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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 27, 2022

by Tony Wikrent

Strategic Political Economy

In a World on Fire, Stop Burning Things

Bill McKibben [New Yorker, via The Big Picture 3-26-2022]

The truth is new and counterintuitive: we have the technology necessary to rapidly ditch fossil fuels….

…the era of large-scale combustion has to come to a rapid close. If we understand that as the goal, we might be able to keep score, and be able to finally get somewhere. Last Tuesday, President Biden banned the importation of Russian oil. This year, we may need to compensate for that with American hydrocarbons, but, as a senior Administration official put it,“the only way to eliminate Putin’s and every other producing country’s ability to use oil as an economic weapon is to reduce our dependency on oil.” As we are one of the largest oil-and-gas producers in the world, that is a remarkable statement. It’s a call for an end of fire.

“Beauty and wonder of science boosts researchers’ well-being”

[Nature, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 3-21-2022]

“Scientists’ ability to experience wonder, awe and beauty in their work is associated with higher levels of job satisfaction and better mental health, finds an international survey of researchers. Brandon Vaidyanathan, a sociologist at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC, and his colleagues collected responses from more than 3,000 scientists — mainly biologists and physicists — in India, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. They asked participants about their job satisfaction and workplace culture, their experience of the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of aesthetics in science. The answers revealed that, far from the caricature of scientists as exclusively rational and logical beings, “this beauty stuff is really important”, Vaidyanathan says. “It shapes the practice of science and is associated with all kinds of well-being outcomes.’”

Fed headed for crack up?

Mike Norman [Mike Norman Economics 3-26-2022]

Mike doing some projections this week on by how much or perhaps how fast the Fed can increase its policy rates while avoiding insolvency, ie a situation where their current interest income would be exceeded by their current interest payable…

You can see here current UST yields are less than the Fed’s overnight rates (inverted) out to 8 weeks … no bueno…

To be safe they may want to somehow pivot from the current perhaps implied policy of an acceleration in the increase in their policy rates to a policy of acceleration in their rate of asset/liability reduction… keep an eye out for this pivot…

Thomas Lifson [, via Mike Norman Economics 3-22-2022]
(the not-so-hidden agenda. reassertion of unquestioned American primacy in the world. Not that this is anything new.)

Starving a People, Committing a Genocide: Biden’s Sanctions on Afghanistan

[Counterpunch, via Naked Capitalism 3-20-2022]

Developing Countries Strained by Rich-World Monetary Tightening

[The American Prospect, March 25, 2022]

A new report shows how rising commodity prices, on top of macroeconomic tightening by the Fed, could spark riots in low- and middle-income countries.

The epidemic

Italian study shows ventilation can cut school COVID cases by 82%

[Reuters, via Naked Capitalism 3-23-2022]

“Life expectancy in the US dropped by an astounding 1.8 years during the first year of the pandemic”

[WSWS, via Naked Capitalism 3-23-2022]

“Despite the grim news on the decline in life expectancy, stocks traded higher on the President’s announcement that there would be little done in the way of impeding the surge of infections. Having recouped all their losses from Monday when Omicron’s dominance was announced, yesterday the Dow closed 261 points up at 35,753. As comparisons between China and the US show, the drop in life expectancy is a purely political phenomenon attributable to the policies the ruling elites have employed that continue to place profits over lives, as evidenced by the financial aristocracy’s trillions amassed.”

Single-payer health care should be funded by the federal government 

Bill Mitchell [billy blog, via Mike Norman Economics 3-23-2022]

Today, I discuss the dispute about M4A in the US and clear up some misconceptions. Many think that Medicare for All is defunct in the US because the ruling party – the Democrats have essentially rejected the lobbying attempts. Some people who have associated themselves with Modern Monetary Theory have, it seems, been advocating a state-based campaign to get single-payer schemes installed at that level. Is this a violation of MMT principles? Some think so. I do not. It might reflect ignorance of the nature of the sector but it doesn’t amount to a rejection of MMT. Anyway, I am a federalist and I explain why. I also bring attention to some anti-colonial struggles in the Caribbean….

