coup of the coin

I have long had this instinct that it is the interests of big corporations that determine government policy in the United States.

Economist James Kwak:

I don’t claim to know how to fix our educational system. But I have an idea about why it hasn’t been fixed, which I’m sure someone can write up as a cute two-period economic model.

Assume that society is divided into the capitalists and everyone else, and the capitalists make investment decisions for society as a whole. Until 1980, if the capitalists wanted to make more money, they needed to invest in technology, which meant they needed an increasingly educated workforce, and therefore they were willing to invest some of their profits (via taxes and public schools) in education. And, according to Goldin and Katz, from 1930 to 1980 the average educational level of Americans increased by 4.7 years.

But since 1980, and especially since 1990, the world has become more open. If the American capitalists want to make more money, they still have to invest in new technology, and they still need an increasingly educated workforce. But now, because of globalization, they can get that workforce anywhere in the world.

And an appropriate roar from the Volatility blog:

We can reply that we spit upon your lies and your claims to the mantle of America. We can refuse them, reject them and renounce them. They’re not citizens. They’re nothing to us.

Even though we know this is not our government, not our system, not our polity, we can, by the act of articulating our demands, lay bare the fraudulence of this whole usurping bastard system.

Since it’s Labor Day, we can start here: We demand of this government a jobs program. What else is this government good for if it doesn’t coordinate the economy to create sufficient jobs for all? What could capitalism be good for if it doesn’t create living wage jobs for all? What are the corporations good for if they don’t create fulfilling jobs for all? What are the rich good for if all their stolen wealth doesn’t trickle down in the form of real jobs for all?

Today the Earth has been fenced off by thieves, and the produce of our hard work is stolen every day. And now, in accordance with the new feudal war upon us, more and more of us, already almost 20% of the work force, are permanently excluded from even subsistence labor, as the jobs themselves are liquidated.

All this is nothing but crime.

“Democrats are bad enough, but Republicans block anything that will help the American people and this economy at every turn”, says Robert Oak.

big cheese mousetrap

Village Voice. Is it, was it always, real estate schemes?

“Scientology is supported, in fact, by a few thousand wealthy members. Some of these, like Tom Cruise, Nancy Cartwright, Craig Jensen (Diskeeper), Sky Dayton (Earthlink) and a few others are very wealthy and contribute millions.

crunching vast quantities of us

How does our money become the money in others peoples’ pockets? The Economist hints at data mining. Massive-scale market demography.

If your phone records reveal quick callbacks, you do not worry about calling other people late at night, you tend to get more calls at times when social events are most often organized, such as Friday afternoons, you make long calls while the calls you take are generally short, you are a commercial target.

Criminal or enterprise if you see differences, firms are pleased to operate within the ‘spectrum of you’ because there is coin there.

JP Rangaswami:

There’s a new game in town, where the surveillance is all digital. Where everything we do is monitored and recorded and analyzed and used, ostensibly to help us. Ostensibly.

Many of the things we do are recorded, and we know about it.

Many of the things we do are recorded, and we give permission for that recording to take place.

Some of the things we do are recorded with our permission and we don’t understand enough about it.

So we need to know more about all of this.

strands of the far right

By Sarah Posner and Julie Ingersoll:

The Tea Party movement emerges out of the confluence of different strands of the far right, including Christian Reconstructionism.

The militia movement and Christian Reconstructionism both contend that our current civil government, most especially the federal government, is illegitimate: that it has overreached the limits of its divinely ordained authority, and that it continues to do so.

Many in the militia movement, the Tea Party Movement, and Christian Reconstruction also share the view that civil government should be reformed according to the dictates of biblical law.

sport hunting

The stars are all immensely hot and glowing objects, similar in nature to our Sun …. some bigger than the Sun, some smaller … but all of them shine by their OWN light.

Brian May:

No ! – we are absolutely not obsessed ENOUGH with animals. You are, sadly, asking the wrong question here.

We humans, as a race, are insanely obsessed with ourselves … and have the completely unjustifiable idea that we are the only species on this planet that is worthy of decent treatment. I believe our whole manner of treating the other animals on Earth is tragically off-beam.

It’s time we all got a grip, and realized that EVERY animal is worthy of respect.

masters in a hole

Washington Post tidbits as the story is told:

…the mine’s [original] stash of emergency food – two spoonfuls of tuna and half a glass of milk per man every 48 hours …finally through the roof of the miners’ shelter, the workers had run out of food and had not eaten in 48 hours.

…the men on a 12-hour shift schedule, using the headlights of trucks to simulate sunlight.

…a new shelter, a drier area about 200 yards farther down the shaft. They had already spent days reinforcing the roof.

Drilling will spill 18,000 gallons of water into their chambers …plans to construct drainage and holding pools and canals to shunt water away from the miners’ living quarters.

chicken fashion

I searched many pages failing to find the original link, faint praise for the wonderfully silly photo of a dressed chicken. But surprise, I did discover that Mary the Genji-robed chicken received the New Yorker’s 2009 Critterati Award.

sour or grapes

Penelope Trunk:

I think people need to choose between an interesting life or happy life.

People with interesting lives do not get offended that they cannot be happy. Happy people are offended that they cannot have interesting lives.

I’ve always preferred, ‘In all your getting, get understanding’.

Adam Phillips at the Guardian offers a bright essay on various myth of happiness.

We all want to be happy, we want our children to be happy, and there are countless books advising us how to achieve happiness. But is this really what we should be aiming for?

A people who conceive life to be the pursuit of happiness must be chronically unhappy. —Marshall Sahlins

fundamentalism, so simple it works

Too many of us are manifestly unwilling to put out any intellectual energy whatever and a large part of the reason can be traced to the far Right, particularly the far Religious Right.

Mick Arran on how devil-dogma, plutocratic greed, and religious orthodoxy renders the faithful blindly ignorant:

For four straight decades now, conservatives have been selling us economic and political policies based on 3-sec sound bites and sloganeering phrases, some of them barely more than a single loaded word. “Tax cuts”, “socialism”, “death panels”, “death tax”, and so on. They have told us over and over again that “liberals” always make things too complicated, and that they do that to bamboozle us suckers.

This has been the origination and the development of a doctrine I call “simplicism”: an orthodoxy masquerading as common sense that feeds into the historic American distaste for mental pursuits by promulgating a philosophical paradigm in which all solutions are simple and any solution that isn’t must therefore be a trick and should be ignored unless you want to be the victim of a con artist.

In effect, it excuses, justifies, and even encourages ignorance as a defense against an unnecessary and supposedly wasteful intellectual effort.

Complexity and nuance just confuse the situation, we’re told. They muddy the waters and throw sand in our eyes to prevent us from seeing that the answers we’re looking for are the simple ones, the ones any moron can understand.

The onslaught of simplicism slung from the political far Right would have been bad enough, dangerous enough, damaging enough to cause the our democracy serious problems in any case, but added to it was the sudden emergence of the fundalmentalist Religious Right’s insistence that God didn’t make us to think but to obey the Bible in all things, blindly believing every word literally, thereby cutting off all discussion or disagreement.

A quote FWIW:

It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance. —Murray Rothbard

episode of abuses

The Bush-Cheney private sector military fiasco:

Blackwater Worldwide created a web of more than 30 shell companies or subsidiaries in part to obtain millions of dollars in American government contracts after the security company came under intense criticism for reckless conduct in Iraq, according to Congressional investigators and former Blackwater officials.

Since 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency awarded up to $600 million in classified contracts to Blackwater and its affiliates.

nuggets of crazy

Oh just must follow up on veneer peeling off Palin.

“This whole hunter thing, for Sarah? That is the biggest fallacy,” says one longtime friend of the family. “That woman has never hunted.”

“The picture of her with the caribou she says she shot? She got out of the R.V. to pose for a picture. She never helps with the fishing either. It’s all a joke.”

The friend goes on to recall that when Greta Van Susteren came to the house to interview Palin “[Sarah] cooked moose chili and whatnot. Todd was calling everyone he knew the day before—’Do you got any moose?’ Desperate.”


every inch we eat

Gregor Macdonald:

What’s concerning about the pressures on the global food system that have bubbled up in the past five years is that they are accompanied by the crossing of certain thresholds.

While we cannot know for certain how resilient global agricultural will be in responding to either a rise in temperature volatility, or, demand pressure on yields in a time of higher cost energy inputs, the fact that the world has already positioned itself for highly optimized food production is worrisome.

Add to this juncture the fact that regions, at a time when oil is forcing the restoration of distance, are choosing to extend and lengthen distance between themselves and their food supply, and we can start to build a better case for a food problem that is not temporary but structural.

billionaires want subsidies

The Koch billionaires prefer favors and breaks. Koch subsidiaries Flint Hills Resources and Tesoro, as well as Valero Oil, are seeking status quo. They’ve pumped more than $2 million into ballot Proposition 23 which is designed to reverse California’s climate initiatives.

Google’s William Wiehl says California’s green energy rules under AB32 have created 500,000 cleantech jobs since implemented in 2006.

post-fossil societies :::gulp:::

Robert Rapier has posted a peak oil piece based on a German military think tank study. The new report sees significant risks arising from an unavoidable peak in oil production:

  1. Economies stop functioning: In addition to the gradual risks, there might be risks of non-linear events, where a reduction of economic output based on Peak Oil might affect market-driven economies in a way that they stop functioning altogether, leaving the range of a relatively steady downward trajectory.
  2. Slow decline of trade: Such a scenario could pan out by an initially slow decline of trade and economic activity, combined with higher stress on government budgets from lower tax income, higher social cost and growing investment into alternative technologies.
  3. Crash of markets: Investment will decline and debt service will be challenged, leading to a crash in financial markets, accompanied by a loss of trust into currencies and a break-up of value and supply chains – because trade is no longer possible.
  4. Famine and total collapse: This would in turn lead to the collapse of economies, mass unemployment, government defaults and infrastructure breakdowns, ultimately followed by famines and total system collapse.

