2:00PM Water Cooler 12/7/2015

By Lambert Strether of

Readers, my Mac laptop is in the shop for two days of recuperation after its keyboard transplant, so Water Cooler will be shorter than usual as I struggle with the different keyboard of my PC laptop, and the absence of my usual tools. And the free update to Windows 10, where 10 hours of downloading doesn’t seem to accomplish anything. Fortunately, Bill Gates has gone on to reorganize our educational system.

TPP/TTIP/TiSA

“One major source of Democratic voter distrust and skepticism that comes up repeatedly is a belief [i.e., reality –lambert] that ‘corporate Democrats’ sold out working people with ‘NAFTA-style’ trade deals” [Dave Johnson, ].

“Is Clinton really opposed to TPP? …

There is a test for that…Will she actively and boldly lobby against TPP, calling and visiting and working to convince the representatives and senators who voted for fast-track trade authority to vote against TPP?

Will she appear at anti-TPP rallies? Will she speak out again and again at her own campaign events? Will she express opposition on radio and TV interviews? Will she work to rally the media and public in opposition?

Not a snowball’s chance in hell.

2016

Policy

“Combating Climate Change to Save the Planet” [].

This is every kind of issue all at once: the financial cost of climate change makes it an economic issue, its effect on clean air and water quality make it a public health problem, its role in exacerbating global conflict and terrorism makes it a national security challenge and its disproportionate impacts on vulnerable communities and on our children and grandchildren make acting on climate change a moral obligation.

In a crisis, everything correllates…

“Three thoughts about Obama’s counterterrorism speech” [Daniel W. Drezner, ]:

 wrote something that resonates with everything I’ve heard from the foreign policy people close to Obama:

[T]he core group of real ‘Obama people’ has a surprisingly dovish self-conception, where they see themselves operating in a world in which demands for military intervention are constant and endless — from the media, from congressional Republicans, from foreign governments and their allies in Washington, and from the permanent security bureaucracy itself — but America’s actual ability to engage in non-counterproductive interventions is quite limited.

The Oval Office address represents Obama’s best effort to meet the psychological needs of a frightened nation under attack while sticking on a policy level with a restrained policy that Obama recognizes is emotionally unsatisfying but that he regards as offering the best chance for success.

I concur with Yglesias’s assessment. The problem is that Obama is not meeting the very psychological needs that his team has identified.

Good, within Beltway parameters. Translating: The Democrats, as usual, have managed to create a Republican-Lite “compromise” that won’t solve anything and won’t win their opponents over (for both see, well, everything). Drezner’s hidden assumption is that Obama’s “restrained policy” of drone strikes, mercenaries, bombing, and regime change — which, granted, is more “restrained” than a Bush-style full-on invasion, an option no longer available to Obama because when exercised it broke the Army — is “restrained” enough to avoid blowback. Very obviously, it isn’t. The other hidden assumption is that anything Obama could do would win Republicans over. (Of course, the train to do anything other than appease the Republicans left the station in 2009, the first stop being 2010; Obama’s faction can’t catch it now.) There are two more muscular approaches, neither of which Obama can take: Go full on Bush Clinton Republican and call for all-out war; or tell America that a certain amount of blowback is the price of empire, so keep a stiff upper lip, hold your water, tamp down the hysteria, and deal. How many casualties did those poncey Brits take on the first day of the Battle of the Somme? 40,000 or something? The “frightened nation under attack” should suck it up.

Money

“Hillary Clinton: How I’d Rein In Wall Street” [Hillary Clinton, ]. Stop taking their money. This is not hard.

The Voters

“Is our ‘out of control’ political rhetoric really all that extraordinary?” []. Interesting roundup, though it’s interesting to see historical events, like the Dean Scream, turned into well-worn, and inaccurate, tropes.

“Just let the Republicans win: Maybe things need to get really bad before America wakes up” []. Maybe that wouldn’t “wake America up” — I’m not a worse is better guy — but it might purge the party of the leadership that has been such a disaster since… 2010… 2006… 2000…

The Trail

Trump on Obama’s speech to the nation on terrorism:

Obama said in his speech that Muslims are our sports heroes. What sport is he talking about, and who? Is Obama profiling?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

Muhammad Ali? Hakeem Olajuwon? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

Trump winning New Hampshire while avoiding retail politics [Politico].

“Is Iowa ready for Medicaid switch? Federal review begins this week” []. Sanders should be capitalizing on this, as Clinton is trying to.

“Short-term rental clash in Des Moines” (Uber) []. Another issue for Sanders.

The Hill

“Dick Cheney’s Eternal Likeness to Be Unveiled in Senate’s Halls” []. Cheney: “We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will.” Well, it used to be the dark side. Now it’s the new normal. Witness Cheney’s bust.

Stats Watch

Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure, November 2015: “Americans’ daily self-reports of spending averaged $92 in November for a second month and roughly matches the November spending averages found since 2013, though it is among the highest for the month since 2008” []. “Gallup found that average daily spending increased significantly this year during the last few days of November and on Black Friday specifically. This spending increase could be a good sign as the U.S. enters the December holiday shopping period.”

Labor Market Conditions Index, November 2015: “Friday’s employment report, led by a 211,000 rise in non-farm payrolls, was solid but didn’t give the labor market conditions index much of a boost, coming in at only 0.5 vs expectations for 1.7” []. “The October index, however, was revised 6 tenths higher to 2.2 reflecting in part the upward revision to that month’s nonfarm payroll growth which now stands at a very impressive 298,000.”

