Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sweden's waste to energy, and other advanced problem-solving

The various schemes to make societies less carbon intensive fall into two categories—conservation of resources, and capture of alternative energy sources. When I wrote Elegant Technology, I was quite enchanted by Sweden's waste disposal system that provided most of the heat necessary to warm their homes during those long dark winters. So it is interesting to see how things have turned out—as seen through the eyes of an Australian documentarian. I am not so enchanted by this waste-to-heat solution as I was 30 years ago—I am pretty much down on fire these days. OTOH, I have not seen a better scheme anywhere else.

Aug 20, 2018

This documentary was done during the run-up to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. The most interesting part of this doc is probably the claim that Denmark did not decide to reduce their need for fossil fuels as a reaction to climate change, but as a response to the 1973 oil embargo. This means they have a 45-year head start on most countries—esp.USA.


This is from PBS. It concentrates on Samsø island in Denmark—which has nearly reached the target of complete sustainable energy generation. You will notice there are  tractors in use so they are still importing some petroleum.

Dec 12, 2015

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Going up the Country

Spent time in Edgar Wisconsin seeing Tony in action. I really like his customers. The majority are probably working farmers or were when they retired. These are the people of my childhood and it is fun to get back into that long-unused social milieu. Since I only interact with these folks rarely, I usually haul out the practices of the Non-Partisan League organizers. They were attempting to politically organize farmers who had a lot of other demands on their time. They were strangers selling a farmer agenda to people who generally agreed that all politicians were crooks. So these were the "rules" of engagement:

1) Realize the farmer you have just met has a bundle of problems—almost all economic. Prices for their products are too low, the cost of their inputs are too high, and the railroads are cleaning up on the traffic both ways. Ect. Discover his story and modify accordingly. Show some empathy.

2) Make sure you cover the social importance of farmers. They are most certainly NOT stupid peasants. If you can grow grain in North Dakota or run a dairy farm in Wisconsin, you can certainly run your own government. A government run by farmers in their own interests is not only possible, but highly desirable. Show genuine interest in how the farmer attempts to solve his particular set of production problems and file them away for future reference.

3) Have a well-thought-out agenda. Explain what a farmer-run government could do to better his economic lot. NPL had a laundry list of things they intended to accomplish including, most importantly, a state-run bank. Amazing how much farmers know about credit problems so this was always an idea that demonstrated daring. And since that bank is still being touted as the runaway success that it is by Ellen Brown to the point where California and LA among a host of others is considering one, the NPL can rightly be considered as this country's most successful progressive movement ever. EVAH!

To anyone who despairs at the rotten state of USA politics, these methods still work. My favorite encounter was with a soon-to-be-retired dairy farmer. He milked 80 cows and sold to, yes, a cheese factory. When I was a child, dairy herds were considered substantial at 40. So he has a lot of work twice a day. His wife is over being a dairy farmer's spouse and wants him to quit. But he claimed that both he and his father plowed back everything in upgrading his farm—lots more than money invested here like pride, effort, planning. This is what we imagine when we hear of the virtues of "family farming." Not many of these folks left. And they are getting old. And if there were still 40% of people farming instead of 2%, I could get elected to high office using the NPL methods exactly the way they used them 100 years ago.

Of course, these methods DO work outside of agriculture. Ask any student about the importance of debt reform. Ask anyone who was left to rot when some Wall Street scam artists bought the town's main factory, looted the pensions, and shipped the machinery to China. Ask someone who got a heart attack and for-profit medicine handed him a $100,000 bill to ensure his heart problems got worse. Ask anyone who despairs at meaningful progress on climate change. And have an agenda that makes sense.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Week-end Wrap - August 25, 2018

Week-end Wrap - August 25, 2018
by Tony Wikrent
Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

