Sunday, October 17, 2021

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – October 17, 2021

 Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – October 17, 2021


Strategic Political Economy

“You lost. Stop acting like you won”

[White Hot Harlots (lyman alpha blob), via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-14-21]

“The abortion issue has been lost. I cannot fathom any plausible near or medium-term scenario in which the actually existing American left mounts a successful counteroffensive to the Texas bill. Poor women in red states and rural areas effectively do not have access to reproductive healthcare any longer. If they ever regain this right, it will be decades from now. This represents an immense and damning failure of all of America’s liberal institutions. In spite of access to abortion being generally popular–including upwards of 77% of adults wanting Roe to remain more or less in place–the Democratic party, their media apparatuses, and their NGO allies have absolutely shit the bed. They have lost. They have failed. Instead of taking a step back and examining their own tactical and moral failures, instead of owning up to their undeniable cowardice and naivety, instead of realizing that their messaging is at best confusing and at worse supremely alienating, instead of realizing that the other side doesn’t regard this as kayfabe but as a real issue they want to win… the Dems have done nothing. They’ve doubled down on failed strategies. They’ve retreated into their caverns of recrimination and mockery, wallowing in the comfort of blamelessness even as they presently control the executive branch and both houses of congress.”

The actual history of how abortion became a major issue in USA points to the role entrenched wealth manipulated politics by lavishly funding and directing movement conservatism. The “common wisdom” today is that the anti-choice forces were spurred into action when Roe v. Wade was decided. But as a number of scholars have noted, elements of what would later become the religious right actually supported Roe v. Wade at first. Writing in Politico May 27, 2014, Randall Balmer of Dartmouth College notes:

"In 1968, for instance, a symposium sponsored by the Christian Medical Society and Christianity Today, the flagship magazine of evangelicalism, refused to characterize abortion as sinful, citing “individual health, family welfare, and social responsibility” as justifications for ending a pregnancy. In 1971, delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, passed a resolution encouraging “Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” The convention, hardly a redoubt of liberal values, reaffirmed that position in 1974, one year after Roe, and again in 1976…. Baptists, in particular, applauded the decision as an appropriate articulation of the division between church and state, between personal morality and state regulation of individual behavior. “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision,” wrote W. Barry Garrett of Baptist Press."


So, what happened? Balmer explains:

"….it wasn’t until 1979—a full six years after Roe—that evangelical leaders, at the behest of conservative activist Paul Weyrich, seized on abortion not for moral reasons, but as a rallying-cry to deny President Jimmy Carter a second term. Why? Because the anti-abortion crusade was more palatable than the religious right’s real motive: protecting segregated schools….
"Weyrich saw that he had the beginnings of a conservative political movement, which is why, several years into President Jimmy Carter’s term, he and other leaders of the nascent religious right blamed the Democratic president for the IRS actions against segregated schools—even though the policy was mandated by Nixon, and Bob Jones University had lost its tax exemption a year and a day before Carter was inaugurated as president. Falwell, Weyrich and others were undeterred by the niceties of facts. In their determination to elect a conservative, they would do anything to deny a Democrat, even a fellow evangelical like Carter, another term in the White House.
"But Falwell and Weyrich, having tapped into the ire of evangelical leaders, were also savvy enough to recognize that organizing grassroots evangelicals to defend racial discrimination would be a challenge. It had worked to rally the leaders, but they needed a different issue if they wanted to mobilize evangelical voters on a large scale.

Also see, for example, How AT&T fuels right-wing extremists , under The Dark Side below.


There Is Shadow Inflation Taking Place All Around Us

[Upshot, via The Big Picture 10-13-2021]

Some companies haven’t been raising prices. Instead, they’ve been cutting back customer services and conveniences, but how should that be measured?


America’s Economic Divide In Two Stories 

[Heisenberg Report, via Naked Capitalism 10-10-2021]

The graphs alone are very instructive. 

GRAPH The top one percent’s share of national wealth eclipsed the entire middle class’s (middle 60 percent) share in 2021. 

And remember Citigroup’s 2005 Plutonomy reports, were some 15 years before RAND calculated that the top one percent have soaked the rest of us for over $50 trillion since 1975. 


The Cross of Gold – populism, democratic iterations and the politics of money 

Adam Tooze [Chartboook, via Naked Capitalism 10-11-2021]

The address that Nebraska’s William Jennings Bryan delivered at 2 pm on July 9 1896 at the Chicago Convention of the Democratic Party - the “Cross of Gold” speech - is a stunning piece of oratory on the theme of the gold standard and the peril that this rigid monetary system poses to society.

The incident is familiar to anyone with a background in American history. But when I first encountered it, as a European, I was staggered. It struck me as a truly remarkable example of democratic politics engaging with the question of money. It is more than 120 years old, but everyone concerned with monetary politics today should read Bryan’s speech. The full text is here.

Bryan’s oration culminates in these glorious paragraphs:

….”“There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.”

….

Bryan and the populist struggle with the gold standard seem particularly topical because we are, at this moment, debating the economics and politics of inflation and monetary policy. If Modern Monetary Theory insists that monetary sovereignty is there for the taking, in America, that is a claim with a deep history. Not that Bryan was an advocate of modern monetary policy, but he refused to subordinate America’s currency choices to the blackmail of monied interests.

Then there is the meta question. Set against the backdrop of recent history the fact that we are debating monetary policy at all can seem shocking. In the era of the 1980s and 1990s, insulating monetary policy from democracy was a key priority. The point, Rudiger Dornbusch, the influential MIT macroeconomist, liked to insist, was to put an end to “democratic money”.

But for money to be unpolitical, is not the natural order of things. It is the effect of a particular politics, a metapolitics of depoliticization. As Stefan Eich shows us in his forthcoming book, the Currency of Politics, the argument over the politics of money goes back to the ancients. The question should not be - “political money, or not?”. “Democratic money, or not?” The question should be - What kind of politics of money? What kind of democratic money?