“So this is interesting–looks like approximately 4 million people who were not considered in the labor force, and therefore not counted as unemployed, have been getting jobs every month” (FRED Chart) []. “And also each month over 4 million people have left their jobs and left the labor force and are therefore not considered unemployed.”

“Allowing everyday Americans to invest in today’s high-growth startups—picture grandma and grandpa putting a portion of their retirement savings into the next pre-IPO Facebook—has long been the dream of advocates of so-called equity crowdfunding” [, “Tech Startup Crowdfunding Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be”]. Sure. Unicorn valuations are totes reliable; I can’t imagine a more trustworthy set of individuals to hand over my grandma’s retirement savings to.

Shipping: “The rule, which kicks in next July in 171 countries, requires exporters to certify the weight of containers before they’re loaded onto ships” [, “New Shipping Container Rule Riles Exporters”]. With funny pictures of ships tipping over. I wonder if the rule will affect stats in any way?

Honey for the Bears: “Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service released reports Thursday showing that the number of companies in the low end of junk territory and a negative outlook rose to the highest level in five years. Indeed, Moody’s said the list is approaching a high previously reached during the financial crisis” [].

Honey for the Bears: “Former global macro fund manager Raoul Pal says there’s now a 65% chance of a global recession” []. Pal’s “key indicator,” ISM, is now “flashing red.” But one of the odd things about our new normal is that nothing that flashes red stays red for long; or green, either. That said, the greatest “recovery” EVAH is getting awfully long in the tooth, isn’t it?

The Fed: “The US employment data removed what was perceived as the last potential hurdle to Fed decision to hike rates later this month” [Brown Brothers Harriman, ]. The BLS employment data is subject to backward revision. So let’s hope Yellen didn’t take away an imaginary punchbowl.

The Fed: “i don’t think a small rate hike will destroy the economy, but it does signal that the Fed will never allow wage growth again” [].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Mpls. protesters signal impatience with civil rights ‘old guard'” []. So, enter the Teach for America neo-liberals, the new Black Misleadership class [head, desk].

“Baltimore eviction rate among highest in country, study says” [].

Gunz

“You Are Not Going to Resist the Government With Your Guns” []. After the first paragraph, the definitive takedown. I hope we hear no more of this nonsense.

“Bulletproof blankets are now being marketed at American school kids to help them survive massacres” []. The magic of the marketplace.

“ALICE — which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate — teaches students, teachers, and school administrators how to defend themselves against school shooters” []. I think we’ve learned a very important lesson here today, kids!

“Mass Shootings in 2015” []. Handy wiki. In fact, the good folks selling bulletproof blankets and school shooting training could use it as a marketing tool!

“In the video of the convocation released by the university, [Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr.] says, ‘I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in.’ The rest of his sentence is drowned out by loud applause as he says, ‘… and killed them.’ … ‘Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,’ Falwell told the students” []. “When some cried foul over Falwell’s phrasing of ‘those Muslims,’ Falwell believes that it was clear he was talking about the extremists who carried out attacks in Paris and California.” Of course, of course.

Dear Old Blighty

“[Manchester MP Graham Stringer, a leading Labour moderate:] ‘Politics is a results business and [Corbyn] has passed the first test [in the Oldham by-election]. I would now expect changes to the Shadow Cabinet. Those Labour MPs like me who didn’t vote for him have to accept he is there until, like any other leader, he fails a major electoral challenge’ []. The Labour Blairites won’t stop whinging until they are out of politics altogether, not just out of office. That’s what happened to the Whigs in the US.

Gaia

“Campsites can be considered the first human landscape, the first area of land whose visible features were entirely constructed by humans. Given the social meaning of campsites in hunter-gatherer life-styles, this engraving may be considered one of the first representations of the domestic and social space of a human group” [].

“Why Climate Skeptics Are Wrong” []. More interesting argument than ususal:

t some point in the history of all scientific theories, only a minority of scientists—or even just one—supported them, before evidence accumulated to the point of general acceptance. The Copernican model, germ theory, the vaccination principle, evolutionary theory, plate tectonics and the big bang theory were all once heretical ideas that became consensus science. How did this happen?

An answer may be found in what 19th-century philosopher of science William Whewell called a “consilience of inductions.” For a theory to be accepted, Whewell argued, it must be based on more than one induction—or a single generalization drawn from specific facts. It must have multiple inductions that converge on one another, independently but in conjunction.

Which is what’s happening on climate:

It is not because of the sheer number of scientists. After all, science is not conducted by poll. As Albert Einstein said in response to a 1931 book skeptical of relativity theory entitled 100 Authors against Einstein, “Why 100? If I were wrong, one would have been enough.” The answer is that there is a convergence of evidence from multiple lines of inquiry—pollen, tree rings, ice cores, corals, glacial and polar ice-cap melt, sea-level rise, ecological shifts, carbon dioxide increases, the unprecedented rate of temperature increase—that all converge to a singular conclusion. AGW doubters point to the occasional anomaly in a particular data set, as if one incongruity gainsays all the other lines of evidence. But that is not how consilience science works. For AGW skeptics to overturn the consensus, they would need to find flaws with all the lines of supportive evidence and show a consistent convergence of evidence toward a different theory that explains the data. (Creationists have the same problem overturning evolutionary theory.) This they have not done.