The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

Percent Who Feel Employer Cares About Their Wellbeing Plummets 

[Gallup, via Naked Capitalism 3-26-2022]

Food Prices Keep Going Up. The Impact May Be Felt Far Beyond the Supermarket.

[Barron’s, via The Big Picture 3-26-2022]

The 7.9% surge in total consumer prices last month from a year earlier marked a new 40-year high at a time when inflation-adjusted household incomes are falling at the fastest pace since the government began the data series in 1959. But the reality is much worse, and it is probably going to worsen still as the economic effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine play out.

The painful, cutting and brilliant letters Black people wrote to their former enslavers

[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 3-20-2022]

Some are exquisite condemnations from learned and accomplished men who escaped their enslavement. Some are brief queries, shots in the dark, dictated by illiterate women. One is brilliant sarcasm, humorously calculating and requesting back wages. All of these letters from Black Americans to the people who once controlled their lives show a desire for freedom and a desperate longing to be reunited with their families.

Ukraine / Russia 
[NPR, via The Big Picture 3-23-2022]
It’s a symbiotic relationship in which the oligarchs’ economic power buttresses the political power of the Russian president, and the president’s power buttresses the economic power of the oligarchs — like a medieval king getting tribute from his aristocracy in exchange for his protection. It’s an arrangement that the West is now fighting to disrupt.
[OilPrice, via Naked Capitalism 3-22-2022]

Why this economic war on Russia breaks all rules of the game 

[Responsible Statecraft, via Naked Capitalism 3-24-2022]

Lambert Strether advises, “A must-read.”

The situation is made all the more incredible by two facts. First, the contemporary default occurred at the center of the financial order, not at its periphery. That makes it staggering and unlike any other. Second, it was cooked up in a couple of hours by U.S. government staffers. Previous discussions of sanctions had always treated Russia’s removal from SWIFT as the Absolute Weapon. The Great Freeze on Russian assets never made it into the press.

Our leaders in thought and action, the ones at the top of the political and financial and corporate media hierarchy, violated the first rule, the indispensable rule, the rule on which our grand financial edifice was built. Full faith and credit wasn’t just a phrase; it was a way of life. The idea of it, a new model of civilization, generated rules that most princes and peoples came to respect. No more.

The commentariat is oblivious to what would have been the first thought of people from these distant ages. The commentariat is like, hey, it’s the 21st century and we control the pixels and we’ll deal with the consequences later.

Putin and Xi Exposed the Great Illusion of Capitalism 

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 3-24-2022]

Unless the U.S. and its allies mobilize to save it, the second great age of globalization is coming to a catastrophic close….

So, absent any decisive action by the West, geopolitics is definitively moving against globalization — toward a world dominated by two or three great trading blocs: an Asian one with China at its heart and perhaps Russia as its energy supplier; an American-led bloc; and perhaps a third centered on the European Union, with the Europeans broadly sympathetic to the U.S. but nervous about the possible return of an America-First isolationist to the White House and irked by America’s approach to digital and media regulation. Other powers will vacillate between these two (or three) great blocs, much as they did during the Cold War. India may do what it has done so well over Ukraine and play both sides. Pakistan will lean toward China but not fully commit while India is in play. Saudi Arabia will exploit uncertainty over energy supplies to pursue brutality at home and Islamist policies abroad. And so on.

The End of Dollar Hegemony?

Philip Pilkington [, via Mike Norman Economics 3-22-2022]

Did Western policymakers understand all this when they seized Russia’s foreign reserves? I have heard that question asked many times these past few weeks. Some think that they did, and they understood the action as accelerating the shift to a multipolar world. Others think that they did not, that the Russian invasion of Ukraine took them by surprise, and they were forced to look like they were doing something—especially with a frenetic social media amplifying the war drums. I think that the latter is a better interpretation, as there also seems to be evidence that they did not consider how the sanctions might benefit the Russian economy by driving up oil prices—something that should have been obvious to any competent macroeconomist.

