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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 24, 2019

**This post is by Tony Wikrent**

Economies Adding the Most to Global Growth in 2019
Barry Ritholtz [The Big Picture  3-19-19]

‘Full-Time Freelance’ Is Just the Industry Standard

[Splinter News 3-14-19]

On Monday, David Tamarkin, the site editor at Epicurious, a Condé Nast food publication, tweeted out a job posting for an editorial assistant. The position, Tamarkin wrote, was “full-time freelance,” meaning the person filling the job would work 40 hours a week and perform the duties of a full-time employee. After two days of online outrage and backlash, including users virtuously snitch-tagging the New York State Department of Labor, Tamarkin tweeted on Wednesday that the position would indeed be eligible for benefits.

Wage growth for low-wage workers has been strongest in states with minimum wage increases

[Economic Policy Institute 3-18-19]

Low-wage workers in states that increased the minimum wage between 2013 and 2018 experienced wage growth at a rate 50 percent faster than those in states with no minimum wage increases. Check out EPI’s new interactive map to see the count of workers in each congressional district that would receive wage increases if Congress passes the Raise the Wage Act of 2019.

Record U.S. trade deficit in 2018 reflects failure of Trump’s trade policies
By Robert E. Scott [Economic Policy Institute 3-18-19]
California Jury Finds Roundup Caused Man’s Cancer
[NPR 3-19-19]

A San Francisco federal jury unanimously agreed on Tuesday that Roundup caused a man’s cancer — a potentially massive blow to the company that produces the glyphosate-based herbicide currently facing hundreds of similar lawsuits…. The verdict is the second in the U.S. to find a connection between the herbicide’s key ingredient, glyphosate, and the disease. In August, another San Francisco jury determined Roundup had caused cancer in a former groundskeeper. It also decided Monsanto, the company that developed the popular weed killer, deliberately failed to warn consumers or regulators about the product’s risks.

Monsanto’s Weed Killer is “Substantial Factor” in Cancer, Says Jury

[Spinter News 3-22-19]

Monsanto is about to face 11,200 more trials over the potential carcinogen in Roundup, which has prompted legislation to limit the chemical’s use

Executives in custody as China chemical plant explosion death toll reaches 47, with 640 injured

[South China Morning Post, via Naked Capitalism 3-22-19]
Lambert Strether notes: “Oddly, or not, there seems to be no talk of arresting the executives responsible for the petrochemical fire in Houston.”

Disrupting mainstream economics

To fund a Green New Deal, “We need to set up public banks and democratize the Federal Reserve.”
[Public Banking Institute 3-21-19]

“The Green New Deal won’t get far if it’s left hostage to the whims of private finance,” Johanna Bozuwa and Thomas M. Hanna of Democracy Collaborative proclaim in the latest issue of Jacobin magazine. They continue, “Asserting public control over the financial system is … essential if we want to prevent catastrophic climate change.”
Along with a large-scale expansion of public and cooperative banking, the authors say the Fed needs to be democratized:

“A truly publicly owned, transparent, and democratically accountable central bank would change that — and could become a powerful weapon in the fight against climate change. As Fed expert William Greider puts it, we need to ‘create a new public institution that truly understands that its obligation is to society, not money markets.’ Congressional action to reform the Fed could ‘harness the Fed’s money creation and lending powers to help finance major public objectives.’”

PBI Chair Ellen Brown notes in her latest Truthdig article that former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has been proposing a similar public bank-driven proposal for a Green New Deal in Europe for several years through the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25). In Varoufakis’ proposal, “the European- Investment Bank (EIB) issues [€500bn in] bonds [each year] with the European Central Bank standing by, ready to purchase as many of them as necessary in the secondary -markets.”

Disrupting mainstream economics – Modern Monetary Theory

[Bloomberg Business Week, via Lee Nackman]

A good place to start is with a simple description that you can carry in your pocket: MMT proposes that a country with its own currency, such as the U.S., doesn’t have to worry about accumulating too much debt because it can always print more money to pay interest. So the only constraint on spending is inflation, which can break out if the public and private sectors spend too much at the same time. As long as there are enough workers and equipment to meet growing demand without igniting inflation, the government can spend what it needs to maintain employment and achieve goals such as halting climate change.

If you’ve absorbed that much, you’re already ahead of a lot of the critics. Because MMT is associated with the Left, some people assume it favors soaking the rich to pay for social programs. In fact, MMT breaks with liberal orthodoxy by saying that while taxes on the wealthy are good for lessening inequality, they aren’t essential to pay for government spending. Another misconception is that MMT says deficits never matter. On March 13 the University of Chicago Booth School of Business published a survey of prominent economists that misrepresented MMT that way, leaving out its understanding that too-big deficits can cause excessive inflation.