Yep.

Corruption

“Study shows FIFA ranks second in good governance among 35 federations” []. Rather like CalPERS among pension funds, then.

“The Securities and Exchange Commission charged three Chicago-based traders on Thursday with “spoofing” options exchanges into paying them undeserved rebates and gaming market rules to pay lower fees” [Francine McKenna, ]. Again, they can’t help themselves. It’s a fishing equilibrium!

Class Warfare

“Richest 20 Americans Own More Wealth Than The Entire Bottom Half Of The Country: Report” []. But I bet they still put their pants on eight tentacles at a time!

Sanders: “Let’s be clear: The reason we haven’t solved climate change isn’t because we’re not doing our part, it’s because a small subsection of the one percent are hell-bent on doing everything in their power to block action” []. And: “It’s time for a political revolution that takes on the fossil fuel billionaires, accelerates our transition to clean energy and finally puts people before the profits of polluters.” Nice to see the Koch brothers categorized in class(ish) terms, instead of simply being painted as demon figures.

“There are too many PhD students for too few academic jobs — but with imagination, the problem could be solved” []. Well, who says “too many”? The administrators, of whom there are never too many?

“Meal Plan Costs Tick Upward as Students Pay for More Than Food” []. All about the fees fees, as usual. There is no reason, literally no reason, for college to cost any more today than it did forty years ago. And there is also no reason tuition should not be set at zero. It is in Germany; are they rich, and we poor?

“Wainhouse Research, a consulting firm in Duxbury, Mass., estimates that a knowledge worker — one whose job focuses on handling information — in the United States spends an average of 104 minutes each month in conference calls. Such calls have become an orgy of multitasking, serving as a backdrop for a free-for-all of household chores, personal hygiene, online shopping and last-minute income tax filing” [New York Times]. “As a result, conference calls give rise to what could well be society’s most widespread, implicitly sanctioned collection of antisocial behaviors.” Actually, no. It’s the meaningless corporate drivel and ritual fealty that’s anti-social. What’s anti-social about filing your taxes, for pity’s sake?

“The Woman Who Invented ‘on Fleek’ Still Hasn’t Seen a Dime for It” []. Ted Nelson solved that problem with Xanadu’s payment system, IIRC. Sadly, Xanadu’s completion date was always six months away, and today we have the web.

News of the Wired

“Drew Ackerman’s ‘Sleep With Me,’ a thrice-weekly podcast that is intentionally designed to bore its listeners to sleep” [].

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Readers, feel free to with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Kokuanani):

papaya

A papaya tree grown from seed!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

86 comments

  1. LZFR

    “So this is interesting–looks like approximately 4 million people who were not considered in the labor force, and therefore not counted as unemployed, have been getting jobs every month” (FRED Chart) [Mosler Economics]. “And also each month over 4 million people have left their jobs and left the labor force and are therefore not considered unemployed.”

    Can someone break this down for me? Sorry, I’m not totally understanding – whats this correlation?

    1. AJ

      If you are not in the labor force, you aren’t counted in the official unemployment number. These charts show that people are going from not-in-the-labor-force to being employed. Mosler is pointing out the clear absurdity of all these people not being considered unemployed. Some of this could be that if you have been unemployed for over a year, even if you are actively looking for employment, you are NOT considered in the official unemployment number. TPTB have basically been re-defining unemployment to make the numbers look rosier than they really are. The Labor force is the smallest it’s ever been since women started working full-time. Lots of people will try to tell you it’s because of old people retiring, but that’s BS. When you look at it by age cohort it’s really the younger generation that is seeing the largest declines in labor force participation.

      1. LZFR

        Thanks for this. This is what I assumed. I think it also points towards the muddled and absurd language of “left their job”…

        1. AJ

          You could also look at the U6 data. BLS won’t give me a link directly to the results (bastards) so directions to get to the data are below.

          U6 is getting better, we are back down to the high post-tech-bubble around 10%. The ideal would be down in that 7.5% range (or closer 0% if you are an MMTer), but we’ve still got a way to go. We’ve stalled out he past couple of quarters so that last 2.5% is going to be slow moving if we even get there.

          Start at the link below. Check box next to “Alternative measure of labor underutilization U-6 – LNS13327709” (toward the bottom). Hit retrieve data. On new page, change from year to 1994, and check the box for include graphs and click blue Go button.

    2. prostratedragon

      New article from NIck Buffie at CEPR (Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot’s shop):

      Breaks down all the BLS unemployment concepts and discusses some alternatives that might better describe the current labor market.

  2. JohnB

    Some NC contributors in the past have – rarely I add – presented Sinn Fein in Ireland, as a potentially credible left-wing party. Here is why they most thoroughly aren’t, as well expressed by Irish economist Brian Lucey:

    1. Clive

      Sinn Fein in my opinion fit a lot of the prerequisites for being a Clientelism State in waiting ( but you might have to endure the Wikipedia screechy begging pop-up running at the moment which makes Cfdtrade’s fundraisers look like tea with the vicar and Lambert’s fundraisers look like a shrinking violet with a side order of agoraphobia by comparison; I did get the pleading but decided to use my £2 on an actual cup of coffee, although I do feel a bit mean)

      – rewards for particular sectors of the population in government jobs, contracts, non-enforcement of the law, bribes especially those with political or party connections
      – policing and the judiciary actively influenced by the party in charge
      – legislation with the intent of favouring a subset of the population

      In fairness and in the interests of balance, I should point out too that Loyalists (that’s you I’m looking at DUP) are just as bad, if not worse. NI politics manages that rare feat of achievement in being utterly rancid throughout the entire political spectrum.