Demanding roubles for gas is a victory for Putin 

Philip Pilkington [Unherd, via Mike Norman Economics 3-26-2022]

The Russian’s decision is accelerating the shift away from US-led dominance….

In the medium term this will greatly bolster the rouble’s purchasing power relative to the euro, increasing European energy bills and boosting Russian exports to the region. The second effect will come when the Russians then turn around and dump these euros back into the market — to buy up renminbi, gold, commodities and so on. The Russians will do this because our sanctions have convinced them that euros are not worth holding. This will put further downward pressure on the value of the euro and cause it to decline against all these other assets.

The Saker interviews Michael Hudson

[The Vineyard of the Saker, via Mike Norman Economics 3-26-2022]

Michael Hudson: I’m not sure what a “refuge” currency is, but the ruble will become a self-standing currency. If its balance of trade and payment improves, the problem may be to keep it from rising. If that happens, the question will be whether a rising ruble would oblige buyers of Russian exports to pay more in their own currency. A new multilateral financial system is in the process of being structured as we’re having this discussion. Will there be speculation? Forward selling? Short squeezes and Soros-type raids? Who will be the participants and under what rules …?

Andrei:  How hard a hit would this Russian decision potentially have on the dollar?  And MBS negotiating with the PRC for oil sales in Renminbi.   Do you think that China and Russia will bring down the Petrodollar and will we see a commodities-backed Ruble and a commodities-backed Yuan replacing the Dollar?

Michael Hudson: The petrodollar will remain between the United States and its allies. But alongside it, there will be the Saudi-yuan and India-yuan arrangements for trade in oil, minerals, industrial products and probably international investment. Trade in these products will be able to occur in a number of currencies, probably on a number of exchanges. It is not clear whether some formal or informal arbitrage may develop between these areas. That is part of what is to be designed.  To oversee and regulate the resulting financial and trade arrangements, an alternative to the IMF is needed. The U.S. will not join any organization in which it does not have veto power, so we will see a division of the world into different trading and monetary areas.  The result is not so much a conflict as two quite different operating philosophies as the non-U.S. world develops its alternative to financialized neoliberalism.

US & G7 Allies Go After Russia’s Ability To Sell Its Gold As Sanctions Evasion ‘Lifeline’

[Zero Hedge, via Mike Norman Economics 3-26-2022]

Canceling Russian reserves boomerangs to a new international monetary system

Alastair Crooke (former British diplomat and senior figure in British intelligence) [Geopolitika, via Mike Norman Economics 3-25-2022]

The reality is that the present military operation in Ukraine, in due time, will be relegated to little more than a footnote in global history, yet the total financial war which has repercussed onto Russia will be key in defining the upcoming new world order. In fact, we may have already witnessed the moment economic history changed tracks: On 26 February, the collective West seized all the foreign exchange reserves of the Central Bank of Russia that were held in the West.

In gist, the West decreed that the Russian sovereign reserve holdings in Euros, dollars and US Treasuries were no longer ‘money good’. They were valueless as ‘money’ with which to pay Russian debts to foreign creditors. And by sanctioning too, the Russian Central Bank, it became impossible for those buying goods, energy, or commodities to transact what they owe through the Bank.

The magnitude of this event is underlined by the fact that during an earlier conflict centred on Ukraine – the Crimean War of 1854–1856 – Britain and France were at war with Russia. Yet throughout the war, the Russian government continued paying interest to British holders of its debt, and the British government also kept paying its debts to the Russian government.

The message now is plain enough – if even a prominent G20 state can have its reserves cancelled at a flick of the switch, then, for those who still hold ‘reserves’ in New York, take them elsewhere whilst the going is good! And if you need to keep something of value in reserve against a rainy day, buy and hold gold.