We can still avert climate disaster with a “wartime footing” of switching to renewable energy, but neoliberal economics stands in the way 
by Kate Aronoff, August 14 2018 [The Intercept, via Naked Capitalism 8-19-18]
BY SHIFTING TO a “wartime footing” to drive a rapid shift toward renewable energy and electrification, humanity can still avoid the apocalyptic future laid out in the much-discussed “hothouse earth” paper, a lead author of the paper told The Intercept. One of the biggest barriers to averting catastrophe, he said, has more to do with economics than science.... (The actual title of the paper, a commentary published in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences, is “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene.”)
....Asked what could be done to prevent a hothouse earth scenario, co-author Will Steffen told The Intercept that the “obvious thing we have to do is to get greenhouse gas emissions down as fast as we can. That means that has to be the primary target of policy and economics. You have got to get away from the so-called neoliberal economics.” Instead, he suggests something “more like wartime footing” to roll out renewable energy and dramatically reimagine sectors like transportation and agriculture “at very fast rates.” 
....Contra much of the apocalyptic coverage around “Trajectories,” runaway climate change of the kind described in Steffen and his co-authors’ paper is very likely preventable. The ways to prevent it just happen to go against the economic logic that has dominated the world economy for the last half-decade, to scale back regulations and give major industries free reign. 
....The paper itself put it in fairly direct terms. “The present dominant socioeconomic system,” the authors wrote, “is based on high-carbon economic growth and exploitative resource use. Attempts to modify this system have met with some success locally but little success globally in reducing greenhouse gas emissions or building more effective stewardship of the biosphere. Incremental linear changes to the present socioeconomic system are not enough to stabilize the Earth system; these include changes in behavior, technology and innovation, governance, and values.”

Exclusive: Some Arctic Ground No Longer Freezing—Even in Winter
[National Geographic via Naked Capitalism 8-23-18]

Germany Has Proven the Modern Automobile Must Die
by Emily Atkin, Augiust 21, 2018 [Wired, via Naked Capitalism 8-22-18]
In 2007, the German government set a goal of reducing Germany's greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by the year 2020. So far, Germany has reduced its emissions by 27.7 percent. That is one of the most significant reductions in the world, but it now appears Germany will not achieve the goal set in 2007 in the next two years. The major obstacle that has emerged is the reliance on automobiles for transportation and mobility.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Climate Grief

Below is a pretty good description of what the author calls "climate grief"—the crushing realization that everything at all lovely about this world of ours is dying. I can certainly empathize with his feelings although for myself, grief would be a vast improvement over the the feelings that wash over me whenever I allow myself to think deeply about our rapidly changing climate. In no particular order they are:

Naked Terror. When a person grows up on the high prairie, the idea that mother nature is this incredibly beautiful, benevolent, life-sustaining force is tempered by the reality that mom can easily kill you with tornadoes, howling blizzards, sleet, brutal heatwaves, or tennis-ball-sized hail. When I was 16, I nearly froze to death changing a flat tire less than a half mile from our house in North Dakota. Add a few experiences like this together, and the idea that this will all get a lot worse very soon because humanity conducted an arrogant chemistry experiment in the atmosphere is enough to make me very, very afraid.

The wrath of natural laws. Science teaches a bunch of natural laws that work every time, all the time. Raise the temperature of water to 100°C and it will turn to steam. Step off a cliff, and you will fall to the bottom. This is a world where there is no appeal. This is the world of climate science. Pump excessive CO2 into the atmosphere and the planet will get hotter—of this there is no rational debate.

Head-pounding frustration. I have been writing about environmental matters since the 1980s. Almost all of it can still stand close scrutiny. When I think about the vast possibilities of the sustainable society, I can have feelings close to elation. When I consider that very little has been accomplished compared to the problems, the frustration can be overwhelming.

Disgust at useless symbolism. Nothing upsets me quite like a climate change enthusiast who outlines the sordid tales of woe followed by some lame suggestions of raising consciousness and political organizing, or more conferences followed by targets and carbon taxes. This is the biggest calamity ever faced by humans. Most of us in the "developed" world live in societies powered by fossil fuels at every turn. Without them, we have no drinking water, weather-sheltered housing, food, medicine, or mostly anything else. This infrastructure must be redesigned and rebuilt. Since it required hundreds of years to build what we have—building the new world will take a least a few decades. And that's if we immediately embark on an organized crash program.

