Links 9/7/10

PhysOrg

Freakonomics

Associated Press. Even though the Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman was involved in this study, the idea of using survey research to reach this sort of conclusion gives me the willies. However, past studies have found repeatedly that happiness levels quit rising once someone reaches an income level at which he can meet basic needs and have a margin for safety. Thus, the $75,000 figure is also suspect, since it’s a lot cheaper to live in, say, Oklahoma than in San Francisco.

Raw Story

Financial Times

Wall Street Journal

Michael Moore (hat tip reader Frank A)

Friedoglake

MarketWatch

Financial Times

Clusterstock

Bloomberg

Bloomberg

Wall Street Journal. Repeat after me: Bank stress tests are PR exercises.

Matthew Lynn, Bloomberg

Antidote du jour:

Picture 13

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54 comments

  1. Re Obama whines that his rich masters treat him like a dog, at a union rally:

    They should’ve retorted, “Yeah, given the way you’ve handed them everything, I bet you expected them to pet you and say Good Boy!”

    I’m not all that familiar with Raw Story, but it sure reads like an MSM outlet.

    Remarking on efforts to bolster America’s middle class, Obama noted his agenda has often brushed up against that of the wealthy.

    You mean his alleged efforts, and that he claimed that agenda?

    Of course real journalism would fact check claims like this and report that the evidence doesn’t support them.

    Appearing at a union rally in Wisconsin to mark Labor Day, President Barack Obama took a moment to depart from his speech, offering an apparently candid reaction to the rhetoric of his most wealthy and powerful critics: the entrenched “special interests” that dominate Washington, D.C.

    Based on what does the reporter say this “departed from the speech” was “apparently candid”? Don’t you mean they either claimed it was a departure, or that he acted as if it were a departure? The “candid” part is, needless to say, an unevidenced impression, and perhaps a claim from a flack, nothing more.

    This is journalism?

    I opened up the NYT business (web) page and was assailed by two pieces on Obama’s actual corporatist, phony trickle-down agenda.

    Obama to Propose Tax Write-Off for Capital Investments

    Obama Offers a Transit Plan to Create Jobs

    Now here he seems candid, and there’s no need for departures. Here we have the real Obama.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Good points, especially on the MSM framing. From CNN Ticker:

      “The line was a rare departure … and may forecast a more aggressive tone on the part of Obama as the midterms approach.” Oh wow!

      I wonder what, specifically, Wall Street’s lap dog is whining about? I couldn’t find reference to any remarks that prompted his “off-script” complaint. If only he had bared his teeth apart from a sign of submission. Referring to himself as a “mutt” during the campaign was endearing, but this looks more like racially-tinged deflection to sow division and/or evoke empathy where only scorn is deserved.

      The infrastructure bank you linked (NYT) looks like another Trojan-horse Obamanation — IMF for the Homeland. Commingling private and public funds is the perfect vehicle for privatizing profits and socializing risks—like perverting Fannie and Freddie into bailout vehicles. Now if we attach the Social Security “trust fund”, this would pass immediately. Otherwise, it’s just another last-minute throwaway designed to give the appearance of doing something.

      1. I couldn’t find reference to any remarks that prompted his “off-script” complaint.

        They’ve been whining and slamming him (and moving their money to the Reps) for awhile. Schwarzman even compared him to Hitler in 1939.

        It makes sense. Democrats, and especially Obama, are such loathesome little dogs that when the rich kick them it only makes them more desperate to please, no matter how desperate they already were. That’s the M.O.

        If I were a bankster, I’d be glad we have him, but my contempt for him would know no bounds. And I’d keep kicking Democrats for as long as it works. (Just like the Dems themselves keep kicking the cowardly, worthless “progressives”.)

      2. Cynthia

        When Obama made that poor-poor-pitiful-me comment about how wealthy and powerful interest groups talk about him like he’s a dog, too bad that Truman wasn’t around to remind Obama that if he can’t stand the heat, it’s best that he get out of the kitchen.

        Take it away Linda!

  2. Ina Deaver

    I’d have to read the study to find out if my outrage is justified (perhaps they controlled for this – I doubt it), but doesn’t it seem to you that living where you have access to a mental health screening would be positively associated with a diagnosis of schizophrenia? OF COURSE people in cities have a higher diagnosed incidence of schizophrenia — they don’t even have doctors in rural America, much less doctors who will screen for a mental illness. In a city, such a diagnosis may lead to access to treatment and services; in rural America none of that is available. Why on earth would people work to get diagnosed when no help and a considerable helping of stigma would be the result? Next they will tell me that burglaries only occur where there are shops and houses.

    In cities, you are required to undertake a lot of social interactions in order to get through your day. If you only interact with your parents and 300 head of dairy cattle, you are going to manage much, much better if you have serious mental health issues – no one is really going to notice, or call you out on it. Nobody really knows if the cattle think you are bonkers.

    At some point, I would like the science associated with mental health to be improved, please. We’re barely this side of bleeding people and driving nails into their heads.

    1. NS

      Exactly. Like justice, science works when it is blind; when it isn’t the data to support those incentives become perverse beyond words and cause harm and needless suffering of individuals.

      In the field of medicine, this gets into very basic ethical standards which are short-circuited in favor of a profit motive. Not all physicians/nurses/practitioners are a part of this; however, they are influenced by studies and data which are corrupted by unethical forces. Over time, even ethical and blind studies can be influenced without realizing the implications of prior studies even in the selection subject matter explored and researched. The grant mill is an amazing piece of work.

      Its a sad world when science cannot be practiced or trusted. That trust is imperative as we can’t all be experts in every single complex field that profoundly influences our individual lives in this world of caveat emptor.

    2. rcyran

      Some scientists have also proposed that schizophrenia is either caused or abetted by viral infection. Living in denser areas may mean you are more likely to develop the illness.

      1. Ina Deaver

        Absolutely — I would buy that rationale, provided you could screen for it in the data, but it isn’t in the article. There is definitely a positive correlation between viral infection at a specific stage of pregnancy and increased risk of schizophrenia in the fetus later in life – through what mechanism, they have yet to determine.

        It stands to reason that people who have thousands of casual s with other people a day (any of whom might have the flu) would be at much higher risk of producing schizophrenic offspring than people with almost no casual s during a day.

        Still, science demands that the relationship be described in terms of a repeatable, robust correlation that is unexplained by other variables. You will notice that viral infection isn’t even mentioned in the article, but the alienation of living in a fragmented community is. . . . .BUNK.

        1. Doc at the Radar Station

          I believe that Marx’s theory of alienation is the most robust one to withstand time and I believe that this study validates that to some extent. Rural eccentricities can be overlooked far more easily, yes, but those eccentrics are more likely to be integrated into a looser rural community, IMO.

          1. Ina Deaver

            My dear Doc, it may stand the test of time, but it is a BEAST to model into an isolated variable. That is rather my point: the reason that this article is being cited is that it purports to be science, not philosophy.

            On the specific question of schizophrenia, as opposed to perhaps personality disorder, I am a believer in a physical and chemical basis. I am also a strong believer in the scientific method, and I like to see it used properly. I am also sick and tired of the sick being used as tennis balls in this kind of debate. Being schizophrenic seems to me to be quite hard enough on its own. Although admittedly, I don’t know first hand. . . .as far as I’m aware, at least.

    3. i on the ball patriot

      Regarding; “Study examines association between urban living and psychotic disorders”

      This article is a sorry ass divisive deflection poorly dressed in the shabby suit of sell out academia …

      Behind the deception …

      The rich people fuck the poor people so harshly that they find it difficult to cope and go looney.

      Tool sell outs of the rich people — like Stanley Zammit, who, along with his ‘colleagues’, also claims cannabis is another sure road to driving you looney: “We conclude that there is now sufficient evidence to warn young people that using cannabis could increase their risk of developing a psychotic illness later in life,” concluded Stanley Zammit, Ph.D., of Cardiff University, and colleagues.’ — determine the standards of looney.

      Those standards of looney, which are really quite normal given how deeply the poor people have been fucked, are standards that blame everything remotely plausible as causative agents other than how deeply the rich people have fucked the poor people and created the conditions that denied them a fair and just opportunity in life.

      Stupid Stanley blames city living. Can we all say sell out ass wipe here?

      Don’t let Stupid Stanley drive you bat shit — ignore him!

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  3. Bates

    RE: Ultra-Rich in Finance Are Meaner Than Rest of Us

    Becoming wealthy in the financial industry does not expose one to much, if any, interaction with the employees in the manufacturing plant or to people in the workaday world in general.

    The financiers at the top of the heap are the result of refinement of the rentier class. Refinement, in this context, is the process of beating all one’s peers at the money game. After refinement what remains are pure sociopaths. That the ultra selfish, ultra rude, ultra tightwad behavior of the financial sociapaths should come as a surprise to a world class banker is telling.

    “There is an increasing amount of evidence that the rich are a vicious tribe of people. One study last year from the University of California, Berkeley, found that the rich are ruder than others. Another piece of research, conducted at the same institution, concluded they were less likely to give to charity than poorer people were. A third study, carried out at the Humboldt University in Berlin, concluded they were “nastier,” in the sense of being keener to punish others.”

    …and…

    “In the past, most fortunes were built in association with ordinary people. Factory owners were aware of the shop-floor workers on whom their wealth depended, and that shaped the view of themselves. Carmaker Henry Ford doubled his workers’ average pay to $5 a day in 1913 and shortened their working hours. The Cadbury family of chocolate makers in the U.K. built a small town for many of the company’s workers in Bournville, near Birmingham, in the 19th century. That made them more human.

    The growth of the financial-services industry and the bonus culture has changed that. The investment bankers and hedge-fund managers who make up most of the new rich elite don’t have much with ordinary people. They assume their wealth is entirely the result of their own brilliance. And they cut themselves off from normal life.

    It is an industry that mints billionaires and also breeds arrogance, selfishness and snobbishness.

    Aquilina [a private banker that caters to the financial sociopaths] has put a spotlight on an industry that only has itself to blame. Maybe that’s why he’s warning others.”

    1. Francois T

      “They assume their wealth is entirely the result of their own brilliance.”

      LOL! Look what happens when they finally blow up. how many of them take full responsibility for their bad performance?

      Not many; and that is why they usually don’t trade with their own capital on their own, contrary to real traders like Ed Seykota, Al Weiss, Jerry Parker, Liz Cheval or Ahmet Okhumus.

    2. Kevin de Bruxelles

      Reading the article about the rich being mean and then your comment reminds me of a passage I recently read from Azar Gat’s War in Human Civilization In discussing the passage from simple tribal structures to the more complex chiefdoms, Gat decribes how tribal units could only be parasitical against neighbouring tribes (inter-social). With the rise of more complex societies, a new form of intra-social parasitical existence (a rentier class in fact) came into being:

      Similarly, power became a major avenue to resource accumulation within societies. Wealth strengthened the hand of those who held it in social dealings and vice versa, in a positive loop back. Rousseau, who was the first to bring this process into focus, was on far firmer ground here than in his portrayal of aboriginal innocence. The more affluent a society was, the more power relations within it became skewed in favour of the rich and mighty and the more they could channel resources their way, while relentlessly vying among themselves — occasionally violently — for power, wealth, prestige, and all the other benefits that these entailed. A “predatory” or “parasitical” existence had now become an option both in inter-social and intra-social relations, not in any value sense but in that power, force, and coercion could now be directly utilized to appropriate products rather than merely clear the ground of competitors for the exercise of production. Although coercive and productive relations were normally mixed, distinctively predatory specialisations were now in evidence.

      I think this clearly explains why the rich are mean, despite all propaganda about huge gifts of charity and oblige noblesse to the contrary. But more importantly it shows also that there is a delicate balance to be kept in a society that the Founding Fathers were well aware of. If the rich and powerful become too rich and powerful, by the very nature of their existence the positive back loops will intensify, their wealth will allow them to dominate the political system which allows them to redirect more and more wealth back towards themselves, to the point that they totally dominate their societies by concentrating almost all resources to themselves. This is clearly the process we see now in American with that “distinctively predatory specialization” par excellence: Wall Street and the financial elite.

      At least two other times in American history the parasitical tendencies of the rich threaten to spin out of control. Both times the rich sent in a Roosevelt to set things right before the Rubicon was crossed. This time I fear we are too late and the positive back loop is too far gone to stop these loops from spinning out of control and into a disaster.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Kevin, you nail the process, as old as empire, that Libertarians and Objectivists always evade, the relentless gravitational force of concentrated wealth spiraling into financial black holes…and the totalitarian hell they hate.

        This crisis is a doozy indeed, but that may ultimately be a good thing. Short of more war and Armageddon (a pessimistic scenario promoted by theocrats in both camps), collapse of this manifestly corrupt financial system could also bring positive transformative change. It could help avert impending ecological apocalypse as well as break open the necessary space for democracy to reassert itself, via a third party, and the creation of a robust new economic structure with liberty and justice for all—wherein finance is subservient to entrepreneurship and social purposes, never again an end in itself and a vehicle for hoarded wealth. One can hope.

        1. Kevin de Bruxelles

          Doug,

          You’re right but what is interesting is that the further the process goes on, in other words the day that wealth is ammasses enough power to be able to dominate the machinery of government, is the day the libertarian objections start making sense. Obviously one of the roles of government should be to create barriers to wealth spinning out of control. But once wealth has been allowed to accumulate too much power the government just becomes another item in the rich man’s tool box used to further extract resources from the masses.

          Once this happens, once the Rubicon is crossed, there is no way that the government can reform itself. Only a revolution of one sort or another will suffice to bring the rich back under control. Let’s all hope that this line has not been crossed in America.

      2. Since the topic is how mean the rich are, I wanted to toss in an anecdote from Sorkin’s Too Big to Fail, where Buffett (wearing some off-the-rack suit) “accidentally” spilled wine all over Dick Fuld’s expensive suit at some gala. Clearly a power move, and Fuld just had to grin and take it.

      3. Anonymous Jones

        I didn’t like the underlying article (argument faible, IMO), but your comment, as always KdB, is a wonderful addition to the conversation and food for further contemplation…

        1. Kevin de Bruxelles

          Thanks AJ and I agree that the article was pretty damn weak. But it did trigger some good discussions though!

      4. i on the ball patriot

        “At least two other times in American history the parasitical tendencies of the rich threaten to spin out of control. Both times the rich sent in a Roosevelt to set things right before the Rubicon was crossed. This time I fear we are too late and the positive back loop is too far gone to stop these loops from spinning out of control and into a disaster.”

        Scamericancentric viewpoint — global problem.

        Every human has the capacity to be mean. The rich, controlling more, are the meanest in total effect to society. It is simply unfair and mean to take more than a fair share.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        1. Kevin de Bruxelles

          Scamericancentric viewpoint — global problem.

          Yes and no.

          I’ve been thinking about your ideas on this subject a lot lately so bear with me.

          The quote from Gat obviously universalizes the problem. Distribution of wealth and power in a complex (Chiefdom and above) society is as old as complex societies themselves. This is universal to homo sapien sapien. But each individual society (and there is no denying that these societies are real) struggles to find a solution. One common solution that has arisen as a result of the American and French Revolutions is for the citizens (masses) to exercise sovereignty over their society for among other reasons to not allow dangerous concentrations of wealth and power. One element in dampening down wealth’s desire to concentrate is the latent violence of political demonstrations for example. In any case, since by definition a civilization will consist of social stratification, a tenuous balance of power has been reached in many societies between wealth and the masses.

          In the twentieth century (actually arch-reactionary Bismarck started the process in the late 19th) the welfare state developed as a further means to ensure the masses maintained a balance of power. One case where the balance swung too far in favour of the masses was the Soviet Union and eventually the other communist countries. As in any case of societal imbalance, the masses eventually paid the price in these societies as well. Nowadays one of the best ways of measuring this balance of power is GINI scores. A score in the 20’s to low 30’s represents a good balance of power between the masses and wealth. A score in the 40’s and above represents dangerous accumulations of power and resources by the wealthy class. A score in the 20’s is no guarantee for the future of course but it is a sign of a health society where incrementalist policies would have a high chance of success.

          So now we come the the present and we find ourselves in a world of upheaval and economic turmoil. But there is one very powerful country that is particularly troubling: the United States. With all due respect, (and I know you and many others on this blog, for the most part, do not fit this catagory) the Left in America have been an unmitigated disaster to the American people in particular and the world in general. The American Left, (or what passes for one), for whatever reason, have totally dropped the ball in maintaining any semblance of a balance of power between the masses and wealth in their society. But nonetheless, these people never stop lecturing other, far more successful, left movements (particularly those in Europe), about the best way to do things. I would think it is high time for the American left to STFU and start learning from others. Time to stop running their mouths around the world and to start taking care of business in their own country.

          Now there is no doubt that you, i on the ball, understand these failings of the American left better than most. And there is no doubt that you are correct in calling out the cosmopolitan cabal of rentier class parasites that are slowly spreading their tentacles across the globe. But these parasites mostly emanate from the United States (or are brainwashed there in graduate school and then sent back to their home countries to assist in the looting). But in calling for a global jihad against the rich you fail to recognize that many countries already are doing a good job in restraining wealth. Take Sweden for example. GINI scores in the low 20’s. Are they to rise up and slaughter their rich? I guess what I am asking you is what is good enough, what society on earth would you consider fair enough not to need a revolution?

          The other thing the global jihad against the rich smacks of is inaction. It reminds me a little of the hopes for a global rising of the proletariat in the beginning of the 20th century. WW1 showed, if history hadn’t already, that one universal truth about homo sapien sapien is that we are tribal in nature and will always choose the particular over the universal. Waiting for the whole world to rise gives the do-nothing American Left further excuses to avoid real action and continue to engage in their pointless boutique endeavours

          But the biggest problem is that the call for global action totally avoids the issue of the huge disparates of wealth between the the different societies of the world. In a poverty stricken West African society where the poor survive on say $1 a day, a man making $50 would be considered rich. But that amount would equal the income of say of a homeless person in a rich western city like NYC. And once the revolution is achieved (if it ever were to be), the West African guy is going to say, “look we did our job, we slaughtered all our rich people, now we want global equality and an end to the wealth disparity between the rich Western countries and us.” And who is to say that he would not be justified in this demand? But the global egalisation of all the world’s masses is both the deepest dream and the strongest weapon of global wealth in their attacks against the Western masses. A global jihad against wealth could only be morally based on the same idea that the Western masses are actually fighting against, the levelling of the standard of living of the third world masses with that of the first world. This is the paradox that the feel-good American left cannot beyond. Western workers don’t want global fairness; they desperately want to maintain their privileged high standard of living. And just like my hypothetical West African guy, who can blame them?

          I think you are an extremely interesting and obviously original commentator–although I am still not quite ready to marry you :) – I certainly don’t mean to attack you personally in any of this. In fact I am sure you (and many others on this blog) share my frustration with what passes for a Left in American. I would be very happy to hear your response to my thoughts. I sometimes think there is not enough back and forth on your comments.

          So while I agree that there is a global problem, at this point I disagree about there being one global solution. I think countries that still have governments that function — and the criteria for determining this would be GINI scores — should not tear themselves apart but should work within their balance of power between the classes system to push back against the mostly American inspired rentier class threat. In countries where the GINI scores are too high, the truth is most likely that government is now part of the problem and not part of the solution. I would hope that even in these countries a peaceful solution will be found, but unfortunately the weight of human history is on the other side of that scale.

          1. Skippy

            @Kevin de bruxells,

            Respectfully I can not avail myself to your analysis.

            Monetary / Social Vertical Structure benefit the top at the cost of the lower layers (burden of labor w/out the rewards), this is acerbated by educational standards / quasi societal evaluations (cough bonus culture of CEOs of Wall st. et al) and your use of tribalism is incorrect. Tribalism is a more loosely organised affair as the chief and his cohorts (priests of various ilk) know their ass is on the line in smaller groups (larger groups have an advantage due to its ability to structure disintermediation) and just because this has gone on for so long is not a reason in it self to patent it in perpetuity.

            Come on now, we all know the easy conquest of lands (stealing wealth) is close to an end, the ability to redirect the mob with mostly unachievable goals (fellow scam artist / pro athlete, has a bad ROS%POP), financial electron particle weapons cough structured finance is a caricature of Reagan’s STAR WARS, star wars only works if the other guy blinks and China is not going to blink…full stop, humanity is the biggest bubble of them all and until we as a world address the issue of fairness our possible roads to some sort of human *spirit level* ebb away like a general’s past glory whilst he stares out a small window in a second story flat.

            Skippy…again out of all of us…IOTBP has be the most consistent, unwavering, concise, with out sophistry, delivering an understandable message to all ie: in totality your betters are not and regardless of intention, a friend to humanity as a hole, they seek power and are cannibalized by it, for it and of it.

          2. Kevin de Bruxelles

            Skippy,

            I agree my use of the word tribal was confusing. In that instance I did not mean tribal as in a social structure. What I was trying to say is that socially humans divide the world on into an ever increasing set of concentric us / them circles of inclusion. These vary based on culture but typically once the individual passes to the collective, from me to us, the first and closest us circle is his immediate family. The rest of the world is them. This is a very powerful circle of inclusion. The social world is complex though and there are several other ways to divide the world. The circles get larger each time, extended family, clan, village, social class, state, nations, and finally, the largest – and weakest – is the final circle of inclusion of all mankind (or in IOTBP case minus say the 1000 richest people on earth). This is a very weak basis for organizing anything as enough humans will always default to a stronger and smaller circle of inclusion.

            What is not clear in your comment is where you stand on the paradox of the attempt of a wealthy (mostly American) elite to submit their masses to a levelling globalization where all inequity between say first world Americans and Europeans on the one hand and the poorest third world peasants on the other will be wiped out by lifting the third world peasants up a bit while simultaneously pushing way down the first world peasants? Because if you agree with this goal, it is astounding then that you would be in disagreement with the Rentier classes of Wall Street, because they are doing everything in their power to make this dream a reality. Now I agree that the idea of global harmony and an end of all economic imbalances between all the world’s people is an intellectually pure concept. And who is to say that this will not one day come about. But the implementation of it could be rather ugly; especially for the Western masses. And once equality is reached, it would not really be within human nature for things to stay this way very long. The Chinese may question why they should stop climbing up the ladder just because they reached the level everyone is on. They may in fact desire to forget about global harmony and seek to climb up even higher, to occupy those heights once held by the West. And who could blame them?

          3. Skippy

            Firstly, thanks for your reply.

            1. I would posit that 98+% of the human population has no say in its structure, due to birth inheritance and social friction.

            2. Social complexity is driven by the powerful ie: divide and conquer, even if it is an ad hoc affair.

            3. 1000+ people their minions, withing or un-whiting accomplices becomes a massive number.

            4. The Universe did not grant us entitlements, some of us, arbitrarily make those decisions based on a myriad of ancient metrics, mostly of religious origins which have little to do with fairness.

            5. What got us this far was under different pretences, a world with elbow room, this has changed and it does not seem to be reversing trend any time soon. In fact prior to the GFC most developed nations were promoting population growth as a financial remedy.

            6. As a closed system we must find equilibrium, with out dragging the past into it or the embellishments some would use to secure what they think is their portion of the quickly diminishing crumb supply, by virtue of ancestry or merit.

            Skippy…we have become an island, study their history’s, arrogance / denial never served them well.

          4. i on the ball patriot

            Kevin, thanks for your comments, I don’t have time to address them all and I am always reluctant to spend time on efforts that so rapidly disappear into the ether anyway (retaining and prioritizing subjects for further discussions would be an admirable goal for someone. I am still working on a web site)…

            Gat did universalize the problem, and you localized it, hence my initial comment about it being scamericancentric thinking being applied to a global problem.

            But Gat is wrong in saying the predatory existence HAD NOW become an option, from the Gat quote;

            A “predatory” or “parasitical” existence had now become an option both in inter-social and intra-social relations, not in any value sense but in that power, force, and coercion could now be directly utilized to appropriate products rather than merely clear the ground of competitors for the exercise of production. Although coercive and productive relations were normally mixed, distinctively predatory specialisations were now in evidence.

            Just as your comment appeared scamericancentric to me, the Gat comment, that yours was based on, appears as an egocentric comment to me. That is problem one in all of this. Dropping the egos imposed by aggregate generational deception and recognizing our true reality.

            The “predatory” or “parasitical” existence has always been there. It is the basis for survival of all organisms. All organisms are cannibalistic. “Power, force, and coercion” have ALWAYS been directly utilized by all organisms to appropriate and cannibalize other organisms. The human organism excels at the process because of its ability to externalize itself and that is why it is presently the dominant species. Every externalization is a deception, a tool of dominance and the three terms can be used interchangeably. [This is also a part of why I am sometimes reluctant to comment as it requires repetition for explanation and also steeling myself for the slings and arrows of the egocentric and sometimes nasty differing viewpoints from the great variety of god head based folks out there.] Other species also externalize their deceptions, birds use language and build nests as externalizations. Spiders spin webs as externalizations. And so on …

            But what is important about recognizing the externalization process is this;

            1. It is the superior externalizations of the human organisms that allows it to be the present dominant species (note that I always say ‘present’ dominant species, more about that at a later time).

            2. The externalizations, some in their singularity, and all in the aggregate, are far more powerful than any one human being (a nuclear weapon can now eliminate an entire back land tribe).

            3. The externalizations are developing a mind of their own and represent a rapidly escalating evolutionary stage of humanity (into the onotron) that in many ways is a cause, along with the intentionally created chaotic imbalance of global resource consumption, of generalized uneasiness that most every sentient being on the planet is feeling today.

            Set three aside for now (I know it is hard to swallow, but it is relevant), trash your egocentric thinking into the desk top waste basket of your mind and focus on running the new reality software of one and two above — that ALL externalizations are deceptive tools of dominance, and that many of them, some in their singularity, are vastly more powerful than the individual humans, and groups of humans that created them — and re-compute your reality with the viewpoint of the new program. Become the cannibal that you struggle to deny, the cannibal that you really are …

            With this new viewpoint you can more easily see that it is control of the externalizations that gives power, and that that control is most centralized now in the hands of a few wealthy global ruling elite, who, through control of the global central banks, control individual nation state governments (along with their GINI scores), their militaries, and most important, Mr. Global Propaganda, that deflects from their wealth and keeps the masses engaged in intentional divisiveness and mired in Popsicle belief systems that prevent them from recognizing that they are in realty cannibals.

            The revolution required is a revolution in thinking.

            The revolution required is that we make or own reality best by accepting what we are and rising above it. By seeing that we are the power of our externalizations, our deceptions, and that we be careful what we externalize — we must externalize a good power that solidifies the alliance of all humans on the planet and projects that aggregate deceptive power, as humanely as possible, on other species and inanimate matter for our sustenance.

            The revolution required is a revolution that should be focused on the health of the aggregate global human organism (yes, scamericans must realize that they consume an unfair share of the global pie, as some other nations must also realize, but more important, they will have to realize first that those who control the most powerful externalizations at the top as mentioned above, are more rapidly each day intentionally cutting of that overly generous crumb supply).

            As to the concept of the impossibility of change being made on a global scale vs in the individual boxes of nation states, and, the futility of going for the gold of big change vs going for the small nation state changes …

            Just as it is folly to think that one can be prudent and go off in a remote corner to sustain one’s life, it is also folly to think that one nation state that puts itself in relative harmony will not be affected or preyed upon by those other nation states that do not. All of those prudent back to the landers that created a harmonious little existence for themselves on coastal Louisiana have learned that lesson well as they sit now bathed in oil (I could present you with countless other examples). It is one planet. One world far more closely related than many realize. The folly is to act locally with no eye to the total health of the planet.

            Going for the gold will require acting locally AND globally. And always go for the gold.

            There IS one global solution to achieving a far more harmonious balance that best serves all organisms on the planet. That solution is to provide all individuals with accurate information so that they may use their individual perceptive abilities to forge ever stronger alliances as mentioned above.

            That solution will require breaking down and revealing all of the past deceptions that now permeate and facilitate the creation of, and the hijacking of, the boxes of the past; economics, religion, political divisions, nation states, etc., especially nation states.

            The global viewpoint has been sucking hind teat at the expense of the local focus and it is by the design of top down orchestration. That is why I often urge others to broaden their viewpoints by visiting the blogs of others, in other ‘nation states’, and seeing the similarities — the patterns and practices — of the machinations at work. It facilitates seeing the top down orchestration of it all, and the oneness of us all.

            Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

          5. i on the ball patriot

            Kevin, this should have been in quotes, apologies to those reading on, and Skippy a lot of good comments!

            “A “predatory” or “parasitical” existence had now become an option both in inter-social and intra-social relations, not in any value sense but in that power, force, and coercion could now be directly utilized to appropriate products rather than merely clear the ground of competitors for the exercise of production. Although coercive and productive relations were normally mixed, distinctively predatory specialisations were now in evidence.”

          6. Skippy

            Thank you…Kevin and IONBP for the conversation. I respect your thoughts and use them as reference points to my internal debate aka mental sandwich making.

            Skippy…I’ve got dibs on being the mustard though.

    3. Leviathan

      Having lived among the hyperpriveleged for the past few years, I can confirm that they do in fact live in a bubble and care little for the great unwashed. However, we shouldn’t lump them all in together nor should we discount the major fissures within the upper class. The greatest of these boils down to the old “old money/new money” split, which plays out in the country club circuit to the amusement of all with a front row seat. Who gets asked to sit on the village or school board (and despite the trappings of democracy, you must wait to be asked)? What does it take to join the “right” club? Whose kids make the travel teams or the gifted classes? Whose house is asked to be a showcase for the charity home tour?

      These people are BUSY! The hypercompetitiveness is exhausting and, for the children especially, can lead to psychological troubles, bullying, and other antisocial behavior.

      Old timers complain that this is not how it used to be, and you can believe them, as they carefully tend homes with no trace of the latest kitchen gadget and garages without high end BMWs.

      Still, at least in the established old suburbs there is a reverence for tradition, which includes outreach to the poor, weekly church attendance, and traditional values. No group of people is all good or all bad, and even the very wealthy have their strengths.

      1. Two excellent (and fun) books that tell this story for the rich of South Florida, and support your viewpoint, are Fool’s Paradise (about South Beach) by Steven Gaines and Madness Under the Royal Palms (set in Palm Beach) by Laurence Leamer. The latter ends just when the Madoff scandal broke and is very revealing about the reactions of the rich to being taken by one of their own.

  4. Bates

    RE: Greece Default Risk Is ‘Substantial,’ Pimco’s Bosomworth Says

    Reinhart and Rogoff pointed out in their recent book that Greece was in an almost continual state of default from 1800 to 1950. Any foolish enough to loan money to Greece during that time frame took severe haircuts…capitalism was working. The world did not end.

    Greece gained entry to the EU by hiding it’s true debt from the rest of Europe…with the help of Goldman Sachs. EU banks have lots of exposure to Greek debt so a bail out of Greece was a bail out for those EU banks that stood to take the haircut that they deserved. The wheel that squeeks loudest gets the grease so the exposed banks of the EU got the grease that they whinned for. What good has come of it? Now, the EU banks that failed to take the haircuts that they deserved will continue to make bad loans, since they have been rewarded instead of being punished for bad financial decisions. Every time taxpayers are forced to bail out financiers there are other penalties to pay…the market price of capital is distorted, and risk is distorted. At some point distorted markets can no longer be relied upon to send the correct price signals to would be market participants…markets have been so distorted that fewer wish to participate. When would be market participants pull back;ie, rush into perceived ‘safe investments’ economies stall. After all, who is willing to put money at risk in business start ups or expansions when the central banks and governments are changing the rules daily?

    The financial industry benefits from distortions at the expense of Main St. This is not capitalism.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Seems like just yesterday we were commenting on a post about the calm before the storm in European debt markets. Ho hum, another day older and another day closer to default:

    ————

    The gap between German and Irish bond yields climbed to a record high, while German-Greek yield spread increased to the widest since May.

    The German bund yield dropped 7 basis points to 2.27 percent. Greek bonds plunged, pushing the yield on the 10-year security up 28 basis points relative to bunds to 942 basis points, the most since the European Union and International Monetary Fund crafted a bailout package in May.

    The Irish-German 10-year yield spread increased 37 basis points to 380 basis points, the highest since Bloomberg records began in 1991. The Portuguese-German spread was 352 basis points, from 333 basis points yesterday.

    ————

    Fighting insolvency with more debt only aggravates Asset Reflux disease.

    How do you spell relief? R-E-S-T-R-U-C-T-U-R-E.

    1. Bates

      Right you are Jim… In addition to the blow out in spreads re German/Greek/Irish bonds there is also another indicator of flight to safety this morning…and NO, I am not a gold bug, simply an observer of what is happening. A factoid…gold in US dollars (and many other currencies) has gone up 400% in eleven years or 16% per annum annualised. Difficult to ignore when it smacks me upside the head. lol

      “Spot Gold Surges, UniCredit Sets New 2012 Price Target Of $1,600”

      “Gold is rapidly approaching its all time high intraday high (and someone please inform Dennis Gartman that Gold in euro terms is close to its record again), as spot has surged $12 in a few minutes and is now near $1,260 (record intraday was $1,265 set back in June). In addition to the CHF and the JPY, gold is once again the safety trade. This comes hot on the heels of the recent report issued by UniCredit SpA’s Jochen Hitzfeld, the most accurate gold forecaster tracked by Bloomberg in the last three quarters, in which the analyst raised his estimate for the metal’s average price next year by 12 percent to $1,400 an ounce, and for 2012 to $1,600. As the full report below indicates, the surge will be helped by concern about the effect of government economic- stimulus plans and speculation about increased demand in China, the world’s second-largest buyer after India.”

      …remainder of article at Zero Hedge…

      1. Jim Haygood

        Well, I AM a bit of a bug … but the more virulent variety is found among the advocates of silver specie.

        Silver bounced off psychologically important $20/oz resistance this morning. If it breaks out past $20, the silver bugs will be chirping furiously like crickets on a hot night, Goddess bless their little pointed heads.

        When silver bugs make common cause with the MMTers, we can look forward to their first co-production, The Wonderful World of Fiat Finance Confronts Deflationary Doom.

        Reserve your front-row seats for the train wreck now!

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        As a matter of national pride, I think/hope we will be the world’s largest buyer of gold, in addition to winning the most gold medals in the last Olypmics.

  6. Bates

    RE: Off Topic… Brain Surgeon Makes Good, or, to use Bloombergs title… ‘Burry, Predictor of Mortgage Collapse, Bets on Farmland, Gold’

    This one was too good to not post. Here is a guy working as a nurosurgeon at Stanford Med and dabbling in financial markets at night…suddenly he found that his own home was overpriced so he began doing research in residential real estate and decided it was going to collapse. Like a very few other smart people, none that were brain surgeons to my knowledge, Burry approached investment banks to create CDOs to bet against res re. This is an interesting read.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Hmmm…happiness only up to $75K?

    I guess that’s like a normal Neanderthal not getting any happier beyond killing a bison a day. And he didn’t have any obesity problem either.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    That penguin on the left, with his shoulders hunched over – I bet he’s thinking about his latest poll numbers, as he and the other penguins head back to their respective homes.

  9. William

    RE: Happiness, basic needs, and $75K. Where did this idea that happiness only requires that “basic needs” be met? “Basic needs” only means you have food, water, and shelter. Since when does that equal “happiness?” How many hours at a low-pay job did it take to get your basic needs met? Is working three part-time jobs 60 hours/wk at minimum wage happiness?

    What about a little economic freedom to follow one’s dreams and aspirations? How much does that cost, and isn’t that a huge part of a happy, fulfilled life?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Happiness has very little to do with “following dreams.” It has to do with being engaged in what you are doing. See

      You can be happy doing dishes if you are engaged.

      Another source of happiness is altruism, it lights up the pleasure centers in your brain. That is what some meditative practices focus on, particularly Buddhist “compassion” meditations, and they (who are not at all achievement oriented) have a powerful sense of well being and happiness, but not the giddy and fleeting happiness that we seem addicted to in the West.

      The reason having less than you need to get by interferes with happiness, I suspect, is the anxiety over survival is an understandable and major source of stress.

      1. i on the ball patriot

        I love doing dishes.

        You can combine altruism with doing dishes by pretending you are washing deception and greedy rich people down the big drain of the universe as you clean the dishes. Dish washing machines rob you of the hands on joy of it all. But if you have a garbage grinder it can be extra engaging as it adds a nice sense of justice to it all. It really can light up the pleasure centers in your brain as you imagine a few uneaten string beans or broccoli sprouts to be Bernanke, Greenspan, Geithner, etc. You even start looking forward to doing the dishes after certain meals, like spaghetti sauce, as it adds to the realism and therefore the engagement.

        Happiness is being self directed and able to make your own reality within your ever changing sphere of influence.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        1. craazyman

          I have a big sink full of dirty dishes I’m too lazy to wash and food delivery cartons lying around half finished and all sorts of dirty clothes lying around.

          Youze guys can come over anytime and clean up.

          Just call first so I can make myself presentable.

          ha ha ha :)

          I’ll just be sitting here reading or something while you work. Actually, I may go for a jog along the river while you’re dishwashing, then I’ll have a beer when I get back and chat a bit with you when you’re drying them off with the dishtowel before you stack them back up in the cabinet.

          You can also vacuum if you want.

          Who knows, you might find it fulfilling in an altruistic way. The pysche can be a labyrinth of perplexing surprise.

          1. skippy

            Cough…everybody wants to save the planet but, no one wants to do the dishes.

            Skippy…good luck…roflol.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I always thought this should be defintion of happiness:

        Happy the man, and happy he alone,
        he who can call today his own:
        he who, secure within, can say,
        Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Re Urban Living and Psychotic Disorders

    Perhaps we have not evolved beyond the ‘one hunter/gatherer per square mile’ mentality.

    Definitely something corporations need to address.

  11. sth

    Part of the problems is using just “happiness”, when what
    people are after is more than just a feeling of “joy.”

    In an vaguely Capitalist system, money represents *freedom* and *security* (and power, obviously). These things don’t
    necessarily make you happy directly, but they allow you
    to not be UNHAPPY. More importantly, they give you choices,
    and free you from _worry_. It’s that last part which is
    truly empowering. Just think of all the studies on the
    effects of poverty on people’s minds. It governs nearly
    your every thought and action. Can I call in sick? Can I tell this person they don’t know what they’re doing? Can I afford this? Can I leave this place? Can I drop everything
    and change? The problem with not having lots of money
    is that /constantly have to worry about money./ When
    you have it, suddenly, you can focus on all things
    you actually care about because that anchor is gone (if
    you’re not a fool.)

    Bottom lines:

    The more you have, the freer you are.
    The more you have. the (potentially) safer you are.

    If I have lots of money, I’m free to:

    quit a job whenever I want, and tell my boss he’s a joke without fear

    not work at all

    party whenever I feel like it

    keep no steady schedule, stay up late, and sleep in

    travel wherever I like

    I’m also more secure. I can take bigger risks, like skydiving and such, because I can afford medical care if I get hurt. I can get security systems installed in my residence. I can hire bodyguards. I can live in a bunker. I can “disappear” if I need to.

    Let’s also assume I’m not a wastrel and have most/all of my money in savings and not securities. I have far less worry, since I don’t need to think about:

    retirement, since I have more money than I’ll need to survive

    economic crises

    getting sick, since I can afford care

    getting an education (or a 2nd or a 3rd one) – If my job or industry gets outsourced/disappears, I can always start a new career

    losing my residence

    “Happiness” is far too narrow to describe what a lot
    of money gets you. Change it to feeling of safety + lack
    of worry + feeling of freedom + ability to focus on things
    you really care about, THEN we’ll have something
    that’s actually useful.

  12. Robespierre

    Obama says: “Some powerful interests who had been dominating the agenda in Washington for a very long time, and they’re not always happy with me,” the president said. “They talk about me like a dog. That’s not in my prepared remarks, but it’s true.”

    Who is to blame but himself? The way he should have dealt with the “entrench oligarchy” is very well exposed in Machiavelli’s “The Prince”. As it is now, he is treated by the “entrench oligarchs” as a weak president/leader. Things would have been very different had he unleash an assault via his AG, SEC and IRS on the financial syndicates. Even if no criminal convictions were achieve, it would have set the tone as to who has the commander in chief title.

  13. Cynthia

    I couldn’t help but notice that Google celebrated Labor Day with a teeny-tiny American flag, while it celebrated the birth of the barcode with a giant-sized BARCODE. This just reconfirms my suspicions that Google is no different from most Wall Street firms in that it has more respect for rent-seeking parasites than it does for us nose-to-the-grindstone working stiffs.

    While I can see why the folks at Google celebrated Buckyballs a couple of days ago, I can’t for the life of me see why they’re celebrating bouncing balls today!

  14. ChrisPacific

    If Obama doesn’t want the rich talking about him like a dog, maybe he should stop fetching the stick for them.

  15. big dawg

    re Obama and rich calling him a dog, it is probably just a case of miscommunication and mistaken identity.

    The wealthy people see POTUS fistpumping and basketballing, and figure he is a brower, so they try to adapt their comms style.

    Yo, yo, yo the big B to the O man! Wat up, dawg? Say, them policies you be throwing down at us, damn dawg, that shit is tight! For real, chief. We cant spend all that green be coming our way, You feel me, dawg. Keep it coming!

    PoTUS be going, why do those gentlemen insist on referring to me as a member of the canine species. How rude!

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