Sunday, January 26, 2014

Find the cost of freedom

Allan Friedman and Marcy Wheeler were guests this week on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.
Allison Kilkenny and David Waldman discussed Moral Mondays, Truthful Tuesdays, fast-food strikes, and the water in West Virginia on Virtually Speaking Sundays last week.
Stephanie Kelton and Gaius Publius talked about what money is on Virtually Speaking Counterpoints.

Start this one around the 25-minute mark to hear Lee Camp on how Utah is solving their homeless problem. (Use that link if you just want to hear that story, or this one if you just want to go to his page and hear the whole show - but that stream doesn't include time markers.) If you just want to read a story about how and why Utah did it, in contrast to what other localities are doing, try this link: "This trend makes Utah's accomplishment even more noteworthy. In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015. How did Utah accomplish this? Simple. Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached. Each participant in Utah's Housing First program also gets a caseworker to help them become self-sufficient, but they keep the apartment even if they fail. The program has been so successful that other states are hoping to achieve similar results with programs modeled on Utah's."

"Oxfam: 85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world [...] The wealth of the 1% richest people in the world amounts to $110tn (£60.88tn), or 65 times as much as the poorest half of the world, added the development charity, which fears this concentration of economic resources is threatening political stability and driving up social tensions." Makes you think a lot of the world's problems could be solved by one major weather event at Davos.

"New Warren bill could save billions [...] Warren's bill would discourage tax-deductible settlements by forcing federal agencies to explain why certain settlements are confidential, and to publicly disclose the terms of nonconfidential agreements so that taxpayers can see how much settlement tax-deductibility is costing them." I'm not sure they care enough anymore that they would worry that their "explanations" make any sense or that people know how we are getting screwed. They won't be afraid of us until their servants kill them in their beds.
Money Addict - This guy quit trading because he realized it was harming the world, but it meant giving up his Big Chance. What's interesting is that it was an op-ed in the NYT.

"No, Medical Tourism Is Still Not a Solution to the U.S. Healthcare Crisis" - This is Mike the Mad Biologist's response to Dean Baker. I also disagree with Baker on this issue, but for different reasons. There are real ways to control medical costs in the US, and I don't think Baker is really addressing them. Yeah, we have a problem with overuse and resistance where antibiotics are concerned, but that's not the issue when you have people who spread disease because they can't afford any treatment at all, for example. Cutting the CDC (and cutting its independence from the political system and the all-holy Public-Private Partnership ideology) sure doesn't help. But, mainly, medical tourism just isn't practical, and neither is having a whole bunch of foreigners imported to do medical work that is best done by locals. We can train more people to do the work - we keep the numbers of doctors admitted to med school artificially low, and we do lots of other things that keep good people out of medicine. Of course, we could start by not letting the medical industry tell us what they think their time and work is worth and making us pay it.

"Blunt talk: Obama high on drug reform, but will he act?" - You already know what I think of Obama's promises and "aspirational" chatter, so, no, I don't expect anything good from him.

Yves Smith, "How Bitcoin Plays Into the Hands of Central Bankers and Will Facilitate the Use of Negative Interest Rates" - It's really all a gift to the banks.

You can't privatize a government function without losing confidentiality and security. This is in the UK, but the US is already far ahead in this category, since the Tories just finished the privatization process of the NHS. It means that all that data which was always understood to be confidential will now be in the hands of every private entity that has already weaseled out of the confidentiality agreements they used to treat as important. One of the greatest ironies of the arguments about Edward Snowden is that real secrecy is already gone precisely because putting "secret" or "confidential" information into the hands of private companies means it's already been let out of its box.

Ask Snowden Q&A, on the worst harms of mass surveillance ("bulk collection"): "The first is the chilling effect, which is well-understood. Study after study has show that human behavior changes when we know we're being watched. Under observation, we act less free, which means we effectively *are* less free. The second, less understood but far more sinister effect of these classified programs, is that they effectively create 'permanent records' of our daily activities, even in the absence of any wrongdoing on our part. This enables a capability called 'retroactive investigation,' where once you come to the government's attention, they've got a very complete record of your daily activity going back, under current law, often as far as five years. You might not remember where you went to dinner on June 12th 2009, but the government does. The power these records represent can't be overstated. In fact, researchers have referred to this sort of data gathering as resulting in 'databases of ruin,' where harmful and embarrassing details exist about even the most innocent individuals. The fact that these records are gathered without the government having any reasonable suspicion or probable cause justifying the seizure of data is so divorced from the domain of reason as to be incapable of ever being made lawful at all, and this view was endorsed as recently as today by the federal government's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight board."

"CONFIRMED: The DEA Struck A Deal With Mexico's Most Notorious Drug Cartel [...] After being extradited to Chicago in February 2010, Zambada-Niebla argued that he was also "immune from arrest or prosecution" because he actively provided information to U.S. federal agents. Zambada-Niebla also alleged that Operation Fast and Furious was part of an agreement to finance and arm the cartel in exchange for information used to take down its rivals. (If true, that re-raises the issue regarding what Attorney General Eric Holder knew about the gun-running arrangements.)"

Aaron Swartz, the movie

I don't know what's weirder, the NYT Mag's cover, or the Tom Tomorrow version.

Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian, on The DOs and DON'Ts of PRAYER

Crony Capitalism Action Figures

Nice interview with Roz Kaveney at The Heroines of My Life .

It's been a long time since I saw Soylent Green and I'd completely forgotten the opening titles. You missed your chance to buy a can of Soylent Green and a cracker for $2,250.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young


  1. They won't be afraid of us until their servants kill them in their beds.

    The bottom line, I'm afraid.

  2. 1. I really hope we don't get French Revolution reruns.