The builder's perspective. I have been building things since I can remember. Some of my favorite memories are of industrial tours. I can hardly look at at anything without speculating how it was constructed. And what this has taught me is that everything, and I mean everything, is more difficult to build than anyone can possibly imagine without actually doing it. And even if one has carefully planned out all the relevant operations, it always goes much more quickly in one's head than in the real world where real-world problems show up on a daily basis. Of all the reasons for my despair over not accomplishing anything meaningful about climate change, the saddest fact for me that even those with the necessary credentials to build the new sustainable world will take more time than their worst guesses.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Week-end Wrap - August 18, 2018

Week-end Wrap - August 18, 2018
by Tony Wikrent
Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

USA Conservatives Calling for New Constitutional Convention to Kill Off the "Welfare State"
by Jamiles Lartey, August 11, 2018 [The Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 8-12-18]
This should be taken very seriously, despite the usual conservative idiocy of equating socialism with a lack of "free dumb." If conservatives, libertarians, and Republicans actually get a convention, they are sure to target the General Welfare mandate for elimination, though they dare not openly talk about it now. Randall G. Holcombe, who served on Governor Jeb Bush's Council of Economic Advisors. in the 2016 campaign, wrote a 1992 article arguing that the major improvement of the Confederate Civil War constitution was the elimination of the General Welfare mandate. They will also enshrine their doctrine of enumerated powers, which has been repeatedly rejected by the Supreme Court until now. They could then proceed at leisure to have the courts, packed with their Federalist Society ideologues, declare programs such as Social Security unconstitutional.
It’s been more than 230 years since America’s last constitutional convention, but there is growing confidence in some conservative circles that the next one is right around the corner – and could spell disaster for entitlement programs like medicare and social security, as well court decisions like Roe v Wade. 
“I think we’re three or four years away,” said the former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn on Friday, speaking at the annual convention for American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) – a powerful rightwing organization that links corporate lobbyists with state lawmakers from across the country. 
Coburn, a veteran Republican lawmaker, now works as a senior adviser for the advocacy group Convention of States, which seeks to use a little known clause in article V of the US constitution to call a constitutional convention for new amendments to dramatically restrict the power of the federal government. 
“We’re in a battle for the future of our country,” Coburn told the assembly of mostly conservative state lawmakers meeting in New Orleans. “We’re either going to become a socialist, Marxist country like western Europe, or we’re going to be free. As far as me and my family and my guns, I’m going to be free."

What you probably don’t know about Social Security
by Alessandra Malito, August 17, 2018 [MarketWatch, via Naked Capitalism]
Social Security works. In fact, in works really well. 
Nancy Altman: The truth about Social Security today is that it works extremely well. It is completely consistent with the founder’s vision and in fact, although some revisionist historians today say the founders wouldn’t recognize it, not only would FDR recognize it today but they’d be shocked that it wasn’t larger and didn’t include Medicare for All, or paid parental leave, or medical leave, because those are all aspects they envisioned. They were very pragmatic, so they wanted to start there. FDR said he didn’t want to start extravagantly because he wanted it to be a success but it was a cornerstone on which to build.

Friday, August 17, 2018

What happens with the new round of sanctions aimed at Russia

Regular readers already know the party line around here is that sanctions have proved very beneficial to the Russian economy because they cut off the country from the worst of the neoliberal economic advice that shows up with integration into the global Washington Consensus institutions. The economics of self-sufficiency has again produced superior results.

One of the details about Russia I learned in 1972 on a tour of Leningrad was that she had within her borders commercial supplies of every element on the periodic table. When I heard that, the thought crossed my mind "if this country could get rid of their economic crackpots, it would be easily the richest country on earth."

Alexander Mercouris presents an informed argument for why Russia is well-prepared for another round of USA sanctions.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Is climate change finally going to get proper news coverage?