No patient left behind

[Journal of Public Health Research, via Naked Capitalism 3-20-19]

From the abstract: “This study tested the hypothesis that socioeconomically vulnerable Canadians with diverse acute conditions or chronic diseases have health care access and survival advantages over their counterparts in the USA. … In aggregate and controlling for specific conditions or diseases and typically 4 to 9 comorbid factors or biomarkers, Canadians’ chances of receiving better health care were estimated to be 36% greater than their American counterparts… Contrary to prevalent political rhetoric, three studies observed that Americans experience more than twice the risk of long waits for breast or colon cancer care or of dying while they wait for an organ transplant.”

Establishment Democrats Are Undermining Medicare for All

[TruthOut, via Naked Capitalism 3-18-19]

By and large, the freshman class of House Democrats has refused to support single-payer in practice. Of the 59 freshman Democrats elected to Congress this year, only 17 of them (a woeful 29 percent) co-sponsored H.R. 1834. This was not by chance. It can be traced to the Democratic National Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the corporatist New Democratic Coalition in the House (and its affiliated NewDemPAC). Long before the 2018 midterms were underway, Democratic Party power brokers and fundraisers were militant in trying to keep prospective members of Congress in line going into the 2018 election. This included pleading with new candidates not to support single-payer or, as The Intercept reported with corroborating audio, trying to bully progressives out of the races altogether, depriving voters of a chance to weigh in. Establishment Democrats’ goal was, as Politico reported, to “neutralize the threat” of single-payer.

“Democratic voters want single payer health care. But don’t expect to hear Democratic candidates talk about it,” the report said. “To avoid divisive intraparty fights that drive candidates left — only to be attacked by Republicans for favoring socialized medicine — the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee warned aspirants last year about the political liabilities of endorsing ‘single-payer.’”

Pharma & Insurance Gave $43M to the 129 House Democrats Not Backing Medicare for All

[Grit Post, via Naked Capitalism 3-22-19]

Lambert Strether: “With handy list of those Democrats, which includes the entire House leadership. It’s all about the Benjamins.”

Democrats on the take: New DCCC Chair is a best friend of health insurers

[Tarbell, via Naked Capitalism 3-20-19]

“Here’s a headline you can bet my former colleagues in the health insurance business were thrilled to see last week: “DCCC chief: Medicare for All price tag ‘a little scary.’… [Of those] House Democrats who received campaign contributions from the political action committees of all five of the biggest for-profit health insurers—Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth Group. [DCCC head Cheri Bustos was those] PACs’ favorite Democrat in Congress.”

[WIRED, via Naked Capitalism 3-20-19]

“Similar dramas are playing out around the country. From Nashville to New Orleans to Honolulu, Airbnb is battling local officials over requests to collect occupancy taxes and ensure that the properties listed on its site comply with zoning and safety rules. In the past five months alone, the company has spent nearly $1 million to overturn regulations in San Diego and has sued Boston, Miami, and Palm Beach County over local ordinances that require Airbnb to collect taxes or remove illegal listings. Elsewhere, Airbnb has fought city officials over regulations aimed at preventing homes from being transformed into de facto hotels and requests from tax authorities for more specific data about hosts and visits. Airbnb is engaged in ‘a city-by-city, block-by-block guerrilla war’ against local governments, says Ulrik Binzer, CEO of Host Compliance, which helps cities draft and enforce rules for short-term rentals, sometimes putting it at odds with hosting platforms. ‘They need to essentially fight every one of these battles like it is the most important battle they have.’”

Going Cashless Looks More and More Like a Capitalist Scam

[Vice, via Naked Capitalism 3-22-19]

A Federal Reserve report last fall estimated, credit and debit cards were used in 48 percent of consumer transactions in 2017. But in the past several months, local and state governments have moved to resist this trend, citing concerns that a cashless economy could discriminate against the roughly 6.5 percent of US households—disproportionately young, low-income people of color—without bank accounts, and hike up the cost of goods to account for credit card fees.

In early March, Philadelphia became the first major US city to ban cashless businesses. A couple of weeks later, the state of New Jersey followed suit, becoming the second state to ban virtually all cashless businesses after Massachusetts, which has had a policy in place since the 1970s. Now cities like New York, Washington, DC, and San Francisco are considering similar moves. The regulations reflect a national push to fight back against corporations and tech firms critics say are only serving to widen already-yawning economic disparities.