I am dismayed Tooze does not mention the Peoples Party, which also nominated Bryan as its presidential candidate in 1896, or the crucial role of Mark Hanna in mobilizing and directing corporate support for McKinley’s crushing victory over Bryan. In his important history of this period of USA history, The Populist Moment, the late Lawrence Goodwyn explains how Bryan’s support of “Free Silver” left unaddressed the more fundamental question of creating and using a fiat currency, and who exactly controlled the creation of allocation of money and credit. In the 1892 election, the Peoples Party candidate  James B. Weaver won 8.5% of the popular vote and carried four Western states, becoming the first insurgent party since the end of the American Civil War to win electoral votes. Goodwyn explains how the 1896 nomination of Bryan led to the collapse and demise of the Peoples Party and the populist movement. “The third party movement of Populists became, within mainstream politics, the last substantial effort at structural alteration of hierarchical economic forms in modern America,” Goodwyn concluded. (p. 264). 


“S2 E12 Populism Saved Us Before. Where is it Now?”

Thomas Frank [YouTube, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-14-21]

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Central Asia’s Neoliberal Tragedy — Michael Hudson

Michael Hudson [via Mike Norman Economics 10-15-2021]

Resilience cannot be restored without public spending, but the rentier business plan is to minimize taxes by shrinking the government, especially by privatizing its public utilities and other functions to create opportunities for charging monopoly rents, and to oppose taxation of economic rent. Today’s mainstream economic philosophy and academic curriculum throughout the West backs this neoliberal program by denying that there is any such thing as unearned rentier income or wealth.

Yet only a rent tax can recapture what insiders have appropriated. At issue above all is whether credit, the banking and tax system will be managed as a public utility or for private gain. A national treasury or central bank must be empowered to create money so as not to rely on foreign banks. The guideline must be that no economy should borrow in a foreign currency that it does not earn, e.g., by exporting to earn the foreign currency needed to pay debts. There is no need to rely on foreign banks to lend dollars to be converted into domestic currency. In such cases the central bank has to create the domestic currency anyway. Foreign credit is needed only to pay for trade and payments deficits, not for domestic investment or consumption.

These tax and financial reforms failed as classical economics was rejected after World War I. The world today needs to recover its basic approach in order to free itself from the pro-rentier detour that it has taken, not only in the post-Soviet republics most conspicuously but now also plaguing Europe and the U.S. post-industrial economy itself.

To avoid the foreign dependency inherent in the neoliberalism sponsored by U.S. diplomacy, the World Bank and IMF requires an alternative body of economic theory, above all the distinction between earned and unearned income and the concept of economic rent as the excess of market pricing over intrinsic cost value. That was the thrust of classical political economy in the 19th century – to free markets from the rentier class. Value and price theory were the analytic tools to isolate economic rent as unearned income. These concepts provide the basis for managing a mixed public/private economy, public investment and credit creation, and for protecting domestic labour, industry and agriculture. In elaborating a theory to guide policy, the disastrous neoliberal promotion of rentier interests throughout the post-Soviet states provides an object [lesson]...


Austerity in England linked to more than 50,000 extra deaths in five years 

[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 10-16-2021]


The Totalizing Principle Of Profit, and the Death of the Sacred

Ian Welsh, October 13, 2021

In properly functioning societies there are sacred objects: things which money is not allowed to control. Perhaps this is our relationship with God; perhaps it is “don’t cut down all the forests”, perhaps it is access to healthcare for all no matter how little money they have; or perhaps it is access to law, so we provide lawyers to those who can’t afford them (and not overworked lawyers who can’t represent well.)

Perhaps we have public financing of election and limits of private spending to influence elections, since we value democracy and don’t think that rich people should control the government.

When a totalizing systems destroys other values, and degrades sacred goods and values and items, it destroys the circumstances required for its own existence, but in so doing it also brings catastrophe upon the society it is totalizing.


The Judgement of Craig Newell

Ian Welsh, October 15, 2021

Most people, I have come to believe, have a strong need to judge others. To quickly assign  “good” or “bad” labels. And once they’ve done so the thinking, the understanding and the empathy dies. Once someone is evil, or bad, or immoral they aren’t like us. (Because most of us don’t have the honesty to admit our own evil.) At that point, empathy dies. And without empathy there is no understanding—if you cannot walk a mile in someone else’s shoes you cannot understand them. (And, I suppose I should point out that understanding one’s enemies is the best way to defeat them. Which is why the US loses so much, because it refuses to understand those it fights.)

Workers revolt: The Great Resignation

“A record 4.3 million workers quit their jobs in August, led by food and retail industries”

[CNBC, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-13-21]

“Workers left their jobs at a record pace in August, with bar and restaurant employees as well as retail staff quitting in droves, the Labor Department reported Tuesday… Quits have been seen historically as a level of confidence from workers who feel they are secure in finding employment elsewhere, though labor dynamics have changed during Covid-19 crisis. Workers have left their jobs because of health concerns and child care issues unique to the pandemic’s circumstances.” 


Why Record Numbers of Workers Are Quitting and Striking

Sonali Kolhatkar [Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute, reposted on Naked Capitalism 10-16-2021]

...Taken together with mass resignations, such worker strikes reveal a deep dissatisfaction with the nature of American work that has been decades in the making. Corporate America has enjoyed a stranglehold over policy, spending its profits on lobbying the government to ensure even greater profits at the expense of workers’ rights. At the same time, the power of unions has fallen—a trend directly linked to increased economic inequality.

But now, as workers are flexing their power, corporate America is worried.

In the wake of these strikes and resignations, lawmakers are actively trying to strengthen existing federal labor laws. Business groups are lobbying Democrats to weaken pro-labor measures included in the Build Back Better Act that is being debated in Congress.

Currently, corporate employers can violate labor laws with little consequence as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) lacks the authority to fine offenders. But Democrats want to give the NLRB the authority to impose fines of $50,000 to $100,000 against companies who violate federal labor laws. Also included in the Build Back Better Act is an increase in fines against employers that violate Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.