About ten years ago, I was conversing with a friend whose most interesting characteristic was, IMHO, that he was the only person who had been granted a PH.D in electrical engineering in 1943 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. USA was geared up for a major war effort but they also wanted breakthroughs in EE. That he was allowed to finish a degree put him roughly in the same company as the guys who got military deferments to work at Los Alamos. Smartest guy I ever met. Early on that evening, he leaned over and said very seriously, "There is one subject that is so important that every day there should be headlines in 144 pt type in every newspaper in the land. What do you think I am talking about?"

My response of "the only thing I can even think of is climate change" seemed to make him happier. The man is now dead for seven years. And only now do I see that there are a few glimmerings of wider serious interest in the subject. But the conversation, such as it is, is still pretty superficial. This morning I watched Chris Hedges interview none other than James Hansen on climate change. Hedges, ever the divinity student, kept searching for the bad guys, while Hansen pitched carbon taxes and a lawsuit filed in the name of the children who are inheriting our screwed-up atmosphere. While both had somewhat compelling arguments, neither seemed to understand that none of their suggestions would actually move the needle on atmospheric CO2. This was a conversation between a Harvard-educated, Pulitzer-prize-winning former NYT writer and one of USA's great astrophysicists. Too bad they never met my friend.

Below are two samples of what I consider the new awareness spawned by this crazy-hot summer with multiple wildfires including arctic Sweden. We will see what happens. The subject of climate change is just scientific enough so that if someone slept through basic high school chemistry, their judgment must be second-hand—your expert against my expert. In my experience, every climate change denier shows obvious signs of goofing off in science classes—or skipping them entirely. Which means you cannot convince that person with a scientific argument.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

It's harder than it looks (part...)

Amid the soap opera of Tesla, Musk, and whether the stock market is "properly" valuing the EV car market, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that what Tesla is attempting to accomplish is nothing short of miraculous. Because an electric car can be built by a hard-working shade-tree mechanic, the idea that any established car company should be able to build an EV if they just put their mind to it tends to become a sort of conventional wisdom. Tesla shorts repeat this mantra until big money is involved.

It turns out that an EV is a dramatically different sort of animal because many of the skills required to make an ICE car are simply not relevant. Literally millions of hours have been spent over the years to make a smooth-shifting, reliable, transmission. An EV usually doesn't even need a transmission—or a fuel pump, or a bunch of other things that make cars so complex. But what they do need are reliable batteries—LOTS of them. And the problem of buying enough batteries for a backyard EV conversion do not scale up to the problem of producing thousands of battery packs for long-range vehicles every week.

So all the issues surrounding Tesla's driven, grumpy, charismatic leader are way less important than whether the company can produce enough batteries. And that makes Tesla's boring Nevada gigafactory important enough to (almost) justify its market capitalization—which is higher than GM which makes and sells more than 2.6 million vehicles per year compared to Tesla's goal of 250,000.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Week-end Wrap - August 11, 2018

Week-end Wrap - August 11, 2018
by Tony Wikrent
Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

Trump Tax Cuts Having Significant Impact - On Corporate Profits
August 6, 2018 [Yuxing Sun, via Mike Norman Economics]
Latest financial results from Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway:
Net income rose to $12.01 billion, or $7,301 per Class A share, from $4.26 billion, or $2,592 per share, a year earlier. 
Results also reflected a decline in Berkshire's effective income tax rate to 20 percent from 28.9 percent, following last year's cut in the federal corporate tax rate.

Zero Hedge — Ten Bombshell Revelations From Seymour Hersh's New Autobiography
[Zero Hedge, via Mike Norman Economics 8-8-18]
From a recent The Intercept interview and book review — If Hersh were a superhero, this would be his origin story. Two hundred and seventy-four pages after the Chicago anecdote, he describes his coverage of a massive slaughter of Iraqi troops and civilians by the U.S. in 1991 after a ceasefire had ended the Persian Gulf War. America’s indifference to this massacre was, Hersh writes, “a reminder of the Vietnam War’s MGR, for Mere Gook Rule: If it’s a murdered or raped gook, there is no crime.” It was also, he adds, a reminder of something else: “I had learned a domestic version of that rule decades earlier” in Chicago.
“Reporter” demonstrates that Hersh has derived three simple lessons from that rule:
  • The powerful prey mercilessly upon the powerless, up to and including mass murder.
  • The powerful lie constantly about their predations.
  • The natural instinct of the media is to let the powerful get away with it....