    2. makedoanmend

      A Brian Lucey link and opinion does or does not make SF a left or non left wing party – North or South.

      Institutionalised power sharing in the North of Ireland is a very constrictive mode of governining, and the simple fact that the current “sane” and “non-racid” government of the “mainland” has shackled all local governance through fiscal policy restricfts the ability of anyone to draw definitive conclusions about any of the parties involved. And Clive, tut, tut, tut, the Northern parties are ” rancid”. Look no further than the steaming piles that sit on your own door step dear chap.

      One wonders if rancidity is a bit like the flu. Very infectitious.

      1. Clive

        Oh, I would never claim that the UK mainstream parties are shining beacons of hope in a blighted world of excellence in political organisations. The Conservatives deserve some special prize, perhaps the “Astonishing Managing to be Worse than the GOP Award of Outstanding Demerit”. As for the Liberal Democrats, well, they got what they had coming to them for selling out faster than a Hollywood starlet when promised a fast route to the political Big Time.

        Labour though, it has to be said, shows some promise. But I’m not getting my pom-poms out quite yet.

  3. Tertium_Squid

    NCAA Football

    There’s only 77 teams without losing records for 80 bowl spots, so three teams with losing records have the privilege of playing in a bowl game.

    There’s only 128 teams, and expecting 80 of them to win at least six out of twelve is very optimistic.

    1. polecat

      NCAA Football…………yeah…..that’ll take of all our existential global problems…..F#@kin A !!!!

      1. polecat

        I might add soccer, golf, baseball, cricket, basket ball, auto racing, did i mention GOLF, tennis,handball, etc, etc.

        1. polecat

          Hey….. I gotta idea for a new sport…..we could pit the sociopathic congress against the pyschopathic wallstreeters. Humm……just need a name for it…….how about RAT TOSSING!

          1. JTMcPhee

            …let us not forget the real fundamental game platform on which all the rest rests: CALVINBALL! Game on!

  4. SufferinSuccotash

    60-thousand British casualties on the first day of the Somme battle, including 19-thousand dead.

    1. Synoia

      One has to establish s place in which one’s family has a chance of survival.

      I doubt the existence of such places in N America, the weather is too extreme.

      Africa, on the highveldt, just at the edge of the African escarpment, looks the best to me.

      Learn Zulu. Looks like a pre requisite..

      1. Daryl

        N. America is a very, very big place that is subject to the El Niño Southern Oscillation, as is Africa to a lesser extent.

      2. neo-realist

        Which African country is best for weather, medical care and sources of food for people of modest means?

  5. JohnB

    Also, something I noticed lately is that a lot of Irish economists – even ones who I thought were reasonable, such as the Post-Keynesian Stephen Kinsella – are pushing the idea of a Flat Tax in Ireland now, and even of combining it with e.g. a Basic Income, to try and handle the regressive tendencies of a flat tax:

    This seems like a really dangerous policy combination to me – where the measures that are ‘supposed’ to prevent a flat tax from being regressive (such as tax credits), are likely to fail to make it in to the actual final politically implemented policy, and where the basic income is likely to just become a business subsidy (as described in an NC post here ages a while back – through slashing wages), and a backdoor for destroying welfare altogether later on.

    This policy combination narrative looks like it’s starting to gain a lot of traction lately. Is it as on-its-face insane and easily debunked, as it looks? Or is there any actual merit to the idea of a flat tax?

    It’s really weird to see otherwise-reasonable economists in Ireland (even e.g. Brian Lucey from my previous comment) support a flat tax – and appear to be blind to how it is likely to be botched politically, to become extremely regressive. The quality of economists in Ireland appears to be kind of poor.

  6. Kokuanani

    Yes, that’s my papaya tree, about a year & a half old. Grown from a seed from a papaya we originally ate for breakfast.

    Papayas are VERY fussy: the seedlings can’t stand being moved and one must baby them ceaselessly.

    Trees will grow 20 or 30 feet high, but then it’s hard to get their papayas for breakfast. So you plant some new seeds.

  7. James Housel

    I’m not sure about Bernie’s “we’ve done our part” on climate change. In fact, I’m pretty sure that is nonsense. Do you see anyone thinking twice about hopping on a plane to fly 3000 mi. for a vacation? Has everyone given up their cars? Remember Jimmy Carter asking everyone to set their thermostat down? Look, dealing w/this problem is going to involve REAL sacrifice, something politicians are understandably reluctant to point out. Trying to blame climate change on an evil cabal is misleading and uninformative. This is a problem of our culture, not a few bad actors. And ultimately it is a problem of population. In my lifetime I have seen the world’s population triple…

    Patting ourselves on the back is the LAST thing we should doing.

    1. afisher

      Especially the GOP who will be spending all the federal dollars on foreign adventures. Trump et al, are demanding violence – because they didn’t get the oil at their first rodeo.

