Monday, July 16, 2012

Shady Lane

I would like to see every single soldier on every single side, just take off your helmet, unbuckle your kit, lay down your rifle, and set down at the side of some shady lane, and say, nope, I aint a gonna kill nobody. Plenty of rich folks wants to fight. Give them the guns.

Woody Guthrie, who would have turned 100 last Thursday

This week everybody was talking about ... Romney's finances, Penn State, and the LIBOR scandal


The Romney thing is complicated enough to need its own article, but the Penn State buzz is simple: Penn State hired former FBI director Louis Freeh to investigate the Jerry Sandusky pedophile scandal, and his scathing report came out this week. He found
total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims.

Those senior leaders include the late Joe Paterno.

LIBOR deserves its own article, but I don't have a good handle on it yet. Basically, bankers at Barclay's have been accused of manipulating the most important interest rate in the world, but they're just the first ones to get caught. Bloomberg says this could be
one of the most costly and consequential [scandals] in the history of banking

and holds out the prospect that this time bankers could go to jail. If things proceed as usual, though, a period of public breast-beating will be followed by calls for amnesty to put this all behind us.

... and nobody was talking about the anti-austerity demonstrations in Spain



Spain is in an austerity spiral: The economy suffers from lack of demand, which caused a recession. The recession caused a budget deficit by increasing unemployment and decreasing revenue. To close the deficit, the government cut spending and raised taxes, which shrunk demand further. To the government's surprise, that didn't close the deficit, so a new austerity package is needed. They go around this vicious circle again and again. Spain has seen four austerity packages in seven months.



The picture is from Tuesday, when a multi-day march of coal miners reached the capital, where the miners were joined by thousands of other protesters.

American mainstream media refuses to take European populism seriously, having totally bought the German bankers' view that austerity is inevitable and the people will just have to get used to it. If that's how you look at the situation, demonstrations are just big temper tantrums unworthy of notice. If, on the other hand, you think Iceland-style debt repudiation is a serious option, then Spain is having a real debate you should pay attention to.

... but I decided to write about anarchy and shaving.

  • When Centralized Institutions Fail, Is Anarchy an Answer? Following up on themes from last week's review of Twilight of the Elites, I look at Carne Ross' The Leaderless Revolution.
  • What Shaving Taught Me About Capitalism. Forty years ago, the shaving problem was more-or-less solved, but the patents were expiring and nobody was going to get rich any more. So now we have "improved" razors that are no better, but ten times as expensive. How come that never comes up when we talk about unleashing the magic of the free market?

Meanwhile, you might also find this interesting


Maybe I was wrong in thinking that ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion was too good an offer for the states to refuse. It seems that red states like Texas would rather renounce federal funding and cripple their hospitals than take care of sick poor people.

FDR is still relevant today.

The next time somebody tells you they're going to solve the healthcare problem by limiting malpractice lawsuits, explain to them that Texas already did. It doesn't work.

If Amazon starts delivering the same day, can any local retailer survive?

I don't know why I'm picking on Texas this week. That's just the stuff I happened to run across. Here, Paul Begala reads the crazy stuff in the Texas Republican platform.

Let's end on a bizarre note, with a clam licking salt off a table.

1 comment:

Miles Stirewalt said...

Mr. Muder, I am a long time follower and admirer of your "wordsmithery" First I want to say thank you for your hard work. Second, this latest format for the "sift" is really good, especially the transition, this is what was happening, and here's what I decided to write about.

I recommend your writing to all of my friends all across the political spectrum, keep up the good work!