Diana Elliott, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute, a think tank in Washington, DC, said businesses might have various incentives to go cashless and had little doubt those that did would burden millions of Americans operating on the margins of the system. She pointed out that the proportion of people who have no credit score or means of obtaining a credit card is no small number—26 million consumers were “credit invisible” in 2010, according to a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Economics in the real world

Capt. Sullenberger on the FAA and Boeing: ‘Our credibility as leaders in aviation is being damaged’ [Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, MarketWatch, via Naked Capitalism 3-20-19]

“For too many years, the FAA has not been provided budgets sufficient to ensure appropriate oversight of a rapidly growing global aviation industry. Staffing has not been adequate for FAA employees to oversee much of the critically important work of validating and approving aircraft certification. Instead, much of the work has been outsourced by designating aircraft manufacturer employees to do the work on behalf of the FAA. This, of course, has created inherent conflicts of interest [gasp], when employees working for the company whose products must be certified to meet safety standards are the ones doing much of the work of certifying them. There simply are not nearly enough FAA employees to do this important work in-house.”

U.S. heavy equipment makers feeling pain from tariffs, disputes: report

[Reuters, via Naked Capitalism 3-19-19]

“U.S. makers of bulldozers and other heavy equipment are raising prices, losing sales and in some cases beginning to trim workers in response to the Trump administration’s protracted trade disputes with various countries, according to a new report [from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers]…. Scott Hazelton, a co-author of the report, said tariffs will increase the cost of producing off-road equipment in the U.S. between 6 percent to 7 percent over the period…. The study notes heavy equipment makers are particularly exposed to higher steel prices. Accounting for all steel used – both directly by these manufacturers and the parts they buy from others – the material represents 18.5 percent of the cost of a farm machine and 25.8 percent for mining machines.”

“Reshoring’ by U.S. companies is on the rise”: How Investors Should Navigate Globalization’s Decline

[Barron’s, via Naked Capitalism 3-19-19]

“‘[R]eshoring’ by U.S. companies is on the rise. More jobs were gained through reshoring than lost to offshoring in 2016, for the first time since 1970, says the nonprofit Reshoring Initiative. In 2017, employers announced decisions to bring a record 82,250 jobs back, up from just 3,221 in 2010. Preliminary numbers for 2018 show that reshoring announcements slowed last year, to 53,420—possibly a result of ‘uncertainty from the trade wars, dysfunction in Washington, and the dollar being up a little bit,’ says the nonprofit’s founder, Harry Moser. But he calls the trend powerful and persistent. ‘It’s not just a trickle here or there.’ … A manufacturing boom benefits local economies, which opens other investment opportunities. ‘Therefore,’ [Robert Horrocks, chief investment officer for Matthews Asia] asserts, ‘the best way of investing is to invest in local businesses with a strong competitive moat that can feed off the increased purchasing power from the new industrial workforce.’”

Climate and environmental crises

[The Guardian 3-21-19, via Kim Piracci]

 An in land lake, 80 miles long. Created from a single storm. where people lived. Up to 19 feet deep. This is only possible because of a warming atmosphere. A cooler atmosphere wouldn’t be able to hold that much water. People talk about climate change as if the coasts will flood. It will be hotter. I think humans lack the imagination to see what is coming. No one predicted this, let alone this soon.

New satellite images of the Mozambican port city of Beira have revealed the vast scale of flooding, as rescuers race to reach tens of thousands of people trapped by flood waters from Cyclone Idai. European Space Agency images show a huge new inland “lake” measuring about 80 miles by 15 miles (125km by 25km).

“Iowa’s Real Population” 
[Chris Jones, University of Iowa, via Naked Capitalism 3-19-19]

Iowa hogs, dairy cattle, beef cattle, laying chickens, and turkeys “generate the waste equivalent to that produced by about 134 million people, which would place Iowa as the 10th most populous country in the world, right below Russia and right above Mexico… Managing the waste from these animals is possibly our state’s most challenging environmental problem.”

“Banking on Climate Change 2019” (PDF) 

[Rainforest Action Network, via Naked Capitalism 3-22-19]

“JPMorgan Chase is the world’s top funder of fossil fuels by a wide margin. It led by 68% in expansion in the last three years, and by 29% in finance for all fossil fuels globally.”

Creating new economic potential – science and technology

Biomedical Optics and Medical Imaging: Photonics ecosystem takes Nobel-winning technologies to market
Karen Thomas, March 18, 2019 [International Society for optics and Photonics]

…SPIE’s CEO Kent Rochford noted that, since the invention of the laser, there were now a dozen physics Nobel prizes that either advanced, or were enabled by, optics and photonics. But that’s not where the story ends: those light-based technologies are continually being developed and improved to enable and enhance life. Photonics West features components, devices, and systems based on Nobel-winning technologies for applications across biomedical diagnostics and therapies, nanophotonics, optical communications, and laser manufacturing….