    2. 3.14e-9

      Did I miss something? I didn’t see the quote “we’ve done our part” anywhere.

      If you’re referring to the above quote (which came from both the article in The Hill and the Bernie 2016 website), the meaning is very different from what you’re suggesting. What he’s saying is that individuals are taking some action — not even remotely the same as saying we’ve done as much as we can — but that no solution will be found as long as those making huge profits from the exploitation of fossil fuels continue to use their money and influence to prevent or delay alternatives that could have a huge impact. That they are doing so is indisputable.

      Beyond that, I don’t believe “our part” has to be sitting in the dark wearing ten layers of clothing and walking five miles to the market with shopping bags made from worn-out socks. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t do more, starting with cutting back on buying so much s–t.

      1. James Housel

        “Let’s be clear: the reason we haven’t solved climate change isn’t because we aren’t doing our part”

        Lot’s of negatives, but I think he is saying we have…Believing that if we just (what?) to EXXON and the Koch Bros. our problem would be solved is specious. Our problem is a society that is built on ever increasing consumption by an ever increasing population. THAT is the problem.

        And, no, though I am sitting here in the dark w/THREE layers of clothes and my shopping bags are canvas! But we will have to do w/less if we want to do our “part” because, in the end, WE are the ones who consume what EXXON and the Koch Bros. produce. If we can’t acknowledge that…

    3. aliteralmind

      Have you even read his policy?

      Overview:
      Details:

      It is bold and does not mess around. And although some won’t agree, I’m thrilled that nuclear is specifically not part of it.

  8. James Housel

    I might also add that I live in what most people would consider as “green” a fashion as possible. My water comes off the roof, when it is sunny my power flows from there, we compost everything, including our composting toilet. But my boat uses gas (at 4 mi./gal.!) My house requires propane to heat (I could burn wood, but that is MUCH worse for the atmosphere), I need gasoline for my generator when the sun doesn’t shine. My solar power system requires 800lbs. of lead acid batteries to deliver a miserly 2-3 kwh/day. I COULD live like a Kalahari bushman, but I’m not likely to choose that.

    I’m actually quite pessimistic. I doubt we are going to solve this problem. Human beings are simply too short term oriented. Hell, we have already spent our children’s future. We exercise all the self-restraint of yeast cells in vat of wine. Just one more!

    That said, of course we have to try.

    1. Jerry Denim

      “children’s future”

      I have no idea if you do or don’t have children or your thoughts on the matter, but if your children’s future is likely going to be awful anyway I ask: “Why have them?” This is especially true if you believe a westerner given the choice of Kalahari bushman lifestyle or American jet-setter will invariably choose the opulent carbon-intensive lifestyle. As you so eloquently point out even the greenest among us falls short of the “do no harm’ maxim from an environmental perspective so let’s all stop creating more humans. A very small, realistic and selfish sacrifice which requires very little sacrifice in terms of lifestyle discomfort but a choice which could drastically reduce the demands on the earth. For those who do choose to procreate in this age of environmental apocolypse please don’t pretend it’s a virtue, it’s a selfish indulgence with a carbon footprint bigger than a private jet.

          1. cwaltz

            This is where I say, bite me!

            I had 4 children(actually 5 but one passed away but hey lucky you he’s not contributing to the carbon footprint of our family) and I don’t consider my decision to have them selfish at all. I happen to hear pretty regularly that they are lovely human beings.

          2. tejanojim

            No, I don’t have to. Jerry Denim claimed that having children is a selfish indulgence, with a carbon footprint bigger than a private jet. I consider that a fairly outlandish claim, and I challenge him (or her) to show some evidence to back it up.

            1. Jerry Denim

              ‘Selfish indulgence’, in this day and age, yes. I said it, I meant it and I can back it up. ‘Carbon footprint bigger than a private jet’? Well no, of course I don’t have a study for that, does anybody? I doubt my claim is hyperbole though. It would depend on what type of jet we’re talking about of course, the timeframe and the amount of use. But I would wager the carbon footprint of a modest six passenger biz jet over the typical ownership period with typical use would have a carbon footprint MUCH smaller than the footprint generated by the lifetime consumption of a typical American human with multiple cars, houses, lawn mowers, jet travel, consumer junk purchases, meat consumption, pet’s meat consumption etc. AND if that child has a few children of their own the footprint would continue to compound over time exponentially. It doesn’t seem that hard to comprehend. Humans live a long time, acquire lots of resource intensive things and can make more of themselves. Jets do not.

              I’m not trying to stop anybody from having kids and my comment was primarily addressed to the commenter that recognized the future was bleak and in all likelihood given a choice of an austere and environmentally friendly lifestyle and a more luxurious but less environmentally lifestyle humans will almost always choose luxury and convenience. I’m sure everyone here who has children thinks they are great and maybe they are, but don’t kid yourself- there’s no shortage of humans on earth. Clean air, clean water, marine life, non-livestock terrestrial life, plants, trees, honey bees, glaciers, these are the things we are running out of. Humans, not so much.

              To anyone offended- don’t take my comment so personally. As a species, myself included, I think we’re highly overrated and narcissists to boot. I do not believe myself to be some paragon of virtue, I have quite a few selfish indulgences myself, but at least when I die I will take my bad, earth-destroying habits with me.

