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Financial skeptic

Notes on "neoliberalism enforced" cruise to Frugality Island for 401K Lemmings

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Recommended Links Peak cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump Secular Stagnation under Neoliberalism Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks: The efficient m hypothesis Casino Capitalism
Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime Neoliberal Attacks on Social Security Unemployment Inflation vs. Deflation Coming Bond Squeeze Notes on 401K plans Vanguard
401K Investing Webliography Retirement scams Stock Market as a Ponzy scheme Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability Neoclassical Pseudo Theories The Great Stagnation Investing in Vanguard Mutual Funds and ETFs
OIL ETNs Peak Cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump Notes on 100-your age investment strategy behavior in rigged markets Chasing a trade The Possibility Of No Mean Reversion Junk Bonds For 401K Investors Tax policies
John Kenneth Galbraith The Roads We Take Economics Bookshelf Who Rules America Financial Quotes Financial Humor Etc

“When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product
of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.”

John Maynard Keynes

"Life is a school of probabilities."

Walter Bagehot

Neoliberal economics (aka casino capitalism) function from one crash to another. Risk is pervasively underpriced under neoliberal system, resulting in bubbles small and large which hit the economy periodically. The problem are not strictly economical or political. They are ideological. Like a country which adopted a certain religion follows a certain path, The USA behaviour after adoption of neoliberalism somewhat correlate with the behaviour of alcoholic who decided to booze himself to death. The difference is that debt is used instead of booze.

Hypertrophied role of financial sector under neoliberalism introduces strong positive feedback look into the economic system making the whole system unstable. Any attempts to put some sand into the wheels in the form of increasing transaction costs or jailing some overzealous bankers or hedge fund managers are blocked by political power of financial oligarchy, which is the actual ruling class under neoliberalism for ordinary investor (who are dragged into stock market by his/her 401K) this in for a very bumpy ride. I managed to observe just two two financial crashed under liberalism (in 2000 and 2008) out of probably four (Savings and loan crisis was probably the first neoliberal crisis). The next crash is given, taking into account that hypertrophied role of financial sector did not changes neither after dot-com crisis of 200-2002 not after 2008 crisis (it is unclear when and if it ended; in any case it was long getting the name of "Great Recession").

Timing of the next crisis is anybody's guess but it might well be closer then we assume. As Mark Twain aptly observed: "A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes" ;-):

This morning that meant a stream of thoughts triggered by Paul Krugman’s most recent op-ed, particularly this:

Most of all, the vast riches being earned — or maybe that should be “earned” — in our bloated financial industry undermined our sense of reality and degraded our judgment.

Think of the way almost everyone important missed the warning signs of an impending crisis. How was that possible? How, for example, could Alan Greenspan have declared, just a few years ago, that “the financial system as a whole has become more resilient” — thanks to derivatives, no less? The answer, I believe, is that there’s an innate tendency on the part of even the elite to idolize men who are making a lot of money, and assume that they know what they’re doing.

As most 401K investors are brainwashing into being "over bullish", this page is strongly bearish in "perma-bear" fashion in order to serve as an antidote to "Barrons" style cheerleading. Funny, but this page is accessed mostly during periods of economic uncertainty. At least this was the case during the last two financial crisis(2000 and 2008). No so much during good times: the number of visits drops to below 1K a month.

Still I hope it plays a small but important role: to warn about excessive risk taking by 401K investors in neoliberal economic system. It designed to serve as a warning sign and inject a skeptical note into MSM coverage. There are not many such sites, so a warning about danger of taking excessive risk in 401K accounts under neoliberalism has definite value. The following cartoon from 2008 illustrated this point nicely

As far as I know lot of 401K investors are 100% or almost 100% invested at stocks. Including many of my friends. I came across a very relevant to this situation joke which nicely illustrated the ideas of this page:

Seven habits that help produce the anything-but-efficient markets that rule the world by Paul Krugman in Fortune.

1. Think short term.
2. Be greedy.
3. Believe in the greater fool
4. Run with the herd.
5. Overgeneralize
6. Be trendy
7. Play with other people's money

I would like to stress again that it is very difficult to "guess" when the next wave of crisis stikes us: "A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes".

But mispricing of risk in 401K accounts is systemic for "overbullish" 401 investors, who expect that they will be able to jusp of the train in time, before the crash. Usually such expectations are false. And to sell in the market that can lose 10% in one day is not easy psychologically. I remember my feelings in 2001-2002 and again 2008-2009. That's why many people who planned to "jump" stay put and can temporarily lose 30 to 50% of value of their 401k account in a very short period of time (and if you think that S&P500 can't return to 1000, think again; its all depends on FED). At this point some freak out and sell their holdings making paper losses permanent.

Even for those who weathered the storm and held to their stock holdings, it is important to understand that paper losses were eliminated mostly by Fed money printing. As such risks remains as at one point FED might find itself out of ammunition. The fact that S&P500 recovered very nicely it does not diminish the risk of such behavior. There is no guarantee that the third crisis will behave like previous two.

Next crash will have a new key determinant: the attitude toward the US government (and here I mean the current government of Barack Obama) and Wall Street after 2008 is the lack of trust. That means that you need to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Injection on so much money into financial system was a novel experiment which is not ended yet. So how it will end is anybody's guess. We are now in uncharted waters. I think when Putin called Bernanke a hooligan, he meant exactly this. Since Bernanke was printing money out of thin air to buy financial paper, his action were tantamount to shoplifting. In some way this probably is more similar to running meth labs inside Fed building. The system was injected with narcotics. Everybody felt better, but the mechanism behind it was not healthy.

The complexity of modern financial system is tremendous and how all those new financial instruments will behave under a new stress is unknown. At the same time in the Internet age we, the great unwashed masses, can't be keep in complete obscurity like in good old time. Many now know ( or at least suspect ) that the neoliberal "show must goes on" after 2008 is actually going strongly at their expense. And while open rebellion is impossible, that results in lack of trust which represents a problem for financial oligarchy which rules the country. The poor working slobs are told be grateful for Walmart's low (poverty-subsidized) prices. Middle class is told that their declining standard of living is a natural result of their lack of competitiveness in the market place. Classic "bread and circuses" policy still works but for how long it will continue to work it is unclear.

But nothing is really new under the sun. To more and more people it is now clear that today the US is trying to stave off the inevitable decline by resorting to all kinds of financial manipulations like previous empires; yesterday, it was the British Empire and if you go further back, you get the USSR, Hapsburg empire, Imperial Russia, Spanish empire, Venetian empire, Byzantium and Roman empire. The current "Secretary of Imperial Wars" (aka Secretary of Defense) Ashton Baldwin Carter is pretty open about this:

“We already see countries in the region trying to carve up these markets…forging many separate trade agreements in recent years, some based on pressure and special arrangements…. Agreements that…..leave us on the sidelines. That risks America’s access to these growing markets. We must all decide if we are going to let that happen. If we’re going to help boost our exports and our economy…and cement our influence and leadership in the fastest-growing region in the world; or if, instead, we’re going to take ourselves out of the game.”

For the US elite it might be a time to rethink its neocon stance due to which the US is exposing ourselves to the enmity of the rising economic powers, and blowing serious cash to maintain it hegemony via maintaining huge military budget, financing wars and color revolutions in distant countries. In a way the US foreign policy became a financial racket, and racket can't last forever because it incite strong opposition from other countries.

Neoliberalism (aka casino capitalism) as a social system entered the state of decline after 2008. Like communism before it stopped to be attractive to people. But unlike communism it proved to have greater staying power, surviving in zombie state as finanfial institutions preserved political power and in some cases even enhanced it. It is unclear how long it will say in this state. Much depends on the availability of "cheap oil" on which neoliberal globalization is based.

But the plausible hypothesis is that this social system like socialism in xUSSR space before entered down slope and might well be on its way to the cliff. Attempts to neo-colonize other states by the West became less successful and more costly (Compare Ukraine, Libya and Iraq with previous instances of color revolutions). Some became close to XIX century colonial conquests with a lot of bloodshed (from half million to over a million of Iraqis, by different estimates, died ). As always this is mainly the blood of locals, which is cheap.

Libya and Ukraine are two recent examples. Both countries are now destroyed (which might be the plan). In Ukraine population is thrown in object poverty with income of less that $5 a day for the majority of population. And there is no other way to expand markets but to try to "neo-colonize" new countries by putting them into ominous level of debt while exporting goods to the population on credit. That is not a long term strategy as Greece, Bulgaria, and now Spain and Portugal had shown. With shrinking markets stability of capitalism in general and neoliberalism in particular might decrease.

Several researchers points to increased importance Central banks now play in maintaining of the stability of the banking system. That's already a reversal of neoliberal dogma about free (read "unregulated") markets. Actually the tale about "free markets", as far as the USA is concerned, actually was from the very beginning mainly the product designed for export (read about Washington consensus).

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[Jun 22, 2017] Playing Games with Drugs at the Wall Street Journal

Jun 22, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , June 21, 2017 at 05:02 AM

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/playing-games-with-drugs-at-the-wall-street-journal

June 20, 2017

Playing Games with Drugs at the Wall Street Journal

A column * in the Wall Street Journal by Dana P. Goldman and Darius N. Lakdawalla presents a case for high drug prices by making an analogy to the salaries of major league baseball players. They ask what would happen if the average pay of major league players was cut from $4 million to $2 million. They hypothesize that the current crew of major leaguers would continue to play, but that young people might instead opt for different careers, leaving us with a less talented group of baseball players. Their analogy to the drug market is that we would see fewer drugs developed, and therefore we would end up worse off as a result of paying less for drugs.

This analogy is useful because it is a great way to demonstrate some serious wrong-headed thinking. It also leads those of us who had the privilege of seeing players like Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Henry Aaron, and Willie Mays in their primes to wonder if there somehow would have been better players 50 years ago if the pay back then was at current levels.

But the issue is not just how much we should for developing drugs, but how we should pay. Suppose that we paid fire fighters at the point where they came to the fire. They would assess the situation and make an offer to put out the fire and save the lives of those who are endangered. We could haggle if we want. Sometimes we might get the price down a bit and in some occasions a competing crew of firefighters may show up and offer some competition. Most of us would probably pay whatever the firefighters asked to rescue our family members.

This could lead to a situation where firefighters are very highly paid, since at least the ones who came to rich neighborhoods could count on payouts in the millions or even tens of millions of dollars. Suppose someone suggested that we were paying too much for firefighters' services and argued that there we could drastically reduce what we pay for a service we all recognize as tremendously important. Well, Goldman and Lakdawalla would undoubtedly respond with a Wall Street Journal column telling us that fewer people will want to be firefighters.

But this is really beside the point. Just about everyone agrees that it does not make sense to be determining firefighters' pay when they show up at the fire. We pay them a fixed salary. While they sit around waiting most of the time, occasionally they provide an incredibly valuable service saving valuable properties from destruction or even more importantly saving lives.

No one thinks that firefighters get ripped off because they don't walk away millions of dollars when they save an endangered family. They get paid their salary (which we can argue whether too high or too low) for work that we recognize as dangerous, but which will occasionally result in enormous benefits to society.

In the case of developing drugs, we are now largely in the situation of paying the firefighters when they show up at the burning house. As a result of historical accident, we rely on a relic of the medieval guild system, government granted patent monopolies, to finance most research into developing new drugs. These monopolies allow drug companies to charge prices that are several thousand percent ** above the free market price.

This leads to all the corruption and distortion that one would expect from a trade tariff of 1000 or even 10,000 percent. These markups lead drug companies to expend vast resources marketing their drugs. They also frequently misrepresent the safety and effectiveness of their drugs to maximize sales. They make payoffs to doctors, politicians, and academics to enlist them in their sales efforts. And, they use the legal system to harass potential competitors, often filing frivolous suits to dissuade generic competitors.

This system also leads to a large amount of wasted research spending. This is in part because competitors will try to innovate around a patent to share in the patent rents. In a world of patent monopolies it is generally desirable to have competing drugs, however if the first drug was selling at its free market price, it is unlikely that it would make sense to spend large amounts researching the development of a second, third, and fourth drug for a condition for which an effective treatment already exists, rather than researching drugs for conditions for which no effective treatment exists.

Patent monopolies also encourage secrecy in research, as drug companies disclose as little information as possible so that they prevent competitors from benefiting from their research. This also slows the research process.

The obvious alternative would upfront funding, just like firefighters are paid a fixed salary for their work. Under this system a condition of the funding would be that all the research findings are posted on the web as quickly as practical to maximize the ability of the scientific community to benefit. We already do this to some extent with the $32 billion a year that goes to the National Institutes of Health, although this amount would likely have to be doubled or even tripled to make up for the research currently supported by government granted patent monopolies. (I outline a system for this in my book "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Have Been Structured to Make the Rich Richer" *** - it's free.)

Anyhow, it would be good if we could be having a debate about how we finance drug research rather than just telling silly stories about baseball players salaries. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Sherrod Brown and thirteen other senators have already introduced a bill that would have the government pick up the tab on some clinical trials and then putting the rights to successful drugs in the public domain so they can be sold at generic prices. The bill also has a patent buyout fund that would accomplish the same goal.

It is absurd that we charge people hundreds of thousands of dollars for life-saving drugs that cost a few hundred dollars to produce. Too bad the Wall Street Journal has so little creativity that it cannot even imagine an alternative to a grossly antiquated institution when it comes to financing prescription drug development.

* https://www.wsj.com/articles/take-me-out-to-the-pill-game-1497913367

** http://www.thebodypro.com/content/78658/1000-fold-mark-up-for-drug-prices-in-high-income-c.html

*** https://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

-- Dean Baker

[Jun 22, 2017] These are dark times for neoliberal free marketeers.

Jun 22, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Christopher H., June 21, 2017 at 06:56 AM

http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2017/06/free-markets-need-equality.html

June 21, 2017

FREE MARKETS NEED EQUALITY
by Chris Dillow

These are dark times for free marketeers. Voters are only lukewarm about the virtues of capitalism; the Grenfell disaster is widely regarded as showing the case for greater regulation; and, as Sam Bowman says, even the Tories "have totally failed to make a broad-brush case for free markets."

I share some of their disquiet. Flawed as they are, markets have virtues as selection and information-aggregation mechanisms.

What, then, can be done to strengthen the case for markets?

There's one thing that's crucial – equality of power. For free markets to have public acceptance, the worst-off must have bargaining power. Without this, "free" markets merely become a device for exploitation.

Imagine, for example, that we had overfull employment and/or high out-of-work benefits. Workers would then be able to reject low wages and bad working conditions. Market forces would then deliver higher wages and good, safer, conditions simply because employers that didn't offer these wouldn't have any workers. Equally – though it's harder to imagine – if we had an abundance of housing, landlords who offered shoddy or dangerous accommodation would either have to refurbish their property to acceptable standards or suffer a lack of tenants.

We wouldn't, therefore need "red tape." The market would raise working and living standards.

We don't need thought experiments to see this. We have empirical evidence too.

Philippe Aghion and colleagues have shown that there's a negative correlation across countries between unions density and minimum wage laws. Countries with strong unions have less stringent minimum wage laws – because greater bargaining power reduces the need for such laws. Remember that the UK adopted minimum wages in the 1990s, when unions had been emasculated. In the 60s and 70s, when unions were strong, the market raised wages.

Also, there is a negative correlation across developed countries between inequality (as measured, imperfectly, by Gini coefficients) and business freedom. Egalitarian Denmark and Sweden, for example, score better on the Heritage Foundation's index of freedom than the unequal US. There's a simple reason for this. Working people want what they regard as a fair deal. If they can't get it through bargaining in free markets, they'll seek it through politics and regulation.

The inference here is, for me, obvious. If you are serious about wanting free markets you must put in place the conditions which are necessary for them – namely, greater bargaining power for tenants, customers and workers. This requires not just strong anti-monopoly policies but also policies such as a high citizens income, full employment and mass housebuilding.

In short, free markets require egalitarian policies. Free marketeers who don't support these are not the friends of freedom at all, but are merely shills for exploiters.

Christopher H. -> Christopher H.... , June 21, 2017 at 07:02 AM
"Egalitarian Denmark and Sweden, for example, score better on the Heritage Foundation's index of freedom than the unequal US. There's a simple reason for this. Working people want what they regard as a fair deal. If they can't get it through bargaining in free markets, they'll seek it through politics and regulation."

Hillary Clinton famously said "we're not Denmark" to distinguish herself from the "unserious" Bernie Sanders in the primary debates.

She was trying to appeal to meritocratic Democrats and Republicans. As Josh Marshall wrote of yesterday's special election:

"The district is relatively diverse for a GOP district and educated and affluent. In other words, it's made up of just the kind of Republicans who proved most resistant to Trump."

Hillary was trying to appeal to the affluent and indoctrinated and educated meritocrats. The "non-deploreables."

And she lost. Corbyn running on an anti-austerity platform and a manifesto that pointed more in the direction of Denmark pulled off a biggest swing in votes since 1945.

Of course the center left, PGL and Krugman were silent about Corbyn's great showing and complained about people who wanted to discuss it. But it's okay to discuss the disappointing outcome in yesterday's special election.

RGC -> Christopher H.... , June 21, 2017 at 07:18 AM
Free markets need "a comprehensive socialization of investment":

"In some other respects the foregoing theory is moderately conservative in its implications. For whilst it indicates the vital importance of establishing certain central controls in matters which are now left in the main to individual initiative, there are wide fields of activity which are unaffected. The State will have to exercise a guiding influence on the propensity to consume partly through its scheme of taxation, partly by fixing the rate of interest, and partly, perhaps, in other ways. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that the influence of banking policy on the rate of interest will be sufficient by itself to determine an optimum rate of investment. I conceive, therefore, that a somewhat comprehensive socialisation of investment will prove the only means of securing an approximation to full employment; though this need not exclude all manner of compromises and of devices by which public authority will co-operate with private initiative. But beyond this no obvious case is made out for a system of State Socialism which would embrace most of the economic life of the community. It is not the ownership of the instruments of production which it is important for the State to assume. If the State is able to determine the aggregate amount of resources devoted to augmenting the instruments and the basic rate of reward to those who own them, it will have accomplished all that is necessary. Moreover, the necessary measures of socialisation can be introduced gradually and without a break in the general traditions of society"

-J M Keynes

https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/keynes/general-theory/ch24.htm

Paine -> RGC... , June 21, 2017 at 06:09 PM
Caution
The path to Keynesian futures turned out to have a long back traverse
From 1973 to 2008 and beyond

As yet we have not moved forward
but at least the power
driving the back traverse is over
We can recommence the advance toward greater socialization of net investment

[Jun 22, 2017] Americans have a blind spot on the actions of the USA. That's natural. But that blindness produces pretty idiotic comments even from commenters that are able to discuss intelligently other topics

Jun 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

DrDick -> Paine ... , June 21, 2017 at 08:33 AM

Also historically moronic, since China had become increasingly isolationist from the 16th century on. This is not to say that China has not been deliberately annoying their neighbors lately, especially in the South China Sea, however. Clearly China has been extending its influence, mostly economically, around the world, especially in Africa, for a couple of decades now, but I do not see this as any different from what we do in the same regions. It is certainly not nearly as troubling as what Russia has been doing under Putin.
libezkova said in reply to DrDick... , June 21, 2017 at 09:09 PM
Compare your viewpoint with Forbes:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2017/06/16/in-final-oliver-stone-interview-putin-predicts-when-russia-us-crisis-ends/


In Final Oliver Stone Interview, Putin Predicts When Russia-US Crisis Ends

Jun 20, 2017 | www.forbes.com

But with Trump in the White House, the Trump-Putin conspiracy theory is one reality TV show the news media can't shake. Stone's love for foreign policy intrigue at least makes him a Putin kindred spirit here. America's age old fear of the Russians, has made Putin public enemy number one and Stone his sounding board. For some unhappy campers, like John McCain, Putin has " no moral equivalent " in the United States. He's a dictator , a war criminal and tyrant .

"You've gone through four U.S. presidents: Clinton, Bush, Obama and now Trump. What changes?" Stone asks him.

"Almost nothing. Your bureaucracy is very strong and it is that bureaucracy that rules the world," he says. Then, solemnly, "There is change...when they bring us to the cemetery to bury us."

In the last installment of the Putin interviews, the Russian leader admitted to liking Trump. "We still like him because he wants to restore relations. Relations between the two countries are going to develop," he said. It's a sentence very few in congress would say, and almost no big name politicians outside of Trump would imagine saying on television. On Russia, you scold. There is no fig leaf.

In a recent sanctions bill in the senate, only Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee voted against it, making for a 97-2 landslide in favor of extra-territorial sanctions against Russian companies, namely oil and gas.

Stone asked him why did he bother hacking the Democratic National Committee's emails if he believed nothing would change on the foreign policy front.

STONE: Our political leadership and NATO all believe you hacked the election.

PUTIN: We didn't hack the election at all. It would be hard to imagine any country, even Russia, being capable of seriously influencing the U.S. election. Someone hacked the DNC, but I don't think it influenced the election. What came through was not a lie.

They were not trying to fool anybody. People who want to manipulate public opinion will blame Russia. But Trump had his finger on the pulse of the Midwest voter and knew how to pull at their hearts. Those who have been defeated shouldn't be shifting blame to someone else....We are not waiting for any revolutionary changes.

Just then, editors cut to a video of Trump talking about Putin.

TRUMP: I hope I get along with Putin. I hope I do. But there is a good chance that I won't.

PUTIN: It almost feels like hatred of a certain ethnic group, like antisemitism. They are always blaming Russians, like antisemites are always blaming the Jews.

The editors then flashed to footage of John McCain on the floor of the Senate ranting and raving about Putin. Then Joseph Biden in the Ukrainian parliament, ranting about Russia. Putin tells Stone all of this is unfortunate. He thinks their view is"old world." He reminds Stone that Russia and the U.S. were allies in World War I and World War II. It was Winston Churchill that started the Cold War from London, despite having respect for Russia's strongman leader at the time, the real dictator, Joseph Stalin.

libezkova -> libezkova... , June 21, 2017 at 09:13 PM
The point is the Americans have a blind spot on the actions of the USA.

That's natural. But that produced pretty idiotic comments in this blog even from commenters that are able to discuss intelligently other topics.

[Jun 21, 2017] Neoliberalism and opioids abuse

Jun 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

libezkova, June 21, 2017 at 07:25 PM

Over 33K people in US died of opiates overdoses in 2015 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Not only unemployed abuse opioids, but more and more college students and recent graduates are abusing the opioids as well, according to a survey of 1200 college aged adults commissioned the same year by Christie foundation.

Federal law does not require colleges to report drug death unless they are deemed criminal. But fatal overdoses have been rising at schools nationwide underscoring and horrifying reality of for administrators: in addition to binge drinking and marijuana, they have another crisis firmly entrenched on campus.

Now losing 30K people in one year is like small scale civil war (like the one they have in Ukraine) and in a way it is: war of wealthy and medical industrial complex against those in difficult circumstances, with dreams crashed and, especially, unemployed.

https://www.usnews.com/news/news/articles/2016-06-14/opioids-linked-with-deaths-other-than-overdoses-study-says

== quote ==

CHICAGO (AP) - Accidental overdoses aren't the only deadly risk from using powerful prescription painkillers - the drugs may also contribute to heart-related deaths and other fatalities, new research suggests.

Among more than 45,000 patients in the study, those using opioid painkillers had a 64 percent higher risk of dying within six months of starting treatment compared to patients taking other prescription pain medicine. Unintentional overdoses accounted for about 18 percent of the deaths among opioid users, versus 8 percent of the other patients.

"As bad as people think the problem of opioid use is, it's probably worse," said Wayne Ray, the lead author and a health policy professor at Vanderbilt University's medical school. "They should be a last resort and particular care should be exercised for patients who are at cardiovascular risk."

His caution echoes recent advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, trying to stem the nation's opioid epidemic. The problem includes abuse of street drugs like heroin and overuse of prescription opioids such as hydrocodone, codeine and morphine.

The drugs can slow breathing and can worsen disrupted breathing that occurs with sleep apnea, potentially leading to irregular heartbeats, heart attacks or sudden death, the study authors said.

In 2014, there were more than 14,000 fatal overdoses linked with the painkillers in the U.S. The study suggests even more have died from causes linked with the drugs, and bolster evidence in previous research linking them with heart problems.

The study involved more than 45,000 adult Medicaid patients in Tennessee from 1999 to 2012. They were prescribed drugs for chronic pain not caused by cancer but from other ailments including persistent backaches and arthritis.

Half received long-acting opioids including controlled-release oxycodone, methadone and fentanyl skin patches. Fentanyl has been implicated in the April death of Prince, although whether the singer was using a fentanyl patch, pills or other form of the drug hasn't been publicly revealed.

Long-acting opioids remain in the body longer. The study authors noted that the body's prolonged exposure to the drugs may increase risks for toxic reactions.

The remaining study patients had prescriptions for non-opioid drugs sometimes used to treat nerve pain, including gabapentin; or certain antidepressants also used for pain.

There were 185 deaths among opioid users, versus 87 among other patients. The researchers calculated that for every 145 patients on an opioid drug, there was one excess death versus deaths among those on other painkillers.

The two groups were similar in age, medical conditions, risks for heart problems and other characteristics that could have contributed to the outcomes.

The results were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association .

The study involved only Medicaid patients, who include low-income and disabled adults and who are among groups disproportionately affected by opioid abuse.

Ray noted that the study excluded the sickest patients and those with any evidence of drug abuse. He said similar results would likely be found in other groups.

Dr. Chad Brummett, director of pain research at the University of Michigan Health System, said the study highlights risks from the drugs in a novel way and underscores why their use should be limited.

[Jun 21, 2017] People are thinking of locating solar panels to provide shade to irrigation canals or to bike lanes. Car roofs are a good spot too. There are so many two-fers out there - why are we missing all these opportunities?

Jun 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

pgl, June 21, 2017 at 01:36 AM

Re: Fisticuffs Over the Route to a Clean-Energy Future - NYTimes

"It is critically important to bring this debate into the open. For too long, climate advocacy and policy has been inflected by a hope that the energy transformation before us can be achieved cheaply and virtuously - in harmony with nature. But the transformation is likely to be costly. And though sun, wind and water are likely to account for a much larger share of the nation's energy supply, less palatable technologies are also likely to play a part."

Eduardo Porter on the debate as to whether 100% of our energy needs can be met by renewables. OK - it may involve certain costs increasing this from a mere 10% to something closer to 100% even if we do not entirely get to 100%. But not trying would be very costly.

reason, June 21, 2017 at 02:17 AM
One thing that certainly annoys me about this, is that to me the incentives must be wrong.

I see the German railway building solar banks on perfectly good land (which could for instance grow trees), and the railways rolling past large numbers of houses with south-facing roofs and no solar panels.

I see electric cars being built without solar panels on the roof, parked in the sun. I sort of wonder - something is wrong here, why?

I read in the scientific American that people are thinking of locating solar panels to provide shade to irrigation canals. Or we could use solar panels to provide weather protection to bike lanes (shade + rain + snow protection). There are so many two-fers out there - why are we missing all these opportunities?

reason -> reason ... , June 21, 2017 at 02:26 AM
Think of another possibility (a sliding solar on the roof of an electric car - so it could provide windscreen shade when parked and have extra collecting area as well).

Ok, ok it is summer and 34 degrees C here today, so solar energy is everywhere.

libezkova -> reason ... , June 21, 2017 at 08:26 PM
One thing that certainly annoys me about this, is that to me the incentives must be wrong.

I see the german railway building solar banks on perfectly good land (which could for instance grow trees), and the railways rolling past large numbers of houses with south-facing roofs and no solar panels.

I see electric cars being built without solar panels on the roof, parked in the sun. I sort of wonder - something is wrong here, why?

I read in the scientific American that people are thinking of locating solar panels to provide shade to irrigation canals. Or we could use solar panels to provide weather protection to bike lanes (shade + rain + snow protection). There are so many two-fers out there - why are we missing all these opportunities?

That's a great comment !!!

Thank you so much.

[Jun 21, 2017] We Are Inches From A New World War, And Clintonists Are To Blame

Jun 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

RGC Reply , June 21, 2017 at 06:52 AM

We Are Inches From A New World War, And Clintonists Are To Blame

Published June 20, 2017 by Caitlin Johnstone

"This is your fault, Clinton Democrats. You created this, and if our species is plunged into a new world war or extinction via nuclear holocaust, it will be your fault. You knuckle-dragging, vagina hat-wearing McCarthyite morons made this happen."

https://counterpropa.com/inches-new-world-war-clintonists-blame/

RGC - , June 21, 2017 at 07:46 AM
Five takeaways from Iran's missile strike in Syria

Tehran's strike was targeted at Islamic State but it also puts US bases in the region on notice and exposes the flimsiness of the Trump Administration's Middle East policy
........................
From all accounts, the missiles hit their target with devastating precision. Simply put, Iran has notified the US that its 45,000 troops deployed in bases in Iraq (5,165), Kuwait (15,000), Bahrain (7,000), Qatar (10,000), the UAE (5,000) and Oman (200) are highly vulnerable.

http://www.atimes.com/article/five-takeaways-irans-missile-strike-syria/

RGC, June 21, 2017 at 07:58 AM
Unlike the US military, Iran appears to put effectiveness ahead of private profit.
Paine, June 21, 2017 at 03:51 PM
No. Iran is hardly foolish

Hell truck bombs aimed at marine barracks aren't any longer on Iran's to do list . Even thru their junior partners Hezbollah
Assad might want them to clobber a syrian Kurd stronghold. But not even that gets the green light by the mad mullahs of Teheran

Paine, June 21, 2017 at 03:54 PM
Uncle is the clear aggressor against Iran. Just as he is against Venezuela. The Shia Arabs are a strategic target for uncles containment horse play. Iran is their steadfast ally
ilsm, June 21, 2017 at 04:29 PM
The Wahhabi coalition funded, armed and equipped by Uncle Sam killed 300 women and children last month in its quest to use ISIS as an excuse to give Syria and upper Iraq to al Qaeda.

It also shot down a Syria jet trying to push US' jihadis who are making Turley mad back toward ISIS to fight them rather than occuoy Syria.

Paine, June 21, 2017 at 05:57 PM
The Saud family are up there with the Walton's. And they outnumber the Walton's ten thousand to 4. There will be an awful reckoning....some day
ilsm - , June 21, 2017 at 06:43 PM
US presidents since Nixon have not committed one (1.0) of the US' 2.5 planned wars to the welfare of the Saudi family's palaces.
RGC - , June 21, 2017 at 08:12 AM
The Growing U.S.-Iran Proxy Fight in Syria. The scramble for Islamic State territory is raising the risks of escalation

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/06/iran-syria-trump-saudi-arabia-escalation-isis/530844/

ilsm - , June 21, 2017 at 04:34 PM
While we are talking about the Wahhabi invasions of Syria:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daraa_offensive_(February%E2%80%93June_2017)

The Syrian government is pushing against the Israeli supported branch of al Qaeda in the Daraa governate. Israelis interest is the Golan which it grabbed in 1973.

While in al Tanf, Syria in the middle of no where related to fighting ISIS US F-15E shot down an armed drone allegedly attacking the US run training center for future jihadis who will go after the US and Europe like bin Laden. All the conditions for US tied down supporting evil like 1964..........

Paine - , June 21, 2017 at 03:46 PM
I like johnstone. She wrote a lot on Serbia v croatia. And then Bosnia Kosovo. The national elements of deliquescent Yugoslavia. That former hot spot of humanist outrage. But keep your pants on girl

Nothing anywhere now threatens catastrophic collisions between great powers. Uncles just too strong

ilsm, June 21, 2017 at 04:37 PM
The legacy of Sarajevo and the East German armor US facilitated to Croatia is the US maintains an oversized "NATO" mechanized brigade plus extras in Camp Bonesteel......

Keeping dissected Kosovo county free unlike Iraq......

ilsm, June 21, 2017 at 04:40 PM
"Uncles just too strong"

not really, it is less. risky to do Vietnams..... Syria has the potential to make Vietnam type counter insurgency experiments look new again. Until US runs out of lenders!

too strong......puleeeze

Paine , June 21, 2017 at 06:00 PM
Of course. Vietnams are always possible. In fact they keep great powers busy. Bleeding each other by proxy
ilsm , June 21, 2017 at 06:38 PM
Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Djibouti, Sudan are all Vietnams sans draftees and no hippy music. What is Neil Young and Joani Mitchell up to?
libezkova - , June 21, 2017 at 07:53 PM
There is probably a silver lining in the alliance of neocons and liberal interventionists (which actually are the same as DemoRats -- Clinton's wing of Democratic party) attempt to impeach Trump on faked charges.

It might delay the war. Looks like Trump is hell bent to crush Iran.

Which is a theocratic state, but still not as bad as KAS and some other US allies in the region.

[Jun 21, 2017] Unions in Decline Some International Comparisons

Jun 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova , June 21, 2017 at 11:55 AM
" This pattern suggests that existence of unions, one way or another, may be less important for economic outcomes than the way in which those unions function. "

This is a typical neoliberal Newspeak. Pretty Orwellian.
In reality atomization of workforce and decimation of unions is the explicit goal of neoliberal state.

Neoliberalism war on organized labor started with Reagan.

Neoliberalism is based on unconditional domination of labor by capital ("socialism for rich, feudalism for labor").

American scholar and cultural critic Henry Giroux alleges neoliberalism holds that market forces should organize every facet of society, including economic and social life, and promotes a social Darwinist ethic which elevates self-interest over social needs.

That means maintaining the unemployment level of sufficiently high level and political suppression of workers rights to organize.

A new class of workers, facing acute socio-economic insecurity, emerged under neoliberalism. It is called 'precariat'.

Neoliberal policies led to the situation in the US economy in which 30% of workers earn low wages (less than two-thirds the median wage for full-time workers), and 35% of the labor force is underemployed; only 40% of the working-age population in the U.S. is adequately employed.

The Center for Economic Policy Research's (CEPR) Dean Baker (2006) argued that the driving force behind rising inequality in the US has been a series of deliberate, neoliberal policy choices including anti-inflationary bias, anti-unionism, and profiteering in the health industry.

Amazon, Uber and several other companies have shown that neoliberal model can be as brutal as plantation slavery.

Central to the notion of the skills agenda as pursued by neoliberal governments is the concept of "human capital."

Which involves atomization of workers, each of which became a "good" sold at the "labor market". Neoliberalism discard the concept of human solidarity. It also eliminated government support of organized labor, and decimated unions.

Under neoliberalism the government has to actively intervene to clear the way for the free "labor market." Talk about government-sponsored redistribution of wealth under neoliberalism -- from Greenspan to Bernanke, from Rubin to Paulson, the government has been a veritable Robin Hood in reverse.

[Jun 21, 2017] The CIAs principal house organ, the New York Times, published a lead editorial Sunday on the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election that is an incendiary and lying exercise in disinformation aimed at whipping up support for war with Russia.

Jun 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

RGC

, June 21, 2017 at 06:44 AM
The New York Times steps up its anti-Russia campaign
21/06/2017

The CIA's principal house organ, the New York Times, published a lead editorial Sunday on the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election that is an incendiary and lying exercise in disinformation aimed at whipping up support for war with Russia.
....................

Not a single one of the reports in the Times or Post is the product of a genuine investigation by journalists. Instead, the main reporting on the "Russian hacking" affair consists of taking dictation from unidentified intelligence officials. In not a single case did these officials offer evidence to substantiate their claims, invariably made in the form of ambiguous phrases like "we assess," "we believe," "we assess with high confidence," etc. Such claims are worth no more than previous assertions that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction-a lie used to justify a war that has killed more than one million people.

http://www.defenddemocracy.press/the-new-york-times-steps-up-its-anti-russia-campaign/

RGC -> RGC... , June 21, 2017 at 06:47 AM
Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul Buck Party Consensus on Russia and Iran Sanctions


Investigative journalist Max Blumenthal explains that these sanctions punish Russia and Iran and unnecessarily intensifies the conflict between the US and these countries

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=19337

sanjait -> RGC... , June 21, 2017 at 10:55 AM
Dead wrong about Bernie:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/bernie-sanders-donald-trump-russia-blackmail-links-vladimir-putin-nice-things-democratic-senator-a7647546.html

Nice try though!

RGC -> sanjait... , June 21, 2017 at 11:26 AM
Thursday, June 15, 2017

WASHINGTON, June 15 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement Thursday after he voted against a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran and Russia:

"I am strongly supportive of the sanctions on Russia included in this bill. It is unacceptable for Russia to interfere in our elections here in the United States, or anywhere around the world. There must be consequences for such actions. I also have deep concerns about the policies and activities of the Iranian government, especially their support for the brutal Assad regime in Syria. I have voted for sanctions on Iran in the past, and I believe sanctions were an important tool for bringing Iran to the negotiating table. But I believe that these new sanctions could endanger the very important nuclear agreement that was signed between the United States, its partners and Iran in 2015. That is not a risk worth taking, particularly at a time of heightened tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia and its allies. I think the United States must play a more even-handed role in the Middle East, and find ways to address not only Iran's activities, but also Saudi Arabia's decades-long support for radical extremism."

https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-statement-on-iran-and-russia-sanctions

anne -> RGC... , June 21, 2017 at 07:25 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/17/opinion/mr-trumps-dangerous-indifference-to-russia.html

June 17, 2017

Mr. Trump's Dangerous Indifference to Russia

anne -> anne... , June 21, 2017 at 01:21 PM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/17/opinion/mr-trumps-dangerous-indifference-to-russia.html

June 17, 2017

Mr. Trump's Dangerous Indifference to Russia

A rival foreign power launched an aggressive cyberattack on the United States, interfering with the 2016 presidential election and leaving every indication that it's coming back for more - but President Trump doesn't seem to care.

The unprecedented nature of Russia's attack is getting lost in the swirling chaos of recent weeks, but it shouldn't be. American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia took direct aim at the integrity of American democracy, and yet after almost five months in office, the commander in chief appears unconcerned with that threat to our national security. The only aspect of the Russia story that attracts his attention is the threat it poses to the perceived legitimacy of his electoral win.

If not for the continuing investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians - and whether Mr. Trump himself has obstructed that investigation - the president's indifference would be front-page news.

So let's take a moment to recall the sheer scope and audacity of the Russian efforts.

Under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, hackers connected to Russian military intelligence broke into the email accounts of...

ilsm -> anne... , June 21, 2017 at 04:22 PM
Not to worry Trump is doing all Obama did and more to sell Syria to al Qaeda.

Too busy keeping the Wahhabis happy to want to mess with Russia over a few millions Balts' desires.

The US is not offering the last drop of US soldiers' blood to the Balts it is already committed to the Wahhabis.

anne -> anne... , June 21, 2017 at 01:24 PM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/17/opinion/mr-trumps-dangerous-indifference-to-russia.html

Under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, hackers connected to Russian military intelligence broke into the email accounts of...

[ Interesting passage. ]

Paine -> RGC... , June 21, 2017 at 08:45 AM
Why critique this campaign against Russia
As if the kremlin may to have interfered and even collaborated with trump operatives to do it

Anything less would be dereliction of duty by a great powers leadership

Point out the motivation

Which is indeed a new forward policy on Russian containment by the deep state
As we now call the corporate planted cultivated and coddled security apparatus
With its various media cut thrus cut outs and compadres

Yes the NYT and the WP

Both are working with the deep state
Once called the invisible government
Much as they have in he past

Why I like he color revolution analogy

These media titans are working with the DS
Because they want to topple trump like they wanted to topple Nixon
And to a lesser extent wobble Reagan

Paine -> Paine ... , June 21, 2017 at 08:47 AM
Typo hazard

Russia is obviously tampering as much as optimal

Nothing new

Hence my suggesting putin is jut acting like all great powers must act to be great powers

ilsm -> Paine ... , June 21, 2017 at 04:23 PM
It would have been appeasement for Putin to stand by and let the Hillary neocon take over America and offer the last drop of US soldiers' blood to the Balts.

Ignoring Clinton was like letting Hitler have Prague!

Paine -> ilsm... , June 21, 2017 at 04:37 PM

Indeed
anne -> Paine ... , June 21, 2017 at 09:08 AM
Important, incisive perspective or argument, but a direction seldom taken. A Cold War sort of atmosphere makes us wary of using any such argument, and we have been forming a Cold War environment for several years now. This atmosphere by the way involves the way in which China is generally regarded, and I believe colors economic analysis even among academics.

[Jun 19, 2017] Republicans are embarrassing Democrats by showing them how legislation gets passed with a bare majority, when Democrats failed with a filibuster proof majority

Jun 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

JohnH, June 19, 2017 at 06:48 AM

Republicans are embarrassing Democrats by showing them how legislation gets passed with a bare majority...when Democrats could barely get anything done with a filibuster proof majority!

Moral of the story? Democrats under Obama didn't really want to get much done. Rather, they preferred to do nothing and blame Republicans instead. Worse, now that Republicans want to destroy what precious little Democrats managed to accomplish, Democrats are just standing around, frozen like deer in the headlights, clueless as to how to use their 48 votes.

How pathetic can Democrats get?

libezkova, June 19, 2017 at 06:40 PM
"Republicans are embarrassing Democrats by showing them how legislation gets passed with a bare majority...when Democrats could barely get anything done with a filibuster proof majority!"

Not only that.

Neoliberal stooges like Krugman now shed crocodile tears after pushing Sanders under the bus.

They essentially gave us Trump and now have an audacity to complain. What a miserable hypocritical twerp this Nobel laureate is!

Where is the DemoRats "Resistance" now? Are they fighting against the war in Syria on behave of Israel and Gulf states? Protesting sanctions against Cuba? Complaining about the record arms sale with Saudi Arabia (with its possible 9/11 links ?)

No, they are all on MSNBC or CNN dragging out a stupid investigation all the while pushing Russia to war. And congratulating themselves with the latest Russian sanctions designed to block supplies of Russian gas to Western Europe...

I want to repeat this again: Neoliberal Democrats created Trump and brought him to the victory in the recent Presidential elections.

[Jun 18, 2017] Economic bungee jumping without cord: Comment on Simon Wren-Lewis on 'Raising the inflation target'

Notable quotes:
"... The argument for a higher inflation target is NOT straightforward, once you understand two things. First interest theory is axiomatically false.#1 Because of this monetary policy never had sound scientific foundations. Second the same holds for fiscal policy.#2 ..."
"... The argument AGAINST higher inflation is that it REDUCES employment. Given the overall situation, the ONLY sensible policy is to increase the average wage rate, such that the rate of change of the wage rate is greater than the rate of change of productivity, because this increases employment. This is a SYSTEMIC necessity and has NOTHING to do with social policy. Employment is co-determined by the relationship between average wage rate, price and productivity. This relationship should automatically produce full employment but does not. ..."
Jun 18, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke, June 17, 2017 at 08:31 AM

Economic bungee jumping without cord: Comment on Simon Wren-Lewis on 'Raising the inflation target'

You say: "The argument for a higher inflation target is straightforward, once you understand two things. First the most effective and reliable monetary policy instrument is to influence the real interest rate in the economy, which is the nominal interest rate less expected inflation. Second nominal short term interest rates have a floor near zero (the Zero Lower Bound, or ZLB)."

The argument for a higher inflation target is NOT straightforward, once you understand two things. First interest theory is axiomatically false.#1 Because of this monetary policy never had sound scientific foundations. Second the same holds for fiscal policy.#2

Let us assume for a moment that, for whatever reasons, neither monetary nor fiscal policy is applicable. So, given investment expenditures of the business sector and the expenditure ratio of the household sector, the only alternative left is to directly influence the macroeconomic price mechanism.#3

The argument AGAINST higher inflation is that it REDUCES employment. Given the overall situation, the ONLY sensible policy is to increase the average wage rate, such that the rate of change of the wage rate is greater than the rate of change of productivity, because this increases employment. This is a SYSTEMIC necessity and has NOTHING to do with social policy. Employment is co-determined by the relationship between average wage rate, price and productivity. This relationship should automatically produce full employment but does not.

Standard employment theory is false.#4 The proposal to get the economy going by increasing price inflation is the direct result of the complete lack of understanding how the market economy works.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 See 'The Emergence of Profit and Interest in the Monetary Circuit'
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1973952

#2 See 'Austerity and the utter scientific ignorance of economists'
http://axecorg.blogspot.de/2015/12/austerity-and-utter-scientific.html

#3 For more details see 'Think deeper'
http://axecorg.blogspot.de/2017/06/think-deeper.html

#4 For details of the bigger picture see cross-references Employment
http://axecorg.blogspot.de/2015/08/employmentphillips-curve-cross.html

[Jun 18, 2017] Economist's View Links for 06-17-17

Jun 18, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne , June 17, 2017 at 12:01 PM
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/06/19/are-china-and-the-united-states-headed-for-war

June 19, 2017

Are China and the United States Headed for War?
Professors, pundits, and journalists weigh in on a heated topic.
By Ian Buruma

Overheated topics invariably produce ill-considered books. Some people will remember the time, in the late nineteen-eighties, when Japan was about to buy up America and conquer the world. Many a tidy sum was made on that premise. These days, the possibility of war with China is stirring emotions and keeping publishers busy. A glance at a few new books suggests what scholars and journalists are thinking about the prospect of an Asian conflagration; the quality of their reflections is, to say the least, variable.

The worst of the bunch, Graham Allison's "Destined for War," may also be the most influential, given that its thesis rests on a catchphrase Allison has popularized, "Thucydides's Trap." Even China's President, Xi Jinping, is fond of quoting it. "On the current trajectory," Allison contends, "war between the U.S. and China in the decades ahead is not just possible, but much more likely than currently recognized." The reason, he says, can be traced to the problem described in the fifth century B.C.E. in Thucydides' account of the Peloponnesian War. Sparta, as the established power, felt threatened by the rising might of Athens. In such conditions, Allison writes, "not just extraordinary, unexpected events, but even ordinary flashpoints of foreign affairs, can trigger large-scale conflict."

Allison sees Thucydides' Trap in the wars between a rising England and the established Dutch Republic in the seventeenth century, a rising Germany versus Britain in the early twentieth century, and a rising Japan versus the United States in the nineteen-forties. Some historical tensions between rising powers and ruling ones were resolved without a catastrophic war (the Soviet challenge to U.S. dominance), but many, Allison warns, were not. And there's no disputing China's steep military and economic rise in recent decades. Its annual military budget has, for most of the past decade, increased by double digits, and the People's Liberation Army, even in its newly streamlined form, has nearly a million more active service members than the United States has. As recently as 2004, China's economy was less than half that of the United States. Today, in terms of purchasing-power parity, China has left the United States behind. Allison is so excited by China's swift growth that his prose often sounds like a mixture of a Thomas Friedman column and a Maoist propaganda magazine like China Reconstructs. Rome wasn't built in a day? Well, he writes, someone "clearly forgot to tell the Chinese. By 2005, the country was building the square-foot equivalent of today's Rome every two weeks."

Allison underrates the many problems that could slow things down quite soon...

Paine - , June 17, 2017 at 01:58 PM
This thesis assumes its conclusion

However we all can act to diffuse this arms race hype

ilsm - , June 17, 2017 at 02:57 PM
Thucydides trap* is foggy bottom 'soft porn'!

Besides in 30 years the "power balance" between China and US will not favor the sea power.

*even less foundation in logic than applying the 'prisoner dilemma' to the war room in "Fail Safe".

Paine - , June 18, 2017 at 09:06 AM
This is great game higgly piggly

Nothing more

The MIC has trump punctured with the sap can

Budgets for sharp toys will rise
With or without
Alt news on People's China

Paine - , June 18, 2017 at 09:09 AM
The congress is supine at the feet of the MIC

Only a POTUS can hope to restrain the MIC
With the minimal help of a less then stalwart house progressive caucus

And a few dove lobby groups

With Trump we have MIC goon in chief

anne , June 17, 2017 at 12:01 PM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/15/books/review/everything-under-the-heavens-howard-french-destined-for-war-graham-allison.html

June 16, 2017

America's Collision Course With China
By JUDITH SHAPIRO

EVERYTHING UNDER THE HEAVENS
How the Past Helps Shape China's Push for Global Power
By Howard W. French

DESTINED FOR WAR
Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?
By Graham Allison

The Chinese superpower has arrived. Could America's failure to grasp this reality pull the United States and China into war? Here are two books that warn of that serious possibility. Howard W. French's "Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China's Push for Global Power" does so through a deep historical and cultural study of the meaning of China's rise from the point of view of the Chinese themselves. Graham Allison's "Destined for War: Can American and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?" makes his arguments through historical case studies that illuminate the pressure toward military confrontation when a rising power challenges a dominant one. Both books urge us to be ready for a radically different world order, one in which China presides over Asia, even as Chinese politicians tell a public story about "peaceful rise." The books argue persuasively that adjusting to this global power shift will require great skill on both sides if conflagration is to be avoided.

French says in his exhaustively researched and fascinating account of geopolitics, China style, that the Chinese era is upon us. But, he asks, "How will the coming China-driven world look?" To what extent will China support the international order that emerged when it was suffering humiliation at the hands of foreign powers? What are the drivers and motivations for the new ways China projects its power? How best should its neighbors and its rival North American superpower respond?

French, a former reporter for The Washington Post and The New York Times, argues that China's historical and cultural legacy governs its conduct of international relations, a legacy that sits uncomfortably with the Western notions of equality and noninterference among states. China's relations with its neighbors in Japan and Southeast Asia were for millenniums governed by the concept of tian xia, which held that everything "under the heavens" belonged to the empire. A superior civilization demanded deference and tribute from vassal neighbors and did not hesitate to use military force. China's testy relationship with Vietnam became fraught whenever a Vietnamese leader dared to demand equal footing with a Chinese emperor; the Japanese claim to divine origins was unacceptable....

anne - , June 17, 2017 at 12:05 PM
American and British writing about China now, strikes me as writing about a country that is invented rather than the country I would like to think I know. I find the writing distressing, nonetheless there are the articles from the New Yorker and New York Times.
Paine - , June 17, 2017 at 02:07 PM
The book purporting to see the world thru chineses history conditioned eyes is
Patently ridiculous nastiness

One might ask who today
is actively trying to contain the other
Who today is trying to maintain its mandate as global hegemon

But really the problem is the clash of roving corporate sociopaths RCSs

Let us control ours and urge the Chinese to control theirs even as we know
Both states are drastically influenced by these RCSs

[Jun 18, 2017] Amazon is monopolist which just became bigger

Jun 18, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Fred C. Dobbs , June 17, 2017 at 01:59 AM

(Is this anything?)

The Amazon-Walmart Showdown That Explains the Modern
Economy https://nyti.ms/2sxhIkx via @UpshotNYT
NYT - Neil Irwin - June 16

With Amazon buying the high-end grocery chain Whole Foods, something retail analysts have known for years is now apparent to everyone: The online retailer is on a collision course with Walmart to try to be the predominant seller of pretty much everything you buy.

Each one is trying to become more like the other - Walmart by investing heavily in its technology, Amazon by opening physical bookstores and now buying physical supermarkets. But this is more than a battle between two business titans. Their rivalry sheds light on the shifting economics of nearly every major industry, replete with winner-take-all effects and huge advantages that accrue to the biggest and best-run organizations, to the detriment of upstarts and second-fiddle players.

That in turn has been a boon for consumers but also has more worrying implications for jobs, wages and inequality.

To understand this epic shift, you can look not just to the grocery business, but also to my closet, and to another retail acquisition announced Friday morning. ...

Walmart to Buy Bonobos, Men's Wear Company, for $310 Million https://nyti.ms/2tuGhf9

paine - , June 17, 2017 at 08:10 AM
When you lose confidence in your
existing biz you buy bizes
Fred C. Dobbs - , June 17, 2017 at 10:19 AM
It turns out Neil Irwin has
a thing for fine dress shirts.
pgl - , June 17, 2017 at 10:41 AM
WTF? Amazon has not lost confidence in creating a monopsony for buying and selling stuff. It just expanded their empire to groceries.
Paine - , June 17, 2017 at 12:35 PM
Cornering as many markets as possible
is a fools mission

The problem
corporations get to keep their cash flow

Review the nonsense oil companies got into when rolling in cash
Thanks to OPEC

pgl - , June 17, 2017 at 02:38 PM
WTF? You clearly never looked at Amazon's income statement.
JohnH - , June 17, 2017 at 04:28 PM
Amazon's business model is to become the dominant intermediary between producers and consumers.

Whole Foods positions it to ideally serve this role in every local market in America...one stop shopping, whether you're buying from China or from the local Chinatown.

When a company like Amazon is capturing market share, profits don't matter, as its stock price shows.

And Bezos ownerships of the Washington Post gives him a powerful bully pulpit against anyone with thoughts about anti-trust...that and his deep pockets.

cm - , June 17, 2017 at 12:38 PM
I wouldn't call it confidence. Any line or mode of business can be grown only to a certain size. At some point S-curve effects and scale complexity lead to diminishing returns, even if the business is managed as well as it can be. Also in some cases there may simply not be enough demand for the one or few things the company does.

Then companies have to branch out into other ways of business, typically outside their current activities. Sometimes there is synergy, sometimes not, and it's just about buying market and revenue with the imagination one can manage it better to a higher rate of profit.

Paine - , June 17, 2017 at 01:31 PM
Or

They can turn into passive cash cows

cm - , June 17, 2017 at 04:40 PM
Yes, though usually there is a growth mandate imposed by management or "investors".
Paine - , June 18, 2017 at 07:11 AM
Now we are in the heart of darkness

Growth mandates
Where growth is earnings
Or revenues or market shares or

And indeed too often
management v stock holders mandates overt or tacit obtain

Gibbon1 - , June 17, 2017 at 10:19 PM
Comment over brunch: Must be getting late in the cycle. Amazon shrewdly using it's internet valuation to buy tangible things.
Paine - , June 18, 2017 at 07:11 AM
True

[Jun 18, 2017] Even raising wages can be the way to squeeze workforce

Notable quotes:
"... The Fed should initiate a campaign: 'Patriotism is paying your workers more." ..."
Jun 18, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

JohnH - , June 17, 2017 at 11:27 AM

The Fed should initiate a campaign: 'Patriotism is paying your workers more." It worked for Henry Ford. And it would work to restore robust economic growth.

Strangely, most economists want to REDUCE workers' purchasing power, which makes sense for individual firms but is bad for the economy as a whole.

pgl - , June 17, 2017 at 11:54 AM
Henry Ford - progressive? Seriously? He did this in order to get workers to put in more effort. In other words - good for the bottom line. Something call efficiency wages. We would provide you with a reading list but we know you would not actually read any of it. You never do.
Christopher H. - , June 17, 2017 at 12:40 PM
If the Fed wanted tighter labor markets where workers had more bargaining power, they wouldn't have started tightening monetary policy in 2013.

No need to start a PR campaign aimed at employers.

Funny how it was only a George W. Bush guy, Neel Kashkari, who dissented on raising rates.

djb - , June 18, 2017 at 06:16 AM
dean baker once pointed out that fiscal policy is problematic if it is just going to be reversed by monetary policy

monetary policy focuses on not having unemployment levels get lower than nairu,

and thus no matter what the fiscal interventions, we can never get unemployment below a certain level

believing that nairu is some "natural phenomenon" that is where the universe will always tend to

puts monetary policy, otherwise theoretically sound, in the way of achieving true full employment
not helping achieve it

so you don't just need fiscal, you need policies that work on the actual value of nairu and the amount of inflation that occurs when unemployment is low than nairu

apparently this guy William vickery has a lot of ideas on how to accomplish that

Paine - , June 18, 2017 at 07:19 AM
Lerners map

Market anti inflation policy

This is he answer to market power of firms
Old man Galbraith wanted the state
to administer the prices of the oligoplistic corporate core of the economy

MAP is the mechanism to impose

Paine - , June 18, 2017 at 08:54 AM
A report by David colander abba Lerners partner on map

https://www.jec.senate.gov/reports/97th%20Congress/Incentive%20Anti-Inflation%20Plan%20(1034).pdf

anne - , June 18, 2017 at 09:10 AM
https://www.jec.senate.gov/reports/97th%20Congress/Incentive%20Anti-Inflation%20Plan%20(1034).pdf

APRIL 28, 1981.

INCENTIVE ANTI-INFLATION PLANS
By David Colander

I. INTRODUCTION

How can something as simple as inflation be so difficult to solve? If inflation were simply a matter of "too much money chasing too few goods," then one would expect that the government could control the money supply and consequently control the inflation. The government has failed to act in this way and unless one subscribes to a sadistic theory of government, its failure suggests that there are non-monetary or "real` causes embedded in our political and economic institutions.

This study provides some insight into the nature of those real causes, and develops a strategy to combat inflation. Part of that strategy includes monetary restraint; however. to be politically acceptable, monetary restraint must be made more efficient. Some method must be developed to translate quickly a decrease in the growth of the money supply into a decrease in the price level, not into a decrease in employment and output.

The method suggested by this report is an incentive based incomes policy or incentive anti-inflation plan. These policies minimize government intervention in the market economy while channeling restrictive monetary policy into anti-inflation incentives rather than into anti-production incentives. They provide the necessary supply side incentives to stop inflation.

Incentive anti-inflation plans take various forms. Many of the arguments for and against such policies have incorrectly interpreted the methodology and goals of these policies. Specifically, these policies are not designed to solve inflation by themselves, but instead must function as complements to, rather than substitutes for, the appropriate monetary and fiscal policy. These proposals are not meant to replace the market with government regulation; they recognize the market's advantages and use market incentives to check inflation programs as strong as, and no stronger than, the pressures for inflation.

To function properly, incentive anti-inflation plans must be supported by an effective legal structure, an enforcement mechanism and a general public acceptance that the plans are fair. These are difficult requirements but all markets need these foundations. There is a fundamental difference between the government's role in establishing a legal framework and its role in directly regulating market decisions. Anti-inflation incentive plans require only the former....

djb - , June 18, 2017 at 11:52 AM
"If inflation were simply a matter of "too much money chasing too few goods," then one would expect that the government could control the money supply and consequently control the inflation"

first off, they should NOT be looking at it as money supply paying for the goods

they should be looking at it as income paying for the goods

money times velocity of money

cm - , June 17, 2017 at 12:45 PM
Ford paid workers more to be able to squeeze more assembly line output from them with limited risk of turnover, as leaving for another job would mean a pay cut. He also had ideas about intervening in their home lives.

[Jun 18, 2017] What we see is a set of steps taken directly from Gene Sharp textbook on the subject.

Jun 18, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova - June 18, 2017 at 04:24 PM "I like your use of color revolution analogy; it enrages liberal interventionists"

Thank you !

But is not an analogy. What we see is a set of steps taken directly from Gene Sharp textbook on the subject.

I'm not saying the Russians didn't try to tamper with the election, by discrediting already discredited neoliberal establishment (Although, as any patriotic American, I strongly doubt they can tamper as well as we can.)

But the set of steps we observed was the plot to appoint a Special Prosecutor, who later is expected to sink Trump. After the Special Prosecutor was appointed Russia changes does not matter, and more "elastic" charge of "obstruction of justice" can be used instead.

Also note the heavy participation of two heads of intelligence agencies (Clapper and Brennan) and State Department officials in the plot.

[Jun 18, 2017] Turning to Occupied Syria.

Jun 18, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

ilsm , June 17, 2017 at 02:51 AM

Turning to Occupied Syria.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/saudi-qatar-crisis-puts-syria-rebels-in-tricky-position/articleshow/59188782.cms

The outsider Sunni insurgency looks like Yemen 1963 as the Saudi terror sponsors are backed into the corner.

The Wahhabis, and Trump pursuing Obama's plot, in Riyadh are supporting radical Sunnis not blushing at their al Qaeda links.

Opposing the Wahhabis are Russia an ally to a loose confederation of legitimate government, moderated radicals, and minorities whom would be cut off by the Sunnis, as playing Nasser/Egypt in Yemen.

Doha's sin against Wahhab is criticizing the Sunni demolition of Arab Spring and Egypt's military dictatorship.

While as in 1964 the Wahhabis are on the same pole as Israel.

ilsm - , June 17, 2017 at 03:06 PM
Given 37 years of US blundering in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean region, China don't need to worry if the dominant power [and its pentagon trough filler] were to decide to get violent.

I read a lot of "Thucydides Trap" type fiction emanating from novelists purporting to "analyze" aspects of US foreign policy issues.

Fiction many deliberate obfuscations and cherry picked evidence.

I now read such tracts to sharpen my skill at observing and naming types of logical fallacy.

Case studies, the world is not in the image of the HBS universe.

ilsm - , June 17, 2017 at 06:54 PM
There are problems in the world, and they suggest Einstein's observation:

to the effect: "you cannot solve problems with the mind that created them".

The hegemon is misguided on many levels: errant goals, strategies (cannot be good if goals wrong), and expensive tactics which goatherd can defeat. Worse the allies kept.

[Jun 17, 2017] Jeremy Corbyns leadership offered an end to austerity, a commitment to the public good, the faith that generosity is more powerful than greed

Notable quotes:
"... According to what I saw, the only high profile economists to support Corbyn were Stiglitz, Piketty, and Dillow. These rest of the librul commentariat shunned Corbyn, apparently hoping that his progressive campaign would just disappear. ..."
"... Tutition used to be free in the UK. Then they decided that those lazy students needed to have some skin in the game and suddenly tuition was 1000 pounds. Then a few years later it was 9000 pounds and all the college grads there now have US-level student debt. ..."
"... A big reason Corbyn's a commie is because he wants to abolish tuition to bring the UK back to its communist past of 1997 and give young people the same deal all the people in charge had. ..."
Jun 09, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
JohnH - June 09, 2017 at 12:19 PM

Maria Margaronis writing in The Nation: "Labour's Near-Triumph Brings a New Morning to British Politics...

Jeremy Corbyn's leadership offered an end to austerity, a commitment to the public good, the faith that generosity is more powerful than greed."
https://www.thenation.com/article/labours-near-triumph-brings-a-new-morning-to-british-politics/

Someone finally brought the dreaded dragon of austerity and neoliberalism to its knees. Conservatives are holding onto power by a thread. Tony B.liar has been repudiated. Time for joy!

Or is it? Instead of exulting, austerity-hating libruls here are reacting with sullen silence. At the New York Times, it is not morning, but time for mourning. They still seem still barely able to include the word 'Corbyn' in the 'fit to print' category.

pgl, who never had a nice thing to say about Corbyn, claimed yesterday that he favored him...but only after the exist polls showed the inevitability of his success.

According to what I saw, the only high profile economists to support Corbyn were Stiglitz, Piketty, and Dillow. These rest of the librul commentariat shunned Corbyn, apparently hoping that his progressive campaign would just disappear.

As for Krugman, Jeffrey Sachs noted two years ago: "It is truly odd to read Paul Krugman rail, time and again, against the British government. His latest screed begins with the claim that "Britain's economic performance since the financial crisis struck has been startlingly bad." He excoriates Prime Minister David Cameron's government for its "poor economic record," and wonders how he and his cabinet can possibly pose "as the guardians of prosperity."

Hmm. In recent months, Krugman has repeatedly praised the US economic recovery under President Barack Obama, while attacking the United Kingdom's record. But when we compare the two economies side by side, their trajectories are broadly similar, with the UK outperforming the United States on certain indicators." Opposition to austerity seemed to have a distinctly partisan character.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/krugman-us-uk-recovery-contradiction-by-jeffrey-d-sachs-2015-04?barrier=accessreg

All this changed after Corbyn became Labour leader. Krugman's attacks on Conservatives suddenly stopped. Austerity seemed to have lost its toxicity. Krugman had absolutely no comment on this UK election, refusing to talk at all about the anti-austerity candidate. It is probably just as well, since support from a compromised librul commentariat could only have damaged Corbyn's credibility.

As Robert Kuttner said 20 years ago, "Krugman is the conservatives ideal liberal." It appears that he has a lot of company...libruls who claim to oppose austerity but can't muster the courage to support an anti-austerity candidate.

Christopher H., June 09, 2017 at 01:35 PM
Oh look, Atrios blogged something. I guess he didn't get the memo from PGL and the establishment Democrats.

http://www.eschatonblog.com/2017/06/the-kids-are-alright.html

FRIDAY, JUNE 09, 2017

The Kids Are Alright

No actual figures, but presumably there was big yute turnout in the UK Everyone will now claim that a non-commie Labour leader like that nice Ed Miliband would OF COURSE have done as well as Joseph Stalin Lenin Marx Corbyn, and in fact BETTER, but that's bullshit.

That nice Ed Miliband couldn't do in 2015, and I'm not sure who the "unnamed generic normal Labour candidate" would otherwise be. Theresa May's incompetent evil helped, but Corbyn staved off what was supposed to have been a Labour extinction election and while there will still likely be a Tory-led government, it will be pretty fragile. A coalition with a bunch of bigoted religious nutters from Northern Ireland who aren't on board with May's Brexit plans.

Labour went after The Kids Today and got them to the polls. Wasn't enough to win, but the polling outfit predicting a likely hung parliament was considered to be "insane" even just a few days ago.

Tutition used to be free in the UK. Then they decided that those lazy students needed to have some skin in the game and suddenly tuition was 1000 pounds. Then a few years later it was 9000 pounds and all the college grads there now have US-level student debt.

A big reason Corbyn's a commie is because he wants to abolish tuition to bring the UK back to its communist past of 1997 and give young people the same deal all the people in charge had.

In 2015, Miliband said he'd cut them. To just SIX THOUSAND POUNDS. Maybe if he'd gone all the way...

by Atrios at 08:30

[Jun 17, 2017] Varoufakis explains why economics is not science

Notable quotes:
"... Russell Brand discusses with Yanis Varoufakis what happens when you take on the political, financial and media elite, and how radical reform can occur. Through accounts of his confrontations with the IMF, European institutions and the German government they examine where true power lies and how it is wielded. ..."
"... The 'gurus' of the dominant economic system 'teach' us how economy should be treated, based on mathematical models that assume standard conditions that, essentially, do not exist in the real world. This kind of peculiar 'determinism' in economics is already considered obsolete in other scientific fields. ..."
"... Mainstream economics, dominated by the neoliberal perception, is full of assumptions that are not applicable in the real world, yet being used to justify the satisfaction of the interests of the elites. ..."
"... Almost everywhere, neoliberal policies imposed through IMF have brought unprecedented disaster. Despite the obvious failure, financial technocrats assume that all cases are similar, imposing the same recipe in every region. Their models are full of assumptions in every level and that's why the fail miserably. Yet, despite the obvious disaster, the neoliberal priesthood demands from societies to adopt its models through simple faith. ..."
Jun 17, 2017 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr
globinfo freexchange

Russell Brand discusses with Yanis Varoufakis what happens when you take on the political, financial and media elite, and how radical reform can occur. Through accounts of his confrontations with the IMF, European institutions and the German government they examine where true power lies and how it is wielded.

In a particular part of the interview, Varoufakis explains simply why economics is not science:

I call it organized religion with equations, superstition. The only way to become free of superstition is through overcoming. But you need to study. I've always pissed off my academic colleagues and other economists who actually believe that is real science what they are doing.

Our mathematical models of the weather can be judged by objective reality. If I am a meteorologist and come up with a prediction that tomorrow there is going to be a heatwave in Leicester square, all we have to do is to wait until tomorrow to see if I'm right or wrong. The weather will either confirm or junk my theories about it.

And by the way, this is exactly the process of how real science progress. Try – fail - come with an improved idea, and so on. Real scientists abolish old theories even if they work well with new ones that explain better the nature, the world, etc.

Varoufakis continues:

Let's say that I have the same kind of computer model and actual machine and data mining that the meteorologist does, but instead of using it to predict the weather I use it to predict the stock exchange. And suppose that I was somebody very highly respected as a predictor of stock exchange changes and let's say that today, I were to predict that tomorrow is going to be a major crash in the stock exchange. There might be because I predicted it! In society and in the economy, our beliefs about the phenomenon under study are part of the phenomenon under study.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/BX7JDLkYMWc

The last paragraph above depicts soundly why mainstream economics are far from the concept of modern science. The 'gurus' of the dominant economic system 'teach' us how economy should be treated, based on mathematical models that assume standard conditions that, essentially, do not exist in the real world. This kind of peculiar 'determinism' in economics is already considered obsolete in other scientific fields.

In Quantum Mechanics, for example, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle not only acknowledges that the observer affects the final situation of a physical system but also embeds this interference mathematically. As a consequence, the final situation of a physical system can be determined only in statistical terms.

Mainstream economics, dominated by the neoliberal perception, is full of assumptions that are not applicable in the real world, yet being used to justify the satisfaction of the interests of the elites.

Almost everywhere, neoliberal policies imposed through IMF have brought unprecedented disaster. Despite the obvious failure, financial technocrats assume that all cases are similar, imposing the same recipe in every region. Their models are full of assumptions in every level and that's why the fail miserably. Yet, despite the obvious disaster, the neoliberal priesthood demands from societies to adopt its models through simple faith.

Which shows that the only and real target of the mainstream economics, is simply retain the domination of a small elite on the top of the economic hierarchy, at the expense of the majority of the people.

[Jun 17, 2017] The Collapsing Social Contract by Gaius Publius

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Until elites stand down and stop the brutal squeeze , expect more after painful more of this. It's what happens when societies come apart. Unless elites (of both parties) stop the push for "profit before people," policies that dominate the whole of the Neoliberal Era , there are only two outcomes for a nation on this track, each worse than the other. There are only two directions for an increasingly chaotic state to go, chaotic collapse or sufficiently militarized "order" to entirely suppress it. ..."
"... Mes petits sous, mon petit cri de coeur. ..."
"... But the elite aren't going to stand down, whatever that might mean. The elite aren't really the "elite", they are owners and controllers of certain flows of economic activity. We need to call it what it is and actively organize against it. Publius's essay seems too passive at points, too passive voice. (Yes, it's a cry from the heart in a prophetic mode, and on that level, I'm with it.) ..."
"... American Psycho ..."
"... The college students I deal with have internalized a lot of this. In their minds, TINA is reality. Everything balances for the individual on a razor's edge of failure of will or knowledge or hacktivity. It's all personal, almost never collective - it's a failure toward parents or peers or, even more grandly, what success means in America. ..."
"... unions don't matter in our TINA. Corporations do. ..."
"... our system promotes specialists and disregards generalists this leads to a population of individualists who can't see the big picture. ..."
"... That social contract is hard to pin down and define – probably has different meanings to all of us, but you are right, it is breaking down. We no longer feel that our governments are working for us. ..."
"... Increasing population, decreasing resources, increasingly expensive remaining resources on a per unit basis, unresolved trashing of the environment and an political economy that forces people to do more with less all the time (productivity improvement is mandatory, not optional, to handle the exponential function) much pain will happen even if everyone is equal. ..."
"... "Social contract:" nice Enlightment construct, out of University by City. Not a real thing, just a very incomplete shorthand to attempt to fiddle the masses and give a name to meta-livability. ..."
"... Always with the "contract" meme, as if there are no more durable and substantive notions of how humans in small and large groups might organize and interact Or maybe the notion is the best that can be achieved? ..."
"... JTMcFee, you have provided the most important aspect to this mirage of 'social contract'. The "remedies" clearly available to lawless legislation rest outside the realm of a contract which has never existed. ..."
"... Unconscionable clauses are now separately initialed in an "I dare you to sue me" shaming gambit. Meanwhile the mythical Social Contract has been atomized into 7 1/2 billion personal contracts with unstated, shifting remedies wholly tied to the depths of pockets. ..."
"... Here in oh-so-individualistic Chicago, I have been noting the fraying for some time: It isn't just the massacres in the highly segregated black neighborhoods, some of which are now in terminal decline as the inhabitants, justifiably, flee. The typical Chicagoan wanders the streets connected to a phone, so as to avoid eye contact, all the while dressed in what look like castoffs. Meanwhile, Midwesterners, who tend to be heavy, are advertisements for the obesity epidemic: Yet obesity has a metaphorical meaning as the coat of lipids that a person wears to keep the world away. ..."
"... My middle / upper-middle neighborhood is covered with a layer of upper-middle trash: Think Starbucks cups and artisanal beer bottles. ..."
"... The class war continues, and the upper class has won. As commenter relstprof notes, any kind of concerted action is now nearly impossible. Instead of the term "social contract," I might substitute "solidarity." Is there solidarity? No, solidarity was destroyed as a policy of the Reagan administration, as well as by fantasies that Americans are individualistic, and here we are, 40 years later, dealing with the rubble of the Obama administration and the Trump administration. ..."
"... The trash bit has been linked in other countries to how much the general population views the public space/environment as a shared, common good. Thus, streets, parks and public space might be soiled by litter that nobody cares to put away in trash bins properly, while simultaneously the interior of houses/apartments, and attached gardens if any, are kept meticulously clean. ..."
"... The trash bit has been linked in other countries to how much the general population views the public space/environment as a shared, common good. ..."
"... There *is* no public space anymore. Every public good, every public space is now fair game for commercial exploitation. ..."
"... The importance of the end of solidarity – that is, of the almost-murderous impulses by the upper classes to destroy any kind of solidarity. ..."
"... "Conditions will only deteriorate for anyone not in the "1%", with no sight of improvement or relief." ..."
"... "Four Futures" ..."
"... Reminds me of that one quip I saw from a guy who, why he always had to have two pigs to eat up his garbage, said that if he had only one pig, it will eat only when it wants to, but if there were two pigs, each one would eat so the other pig won't get to it first. Our current economic system in a nutshell – pigs eating crap so deny it to others first. "Greed is good". ..."
"... Don't know that the two avenues Gaius mentioned are the only two roads our society can travel. In support of this view, I recall a visit to a secondary city in Russia for a few weeks in the early 1990s after the collapse of the USSR. Those were difficult times economically and psychologically for ordinary citizens of that country. Alcoholism was rampant, emotional illness and suicide rates among men of working age were high, mortality rates generally were rising sharply, and birth rates were falling. Yet the glue of common culture, sovereign currency, language, community, and thoughtful and educated citizens held despite corrupt political leadership, the rise of an oligarchic class, and the related emergence of organized criminal networks. There was also adequate food, and critical public infrastructure was maintained, keeping in mind this was shortly after the Chernobyl disaster. ..."
Jun 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. I have been saying for some years that I did not think we would see a revolution, but more and more individuals acting out violently. That's partly the result of how community and social bonds have weakened as a result of neoliberalism but also because the officialdom has effective ways of blocking protests. With the overwhelming majority of people using smartphones, they are constantly surveilled. And the coordinated 17-city paramilitary crackdown on Occupy Wall Street shows how the officialdom moved against non-violent protests. Police have gotten only more military surplus toys since then, and crowd-dispersion technology like sound cannons only continues to advance. The only way a rebellion could succeed would be for it to be truly mass scale (as in over a million people in a single city) or by targeting crucial infrastructure.

By Gaius Publius , a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius , Tumblr and Facebook . GP article archive here . Originally published at DownWithTyranny

"[T]he super-rich are absconding with our wealth, and the plague of inequality continues to grow. An analysis of 2016 data found that the poorest five deciles of the world population own about $410 billion in total wealth. As of June 8, 2017 , the world's richest five men owned over $400 billion in wealth. Thus, on average, each man owns nearly as much as 750 million people."
-Paul Buchheit, Alternet

"Congressman Steve Scalise, Three Others Shot at Alexandria, Virginia, Baseball Field"
-NBC News, June 14, 2017

"4 killed, including gunman, in shooting at UPS facility in San Francisco"
-ABC7News, June 14, 2017

"Seriously? Another multiple shooting? So many guns. So many nut-bars. So many angry nut-bars with guns."
-MarianneW via Twitter

"We live in a world where "multiple dead" in San Francisco shooting can't cut through the news of another shooting in the same day."
-SamT via Twitter

"If the rich are determined to extract the last drop of blood, expect the victims to put up a fuss. And don't expect that fuss to be pretty. I'm not arguing for social war; I'm arguing for justice and peace."
- Yours truly

When the social contract breaks from above, it breaks from below as well.

Until elites stand down and stop the brutal squeeze , expect more after painful more of this. It's what happens when societies come apart. Unless elites (of both parties) stop the push for "profit before people," policies that dominate the whole of the Neoliberal Era , there are only two outcomes for a nation on this track, each worse than the other. There are only two directions for an increasingly chaotic state to go, chaotic collapse or sufficiently militarized "order" to entirely suppress it.

As with the climate, I'm concerned about the short term for sure - the storm that kills this year, the hurricane that kills the next - but I'm also concerned about the longer term as well. If the beatings from "our betters" won't stop until our acceptance of their "serve the rich" policies improves, the beatings will never stop, and both sides will take up the cudgel.

Then where will we be?

America's Most Abundant Manufactured Product May Be Pain

I look out the window and see more and more homeless people, noticeably more than last year and the year before. And they're noticeably scruffier, less "kemp,"​ if that makes sense to you (it does if you live, as I do, in a community that includes a number of them as neighbors).

The squeeze hasn't let up, and those getting squeezed out of society have nowhere to drain to but down - physically, economically, emotionally. The Case-Deaton study speaks volumes to this point. The less fortunate economically are already dying of drugs and despair. If people are killing themselves in increasing numbers, isn't it just remotely maybe possible they'll also aim their anger out as well?

The pot isn't boiling yet - these shootings are random, individualized - but they seem to be piling on top of each other. A hard-boiling, over-flowing pot may not be far behind. That's concerning as well, much moreso than even the random horrid events we recoil at today.

Many More Ways Than One to Be a Denier

My comparison above to the climate problem was deliberate. It's not just the occasional storms we see that matter. It's also that, seen over time, those storms are increasing, marking a trend that matters even more. As with climate, the whole can indeed be greater than its parts. There's more than one way in which to be a denier of change.

These are not just metaphors. The country is already in a pre-revolutionary state ; that's one huge reason people chose Trump over Clinton, and would have chosen Sanders over Trump. The Big Squeeze has to stop, or this will be just the beginning of a long and painful path. We're on a track that nations we have watched - tightly "ordered" states, highly chaotic ones - have trod already. While we look at them in pity, their example stares back at us.

Mes petits sous, mon petit cri de coeur.

elstprof , June 16, 2017 at 3:03 am

But the elite aren't going to stand down, whatever that might mean. The elite aren't really the "elite", they are owners and controllers of certain flows of economic activity. We need to call it what it is and actively organize against it. Publius's essay seems too passive at points, too passive voice. (Yes, it's a cry from the heart in a prophetic mode, and on that level, I'm with it.)

"If people are killing themselves in increasing numbers, isn't it just remotely maybe possible they'll also aim their anger out as well?"

Not necessarily. What Lacan called the "Big Other" is quite powerful. We internalize a lot of socio-economic junk from our cultural inheritance, especially as it's been configured over the last 40 years - our values, our body images, our criteria for judgment, our sense of what material well-being consists, etc. Ellis's American Psycho is the great satire of our time, and this time is not quite over yet. Dismemberment reigns.

The college students I deal with have internalized a lot of this. In their minds, TINA is reality. Everything balances for the individual on a razor's edge of failure of will or knowledge or hacktivity. It's all personal, almost never collective - it's a failure toward parents or peers or, even more grandly, what success means in America.

The idea that agency could be a collective action of a union for a strike isn't even on the horizon. And at the same time, these same students don't bat an eye at socialism. They're willing to listen.

But unions don't matter in our TINA. Corporations do.

Moneta , June 16, 2017 at 8:08 am

Most of the elite do not understand the money system. They do not understand how different sectors have benefitted from policies and/or subsidies that increased the money flows into these. So they think they deserve their money more than those who toiled in sectors with less support.

