ripped gilt

Is it ideologues are interpreting Adam Smith or pundits Ayn Rand or our Supreme Court is stubbornly narrow because their thinking will go no further?

Michael F. Martin:

Some day, one can only hope, there will be an explicit recognition of the fact that competition is simply one way among many to get people to cooperate, and that it is cooperation rather than competition that is the source of wealth.

buying votes

“The mood on the right may be populist, but it’s a kind of populism that’s remarkably sympathetic to big corporations.”

Political spending by banks goes to Republicans. Securities and investment firms give more money to Republicans. Oil and gas companies, always Republican-leaning, have gone all out, bestowing 76 percent of their spending on Republicans.

Paul Krugman:

The Obama administration plans to raise tax rates on upper brackets back to Clinton-era levels. Furthermore, health reform will in part be paid for with surtaxes on high-income individuals. All this will amount to a significant financial hit to C.E.O.’s, investment bankers and other masters of the universe.

Now, don’t cry for these people: they’ll still be doing extremely well, and by and large they’ll be paying little more as a percentage of their income than they did in the 1990s.

Yet the fact that the tax increases they’re facing are reasonable doesn’t stop them from being very, very angry. From the outside, this rage against regulation seems bizarre. I mean, what did they expect?

We are utterly silly terribly wrong. Nothing is more important than a citizen’s vote. Assemblies are our best effort and only prize. There’s blood for that. Walk on it.

link baskets

Circling round to past and future, fantasy and fact. I suppose we could argue which is reality? The life of the body—or the life of the mind?


Writers are people for whom writing is more difficult than others.

What locking yourself alone in a room every day—and not knowing how to do anything else—will produce.

coffers scofflaws

Billionaires captured rulemakers to arrange their base tax rate at just 15%.

The Challenge of Closing Tax Loopholes For Billionaires

The House has already tried three times to close it only to have the Senate cave in because of campaign donations from these and other financiers.

Aw, crap. We are crops of convenience. We are living day to day. Not to forget at work and going to work. Gas and sales and eats. Endless fees. Extractive penalties. Bad habits of budgets. Hidden habits of bonds. Crumbling results.

The entire nation seems to function at 25% efficiency managed by 90% nuts.


The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism.

Bet you didn’t know God has a plan for Canada – a very specific, pre-ordained role for the end times spelled out in the seventy-second psalm, verse eight, written long before Canada was discovered, long before Jesus was born: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” They call it the Dominion of Canada. No?

anything for a command

provocative tidbit

When the invasion of Iraq was first debated, one couldn’t fail to notice the preponderance of left-wing men of a certain age who came out in support of the war. Radicals as adults, but often from conservative backgrounds, now beginning to confront their own mortality, and preoccupied by masculinity and legacy, their palpable thrill about military might suggested that, deep down, they secretly feared progressive principles were for pussies. Now here was their chance, before it was too late, to prove their manhood.

drilling experts agree

A microscopic crack can unleash surging petroleum.

Who knew? BP knows. They used relatively little cement and an unusual configuration that made testing for imperfections more difficult. In two previous incidents drillers could not keep gas from surging. And in 2004 they sloppily twiddled with the rig’s blowout preventer.


What if the country is no longer a democracy at all?

Professor Wolin declares that managed democracy is a new form of government, a totalitarian government.

Capitalist elite have merged with governmental powers to create totalitarianism.

Instead of an active role, the people are spectators, – a mere matter of political puppets, the audience of American Idol – who vote, but are not part of the process.  [review]

Yes, one could blame it all on cluelessness.

ain’t no boldness


What the modern-day libertarian is, in reality and in practice, is a 24-carat hypocrite. Laissez faire is embraced with uncompromising zeal, while political and cultural freedoms for the rank and file are blithely swept away.

…elites and their hacks…

discretionary debarment

What third-world style and corruption gives BP our oil?

The Environmental Protection Agency are considering whether to bar BP from receiving government contracts, a move that would ultimately … end its drilling in federally controlled oil fields.

Over the past 10 years, BP has paid tens of millions of dollars in fines [not to mention the dead and scarred] and has been implicated in four separate instances of criminal misconduct that could have prompted this far more serious action.

The company’s executives and their lawyers have fended off such a penalty by promising that BP would change its ways.

Every backroom will always bite. Our current White House reworks it:

Nobody in this government will be satisfied until BP stops the leak, the oil is cleaned up and the affected people along the Gulf are fully compensated.

BP, as a responsible party, is charged with capping their leaking oil well and paying for the response and recovery.

no principles, no limits

Reform will come and reform will go, but the only secure way to power is by negotiating with the money power.

Dana Blankenhorn:

In the years around a genuine political crisis, and that’s what we’ve been in since 2005, this can be hard to see, hard to fathom. There is great fervor on both sides. The question for money is always, who will set the rules.

Each generational turn of the wheel in American history has been followed by just such a negotiation.

Money lost the struggle only once, as Andrew Jackson closed the Bank of the United States. This was followed by economic collapse driven by the states’ uncontrolled issuance of bonds. Money won’t make that mistake again, especially since Europe is playing the 1837 Game right now.

Republicans put the money power in charge after the Civil War. The progressive era was a continued effort to negotiate with, and struggle against, the money power. The liberal era forced the money power to accept a new normal of regulation in exchange for profit. And the Nixon era overturned the compromise.

During the Bush Excess money set the rules alone. It was the only force at the table. That’s why the ambulance crashed.