  9. Larry

    Re: too many Ph.D. students:

    Actually, administrators (of which there are too many) love Ph.D. students and Postdoctoral fellow. They represent dirt cheap wages for highly trained personnel. Many Postdocs work as defacto professors with none of the similar labor or pay benefits. I’m a molecularly biology Ph.D. and have seen this up close, and indeed live it. In many labs, a newly minted undergraduate technician will make more than many graduate students and postdocs. Keeping labor force temporary (and in the case of grad students, fundable by having them teach undergrads) and low cost is a great boon to many institutions. I worked in this field and was a professional postdoc from 2006 to 2013. The research was a lot of fun, but you realize soon enough that there is nowhere to go up the academic ladder unless you’re willing to move anywhere and do anything to get a premier paper/brown nose the right people.

    1. NeqNeq

      This is spot on. Admin want cheap labor and Dept. Chairs want high ranking placements. Need lots of grad students to get both. The situation is even worse in many other STEM sub-disciplines. Molecular Bio (from what I have been told by folks like Larry) at least have non-academic occupations available to them that are vaguely in thier field. The only chance many fields have is inside the academy.

      Anytime you hear someone clamor for more students entering STEM fields*, you should ask WHICH sub-field….and then ask why they want to drive wages down.

      *actually this holds for all fields *cough*WE NEED MORE WELDERS!*cough*

    2. afisher

      Meanwhile the GOP just voted to increase both the number of H1B visas and the length of stay on those visas.
      The dumbing down of college educated individuals will continue until the loss of tuition at these institutions decreases to such a level that the institutions will have to actually raise funds directly to pay for their own football stadiums and teams to appease the corporate entertainment and training sector.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, I understand the cheap labor aspect. But the lack of full time jobs is down to the administrators, IMNSHO (or more properly neoliberalism, the ideology to which they adhere).

      Amazing. All this education, and it is education, and no use for it. Perhaps we should have trained them all to write apps to display cat pictures.

  10. GlobalMisanthrope

    “Hillary Clinton: How I’d Rein In Wall Street”

    Hillary Clinton: How I’d Reign In Wall Street

    Fixed it for ya…

    1. Daryl

      That’s exactly how I read it the first time. Then I thought of Slayer’s “Reign in Blood.”

      > From a lacerated sky
      > Bleeding its horror
      > Creating my structure
      > Now I shall reign in blood!

      Sounds about right.

    2. afisher

      and the GOP plan is to just ignore all Wall Street regulation.
      Per the GOP wannabee tax plans the stated level of corporate taxation is so low that saying that there exist a taxation is a joke. They will disband the SEC- because why would they want to have any oversight, that is just a waste of money.

      1. Steven D.

        The Democrats would then cry, “Wook what da big, bad Wepubwicans are doing,” but keep just enough votes in reserve to ensure passage if the vote was close.

  11. jgordon

    Another one for “Gunz”:

    It seems that people are simply talking past each other when it comes to guns. These two camps are operating on entirely different mental models and thus the arguments each side produces appears as incoherent nonsense to the other. Is there a solution? Well maybe–but doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result sure doesn’t seem to be working.

    1. afisher

      The weapons used in San Bernadino were purchased via loopholes in CA law. The SCOTUS ruling today gave those who want sane gun control some cover, aka the Scalia argument- the 2nd Amendment does not give an individual the right to own any gun they want. Will the loopholes be closed in next session?

      1. jgordon

        As an example of my original post, I don’t believe that what you’ve just said is relevant or useful to the debate. Therefore saying it is not helping your cause–and it’s probably not going to change the mind of very many other people either.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Yes, the self-licking ice cream cone is already deeply embedded and operating at high efficiency.*

        * I know that’s a super mixed metaphor but “circle of life” just doesn’t do it…

  12. shinola

    Jerry Falwell & his ilk represent the worst in “Christian” charlatanism.

    I am just sure he prayed about it & Gawd answered “Arm the students!”

    WWJD (What would Jesus do)? Indeed.

    1. Steven D.

      The entire world has long been inspired by Jesus’ message of hatred, fear, tribal grievance and extreme hostility toward the religious practices of the Ishmaelites.

  13. Jim Haygood

    “Former global macro fund manager Raoul Pal says there’s now a 65% chance of a global recession.”

    Likewise, Dr. Hussman has decided to up the ante on his “hard negative” view on stocks during the past several years by adding a “cherry on top” call for a concurrent recession:

    I am among the few economists who correctly warned of oncoming recessions in October 2000 and again in November 2007

    The evidence driving our present concerns … suggests that the U.S. economic outlook has now turned toward … the guarded expectation of recession.

    One of the criteria in Dr Hussman’s recession model is that stocks should be below their level of 6 months ago. As I type, the S&P 500 is a scant 0.3% below its June 8, 2015 level.

    If stocks flip back to positive on a 6-month lookback, will Dr H withdraw his recession forecast? Or will he offer a new, improved model with added parameters that still predict recession?

    Don’t want to sound cynical or anything, but if history is any guide, he will take the latter approach.

    Models … we got models!

    1. MikeNY

      One of these days, Dr H will be right … about SOMETHING.

      He will surely crow about that to his investors at the soup kitchen.