Monsanto ordered to pay $289m damages in Roundup cancer trial 
[Newsy, via Naked Capitalism 8-11-18]

Wells Fargo says hundreds of customers lost homes because of computer glitch
[CNN, via Naked Capitalism 8-5-18]

Trump Is Giving Protectionism a Bad Name
by  William G. Moseley, August 9, 2018 [TripleCrisis , via Naked Capitalism 8-9-18].
As a development geographer and an Africanist scholar, I have long been critical of unfettered free trade because of its deleterious economic impacts on African countries. At the behest of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the majority of African countries were essentially forced, because of conditional loan and debt-refinancing requirements, to undergo free market–oriented economic reforms from the early 1980s through the mid-2000s. One by one, these countries reduced tariff barriers, eliminated subsidies, cut back on government expenditures, and emphasized commodity exports. With the possible exception of Ghana, the economy of nearly every African country undertaking these reforms was devastated.

Producer v Predator—a battle of Titans

The news that Elon Musk wants to take Tesla private has provided us with a further confirmation of Veblen's class theories. Musk is such an excellent example of a Producer Class Superstar, we should probably be selling a Musk bobble-head doll around here. And he has just pulled off a production miracle. And honestly, he looks terrible—120 hour workweeks will do this to a now middle-aged man. And so he looks up from that effort and discovers that a bunch of Predators are trying to suck out the energy from Tesla by shorting the stock.

My pioneer forebears discovered this grim reality while trying to farm in Minnesota. It was like going on a camping trip to hell. With small children in tow. Winters featuring -30° temps, summers with incredible heat and swarms of biting insects, the problems of breeding animals and sowing crops, and 100 other similar annoyances. And when you had survived that, you had to deal with crazy shipping fees by a railroad monopoly, crooked grain grading systems, usurious money-lenders, and the corrupt politicians bought by those thieves. The producing classes had to organize politically. In Wisconsin it was LaFollette and the Progressive Republicans, in North Dakota is was the Non-Partisan League, and here in Minnesota, it was the Farmer-Labor Party. In fact, nearly all the prairie farm states had  political movements to protect the interests of the Producing classes.

Musk vs the Wall Street crooks will be a titanic showdown. Wall Street is on at least a 45-year winning streak. Musk has been taunting the shorts for several years. Musk does not have a political movement backing him—in fact what he does know about the Producer-Predator conflicts seem to be self-taught. But Musk has a LOT going for him. He has that ultimate Producer skill—vision and the organizational abilities to turn his visions into reality. That skill is so rare that people who possess it attract followers. And Musk has a bunch of them. Does he have enough to take Tesla private at $420 per share? We will see.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Julian Assange to testify before Congress?

Well certainly not in person unless there is an immunity deal.

Assange is to the internet what Luther was to the printing press. These are folks who grasp the implications of spreading the light and are willing to risk some serious privation to do it. Not many of those folks in history.

If congress wants to know the role Assange played in the 2016 US election, a few minutes on YouTube should give plenty information of his position on this question. (It's not like no one has thought to ask him about this before.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Thoughts on the trials of Elon Musk

These days, the most uplifting story concerns the Tesla automotive project. I find it interesting because I have been something of a car nut since grade school. Our next-door neighbor was the local Ford dealer just when Edsel Ford decided to make his company dominant in racing. This was a no-holds-barred land-based space race—the first use of aluminum honeycomb outside of NASA went into Ford's LeMans enduro racers. My neighbor, who was mostly selling trucks and tractors to his farmer customers, would give me the chest-pounding literature of Ford Racing because he found it irrelevant to his business. Then I added to that knowledge base in college working for an auto parts store where I first became aware of the incredible size and complexity of the USA on wheels.

