progress compared to what we’ve had the past several decades due to a calcified and recalcitrant political class that ultimately gave us Trump and the possibility and very real danger of full-throated fascism.


    Reich and Moore? Seriously? They’re both Dems. They’ve both been throwing people to the Dem wolves forever under the aegis of progressivism.


    There’s that word reform (Reich) again. The endless reform. The reform that never comes. Reform is a canard.

  37. Hugh

    In all the Brexit discussion, we have heard virtually nothing about or acknowledgement of the effect of the UK’s leaving –on the EU, a point I’ve been trying to make for some time. This is the first such article I have seen from within the EU, indeed from a German publication on the subject.

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