All That’s Stopping a Full-Blown Food Crisis? Rice 

Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 3-24-2022]

War changing Black Sea grain industry landscape 

World Grain, via Naked Capitalism 3-24-2022]

How war in Ukraine fuels a food crisis in Africa 

South China Morning Post, via Naked Capitalism 3-24-2022]

Fertilizer Prices Surge as Ukraine War Cuts Supply, Leaving Farmers Shocked

[Wall Street Journal, via The Big Picture 3-24-2022]

Fertilizer prices were already high before the war. They have now reached record levels amid a precipitous drop in Russian supply. The result is that fertilizer is about three to four times costlier now than in 2020, with far-reaching consequences for farmer incomes, agricultural yields and food prices.

Chip industry under threat with neon production set to fall off a cliff following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 

[CNBC, via Naked Capitalism 3-25-2022]

Lithium Prices Have Nearly Doubled In 2022 Amid Insane Commodity Rally 

[OilPrice, via Naked Capitalism 3-22-2022]

Restoring balance to the economy

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 3-20-2022]


They’re not capitalists – they’re a criminal predatory class

[Twitter, via Mike Norman Economics 3-24-2022]

Thorstein Veblen: The Theory of the Leisure Class (pdf), (Macmillan, 1899)
Chapter 8, “Industrial Exemption and Conservatism.”

….the institution of a leisure class acts to make the lower classes conservative by withdrawing from them as much as it may of the means of sustenance, and so reducing their consumption, and consequently their available energy, to such a point as to make them incapable of the effort required for the learning and adoption of new habits of thought.


“The Horrific Scam that Water Billionaires are Running on Poor Countries” [Counterpunch, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 3-22-2022]

“Mega corporations like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Danone are making around 494 times what they spend by bottling water in Mexico and selling it back to locals who have no choice but to buy it. In Mexico and other poor countries and regions, companies are taking water from aquifers, springs, rivers, and lakes, and putting it in plastic bottles or turning it into flavored and sugary drinks, then dumping their used and dirty water back into water sources. That, along with other industrial pollution which is disproportionately disposed of into rural, Indigenous, and poorer communities, means locals are not able to drink tap water and end up paying extortionate prices to the European and US corporations. In exchange for taking Mexico’s water, Mexicans give water bottling corporations US$66 billion a year. Coca Cola, Pepsi, Danone, Nestle, Bimbo, and other bottling and junk food companies extract over 133 billion liters of water, and then dump at least 119 billion liters of contaminated water back into water basins and aquifers.”

Global Bond Plunge Wipes Out $2.6 Trillion, Exceeding Losses of 2008 Financial Crisis 

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 3-23-2022]

Oxfam: Almost one-third of US workers make less than $15 an hour 

[The Hill, via Naked Capitalism 3-23-2022]

“UCLA Pummeled Over Adjunct Job Without Pay”

[Insider Higher Ed, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 3-23-2022]

“The job listing for an assistant adjunct professor was very clear: ‘The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA seeks applications for an assistant adjunct professor on a without salary basis. Applicants must understand there will be no compensation for this position.’… Bill Kisliuk, director of media relations at UCLA, said the university’s action was not outside the norm in higher education. ;UCLA is committed to providing fair compensation to faculty across the institution. Some positions may be without salary when individuals are compensated by other sources and a formal affiliation with UCLA is necessary,’ he said. ‘These positions are considered when an individual can realize other benefits from the appointment that advance their scholarship, such as the ability to apply for or maintain grants, mentor students and participate in research that can benefit society….

 Timothy Burke, a professor of history at Swarthmore College, posted on Facebook. ‘I’m seeing a lot of people coming up with explanations that attempt to rationalize this: it’s for an internal candidate who has a funding stream elsewhere, it’s an attempt to help a candidate coming over from industry gain the teaching experience that will make them competitive, it’s some other insidery plan, it’s union-busting,’ he wrote. ‘Even the ‘innocent’ explanations are disgusting because no matter what they are, the whole thing is a *lie*. It’s corrupting: it legitimates the concept of asking a Ph.D. to work for free, it mocks the idea that a nationally advertised search is meant to look for nationally qualified candidates. That this is coming from a state that supposedly has liberal politics and respect for public higher education, in a city that is liberal, in a community of allegedly liberal administrators and faculty, should tell roughly how much all those political alignments are worth when it comes to exploiting labor and corrupting rules.”