Money has no principles, no limits. The ideology of money, put in place by Reagan, was always self-defeating. Money must always compete, it must be challenged and channeled, or its raging water is just a flood, destroying everything before it.

finger pointing

[link] Seems that a crew from Schlumberger, on contract to BP, hightailed it off the platform 6 hours before the blowout because BP refused their recommendation to shut down the well.

BP hired a top oilfield service company to test the strength of cement linings on the Deepwater Horizon’s well, but sent the firm’s workers home 11 hours before the rig exploded April 20 without performing a final check that a top cementing company executive called “the only test that can really determine the actual effectiveness” of the well’s seal.

about responsibilities

As a business leader I recognize my role in society.

• My purpose is to lead people and manage resources to create value that no single individual can create alone.

• My decisions affect the well-being of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and tomorrow.

Therefore, I promise that:

• I will manage my enterprise with loyalty and care, and will not advance my personal interests at the expense of my enterprise or society.

• I will understand and uphold, in letter and spirit, the laws and contracts governing my conduct and that of my enterprise.

• I will refrain from corruption, unfair competition, or business practices harmful to society.

• I will protect the human rights and dignity of all people affected by my enterprise, and I will oppose discrimination and exploitation.

• I will protect the right of future generations to advance their standard of living and enjoy a healthy planet.

• I will report the performance and risks of my enterprise accurately and honestly.

• I will invest in developing myself and others, helping the management profession continue to advance and create sustainable and inclusive prosperity.

In exercising my professional duties according to these principles, I recognize that my behavior must set an example of integrity, eliciting trust and esteem from those I serve. I will remain accountable to my peers and to society for my actions and for upholding these standards.

This oath I make freely, and upon my honor.

ptsd and ivory

Stephen Baldwin:

Like many serious historians of antiquity, I often find myself wondering what happened to Hannibal’s elephants when the triumphant beasts returned to Carthage.

Were they rewarded for their Alp-crossing heroics with peaceful and well-fed retirement on the Afrique plains of plenty? Or did they succumb to an elephantine form of shell-shock, flapping their enormous ears in nervous terror as sudden recollections of Scipio’s artillery barrages exploded inside their noble skulls?

Of course, since we know from ancient sources such as Juvenal and Strabo that Roman matrons employed an early type of parasol (umbraculum) to defend their delicate complexions from the harsh Italian sun, it is always possible that some unscrupulous Athenian merchant purchased the animals after the Punic wars so he could cut their feet off and thereby produce the first souvenir umbrella stands.

After all, that is surely what would happen today.

our society at stake

Stuart Stanford:

I’ve never been able to get too terribly excited about the financial crisis as a massive long-term threat to humanity.  At the end of the day, debt is not a physical quantity.

The fact that humanity, collectively, has written too many debt instruments means that we have been too optimistic about the future, and created more promises than can be actually serviced. However, that doesn’t create any fundamental physical constraint on our activities: it just means that the excessive promises need to be renegotiated to be more in line with the our actual future capabilities.

This process will be painful and difficult in the short term, but I can’t see how it poses any fundamental difficulty to the continued operation of civilization.  There have been financial crises and sovereign debt defaults for many centuries and we have survived them: we will very likely survive this one too.

By contrast, peak oil, when it does come, represents a significant physical constraint, and will require a large scale transformation of a number of important infrastructure elements, one way or another, over the course of a few decades.  It’s also an unprecedented situation…

If we were to blow the handling of peak oil, it could be quite dangerous.

to save the world

The hard part is finding people who care.

Dave Pollard thought, “That’s what I should say when people ask me “how to save the world”. For a whole series of reasons:

In our individualistic western society, we try to do far too much alone. We need to organize, to cooperate, to collaborate. But we’re all so busy, so distracted, we don’t (most of us) have time or energy to learn what needs to be done, or to help get that work done. Finding others who can help, and know and care to do so, is even harder.

Enthusiasm drives a huge proportion of human endeavour. If we don’t really care, we will be hesitant to act, and we’ll give up easily in the face of adversity.

In my book Finding the Sweet Spot two of my key points are: (a) never start an enterprise alone; first find partners who share your passion and have complementary skills, and (b) the work you’re meant to do lies at the intersection of what you do uniquely well, what is needed in the world that no one else is precisely meeting, and what you have passion for.

We all need love to keep us going. Finding love is all about finding people who care.

Before we can care about something, we need to know about it. The important issues in the world today are complex, and it takes a lot of work to really know about them. So finding people who know, and who also care, is really hard.

pill spill

The British Medical Journal takes on antibiotic resistance. Far too many multi-drug resistant bacteria are appearing.

“Nothing less than the future of medicine, from organ transplants to chemotherapy, is at stake, and there will be no second chances.”

Editorials: Tackling antibiotic resistance
Research: Effect of antibiotic prescribing on antimicrobial resistance
Analysis: Stoking the antibiotic pipeline

They found strong evidence that individuals prescribed an antibiotic in primary care for a respiratory or urinary infection develop a resistance. The effect is greatest in the month immediately after treatment, but may last for up to a year, and this residual effect may be a driver for high levels of resistance in the community.

stress damage

Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, chief of the biology of aging division:

“We’re seeing that the health of mitochondria is central to aging.

“I think it is important for people to focus on good nutrition, but for those of advanced age who are running out of energy and not moving much, we’re trying to find a supplement mixture that can help improve their quality of life.”

Scientists do not fully understand all the processes that lead to loss of function as people age. But more and more research points to the mitochondrial free radical theory of aging, that as people age, oxidative damage piles up in individual cells such that the energy-generation system inside some cells stops working properly.