Published in 1986, Ashkin’s seminal paper, “Observation of a single-beam gradient force optical trap for dielectric particles,” outlined a technique for trapping micrometer-sized dielectric particles using a focused laser beam – an approach now widely known as “optical tweezers.”

“Ashkin’s work revolutionized single-molecule biophysics and new studies of Brownian dynamics, statistical mechanics, cell-cell interactions, and the use of optical tweezers with other forms of microscopy such as confocal and Ra¬man,” says Dholakia. “In single-molecule biophysics, optical tweezers act as a calibrated force transducer and a miscible version of a Hookean spring. They can be used to look at the actin-myosin system, for unravelling DNA, and observing kine¬in ‘walking’ on microtubules.
“For example, transcription is the initial step for the expression of genetic information, and is performed by mac¬romolecular enzymes called RNA polymerases. [Optical] tweezers have helped study this fundamental tenet of biology in ways never before imagined.”

Meadowlark Optics’ “CUBE” is a compact holographic optical tweezing microscope, initially developed at the University of Glasgow, UK. Credit: Meadowlark Optics.

Spotsylvania: The East Coast Battleground For Big Solar

[WAMU, via The Big Picture 3-21-19]
Residents of a gated community with a manmade lake are resisting the construction of a  500-megawatt solar facility, which would be USA’s fifth largest. The array will be situated on a nearby hill which has already been clear-cut to begin construction.  One resident

says he supports solar, in theory, but not here. “It’s not in keeping with the type of setting that people bought houses here — they wanted to be out in the woods essentially.”

Put ’em on people’s roofs. Trees don’t grow there. And aren’t distributed systems better than concentrated ones? There is simply going to have to be some use of eminent domain laws of we’re going to solve climate change. 

Mass. university works to advance US offshore wind

[news@Northeastern, via American Wind Energy Association 3-21-19]

Northeastern University is working on various projects with academics in France and the Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Research to identify barriers to offshore wind development in the US and possible solutions, like equipment that can stabilize turbines during extreme weather, says professor Jerome Hajjar. “We can do the research that’s needed to help the industry build safe and effective wind farms and in turn create a whole new workforce,” he says.

US added record renewables in 2018, says EIA

[Houston Chronicle (tiered subscription model) (3/19), North American Windpower online (3/19) , via American Wind Energy Association 3-20-19]

More new generating capacity in the US came from renewables than ever before, according to the Energy Information Administration. The report says US renewables including wind and solar increased nearly 90% from 2008 to 2018.

Energy Manager Today, via American Wind Energy Association 3-20-19]

Countries around the world added 50.2 gigawatts of new installed wind capacity in 2018, marking a 4% increase from the previous year, according to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. The US will likely add 48% of its 10-year forecast for new capacity from 2019 to 2021 as the wind energy Production Tax Credit phases out.

Report: People would rather live by wind than other energy sources

[North American Windpower online, via American Wind Energy Association 3-20-19]

People that live near energy sources strongly agreed that they’d rather live near wind turbines than coal, natural gas and other types of electrical generation, a University of Delaware study reports. “Even respondents in coal-mining states would prefer their local wind power project by more than 10 to one over a similarly sited coal-fired power plant,” says co-author Jeremy Firestone.

Wind is transforming Texas, its rural communities
[San Antonio Express-News (tiered subscription model), via American Wind Energy Association 3-22-19]

Texas is a wind energy powerhouse, writes Krier Consulting Principal Joe Krier, praising the industry for its ability to attract investments, create jobs and infuse revenue into schools, rural communities and small towns. “Today, our wind energy industry is a model for other states, an example of how to make the most of a resource in a way that respects the land and creates broad economic benefit,” he writes.

Nordex begins rolling out Delta4000 turbine series

[North American Windpower online, via American Wind Energy Association 3-20-19]

Nordex has begun producing the first N149 4-megawatts to 4.5-MW turbines under its Delta4000 series, with orders already surpassing 700 MW. “Over the past few months, the whole team has been working hard to prepare for the series start for this new turbine platform,” says CEO Jose Luis Blanco.

