Showing posts from April 2, 2014

There’s a Class War Going On and the Poor Are Getting Their Butts Kicked

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[In Time Magazine no less. *RON*]

Michael Schuman@MichaelSchuman, Time Magazine, April 1, 2014

Although they say they're concerned about inequality, economic policymakers continue to pummel low-income families and the jobless, and that’s bad for all of us
A year ago I asked if Karl Marx was, in certain respects, right about capitalism, and argued that class struggle was making a comeback.

Unrestrained Oil and Gas Is the Future, Exxon Mobil Argues

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["Here's the shorter version of Exxon's announcement. 'We are happy to overheat the planet and we dare anyone to stop us.'" Bill McKibben. *RON*]

Apr 2, 2014 |By Daniel Cusick and ClimateWire, Reprinted at Scientific American, April 2, 2014
In an unprecedented disclosure, Exxon Mobil Corp. told investors this week that it believes climate change poses a risk to its bottom line, but the firm made no gestures toward a future without oil and gas.

Rather, the world's largest oil company maintained that all sources of energy, including fossil fuels, will be necessary to meet the future global demand and that the best path toward managing greenhouse gas emissions is through technology advancement and adoption of energy efficiency programs.

Moreover, Exxon Mobil expressed confidence that its oil and gas assets were unlikely to become stranded even under much tighter regulation of carbon emissions because the fossil fuels wo…

Supreme Court Strikes Down Aggregate Limits on Federal Campaign Contributions

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[One-percent-tocracy. The Supreme Court sells off what was left of democracy following the debacle of Citizens United. See also: The Supreme Court Just Gutted Another Campaign Finance Law. Here’s What Happened, and In 'Blow to Democracy,' SCOTUS Strikes Down Campaign Contribution Limits*RON*]

By Adam Liptak, New York Times, April 2, 2014

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a major campaign finance decision, striking down limits on federal campaign contributions for the first time. The ruling, issued near the start of a campaign season, will change and most likely increase the role money plays in American politics.

The decision, by a 5-to-4 vote along ideological lines, was sort of a sequel to Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions. But that ruling did nothing to disturb the other main form of campaign finance regulation: caps on direct contri…

Bundled Cable Channels Are Here to Stay — And That’s a Good Thing

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[This article is a major piece of baffle-gab! The ESPN example is interesting - check it out. What it says is that 95% of cable subscribers pay the vast majority of costs for the 5% of subscribers who actually watch ESPN. How is it a bad thing that lovers of ESPN would be forced to pay the total cost for their personal entertainment choice if it was unbundled? And how would it be a bad thing if a company went under as a result of unbundling because it was selling a product that no one wanted to buy unless forced to at gunpoint? Now multiply that times a thousand channels that no one wants to pay for... *RON*]

By Jonathan Wilner, Wired, 04.02.14

These days, barely a week passes in the U.S. entertainment industry without litigation, legislation, or argumentation over bundling–the practice of offering a “package” of channels instead of the option to buy a la carte. I, for one, say enough with bundle bashing. Bundling is hardly unique to the enterta…

Putin’s World

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[His basic argument is that Putin is ahead, strategically, because while no one knows what Russia is willing to do, everyone knows the line that Obama is not willing to cross. He also argues that Putin's goal is to turn Ukraine into a new Bosnia. *RON*]

 Ivan Krastev, Project Syndicate, April 1, 2014

VIENNA – The West is now living in Putin’s world. It is there not because Putin is right, or even because he is stronger, but because he is taking the initiative. Putin is “wild” while the West is “wary.” While European and American leaders recognize that the world order is undergoing a dramatic change, they cannot quite grasp it. They remain overwhelmed by Putin’s transformation from CEO of Russia, Inc., into an ideology-fueled national leader who will stop at nothing to restore his country’s influence.

International politics may be founded on treaties, but it functions on the basis of rational expectations. If those expectations turn out to be …

United States: Ban Landmines, Don’t Just Clear Them

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[In a manner analogous to Big Banks, where no one goes to jail for malfeasance but large fines become part of the cost of business that is passed on for consumers to bear, the Military Industrial Complex continues reaping profits from land mines, which the government then spends billions of tax payer dollars on cleaning up. China and Russia are not signatories to this treaty, along with the United States, although 161 other nations have signed on. *RON*]
Conclude Years-Long Review and Join Mine Ban Treaty
Human Rights Warch, April 2, 2014

(Washington, DC) – The Obama administration should conclude its years-long review of US policy on antipersonnel landmines with a decision to ban the weapon and join the international ban treaty, Human Rights Watch said today, on the eve of the International Day for Mine Action.

“It is nonsensical that the US has spent billions of dollars to clean up the mess caused by landmines, but insists on the right to use the…

In Fracking Fight, a Worry About How Best to Measure Health Threats

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["People have been told things like 'stop calling' and 'if you’re air is bad, then maybe you shouldn’t go outside.'" The upshot of this article is that brief periodic outpourings of harmful materials into the air: a) will typically not be accepted as valid complaints by the EPA, and if accepted for investigation, b) will typically not be found to be a problem. *RON*]
In Pennsylvania, opponents of gas drilling say regulators are slow and unprepared in responding to air quality complaints.

by Naveena Sadasivam, ProPublica, April 1, 2014
There are more than 6,000 active gas wells in Pennsylvania. And every week, those drilling sites generate scores of complaints from the state’s residents, including many about terrible odors and contaminated water.

How the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection handles those complaints has worsened the already raw and angry divide between fearful residents and the state regulator…

The capex call

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[An interesting Financial Times piece. It is good in providing a cogent analysis of the many reasons why corporations might be expected to invest more in their businesses, rather than simply sitting on huge cash reserves as they have been. It is naive in not realizing that corporations have been content to borrow cheaply, use the money to buy back their stocks, driving up their market value, providing shareholders with nice dividends, and rewarding CEOs with enormous bonuses, all while not actually doing anything for the economy. *RON*]
Cardiff Garcia , Financial Times Alphaville, Mar 28, 2014

Like other parts of the US economic recovery — housing, the labour market — capital expenditures by companies have been a letdown recently, even accounting for the weather.

The latest example came in Wednesday’s durable goods report, in which the “nondefense capital goods orders excluding aircraft” component fell. (That figure is a proxy and obviously doesn…

Bill Black: Deflation Dementia

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[Good overview of the problems with Supply Side economics and austerity. *RON*]
Posted on April 2, 2014 by Yves Smith

Yves here. This piece by Bill Black not only does a great job of kneecapping some typically poor MSM reporting, but it’s also valuable as a high-level overview of the insanity of European economic policies.

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Originally published at New Economic Perspectives

There must be some café in Brussels where all the most inept U.S. financial journalists meet with to get their take on eurozone deflation. Regular readers know that I am a strong critic of much of what passes for financial journalism, but there are special qualities to the U.S. coverage of the topic of eurozone deflation. It is so homogenous and its logic is so internally inconsistent that it is breathtaking that so ma…