Reich: US has an unofficial worker’s strike 

[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 10-15-2021]


Restoring balance to the economy

“Dollar General Workers Stare Down Historic Union Vote, Vowing ‘We’re Gonna Fight'”

[In These Times, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-14-21]

“In less than two weeks, a tiny group of a half dozen workers in Barkhamsted, Connecticut will vote on whether to become the only unionized Dollar General store employees in America. These six people in a small town about 20 miles northwest of Hartford now find themselves positioned to gain a historic toehold for organized labor inside a booming, low-wage industry. But it will not be easy. Ironically, the staffers in Barkhamsted who have launched the union drive say they enjoyed the job. ​’The place is like a family. The people there are family. We all take care of each other,’ said a Barkhamsted Dollar General employee who asked to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation at work. According to the employee, the union drive came about in September as a result of poor treatment of employees by a Dollar General district manager. The employee said that the district manager ignored a complaint of sexual harassment in the store, and was heard making racist remarks about the store’s manager. When the district manager unfairly accused the store’s manager of stealing, the employee said, ​’We all got scared. If they could do something like this to someone who didn’t do anything, what could they do to us?’ Asked about the allegations about the district manager’s behavior, Dollar General said in a statement, ​’As a company, we do not comment on allegations of employee wrongdoing, other than to reiterate our zero tolerance policy for unlawful discrimination and harassment.’ The store’s employees reached out to Local 371 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), which represents grocery workers, manufacturing workers, and others throughout Connecticut. On September 20 — after only a few days of organizing — the union filed for an election. On October 22, the vote will be held in a tent outside the store. As soon as the union petition was filed, Dollar General reacted with an intense anti-union campaign.” • Against six people!


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-14-21]

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[Twitter]

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Some really good detail in the Twitter thread, which provides insights in how large companies like Deere can keep workers’ pay close to $20 and hour but turn around and claim they pay workers nearly twice as much. 

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“The Top 1% of Americans Have Taken $50 Trillion From the Bottom 90%—And That’s Made the U.S. Less Secure”

[Time, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-14-21]

”But in addressing the causes and consequences of this pandemic—and its cruelly uneven impact—the elephant in the room is extreme income inequality. How big is this elephant? A staggering $50 trillion. That is how much the upward redistribution of income has cost American workers over the past several decades. This is not some back-of-the-napkin approximation. According to a groundbreaking new working paper by Carter C. Price and Kathryn Edwards of the RAND Corporation, had the more equitable income distributions of the three decades following World War II (1945 through 1974) merely held steady, the aggregate annual income of Americans earning below the 90th percentile would have been $2.5 trillion higher in the year 2018 alone. That is an amount equal to nearly 12 percent of GDP—enough to more than double median income—enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year.” • “Build Back Better” shows how hard it is to even tinker round the edges. (And I confess I never expected to see a headline like that in Time.)


“Minimum Wage Machine”

[Blake Fall-Conroy, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-14-21]

“The minimum wage machine allows anybody to work for minimum wage. For as long as they turn the crank, the user is paid in pennies as time passes. For example, if minimum wage is $7.25/hour (the current US Federal rate), then the worker is paid one penny every 4.97 seconds. If they stop turning the crank, they stop receiving money. The machine’s mechanism and electronics are powered by the hand crank, and pennies are stored in a plexiglas box. The MWM is reprogrammed as minimum wage changes, or for wages in different locations.”


When a Factory Relocates to Mexico, What Happens to Its American Workers? 

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 10-15-2021]

Resilc comments on Naked Capitalism: “They turn into Trump voters.”

Per the extraordinary New York Times opinion piece below:

What Killed the Blue-Collar Struggle for Social Justice

[New York Times, October 7, 2021]


They're not capitalists - they're a criminal predatory class


“Port truckers win $30 million in wage theft settlements”

[Los Angeles Times, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-13-21]

“One of the world’s largest trucking companies, XPO Logistics, agreed Tuesday to pay $30 million to settle class-action lawsuits filed by hundreds of drivers who said they earned less than minimum wage delivering goods for major retailers from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach…. The settlements amounted to a major victory for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which applauded the lawsuits as part of a decades-long effort to organize the twin ports’ more than 25,000 drivers…. But as the pandemic has driven supply chain snarls, port drivers have voiced growing frustration at a loss of income as they wait in hours-long lines at the ports — time for which they would be compensated if they were employees. The settlements do not require XPO to reclassify its drivers as employees, but labor leaders nonetheless hailed the agreements, which will compensate 784 drivers, as a turning point in the fight over port drayage. The settlements are preliminary, but individual drivers could receive as much as $100,000, depending on how long they worked for the company.”


Billions hidden beyond reach: Trove of secret files details opaque financial universe where global elite shield riches from taxes, probes and accountability 

[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 10-10-2021]


Pandora Papers: Stop the enablers that help billionaires dodge taxes

[The Hill, via The Big Picture 10-12-2021]

While we should hold the billionaire tax dodgers to account, not enough scrutiny is focused on the enablers, what social scientists describe as “the wealth defense industry.” These are the tax attorneys, accountants, wealth managers and family-office staffers that are paid millions to help billionaires sequester trillions.


“Here’s when the IRS can check out my bank account”

[Yahoo Finance, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-13-21]

“The original plan was for the IRS to monitor accounts with balances of more than $600, which is meant to filter out inactive accounts or those held by kids. That threshold is way too low. Democrats drafting legislation are considering raising the cutoff to $10,000, but $100,000 or even $1 million might be a better limit. Any proposal to monitor bank accounts, in this climate, would need ironclad assurances that ordinary people won’t end up as collateral damage, even if they do cheat in small ways by paying household workers in cash.” • If, in 2022, the Democrats are remembers for monitoring bank accounts with over $600 in them, they will lose catastrophically. The reporter, who is clearly in “I’m only trying to help you” mode, concludes: “A $1 million minimum income threshold feels about right, for starters. In fact, how about a demonstration targeting only the richest families in America? The IRS knows who they are, and Congress could give the IRS a down payment on that $80 billion to troll around in the bank accounts of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk and Peter Thiel and find their hidden money. After a couple of years, the IRS could report back, in the aggregate, and let everybody know how much extra tax revenue they were able to snag by matching billionaire bank records with other data. Then Congress could give them a little more money to go down the chain from billionaires to multimillionaires, and so on.”


Quietly, the Fed Releases the Names of Banks that Got Billions in Emergency Repo Loans in 2019

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, October 13, 2021 [Wall Street on Parade]

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has quietly posted the names of the banks that grabbed billions of dollars under the Fed’s emergency repo loan operations that commenced on September 17, 2019 – months before there was a COVID-19 crisis anywhere in the world….

The names of the banks and the eyebrow-raising amounts they borrowed from the New York Fed do not square with the official story at the time – that the liquidity crisis occurred because U.S. corporations withdrew large amounts from the banks in order to make quarterly tax payments. The fact that so many huge loans ended up going to foreign banks, as well as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Securities, suggests that this was a derivatives counterparty problem, potentially triggered by Deutsche Bank’s crisis at the time.

Why Airports Hold Promise for Asset Allocators

[CIO, via The Big Picture 10-13-2021]

Investments in airports are increasingly popular among American institutional investors—less on US soil than overseas. “Privatizing airports is common outside the US.” The allure: Absent a global scourge, airports’ annual returns can be in the high single digits, or, using leverage, in the low teens. Despite US constraints and pandemic headwinds, odds are they’ll spring back to their old growth level, analysts say.


The Epidemic

K-12 schools without mask mandates in Michigan saw 62% more coronavirus spread 

[Detroit Free Press, via Naked Capitalism 10-16-2021]


The impact of the COVID-19 response on the provision of other public health services in the U.S.: A cross sectional study 

[PLOS One, via Naked Capitalism 10-16-2021]

From Conclusion: “The provision of many essential public health functions and tasks have been limited or eliminated while the U.S. public health workforce responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.”


Green New Deal - An opportunity too big to miss

Empirically grounded technology forecasts and the energy transition (PDF) [Institute for New Economic Thinking, via Naked Capitalism 10-10-2021]

In response to our opening question, “Is there a path forward that can get us there cheaply and quickly?”, our answer is an emphatic “Yes!”. Our quantitative analysis supports other recent efforts using up-to-date data and technology assumptions that reach a similar conclusion. The key is to maintain the current high growth rates of rapidly progressing clean energy technologies for the next decade. This is required to build up the industrial capabilities and technical know-how necessary to produce, install and operate these technologies at scale as fast as possible so that we can profit from the resulting cost reductions sooner rather than later.

The belief that the green energy transition will be expensive has been a major driver of the ineffective response to climate change for the last forty years. This pessimism is at odds with past technological cost-improvement trends, and risks locking humanity into an expensive and dangerous energy future. While arguments for a rapid green transition often cite benefits such as the avoidance of climate damages, less air pollution and lower energy price volatility, these benefits are often contrasted against discussions about the associated costs of transitioning. Our analysis suggests that such trade-offs are unlikely to exist: a greener, healthier and safer global energy system is also likely to be cheaper.


Climate and environmental crises

“An Empire of Dying Wells”

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-12-21]

“There are hundreds of thousands of such decrepit oil and gas wells across the U.S., and for a long time few people paid them much mind. That changed over the past decade as scientists discovered the surprisingly large role they play in the climate crisis. Old wells tend to leak, and raw natural gas consists mostly of methane, which has far more planet-warming power than carbon dioxide. That morning in Ohio we pointed our camera at busted pipes, rusted joints, and broken valves, and we saw the otherwise invisible greenhouse gas jetting out. A sour smell lingered in the air. To Rusty Hutson, it smells like money. Hutson is the founder and chief executive officer of one of the strangest companies ever to hit the American oil patch and the reason for our four-day visit to the Appalachian region. While other oilmen focus on drilling the next gusher, Hutson buys used wells that generate just a trickle or nothing at all. Over the past four years his Diversified Energy Co. has amassed about 69,000 wells, eclipsing Exxon Mobil Corp. to become the largest well owner in the country. Investors love him. Since listing shares in 2017, Hutson’s company has outperformed almost every other U.S. oil and gas stock, swelling his personal stake to more than $30 million.” • That’s not very much; perhaps the bottom-feeding Hutson is best filed under American Gentry. But that doesn’t mean the wells he owns aren’t emitting a ton of methane. And his numbers don’t seem to add. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Hutson. This is a mus-read.


In 2021, US on Pace for Most Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters Since Records Began

[Common Dreams, via Naked Capitalism 10-13-2021]


Progressive Policies into the Breach

Community fridges are not a pandemic fad. They’ve become entrenched in neighborhoods as a way to fight hunger. 

[The Counter, via Naked Capitalism 10-13-2021]


They Gave Black Mothers in Mississippi $1,000 a Month. It Changed Their Lives.

[The New Republic, 

A basic income experiment in the state should teach national Democrats a lesson as they weigh a permanent Child Tax Credit….

The Magnolia Mother’s Trust is the longest-running basic income experiment since the Nixon era, and is among the first to try out the idea on a city level. But unlike recent programs in Stockton, California, or Newark, New Jersey, which select from a wider pool, it’s targeted at only Black mothers, acting in some ways like a child allowance. Most other developed countries have implemented a child allowance, but the United States has been an outlier, at least until pandemic politics offered an opportunity earlier this year. Biden’s Covid economic recovery bill, which Congress passed in March, has for the first time expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC) so that money is sent each month to all families up to a certain income level. Over 90 percent of families with children will receive as much as $300 a month for every child under age six and $250 for older ones. It’s an idea that started with Democrats, but some Republicans have warmed to it; Senator Mitt Romney released his own proposal for monthly direct payments for parents earlier this year….

The first cohort of 20 Black mothers started receiving $1,000 a month in December 2018. Today, the program has expanded to 100 mothers and gives them an additional $1,000 in a 529 college savings account for their children.

It has had a huge impact. Among last year’s recipients, the ability to pay bills on time increased from fewer than a third to 83 percent. Less than two-thirds of them had enough money for food before the payments; 81 percent did after. There was a similar increase in the share who were able to regularly buy their children new clothes and shoes. More of them had cars and were able to afford gas. Nearly 90 percent had money saved for emergencies by the end of the program.