[Goldman Sachs Briefings 3-18-19]

Solar power costs are falling and in some parts of the world are now undercutting the cost of electricity generated from burning fossil fuels, our latest episode of The Long & Short of It explains. “Solar costs are falling everywhere, and the decline is particularly staggering in Spain,” says Alberto Gandolfi, head of European utilities in Goldman Sachs Research. “The solar surge is being fuelled by lower costs coupled with higher wholesale power prices, the increasing participation of large utilities in this space and the willingness of corporates to sign long-term power purchase contracts.” According to Gandolfi, the main drivers of lower prices include the oversupply of solar panels from China and the increased efficiency of newer photovoltaic modules, which means they can convert more of the sun’s energy into electricity. The growth in solar power and renewables more broadly is playing out across the globe, with Europe leading the way. Goldman Sachs Research estimates that the share of renewables in the region’s power system will exceed 70% by 2030.

Forget Tesla, It’s China’s E-Buses That Are Denting Oil Demand

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 3-20-19]

“By the end of this year, a cumulative 270,000 barrels a day of diesel demand will have been displaced by electric buses, most of it in China, according to a report published Tuesday by BloombergNEF. That’s more than three times the displacement by all the world’s passenger electric vehicles (a market where Tesla has a share of about 12 percent.).”

Programmable Structures Could Unlock Potential Of Morphing Wings
Graham Warwick [Aviation Week & Space Technology 3-18-19]

Now NASA has shown it is possible to digitize the structure of an aircraft and produce a complete airframe from tiny three-dimensional building blocks.

Researchers assembled and tested a 14-ft.-span wind-tunnel model of a flying-wing aircraft that was built mostly from ultra-lightweight, injection-molded 2-in. octahedrons. These unit cells, or “voxels,” were used to create the 3D structure in much the same way pixels make up 2D pictures.

NASA’s rapid feasibility project demonstrates ultralight cellular structures that can be programmed during assembly to enable a wing to adapt its shape in flight. Inside this wing, instead of the conventional discrete spars and ribs, were thousands of these cage-like cells, painstakingly bolted together to create a cellular lattice structure that not only could carry the airloads encountered in flight but also deform in specifically designed ways in response to those loads, with changes in the wing’s camber and twist.

The tests, under NASA’s Mission Adaptive Digital Composite Aerostructure Technologies (Madcat) project, showed the lattice structure can achieve stiffness-to-weight ratios similar to a conventional wing, but at a fraction of the weight. Stiffness-to-weight ratio typically determines wing performance. They also showed the structure can be “programmably assembled” by selectively inserting voxels of a different material, to enable seamless morphing of the wing’s shape to improve aerodynamic performance.

Breaking Seawater into Hydrogen Fuel and Oxygen

[Machine Design Today 3-21-19]

Splitting seawater into hydrogen and oxygen presents an alternative to fossil fuels, but purified water is a precious resource. So, a research team has developed a way to harness seawater for chemical energy.

NASA Aims to Alter an Asteroid’s Course
[Machine Design Today 3-20-19]

Can NASA’s Dart spacecraft, a potential defensive weapon against incoming asteroids, hit one and change its course or speed? We should find out in 2022.

Just throwing money away

Paul Ryan joins board of newly formed Fox Corporation

[Washington Examiner, via Naked Capitalism 3-20-19]

The Pentagon’s Bottomless Money Pit
Matt Taibbi [Rolling Stone, via Naked Capitalism 3-18-19]

AT THE TAIL end of last year, the Department of Defense finally completed an audit. At a cost of $400 million, some 1,200 auditors charged into the jungle of military finance, but returned in defeat. They were unable to pass the Pentagon or flunk it. They could only offer no opinion, explaining the military’s empire of hundreds of acronymic accounting silos was too illogical to penetrate….

The Pentagon bureaucracy is designed to spend money quickly and deploy troops and material to the field quickly, but it has no reliable method of recording transactions. It designs stealth drones and silent-running submarines, but still hasn’t progressed to bar codes when it comes to tracking inventory. Some of its accounting programs are using the ancient computing language COBOL, which was cutting-edge in 1959.

Disrupting mainstream politics

Unlike Some People, Bernie Hasn’t ‘Evolved’

[Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism 3-20-19]

“In 1993, twenty years after his involvement with the Liberty Union Party, Bernie brought his first single-payer bill to Congress. ‘Our system is not in need of band-aids or patchwork or such concepts as managed competition. We are in need of a new system,” he said as he introduced it. Some called him crazy, but he was on a mission. ‘The American people believe that healthcare must be a right of all citizens and not just the privilege of the wealthy.’ His message stayed consistent for the next two decades.”

Why We Cannot Nominate a Young Person in 2020

[Benjamin Studebaker, via Naked Capitalism 3-21-19]

Whenever I tell people that we need to run Bernie Sanders again, they tell me he’s too old. Don’t we have young people who can take what Bernie started and run with it? Unfortunately, the “Magical Young Berniecrat” is not yet a viable presidential candidate. Why? Because the young Bernies are still too young. There is an age gap between the Bernie base and Bernie Sanders himself, and there is no one in American politics who is ready and able to fill that gap in 2020.

The vast majority of would-be young Bernies will still be under 35 in 2020 and won’t be legally allowed to run for president. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn’t even 30 yet… Ocasio-Cortez is young by American political standards but she’s older than the vast majority of young people I know who might one day be interested in running for stuff.
The people in their 40s who support Bernie never received the kind of grassroots support Bernie received when they were younger, and consequently they never had the opportunity to build a resume for the presidency. As a result, the overwhelming majority of Democratic politicians in their 40s and 50s are centrists who came of age politically in the 90s and 00s. These are people who got into Democratic Party politics because they grew up admiring the Clintons. They were advanced in the party because the Clinton generation promoted them. They have spent their political lives working with Gore and Kerry and Obama and that’s the discourse they swim in.

From the point of view of the left, the 40-60 group is a lost generation. It’s an entire generation of American politicians who were taught all the wrong things. They were taught that to win in American politics, you go to the center. They were taught that to win as a Democrat, you distance yourself from “liberal” and “progressive” and “socialist”. You demonstrate “fiscal responsibility” by offering to “reform” entitlements or welfare. You take meetings with bankers and CEOs, because they have the money you need for your next campaign. If you lose, you take a cushy job working for a lobbying firm or a thinktank until you’re ready to try again. You don’t want to upset those guys while you’re in office, because they are your safety landing. And if you get back into office again, you want to repay them for taking care of you during your wilderness years. You talk a big game on climate change, but you quietly support fracking. You are careful about getting into bed with radical policies. Single payer, tuition-free college, big infrastructure bills–only nutty Europeans do stuff like that.

[Time, via Naked Capitalism 3-22-19]
[The Intercept, via Naked Capitalism 3-22-19]

“The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee warned political strategists and vendors Thursday night that if they support candidates mounting primary challenges against incumbent House Democrats, the party will cut them off from business…. The main beneficiaries are the consultants in the good graces of party leadership. “It’s a commercial enterprise,” said [Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass].”

Lambert Strether comments:

“I guess one @AOC is more than enough for the liberal Democrat leadership, eh? Which means they think there might be more, unless they take action to make the Democrat Party, well, even less small-d democratic than it already is. Let’s take a moment to review what Nomiki Konst said at the laughingly named “Unity and Reform Commission” last year: “We’re talking about close to $700 to $800 million dollars between the joint fundraising and the DNC being spend on five consultants.” So, after reviewing the 2016 election results, the DCCC has decided to double down. They have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing, as Talleyrand said. In a way, this is wonderfully clarifying. What it means is that every DCCC-backed candidate has signed a contract to spend four hours a day on servicing donors, and every challenger, by definition, has not. So it now becomes very clear to whom the Democrat Party is responsible. And to whom it is not.”

[National Journal, via Naked Capitalism 3-22-19]

“It is intended to help stymie attempts by insurgent progressive groups who plan to primary incumbents deemed insufficiently liberal on key issues, but also to shield members of the party’s ascendant liberal wing who represent safe Democratic territory and could face intraparty challenges of their own.”

The Dark Side

‘Replacement Theory,’ a Racist, Sexist Doctrine, Spreads in Far-Right Circles
[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 3-21-19]

“Before the massacre of 50 people in New Zealand mosques last week, the suspect released a document called ‘The Great Replacement.’ The first sentence was: ‘It’s the birthrates.’ He repeated it three times. If the phrase about replacement sounded familiar, perhaps that was because it echoed what white supremacists bearing tiki torches shouted in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017: ‘You will not replace us.’ It is also the slogan of the neo-Nazi group Identity Evropa. Behind the idea is a racist conspiracy theory known as ‘the replacement theory,’ which was popularized by a right-wing French philosopher. An extension of colonialist theory, it is predicated on the notion that white women are not having enough children and that falling birthrates will lead to white people around the world being replaced by nonwhite people.”

The American Civil War never ended
Socialjusticeamerican, March 17, 2019 [DailyKos]

And while the South CLAIMED to have surrendered, the surrender was a lie. They never had any intention of laying down their arms.
Need proof?

In Memphis, Tennessee in 1866, just one year after Robert E. Lee surrendered, a group of black soldiers were disarmed by local white residents. When tempers flared over their treatment, the black soldiers were attacked, and the Tennessee Attorney General led a posse to burn black neighborhoods. In total, nearly fifty black soldiers and civilians were killed.