    2. Speaking of CSNY, Graham Nash did some talking at the Commonwealth Club; there's a podcast. Robert Reich also spoke there on inequality.

    3. Glass houses right down to the bathrooms. Ugh.

  3. 1. I really hope we don't get French Revolution reruns.

    That's what we'll get if we're lucky.

  4. We used to get all sci-fi geeky around here, don't know what happened. Be that as it may, though I'd rather not I disagree with Asimov's assertion that violence is the last resort of the incompetent. It is merely the last resort.

    Without casualty there can be no change.

    You're either with us, or against us.

    No fear.

    1. Have geek, will post [LINK}:

      [PASTE]>>>> ...Forty one thousand years ago, a group of people lived at a place now called Enkapune Ya Muto in the Maasai language or Twilight Cave. This rock shelter is driven into the side of a 3,000 meter cliff known as the Mau Escarpment, forming one of the walls of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. Here, forest and savanna merge, and this site, along with other early African habitations, is the crucible of humanity’s prehistory. In an area of only dozens of square meters, blades were flaked, meats charred, and plants littered. Over the next 41,000 years, these artifacts were buried in a silt deposition 5-6 meters deep, as they were joined by the refuse of later peoples, journeymen of the Iron Age, who dribbled ink on a palimpsest invisible to their eyes.

      In this ancient place, at the earliest period of habitation, lived an artist engaged in a peculiar industry. The artist would scavenge ostrich shells from the valley and cut the shell fragments into circular beads. These beads [LINK], preserved under dust for 41,000 years, look unremarkable save for their abundance. They are yellow and speckled disks, no more than 6 millimeters across, with bore-holes through their centers. Today, there remain more than six hundred of the beads. The beads, useless as tools, beg explanation. They are an unusual kind of material; they mean something. They establish that the artist who made them was a cognitively modern human, and they mark the advent of the Late Stone Age....<<<<[END PASTE]

      In the year 52 zero 14, if man is still alive if woman can survive, they may find...

      [PASTE]>>>>> In the year 2014, a space capsule named KEO will be launched into orbit with support from UNESCO and the European Space Agency. Its destination is the planet Earth, 50,000 years from now. Consider it an upgrade to the message-in-a-bottle Golden Record that Carl Sagan strapped to the Voyager probe: on board will be a drop of human blood encased in a diamond, a compendium of human knowledge, photographs of people from “all cultures,” and other vestiges of our civilization). In addition, a specially-engineered, durable DVD will be included on the capsule with pictographic instructions for building a DVD reader. Every member of humanity is invited to imprint a message on this DVD.<<<<<[END PASTE]

  5. At 4:25 and 35:08 we discover that know-it-all pontificator Fred Kaplan has more attitude than reliable information. Ben Wizner, on the other hand, knows a lot and expresses it beautifully when not frustrated by trying to defend against innuendo.

  6. The Socialist response to the SOTU speech. She gets more animated a few minutes in.

    I know people at this site read Charles Pierce, so, is it my imagination or does he have a crush on "cool" guy Obama?

    "But, if this speech burned no barns, it didn't sound anything like a last chance, either. The president seemed to have a pen in one hand, and that well-worn olive branch still in the other. He is what he always has been, the coolest head in the room. You can never say he isn't that."

    A different take than Lynne Parramore's.

    "And… action! There he is, tall and lean, his pleasant face composed in an expression at once cheerful and slightly supercilious. It's our president, looking painfully aware of the inauthenticity of political spectacle, but resigned to it, because, whatever. Yet, as disenchantment has settled over his presidency, the Enchanter in Chief must get an enthusiastic vibe going. Which is to say that the wonky incrementalist must pass himself off as a man of big vision and jump over a giant believability gap that has opened in the last six years."

    1. Maybe it's that Charles Pierce doesn't feel threatened, professionally speaking, by President Obama. Here's an oldie but goody to show you how Pierce and a pal responded when they were feeling crowded. Then again in the non-historian's case, maybe it was just the Obama love talkin' after all. From the way, way back machine here's PIerce in Esquire on June 14, 2013 [LINK]:

      [PASTE]>>>>>All flannel-shirted hell is breaking out because it appears that the Guardian may have committed a bit of a bungle [LINK] in explaining exactly what it was talking about as regards the NSA's PRISM program. Rick Perlstein now has lined up against Glenn Greenwald, at least in Greenwald's mind, which often seems to be the only place in the universe that matters to Mr. Greenwald and his many acolytes. Perlstein's account of how the bungle came to late [sic], and his historian's assessment of what can happen to the Guardian's revelations if the latter doesn't come up with a consistent and believable answer seem to me to be quite well-founded. The comparison to the famous CBS memos bungle on the Bush memos seems particularly piquant. The fundamental point -- and the very important public debate -- about the surveillance state remains, and that's the most important thing anyway.

      As we go into the second week, the Guardian -- and Greenwald -- simply have to do a better job defending themselves. The first major strategy would be to get Edward Snowden to stay the hell off television for a while because, every time he goes on there and drives the nails into his own palms, he loses his cause a few thousand more supporters. (I know I don't give a rat's ass that this government is "hacking" the Chinese, who I assume are hacking us right back. My outrage meter stays well in the green zone when it comes to the butchers of Tiananmen Square, thanks.) We know what you did. I, at least, am grateful for what you did, even if it turns out that Perlstein's right and you didn't do as much as we thought you did. But enough with the free-speech-martyr act, please....<<<<<[END PASTE]

    2. ksix said:

      Everyone who comes up against Greenwald ends up with a dented reputation. Poor judgement at best, ulterior motives at worst - both evident in that excerpt.

      Yes, he didn't "dwell on" (how about "address"?) critical issues, but what does it matter as long as you get in your designated driver joke?