Sunday, June 12, 2022

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – June 12, 2022

 Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – June 12, 2022

by Tony Wikrent

Oligarchs' war on the experiment of republican self-government

The Money Trail to the January 6 Attack on the Capitol Is Ignored in Last Night’s Public Hearing

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, June 10, 2022 [Wall Street on Parade]

As we watched the two-hour public hearing on the critical facts uncovered by the House Select Committee on the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, we kept waiting to hear a discussion of the money trail that facilitated this attack. That discussion never came. And yet, big expenses were involved: dozens of buses were rented; signs advertising “Stop the Steal” were on the sides of some of those buses; food and lodging had to be paid for, in or around expensive Washington, D.C.; and, now, lawyers have to be paid to represent those indicted for brutalizing police on January 6 or destroying and/or stealing government property….

But the question that any good investigator of an unsolved crime scene must ask is this: who benefits from this crime? And to understand who, besides Donald Trump, would be the chief beneficiaries of a coup that installed Trump for an illegitimate second term as President, one has to follow the money trail. That money trail leads to Charles Koch, the billionaire Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, one of the largest private corporations in the world….

One of the Koch front groups that played a major role in the 2016 election that put Donald Trump in the White House in the first place was Freedom Partners. (It quietly shut down in 2019 after the press started reporting on its role.) When the group was still active in 2018, we had taken a hard look at its Board of Directors. We found that all but one of its Board Members was a current or former Koch company employee. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, Freedom Partners ended up with 12 of its former employees working in the Trump Administration….

To handle any legal pushback, Koch Industries’ law firm, Jones Day, sent 12 of its law partners to staff up key positions in the Trump administration on the very day Trump was inaugurated. Jones Day has since removed the press release it issued at the time but you can read the reporting on it at the American Bar Association Journal….

According to the website, which was sponsored by Women for America First, its “Coalition Partners” for the January 6 event at the Capitol included the Rule of Law Defense Fund; the Tea Party Patriots; and Turning Point Action, among others. The website has since been taken down but it was captured on January 2, 2021 (give the page a little time to load) by the Internet Archives’ Wayback Machine.

Rule of Law Defense Fund is the dark money arm of Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), a group that was raising millions of dollars from corporate felons in order to elect the highest law enforcement officers at the state level. (See our in-depth report of January 14, 2021.) According to IRS filings made by RAGA, it has received $511,400 from Koch Industries and a subsidiary since 2014….

Another of the Coalition Partners, Turning Point Action, Tweeted that it was “honored to help make this happen, sending 80+ buses full of patriots to DC to fight for this president.” The Tweet was first reported by

Turning Point Action is a dark money group that does not report its donors to the Federal Election Commission. However, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, its sister group, Turning Point USA, has received $610,000 from Donors Trust since 2017. Charles Koch’s footprints are all over Donors Trust, another dark money group, as we exclusively reported in 2010. (See Koch Footprints Lead to Secret Slush Fund to Keep Fear Alive.)

#1 charge: “Illegal parading

Lambert Strether [Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-9-2022]

“Here is the chart of the charges under which they were convicted (there’s no legend, but orange seems to sentenced, and grey not yet sentenced:”


“The #1 charge: “Illegal parading.” Illegal parading?”

Did I experience aghastitude on “1/6″™? No.

Lambert Strether [Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-10-2022]

TW: I don’t agree with Strether’s argument that the events of January 6 2021 are not as terrible as Democrats, liberals, and the anti-Trumpers argue they are, but I think Strether is absolutely correct in his conclusion that what is driving these three groups of people is their sense of entitlement. 

Did I experience aghastitude on “1/6″™? No. The Winter Palace in 1917 this was not. And what if that guy, instead of being a right-winger in a Trump hat, had been a union guy with a giant inflatable rat? I would have been cheering him on! Finally somebody stood up! What’s really driving the liberal Democrats — and, I suppose, Never Trump Republicans — is that deep down they think Capitol Hill is their space, democracy is “our” democracy, norms are their their norms, and that they will be comfortable again when the “insurrectionists” are rooted out and purged. But it’s not, it’s not, they’re not, and they won’t be. They lost their minds in 2016 for the same reasons, and never did manage to find them again, party leadership and PMC base together.

