Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

13 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. It looks as if Trump’s approval rating has at long last started to slide. 538 has his approval rating today at 38.7%, below his longstanding floor around 40%. It matters a lot whether this decline continues, as his power over GOP politicians depends on fear of the Trump base.

  2. Trump is at least in Haider/ Le Pen / Salvini / Blocher Territory. Oh well, lets just scrap the at least, he is worse. For example Salvini distanced himself recently from Trump and manges to wear a mask. Somehow Trump still manages to poll better than those at their best time.

  3. Public briadband, bank and power please. And a public space /s.

    Our broadband was nobbld by our gov, and featured copper slung not in trees, but in pits. Oh, adsl – telegraph poles.

    … by Cory Doctrow with good history.

    “Fighting fiber was the right’s dumbest self-own 

    “The biggest difference between a world where we are locked indoors and connect to one another via the internet and the world we left behind is that there are no public spaces on the internet.

    “That’s why Frontier decided to walk away from the $800,000,000 in profits it would realize on a ten-year investment in fiber for three million households who currently make do with Frontier’s failing copper network, which often consists of wires draped over trees.

    “Luckily (for monopolists), there’s a cheaper solution: buy off state legislatures so they pass laws banning municipal broadband.

    “These laws were promulgated to GOP-dominated statehouses across the country, passed by right wing lawmakers who told their constituents they were “keeping government out of the internet.”

    “This is a line that their footsoldiers dutifully parroted during the Obama years, then signed up to Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s order that reversed a late-term-Obama FCC order banning state laws that interfered with municipal fiber projects.”…

  4. Oddly I am not usually a glass-half-full type, but, I’ll take the 38.7% and be glad. It could be worse! And, some of those people could be approving just the non-hating parts of the current president’s agenda (there were a couple). Here’s hoping.

    Gosh it is so great that this week did finally arrive!!!!

  5. Ala The Economist, – wouldn’t he seen with it – what is the enlightened economists view of The Financial Times?

    “The FT is saying today that ‘austerity does not work, long live austerity!’

    “What then is this unchanged thing that does not alter when the facts do? Could it just be the anti-democratic dogma of neoliberalism, which even if does not accord with the facts, or explain them, or indicate a route out of our malaise must, nonetheless, be believed because the interests of the wealthy require its perpetuation? It would seem so.

    “It’s as if the FT was saying ‘austerity does not work, long live austerity!’

    “Actually, that is exactly what they are saying.

    “It would seem that the oppressors are always with us.”

  6. A friend’s Mum turned 101 last week. She still plays bridge once a week. Showers herself etc. A bit cranky and little short term memory – wow.

    Taleb has finished the Lindy paper. Can’t wait to get to 110, and know I only have a constant 0.47 chance of dying in any one year!

    “It is quite remarkable that Dumas, almost two centuries ago, captured these probabilistic subtleties while current decision-theory academics still fail to do so.”

    “Lindy as a Distance from an Absorbing Barrier (Chapter from SILENT RISK)”

    “Silent Risk: Lectures on Fat Tails, (Anti)Fragility, and Asymmetric Exposures”

    January 2014

    DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.2392310

  7. The chances of everyone today living to 101 are now a lot less due to COVID-19 being extant and evolving. When I consider the nonagenarians I have known and know, I do not want to live to even 90.

    The expertise to avoid the COVID-19 current crisis already existed. The epidemiologists and the best of the non-neoliberal economists all warned us to go into early lock-down and go for near elimination of the virus. They have been proven correct by events. Near-elimination nations have suffered far smaller declines in GDP. One, China, has even continued to grow. Of course, even that has to be understood in a larger context. Endless growth is impossible and GDP is a poor measure of welfare and a non-measure of sustainability.

    Even though the expertise to avoid the COVID-19 current crisis already existed, the state structures and infrastructures to avoid the pandemic’s worst outcomes had already been seriously eroded by neoliberalism. That is precisely why we are in this current crisis. Subject experts are no use if (a) you don’t listen to them and (b) you don’t provide them and those acting on their recommendations with adequate resources and structures to effect actions.

    I would suggest that if we could measure “neoliberalness” by suitable metrics (which seems eminently feasible) we would then find a correlation between the neoliberalness of (national) systems and their failure to deal with this pandemic, after adjusting for other factors.

    “In a time of crisis, capitalism reveals itself as a disimagination machine whose underlying message is that the market provides the only forms of agency left.” – Jared Rodriguez.

    The article spends a lot of time attacking Trump as a manifestation of neoliberalism. Trump is now history. Neoliberalism and Trumplicanism are still very much with us. Biden will ultimately fail if he fails to retrench neoliberalism. America and the world, in turn, will fail if we fail to retrench neoliberalism and then capitalism itself.