Overall, the authors expect a reduction of ‘free market’ mechanisms in oil trade, and a rise in more protectionism, exchange deals, and political alliances between suppliers and customers, which could lead to significant geopolitical shifts.

Equally, the authors expect this interdependency to shape foreign affairs of oil importers, making them more tolerant towards rogue behavior of suppliers out of sheer need.

Higher volatility and loss of trust are seen as possible outcomes in a world where oil supplies are limited, increasing the need for ‘oil related diplomacy’ and thus increasing risks for moral hazard among all actors, which in turn decreases

money machinery

Even as Sarah Palin’s public voice grows louder, she has become increasingly secretive, walling herself off from old friends and associates, and attempting to enforce silence from those around her.

Following the former Alaska governor’s road show, the author delves into the surreal new world Palin now inhabits—a place of fear, anger, and illusion, which has swallowed up the engaging, small-town hockey mom and her family—and the sadness she has left in her wake.

Michael Joseph Gross at VanityFair:

The Palin machine is supported by organizations that do much of their business under the cover of pseudonyms and shell companies.

In accordance with the terms of a reported $1 million annual contract with Fox News, Palin regularly delivers canned commentary on that network.

But in the year since she abruptly resigned the governorship of Alaska, in order to market herself full-time—earning an estimated $13 million in the process—she keeps tight control of her pronouncements, speaking only in settings of her own choosing, with audiences of her own selection, and with reporters kept at bay. She injects herself into the news almost every day, but on a strictly one-way basis…

Warm and effusive in public, indifferent or angry in private:

Of the many famous people who have stayed at the Hyatt in Wichita (Cher, Reba McEntire, Neil Young), Sarah Palin ranks as the all-time worst tipper: $5 for seven bags. But the bellhops had it good in Kansas, compared with the bellman at another midwestern hotel who waited up until past midnight for Palin and her entourage to check in—and then got no tip at all for 10 bags. He was stiffed again at checkout time. The same went for the maids who cleaned Palin’s rooms in both places—no tip whatsoever.

policies non-normal

A new regime can only arise after all current economists are dead. – Goldilocksisableachblonde

stunney said in reply to Goldilocksisableachblonde:

Yes, the best sustained period in U.S. economic history—best rates of output expansion, best real median wage growth, best employment figures, best poverty reduction rates, best expansion of higher education, best patterns of economic security, best infrastructure improvements, best progress in civil rights, most stable inflation rates, biggest reduction in national debt as a percentage of GDP etc—coincided with the least free market, least unregulated, most unionized, least floating currency exchange regime, highest tax rate period in U.S. economic history.

And to make sure America never has to endure such an affront to the genius of the most right wing conventional wisdom among economists, and to the naked avarice of the richest members of the citizenry, and to the most statesmen-like of our political scumbags, and to to the bright, shining lie that is our mainstream media, it is to be earnestly hoped that the Republicans win big in this election cycle, and begin at once to destroy this legacy, beating the crap out of the voting public in the process, so that said public will, in its rabid stupidity, blame it even on the big-eared black man in the White House.

Brought to you by:

The GOP Seniors Dementia Alliance

and by

The Ungrateful Undead Boomers Coalition

and by

The Free Market Fiction Association

and by

The Palinomics Anti-Refudiation League

ripped by crude

Everything you want to know about placards and signs you do not see at a Tea Party rally.

Please notice America’s trade balance. Our economy is scooped out and scrubbed raw by crude oil. It isn’t the worn-out worry about China filling shopping malls that’s our deficit, but also Nigeria, Canada, Mexico, Angola, Kuwait, Venezuela and wherever there’s a contract for crude!

Steve Ludlum at Economic Undertow:

The majority of analysts believe that crude oil is simply another input like copper or wheat. If crude becomes in short supply, another fuel of some kind will replace it, all that is required is high enough prices to fund the replacement.

They believe our economies are declining because we are carrying unserviceable debt. They suggest debt remedies will cure the economic disease and allow a return to growth.

Undertow?! The oil industry is an economic rip current!

induced sloppy

Technology has advanced almost all aspects of our lives, except in the design of cities.

Innovations in design and development have only automated the process of building to the minimums.

Those sitting on planning commissions and councils blame the developer for blandness, but the reality is those same commissioners and council members approved the ordinances that enforce unsustainable development in the first place.