Insurrection is a crime (18 U.S. Code § 2383). So how come Merrick Garland charged the vast majority of the “insurrectionists” with illegal parading?

TW: The assault on the Capitol and attempt to stop the certification of Biden was a serious, seditious assault on the rule of law, posing a dire threat to republican self government. But a serious investigation of this threat would focus, as Pam and Russ Martens assert, on the funders. But that would be a threat to the powers that have transformed USA from a republic to a plutocratic oligarchy, and which own both the Republican and Democratic parties. 

The Roots Of The January 6 Riot

Joel Warner, June 10, 2022 [The Lever]

“At its core, the January 6 insurrection was the weaponized manifestation of virulent anti-government sentiment in a putatively democratic country where a majority has not trusted its own government for two decades… The ideological crusade against government has always been a part of American politics. But it really began coalescing in modern form in the late 1970s when conservative demagogues, moguls, and business interests began building a movement to demonize public institutions...”

So as the horrors of January 6 become prime-time TV viewing, let’s not forget that the attempted coup wasn’t a political fluke whose danger has come and gone. The origins of the Capitol attack were a long time coming — and those who helped it along are still flush with corporate cash.

“Americans’ Views of Government: Decades of Distrust, Enduring Support for Its Role”

[Pew Research Center, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-9-2022]

“Americans remain deeply distrustful of and dissatisfied with their government. Just 20% say they trust the government in Washington to do the right thing just about always or most of the time – a sentiment that has changed very little since former President George W. Bush’s second term in office.”


“We’re Misunderstanding What Caused Jan. 6”

[FiveThirtyEight, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-10-2022]

“‘They’re interested in political reform and not in the fact that people are pissed.’ That’s something University of Michigan political science professor Christian Davenport told me in the days after Jan. 6…. Davenport was trying to get me to understand that while the riot at the Capitol was inherently political, the divisions fueling it were not. Right and left, Democrat and Republican: Those splits exist in society, but they weren’t the cause of what happened. Income inequality, racial resentment, declining trust in institutions — those were the really dangerous things, Davenport said. We tend to think of those divisions as partisan because that’s the divide our polling data is set up to track. But in quantifying and graphing the tree counts, we miss the fact that we are in a forest…. A team of researchers found in a 2021 paper that an anti-establishment dimension would explain some of the more worrying extremes in American politics — things like support for conspiracy theories, endorsement of anti-expertise opinions and seeing politics as a battle between good and evil — better than the left-right dimension of our politics. One of those researchers, University of Miami political science professor Joseph Uscinski, found no difference in the prevalence of anti-establishment beliefs between Democrats and Republicans, using survey data collected in October 2020. What’s more, Uscinski found that anti-establishment ideologies better predicted belief in the conspiracies of QAnon and Trump’s claims of voter fraud than did left-right orientations.”

Strategic Political Economy

Can the new US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework really compete with China’s mammoth Belt and Road Initiative? 

[South China Morning Post, via Naked Capitalism 6-6-2022]

During the Quad leaders’ summit in Tokyo last month, the four countries involved agreed to release more than US$50 billion for infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific over the next five years. In last month’s Asean-US summit hosted by Washington, the US committed to investing US$40 million to mobilise US$2 billion in financing from various sources to underwrite clean energy projects in Southeast Asia.

However, even if all these are combined, they are still dwarfed by the enormity of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Projects under its banner were valued at a staggering US$4.3 trillion by the first quarter of 2020.

“In snub to Biden, Mexico’s president won’t attend US-hosted Summit of the Americas”

[USA Today, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-7-2022]

“Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Monday that he is skipping this week’s Ninth Summit of the Americas, a blow to President Joe Biden as he tries to unite the region to address migration. ‘There cannot be a summit if all countries are not invited,’ López Obrador said at a press conference Monday after the United States refused to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to the summit. He said Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, will attend the summit instead. López Obrador said he will meet with Biden in July. López Obrador has been threatening to boycott the summit if the United States didn’t invite every country in the region, including the autocratic leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The Biden administration said they do not want to invite countries that have not upheld democratic principles.”