My initial reaction to Musk entering that world was, "Elon baby. Stick to software. Cars are an amazingly difficult and expensive proposition. This a world that eats upstart competition for breakfast." And yet, Tesla still stands as an ongoing concern and its most recent brush with death—the mass production of an affordable EV—seems to be most significant for how much money the "shorts" lost the other day. So what have we learned?

1) There seems to be sufficient expertise in bleeding-edge production techniques so that an upstart can be world-class on its first try. I was pretty sure this could not be done but it was. Tesla has some amazing millwrights.

2) Building electric cars apparently is a lot harder that it looks. The Model S has now been out for 7 years and there is still no realistic competition. Those who were warning, "just wait until Volkswagen (Toyota, the Koreans, etc.) gets serious about EVs, then Musk will fail" have been given a pretty strong demonstration that it was easier for Tesla to solve its production problems than for traditional car makers to overcome their own internal bias towards continuing to make what they already make.

3) Tesla is proving that the switch to EVs is a complex cultural change that relies on software development, direct to customer retailing, and supercharging networks as much as innovative production expertise. The legacy car makers are notoriously deficient in these areas. On the other hand, Tesla's leads on this cultural arena are still quite susceptible to technological diffusion (what they know will soon be common knowledge.)

In other words, stay tuned.

(update 9 AUG 2018)

The shitstorm that Musk created by announcing his desire to take Tesla private is a sight to behold. Musk is hardly the first high-end Producer Class figure to discover that the world of finance is filled with bloodthirsty Predators who do NOT have his, or his company's best interests in mind. To them, he is a cipher whose only interest to them is how much money does he have to rip off.

Here in Minnesota, we had a guy named William Norris who ran a significant computer company called Control Data. During the 60s and 70s, he would get into constant fights with the shareholders. Trust me, Musk is hardly the first to notice that shareholders often get in the way of successful business operations. In fact, Henry Ford once replied to questions about taking Ford public, I would rather take down Rouge brick by brick with my bare hands than let a gang of speculators get their hands on Ford Motor. (or similar) In fact, old Henry had been dead for 9 years before Ford finally went public.

I see the shorts are threatening to sue.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

“He Fears For His Life”: President Trump Trying His Best to Not End Up Assassinated Like Kennedy

The following is a excerpt from Russia's most popular political program. They are discussing the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki. The main character holding forth is a film / theater director who see the world as huge dramas. And to him, Helsinki is where Trump exposed himself as someone who like most Americans, is sick to death of the Empire. No wonder nearly everyone in DC was screeching treason.
Karen Shakhnazarov, director, People's Artist of Russia: "The most striking thing about that meeting is that it was organized not for the sake of Syria, Ukraine or Crimea, but for Mr. Putin to tell the American electorate: "Trump isn't our agent, trust me, you have my word." That's what Trump actually wanted from the meeting because the press conference revealed this underpinning."

Week-end Wrap - August 4, 2018

Week-end Wrap - August 4, 2018
by Tony Wikrent
Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

by Tony Wikrent, July 25, 2018 [Real Economics]
The irony, of course, is that many of the rich people who are jetting around the world using aerodynamic design principles developed and introduced by the government, are conservative and libertarian ideologues who insist that government can't do anything right!
Capitalism Killed Our Climate Momentum, Not “Human Nature”
by Naomi Klein, August 3, 2018 [Intercept, via Naked Capitalism 8-4-18]
Klein is responding to the full-magazine article, "Losing Earth," by Nathaniel Rich, in the Aug. 5, 2018, issue of the New York Times Magazine
According to Rich, between the years of 1979 and 1989, the basic science of climate change was understood and accepted, the partisan divide over the issue had yet to cleave, the fossil fuel companies hadn’t started their misinformation campaign in earnest, and there was a great deal of global political momentum toward a bold and binding international emissions-reduction agreement. Writing of the key period at the end of the 1980s, Rich says, “The conditions for success could not have been more favorable.” 
....My focus is the central premise of the piece: that the end of the 1980s presented conditions that “could not have been more favorable” to bold climate action. On the contrary, one could scarcely imagine a more inopportune moment in human evolution for our species to come face to face with the hard truth that the conveniences of modern consumer capitalism were steadily eroding the habitability of the planet. Why? Because the late ’80s was the absolute zenith of the neoliberal crusade, a moment of peak ideological ascendency for the economic and social project that deliberately set out to vilify collective action in the name of liberating “free markets” in every aspect of life. Yet Rich makes no mention of this parallel upheaval in economic and political thought. 
....what becomes clear when you look back at this juncture is that just as governments were getting together to get serious about reining in the fossil fuel sector, the global neoliberal revolution went supernova, and that project of economic and social reengineering clashed with the imperatives of both climate science and corporate regulation at every turn.
This is exactly the point I tried to make in response to another New York Times story, in my Facebook feed, The Democratic Party Picked an Odd Time to Have an Identity Crisis. This is also why I disagree with those on the left who argue that the present bigotry and inequality of USA was "baked in" from the start because of the intent by the founders was to create a new nation based on the rule of wealthy elites such as themselves:
What is maddening about most MSM articles and opinion pieces like this is that they completely ignore the 3/4 century effort by concentrated wealth to change the ruling philosophy of political economy in USA. Did the Foundation for Economic Education accomplish nothing? Has there been no effect from the billions of dollars poured into the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Reason Foundation and other conservative / libertarian apparatus? Was the Mont Pelerin Society a mere debating club? Accept the view that the reactionary rich have engaged in a war of ideas - in cultural warfare, to put it bluntly - to destroy the ideas of good government and collective action, and our current condition of soaring wealth inequality and collapsing social investment begins to look much different.

Alliance for Economic Justice holding three workshops in Charlotte to train activists
A year ago, Democratic progressives in the Wilmington area joined with local labor unions to host three presentations by labor activist, Les Leopold, author of Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice (the first chapter is available in pdf here). State caucus member George Vlasist writes,

Friday, August 3, 2018

Hudson on the current economy

Watching the business news these days is truly to look into advanced irrationality. Apple worth a $1 Trillion? I have been a reasonably loyal Apple customer since 1985 and think some of their offerings a have redefined genius but even I believe this is absurd. Elon Musk should be having songs written about him for the accomplishment of making electric cars cool and desirable but a car company that is still not profitable should probably not be valued in the same territory as GM.

On the other hand, the tattered remnants of the once robust USA middle class is hanging on by their fingernails. They cannot afford houses, they are still paying off student loans in their 40s, energy prices are up, they are a small medical step away from bankruptcy, agriculture hasn't seen a profit in four years, etc. And the businesses that would otherwise rely on their spending are wondering where their customers went.

Meanwhile, the financial sector has abandoned any pretense of honesty or responsibility. You can hardly blame them—with the real economy staggering along, there is hardly any reason to even try honest banking. So they don't. And so economic conditions seem even more hazardous than they were in 2007. Why would anything else be true? After all, none of the problems of 2007 were meaningfully addressed.

So here we have Michael Hudson, who seems to have the stomach to look at the bankster community, explaining where we stand.

The “Next” Financial Crisis


In this episode of The Hudson Report, we speak with Michael Hudson about the implications of the flattening yield curve, the possibility of another global financial crisis, and public banking as an alternative to the current system.

‘The Hudson Report’ is a Left Out weekly series with the legendary economist Michael Hudson. Every week, we look at an economic issue that is either being ignored—or hotly debated—in the press that week.

Paul Sliker: Michael Hudson welcome back to another episode of The Hudson Report.

Michael Hudson:It’s good to be here again.

Paul Sliker: So, Michael, over the past few months the IMF has been sending warning signals about the state of the global economy. There are a bunch of different macroeconomic developments that signal we could be entering into another crisis or recession in the near future. One of those elements is the yield curve, which shows the difference between short-term and long-term borrowing rates. Investors and financial pundits of all sorts are concerned about this, because since 1950 every time the yield curve has flattened, the economy has tanked shortly thereafter.