Showing posts from June 24, 2017

Today's Trumpery


Why Is Syria Hell on Earth? Here’s the Ugly but True Answer…

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[Good historical context. *RON*]
Zaron Burnett III, Medium, 19 June 2017

The son of the president was driving way too fast through the early morning fog. He was rushing to the airport to catch a flight to Germany. He missed the exit to the airport. Lost control of his sports car. Smashed it into a barrier. The car flipped numerous times. When it came to a stop, the son of the president was dead. He was 33. His name was Basil al-Assad.

The first son was so beloved by his father that the president was fond of being called Abu Basil, which translates as “Father of Basil.” As heir apparent to his father, Basil’s sudden violent death was a shock to the family, and a stunning blow to the future of the nation and its people. The second son was never intended to be a leader. He was off in London, training to be an eye doctor. But following the death of Abu Basil’s first son, Fate left the younger brother as de facto next-in-line to become president of Sy…

Consultants are taking taxpayers to the cleaners

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[They're right in referring to consultants as the 'phantom public service.' This has been going on since the 1990s. Like the revolving door between Wall Street and the White House, this typically involves cutting people's jobs then bringing them back on contract at a large multiple of their previous salary. Having grossly wasted your tax dollars, the managers then piously report to their superiors on how much more efficient their reduced workforce is. *RON*]

Leith van Onselen, Unconventional Economist / Macrobusiness,com, 22 June 2017

Back in September, Michael West reported how the Big Four accounting firms have taken corporate welfare to an extraordinary level, earning up at least $2.6 billion in fees from the Australian government over the past ten years at the same time as they advise multinationals on how to avoid paying tax.

It was a theme also picked up over at Fairfax, which revealed that while the Abbott Government was busy…

RBC to axe 450 jobs while its shareholders are rolling in profits

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["in Q2 2017, the Royal Bank netted $2.8 billion. This is up 9 per cent from Q2 results in 2016." This is the same bank that used its laid-off workers to train their own Temporary Foreign Worker replacements. If this is your bank, change. *RON*]
Nora Loreto,, 22 June 2017

Is there a rule somewhere that says that journalists writing about bank profits or bank workers cannot mention the two together?

Quarter after quarter, and year after year, the same paint-by-numbers articles are written about Canada's largest banks. The story goes like this: the writer starts detailing record profits, moves to an explanation of how there is "turbulence," "strong headwinds" or "bumpy roads" ahead, a comment or two is thrown in from industry analysts to support the official line of the bank, and voilà! The tidy piece of propaganda has been published.

Rarely, do workers figure into the equation. It's as if $3…

Bill Cosby, Fresh From Trial, Plans Talks on Avoiding Assault Accusations

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[Several versions of this story had to appear in my feed before I realized it wasn't just a bad joke. *RON*]

Graham Bowley & Sophie Haigney, New York Times, 22 June 2017

Bill Cosby is planning a series of town hall meetings this summer to educate people, including young athletes and married men, on how to avoid accusations of sexual assault, two of his representatives said Wednesday.

The announcement came just days after Mr. Cosby’s trial on sexual assault charges ended in a hung jury and while he is still battling civil suits from other women who say he assaulted them too.

“This issue is bigger than Bill Cosby,” his representative Andrew Wyatt said on “Good Day Alabama,” a show on WBRC Fox 6 in Birmingham.

“This issue can affect any young person — especially young athletes of today,” he continued, “and they need to know what they are facing when they are hanging out and partying, when they are doing certain things they shouldn’t be doing.” …

How Effective is Economic Theory?

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[Not bad for an "adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute" I think we were better off when we thought of economics as philosophy. Physicists generally expect to see clearly whether or not Newton’s theories are working. Economists, by contrast, do not know for certain when their canonical theories are working, since the real world produces infinitely more variables than any economic theory can pretend to capture. Economic theories are not effective theories. "There is really no avoiding some movement in the direction of understanding economics as an interpretive discipline, a little like history." And, with a somewhat alternate view: Is Economics A Science? *RON*]

Arnold Kling, National Affairs, No. 32, Spring 2017

In 1980, following a decade of high inflation and unemployment — a combination that economists had previously thought to be impossible over extended periods — The Public Interest ran a special issue titled "The …