Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Javan Rhinos with Calves in Indonesia

Especially important because they have never bred successfully in captivity.

1'Hope as rare rhino calves filmed in Indonesia' - AFP

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Myth of Asia's Miracle

Krugman's article from 1994 is still timely and interesting. It was written during the era of the 'Rising Sun' and Japan buying up Hawaii and Rockefeller plaza. He notes the slowing growth of Japan, and accurately predicts that they would not be able to match the US in terms of per capita or real GDP. Though in my mind, the latter at least has more to do with their diminishing population and inability to absorb immigrants.

But I think the article's basic premise is wrong. The Asian miracle was and is real, and has little to do with the Soviet Union one way or another. The late 90's financial crisis, which in some ways was about problems with inputs/outputs was a blip in the scheme of the historical trajectory and actually in the end much more damaging - a last gasp - for the Western monopoly on power.

1'The Myth of Asia's Miracle - Foreign Affairs, Krugman

You're Kids Aren't Sweet

Good luck finding those wonderful teachers at bottom barrel prices once the ranks are purged of idealists, inevitable given the relentless attacks.

If narcissism is a dominant cultural trait, then it certainly can be found in concentrated form in our schools.

IMF Tightens the Screws on Pakistan

This is ridiculous. Pakistan should just get some money from China or any number of other places and tell the IMF to get screwed. They should also expel all US military and covert personnel, some of whom may be playing a type of double game in the North West territories.

Pakistan has failed to get any indications from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the release of the final tranche of an $11.3 billion loan package, it was reported here Tuesday.

A Pakistani delegation to the IMF-World Bank spring meetings in the US is returning without any understanding on the release of the final instalment, the Dawn reported.

1 - Economic Times

According to the Express Tribune, “Officials said that the next loan programme, if approved by the IMF, is likely to revolve around the conditions of restructuring the public sector enterprises that includes shedding the workforce—a condition that may put the PPP-led coalition government in an awkward situation ahead of the general elections scheduled for 2013.”

2- World Socialist Web Site

The same recipe as usual: implement regressive taxes, end subsidies, fire workers, drive down wages, and open up the country for looting (although yes, Pakistan is looted plenty already by domestic capitalists).

Monday, April 25, 2011

Krugman as the Left (per New York Magazine)

Krugman is not a Leftist in any sense, he is a centrist Dem by historical standards who hasn't changed his basic political orientation as the country has swung right. Much as how former Justice Stevens became a 'liberal' after being appointed by Ford and the sitting through three decades of reaction. But back to Krugman, remember he supported NAFTA when the House almost rejected it.

Keynes also was a conservative by the standards of his time, or at least in relation to the powerful Communist, Anarchist and Socialist currents that then existed. He essentially was trying to save the system from itself.

1'What’s Left of the Left' - New York

Trump and America

We deserve each other.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Autism and Vaccinations

I have a cousin in a developing country with autism, who never got vaccination shots as a kid. Also a friend's kid in the same country has measles encephalitis because he never got a shot.

Measles is a horrible disease, and people who propagate against vaccinations are forgetful of the damage it still causes.

The root cause of autism increases is probably overall environmental degradation, the same reason frogs and bees are disappearing.

1'The Crash and Burn of an Autism Guru' - NYT


It seems to be getting worse by the day. The state cuts mean it will run off to the private sector for money, the result being more tilt in its reporting. It will probably end up as a CNN with sophisticated sounding accents.

The Stupidity of Our Meritocracy

David Brooks on Mormonism.

(Yglesias)David Brooks has an insightful column on “The Book Of Mormon” making the point that stringent, arbitrary, rigorous religious doctrines that liberals find distasteful tend to be both more socially successful and also associated with individuals doing better. What I’m less certain about is the posited causal relationship here:

(Brooks)---Rigorous codes of conduct allow people to build their character. Changes in behavior change the mind, so small acts of ritual reinforce networks in the brain. A Mormon denying herself coffee may seem like a silly thing, but regular acts of discipline can lay the foundation for extraordinary acts of self-control when it counts the most.---

(Yglesias) But is Mormonism giving people self-control here, or are people with a lot of self-control becoming Mormons ?

Love it when people use big words and complex reasoning based on a moronic pretext.

It's been shown many times that atheists have higher IQ's than the members of any organized religion, why doesn't David Brooks write a column about that ?

It's also a fact that non-Christians, non-believers, and atheists have much higher academic achievement in the U.S. than Christians.

For once it would be nice to have a column pondering the problems with Christian 'achievement' rather than the immorality of everyone else.

(And no, I don't take IQ as a pre born determination, but Brooks probably does, while Yglesias probably posits and waffles.)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

China as the New Hegemon

Among sections of the global ruling class there at times can be heard the desire for China to 'smoothly' replace the U.S. as global hegemon and arbiter, as the US replaced Great Britain. If, to mean smooth, one overlooks the World Wars it took to cripple Great Britain as an imperial power.

The root of this motivation comes from the understanding that a world of feuding capitalist nation states is dangerous and leads almost inevitably to war. As is the understanding that a world ruled cooperatively by a global elite is unworkable given the close connection capitalism has with the rise of the nation state. A global government would probably not be capitalistic.

And so we can expect to see a Financial Times to write:

"If China does become the world’s biggest manufacturer, it will be a return to the top slot for a nation which – according to economic historians – was the world’s leading country for goods production for more than 1,500 years up until the 1850s, when Britain took over for a brief spell, mainly due to the impetus of the industrial revolution."

Yet the China of today looks less confident then a few years ago, more defensive and repressive, tossing relatively politically weak dissenters in prison by the boatload. And China historically has been very big and mostly poor on a per capita basis. The ability to project power requires a certain amount of internal stability and per capita wealth.

There is another option. That 2017 will be more like 1917, with weak ruling classes everywhere, a breakdown in the international order, and openings for revolution.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Dispersion of Economic Power within the U.S.

This can be reflected in the number of Fortune Global 500 companies that exist in the top city/the total number of Fortune Global 500 companies within the country.

The United States has 139 of the Fortune Global 500 companies
And New York City has the largest amount within the U.S, with 19 - or 13.6 %

Compare this with China , who has 46 Fortune Global 500 companies, 30 of which are headquartered in Beijing - 65.2 %

or Japan, who has 71, with 46 headquartered in Tokyo - 64.8 %

or France, who has 39, with 25 headquartered in Paris - 64.1 %

or the United Kingdom, who has 29, with 18 headquartered in London - 62.1%

(but Germany is different, with 37, 6 in Munich - 16.2 %)

All of this is a long way of saying the U.S. is a very decentralized country when it comes to economic and therefore political power. It of course was designed this way by the Founders, primarily to prevent a Casear style popular dictatorship from usurping the ruling class. They knew their Roman history.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What the Reagan Revolution Was About

At its core, it was about making selfishness cool.

The anti-intellectualism, hostility to Blacks, brutalization of unions, and slashing of taxes for the .1 % all emanate from this core value.


On another thought, of course the Reagan Revolution was about rolling back working class resistance; the promotion of selfishness as a virtue is part and parcel with the political ideology.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

History May Not Repeat but it Rhymes

"Thanks to her colonies, Great Britain has increased the length of 'her' railways by 100,000 kilometers, four times as much as Germany. And yet it is well known the productive forces in Germany, and especially the development of the coal and iron industries , has been much more rapid during this period than in England, not to mention France and Russia. In 1892, Germany produced 4.9 million tons of pig iron and Great Britain produced 8.8 million tons. In 1912 Germany produced 17.6 million tons and Great Britain 9.0 million tons. Germany, therefore, had an overwhelming superiority over England in this respect.

We ask, is there under capitalism any means of removing this disparity between the development of productive forces and the accumulation of capital on the one side, and the division of colonies and 'spheres of influence' for finance capital on the other side - other than be resorting to war ?"

Lenin - 1916

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Do Economists Understand Capitalism at All ?

or History ?

One wonders.

Economics does not exist outside of power and outside of politics.

So we are supposed to believe that the emergence of China is a 'win-win' , just as the emergence of Germany was a 'win-win' for the British and French ruling class.


Power is finite, it is not a pie that expands. And power struggles between ruling class factions and nation states are essential features of capitalism, organic outgrowths of a system based upon a competitive struggle for markets.

Only a fool cannot see what is coming; there will be a winner and there will be a loser.

Will Gates Congratulate Tantawi Again ?

I thought killing civilians was some red line the U.S. military gave instructions not to cross.

The Egyptian Army is disintegrating,

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Reason There is Poverty

Is because too many jobs don't pay a living wage.

We can't all be lawyers, and if we were - well, a society needs tradespeople and custodians regardless.

It's why I remain unconvinced by the 'education is the answer' folks. What works for one person doesn't work for the whole. Focusing on the individual is a way to avoid dealing with macro policy issues that require planning, execution, and work.

But looting is so much easier and fun.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Martin Wolf on Federal Default

From almost a year ago:

According to my friend, Bruce Bartlett, a highly informed, if jaundiced, observer, some “conservatives” (in truth, extreme radicals) think a federal default would be an effective way to bring public spending they detest under control. It should be noted, in passing, that a federal default would surely create the biggest financial crisis in world economic history.

Will they blink ?

1'The political genius of supply-side economics- ' Financial Times

Liberal Meritocrats Whining About the Republicans

The Republican Party is part and parcel of the system the liberals support. You can't erase them and pretend like everything would be OK if they didn't exist, if they didn't exist it would only be under a different economic and social system. You can't support 'free trade' and not expect a hard Right turn as unions are gutted. You can't rant about accountability in the school system and not expect hard Right thinking to gain sway. Sorry liberals, the Republican Party is your baby and part of your system.

The Collapse of an Empire

It seems to happen much faster in the modern era. But the U.S. elite really can't get it together, reeling from one catastrophe to another. Debtor states shouldn't be messing around or even whispering about defaults as a consequence of government shutdowns.