  14. Jerry Denim

    Hillary Clinton: “How I’d Rein In Wall Street” Hillary Clinton, New York Times

    Not only did she fail to call for the strict regulation of derivatives like the mortgage backed securities and credit default swaps that crashed the economy in 2008, (one of her husband’s major blunders) she also went out of her way to attack Glass-Stegal and those who would like to see it reimplemented. (The Gramm-Leach-Biley act signed by Bill Clinton in 1999 was the death-blow to Glass-Stegal) Hillary Clinton’s reason for not supporting the reimplementation of Glass-Stegal? Apparently it doesn’t go far enough because it wouldn’t regulate pure investment banks which aren’t really banks according to Hillary. First of all saying “do nothing” because a really good proposal doesn’t quite go far enough has to be some kind of categorized logical fallacy, if it’s not it should be. Second, let’s examine that claim about investment banks being non-banks; Didn’t all of the major investment banks like Goldman have themselves recategorized as “regular banks” during the 2008 crisis so they could take advantage of the the Fed discount window- a.k.a ‘free money’? If so her argument is not only completely illogical but false.

    Who comes up with these talking points of Hillary’s ? More importantly, who buys this garbage? Her essay was terrible!

    1. Massinissa

      Actually I thought that Hilllary’s talking points this time were a step up from her usual: She didnt mention 9/11 this time! IMPROVEMENT!

  15. hemeantwell

    An answer may be found in what 19th-century philosopher of science William Whewell called a “consilience of inductions.” For a theory to be accepted, Whewell argued, it must be based on more than one induction—or a single generalization drawn from specific facts. It must have multiple inductions that converge on one another, independently but in conjunction.

    Less poetically, I think this also goes by the term “construct validity.” If a measure claiming to measure X varies in accord with other measures claiming to measure X, it’s in.

  16. different clue

    If Obama is so restrained and dovish, then why does he support the nazi-nazi banderazi coup-government in Ukraine? Why does he support the Axis of Jihad and continue to self-appoint himself as its World Leader? Why is he against Assad if he is so dovish?
    Why is he with the cannibal jihadi liver-eater moderate head-chopper rebel terrorists in Syria? If he is so moderate?

    1. James Levy

      He isn’t moderate by any rational measure. But that doesn’t mean that the McCains and the Georgetown Loons and the spooks and the neocons aren’t nuttier and more rabid than he is, thus providing Obama and his advisors the illusion of being sensible and dovish. The scary thing isn’t that Obama is no moderate, it’s that the foreign policy establishment in this country is so nuts. Clinton isn’t even the worst of this bad bunch, although she’s so bad I could never vote for her even if Cruz or Trump get the Republican nod.

    2. VietnamVet

      Barrack Obama is the President who has decided that the United States will fight a never ending war against the Islamic State. He is intentional trying to force Russia into quagmires in Ukraine and in Syria against proxy neo-Nazi and moderate Jihadists forces supported by the West. This is flat out crazy. Besides collateral damage, escalation of the new World War is inevitable unless western leadership regains its sanity. One hydrogen bomb ignited in London with a population of 8.3 million will kill more English than all of World War I did 734,000.

  17. afisher

    The lazy argument against Sanders is that he has no name recognition. Today he was named Time Magazine Person of the Year. Now the argument about Name recognition…moot?!

    1. Daryl

      He won the readers online poll. He’s not on TIME’s actual shortlist (although the Trumpster is).

      1. 3.14e-9

        Which is interesting in and of itself. When you compare Time’s shortlist with readers’ picks, there is a huge disconnect … although maybe the editors are judging by newsworthiness, which is different than general popularity.

        Also interesting to note that Trump got more readers’ votes than Clinton.

        1. Daryl

          The readers are also a lot more likely to pick someone nice, I would think, whereas Person of the Year is just someone who “for better or for worse…has done the most to influence the events of the year”.

          See the shortlist here:

          Plenty of villains: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Donald Trump, the Uber dude…

  18. 3.14e-9

    “Hillary Clinton: How I’d Rein In Wall Street” [Hillary Clinton, New York Times].

    So now they’re accepting press releases statements from presidential campaigns? I wonder whether the others will get equal time.

  19. Nealser

    Re Counterterrorism speech by Pres Obama

    Excellent analysis from former ISIS hostage on how the west responds

  20. Wyoming

    Gunz

    Considering the way you take apart the logical structure of arguments you don’t agree with I must say that it is a good thing for this author that you like his message. Because the article is atrocious in quality.

    It is simply impossible to legislate a fix to this issue. That this is not obvious to pretty much everyone is a constant puzzle to me.

    People are simply not going to give up their guns. The authorities are not and will not in the future be interested in taking them away from them (our local sheriff here just asked us ALL to carry concealed weapons). The political powers in place are not going to change the laws in any significant way either. It just ain’t happening in this country. That train left the station long ago.

    If there is something that you think is a problem, but you have absolutely no ability to change the situation….it is not a problem at all. It is just an annoyance. Forget about it, ignore it, live with it.

    We have far more important problems to deal with. Climate change, over population and far exceeding the Earth’s carrying capacity will … and I do mean will.. crush this civilization if we don’t deal with them. We need to stick to the really important stuff and leave the annoying stuff alone. In the meantime the worlds governments are meeting in Paris and agreeing to throw the future under the bus. Kind of makes the idea of overthrowing the government seem pretty rational doesn’t it?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      If things go on as they are — and there’s a self-licking ice cream cone that is making sure that they will — then there’s no such thing as public space in America (that is, unless one is armed and/or armored, and that, to my mind, is not public). That’s probably not a big deal in rural America. It’s a very big thing in large cities and suburbs. How does one have a political rally, for example? In fact, how does one do politics without public space? And how do you propose to take care of these larger problems without doing politics in public space?

      Adding… The situation is so bad that now we’re selling kiddie armor for schools. And calling that freedom. Now, it may be that all one can do with irony at that level is laugh, but I’d prefer to laugh rather than be silent.

      And adding re: “Considering the way…” I don’t know which link you’re referring to. If it’s “You Are Not Going to Resist the Government With Your Guns,” I thought the arguments were quite cogent. If you do not, please say why; it’s not enough to make an assertion about the article’s “quality” without engaging with it in any way.

      1. jrs

        Uh is random killers really what people would worry most about at a political rally or being beaten down by the Feds and the local police etc., who will come in full riot gear, and tanks rolling down the streets just for intimidation, and throw gas, have sound cannons, beat people up (like OWS protesters) etc.. If a random killer DID attack a political protest, I’d first suspect they were C.I.A.!

        Yes I know some protests are fairly safe, I am well aware of that, but they will be armed for anything they take seriously enough, like protests against police killings sometimes, like protests against globalization always. Since protesting generally takes place in places where people would be anyway (in any urban area) the danger of a random killer is no greater than going about one’s business (unless the CIA starts using the tactic I guess).

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          You’re saying that Occupy is equivalent to a political really is equivalent to all public space. I didn’t make those equivalences, and I think the last is the most important.

    2. Ed

      “If there is something that you think is a problem, but you have absolutely no ability to change the situation….it is not a problem at all. It is just an annoyance. Forget about it, ignore it, live with it.

      “We have far more important problems to deal with. Climate change, over population and far exceeding the Earth’s carrying capacity will … and I do mean will.. crush this civilization if we don’t deal with them.”

      Except that by your own logic, climate change, over population overshooting the planet’s carrying capacity are also annoyances, not problems.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m sure the same argument (“you have absolutely no ability to change”) was made over cigarettes. Or, for that matter, slavery.

        I’m also just a little skeptical about a supporter of position X saying I have no power to change position X. I mean, come on.

      2. hunkerdown

        When you hear hooffalls, think horses for courses, not sparkle ponies. Climate change isn’t a problem, as the Yiddish saying goes, since it can’t be solved. Regardless, it remains a circumstance, and can and will be accommodated with varying success (perforce).

  21. Vatch

    , by Mike Lofgren, will be published on Jan. 5, 2016. Will this book provide a clear definition of “the deep state”, or will it suffer from the vagueness that has afflicted some of the other discussions of persistent trans administration governmental power? Stay tuned!

  22. Chris Williams

    Lambert, your pc will likely go as good as your Mac if you switch to Linux.

    It takes only a few hours to, copy all your files on the pc to another hard drive, burn a usb with Linux and then boot from the usb and load it all up.

    You can keep Windows in a separate partition, but I just ditched the lot and all that crappy software you think you need to solve a problem, particularly virus software.

    Once I had loaded all my stuff back up, I had 43GB free space on my 128GB solid state drive. Before I had 4GB free. Everything works as it should now, or it feels that way at least.

    Goes like a new machine. On the internet, if I was streaming video, I would often be throttled back. Now, its all HD.

    I am sure there are others whose experience was not as good, too. But I tell everyone now to get off the Microsoft wagon.

    Thanks for everything you and Yves do. With the well read commentariat adding their views and life experiences, I think I have learned more about the world since about 07 (when I started to read NC) than in the previous 40 years.

  23. optimader

    A papaya tree grown from seed!
    Very lovely and distinctive tree indeed! And not to take anything away from it but don’t most trees grow from a seed?? Or have I been missing something?

    1. hunkerdown

      In practice, most cultivated trees grow from young or saplings picked up at the local nursery. </lazy>

    2. Oregoncharles

      Most cultivated fruit trees are actually clones, grafted onto a rootstock. Certain things,like figs or raspberries, are clones made by directly rooting cuttings (or in the case of raspberries, digging up the many suckers.) So growing them from seed is unusual.

      However, it’s the way you get new varieties. I’ve been making a point of planting peach and some plum seeds from varieties I like a lot (or, even more important, are resistant to the chief local disease) – with considerable success. I now have peaches that are variously very early and very resistant, white-fleshed, and nectarines, all new varieties. And of the apple seedlings I planted, one has smallish but tasty apples that are red all the way through (the leaves are red, too) and very late. But in general, seedlings are like children: all different and unpredictable. It’s something you do if you have space.

      (OK, so I’m like a proud parent with pictures in my wallet.)

      I didn’t know papayas were grown from seed. It appears that they don’t branch, so taking cuttings would be difficult.

      1. optimader

        First of all I really enjoy your pics Charles, you should give Lambert more.
        Yes, I was being a bit tounge in cheek, most fruit trees as far as I know bought retail at least, and I’ll assume commercial growers as well, are using grafted trees, analogous to grapes. As for me, small scale, but I’m an all seed man ! HAHAHA! I am growing apple, pear a lime and an avocado all as dwarfs. and am going the espalier route w/ several apple trees.

        Charles,
        Do you have any practical experience using colchicine for hybridization?

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