Is turnabout fair play under the Federal Arbitration Act? 

[Scotusblog, via Naked Capitalism 3-21-2022]

The Federal Arbitration Act requires courts to enforce arbitration agreements in most circumstances. But what happens if a party begins to litigate a case, and then seeks to compel arbitration several months later? Most courts have held that the arbitration agreement is still enforceable unless the other party has been prejudiced. In Morgan v. Sundance, which will be argued on Monday, the Supreme Court will consider whether this is the correct rule.

Information age dystopia

How Big Tech lost the antitrust battle with Europe 

[ars technica, via Naked Capitalism 3-22-2022]

But he says Proton can never be a true competitor to Google while the Internet continues to be an unregulated Wild West. “We grow based on the goodwill of tech giants,” Yen says from his head office in Geneva. In fact, he says, the same goes for his company’s very existence. “Tech giants could today remove us from the Internet with zero legal or financial repercussions.”

Like Proton, many companies across Europe are pinning their hopes on the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the EU’s first overhaul of the rules that govern competition on the Internet in 20 years. It is one of two major pieces of technology legislation in the works in Brussels; the other is the Digital Services Act (DSA), which will cover areas such as privacy and data use.

It is the DMA which presents the greatest immediate threat to the digital empires built by so-called gatekeepers such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft over the past two decades. Lawmakers are expected to finalize the act’s wording and scope as soon as this week in a push to open up markets captured by Big Tech and allow local rivals to flourish.

TW: In USA, independent service stations did not flourish until the Supreme Court decreed the dismantling of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil monopoly. 

Robot Truckers Could Replace 500K U.S. Jobs: Amid a severe driver shortage, a new study says 90% of long-haul trucking could be replaced by self-driving technology.

[Bloomberg, via The Big Picture 3-22-2022]

The short trip from a factory or distribution center to an interstate is usually far more complicated than the next several hundred miles. The same is true once the machine exits the interstate. Trucking companies may set up transfer stations at either end, where human drivers handle the tricky first leg of the trip and then hitch their cargo up to robot rigs for the tiresome middle portion.

Tired of waiting for driverless vehicles? Head to a farm

[Associated Press, via The Big Picture 3-21-2022]

For years Americans have been told autonomous technology was improving and that driverless vehicles were just around the corner. Finally they’re here, but to catch a glimpse of them, you’ll need to go to a farm rather than look along city streets. Beginning this fall, green 14-ton tractors that can plow day or night with no one sitting in the cab, or even watching nearby, will come off the John Deere factory assembly line in Waterloo, Iowa, harkening the age of autonomous farming. (AP)

Climate and environmental crises

Satellite data shows entire Conger ice shelf has collapsed in Antarctica

[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 3-25-2022]

Creating new economic potential – science and technology

In maglev innovation, Chinese researchers transfer power wirelessly to moving train 

[South China Morning Post, via Naked Capitalism 3-22-2022]

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Darren Palmer, General Manager of Battery EVs at Ford. He has overseen the development and rollout of Ford’s Mustang Mach E, F150 Lightning, and the E-Transit van. The 30 year Ford veteran is part of their Team Edison skunkworks group and is overseeing Ford’s $50B shift to electrification, and will be driving the split into two firms, EV, and legacy business.

How aluminum cans are formed 

[Boing Boing, via Naked Capitalism 3-23-2022]

Enjoy this unexpectedly illuminating video about how aluminum cans are formed by the billion in factories the world over. Alluminating! Creator Bill Hammack is a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. His YouTube channel, engineerguy, has many similarly clear, concise, well-produced videos on everyday marvels of nature and engineering: drinking bird toysdroplets3D printers.