Furthermore, our system promotes specialists and disregards generalists this leads to a population of individualists who can't see the big picture.

jefemt , June 16, 2017 at 9:45 am

BAU, TINA, BAU!! BOHICA!!!

Dead Dog , June 16, 2017 at 3:09 am

Thank you Gaius, a thoughtful post. That social contract is hard to pin down and define – probably has different meanings to all of us, but you are right, it is breaking down. We no longer feel that our governments are working for us.

Of tangential interest, Turnbull has just announced another gun amnesty targeting guns that people no longer need and a tightening of some of the ownership laws.

RWood , June 16, 2017 at 12:24 pm

So this inheritance matures: http://www.nature.com/news/fight-the-silencing-of-gun-research-1.22139

willem , June 16, 2017 at 2:20 pm

One problem is the use of the term "social contract", implying that there is some kind of agreement ( = consensus) on what that is. I don't remember signing any "contract".

Fiery Hunt , June 16, 2017 at 3:17 am

I fear for my friends, I fear for my family. They do not know how ravenous the hounds behind nor ahead are. For myself? I imagine myself the same in a Mad Max world. It will be more clear, and perception shattering, to most whose lives allow the ignoring of gradual chokeholds, be them political or economic, but those of us who struggle daily, yearly, decadely with both, will only say Welcome to the party, pals.

Disturbed Voter , June 16, 2017 at 6:33 am

Increasing population, decreasing resources, increasingly expensive remaining resources on a per unit basis, unresolved trashing of the environment and an political economy that forces people to do more with less all the time (productivity improvement is mandatory, not optional, to handle the exponential function) much pain will happen even if everyone is equal.

Each person does what is right in their own eyes, but the net effect is impoverishment and destruction. Life is unfair, indeed. A social contract is a mutual suicide pact, whether you renegotiate it or not. This is Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club, is we don't speak of Fight Club. Go to the gym, toughen up, while you still can.

JTMcPhee , June 16, 2017 at 6:44 am

"Social contract:" nice Enlightment construct, out of University by City. Not a real thing, just a very incomplete shorthand to attempt to fiddle the masses and give a name to meta-livability.

Always with the "contract" meme, as if there are no more durable and substantive notions of how humans in small and large groups might organize and interact Or maybe the notion is the best that can be achieved? Recalling that as my Contracts professor in law school emphasized over and over, in "contracts" there are no rights in the absence of effective remedies. It being a Boston law school, the notion was echoed in Torts, and in Commercial Paper and Sales and, tellingly, in Constitutional Law and Federal Jurisdiction, and even in Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure. No remedy, no right. What remedies are there in "the system," for the "other halves" of the "social contract," the "have-naught" halves?

When honest "remedies under law" become nugatory, there's always the recourse to direct action of course with zero guarantee of redress

sierra7 , June 16, 2017 at 11:22 am

"What remedies are there in "the system," for the "other halves" of the "social contract," the "have-naught" halves?" Ah yes the ultimate remedy is outright rebellion against the highest authorities .with as you say, " zero guarantee of redress."

But, history teaches us that that path will be taken ..the streets. It doesn't (didn't) take a genius to see what was coming back in the late 1960's on .regarding the beginnings of the revolt(s) by big money against organized labor. Having been very involved in observing, studying and actually active in certain groups back then, the US was acting out in other countries particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, against any social progression, repressing, arresting (thru its surrogates) torturing, killing any individuals or groups that opposed that infamous theory of "free market capitalism". It had a very definite "creep" effect, northwards to the mainstream US because so many of our major corporations were deeply involved with our covert intelligence operatives and objectives (along with USAID and NED). I used to tell my friends about what was happening and they would look at me as if I was a lunatic. The agency for change would be "organized labor", but now, today that agency has been trashed enough where so many of the young have no clue as to what it all means. The ultimate agenda along with "globalization" is the complete repression of any opposition to the " spread of money markets" around the world". The US intends to lead; whether the US citizenry does is another matter. Hence the streets.

Kuhio Kane , June 16, 2017 at 12:33 pm

JTMcFee, you have provided the most important aspect to this mirage of 'social contract'. The "remedies" clearly available to lawless legislation rest outside the realm of a contract which has never existed.

bdy , June 16, 2017 at 1:32 pm

The Social Contract, ephemeral, reflects perfectly what contracts have become. Older rulings frequently labeled clauses unconscionable - a tacit recognition that so few of the darn things are actually agreed upon. Rather, a party with resources, options and security imposes the agreement on a party in some form of crisis (nowadays the ever present crisis of paycheck to paycheck living – or worse). Never mind informational asymmetries, necessity drives us into crappy rental agreements and debt promises with eyes wide open. And suddenly we're all agents of the state.

Unconscionable clauses are now separately initialed in an "I dare you to sue me" shaming gambit. Meanwhile the mythical Social Contract has been atomized into 7 1/2 billion personal contracts with unstated, shifting remedies wholly tied to the depths of pockets.

Solidarity, of course. Hard when Identity politics lubricate a labor market that insists on specialization, and talented children of privilege somehow manage to navigate the new entrepreneurism while talented others look on in frustration. The resistance insists on being leaderless (fueled in part IMHO by the uncomfortable fact that effective leaders are regularly killed or co-opted). And the overriding message of resistance is negative: "Stop it!"

But that's where we are. Again, just my opinion: but the pivotal step away from the jackpot is to convince or coerce our wealthiest not to cash in. Stop making and saving so much stinking money, y'all.

Moneta , June 16, 2017 at 6:54 am

The pension system is based on profits. Nothing will change until the profits disappear and the top quintile starts falling off the treadmill.

Susan the other , June 16, 2017 at 1:01 pm

and there's the Karma bec. even now we see a private banking system synthesizing an economy to maintain asset values and profits and they have the nerve to blame it on social spending. I think Giaus's term 'Denier' is perfect for all those vested practitioners of profit-capitalism at any cost. They've already failed miserably. For the most part they're just too proud to admit it and, naturally, they wanna hang on to "their" money. I don't think it will take a revolution – in fact it would be better if no chaos ensued – just let these arrogant goofballs stew in their own juice a while longer. They are killing themselves.

roadrider , June 16, 2017 at 8:33 am

There's a social contract? Who knew?

Realist , June 16, 2017 at 8:41 am

When I hear so much impatient and irritable complaint, so much readiness to replace what we have by guardians for us all, those supermen, evoked somewhere from the clouds, whom none have seen and none are ready to name, I lapse into a dream, as it were. I see children playing on the grass; their voices are shrill and discordant as children's are; they are restive and quarrelsome; they cannot agree to any common plan; their play annoys them; it goes poorly. And one says, let us make Jack the master; Jack knows all about it; Jack will tell us what each is to do and we shall all agree. But Jack is like all the rest; Helen is discontented with her part and Henry with his, and soon they fall again into their old state. No, the children must learn to play by themselves; there is no Jack the master. And in the end slowly and with infinite disappointment they do learn a little; they learn to forbear, to reckon with another, accept a little where they wanted much, to live and let live, to yield when they must yield; perhaps, we may hope, not to take all they can. But the condition is that they shall be willing at least to listen to one another, to get the habit of pooling their wishes. Somehow or other they must do this, if the play is to go on; maybe it will not, but there is no Jack, in or out of the box, who can come to straighten the game. -Learned Hand

DJG , June 16, 2017 at 9:24 am

Here in oh-so-individualistic Chicago, I have been noting the fraying for some time: It isn't just the massacres in the highly segregated black neighborhoods, some of which are now in terminal decline as the inhabitants, justifiably, flee. The typical Chicagoan wanders the streets connected to a phone, so as to avoid eye contact, all the while dressed in what look like castoffs. Meanwhile, Midwesterners, who tend to be heavy, are advertisements for the obesity epidemic: Yet obesity has a metaphorical meaning as the coat of lipids that a person wears to keep the world away.

My middle / upper-middle neighborhood is covered with a layer of upper-middle trash: Think Starbucks cups and artisanal beer bottles. Some trash is carefully posed: Cups with straws on windsills, awaiting the Paris Agreement Pixie, who will clean up after these oh-so-earnest environmentalists.

Meanwhile, I just got a message from my car-share service: They are cutting back on the number of cars on offer. Too much vandalism.

Are these things caused by pressure from above? Yes, in part: The class war continues, and the upper class has won. As commenter relstprof notes, any kind of concerted action is now nearly impossible. Instead of the term "social contract," I might substitute "solidarity." Is there solidarity? No, solidarity was destroyed as a policy of the Reagan administration, as well as by fantasies that Americans are individualistic, and here we are, 40 years later, dealing with the rubble of the Obama administration and the Trump administration.

JEHR , June 16, 2017 at 11:17 am

DJG: My middle / upper-middle neighborhood is covered with a layer of upper-middle trash: Think Starbucks cups and artisanal beer bottles. Some trash is carefully posed: Cups with straws on windsills, awaiting the Paris Agreement Pixie, who will clean up after these oh-so-earnest environmentalists.

Yes, the trash bit is hard to understand. What does it stand for? Does it mean, We can infinitely disregard our surroundings by throwing away plastic, cardboard, metal and paper and nothing will happen? Does it mean, There is more where that came from! Does it mean, I don't care a fig for the earth? Does it mean, Human beings are stupid and, unlike pigs, mess up their immediate environment and move on? Does it mean, Nothing–that we are just nihilists waiting to die? I am so fed up with the garbage strewn on the roads and in the woods where I live; I used to pick it up and could collect as much as 9 garbage bags of junk in 9 days during a 4 kilometer walk. I don't pick up any more because I am 77 and cannot keep doing it.

However, I am certain that strewn garbage will surely be the last national flag waving in the breeze as the anthem plays junk music and we all succumb to our terrible future.

jrs , June 16, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Related to this, I thought one day of who probably NEVER gets any appreciation but strives to make things nicer, anyone planning or planting the highway strips (government workers maybe although it could be convicts also unfortunately, I'm not sure). Yes highways are ugly, yes they will destroy the world, but some of the planting strips are sometimes genuinely nice. So they add some niceness to the ugly and people still litter of course.

visitor , June 16, 2017 at 1:04 pm

The trash bit has been linked in other countries to how much the general population views the public space/environment as a shared, common good. Thus, streets, parks and public space might be soiled by litter that nobody cares to put away in trash bins properly, while simultaneously the interior of houses/apartments, and attached gardens if any, are kept meticulously clean.

Basically, the world people care about stops outside their dwellings, because they do not feel it is "theirs" or that they participate in its possession in a genuine way. It belongs to the "town administration", or to a "private corporation", or to the "government" - and if they feel they have no say in the ownership, management, regulation and benefits thereof, why should they care? Let the town administration/government/corporation do the clean-up - we already pay enough taxes/fees/tolls, and "they" are always putting up more restrictions on how to use everything, so

In conclusion: the phenomenon of litter/trash is another manifestation of a fraying social contract.

Big River Bandido , June 16, 2017 at 1:47 pm

The trash bit has been linked in other countries to how much the general population views the public space/environment as a shared, common good.

There *is* no public space anymore. Every public good, every public space is now fair game for commercial exploitation.

I live in NYC, and just yesterday as I attempted to refill my MetroCard, the machine told me it was expired and I had to replace it. The replacement card doesn't look at all like a MetroCard with the familiar yellow and black graphic saying "MetroCard". Instead? It's an ad. For a fucking insurance company. And so now, every single time that I go somewhere on the subway, I have to see an ad from Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

visitor , June 16, 2017 at 2:39 pm

There *is* no public space anymore. Every public good, every public space is now fair game for commercial exploitation.

And as a result, people no longer care about it - they do not feel it is their commonwealth any longer.

Did you notice whether the NYC subway got increasingly dirty/littered as the tentacles of privatization reached everywhere? Just curious.

DJG , June 16, 2017 at 9:37 am

The importance of the end of solidarity – that is, of the almost-murderous impulses by the upper classes to destroy any kind of solidarity. From Yves's posting of Yanis Varoufakis's analysis of the newest terms of the continuing destruction of Greece:

With regard to labour market reforms, the Eurogroup welcomes the adopted legislation safeguarding previous reforms on collective bargaining and bringing collective dismissals in line with best EU practices.

I see! "Safeguarding previous reforms on collective bargaining" refers, of course, to the 2012 removal of the right to collective bargaining and the end to trades union representation for each and every Greek worker. Our government was elected in January 2015 with an express mandate to restore these workers' and trades unions' rights. Prime Minister Tsipras has repeatedly pledged to do so, even after our falling out and my resignation in July 2015. Now, yesterday, his government consented to this piece of Eurogroup triumphalism that celebrates the 'safeguarding' of the 2012 'reforms'. In short, the SYRIZA government has capitulated on this issue too: Workers' and trades' unions' rights will not be restored. And, as if that were not bad enough, "collective dismissals" will be brought "in line with best EU practices". What this means is that the last remaining constraints on corporations, i.e. a restriction on what percentage of workers can be fired each month, is relaxed. Make no mistake: The Eurogroup is telling us that, now that employers are guaranteed the absence of trades unions, and the right to fire more workers, growth enhancement will follow suit! Let's not hold our breath!

Daniel F. , June 16, 2017 at 10:44 am

The so-called "Elites"? Stand down? Right. Every year I look up the cardinal topics discussed at the larger economic forums and conferences (mainly Davos and G8), and some variation of "The consequences of rising inequality" is a recurring one. Despite this, nothing ever comes out if them. I imagine they go something like this:

A wet dream come true, both for an AnCap and a communist conspiracy theorist. I'm by no means either. However, I think capitalism has already failed and can't go on for much longer. Conditions will only deteriorate for anyone not in the "1%", with no sight of improvement or relief.

I'd very much like to be proven wrong.

Bobby Gladd , June 16, 2017 at 12:01 pm

"Conditions will only deteriorate for anyone not in the "1%", with no sight of improvement or relief." Frase's Quadrant Four. Hierarchy + Scarcity = Exterminism (From "Four Futures" )

Archangel , June 16, 2017 at 11:33 am

Reminds me of that one quip I saw from a guy who, why he always had to have two pigs to eat up his garbage, said that if he had only one pig, it will eat only when it wants to, but if there were two pigs, each one would eat so the other pig won't get to it first. Our current economic system in a nutshell – pigs eating crap so deny it to others first. "Greed is good".

oh , June 16, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Our country is rife with rent seeking pigs who will stoop lower and lower to feed their greed.

Vatch , June 16, 2017 at 12:37 pm

In today's Links section there's this: https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/jun/14/tax-evaders-exposed-why-super-rich-are-even-richer-than-we-thought which has relevance for the discussion of the collapsing social contract.

Chauncey Gardiner , June 16, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Don't know that the two avenues Gaius mentioned are the only two roads our society can travel. In support of this view, I recall a visit to a secondary city in Russia for a few weeks in the early 1990s after the collapse of the USSR. Those were difficult times economically and psychologically for ordinary citizens of that country. Alcoholism was rampant, emotional illness and suicide rates among men of working age were high, mortality rates generally were rising sharply, and birth rates were falling. Yet the glue of common culture, sovereign currency, language, community, and thoughtful and educated citizens held despite corrupt political leadership, the rise of an oligarchic class, and the related emergence of organized criminal networks. There was also adequate food, and critical public infrastructure was maintained, keeping in mind this was shortly after the Chernobyl disaster.

Here in the US the New Deal and other legislation helped preserve social order in the 1930s. Yves also raises an important point in her preface that can provide support for the center by those who are able to do so under the current economic framework. That glue is to participate in one's community; whether it is volunteering at a school, the local food bank, community-oriented social clubs, or in a multitude of other ways; regardless of whether your community is a small town or a large city.

JTMcPhee , June 16, 2017 at 1:21 pm

" Yet the glue of common culture, sovereign currency, language, community, and thoughtful and educated citizens held despite corrupt political leadership, the rise of an oligarchic class, and the related emergence of organized criminal networks."

None of which applies to the Imperium, of course. There's glue, all right, but it's the kind that is used for flooring in Roach Motels (TM), and those horrific rat and mouse traps that stick the rodent to a large rectangle of plastic, where they die eventually of exhaustion and dehydration and starvation The rat can gnaw off a leg that's glued down, but then it tips over and gets glued down by the chest or face or butt

I have to note that several people I know are fastidious about picking up trash other people "throw away." I do it, when I'm up to bending over. I used to be rude about it - one young attractive woman dumped a McDonald's bag and her ashtray out the window of her car at one of our very long Florida traffic lights. I got out of my car, used the mouth of the McDonald's bag to scoop up most of the lipsticked butts, and threw them back into her car. Speaking of mouths, that woman with the artfully painted lips sure had one on her

[Jun 15, 2017] Was Comeys second thought announcement after Hillary email investigation a naked political gambit?

Notable quotes:
"... And what about his very strange announcement about Wiener computer containing Hillary classified emails? ..."
Jun 11, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Libezkova, June 11, 2017 at 06:07 PM

"When you have a former head of the FBI, a deeply respected person"

That's funny. Can you spell 9/11. He served as President George W. Bush's deputy attorney general (D.A.G.), in the aftermath of 9/11. So he is the the one who got Saudi officials off the hook.

Former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, who in 2002 chaired the congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11, maintains the FBI is covering up a Saudi support cell in Sarasota for the hijackers. He says the al-Hijjis' "urgent" pre-9/11 exit suggests "someone may have tipped them off" about the coming attacks.

Graham has been working with a 14-member group in Congress to urge President Obama to declassify 28 pages of the final report of his inquiry which were originally redacted, wholesale, by President George W. Bush.

"The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier," he said, adding, "I am speaking of the kingdom," or government, of Saudi Arabia, not just wealthy individual Saudi donors.

Sources who have read the censored Saudi section say it cites CIA and FBI case files that directly implicate officials of the Saudi Embassy in Washington and its consulate in Los Angeles in the attacks - which, if true, would make 9/11 not just an act of terrorism, but an act of war by a foreign government.

– From the New York Post article: How the FBI is Whitewashing the Saudi Connection to 9/11

Was Comey's "second thought" announcement after Hillary email investigation a naked political gambit?

And what about his very strange announcement about Wiener computer containing Hillary classified emails?

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/03/politics/james-comey-hearing-huma-abedin-forwarding-classified-information/index.html

[Jun 15, 2017] Neocons are after Trump, managed to appoint special procecutor by subterfuge and Trump now losing...

Jun 15, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Fred C. Dobbs, June 14, 2017 at 08:17 PM

Special-counsel probe is examining whether Trump obstructed justice
https://www.wsj.com/articles/mueller-probe-examining-whether-donald-trump-obstructed-justice-1497490897

WSJ - Del Quentin Wilber, Shane Harris and Paul Sonne - June 14, 2017

WASHINGTON-President Donald Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey is now a subject of the federal probe being headed by special counsel Robert Mueller, which has expanded to include whether the president obstructed justice, a person familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Mueller is examining whether the president fired Mr. Comey as part of a broader effort to alter the direction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's probe into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether associates of Mr. Trump colluded with Moscow, the person said.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Mr. Trump's personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, denounced the revelation in a statement. "The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal," Mr. Corallo said.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mr. Mueller, declined to comment. The special counsel's pursuit of an obstruction of justice probe was first reported Wednesday by the Washington Post. Mr. Mueller's team is planning to interview Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers as part of its examination of whether Mr. Trump sought to obstruct justice, the person said. The special counsel also plans to interview Rick Ledgett, who recently retired as the deputy director of the NSA, the person added.

While Mr. Ledgett was still in office, he wrote a memo documenting a phone call that Mr. Rogers had with Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the matter. During the call, the president questioned the veracity of the intelligence community's judgment that Russia had interfered with the election and tried to persuade Mr. Rogers to say there was no evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russian officials, they said. Russia has denied any government effort to meddle in the U.S. election. Mr. Ledgett declined to comment, and officials at the NSA didn't respond to a request for comment. An aide to Mr. Coats declined to comment.

Mr. Coats and Mr. Rogers told a Senate panel June 7 that they didn't feel pressured by Mr. Trump to intervene with Mr. Comey or push back against allegations of possible collusion between Mr. Trump's campaign and Russia. But the top national security officials declined to say what, if anything, Mr. Trump requested they do in relation to the Russia probe.

"If the special prosecutor called upon me to meet with him to ask his questions, I said I would be willing to do that," Mr. Coats said June 7. Mr. Rogers said he would also be willing to meet with the special counsel's team.

Mr. Comey told a Senate panel on June 8 that Mr. Trump expressed "hope" in a one-on-one Oval Office meeting that the FBI would drop its investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned under pressure for making false statements about his conversations with a Russian diplomat. Mr. Trump has denied making that request.

Mr. Comey said during the testimony that it was up to Mr. Mueller to decide whether the president's actions amounted to obstruction of justice. The former FBI director also said he had furnished the special counsel with memos he wrote documenting his interactions with the president on the matter.

At a June 13 hearing at a House of Representatives panel, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein declined to say who asked him to write a memo justifying Mr. Comey's firing. The White House initially cited that memo as the reason for the termination, and Mr. Trump later said in an NBC interview that he also was influenced by the Russia investigation. Mr. Rosenstein said he wasn't at liberty to discuss the matter.

"The reason for that is that if it is within the scope of Director Mueller's investigation, and I've been a prosecutor for 27 years, we don't want people talking publicly about the subjects of ongoing investigations," Mr. Rosenstein said.

libezkova - , June 14, 2017 at 09:00 PM
Fred,

"Mr. Comey said during the testimony that it was up to Mr. Mueller to decide whether the president's actions amounted to obstruction of justice."

Comey probably lied. This was probably the plan hatched from the very beginning of this color revolution by Comey and other members of anti-trump conspiracy such as Brennan: to raise Russiagate or anything else to the level which allow to appoint special prosecutor and to sink Trump using this mechanism, because digging by itself produces the necessary result.

Obstruction of justice is the easiest path to remove Trump, a no-brainer so to speak, the charge which can be used to remove any any past and future US president with guaranteed result. The other, more Trump-specific, is of financial deals within the Trump empire. Especially his son-in-law deals. In this sense Trump is now hostage like Clinton previously was. He can fight for survival, by unleashing some war, like Clinton did with Yugoslavia.

Which probably is OK for neocons because war for them is the first, the second and the third solution to any problem. But as a result the US standing in the globe probably will be further damaged.

BTW, in your zeal to republish this neocon propaganda, do you understand that Hillary was a head of one of those 17 intelligence agencies in the past?

The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) has ties to the Office of Strategic Services from World War II, but was transferred to State after the war. INR now reports directly to the Secretary of State, harnessing intelligence from all sources and offering independent analysis of global events and real-time insight.

Headquarters : Washington, D.C.

Mission : This agency serves as the Secretary of State's primary advisor on intelligence matters, and gives support to other policymakers, ambassadors, and embassy staff.

Budget : $49 million in 2007, according to documents obtained by FAS.

This all drama makes no sense for me. Trump folded. He proved to be not a fighter. The attempt to bring members of his family close to White house is a huge liability for him now in view of possible digging of the past of his son in law by the special Prosecutor. Who is recruiting the most rabid Hillary hacks for the job ;-).

But the key question is what DemoRats will gain with the current vice president elevated to the new level?

Other then a blowback from the remaining part of Trump supporters. Pat Buchanan was talking about civil war recently, which is probably exaggeration, but the probably direction of reaction is probably right:

http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/patrick-j-buchanan/are-we-nearing-civil-war

Not that I trust him with such a prediction, but still this is a danger.

EMichael - , June 14, 2017 at 09:26 PM
troll/bot
libezkova - , June 15, 2017 at 05:29 PM
You are a typical retired "frustrated underachiever". Nothing new here and your replies fits the pattern perfectly well.

You probably should not comment things that you have no formal training. I do believe that you are unable to define such terms as "neocon", "Bolshevism", "Trotskyism" and "jingoism" without looking into the dictionary. Judging from your comments this is above your IQ. Of cause, such twerps as you are always lucking in Internet forums, so you are just accepted here as the necessary evil. But you do no belong here. No way. Neither in economic or political discussions.

You can add nothing to the discussion. Actually your political position is the position of a typical neocons and as such is as close to betrayal of American Republic as one can get. If the American people had their way, all our "Neocon overlords" would be in federal prison or Guantanamo Bay, and all their assets seized to pay down the heinous 20 trillion debt their lies and wars have created. Because interests of neocons are not interests of the 300 million of US population. That's why people elected Trump with all his warts.

It is sleazy idiots like you who get us into the current mess. And please tell your daughters that you betrayed them as well -- you endanger them and their children, if they have any. Of course for retired idiots like you nuclear holocaust does not matter. But it does matter for other people. Is it so difficult to understand?

im1dc - , June 15, 2017 at 05:14 AM
Trump/Putin Spin.
JF - , June 15, 2017 at 07:50 AM
Agree, add JohnH and you see a disinformation team. One goal is to undermine the credibility of this blog, so skipping over their entries is what I recommend, unless you want to learn fifth column techniques. Quess that is interesting, but it is trolldpm!
JohnH - , June 15, 2017 at 08:05 AM
The choir of losers continues to sing: 'Putin and Trump colluded' ...just like the right wing sang that Bill Clinton was guilty of all sorts of heinous crimes. And what did they finally get on Bill? Monica.
Christopher H. - , June 15, 2017 at 09:43 AM
They're just lone cranks. If you think they're a disinformation team, you're paranoid. There are a lot of crazy people out there. If you don't understand that fact you need to get out more.

EMichael and PGL love to scold the cranks as much as possible b/c it makes their establishment line sound reasonable. I agree with you. I just ignore them. At least they're keeping busy instead of harassing people offline.

Christopher H. - , June 15, 2017 at 09:54 AM
BTW, now I think Trump is probably going down. He floats idea of firing Mueller. Mueller tells press they're investigating Trump. Meanwhile the Republicans are passing Trumpcare. Trump is moving to replace Yellen. So Mueller will have this list of things Trump and his campaign did. Will Republicans vote to remove Trump? Will it depend upon how the public reacts?
RC AKA Darryl, Ron - , June 15, 2017 at 09:57 AM
Perhaps they are just attempting to hasten the descent of the Democratic Party establishment consensus towards its inevitable rock bottom, the condition at which all addicts must finally arrive before they are forced to admit that they are the authors of their own failure and the only ones capable of their own rescue.
Christopher H. - , June 15, 2017 at 10:53 AM
To my eyes the Democratic Party establishment consensus doesn't really need much in the way of help. It's pushing on an open door.

Their candidate for Virginia's governor voted for George W. Bush twice?

Their candidate for New Jersey governor is a Goldman Sachs guy?

Way to read the room.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron - , June 15, 2017 at 12:59 PM
Exactly! I am in total agreement with you. We are both meaning the same thing, just framing it differently.
libezkova - , June 15, 2017 at 05:30 PM
My God, way too many neocons here.
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