  8. According to the latest Dr John Campbell video, Denmark is attempting to sequence 100% of new positively diagnosed Covid cases. By way of comparison the US is only trying to sequence 0.3%. That would seem to be flying blind, relatively speaking, and no way to end a pandemic. Though Denmark has had a steep drop in its new cases, under this regime, they are still worried about the new strain. So they could get a new upward surge but this practice of at least attempting to sequence every positive case; This would seem to be the way forward.

  9. Aired on MSNBC TV on Jan 22, Katy Tur interviewed activist Greta Thunberg and climate scientist Michael E Mann – see YouTube video below titled “Greta Thunberg Says ‘Time Will Tell’ If Biden Administration Fulfills Promises On Climate Change”, duration 7:47.

    Michael E Mann said (from time interval 4:20):

    “There’s still a lot of misinformation out there. It’s what I call the new climate war. As we get past denial, there’re other tactics that fossil fuel interests, and those doing their bidding, are still using to prevent us from moving on. We have to recognise those tactics – we have to combat them – and help move everybody along.”

    Greta Thunberg said (from time interval 7:11):
    “As long as we then make clear – um… if it’s better than nothing – as long as we make clear that this is very, very far from being enough, and um… and so on. And we must also remember that we can’t negotiate and compromise with the Laws of Physics.”

  10. I notice something important about people like Greta Thunberg. By “people like Greta Thunberg” I mean very intelligent people who are “on the spectrum” in some sense. They can be very fact driven (knowledge driven) and they have relatively little respect for beliefs and arguments from authority. This is to be applauded. Their ideas are very useful; especially the way they cut through the hypocrisy and bad faith “reasoning” which successful adults are so very good at. I mean successful in our system, a system which promotes success by denial of facts and creations of myths combined with and supporting expropriation, hoarding, selfishness, indifference and cruelty. Sadly, the ontologies of most adults even in modern society are based on religious, ideological, dogmatic and speculative ideas deployed for self-interest. There is little attention to real facts known to a high degree of probability in the hard sciences.

    Greta Thunberg essentially has said that the new Emperor (Biden) has promised to “re-clothe” the naked self-interest of the system with new scientifically mandated checks and balances. She is withholding belief about whether that will happen and she awaits the empirical evidence of outcomes. She is more careful and considered than I. On the past form of capitalism, I am prepared to make a prediction. The changes made will continue to be too little and too late as the money-making “rights” of the capitalist olgarchs will continue to dominate the system to the detriment of the masses and the environment. This will lead to social and environmental collapse crises. Then we will face wars and revolutions. I’m not prepared to make too many predictions about the outcomes of those chaotic processes other to say that human extinction by or before the end of this century is a real and significant threat.

    “Are you frightened?” – Aragorn.
    “Yes.” – Frodo.
    “Not nearly frightened enough.” – Aragorn.

    When people are frightened enough we will see real action. The question by then will be whether the action is considered or just a lot of crazy, stupid mayhem and panic. The nature of the human race gives me little hope.

  11. Environmental protection works just fine within a high inequality capitalist system. So in that sense there’s hope.Biden won’t keep his promises of course, and he is going to keep supporting low tax rates for the rich as he has done for decades like it is expected from the Senator of Delaware. Just skimming his wikipedia page what I like about him is that he was a bad student at a non-elite University. The last of his kind one got to say realistically. The young ones are more diverse in gender and skin colour, but that’s about it. Their educational background is scarily homogenous.

  12. “Environmental protection works just fine within a high inequality capitalist system.”

    Really? “Just Fine” or just better than the model the former Soviet Union provided?

  13. Ikonoclast,
    You state: “When people are frightened enough we will see real action. The question by then will be whether the action is considered or just a lot of crazy, stupid mayhem and panic. The nature of the human race gives me little hope.”

    Humans rarely learn without trauma. Many people usually need to suffer/die before other people decide circumstances need to change.

    The Laws of Physics and the limitations of chemistry and biology are non-negotiable. What humanity does (or doesn’t) do in the next few years concerning human-induced GHG emissions is likely to determine how much more hostile Earth’s climate will be for humans (and our food and clean water supplies) in the coming decades.

    “But climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences.

    Therefore, it is all the more important to listen to non-mainstream voices who do understand the issues and are less hesitant to cry wolf.

    Unfortunately for us, the wolf may already be in the house.”
    – Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, in the Foreword of “What Lies Beneath: The Understatement of Existential Climate Risk”, Sep 2017 (revised & updated Aug 2018).

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