Thorstein Veblen, The Engineers and the Price System (pdf) (B.W. Huebsch Inc., 1921, Viking Press, 1933), Chapter III, “The Captains of Finance and the Engineers”

In more than one respect the industrial system of today is notably different from anything that has gone before. It is eminently a system, self balanced and comprehensive; and it is a system of interlocking mechanical processes, rather than of skilful manipulation. It is mechanical rather than manual. It is an organization of mechanical powers and material resources, rather than of skilled craftsmen and tools; although the skilled workmen and tools, are also an indispensable part of its comprehensive mechanism. It is of an impersonal nature, after the fashion of the material sciences, on which it constantly draws. It runs to “quantity production” of specialized and standardized goods and services. For all these reasons it lends itself to systematic control under the direction of industrial experts, skilled technologists, who may be called ” production engineers,” for want of a better term.

This industrial system runs on as an inclusive organization of many and diverse interlocking mechanical processes, interdependent and balanced among themselves in such a way that the due working of any part of it is conditioned on the due working of all the rest. Therefore it will work at its best only on condition that these industrial experts, production engineers, will work together on a common understanding; and more particularly on condition that they must not work at cross purposes. These technological specialists whose constant supervision is indispensable to the due working of the industrial system constitute the general staff of industry, whose work it is to control the strategy of production at large and to keep an oversight of the tactics of production in detail.

Such is the nature of this industrial system on whose due working depends the material welfare of all the civilized peoples. It is an inclusive system drawn on a plan of strict and comprehensive interdependence, such that, in point of material welfare, no nation and no community has anything to gain at the cost of any other nation or community. In point of material welfare, all the civilized peoples have been drawn together by the state of the industrial arts into a single going concern. (pp 52-53)

Thorstein Veblen, The Instinct of Workmanship and the State of the Industrial Art(New York, N.Y.: Macmillan, March 1914; New edition: New York, N.Y.: B. W.
Huebsch, July 1918.)

In man, too, by the same fact, habit takes on more of a cumulative
character, in that the habitual acquirements of the race are handed on from one generation to the next, by tradition, training, education, or whatever general term may best designate that discipline of habituation by which the young acquire what the old have learned. By similar means the like elements of habitual conduct are carried over from one community or one culture to another, leading to further complications. Cumulatively, therefore, habit creates usages, customs, conventions, preconceptions, composite principles of conduct that run back only indirectly to the native predispositions of the race, but that may affect the working-out of any given line of endeavour in much the same way as if these habitual elements
were of the nature of a native bias.

Along with this body of derivative standards and canons of conduct, and handed on by the same discipline of habituation, goes a cumulative body of knowledge, made up in part of matter-of-fact acquaintance with phenomena and in greater part of conventional wisdom embodying certain acquired
predilections and preconceptions current in the community. Workmanship proceeds on the accumulated knowledge so received and current, and turns it to account in dealing with the material means of life. Whatever passes current in this way as knowledge of facts is turned to account as far as may be, and so it is worked into a customary scheme of ways and means, a
system of technology, into which new elements of information or
acquaintance with the nature and use of things are incorporated,
assimilated as they come. (pp. 39-40)

Democrats’ political suicide

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 3-24-2022]

Conservative / Libertarian Drive to Civil War

Is Ginni Thomas a Threat to the Supreme Court?

[New Yorker, via The Big Picture 3-20-2022]

Behind closed doors, Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife is working with many groups directly involved in controversial cases before the Court.

“Billionaire-Backed Group Enlists Trump-Supporting Citizens to Hunt for Voter Fraud Using Discredited Techniques”

[Pro Publica, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 3-24-2022]

“Calling its work unprecedented, the Voter Reference Foundation is analyzing state voter rolls in search of discrepancies between the number of ballots cast and the number of voters credited by the rolls as having participated in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The foundation, led by a former Trump campaign official and founded less than a year ago, has dismissed objections from election officials that its methodology is flawed and its actions may be illegal, ProPublica found. But with its inquiries and insinuations, VoteRef, as it is known, has added to the volume in the echo chamber. Its instrument is the voter rolls, released line by line, for all to see…. ProPublica contacted election officials in a dozen of the states where VoteRef has examined voter rolls, and in every case the officials said that the methodology used to identify the discrepancies was flawed, the data incomplete or the math wrong. The officials, a mix of Democrats and Republicans, were in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin…. VoteRef, records show, is an initiative of the conservative nonprofit group Restoration Action and its related political action committee, both led by Doug Truax, an Illinois insurance broker and podcaster who ran unsuccessfully in the state’s GOP primary for the U.S. Senate in 2014. A ProPublica review found that VoteRef’s origins and funders are closely linked to a super PAC predominantly funded by billionaire Richard Uihlein, founder of the mammoth Wisconsin-based packaging supply company Uline. A descendant of one of the founders of the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company, Uihlein is a major Trump supporter and a key player in Wisconsin and Illinois politics.”