The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

The Supply Chain Crisis: How We Got Here

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‘Ryan Petersen on How Global Supply Chains Have Gotten Even Worse” (podcast) [Odd Lots, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-14-21] 

“We’ve been covering global supply chain pressures almost since the beginning of the year on Odd Lots. And with each episode the question is “ok, so when will things normalize?” But basically, not only have things not normalized, things have gotten much worse. So why can’t the system stabilize?”


“‘Desperate for tires.’ Components shortage roils U.S. harvest”

[Reuters, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-13-21]

“Manufacturing meltdowns are hitting the U.S. heartland, as the semiconductor shortages that have plagued equipment makers for months expand into other components. Supply chain woes now pose a threat to the U.S. food supply and farmers’ ability to get crops out of fields. Farmers say they are scrambling to find workarounds when their machinery breaks, tracking down local welders and mechanics. Growers looking to buy tractors and combines online are asking for close-up photos of the machine’s tires, because replacements are expensive and difficult to find, said Greg Peterson, founder of the Machinery Pete website which hosts farm equipment auctions. ‘As harvest ends, we will see farmers at equipment auctions not for the machinery – but for parts,” Peterson said. “We’re already hearing from guys talking about buying a second planter or sprayer, just for parts.’… The supply squeeze has put particular pressure on equipment dealerships, who typically see their service business boom during the traditional September through November harvest season. This year, some have resorted to sifting through decade-old inventory for solutions. One pain point for dealerships is an industry-wide shortage of GPS receivers, which are used to run tractor guidance and data systems.” • Well worth a read, considering there’s also a shortage of fertilizer for next year.


Surprise! Postal service is about to get slower — and more expensive

[Los Angeles Times, via The Big Picture 10-10-2021]

Starting Friday, the U.S. Postal Service is giving itself extra time to deliver letters…. Instead of the previous standard, which called for first-class mail to reach its destination in a maximum of three days regardless of the distance, the maximum will be five days…. The USPS is also raising prices on domestic parcels by anywhere from 25 cents to $5, depending on the packages’ distance and weight….


The Postal Service’s complacency in the face of deteriorating performance must be blamed on DeJoy, whose appointment was orchestrated in 2020 by a Trump-controlled USPS board of governors.

He was the first postmaster general in two decades not to have any experience with the service. On the other hand, he had been a major fundraiser for the Trump campaign. Insiders related how Dejoy’s name had been inserted into the short list for postmaster candidates seemingly out of nowhere. Possibly this reflected interference by then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who should have kept his hands off.

Questioned by congressional committees about noticeable declines in service on his watch, DeJoy, a former executive of a private logistics company, truculently defended his intention to make the service operate more like a business than a government agency.

To that end, he oversaw a 10-year strategic plan designed to narrow the service’s deficit the way a struggling private business would — by stretching out mail delivery deadlines, raising postal rates (perhaps steeply), cutting back on post office hours and closing branches.

The changes in standards and rates that DeJoy is implementing in the next few days come right out of that strategic plan. The changes are expected to save about $170 million a year, or about two-tenths of a percent of its operating budget of more than $82 billion. But they will have significant effects on many postal customers.

 

Disrupting mainstream economics

Is It Time for a New Economics Curriculum? 

[New Yorker, via The Big Picture 10-16-2021]

...an international team of collaborators is now seeking to change how the discipline is taught and to shape the world view of future economists. Led by Samuel Bowles and Wendy Carlin, the group aims to prepare students for a world transformed by the 2008 financial crisis, accelerating wealth inequality, climate change, and global pandemics. They say that their initiative—called core, for Curriculum Open-Access Resources in Economics, and anchored by a free online introductory textbook titled “The Economy”—will “teach economics as if the last thirty years had happened.”

....Bowles’s outlook was shaped by his early exposure to global inequality—he had spent his formative years in India, where his father was the U.S. Ambassador—and by a letter he received from Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. Bowles had just earned his Ph.D. in economics and was teaching at Harvard; King had written to several economists in advance of his Poor People’s March. King’s letter included questions about why jobs were leaving city centers and how exactly education might promote greater equality. “I didn’t have a clue how to answer them,” Bowles recalled. In attempting to respond to King, he consulted colleagues with a range of specialties at Harvard; afterward, he concluded that he had learned more in that effort than in his entire previous training as an economist. He made a resolution: he would either try to expand the field of economics or leave it.

One college instructor estimates that using this free e-book to teach introductory economics, instead of Mankiw’s $130 neoliberal Principles will save his students over $100,000.


Creating new economic potential - science and technology

“Indigenous knowledge and the myth of ‘wilderness'”

[Phys.org, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-14-21]

“Aboriginal ideas of “wilderness” are in direct contrast to the romantic notion of “wilderness” as “pristine” or “healthy” that remains a powerful narrative in conservation efforts across the world today. Human impacts on the environment are almost always viewed as threats to ecological health. But this framing ignores the fact that Indigenous and local peoples have been actively creating, managing and maintaining most of the Earth’s landscapes for thousands of years. In fact, this ignorance runs so deep that many “high value” landscapes that are mapped in global conservation efforts are incorrectly assumed to be people-free, ‘wild’ places. In a special issue on tropical forests in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), our work shows that many of these high value ‘wilderness’ landscapes are in fact the product of long-term management and maintenance by Indigenous and local peoples…. Domestic plants, anthropogenic soils and significant earthworks all characterize large parts of what is considered “wilderness” in the Amazon. Indigenous and local peoples struggle constantly against wilderness-inspired conservation that seeks to deny them access to their homelands and the livelihoods that it sustains. Similarly, swidden agriculture—rotational agriculture based on small-scale forest clearing, burning and fallowing—has been used in southeast Asia and the Pacific for millennia, in some of the most biodiverse regions on Earth. These are areas that are today mapped as “wilderness” under scientific attempts to define the last remaining ‘Wild Places.’ But rather than being wild places, swidden agriculture has actively promoted landscape-scale biodiversity across the region, while simultaneously supporting the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of Indigenous and local peoples.” • Well worth a read.