In Colfax, Louisiana in 1873, a group of black militiamen were surrounded inside a courthouse by hundreds of ex-Confederates. Outnumbered, the black militiamen surrendered, however the ex-Confederates had no honor, and despite the surrender, the ex-Confederates proceeded to slaughter everyone inside the courthouse, and nearly two-hundred blacks were massacred.

A plaque now stands in Colfax, Louisiana honoring the ex-Confederates who slaughtered the unarmed black militiamen….

In Wilmington, North Carolina in 1898, white supremacists seized armed control of that North Carolina town and killed at least 60 African-American residents, drove hundreds more out of town, burned down the local African-American newspaper and installed a former Confederate officer as the new mayor.

Hate Crimes Have Apparently Spiked in Counties That Held Trump 2016 Rallies

[Splinter News 3-23-19]

Donald Trump has run a nonstop campaign of white fear ever since the beginning of his first presidential campaign. Now, new research indicates that, for some strange reason, hate crimes are off the charts in the places where Trump campaigned for president in 2016.

Three researchers at the University of North Texas have a new piece out in the Washington Post explaining the results of a study on this. Using an Anti-Defamation League map of hate crimes, the researchers found that in the American counties which hosted one of Trump’s 275 campaign rallies in 2016, there was a “226 percent increase in reported hate crimes over comparable counties that did not host such a rally.”

Demonizing Muslims Unites the Right
Peter Montgomery, March 19, 2019 [Right Wing Watch, via People for the American Way]


Is There Hope For Mitigating Climate Change?


The Mueller Report: Who Cares?


  1. Eric Anderson

    To fund a Green New Deal, “We need to set up public banks and democratize the Federal Reserve.”

    I said pretty much this in a tweet just recently. The question was transition to a socialist economy. The answer, already in the constitution. Take the property for “fair” market value — fair being the price, less negative externalities.

    You set up State banks like N. Dakota has to accomplish this. These banks, State by State, raise massive bonds to pay back the taking.

    Easy peasie.

  2. nihil obstet

    Several interesting items here.

    Breaking Seawater into Hydrogen Fuel and Oxygen: hydrogen would make a great fuel. The problems have been the energy cost of making it (it’s a storage mechanism, not a source of energy — of course, the energy cost isn’t as great as getting an asteroid to kill off a few million dinosaurs), the fact that it makes materials it’s stored in brittle, and the bad rep it got from the Hindenburg. However, it can be made anywhere there’s abundant energy, like say, floating platforms in the South Seas using solar heat to run turbines to create the electricity to make the hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be shipped wherever it’s needed, without the kind of loss you get from running electricity along cables from hydroelectric plants to cities. And you don’t have to keep damming rivers. And when you use it, you get pure water, which we should be able to dispose of without too much environmental damage. Anyway, that’s my magic thinking take on a green new deal.

    The Pentagon’s Bottomless Money Pit: 20 years ago William Greider wrote Fortress America about the over-purchase of war equipment. The Pentagon is like a hoarder — purchases stuffing every space, base, and storage facility to the rafters. It doesn’t know what it has and which items still work and where repair parts might be. This is part of the incompetence of the U.S. war machine, whose only answer to any problem is “Buy more stuff”.

    My reaction to the DCCC’s cutting off campaign consultants from challengers is to think, “Hey, they’re doing the challengers a favor. Those consultants have a track record of being expensive failures.”

  3. Eric Anderson

    Not to mention the fed “should” be organized as a body of 50 state banks.

  4. Stirling S Newberry

    MMT still has it reversed, but they at least admit the possibility that thing could go wrong. Sort of.

  5. Hugh

    My understanding of MMT is that its money creation is not to pay interest on public debt but to avoid such debt entirely. Without aggressive taxing of the rich and corporations, very much a non-priority in MMT, all MMT ends up doing is providing much more money that can be siphoned up by the rich and corporations.

  6. jeff wegerson

    Stirling we are slowly coming to a consensus around here (imho) about MMT. Your next article needs to address your differences with MMT and be prepared to defend them in the comments. It is provocative to drop a one liner with an undefined “it” as it’s fourth word.

    Is your “it” that the MMTers say spend first then manage for inflation that is reversed? Or something else? There are enough of us around here who are still insufficiently sophisticated that politeness requires you to be less terse sometimes.

    For my money it is time for a collectively sourced document by all the heavy economic thinkers here abouts that lays out in Ianese the ins and outs of a neoMMT. I have been waiting for Ian’s book thinking a neoMMT would be covered in it.

  7. @nihil obstet
    If you think hydrogen would make a great fuel, tell that to survivors of the Hindenberg.

    Regarding Roundup, I don’t know whether it causes cancer or not. There are massive studies both ways, but most of the ones saying it does are correlation and most of the ones saying it does not are causation studies. In any case, no jury should ever be asked to make decisions of such abstruse and overwhelming complexity. I have been on several juries, and the collective intelligence of a jury is barely in two digits.

  8. Bv1

    “House Democratic Leadership Warns It Will Cut Off Any Firms Who Challenge Incumbents”

    So just how, exactly, is the second half of \”MOAR AND BETTER DEMOCRATSS!1!!\” supposed to work now?

  9. Hugh

    jeff wegerson, I left a quickie critique of MMT at the end of the Ilhan thread”\:

  10. Anthony K Wikrent

    Actually, Hugh, I would very much like to see you expand that comment and submit it to Ian for publishing here. I know you wrote in the previous comment and that thread that you had written much on MMT back in 2012-2013 but have lost interest. But now there is a debate on MMT raging in the public discourse, and I for one think you have some important points to make.

    As for myself, there are a few things about MMT I don’t understand, or am uncomfortable with, including the points Hugh mentions. However, I welcome the disruption MMT is causing, because for the past century, the financial and banking power that be have not allowed the “money question” to be debated, using their nearly domination of the academy and the media to enforce general stupidity on the “money question.”

    This is among the best recent heterodox treatments of the “money question,” and it is from 30 years ago!
    Democratic Money: A Populist Perspective
    with Lawrence Goodwyn and William Greider
    Remarks presented on the occasion of the 100th anniversary
    of the Populist Sub-Treasury Plan for financial reform
    9 December 1989, St. Louis, Missouri

    The way I see it, MMT is useful as an instrument now gaining support, which can force a breach in TPTB’s defense of their ideology of money, creation of money, and use of credit.

  11. Eric Anderson

    I understand mine is not a popular opinion in regard to money, but I’ll continue to reiterate, money is LAW. And like everything legal, money is what we say it is, and will do what we collectively tell it to.

    Right now, we simply say it’s created by the Fed and it does what billionaires tell it to because they write the laws.

    Easy peasy.

  12. Albert deKo

    MMT, if it has only validity at all, only really applies to a country issuing a reserve currency, i.e., the US and to its vassals. Any other country, especially one with a Leftist/socialist government that tries to run a budget/trade deficit is attacked by currency traders selling the currency short. Only left-wing countries running a Costa Rica-style policy will get away with having left-wing policies domestically (e.g., medicare including dental + pharmacare, no army). Costa Rica unlike Venezuela, Chile under Allende and Bolivia will always accede to US foreign policy, even being more conservative (recognizing Communist China only in 2007), and will allow US companies like United Fruit a free hand. Canada under Justin Trudeau as one of the vassals runs a Costa Rica style foreign policy and as a reward can have a budgetary deficit without traders attacking the Canadian dollar. (That is why Mulcair under the NDP could not advocate deficit spending.)

  13. Albert de Ko

    I need to clarify my initial garbled sentence. My position is that if there is any validity to MMT – which I believe there is none, it clearly can only apply to a country with the status of a reserve currency, i.e., the US. This imples that all other countries need US dollars to trade internationally. This is true, especially when they want to trade with US-based companies, who will only take their own currency, as, by law, only contracts in US dollars are enforceable in US courts. They are only two ways other countries can obtain US dollars: either earn a trade surplus with the US or successfully place government or corporate bond issues in US dollars. In the latter case, persistent government budgetary deficits will impede or, as it happened in the ’80s to New Zealand, deny access to the international bond market. In any case, a decline in value of a foreign country’s local currency makes the repayment of a US dollar bond issue from that country more onerous. The US dollar reserve status became important in the ’70s internationally when Saudi Arabia and other Middle East oil producers agreed to pricing oil in US dollars and, more importantly, to hold the proceeds from the sale of oil in US dollars, converting any other currency received into US dollars. So, with these Middle Eastern countries holding US dollars and over time, seeing their investment opportunities diminished by legal restrictions and other means, they were forced into buying US government bonds and treasury bills.

    Another point: since a key factor in the US hegemony is the US dollar’s status as a reserve currency, it is clear that China and Russia will seek to weaken that status. Neither Russia nor China want to attack the US militarily but they do want to attack the US by working to deprive the US dollar of its status as the reserve currency. At that point, it is clear that large US federal and state deficits would be disasterous.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén