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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – October 22, 2023

by Tony Wikrent


Strategic Political Economy

Deb Chachra’s ‘How Infrastructure Works’ 

Cory Doctorow [Pluralistic, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-18-2023]

“Infrastructure isn’t merely a way to deliver life’s necessities – mobility, energy, sanitation, water, and so on – it’s a shared way of delivering those necessities. It’s not just that economies of scale and network effects don’t merely make it more efficient and cheaper to provide these necessities to whole populations. It’s also that the lack of these network and scale effects make it unimaginable that these necessities could be provided to all of us without being part of a collective, public project. The dream of declaring independence from society, of going ‘off-grid,’ of rejecting any system of mutual obligation and reliance isn’t merely an infantile fantasy – it also doesn’t scale, which is ironic, given how scale-obsessed its foremost proponents are in their other passions. Replicating sanitation, water, rubbish disposal, etc to create individual systems is wildly inefficient. Creating per-person communications systems makes no sense – by definition, communications involves at least two people. So infrastructure, Chachra reminds us, is a form of mutual aid. It’s a gift we give to ourselves, to each other, and to the people who come after us. Any rugged individualism is but a thin raft, floating on an ocean of mutual obligation, mutual aid, care and maintenance. Infrastructure is vital and difficult. Its amortization schedule is so long that in most cases, it won’t pay for itself until long after the politicians who shepherded it into being are out of office (or dead). Its duty cycle is so long that it can be easy to forget it even exists – especially since the only time most of us notice infrastructure is when it stops working.”

In the Nineteenth Century, Scientists Set Out to Solve the “Problem of American Storms” 

[Humanities, via The Big Picture 10-21-2023]

[In the 1830s, telegraph] operators had discovered something both interesting and paradoxical, the writer Andrew Blum observes in his book The Weather Machine. The telegraph had collapsed time but, in doing so, it had somehow simultaneously created more of it. Now people could see what the future held before it happened; they could know that a storm was on its way hours before the rain started falling or the clouds appeared in the sky. This new, real-time information also did something else, Blum points out. It allowed weather to be visualized as a system, transforming static, localized pieces of data into one large and ever-shifting whole….

Morse’s invention promised to finally help shed light on what Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the newly founded Smithsonian Institution, called in the 1847 annual report the “problem of American Storms.” Henry was referring to an ongoing scientific spat known as the “storm controversy,” which had been raging in the pages of journals for nearly two decades….

The Smithsonian’s weather “crusade” would become the institution’s first major scientific undertaking, and it consisted of two parts. The first involved recruiting the telegraph companies to provide daily, nationwide weather updates. Starting in 1849, instruments were sent out to several offices around the country with a request that operators pause traffic on the lines in the morning to submit brief descriptions of local conditions. A few years later, Henry installed a map in the lobby of the Smithsonian Castle, where the collected information was displayed using a series of color-coded cards and arrows. Any time after 10:00 a.m., members of the public could stroll in and see for the first time “one view of the meteorological condition of the atmosphere over the whole country.”  ….
The Smithsonian’s volunteer weather project would not officially end until 1874, but after the war, Henry continued to face significant funding constraints, as well as larger questions about who should be tracking weather in the United States and how they should be doing it. Science was shifting toward professionalization in the post–Civil War era, and an era of amateur meteorologists—of statesmen tinkering with hygrometers in the fields of their plantations, of businessmen arguing about the atmosphere in scientific journals—was coming to an end.
The country did need weathermen, however. That much was now apparent. And those weathermen had to come from someplace. Congressman Halbert E. Paine, a Republican from Wisconsin’s first district, thought that place should be the War Department. In 1869, he introduced a piece of legislation to that effect. “Military discipline,” he wrote, “would probably help secure the greatest promptness, regularity, and accuracy in the required observations.”  ….

As the Signal Corps grew, the focus on tracking storms expanded to incorporate forecasts (which were referred to as “probabilities.”) Daily weather maps and bulletins produced by the Signal Office were displayed in post offices and observer-sergeants submitted their information to local newspapers. The work of the Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce was no longer benefiting just commercial interests—ranchers and sailors and farmers—but the public at large. At least one-third of households in the United States, Myer estimated at one point, were receiving weather information from the Signal Corps in one form or another.

By 1880, the Army’s weather service was “flourishing,” writes Raines. The state of the country’s military communications systems, however, was another story. The man-hours and money being siphoned away from the Army’s signaling work and into its storm intelligence efforts only continued following Myer’s death from nephritis in August of that year. The new chief signal officer, Colonel William B. Hazen, would go on to pour more of his office’s resources into weather-related research, rolling out new scientific projects—the development of a meteorology textbook, “aerial investigations” conducted in hot-air balloons, studies of atmospheric electricity—taking the Signal Corps’s meteorological work to new heights, literally, while the Division of Military Signaling tried and failed to catch up with the technological advances being made by its European counterparts.

In 1887, writes Raines, “the question of the status of the Signal Corps . . . finally came to a head” when Secretary of War William C. Endicott “stated in his annual report that because of its concentration on weather duties the Signal Corps could no longer be relied upon for military signaling.”….

Young Morality and Old Morality

Hamilton Nolan [How Things Work, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-18-2023]

“Who is being childish here? Is it the young college students, appalled at genocide looming in front of their eyes, possessed with the overwhelming urge to do something, who—despite not possessing a PhD in global affairs—flood into the streets and rage against the atrocity? Or is it the well educated and highly placed and influential adults, granted positions of great importance, who, as a crisis unfolds, as civilians are murdered, as neighborhoods are bombed, as oppression and religion collide in war, use their time griping about the hotheadedness of the young people protesting in the streets? Which of these groups has more accurately identified what should be our current topic of attention—the young people whose focus is on the governments that possess militaries and missiles and are poised to cause thousands of deaths, or the adults whose focus is on how some college kid said something annoying at a DSA rally? Wake the f*ck up. The adults in the room are everywhere proving the kids’ critique to be true.”

Samuel Huntington’s Great Idea Was Totally Wrong

Jordan Michael Smith, October 19, 2023 [The New Republic]

His “Clash of Civilizations” essay in Foreign Affairs turned 30 this year. It was provocative, influential, manna for the modern right—and completely and utterly not true….

…Huntington’s argument is so antiquated that it has already gone through several afterlives and been resurrected, like a horror movie villain. As the twentieth century ended and liberal capitalist democracy seemed unrivaled, it appeared as though The Clash of Civilizations was unduly pessimistic and perhaps irrelevant to the international arena. But after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Huntington’s book became a bestseller for a second time, as conservatives across the United States and Europe cited its arguments for why Islam was fundamentally incompatible with Western society. When refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East attempted to find stability in white-majority countries, Huntington’s ideas were invoked as a reason for opposing such ventures. Right-wingers like Steve Bannon have utilized the Clash of Civilizations thesis to reject immigration to the United States. Perhaps most surprisingly, thinkers around Russian leader Vladimir Putin have argued that their country is the leading defender of a Christian civilization that the rest of Europe has largely abandoned, providing yet another lifeline to a 30-year-old essay….

How a Maneuver in Puerto Rico Led to a $29 Billion Tax Bill for Microsoft

[ProPublica, via The Big Picture 10-16-2023]

In the largest audit in U.S. history, the IRS rejected Microsoft’s attempts to channel profits to a small factory in Puerto Rico that burned Windows software onto CDs



US faces defeat in geopolitical war in Gaza 

[Indian Punchline, via Naked Capitalism 10-17-2023]

…The torrential flow of events through the past week is breathtaking, starting with a phone call made by Iran’s President Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday to discuss a common strategy toward the situation following the devastating attack by the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, against Israel on October 7….

… an extraordinary event took place in the Chinese foreign ministry when the Arab envoys in Beijing sought a group meeting with Special Envoy Zhai to underscore their collective stance that a “very severe” humanitarian crisis has emerged following Israel’s attack on Gaza and “the international community has the responsibility to take immediate actions to ease the tension, promote the resumption of talks for peace, and safeguard the Palestinian people’s lawful national rights.”

The Arab ambassadors thanked China “for upholding a just position on the Palestinian question … and expressed the hope that China will continue to play a positive and constructive role.” Zhai voiced full understanding that the “top priority is to keep calm and exercise restraint, protect civilians, and provide necessary conditions for relieving the humanitarian crisis.” ….

Map Explainer: The Gaza Strip 

[Visual Capitalist, via Naked Capitalism 10-18-2023]

How West Bank Settlements Led to the Conflict in Gaza Having to defend them clearly imperils Israeli security.

Gershom Gorenberg, October 20, 2023 [The American Prospect]

…Let’s go back to the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza—the Disengagement, as then-prime minister Ariel Sharon named it. Over his military and political career, Sharon had promoted settlement as a strategic tool to prevent Israeli withdrawal and a Palestinian state; he had personally drawn the map of settlements in occupied territory. So his decision to dismantle those in Gaza stunned the country.

But leaving Gaza was a general’s choice to pull back on one front to save the majority of his forces. As Sharon’s close aide Dov Weissglas described his thinking, the Disengagement was intended as a “bottle of formaldehyde” in which then-President George W. Bush’s diplomatic push for negotiations with the Palestinians could be kept lifeless and inert. Diplomacy, Sharon correctly foresaw, could lead to an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. He preferred to leave Gaza unilaterally, while holding the West Bank and its settlements….

Israel-Palestine war: Israeli minister seeks arrest of journalists who ‘harm national morale’ 

[Middle East Eye, via Naked Capitalism 10-18-2023]

Egypt ‘considers deal to accept 100,000 displaced Palestinians in exchange for US debt relief’ 

[The Telegraph, via Naked Capitalism 10-16-2023]

The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy (PDF)

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt [via Naked Capitalism 10-19-2023]

[Lambert Strether introduction: “From 2006, still highly germane (and the paper that got Mearsheimer blackballed in the Acela Corridor just as badly as Thomas Frank with Listen, Liberal!). 40 pages, but well worth a read. From paragraph four: “[T]he overall thrust of U.S. policy in the region is due almost entirely to U.S. domestic politics, and especially to the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby.’”]

State Department: Revolt against the Zionist Lobby

[, October 19, 2023

President Joe Biden’s approach to the ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine is fueling mounting tensions at the U.S. government agency most involved in foreign policy: the State Department.

Officials told HuffPost that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his most senior advisers are overlooking widespread internal frustration. Some department staff said they feel as if Blinken and his team are uninterested in their own experts’ advice as they focus on supporting Israel’s expanding operation in Gaza, where the Palestinian militant group Hamas is based.

“There’s basically a mutiny brewing within State at all levels,” one State Department official said….


Global power shift

Ports, railways, a naval base: China’s Belt and Road in five projects 

[Channel News Asia, via Naked Capitalism 10-18-2023]

China’s Xi announces over US$100 billion in new Belt and Road funding 

[Channel News Asia, via Naked Capitalism 10-19-2023]

The Multimillion-Dollar Machines at the Center of the U.S.-China Rivalry 

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 10-21-2023]

As the United States tries to slow China’s progress toward technological advances that could help its military, the complex lithography machines that print intricate circuitry on computer chips have become a key choke point.

The machines are central to China’s efforts to develop its own chip-making industry, but China does not yet have the technology to make them, at least in their most advanced forms. This week, U.S. officials took steps to curb China’s progress toward that goal by barring companies globally from sending additional types of chip-making machines to China, unless they obtain a special license from the U.S. government….
…That decision gives U.S. officials new sway over companies in the Netherlands and Japan, where some of the most advanced chip machinery is made. In particular, U.S. rules will now stop shipments of some machines that use deep ultraviolet, or DUV, technology made mainly by the Dutch firm ASML, which dominates the lithography market.

US Declares ‘War’ 

Michael Brenner [Consortium News, via Naked Capitalism 10-21-2023]

U.S. foreign policy has set the country on a course destined to lead to a world of rivalry, strife and conflict into the foreseeable future. Washington has declared “war” on China, on Russia, on whomever partners with them.

That “war” is comprehensive — diplomatic, financial, commercial, technological, cultural, ideological. It implicitly fuses a presumed great power rivalry for dominance with a clash of civilizations: the U.S.-led West against the civilizational states of China, Russia and potentially India….

The stunning rise of China along with the reemergence of Russia as a formidable power are developments apparent to attentive observers for quite some time.

For Russia, the landmark dates can be identified.

The first was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech to the Munich Security Conference in 2007. There, he made clear his rejection of the Western script that relegated Russia to a subordinate position in a world system organized according to principles and interests defined largely by the United States….

The confrontation with China is not marked by equally clear events or decision points. Designation of China as the challenger to the U.S. position as global supremo crystallized more gradually.

It was the Middle Kingdom’s growing strength in every dimension of national power and capacity that stirred first anxiety and then fear. This challenging rival had become a threat to the foundational belief in U.S. exceptionalism and superiority. Hence, an existential threat in the truest sense….

The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

If the Economy Is So Strong, Why Are Consumer Stocks Tanking?

[Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-16-2023]

“Although the U.S. economy generally appears to be humming along, companies across the retail spectrum have suggested consumers are starting to exercise more caution with their purchases. The latest fall in the shares also coincides with a rapid rise in Treasury yields, which reduces the appeal of the staples stocks in particular because they are often seen as dividend plays…. Dollar General is among the companies that have said its customers are buying fewer discretionary items while opting to pick up food and other essentials, leaving the company with an inventory of unsold goods.”

[X-Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-18-2023]


Existing Home Sales Drop Another Two Percent to a 13-Year Low 

Michael Shedlock [via Naked Capitalism 10-21-2023]


Ending Junk Fees, the Most Annoying Thing in American Commerce  

Matt Stoller [BIG, via Naked Capitalism 10-15-2023]

…Last week, I wrote up the problem of inflation, noting that people aren’t just mad at high prices, but at unfair prices. I brought up one of the most annoying features of American commerce, which is known as the junk fee. We’ve all experienced these in one form or another. You go to a hotel, and instead of being given the price quoted to you online, they add a $25 “amenity” fee, or “resort” fee, or something like that.

It’s not just hotels who charge undisclosed fees, but banks, rental car companies, landlords, live event firms, auto dealers, restaurants, phone companies, internet service firms, universities, private airports, prisons, movie theaters, credit card companies, etc. Junk fees are indeed everywhere – aircraft owners have to deal with hidden charges by Fixed Base Operators, and independent pharmacists have to put up with endless fees from pharmacy benefit managers.

Such cheating is pervasive at this point, built into the business model of firms across the economy. According to Consumer Reports, 85% of Americans “have experienced a hidden or unexpected fee for a service in the previous two years,” and 96% found them “highly annoying” and said they were paying more in hidden charges than they were five years ago….

…The lifeblood of a market with buyers and sellers is public pricing information, because public pricing helps match buyers and sellers based on a mutually agreed upon amount. Typically, consumers will buy tickets or hotel rooms based on price comparison sites, which show a list price. An unscrupulous firm which lists a hidden fee has an advantage, since its list price will look lower than a firm without such a hidden fee. A buyer will purchase the good or service, and then end up paying a higher price when the hidden fee is added back in. But in addition, the honest firm loses a sale, and ultimately, will either start charging its own hidden fees or go out of business. Put differently, junk fees are a form of mass deception, and they turn everyone into a cheater.

The Annoyance Economy

Annie Lowry [The Atlantic, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-19-2023]

Data alone don’t capture how frustrating and stressful it is to be a consumer right now….

“The gap between how the economy is and how people feel things are going is enormous, and arguably has never been bigger…. [N]ostalgia, true or false, is driving up the Annoyance Index. Even if things are pretty good at the moment, many Americans remember them feeling better in the recent past. Families had way more cash on hand during the pandemic. Interest rates were much lower. Wage growth was faster a year ago. Prices were lower—a lot lower—before the pandemic. And many employees have been forced back to the office, when they were happy working at home. Things are great, but folks are mad. All we need is for prices to come down, interest rates to stabilize, housing markets to normalize, polarization to decrease, and the news media’s incentives to change. Until then, the Economic Annoyance Index will just keep getting higher.”

Renting can age you faster than smoking or obesity, researchers find 

[New York Post, via Naked Capitalism 10-15-2023]

Something Is Golden in the State of Denmark: Can Novo Nordisk’s success really be a problem for the Danish economy?

[The Atlantic, via The Big Picture 10-18-2023]

Pfizer to price Covid drug Paxlovid at $1,390 per course 

[CNBC, via Naked Capitalism 10-20-2023]


Restoring balance to the economy

The Emerging Coalition That Could Revitalize Our Politics

Raina Lipsitz, October 20, 2023 [The New Republic]

The left and labor haven’t always seen eye to eye—but they may be on the verge of a fruitful reunion….

When feelings of solidarity, agency, and collective power begin to emerge, they can break down political divides. The wave of teachers’ strikes that erupted in Republican-controlled states in 2018 drew thousands of participants and supporters, including many who were not leftists, unionists, or Democrats. A survey conducted by Columbia University sociologists in the six states where teachers walked out in 2018 found that the strikes changed attitudes, particularly among “conservatives, Republicans, and those without personal experience with unions.” Not only did they appear to establish “a greater sense of common fate” between parents and teachers; they also increased people’s interest in labor action, if not necessarily traditional union membership. “The concrete manifestation [of unity] for the left and for labor is trying to unite those who sell their labor against those who own the companies,” said Blanc….


They’re not capitalists — they’re predatory criminals

JPMorgan Chase Paid $1.085 Billion in Legal Expenses in Last Six Months; It’s Still Battling Hundreds of Charges and Legal Proceedings on Three Continents

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, October 20, 2023 [Wall Street on Parade]


Do You Get Happy When Bad Rich Guys Go The Prison? It Doesn’t Happen Often Enough

Howie Klein, October 21, 2023 []

We all want to see Trump behind bars for the rest of his life. And I hope we all live long enough to see it. Meanwhile though, let’s get whatever joy we can out of fascists that are headed that way already. Take for example, the fabulous Floridian, Joe Harding, formerly (elected in 2020, forced to resign in 2022), once the state Representative from Ocala County, best known as the principal sponsor of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. He’ll have 4 months, starting in January to say he’s not gay to various members of the prison community. His homophobic legislation isn’t why he’s going to prison.

Weeping on Thursday, he begged the judge, Trump appointee Allen Winsor, to not put him behind bars. Most people think he deserved far more than 4 months. The maximum sentence he could have gotten was 20 years for wire fraud, 10 years for money laundering and 5 years for lying to law enforcement. He should have gotten at least 20 years. A typical entitled asshole and Florida Republican, he stole COVID relief funds ($150,000) and was caught, pleading guilty in March.

Gary Fineout wrote that “Authorities accused Harding of using false bank statements for two dormant small businesses to obtain loans from the Small Business Administration during the pandemic. Harding told the SBA that one of the companies, The Vak Shack, for the 12 months prior to Jan. 31, 2020, had four employees and $420,874 in revenue, while Harding Farms had two employees and $392,000 in revenue, according to authorities.”

….I might mention that there are several members of Congress who also stole large amounts of COVID relief funds (PPP) and who have not be prosecuted. The characters who would be most easy to imprison if any prosecutor decided to go for it:

  • Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
  • Marjorie Traitor Greene (R-GA)
  • Kevin Hern (R-OK)
  • Susie Lee (New Dem-NV)
  • Vern Buchanan (R-FL)
  • Mike Kelly (R-FL)
  • Brett Guthrie (R-KY)
  • Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)

So far just one of them, Kevin Hern, is officially running for Speaker of the House. All of them, however are despicable crooks.


Will SBF Take Both U.S. Political Parties With Him? Evidence Is Finally Being Presented In Court. What Did McConnell Promise SBF For His $10 Million Bribe? Are Congressional Bribe-Takers Getting Subpoenas?

Howie Klein, October 21, 2023 []

…there’s a spread sheet showing some of the SBF bribes to members of Congress and to committees that finance them that has been introduced as an exhibit. While the NY Times is still concentrating on peripheral nonsense (“the presence of crypto YouTubers, podcasters and commentators at the FTX founder’s fraud trial has created something of a culture clash in the courtroom”) and Fox News is even sillier (SBF’s testimony “may depend on whether the ex-billionaire’s dosage of Adderall is sufficient to help him maintain his focus”), CNBC has started realizing what the real story actually is….

Information age dystopia / surveillance state

Former ambassador and Assange advocate Craig Murray detained under UK terror laws 

[The Grayzone, via Naked Capitalism 10-18-2023]

Dismantle The Censorship-Industrial Complex: The Westminster Declaration 

Matt Taibbi [via Naked Capitalism 10-21-2023]

Open discourse is the central pillar of a free society 

[The Westminster Declaration, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-19-2023]

We write as journalists, artists, authors, activists, technologists, and academics to warn of increasing international censorship that threatens to erode centuries-old democratic norms.

Coming from the left, right, and centre, we are united by our commitment to universal human rights and freedom of speech, and we are all deeply concerned about attempts to label protected speech as ‘misinformation,’ ‘disinformation,’ and other ill-defined terms.

This abuse of these terms has resulted in the censorship of ordinary people, journalists, and dissidents in countries all over the world.

Such interference with the right to free speech suppresses valid discussion about matters of urgent public interest, and undermines the foundational principles of representative democracy.

Across the globe, government actors, social media companies, universities, and NGOs are increasingly working to monitor citizens and rob them of their voices. These large-scale coordinated efforts are sometimes referred to as the ‘Censorship-Industrial Complex.’

This complex often operates through direct government policies. Authorities in India[1] and Turkey[2] have seized the power to remove political content from social media. The legislature in Germany[3] and the Supreme Court in Brazil[4] are criminalising political speech. In other countries, measures such as Ireland’s ‘Hate Speech’ Bill[5], Scotland’s Hate Crime Act[6], the UK’s Online Safety Bill[7], and Australia’s ‘Misinformation’ Bill[8] threaten to severely restrict expression and create a chilling effect.

But the Censorship Industrial Complex operates through more subtle methods. These include visibility filtering, labelling, and manipulation of search engine results. Through deplatforming and flagging, social media censors have already silenced lawful opinions on topics of national and geopolitical importance. They have done so with the full support of ‘disinformation experts’ and ‘fact-checkers’ in the mainstream media, who have abandoned the journalistic values of debate and intellectual inquiry.

[Lambert Strether notes: “First signatory: Taibbi, followed by Shellenberger. Assange #6.”]

Global: ‘Predator Files’ investigation reveals catastrophic failure to regulate surveillance trade 

[Amnesty International, via Naked Capitalism 10-21-2023]

AI Could Spur an Economic Boom. Humans Are in the Way. 

[Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism 10-17-2023]

Why Big Tech, Cops, and Spies Were Made for One Another 

Cory Doctorow [The Intercept, via Naked Capitalism 10-18-2023]

The enshittification of academic social media 

The Thesis Whisperer, via Naked Capitalism 10-18-2023] Important!


Collapse of independent news media

How the conspiracy-fueled Epoch Times went mainstream and made millions 

[NBC, via Naked Capitalism 10-18-2023]

Today, The Epoch Times is one of the country’s most successful and influential conservative news organizations. It’s powered by Falun Gong, a religious group persecuted in China, which launched The Epoch Times as a free propaganda newsletter more than two decades ago to oppose the Chinese Communist Party.

Funded through aggressive online and real-world marketing campaigns and big-money conservative donors, The Epoch Times now boasts to be the country’s fourth-largest newspaper by subscriber count. (Unlike most major newspapers, The Epoch Times isn’t audited by the two major independent collectors of circulation data.) The nonprofit has amassed a fortune, growing its revenue by a staggering 685% in two years, to $122 million in 2021, according to the group’s most recent tax records.

Its editorial vision — fueled by a right-wing slant and conspiracy theories —  is on display in recent reports….


Climate and environmental crises

Billions Wasted on Hydrogen Hype 

[Common Dreams, via Naked Capitalism 10-16-2023]

Hydro dams are struggling to handle the world’s intensifying weather 

[Ars technica, via Naked Capitalism 10-16-2023]

The world has to add or replace 50 million miles of transmission lines by 2040, IEA says 

[CNBC, via Naked Capitalism 10-20-2023]

Creating new economic potential – science and technology

Hybrid transistors with silk protein set stage for integration of biology and microelectronics 

[TechXplore, via Naked Capitalism 10-17-2023]

New ‘brain atlas’ maps the highly complex organ in dazzling detail

[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 10-19-2023]

A trove of studies has revealed that human brains contain at least 3,000 cell types.

Production of Methane by Sunlight-Driven Photocatalytic Water Splitting and Carbon Dioxide Methanation as a Means of Artificial Photosynthesis 

[American Chemical Society, via Naked Capitalism 10-18-2023]

“This article describes an experimental apparatus of artificial photosynthesis, which generates methane gas from water and carbon dioxide with the aid of sunlight energy…. One of the versions was implemented in the competition of the European Innovation Council (EIC) Horizon Prize on Artificial Photosynthesis ‘Fuel from the Sun’ in 2022. For future expansion as artificial photosynthetic plants, the technical issues related to scaling up the plant size are extracted and discussed from these results.”


Disrupting mainstream politics

Highly Negative Views of American Politics in 2023 

[Pew, via Naked Capitalism 10-17-2023] Userfriendly: “Wowzers this is damning.”

Cornel West draws max donation from GOP megadonor Harlan Crow

[NBC, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-19-2023]

“Progressive activist and independent presidential candidate Cornel West received a maximum campaign donation from Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, West’s latest fundraising report shows. Crow made the $3,300 donation in August, weeks before West abandoned his bid for the Green Party nomination to run as an independent. Crow has called West, a self-proclaimed ‘non-Marxist socialist’ and longtime professor at Princeton University, ‘a good friend.’…. Crow’s close ties to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas have come under scrutiny in recent months after a ProPublica report in April detailed gifts, travel, and other items of value provided by the Texas billionaire to Thomas and his family.” • Not the same, but sheesh.


Democrats’ political malpractice

A political group that helped lead Democrats’ takeover of Colorado politics turns 20

[Colorado Sun, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-19-2023]

“ProgressNow Colorado is an irreverent organization that doesn’t reveal its donors. It has continued when some of its peer groups have disbanded.” Oh, it doesn’t? Oh, it has? More: “Wealthy Democratic donors teamed up to reverse their party’s fortune, routing their money through a series of political nonprofits and political committees to organize voters to try to dominate the airwaves. One of those dark-money groups was ProgressNow Colorado. The strategy worked…. The ProgressNow model has spread to more than half the states in the nation…. Michael Huttner set aside his law practice to form ProgressNow Colorado in 2003, serving as the group’s first executive director. Huttner sought to mobilize Democrats via the internet through blogging and private chat groups anchored in geography and policy interest. Call it a pre-social media version of ‘rapid response’ — the practice of attacking opponents quickly and cleverly on social media…. The work of ProgressNow Colorado and its companion groups was paired with infusions of big money from Polis, philanthropist and Democratic political donor Pat Stryker, and entrepreneurs Rutt Bridges and Tim Gill…. Dick Wadhams, a former Colorado GOP chairman, said ProgressNow Colorado was born in an era when Democrats started indirectly spending on campaigns. Instead of giving money to candidate campaigns, they routed cash through political spending groups, like super PACs, and nonprofits like ProgressNow to influence voters.”

Wondering Which Democrats Refuse To Co-Sponsor The Bill To Raise The Minimum Wage?Here’s The List

Howie Klein, October 16, 2023 []

  • Maxine Waters (D-CA)
  • Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
  • Al Green (D-TX)
  • Jonathan Jackson (D-IL)
  • Greg Meeks (New Dem-NY)
  • Katherine Clark (D-MA)
  • Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)
  • Richie Neal (D-MA)
  • Jake Auchincloss (D-MA)
  • Troy Carter (New Dem-LA)
  • Norma Torres (New Dem-CA)
  • Ann Kuster (New Dem-NH)
  • Raul Ruiz (New Dem-CA)
  • Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)
  • Hillary Scholten (New Dem-MI)
  • Darren Soto (New Dem-FL)
  • Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)
  • Ami Bera (New Dem-CA)
  • Greg Landsman (New Dem-OH)
  • Marc Veasey (New Dem-TX)
  • Susan Wild (New Dem-PA)
  • Gabe Vasquez (New Dem-NM)
  • Dean Phillips (D-MN)
  • Lou Correa (New Dem-CA)
  • Chrissy Houlahan (New Dem-PA)
  • Josh Harder (New Dem-CA)
  • Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
  • Sharice Davids (New Dem-KS)
  • Eric Sorenson (D-IL)
  • Ed Case (Blue Dog-HI)
  • Wiley Nickel (Blue Dog-NC)
  • Lizzie Fletcher (New Dem-TX)
  • Colin Allred (New Dem-TX)
  • Jared Moskowitz (New Dem-FL)
  • Greg Stanton (New Dem-AZ)
  • Mary Peltola (Blue Dog-AK)
  • Yadira Caraveo (New Dem-CO)
  • Kim Schrier (New Dem-WA)
  • Abigail Spanberger (New Dem-VA)
  • Vicente Gonzalez (Blue Dog-TX)
  • Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
  • Chris Pappas (New Dem-NH)
  • Susie Lee (New Dem-NV)
  • Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Blue Dog-WA)
  • Jared Golden (Blue Dog-ME)
  • Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
  • Donald Davis (New Dem-NC)


(anti)Republican Party

Congenital syphilis makes a roaring come back – in anti-abortion states

umbra, October 17, 2023 [DailyKos]

…Why would anti-abortion laws impact syphilis rates?  Because Planned Parenthood is normally the number one organization helping people with STD’s.  Because Planned Parenthood is the number one prenatal care giver to women with little or no health insurance.  When a mother has prenatal care, she is screened and treated for STD’s.

What happens in anti-abortion states?  They took away funding to Planned Parenthood. Funding for all its services and did their best to close them down.  Per the New York Times over 61 clinics closed completely after the Dobbs decision up til the article was published in June, many more will be closing after varies legal challenges.

What happens to women in areas with no Planned Parenthood?  They don’t go to doctors, they don’t get STD’s treated, they don’t get prenatal care.  They tend to live in areas with staffing shortages, even if they had insurance, they live in Ob-gyn deserts – no appts available.  Why are there no service providers for women even with insurance? Again the abortion laws make it difficult to practice sexual health care for women, with all the Politicians in the exam room….

The GOP’s Brand Is Chaos: The Republicans have spent years perfecting their dysfunction

Jason Linkins, October 21, 2023 [The New Republic]

Charles Koch’s audacious new $5 billion political scheme

[Popular Information, via The Big Picture 10-15-2023]

Large donations to charitable causes are not subject to gift taxes. But, after the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United, 501(c)4 organizations began to engage directly in political campaigns, which are not charitable causes. So, by 2015, the IRS said they were considering applying the gift tax to large donations to 501(c)4 groups that were not used for charitable purposes.

Lawmakers à la Carte: How ALEC Sells Access to State Legislators

[Exposed by CMD, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-19-2023]

“It’s no secret that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) offers its corporate sponsors a variety of options for buying access to state lawmakers. Now, new documents reveal just how much — or little — it costs. For $50,000, a corporate or industry executive can give a main stage presentation to all ALEC members in attendance at its annual meeting. For $35,000, a corporation or industry group can work with ALEC’s policy staff to design a workshop for lawmakers. Materials obtained and reviewed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reveal a menu of opportunities for corporate sponsors interested in purchasing access to lawmakers at ALEC’s annual conferences. The documents were prepared in advance of last year’s three-day annual policy meeting in Atlanta, which focused on efforts to combat ‘woke capitalism,’ reproductive healthcare, voting rights, and the administrative state, as CMD previously reported.”

Glenn Youngkin’s Plan to Save Gas Cars 

[Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism 10-21-2023]

Exclusive: Tech billionaire Peter Thiel was an FBI informant

[Insider, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-19-2023]

“In the summer of 2021, Insider has learned, Thiel began providing information as a “confidential human source,” or CHS, to Johnathan Buma, a Los Angeles-based FBI agent who specializes in investigating political corruption and foreign-influence campaigns. Charles Johnson, a longtime associate of Thiel’s and a notorious figure in the far-right movement that Thiel has subsidized for a decade, told Insider in a statement that he helped recruit the billionaire as an informant by introducing him to Buma. The source said that any assistance Thiel might have provided to the FBI should be understood as part of Thiel’s gradual distancing of himself from Trump and the broader MAGA movement, which has vigorously criticized the FBI and other federal law-enforcement agencies…. The FBI maintains a vast network of informants to keep tabs on organized crime, terrorist threats, extremist groups, and other criminal and intelligence targets. These sources, according to the bureau’s Confidential Human Source Policy Guide, are more than casual tipsters. Confidential human sources enter ‘into a relationship with the FBI, and that relationship will forever affect the life of that individual,’ the guide says. ‘[They] will be either an ‘FBI source’ or a ‘former FBI source’ and, in turn, his or her conduct or misconduct will reflect upon the FBI.’”

What Did The FBI Use To Persuade Peter Thiel To Become A “Confidential Human Source” For Them?

Howie Klein, October 19, 2023 []

Trump on Campaign Trail: Slightly Unhinged, Completely Unplugged  [RealClearPolitics].

[RealClearPolitics, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-16-2023]

“‘They’re going to do the electric vehicle nonsense, you know?’ Trump told the audience, in one early moment that sounded like a Seinfeld cold open. ‘You put a little circle around your house. You can’t go outside the circle, you’ll never come back.’”….

“Boy, are they messing up California, but we’re thrilled to be here with the conservative patriots who are leading the charge to take back this state from the radical left lunatics,” he said. “They’ve given you sanctuary cities, wide-open borders, mass homeless encampments, out-of-control taxes, soaring income inequality, Marxist district attorneys, woke tech tyrants, rolling blackouts, child sexual mutilation, and roving bands of looters, criminals, and thugs.”

Some of his proposed remedies were unspeakably dark, however, one in particular: “We will immediately stop all of the pillaging and theft,” he said. “Very simply: If you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store,” he proclaimed to loud applause. “Shot!” he added.

Trump’s Bloody Campaign Promises

[New Yorker, via The Big Picture 10-15-2023]

It’s tempting to ignore the former President’s expressions of rage, but the stakes for American democracy demand that attention be paid.

Mouths Full of Blood: Trump and His Backers Spread Lies, Violence and Fascism

[TruthOut, via The Big Picture 10-15-2023]

Death threats have become rampant as MAGA culture twists norms and makes once-marginal forms of violence mainstream.

‘No. 1 draft pick for Wall Street’: McHenry’s rise thrills Washington-wary executives

[Politico, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-20-2023]

“Rep. Patrick McHenry — the temporary speaker who may be tapped to be more than just a caretaker — is one of the House GOP’s top liaisons with the business community, thanks to his long-time leadership role at the Financial Services Committee. While McHenry began his career by throwing bombs and torpedoing bank bailouts, he’s emerged in recent years as a pragmatic, bipartisan dealmaker. He has served as a counterweight to his party’s predilection for economy-rattling brinksmanship over things such as the federal debt limit. The hope in the business world is that having McHenry at the helm of the House might add some stability as a government shutdown looms next month. ‘Patrick McHenry is the best,’ said Anthony Scaramucci, a financier and former Trump communications director. ‘He would be the No. 1 draft pick for Wall Street.’ McHenry’s rise comes as the finance industry has become increasingly accustomed to Washington dysfunction.”

Where Is the Republican Lina Khan?

Matt Stoller [Compact, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-19-2023]

“[Khan] represents the actual policy implementation of populist economics. Younger GOP politicians like Sens. Josh Hawley and J.D. Vance and Rep. Matt Gaetz disagree with McConnell and are upfront about seeking to turn the Republican Party into a working-class political coalition, including by building new administrative tools to do so…. Ultimately, if the Republican Party is to become a working-class vehicle, it will need to go far beyond playing footsie with wielding government power. To truly govern in a way that will satisfy their base and the public at large, conservatives are going to have to find their own Lina Khan. But until they do, they can start by working with the one in office right now.”

Dismantling Iowa

Marilynne Robinson [The New York Review, November 2, 2023 issue]

American higher education is premised on liberal ideals, intended to make young people independent thinkers and capable citizens. What’s happening in Iowa undermines that legacy….

Kim Reynolds became governor in 2017, having served as lieutenant governor under Terry Branstad. She was elected to a full term in 2018, then reelected in a landslide in 2022, bringing with her an overwhelming majority of Republican legislators. Since then, Iowa has become a theater and a laboratory for root-and-branch retrogression. I am glad for Iowa’s sake that nationally so few people know or care what its legislature does. At the same time, there is benefit to be had in watching how this important faction governs, given a free hand.

What do these people want? If it happens that their goal is to create a permanent underclass, they are doing many things right. This is not at all the objective they claim for themselves. They pose as champions of the people. But they are making a wholesale attack on the basic institutions of the country, by policy and by the spread of pernicious distrust that undercuts the authority of institutions they do not control. This has led to an important reconfiguring of society on the basis of nothing worthier of respect than anger and resentment….

We hold the freedom of others in trust, for the occasions when they need to assert it, or when something new arises out of it, perhaps a larger vision of what a human life can be. By law the United States took the rights of the Indians in trust, with what consequences we all know. Bad faith in this regard has no boundaries. Either we truly acknowledge the unalienable rights of others to our respect and our restraint, or they have no rights. This is never truer than it is for children. A presumptive respect for what they might become would assure them good food and plenty of sleep, and never count the cost. It might take care that they had a stable home and a parent unharried enough to be fairly sure everything is all right with them. A fair wage would have these consequences. It might protect the precious time they would spend on daydreams, those lovely works of the human brain that give rise to art and invention and aspiration. And the children staggering under the burdens of privilege, driven by the fear that they will fall short of success as others define it, might put down their backpacks and daydream, too. Then this weary country would be new again.


The (anti)Federalist Society Infestation of the Courts


[Law and Political Economy Project, via Naked Capitalism 10-15-2023]

They say that the first year of law school is like an immersive course in a new language. At first, you don’t even know what the cases are about—let alone how to determine whether they’re still “good law” and in which jurisdictions. Once you learn some basic terms and rules, you begin to make some sense of the materials and even to imitate the style of reasoning they demonstrate. At some point you find you’re forming your own jargon-laden arguments on the fly.

That’s a hard enough task, but in many US law schools you’re required to learn an additional language: “economic analysis,” or at least the pidgin version that is taught in doctrinal courses…  Economic analysis (so called) has become part of the method of legal decision-making in many realms, so learning how to play some of its little language games has practical value. For LPE-ers who seek to overcome the hegemony of law and economics, it is essential to learn not just how to play these games but also how to critically analyze them and their premises.

Since such an education is not readily available at most law schools, a number of students have requested the Blog’s help. This post is one effort in that direction….

Further Reading

The best introduction I am aware of to the basic moral concepts at play here is Hausmann, McPherson and Satz. A more technical (but still accessible and non-mathy) explanation of welfare criteria and why law and economics cannot justify those it uses is Glick and Lozada.

For some discussion of how efficiency slippage works in antitrust and surrounding doctrinal areas, see Paul and Paul.

A great introduction to the problems with willingness to pay is Ackerman and Heinzerling. I also synthesized some critiques of even reformed cost-benefit analysis here at the Blog.

Dworkin, Kronman, and Coleman offer classic takedowns of Richard Posner’s articulation of “wealth maximization” as a value. For what it’s worth, here is Posner’s response.

Calabresi is a good explanation of why Pareto criteria can’t be useful to legal problems, with some consideration of the issues with Kaldor-Hicks.

Some classic explanations of issues with the assumptions of neoclassical welfare economics are SenSen, and Sen.

Sanchirico is a detailed and somewhat technical explanation of why the problems with efficiency can’t be dealt with by “tax and transfer.” See also McCluskey.

A masterful explanation of some of the core conceptual problems with using money as a measure of value is Desan.

For a taste of some of the issues with the core assumptions about markets that ground the notion of “perfect competition,” see Lee and Keen and Ackerman (both are fairly technical, but it’s something of the nature of the beast.)


Wedding Websites, Free Speech, and Adverse Drug Effects 

[New England Journal of Medicine, via Naked Capitalism 10-19-2023]

The First Amendment is traditionally seen as protecting the freedom of individuals’ speech from government interference. But in recent years, it has also been invoked by conservative litigators and relied on by judges to justify forbidding ‘compelled speech.’ In this view, just as the government cannot prevent a person from saying something, it cannot oblige a person to say something. Both uses of the newly weaponized First Amendment have become powerful tools in conservatives’ attempts to dismantle ‘the regulatory state.’ In 2023, pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck objected to provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act that allowed Medicare to negotiate drug prices, arguing that requiring the company to state its acceptance of a future negotiated price would represent impermissible compelled speech. Merck’s argument and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates and 303 Creative cases also reflect another development that was probably not anticipated by the Founders: that corporate entities deserve the same constitutional rights as individuals. The latter cases represented extensions of the Court’s 2014 Hobby Lobby ruling that a company can claim religious-freedom rights that exempt it from covering contraceptives under its employee health insurance.



Europe’s Richest Royal Family Builds $300 Billion Finance Empire 

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 10-19-2023]


The Moral Authority of Marc Rowan

Maureen Tkacik, October 21, 2023 [The American Prospect]

The private equity billionaire is leading a boycott of an Ivy League oligarch factory over a Palestinian literary festival it held last month….

The nurse knew it was unwise to undergo surgery in their own hospital, where there was a well-documented history of abysmal sanitation practices, the lone sterile technician on staff seemed to never leave the hospital, and corporate is so behind on its bills they had almost entirely eliminated the weekend housekeeping staff and were chronically short on basic supplies like IV tubing. But at some point following a restructuring two years ago, Apollo outsourced its health insurance administration to a company that placed onerous restrictions and preauthorization requirements on care received outside Apollo—and anyway, they felt they owed it to their colleagues and community to stay: “I wanted to show the docs and nurses here that I trust them, because they are wonderful people.” So they took the risk, and have since spent thousands of dollars out of pocket attempting to undo the damage.

Now, the nurse wonders if they will ever have time to heal. Only 24 hours passed after their last surgery before they were called back to work. Then in September, the hospital lost ten travel nurses in a single week; apparently, the hospital had slashed their weekly pay by $1,000 with no notice. The nurse has wanted to quit countless times, but it’s the only hospital for hours in any direction, and every month the patients get sicker and more reliant on what a colleague in their seventies told the nurse was “the most broken hospital” they have ever seen. “You know how you wring out a washcloth three or four times and the last time you squeeze it, you’ve got to squeeze really hard for maybe just a drop or two of water?” another of the nurse’s colleagues told me. Apollo “just never stops going back and trying to squeeze a little more.”

This campaign of deprivation has been extremely lucrative for Apollo, which over the past two years has extracted at least $1.6 billion from the nurse’s hospital chain, at an almost incalculable cost to workers, patients, and their small-town communities.

But that is what Apollo does. In the 33 years since a group of Michael Milken protégés founded the consummate modern private equity firm, Apollo has run its businesses ragged. The economic analysts at Moody’s have consistently found that Apollo portfolio companies plunged into distress or default around two-thirds of the time, the highest rate in the business. Since the pandemic began, the financial giant and its subsidiaries have been involved in at least 20 corporate bankruptcies, from the dramatic (and “perplexing,” in the Financial Times’ characterization) liquidation of the trucking company Yellow to the unexpectedly “messy” bankruptcy of serial looting victim Serta Simmons Bedding. (The company did not respond to a request for comment.)….

[TW: Leon Black and Apollo Global Management are central to the story of how finance and banking came to be dominated by organized crime., and the process by which USA’s economy has fallen under the control of financial predators.

[This is a story about the influence of criminality in the economy that almost all professional economists are frantically desperate to avoid — an academic phenomena that savings and loan investigator William Black has written about many times since the financial crashes of 2007-2008.

[Leon Black’s father, Eli M. Black was chairman of United Brands Company (formerly called United Fruit in the 1960s and earlier), which ran much of the illegal narcotics trade in the Caribbean and South America, usually with the knowledge, and sometimes assistance, of the CIA. United Fruit corporate assets were used for moving Israeli-procured arms into covert wars throughout Latin America, which blew up into the Iran-Contra scandal of 1987, nearly taking down the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

[In 1975, when federal investigators were gathering evidence that United Brands had bribed Honduran government officials in preparation for a law suit that threatened to reveal the role of dirty money in the boardrooms of certain companies, Eli M. Black fell to his death from the 44th floor of Manhattan’s Pan Am Building.

[At Milken’s Drexel, Leon Black was a managing director, head of the Mergers & Acquisitions Group, and co-head of the Corporate Finance Department. In 1990, Black and two other Drexel executives founded Apollo. Black was chairman until March 2021, when he was forced to retire following revelations that he had paid intelligence operative and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein $158 million for “tax and financial advice” between 2012 and 2017. Epstein had also been one of the original trustees of the Debra and Leon Black Foundation since 1997. ]



One Relatively Bloodless Way To End The Genocide In Gaza


British Intelligence Says Russian Casualties Up 90% + Palestine Update


  1. DMC

    There seems to be a complete disconnect between what economists keep telling us and the actual experience of people on the ground. While the finance based economy is going gangbusters, the rate of total poverty increased 60% from 2021 to 2022 while the child poverty rate more than doubled. Those are the biggest 12 month increases on record. Seems to be largely driven by the expiration of pandemic relief programs and the corporate “greedflation” that drives all those dividends and stock buy backs that the economists seem to love so very much.

  2. different clue


    There are some economists who don’t love it very much at all. But they have been safely placed under the Cone of Silence, and it is hard for outside the cone to hear them screaming from inside the cone.

  3. different clue

    There is a blog I periodically read by Ran Prieur, called Ran Prieur. It has some very good, interesting and not-found-elsewhere views and sources and links.

    His last 2 days have been so good and so on point to the matter of economics and “economics” that I will copy-paste just a little bit of it here and hope I may be forgiven for doing so.

    . . . ” Imagine you’re living in a little house you built yourself, drinking water out of a stream, and you’ve got some fruit trees and a garden that provide all your food. Don’t actually do this — for complicated reasons, homesteading is really hard. But we all have ancestors who lived happily on zero money. And then someone comes along and dams the stream and sells you the water in bottles refined from oil drilled by wrecking your garden. Your trees are cut into lumber, you have to work in a terrible factory to survive — and every one of these changes grows the money economy, by gobbling up stuff formerly outside the money economy.

    This is the history of colonialism everywhere. It’s true that rising GDP is good for the third world. But before people can be made happy by money, they first have to be made miserable by destroying their ability to live without money. ” . . .

    Here is the link to Ran Prieur’s blog.

  4. VietnamVet

    The current ruling belief system that allows exploitation of labor and resources to increase individual and family wealth no matter the consequences depends on ignoring reality and the results of their actions. Clash of Civilizations is real. Infrastructure requires government and taxes to work. Health costs and user fees are unaffordable to the declining middle class. The surviving North American heartland is turning into mobile favelas.

    Over half century ago I was in the back of a two-and-half ton M35 cargo truck passing by the ruins of a Khmer temple left after the invasion of Vietnamese years before. Centuries earlier the Montagnards were forced to become mountain people by lowland paddy farmers who could build stone temples. A couple of years after I was there, the US invasion of South Vietnam failed. The Afghanistan occupation collapsed. Iraq and Syria are next.

    Whatever challenges the globalist neoliberal beliefs is simply labeled as wrong or misinformation without saying why. A nonbeliever, identified as a heretic, is not promoted. This is why Tony Blinken, Jake Sullivan and Joe Biden are incapable of seeing reality or of doing what is best for the American people. They were advanced to keep corporate war profiteers in the money.

    From Ukraine to Israel and China, war is the only alternative to the fall of the Western Empire. Closing the thousands of overseas bases, shipping a million troops home, and living within North Americans resources and labor, is an alternative to the escalation of these wars into a nuclear exchange by signing an armistice and building a new DMZ.

    China, for decades, had several hundred hydrogen bomb armed ICBMs buried in their mountains. More than enough to destroy the USA in retaliation to a first strike. They recently increased the number to 500 and built excess silos to rotate the missiles. China determined that the destruction of the USA was not enough to deter the crazy globalists and neocons funded by the military industrial complex who are currently running the Western Corporate state.

    Either the West backs down or the world is destroyed for humans.

  5. Thanks to Tony Wikrent and all the commenters above. I very much value this blog and its community.

    To different clue’s point, or rather Ran Prieur’s point regarding colonialism: this is absolutely true, and I think must also be extended as an observation to the heartlands of the capitalist metropoles themselves. As Charles S. Sellers showed in THE MARKET REVOLUTION: JACKSONIAN AMERICA, 1815-1846, the shift to market capitalism from a more-or-less traditional, “safety-first” farming and subsistence economy and society was a wrenching transition in the U.S. (see also Stephen Hahn and Jonathan Prude, THE COUNTRYSIDE IN THE AGE OF CAPITALIST TRANSFORMATION).

    E.P. Thompson has famously shown how this was the case in England starting in the Tudor Era, with the beginning of The Enclosures (enclosure of the commons, that is).

    I don’t know Continental historiography as well, but Geroges Rude’ has done very fine work on the French crowd (see sabotage, from the act of throwing a peasant’s sabot, or wooden shoe, into the works of a machine).

    So I think different clue is very much correct, and that the violence of the capitalist transformation is one of its fundamental features (see, also, for instance, Donald Wright, THE WORLD AND A VERY SMALL PLACE IN AFRICA).

    Contrary to enclosing capitalist classes, democratic and republican political figures, from the Gracchi through Lincoln and FDR, have sought to put the power of the State behind redistribution and economic equality as the basis of political equality.

  6. *Meant to add in the first paragraph: thank you to Ian Welsh, and my apologies for leaving the host out!

    **In second para., should read “to different clue’s point, quoting Ran Prieur regarding colonialism”

  7. different clue

    @Swamp Yankee,

    Thank you for the kind words.

    Now that we have been fully marketized and civilizationised, I don’t think we can go all the way back to a better un-money past. Partly because westermodern industrialized mankind has sacked and pillaged natural creation so thoroughly that there is very little left to go back to. And partly because several thousand years of steady insectization of most people has left us as a cheap bootleg knockoff-copy of our superior CroManderthal ancestors. I read somewhere that the average in-skull brain-size capacity of Cro-Magnon Man was about 10 percent bigger than ours is. We have had to reduce our brain-size by 10% in order to tolerate the demands of Civilized Life. And now Industrialized Life. That is the price of insectification, which is the process of getting people able to live and function more like social insects than like wolves in order to be able to live in civilization.

    Is the situation utterly hopeless? I don’t think so. People living in suburbia can still go 10 % of the way back by turning their houses and yards into centers of un-money partial subsistence. We still have to work for money to buy the survival things that only money will pay for, such as taxes, grid supplies and services, and a thousand other et ceteras. But we in suburbia ( or semiburbia in my case) could grow some of our own heat and cold, roofwater capture and storage, body waste processing via waterless compostoilets ( see ), foodgrowing in very intensive little gardens and maybe even micro-orchards if the yard is big enough, etc.

    We still have 90% of the brain-size which Cro-Magnon man had, so maybe we are still smart enough to be able to do some of that. And we are still smart enough to come up with clever and inspiring phrases for that concept like . . . . FreeUnMarket CounterEconomy versus Forced Market MoneyConomy

    ” You can make big unmoney in the growing Free UnMarket CounterEconomy.”

    ” Every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat”.

    And lots more.

    Ian Welsh offered us a Preparing For Bad Times entry for people to bring information to, and for a while we did that. But people stopped using it and so he stopped re-hoisting it to the top once a week. It is still findable in search engines. Here it is . . .
    If he were to assign it a category place and title in his list of categories on the upper right side of the page-screen, people might be able to find it easier and start using it again. But even if he did that, they still might not use it.

    ( And I note that Ian Welsh DOES ALREADY HAVE a category for Covid 19. That is a place people can already find and go to either find covid 19 survival information or to offer covid 19 survival information and sources they may wish to offer).

    So what else might be possible? I notice that the Wikrent Weekly Wrap-up has become a durable once-a-week feature. Once people have said everything they are going to say in response to the articles Tony Wikrent puts into the Weekly Wrap-up, and it is clear that no one else will have anything more to say about any of Wikrent’s featured articles;, then people might bring information about survival, subsistence,
    and CounterEconomy activities to the very end of the thread without interrupting any ongoing discussion. And people would know where to go in general to find things or offer things.

  8. Thanks to Tony Wikrent as always for the links, and to Ian Welsh for hosting this excellent resource.

    I’m reproducing a distillation of two comments I wrote over at Naked Capitalism re: the “New Right” (actually the mid-20th c. CDU or Italian Christian Democrats in 2020s US clothing):

    It would be extremely unwise for John Judis, or anyone else for that matter, to trust Oren Cass’s “conversion” to a tepid North American iteration of Germany’s CDU — welfare conservatism with a basis in socially conservative social structures and understandings of the world.

    I know Cass, having, as I alluded to here previously, spent four years working and living with him as an undergrad: it’s important to recognize that Cass is fundamentally a mercenary opportunist, and that this most recent reinvention is precisely that, a reinvention, and as Lambert points out, one in which there is no actual “there” there from a left-wing perspective. Cass doesn’t have any interests in worker power or popular democracy; he is taking this recent turn because a) he is on the side of the big battalions, the ultimate go-with-the-flow flexarian; this simply reflects the currency of Left ideas post-Bernie; and b) he may actually fear his paymasters, the big capitalists, have something to worry about in terms of a social explosion. He’s not unintelligent — quite the contrary. Amoral, yes, but smart.

    Indeed, I remember early-mid 2000s Oren well, a National Review Online type who went to work for either Bain or Boston Consulting right after graduation, I can’t recall which, and was loudly disdaining, alongside his more charming but likely sociopathic confrere Mike Needham (current Rubio’s Chief of Staff, last I checked), the kinds of classes precisely where we read Karl Polanyi or Fernand Braudel on the history of capitalism (Cass also confessed quote openly that he only took a Shakespeare course for social positioning in future business and other endeavors; he had no interest in OTHELLO itself, he made abundantly clear, and regarded those of us who did with a kind of contempt).

    The proper response from the Left is to keep the pressure up on these (again, to revive a 2000s-term) _poseurs_. Show that they don’t actually mean any of their fine words when it comes to say, unions or redistribution. Because they believe me: they don’t.

    A final anecdote: I was elected Class Graduation Speaker by a large majority, 64-36%, of Oren and my undergraduate class. I beat the nephew of the neoliberal economist who was the College’s President at the time, and this nephew was very gracious in his defeat.

    Not so Cass, who supported my opponent, and “congratulated” me and then told me pointedly — this after I’d humiliated him in an opinion column the previous winter in our school paper — that “I didn’t vote for you.”

    I replied: “Well, I guess you didn’t, Oren; and yet I still won.” And by 64-36%.

    Ultimately, I gave what I still think is a pretty left-wing address for a 2000s undergrad setting (I was joined on the dais by The Moustache of Understanding himself! It was of a piece with the era.)

    Oren Cass always has been anti-democracy and on the side of the bosses, and he always will be.

    Caveat emptor.

    This is the perfect opportunity vis-a-vis Cass et al. to ask a question like:

    “I’m gratified to see that Mr. Cass has admitted that his youthful enthusiasm for the Market-Uber-Alles ideology was misplaced and in short, incorrect; given that, is he willing to agree today with Abraham Lincoln, who famously said that ‘labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration’? If not, why not?”

    It’s important to force their indefensible belief in aristocracy out into the open. They do not share the basic premises of the Left.

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