Motivated Reasoning: Emily Oster’s COVID Narratives and the Attack on Public Education

[Protean, via Naked Capitalism 3-24-2022]

But despite its prominence, Oster’s work on COVID in schools has attracted little scrutiny—even though it has been funded since last summer by organizations that, without exception, have explicit commitments to opposing teacher’s unions, supporting charter schools, and expanding corporate freedom. In addition to grants from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Walton Family Foundation, and Arnold Ventures, Oster has received funding from far-right billionaire Peter Thiel. The Thiel grant awarded to Oster was administered by the Mercatus Center, the think tank founded and financed by the Koch family.

How This Tiny Christian College Is Driving The Right’s Nationwide War Against Public Schools 

[Salon, via The Lever, March 20, 2022]

In an era of book bans, crusades against teaching about racism, and ever-widening proposals to punish teachers and librarians, Hillsdale is not just a central player, but a ready-made solution for conservatives who seek to reclaim an educational system they believe was ceded decades ago to liberal interests. The college has become a leading force in promoting a conservative and overtly Christian reading of American history and the U.S. Constitution. It opposes progressive education reforms in general and contemporary scholarship on inequality in particular. It has featured lectures describing the Jan. 6 insurrection as a hoax and Vladimir Putin as a “hero to populist conservatives around the world.” ….

In late January, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, used his State of the State address to tease the most ambitious Hillsdale-inspired plan to date: building as many as 50 new charter schools in partnership with the college; using its 1776 Curriculum to foster what Lee calls “informed patriotism”; and launching a university civics institute to combat “anti-American thought.”



Open Thread


Reorienting About How Well Russia Is Doing In Ukraine


  1. bruce wilder

    Stoller: “Democrats . . . have no actual philosophy of justice . . . ”


    same problem with the tussle over “voter fraud” — the Democrats’ great weakness at bottom in that contest is that they have no desire to seek systems of provable electoral integrity. and they certainly do not want to win elections and deliver for their voting constituents. that would interfere with delivering for their donors and realizing profits on insider-trading.

  2. bruce wilder


    what a worthless fool he has proven to be — if that brand of cheerleading had produced anything other than profitable opportunities for green-washing labeled, “clean-energy technology”, the world remains unaware.

    the economics of this are very clear, if you aren’t bought and paid for: at the level of physics, all energy use produces waste and on the level of biology, the overburden of human waste and resource depletion is producing global ecological collapse. the economics is this: we have to radically constrain all energy use. substituting solar, wind and nuclear may help marginally by “mixing our poisons” more, but even taking the most optimistic view of substitution’s potential as a remedy specifically for global warming, radical substitution cannot hold off catastrophe from greenhouse-effect global warming without radical conservation to reduce additions of carbon to the atmosphere and oceans soon. (in fact, radical conservation is no longer enough — carbon will have to be removed from the carbon cycle or other dangerous geo-engineering interventions will be required according to the IPCC analyses).

    the bottom-line on just the economics, is that constraints have to be placed on all (aka total) energy use. carbon taxes and cap-n-trade which still distract McKibben have never been more delaying tactics — as economic policies they aim at substitution not constraint. in the meantime, without policies of constraint, the sometimes rapidly increasing energy efficiency in the technologies of applying energy to do work (e.g. LED lighting) have failed to help at all. as economists have known since Jevons, the falling cost associated with increasing technical efficiency just drives expanding demand and LED lighting has simply led to brightening the night to the point of oblivion.

    i do not think the human race will survive McKibben’s brand of glad stupidity anymore than Koch’s selfish variety. we simply have to stop being this dumb, this gullible.

  3. NR

    systems of provable electoral integrity

    What would constitute such systems, in your view?

  4. Trinity

    “Trucking companies may set up transfer stations at either end, where human drivers handle the tricky first leg of the trip and then hitch their cargo up to robot rigs for the tiresome middle portion.”

    The “tiresome middle portion” used to be handled by trains … aka locomotives.

    It’s NOT funny how they continually reframe/rename problems, allowing them to provide the “solution” to the “problem” they or their buddies created in the first place. I’ve no doubt they laugh about it all the time, just not on camera.

  5. Willy

    NR, I’m intrigued as well.

    Get rid of the judges? The Trump Dream Team after all, lost 59 of its 60 election challenge cases. Oh wait… that one got overturned by Pennsylvania’s higher court. And by one count, that’s 63 attempts now.

  6. different clue


    Hand-marked Legal Paper Ballots, counted one-by-one by hand in the overbearing presence of Neutral Scrutineers. I believe they do a version of that in Canada. Ian Welsh can correct me if that is wrong.

  7. different clue

    About . . . ” Creating new economic potential – science and technology

    In maglev innovation, Chinese researchers transfer power wirelessly to moving train ”

    The kind of high powered magnetic fields and electro-magnetic fields this technology would release upon every single person living close enough to the tracks and trains and etc. to be marinated in the fields was fingered by Robert Becker ( a researcher at a V A Hospital ) as being highly stealth-deadly over time to living cells and organisms, including human ones. He wrote a book about that and other researches called The Body Electric. Here’s a “pdf mirror” to the whole book.

    Paul Brodeur wrote a book about some of these dangers called The Zapping Of America.

    In my politically powerless opinion, this is one more technology where America should cede the lead to China. Let the ChinaGov marinate its trackside population in these fields and rays for the next 50 years and let America stand aside and watch the results on public health in China. Same as for 5G. Let the ChinaGov spread 5G all over China and let 5G be rigidly banned within the borders of America and see how public health responds.

    But nobody with any power over anything listens to me.

  8. bruce wilder

    What different clue wrote: hand-marked paper, counted by hand in public.

    No app for that, thank you mayo pete and friends

    They do it in Germany without serious problems or delays.

  9. Rangoon78

    Bill Mckibben is all that’s wrong with Big Green
    The film shows Bill McKibben Al Gore, Richard Branson, and Robert Kennedy Jr. speaking to environmentalists, and then clips of them speaking to industry about all the profits to be made.” Michael Bloomberg “basically bought the Sierra Club with tens of millions in donations tied to the Club promoting one of his cash cows, fracked natural gas, as the ‘Bridge Fuel to a Green Energy Future.’”

  10. bruce wilder

    Re: robot truckers

    The article speculates that robot trucks could take over the long-hauls over the interstates, while human drivers handle the more complex local routes.

    It is as if railroads had never been invented. Beyond stupid, really.

  11. different clue

    @Bruce Wilder,

    It reminds me of something I learned in limnology class decades ago. ( Limnology is the study of lakes).

    There is an interesting case to illustrate something called “competitive exclusion”. There are two kinds of algae which like to live in the same kind of water. And they both have the same iron requirements for their own metabolism. But alga “A” has evolved to uptake all the iron in the water so that alga “B” can’t get enough for its own needs, and alga “B” dies out and leaves all the water to alga “A”. That’s called “competitive exclusion”.

    Whoever is suggesting robo-truckers for the long part of the haul is practicing “competitive exclusion”. They want to suck up enough of the funding and support and social brainwidth that the struggling railroads can’t suck up any, and have to keep struggling, or maybe even have to die off. We could call it ” competitive social exclusion” or “competitive economic exclusion”.

  12. Ian Welsh

    I’m not going to weigh in on the accuracy of that particular “fact check”. But I am going to note, for the record, that I do not trust most fact check orgs when anything contoversial is inolved, and I haven’t for a long time. On most issues where I do know my shit, I find they’re wrong in significant ways.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén