Showing posts from May 1, 2015

Happiness and Freedom: East German Version

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[You know things are bad when we are starting to look, seriously, like the punch line of a Russian joke, circa 1990. "Triumphalism of the 'we've won, so we don’t have to treat the population well' variety may well yet bite capitalists, and all of us, hard." *RON*]
by Ian Welsh,, 30 April 2015

Many East Germans remember East Germany favorably:
Today, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 57 percent, or an absolute majority, of eastern Germans defend the former East Germany. “The GDR had more good sides than bad sides. There were some problems, but life was good there,” say 49 percent of those polled. The state with the Berlin Wall, which people died to get across, is remembered fondly?

Some of this, as the article points out, is nostalgia. Some of it is from people who were children or not even alive when East Germany fell.

But I’m not surprised, because the happiness and life satisfaction data for East Germa…

There is a name for this

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[I'm a big believer in Game Theory interpretations of the evolution of moral behaviour, and therefore, of the concept of altruistic punishment. See, for example, Matt Ridley's The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation. *RON*]

Steve Randy Waldman, Interfluidity, 30 April 2015

I’m reading a lot of crap about riots in my hometown. Fuck you all and your firehose of useless, self-serving, careerist punditry, your giant spotlight that cares not a whit about all the things it pretends to illuminate but will blather with equal earnestness and concern about the next thing tomorrow just like it did about the last thing yesterday and hope to get paid or praised for it all. Fuck me for adding to the noise, I barely have the stomach for it anymore.

I don’t live in Baltimore now. I’m writing this from Silicon Valley. Does that even count as being alive? I feel like I’ve been uploaded into the singularity already. I never fel…

Energy earnings run dry in Americas

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[Mister Market, who always says he's Happy! Happy! Happy! has a sad day. *RON*]

Ed Crooks, Christopher Adams & David Crouch, Financial Times, 30 April 2015

The slump in oil and natural gas prices since last summer has driven the American production operations of the world’s largest oil companies into losses.

ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips of the US on Thursday reported that they lost money on oil and gas production in their home country in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shelldisclosed a $1.1bn loss at its upstream exploration and production business in the Americas, and suggested that came mostly from its shale oil and gas operations.

Statoil takes $4bn writedown on US assets
Low oil price weighs on Exxon and Conoco
Lex Royal Dutch Shell — the ugly American
Shell’s first-quarter profits plunge 56%
US energy fades despite European M&A
US loss suppresses Chevron earnings
Gazprom predicts export gas prices will fall

When Will Apple Stop Screwing the US Economy?

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[An interesting piece, but written from a naive perspective. The author seems to think the problem is that Apple is a "bad" (=insufficiently pro-American) corporation, whereas it is, in fact, behaving precisely as corporations are designed to, i.e., it is an especially "good" corporation from that perspective. *RON*]
By Andrew Zatlin, MoneyBall Economics, 28 April 2015

Ty Cobb was a famous baseball player. Infamous, really. He set 90 Major League baseball records, some of which continue today. He was skillful but also mean; he had a reputation for playing dirty. Cobb was known for spiking other players: sharpening his cleats and sliding into them. Nobody much liked playing against him.

Apple is the Ty Cobb of corporate America. Like Cobb, Apple has set some impressive records. Nine years, a trillion dollars in sales, and almost no taxes paid. Apple risks having a legacy of tainted success and isolation.

The Apple Way

There’s a st…

Rise of progressive policies signals Democrats' embrace of Bernie Sanders' ideals

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[This, at least, will be a way for progressives to test the waters by clearly and publicly stating the view that Hillary Clinton is not truly a democrat, and that true Democrats such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren exist and are worth supporting. See also the piece by New Yorker humourist Andy Borowitz, Hilary Expected to Adopt All of Sanders' Positions by Noon. Also WaPo's, Why Bernie Sanders’s strategic gambit may not be as unreasonable as it seems*RON*]

Dan Roberts, The Guardian, 30 April 2015

Nothing highlights Washington’s sceptical view of the political left like the arrival of Bernie Sanders into the presidential race.

The independent senator from Vermont is typically dismissed as a “self-described socialist” by those who doubt America’s appetite for policies seen as mainstream in much of the world but long-regarded as almost unmentionable in the land of the free.

Roubini: Baltimore riots are a symptom of income inequality

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["I contend that the cry of 'Black Power' is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we've got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years." — Martin Luther King, Jr., 60 Minutes Interview, 1966. It beggars belief that the Baltimore police are trying to claim that Freddie broke his own back (see the just-published Freddie Gray death: murder charge announced against police officer). See also the extremely tongue-in-cheek Great Moments in Peaceful Protest History*RON*]

Posted at Gant Daily on 30 April 2015 by CNN in Business News

The riots in Baltimore this week may have been triggered by the death of Freddie Gray, but their roots are found in the widening gap b…

Ireland Outlines Post-Austerity Economic Plan

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[“We will be in a position to implement another expansionary budget this year and every year out to 2020.” Their five-year plan includes tax cuts, spending increases and possible public-sector raises. Oh Mister Harper? Where are you? By the way, in case you didn't know, 'consolidation' is new doublespeak for budget cuts. *RON*]
By Paul Hannon, Wall Street Journal, 28 April 2015
Ireland’s government Tuesday set out its program for life after austerity in the form of a five-year plan that will see some tax cuts, as well as increases in spending that may include pay raises for public-sector workers.

In October, the government declared an end to seven years of austerity, outlining small cuts to income taxes and some increases in spending in its budget for 2015. Delivering his spring statement to lawmakers, Minister of Finance Michael Noonan promised more of the same in succeeding years.

“We will be in a position to implement another expansi…

NEB Grants Costco Late Request in Trans Mountain Review, Denied EPA Extension

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[When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requested an application extension to intervene in the Kinder Morgan review, they were denied and relegated to commenter status. Your favourite retailer of jumbo-sized junk foods? Oh yea, they missed the deadline but were still granted intervenor status. Because democracy. British Columbians have lost confidence in Ottawa’s pipeline approval process. It’s time for our province to reclaim the powers it signed away to the National Energy Board. It’s time to assert our jurisdiction over crude oil transport through B.C. Sign the petition here.]

By Emma Gilchrist, DeSmog Blog, 30 April 2015

The National Energy Board’s decision to grant Costco intervener status in its review of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline even though it had missed the deadline to apply is raising questions given that the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was denied its request for an extensionto the same deadline.