It’s Official. China’s Solar Power Can Finally Compete With Coal 

[Interesting Engineering, via Naked Capitalism 10-16-2021]

...the sharp drop in the price of photovoltaic systems has made solar capable of rivaling coal power in China, according to an analysis from researchers published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

However, as solar power comes to encompass a greater slice of a national economy's power grid, it becomes harder to achieve a sustainable balance against the fact that solar can only generate power intermittently, potentially exacerbating energy management challenges….

Similar to other countries, China has noticed the dropping price of solar in the last decade, where, between 2011 and 2018, the cost fell 63%. In reaction to his plummeting price, solar installation has risen to unprecedented levels. As of writing, one-third of the entire world's new solar capacity is being commissioned in China, where installation surpasses the Unites States' solar capacity in 2013, and then Germany in 2015. Now China has 250 GW active, far more than double what it had previously projected by this point. And since China has ambitions to reach net-zero emissions by 2060, it probably won't stop here.

However, most of China's population resides in its southeastern region, on the opposite side of the nation's best solar resources lie, in the northwestern regions where cloudless sunny days are abundant.


Historic Moment as First Passenger Train Along Laos-China Railway Arrives in Laos 

[Laotian Times, via Naked Capitalism 10-16-2021]


Information Age Dystopia

“Facebook Banned the Creator of ‘Unfollow Everything’ and Sent Him a Cease and Desist Letter”

[Gizmodo, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-12-21]

“A developer who created a browser extension designed to help Facebook users reduce their time spent on the platform says that the company responded by banning him and threatening to take legal action. Louis Barclay says he created Unfollow Everything to help people enjoy Facebook more, not less. His extension, which no longer exists, allowed users to automatically unfollow everybody on their FB account, thus eliminating the newsfeed feature, one of the more odious, addictive parts of the company’s product. The feed, which allows for an endless barrage of targeted advertising, is powered by follows, not friends, so even without it, users can still visit the profiles they want to and navigate the site like normal.”


“We need to talk about how Apple is normalising surveillance”

[Wired, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-12-21] Indeed:

Many of Apple’s latest features are about enhancing surveillance – even if Apple would never call them that. The new iPhone operating system, iOS 15, can digitise text in photos, enabling users to copy and paste text from an image, or call a phone number that appears in a picture. Scanning nearby buildings with an iPhone will make Maps recognise them and generate walking directions. Algorithms will identify objects in real-time video, and it will be possible to turn photos into 3D models for augmented reality. And users will now be able to carry their IDs in their phone. All of these features increase the amount of data collected.

Apple is also active in the lucrative business of healthcare. Using their iPhones and Apple Watches, people can track their steps, heart rate, and gait, among other things. A new sharing tab on the Health app even lets users share their health data with family and caregivers. Granted, all that data is supposed to be kept secure – but whenever sensitive information is collected and shared that easily, data disasters are just lurking around the corner.

Indeed, once one starts scratching the surface, Apple’s contribution to the development of invasive technologies and the normalisation of surveillance becomes evident. Apple created the Bluetooth beacons tracking people in shops, gyms, hotels, airports and more by connecting to their phones. Apple’s usage of Face ID as a way to unlock the iPhone has contributed to normalising facial recognition. Its AirTag – a small device that can be stuck to personal items in order to track them – has caused concerns among privacy advocates that they will make it easier to track people. The Apple Watch, as the most advanced wearable on the market, leads us one step closer to under-the-skin surveillance, which can read our bodies and emotions. Most recently, Apple has developed a tool that can scan photos in people’s devices in search of child abuse material. While the objective is noble, the tool could be used for less ethical purposes and, according to security expert Bruce Schneier, it effectively breaks end-to-end encryption – the most powerful way we currently have to protect the privacy of our devices. (Apple later decided to pause its plans to roll out the tool.)

When it comes to privacy, iOS arguably has a better reputation among consumers than Android, as does Siri vs Alexa, and Safari vs Chrome. But that doesn’t give Apple permission to track our lived experience at all times with its microphones, cameras and sensors. Apple’s groundbreaking devices are pushing the limits of what technology companies can track, and that is not good news for privacy.


“Amazon copied products and rigged search results to promote its own brands, documents show”

[Reuters, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-13-21]

“Thousands of pages of internal Amazon documents examined by Reuters – including emails, strategy papers and business plans – show the company ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in India, one of the company’s largest growth markets. The documents reveal how Amazon’s private-brands team in India secretly exploited internal data from Amazon.in to copy products sold by other companies, and then offered them on its platform. The employees also stoked sales of Amazon private-brand products by rigging Amazon’s search results so that the company’s products would appear, as one 2016 strategy report for India put it, ‘in the first 2 or three … search results’ when customers were shopping on Amazon.in… The internal documents also show that Amazon employees studied proprietary data about other brands on Amazon.in, including detailed information about customer returns. The aim: to identify and target goods – described as ‘reference’ or ‘benchmark’ products – and ‘replicate’ them. As part of that effort, the 2016 internal report laid out Amazon’s strategy for a brand the company originally created for the Indian market called ‘Solimo.’ The Solimo strategy, it said, was simple: ‘use information from Amazon.in to develop products and then leverage the Amazon.in platform to market these products to our customers.’…

The 2016 document further shows that Amazon employees working on the company’s own products, known as private brands or private labels, planned to partner with the manufacturers of the products targeted for copying. That’s because they learned that these manufacturers employ ‘unique processes which impact the end quality of the product.'”


Health Care Crisis

You’re Being Gouged On Medicine You Already Paid For

David Sirota [The Daily Poster, October 12, 2021]

new Public Citizen analysis shows that the top 20-selling medicines generated almost twice as much pharmaceutical industry revenue in the United States as in every other country combined. Sure, as compared to others, Americans may buy a lot of prescription drugs, but this study reflects something much bigger at play: pharma-sculpted public policies that allow drug price levels to go beyond profits and into profiteering.


Xavier Becerra Could Lower Drug Prices — So Why Isn’t He?

[DailyPoster October 14, 2021]

During his presidential campaign, Biden promised to tackle out-of-control pharmaceutical prices. "I'm going to lower prescription drugs by 60%, and that's the truth," he declared in November 2020.

An obvious way the Biden administration could now do something about drug prices would be exercising its power to employ march-in rights. Such government rights were established under the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 and give federal agencies the power to license patented products to other manufacturers if they were developed with government funding under special circumstances — including when “action is necessary because the contractor or assignee has not taken, or is not expected to take within a reasonable time, effective steps to achieve practical application of the subject invention in such field of use” and when “action is necessary to alleviate health or safety needs which are not reasonably satisfied by the contractor, assignee, or their licensees.”

However, the federal government has never exercised those rights in the 40 years since the law was signed.


Health Care Lobbyists Admit Their Big Scam

Andrew Perez, October 14, 2021 [The Daily Poster]

Hospital lobbyists just detailed the thievery of the corporate health insurers in new documents reviewed by The Daily Poster….

The insidious details were spelled out by the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) in a letter responding to a federal rule aiming to limit surprise billing. Though FAH’s comments defend the group’s own for-profit interests, the filing from FAH president and CEO Chip Kahn — himself a former insurance lobbyist — offers a detailed look at the ways insurance companies mistreat patients to boost their own bottom line.


The Biden Transition and the Fight for Real Hope and Change This Time

“Biden’s inaction is poised to hand GOP the majority on this key agency”

[Politico, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-13-21]

“Anxiety is rising among Democrats as President Joe Biden marks nearly nine months in office without naming anyone to serve on the Federal Communications Commission — a lapse that could soon put Republicans in the majority at the agency. It also puts Biden’s broadband goals at risk, his party says. Congressional Democrats have been sounding the alarm for months, fearing a squandered year on the president’s progressive priorities, such as reinstating net neutrality rules and demanding greater transparency on internet billing. By comparison, former President Donald Trump named Ajit Pai as his FCC chair just three days after being sworn in, and the commission’s Republicans were rolling back net neutrality by December 2017. Biden’s delay is historic: No previous president has waited this long to name a chair of the five-member body. The closest parallels are Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon, who waited until mid-September to name their agency chiefs. But Biden has blown past that deadline, alarming Capitol Hill Democrats who have few legislative days remaining this year for confirming any nominees the president might offer. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment about the delay.”


Most Democrats favor a bigger bill on social safety net and climate”

[CNN, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-13-21]

“the Democratic electorate does not agree over which side of the debate is doing more to help the party: 49% say that progressives trying to enact ambitious liberal policies are doing more for the Democrats, while 51% give more credit to moderates trying to contain government spending. Views within the party are divided along ideological lines, but far from universally so: Self-described liberals side, 64% to 36%, with the goal of ambitious liberal policies, while moderates and conservatives line up 61% to 39% behind those focused on containing government spending. There’s also a generational divide, with those younger than age 45 favoring the progressives and those 45 and older siding with the moderates. The poll also finds that there isn’t even universal alignment between what Democrats and Democratic-leaners say they want for the bill and what they feel is most helpful for the party. Among those who favor a broader bill enacting all of the proposed social safety net and climate change policies, 60% say progressives are doing more to help the party and 40% say moderates are. Those Democrats who favor a slimmed-down bill break 74% saying the moderates are doing more to help and 26% saying the progressives are.”

MORE CORPORATE LOBBYISTS ELECTED TO THE DNC

[DailyPoster 10-13-2021]

Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison won overwhelming approval of his 75 at-large member nominees at the party’s virtual fall meeting last weekend, inviting in a new slate of corporate lobbyists representing the fossil fuel, pharmaceutical, and military industries, among others. Harrison selected the nominees without DNC member input, continuing past DNC Chair Tom Perez’s tradition of top-down decision-making. According to Sludge, “Last summer, delegates to the virtual Democratic National Convention’s Rules Committee hastily rejected a reform proposal that would have barred corporate lobbyists from serving as DNC members by a vote of 122-46.”


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-14-21]

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“Four Waste Coal Provisions Manchin Put in the Infrastructure Bill”

[Brick House, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-14-21]

“While he’s been demanding large cuts to the Democratic reconciliation package, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) has consistently urged the House to take up and pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill that the Senate passed in August. Many of the business lobbying groups that fund Manchin’s campaigns back the infrastructure bill, but there may be another incentive driving Mancin’s support. A review of the legislative text shows that several provisions in a section drafted by Manchin’s committee would direct benefits to companies involved in waste coal, a niche area of the coal industry that happens to be what the Manchin family coal brokerage specializes in. Enersystems does not release information about its revenue, but the few public documents available show that it has a contract to provide waste coal to the only power plant in West Virginia that burns it for power. It is currently run by Sen. Manchin’s son, but Sen. Manchin earns about $500,000 from it annually through dividends on his shares, which he states in his financial disclosures are worth as much as $5 million.”


“Top Democrats Own Stock in AT&T, Funder of Far-Right OAN Network”

[Brick House, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-13-21]

“The far-right network One America News reaches millions of Americans with its content that includes election conspiracies and pandemic disinformation through the satellite broadcaster DirecTV, owned by the conglomerate AT&T. Recently, an OAN host floated the idea of executions for traitors who they say overthrew Trump’s re-election win. Last week, a bombshell Reuters investigation uncovered that AT&T-owned platforms provide 90% of the revenue for OAN’s parent company Herring Networks, and that without the telco giant’s financial backing, the company’s value would be nil. AT&T reportedly helped design the channel to grow its right-wing audience share from Fox News….. At least two dozen members of Congress or their spouses hold stock in AT&T, including Speaker Pelosi’s spouse, investor Paul Pelosi, and other members of House Democratic leadership, according to a review of House and Senate financial disclosure reports covering 2020. In the Senate, three of the four AT&T stockholders are members of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications Media and Broadband, which has jurisdiction over all sectors of communications, and three are Democrats. Speaker Pelosi’s spouse’s investment in AT&T is worth between $250,000 and $500,000 as of the most recent disclosure, with income last year to their household between $15,000 and $50,000.”


The Dark Side

How AT&T fuels right-wing extremists

[Popular Information, via The Big Picture 10-10-2021]

One America News (OAN), a right-wing propaganda network that promotes unhinged conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, COVID, and other topics, relies almost exclusively on funding from AT&T. Court records first obtained by Reuters reveal that AT&T is responsible for 90% of OAN’s revenue.


Who Is Jeffrey Clark, and How Did He Try to Destroy Democracy?

Daniel Strauss, October 14, 2021 [The New Republic]

The January 6 commission’s latest subpoena target was willing to become Trump’s attorney general and help him invalidate the election. He spent a career preparing for that moment….

The report’s findings and Clark’s professional background show he is the type of elite Republican lawyer whom conservative lawmakers depend on when the American legal system is the focus. A Philadelphia native, Clark is one of those Washington lawyers with elite academic credentials—an undergraduate degree in history and economics from Harvard, a master’s in urban affairs and public policy from the University of Delaware’s public policy school (now named after Biden, ironically), and a law degree from Georgetown University Law School.

He spent years at the hard-charging law firm Kirkland & Ellis—the legal shop that housed Ken Starr, John R. Bolton, Bush administration Solicitor General Paul Clement, Brett Kavanaugh, Jeffrey Rosen, John Eastman, Pat Cipollone, and former Trump Attorney General William Barr, among a who’s who list of attorneys who went to work in conservative administrations (the firm has employed attorneys who became Democratic lawmakers as well). The firm’s clientele list includes BP, General Motors, Jeffrey Epstein, and the Brown & Williamson tobacco company.

Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State 

Matt Taibbi, October 16, 2021

A major untold story of the Trump era has been the political comeback of the CIA, NSA, and FBI, who thanks to an ingenious marketing campaign now enjoy widespread support among young liberals.….

Millions of Boomers and Gen-Exers alike had grown up worshipping at the altar of Miranda and Mapp v. Ohio, believing the ideas of due process and transparency inviolable. After the Church Committee hearings on intelligence abuses in the seventies, blue-staters also tended to believe the CIA had been chastened at least somewhat when it came to the really nasty stuff, like assassination, domestic spying, etc. After 9/11, though, all this was brought back on a grand scale and, worse, given a brilliant legal makeover to keep congress, judges and the press locked out this time.

Targets of the FBI’s “National Security Letters” could not by law be told they’d been searched. You couldn’t find out if you were on a watch or no-fly list. Those scooped up as enemy combatants (so named to eliminate Geneva Convention oversight) and renditioned to God Knows Where had no habeas corpus rights, a fact a lot of Americans were fine with, so long as the prisoners were al-Qaeda suspects and random Afghan cabbies….

Then Trump arrived. Almost immediately, it was obvious his historical destiny was to be the best thing that ever happened to the secret services. In the same way hydroxychloroquine became snake oil the instant Trump said he was taking it, the “Deep State” became a myth the moment Trump and his minions started talking about it. Deep state warriors like Brennan, Clapper, and former CIA chief Michael Hayden, held in near-universal disdain before as some of the world’s most loathsome people, people so morally ugly it showed on their hideous faces, became immediately respectable by rebranding themselves as Trump critics. The early Trump years, in fact, made heroes of every tumescent peeping-Tom creep and spook in the federal register, now cast in the press as democracy’s infantry, saving the world through intercepts, informants, and leaks.

In a flash, programs that terrified American liberals previously, like FISA, became weapons of Holy War, in the ongoing campaign to Oust Trump via a succession of investigations and impeachment bids. 

Misc

“How did Delta Airlines awaken 570 dormant aircraft?” [FreightWaves] WC 10-12. “Delta Air Lines parked 571 mainline aircraft across the country in 2020 when the COVID-19 wiped out most passenger travel. Airlines still have about 70% of their pre-pandemic international capacity in hibernation, but Delta is returning aircraft to the skies because the U.S. domestic market is recovering faster than in other parts of the world. Parking a plane and bringing it back to life after months of inactivity isn’t as simple as turning the engines off and on. It takes a lot of effort, including maintenance and electrical checks, to keep an aircraft in a ready state for future use. … In some regions of the world, for example, mud dauber wasps clog exterior speed-sensing tubes with mud. Maintenance personnel are instructed to regularly check the probe covers for damage.” • I seem to remember Boeing had a problem with sensors…


#367- BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG (Part the Fifty-third)” (podcast) [The Civil War Podcast]. WC 10-12 • I can’t recommend this podcast enough. It’s inspiring to watch Rich and Tracy work each week to get the history right, while also educating their listeners on sourcing. (Quite a contrast to the 1619 Project, too, I might add, especially given that The Civil War Podcast is steadily and effectively — and for Confederacy supporters, agonizingly — shoving a knife into the heart of Lost Cause mythology.) That aside, Rich is going part-time at his job to devote more time to the podcast (and possibly help their marriage, too). Since Rich works in health care, that would make him part of the post-Covid “Great Resignation”; he’s cutting back on the job to do meaningful work. Good for him, and the best of luck to both of them; they’ve really earned it. #367. Imagine!


“It’s almost impossible to find hunting ammunition right now” [Bangor Daily News, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-13-21] “Nationwide shortages of shotgun shells and rifle cartridges have left shelves bare in gun shops and sporting goods stores, forcing hunters to carefully use their on-hand supply as they search for reinforcements in stores and online during what is typically one of the busiest times of the season….. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year led to shutdowns at munitions factories, resulting in a drastic reduction in the amount of gun ammunition available across the United States. Then in July 2020, Remington Outdoor Company, which owned a sizable share of the ammunition market, went out of business…. While manufacturing is reportedly increasing, the current production isn’t relieving the shortage retailers are experiencing. Byron Dill, owner of Dill’s Outdoors in Bangor, has a hard time accepting the unavailability of ammo. ‘The companies say that they’re manufacturing more ammo and running at full capacity. That’s great, fine and dandy, but shops should have ammo to sell,’ Dill said. ‘I don’t understand where the ammo is going.'”