[One World, via Mike Norman Economics 6-11-2022]

Duma Speaker Volodin also noticed this too, which he elaborated upon in a recent Telegram post that RT just brought to the attention of its readers. According to him, “The group of eight countries not participating in the sanctions wars – China, India, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, IranTurkey – in terms of GDP at PPP is 24.4% ahead of the [G7]”, whose economies are continuing “to crack under the weight of sanctions imposed against Russia.” He concluded that “The United States created the conditions with its own hands for countries wishing to build an equal dialogue and mutually beneficial relations to actually form a ‘new Big Eight’ together with Russia.”

This insight is integral to understanding the global systemic transition to multipolarity that’s unprecedentedly accelerated as a result of Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine and the US-led West’s completely counterproductive anti-Russian sanctions that were promulgated in response. Instead of comprehensively reasserting the US’ declining unipolar hegemony, the Golden Billion’s moves have comprehensively facilitated the rise of the Global South that’s challenging the powers-that-be for control of the world system. The first-mentioned wants to retain as much of the previous one as possible while the second are actively working to gradually reform it so that everything is more equitable, just, and stable.

[Thecradle, via Mike Norman Economics 6-9-2022]

With The Destiny of Civilization: Finance Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism or Socialism, Michael Hudson, one of the world’s leading independent economists, has given us arguably the ultimate handbook on where we’re at, who’s in charge, and whether we can bypass them.

Let’s jump straight into the fray. Hudson begins with an analysis of the “take the money and run” ethos, complete with de-industrialization, as 90 percent of US corporate revenue is “used to share buybacks and dividend payouts to support company stock prices.”

That represents the apex of “Finance Capitalism’s” political strategy: to “capture the public sector and shift monetary and banking power” to Wall Street, the City of London and other western financial centers….

In short, our current Cold War 2.0 “is basically being waged by US-centered finance capitalism backing rentier oligarchies against nations seeking to build up more widespread self-reliance and domestic prosperity.”

….Hudson succinctly frames the central issue facing the world today: whether “money and credit, land, natural resources and monopolies will be privatized and concentrated in the hands of a rentier oligarchy or used to promote general prosperity and growth. This is basically a conflict between finance capitalism vs. socialism as economic systems.”

Is U.S. Intelligence Really this Screwed UP?

Larry C. Johnson [A Son of the New American Revolution, via Mike Norman Economics 6-9-2022]

Frankly, I find it hard to believe that there are not solid analysts at the Defense Intelligence Agency who know the answers to all these questions. The real problem may not be a lack of intelligence. Nope. It is the fear of telling the politicians hard truths they do not want to hear.

Torpedoes In the Water 

Matt Stoller [BIG, via Naked Capitalism 6-8-2022]

FTC Chair Lina Khan and Antitrust Division chief Jonathan Kanter have set in motion a revolution in antitrust. The explosions are about to start with attacks on mergers and the insulin supply chain.

The epidemic

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-7-2022]



The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

They Plan On Repeating “Putin’s Price Hike” Until People Believe It
Caitlin Johnstone [via Mike Norman Economics 6-11-2022]

Zombie Firms Face Slow Death in US as Era of Easy Credit Ends 

[Bloomberg, via The Big Picture 6-5-2022]

Why Housing is More Important Than the Stock Market

[A Wealth of Common Sense, via The Big Picture 6-6-2022]

TW: Excellent graphical presentation on how much equities and real estate is owned by the top one and ten percents, compared to the bottom 50 percent. 

Housing has a far greater wealth effect on households than the stock market does. The top 10% can live through a bear market in stocks. The bursting of the housing bubble led to such a calamitous crisis in 2008 because real estate is an essential asset to the middle class….

The top 10% holds 70% of the net worth in this country while the bottom 90% accounts for 75% of the debt….

The top 10% owns 89% of the stocks while the bottom 90% owns more than 55% of the real estate.

The top 1% owns 54% of the stocks and less than 14% of the real estate.

Only 50% of households in the U.S. own stocks in any form. The homeownership rate is 65%.

“Free US school lunches were a dream come true. Now, a hunger crisis looms for 10 million children”

[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-8-2022]

“For the last two years, the notion that no kid should ever have to go hungry in the US has gotten closer to a reality, thanks to federal waivers that have expanded children’s access to food. The waivers resulted in a simple but revolutionary outcome: free lunch, year-round, for every American schoolchild. But that will come to an end in weeks, as Congress has failed to include an extension of the waivers, which have allowed schools to offer school lunches as well as summer lunch handouts, enabling an estimated 10 million more students to get a free meal. Now, as rising prices hit families and school food programs alike, the program’s expiration will cause a cliff that some parents, cafeteria workers and nutrition advocates say could cause a catastrophe.” 

The Kids Are Not All Right

Aditi Ramaswami, June 12, 2022 [The lever]

Congress is about to let a critical anti-hunger program expire, and millions of children will feel the pain.

Eclipse of Rent-Sharing: The Effects of Managers’ Business Education on Wages and the Labor Share in the US and Denmark (PDF)

[NBER, via Naked Capitalism 6-6-2022]

From the Abstract: “This paper provides evidence from the US and Denmark that managers with a business degree (“business managers”) reduce their employees’ wages. Within five years of the appointment of a business manager, wages decline by 6% and the labor share by 5 percentage points in the US, and by 3% and 3 percentage points in Denmark….. We establish that the proximate cause of these (relative) wage effects are changes in rent-sharing practices following the appointment of business managers. Exploiting exogenous export demand shocks, we show that non-business managers share profits with their workers, whereas business managers do not.” Professional Managerial Class.

How ‘Mega Landlords’ Threaten Housing Stability for Renters 

[Invisible People, via Naked Capitalism 6-6-2022]

It’s no secret that “mega landlords”—corporate entities that invest in rental housing—have bought thousands of homes across the country since the pandemic began. But what is less clear is how this buying spree threatens the housing stability of renters.

As housing costs continue to climb, families across the country face intense competition in the housing market from investment firms. This keeps many high-income renters from purchasing their own homes and threatens the stability of low-income renters who cannot afford the slightest rent hike.

“The mega-landlords argue, though, that while the number of houses they own is large, the proportion overall is small—too small, they say, to afford them any market power,” Suzanne Layni Charles, a professor of city and regional planning at Cornell University, wrote in an op-ed for The Hill. “But in neighborhoods, a much different picture emerges.”

The federal government helped mega landlords through the process by selling vacant homes in bulk to businesses that agreed to rent them out for a set number of years. This allowed mega landlords to amass huge portfolios. It also resulted in higher rents for many tenants who still lived in the units.

The impact effectively shut renters out of the housing market at an opportune time to buy a home. The program resulted in landlords spending approximately $36 billion to purchase more than 200,000 homes. In one Atlanta zip code, mega landlords accounted for 90 percent of the total purchases between January 2011 and June 2012.

These mega landlords now own approximately 20 percent of America’s rental stock.

Corporations aren’t greedy enough 

[Unherd, via Naked Capitalism 6-8-2022] 

The most intriguing and potentially alarming trends are visible in the oil market. In December 2019, before Covid, global oil consumption was about 100 million barrels per day, and the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude hovered around $50-$60 per barrel. At that time, the US operating rig count was around 800 (around 2,000 globally), according to Baker Hughes. After the pandemic hit, in 2020, global oil demand fell to about 90 million barrels per day, prices collapsed and briefly went negative, and the US rig count hit a low of around 250. Oil demand recovered about half the lost ground in 2021 and is expected to return to 2019 levels of 100 million barrels per day this year. In December of 2021, WTI spot prices were around $75, rose significantly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and currently sit around $110. Yet the US rig count is still around 700 (of 1,600 globally). The last time oil prices were above $100, before the crash of 2014, the rig count was over 1,800 (3,600 globally).

This trajectory is difficult to square with inflation accounts based on excessive demand. Oil demand has still not exceeded pre-pandemic levels; it is supply that has lagged. Meanwhile, far from being “too greedy”, companies seem to not be greedy enough — at least in the conventional sense of maximising profits. Instead of reinvesting their earnings in drilling new wells, even at profitable oil prices, companies have returned cash to shareholders….

The best explanation is, therefore, the simplest one: shareholders prefer that companies return cash rather than invest, a preference widely discussed among industry participants and observers…. 

…across industries, the trend of shareholders preferring cash returns over investment has been prevalent in recent decades. Corporate share buybacks, which dropped from previous highs during the pandemic, returned to record pace in 2021 and 2022, according to Goldman Sachs.

Shipping Chaos Is the Latest Sign that Capitalism Is Eating Itself 

[Tribune, via The Big Picture 6-5-2022]

Capitalism rests on a network of privately-owned infrastructure, with shipping at its heart – but now the industry is in chaos as the profiteering of rentier corporations sends the world system into meltdown. 

Southern California ports rank dead last on global efficiency index 

[American Shipper, via Naked Capitalism 6-5-2022]

US consumer sentiment “This is a really really really bad number…. Really bad”

[Twitter, via Mike Norman Economics 6-11-2022]



“Why everyone is freaking out about Target’s inventory”

[Freight Waves, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-9-2022]

This is a good aggregation of real economy downturn signs (and not-signs). I’ll pick transportation: “More and more spooky recession signs are cropping up seemingly every day, ranging from cooling housing starts to meek GDP growth, all amid the Fed tightening rates. …. A downturn, if not a full-on recession, is clear in the transportation world. While the rest of the economy debates whether things are that bad, it’s been clear for months to logistics providers that the situation has worsened — and the velocity of that change is still stunning.

The cost to move a container from Asia to a major port in North America or Europe has sunk by 23% since the beginning of this year, according to maritime research firm Drewry. Spot rates have plummeted even faster; marketplace Freightos said rates from China to the West Coast are down 38% month-over-month. FreightWaves forecast this week that ocean shipping volumes will “drop off a cliff” by this summer, based on slumping bookings out of China. Spot van rates in trucking are down 31% since the beginning of this year, with some truck drivers reporting that rising diesel and plummeting rates have already harmed their business. Even our mighty railroads are reporting a 3% year-to-date decline in volumes across the board, with only carloads of coal, chemicals and “stone, sand and gravel” (aka, frac sand) increasing.

The pullback in transports has been quicker and swifter than anyone imagined. In the ocean world, carriers have deployed more vessels than ever before, according to research firm Sea-Intelligence. In March, Sea-Intelligence forecast carriers to increase their capacity following Chinese New Year by 20% over 2019 levels. Asia-East Coast services were forecast to grow an eye-popping 40%. And in trucking, small carriers flooded the market, with more than 10,000 new trucking companies established every month since early 2021. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of trucks available to haul a load is up 10%. Transporters built up record capacity to move loads that are suddenly shrinking.” 

The Halo Effect: Bad Forecasts by Billionaires 

Barry Ritholtz, December 18, 2015 [The Big Picture]

Many people who achieve success in one sphere are emboldened to make broad pronouncements. And listeners, impressed by the obvious business success, tend to believe the forecasts, often to their financial detriment. 

Like capitalism itself, business journalism is broken. Can it be fixed? 

[The Ink, via The Big Picture 6-5-2022]

...David Gelles’s powerful new book, “The Man Who Broke Capitalism,” about Jack Welch and the larger crisis he fomented… The main target of the book’s criticism is clear from the subtitle: “How Jack Welch Gutted the Heartland and Crushed the Soul of Corporate America — and How to Undo His Legacy.” But as you’ll see in my conversation with David below, this is also a project rooted in his own realizations about his own past failures as a business reporter and, frankly, the failures of much (but not all) of the business press at large….

“The coverage I did of the aftermath of the Boeing 737 Max crashes brought this home in a visceral way because I spent time with families who lost their loved ones in those crashes. As one woman said to me, this was corporate manslaughter.

‘I'll never forget those words because this was a company that had been celebrated for years and years. And at the end of the day, I understood what she was saying. At this point, Boeing was a company that had completely lost its ethical compass and had created planes that were flawed and led to the deaths of hundreds of people. That was a seminal moment for me. As much as I was still in the thralls of business and capitalism on its own terms, it was impossible to continue to be after covering that story.”


An era of companies being nice to workers may even feel fantastical to people. Can you describe the business world Jack Welch entered as a young man and tried to upend?

“Many people have described it as the "golden age of capitalism." That may well be overstating it because there was still a lot of inequality and misallocation of opportunity and resources for marginalized communities of all shades and stripes in that period from roughly 1945 to the late '70s. But it's undoubtedly the case that businesses and CEOs operated with a fundamentally different orientation and understanding of their role in society in that era.

“Specifically, the way companies distributed their profits and how they talked about their purpose is virtually a 180-degree change from what we see in big business today. In the 1953 GE annual report, the company proudly ticked off how much money it paid its workers. It was screaming from the rooftops how wonderful it was that it was the largest payroll ever in its history. It talked about how much money it was paying its suppliers and giving them really good rates so they could continue to make profitable goods and services and take good care of their employees.

“GE even proudly talked about how much it paid the government in taxes, making the case that what was good for the company was good for the country and vice versa. I don't need to tell you that that is not the world we live in today, but it did exist.”

Restoring balance to the economy

New study shows welfare prevents crime, quite dramatically 

[Oxford University Press, via Naked Capitalism 6-8-2022]

A new paper in the Quarterly Journal of Economics indicates that removing cash welfare from children when they reach age 18 greatly increases the chances that they will face criminal justice charges in subsequent years….

As part of changes made to US social welfare programs in 1996 the US Social Security Administration began to reevaluate children receiving SSI when they turned 18 using different, adult, medical eligibility criteria. The Social Security Administration began removing about 40% of children receiving benefits when they turned 18. This process disproportionately removes children with mental and behavioral conditions such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Using data from the Social Security Administration and the Criminal Justice Administrative Records System researchers estimated the effect of losing Supplemental Security Income benefits at age 18 on criminal justice and employment outcomes over the next two decades. By comparing records of children with an 18th birthday after the date of welfare reform enactment on August 22, 1996, and those born earlier (who were allowed onto the adult program without review) the researchers were able to estimate the effect of losing benefits on the lives of the affected youth.

They found that terminating the cash welfare benefits of these young adults increased the number of criminal charges by 20% over the next two decades. The increase was concentrated in what the authors call "income-generating crimes," like theft, burglary, fraud/forgery, and prostitution. As a result of the increase in criminal charges, the annual likelihood of incarceration increased by 60%. The effect of this income removal on criminal justice involvement persisted more than two decades later.

Labor’s John L. Lewis Moment

Steven Greenhouse, Harold Meyerson, June 9, 2022 [The American Prospect]

Will today’s unions invest big-time in the young workers now beginning to rebuild American labor? Or will they remain AWOL and ensure the movement’s continued decline?

….IN MANY WAYS, this moment resembles a landmark moment in labor history. It was the mid-1930s, and workers in America’s mass-production industries were flexing their muscles and seeking to unionize. But the leaders of many craft-based unions in the American Federation of Labor had zero interest in helping these workers unionize. They looked down on mass-production workers as less skilled. They were also appalled by these workers’ efforts to organize all of a factory’s thousands of workers into one union, rather than dividing them by craft (and then slotting them into the appropriate craft unions). Most AFL unions turned their backs on this fledgling movement to unionize mass-production industries.

But John L. Lewis, then president of the United Mine Workers, the nation’s richest, most powerful union at the time, reacted very differently. Lewis could see that wall-to-wall unionization was the future, and along with several other union presidents (particularly Sidney Hillman of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers), he threw his weight behind this newfangled strategy.

Defying the AFL, Lewis decided to underwrite this movement of mass-production workers: autoworkers, steelworkers, and machinery workers. He hired more than 500 organizers to go to Detroit and Flint, to Johnstown and Akron, to Pittsburgh and Chicago, to organize the very factory workers his fellow union presidents had chosen to ignore. Thanks to Lewis’s foresight, the United Mine Workers’ very deep pockets, and the courage, solidarity, and organizing ingenuity of many mass-production workers, a modest trickle of unionization turned into a colossal wave. Union density among the nation’s nonagricultural workers nearly tripled, from 12 percent in 1935 to 32 percent in 1947.

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

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 6-6-2022]



[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 6-5-2022] “Union-busting at Planned Parenthood:”



Climate and environmental crises

As the Great Salt Lake Dries Up, Utah Faces An ‘Environmental Nuclear Bomb’ 

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 6-8-2022] 

A 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 can be achieved. Here’s how 

[EurekaLert, via Naked Capitalism 6-9-2022] 

Reducing GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 would put the United States on a path to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the target scientists say is required to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.

The study, published in Science, consolidates findings from six recently published techno-economic models that simulate the U.S. energy system operations in comprehensive detail. According to the authors, the separate models all agree on four major points:

  • The majority of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions come from power generation and transportation, so to reduce overall emissions by 50%, the electricity grid needs to run on 80% clean energy (up from today’s 40%), and the majority of vehicles sold by 2030 need to be electric. Other important sources of GHG emissions reduction include electrification of buildings and industries.
  • The primary barrier to increased alternative energy use will not be cost, it will be enacting new policies. A coordinated policy response between states and the federal government will be necessary to succeed.
  • Thanks to advances in wind, solar, and energy storage technologies, powering the electric grid with renewables will not be more expensive; and electric vehicles could save every household up to $1,000 per year in net benefits.
  • A clean-energy transition would reduce air pollution, prevent up to 200,000 premature deaths, and avoid up to $800 billion in environmental and health costs through 2050. Many of the health benefits will occur in communities of color and frontline communities that are disproportionately exposed to vehicle, power plant, and industrial pollution.

“Our study provides the first detailed roadmap for how the United States can reach its 50% greenhouse gas emissions-reduction target by 2030,” said lead author John Bistline, program manager in the Energy Systems and Climate Analysis Group at the Electric Power Research Institute. “This will require tripling the pace of historic carbon reductions, an ambitious but achievable target if stakeholders collaborate across all sectors. By comparing results across six independent models, we provide greater confidence about the policies and technology deployment needed to achieve near-term climate goals, laying the groundwork for an affordable, reliable, and equitable net-zero future.”


Fact check: Energy costs of wind turbine manufacturing recouped in months

Kate S. Petersen [USA TODAY, Clean Power Roundup 6-8-2022]

Wind power is the largest source of renewable energy in the U.S., and it now accounts for more than 9% of electricity generated in the country, according to the Energy Information Administration.

As this supply of energy has expanded, critics have questioned its use. Recently, social media posts have alleged that wind power is inefficient and unnecessarily expensive.  

"The turbine has to spin continually for 7 plus years just to replace the energy it took to manufacture the turbine," reads part of the caption of an April 16 Facebook post….

However, the post is wrong. Wind turbines recoup the energy required to build them within a year of normal operation, according to researchers. Wind turbines recoup the energy expended to manufacture them within a year of normal operation, according to Eric Lantz, wind analysis manager at National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Japan Is Dropping a Gargantuan Turbine Into The Ocean to Harness ‘Limitless’ Energy 

[Science Alert, via Naked Capitalism 6-11-2022]

Creating new economic potential - science and technology

This tiny handheld precision 3D scanner is the ultimate reverse-engineering instrument 

[Yanko Design, via Naked Capitalism 6-7-2022]

Democrats’ political suicide

“Democrats Need a Vision. Fast.”

[New York Magazine, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-10-2022]

“In recent comments to Politico, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont cut to the heart of the matter. ‘You really can’t win an election with a bumper sticker that says: ‘Well, we can’t do much, but the other side is worse,” he said, suggesting that the party make an affirmative case for holding on to power, ‘a Newt Gingrich–style ‘Contract with America,’’ as Politico put it. The democratic socialist raises a strong argument. It’s not enough for Democrats to portray the GOP as a threat to democracy, even though this is certainly a true statement. They need to explain what exactly they’ll do with the power they want if they stand any hope of not being wiped out in the midterm elections. That case has not been forthcoming. It has not always been clear what Democrats stand for exactly. The party’s big-tent ethos prevents it from staking out a coherent identity. Its neoliberal commitments strand it in a morass of means-testing and personal responsibility and incremental achievements. Party moderates contribute to the problem, as Sanders pointed out…. A savvy political class would address voters where they are and offer something positive in return for power.” 

Lambert StretherL “I agree with Sanders, but it’s much, much too late. To make any difference for 2022 or 2024, a new “Contract with America” would have to be accompanied by a blood sacrifice of the existing Party leadership. Na ga happen.”

Biden’s New Favorite Industrial-Policy Tool Isn’t Funded

Lee Harris, June 9, 2022 [The American Prospect]

President Biden is leaning heavily on the Defense Production Act, a provision to boost supplies for national defense with its roots in the War Powers Acts of World War II…. 

As fuel prices rose earlier this year, the White House announced it would use the DPA to ramp up production of minerals for car batteries. In response to a national shortage of infant formula, Biden invoked the DPA and instructed producers of baby food inputs to prioritize key ingredients. The president even called on the measure to send hoses to the U.S. Forest Service to fight wildfires.

This week, amid an ongoing trade dispute over solar energy manufacturing, Biden invoked the DPA to kick-start domestic manufacturing of green technology, including solar panel parts, heat pumps, and fuel cells. He also moved to speed up solar installations that have been stalled by a Commerce Department probe, announcing a two-year waiver of new tariffs on modules from four countries in Southeast Asia….

THE PENTAGON IS THE TOP USER of the DPA, which it routinely invokes to expedite sourcing of critical industrial items, issuing around 300,000 priority orders each year for procurement. In a recent Industrial Capabilities Report, the DOD praised Biden for requesting more DPA funding and detailed its plans to use the tool to ramp up production of everything from radiation-hardened electronics to rare earth elements….

Around $434 million is available in the DPA fund right now, according to Bloomberg. The government has been authorized to spend a further $111 million, and a Department of Energy press release refers to congressional appropriations. But those could be difficult to secure.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) has pushed to increase DPA funds since 2020, when he argued with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for $75 billion in funding for medical supplies to fight the COVID pandemic. In an interview, he told the Prospect the DPA is still not funded at anywhere near an adequate level.

Conservative / Libertarian Drive to Civil War

Kenneth Chesebro memo ruled by judge as “likely part of a criminal effort to overturn the election”

Heather Cox Richardson [Letters from an American], via The Big Picture 6-5-2022]

We have reached a place where Republican leaders no longer believe in the principle the nation’s Founders articulated in the Declaration of Independence, that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” 

The Staggering Hypocrisy of Officials Who Are Blaming Mental Illness for Mass Shootings.

[Slate, via The Big Picture 6-5-2022]

The problem with this is that it’s just wrong. The evidence does not suggest that mental illness causes gun violence. Full stop. And paradoxically enough, it’s these same elected officials who have also chosen to not do anything to help mental health even as they point their finger at it as the problem. 

“‘It’s going to be an army’: Tapes reveal GOP plan to contest elections”

[Politico, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 6-8-2022]

Video recordings of Republican Party operatives meeting with grassroots activists provide an inside look at a multi-pronged strategy to target and potentially overturn votes in Democratic precincts: Install trained recruits as regular poll workers and put them in direct contact with party attorneys. The plan, as outlined by a Republican National Committee staffer in Michigan, includes utilizing rules designed to provide political balance among poll workers to install party-trained volunteers prepared to challenge voters at Democratic-majority polling places, developing a website to connect those workers to local lawyers and establishing a network of party-friendly district attorneys who could intervene to block vote counts at certain precincts. ‘Being a poll worker, you just have so many more rights and things you can do to stop something than [as] a poll challenger,’ said Matthew Seifried, the RNC’s election integrity director for Michigan, stressing the importance of obtaining official designations as poll workers in a meeting with GOP activists in Wayne County last Nov. 6. It is one of a series of recordings of GOP meetings between summer of 2021 and May of this year obtained by POLITICO. Backing up those front-line workers, ‘it’s going to be an army,’ Seifried promised at an Oct. 5 training session. ‘We’re going to have more lawyers than we’ve ever recruited, because let’s be honest, that’s where it’s going to be fought, right?'”

No comments:

Post a Comment