yellow fall wheat wallpaper, the myths of free trade and growth

yellow fall wheat wallpaper

yellow fall wheat wallpaper

 

‘Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism’

Second, the way “infant” economies become “mature” economies is not via free trade. It never has been and never will be. Whether it be the mature economies of Britain (which began to seriously grow in the early 1600s), America (late 1700s), Japan (1800s), or Brazil (1900s), in every single case, worldwide, without exception, the economic strength and maturity of a nation came about as a result not of governments “standing aside” or “getting out of the way” but instead of direct government participation in and protection of the “infant” industries and economy.

The modern history of protectionist trade policies goes back to ancient Rome, stretches through the reigns of a series of King Henry’s in the UK, through Alexander Hamilton’s tenure as Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington, through the trade policies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and JFK, and continues today with China, Korea, the Middle East, and the rapidly-growing Brazilian economy.

[  ]…Once “strategic” and “important” industries are identified, government both encourages and protects their domestic growth in a variety of ways. These include subsidies, legal protections (like patent laws), import tariffs to protect against foreign competition, strong industry regulation to ensure quality, and development of infrastructure to ease manufacture, distribution, sales, and use of the product.

As Ha-Joon Chang points out in his brilliant book Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism,” in 1933 a clothing manufacturing company decided to branch out into the manufacture of automobiles. They had everything going against them – their nation had no really serious domestic auto industry, the company had no experience with the product, and other nations (particularly the US and Great Britain) were already making world-class vehicles that had captured most of the world’s markets.

But the company caught the imagination of its country’s leadership, and a ministry of trade decided to help it along. Government subsidies helped the company develop their first car. Decades of high import tariffs protected it from foreign competition as it grew into a serious contender. Domestic content laws both made sure the company used parts made within the country, and also guaranteed that domestic competitors would have to, thus building a strong base of domestic companies supportive of an auto industry, from tires to plastic components to precision machine tools and electronics.

In 1939 the country even kicked out both GM and Ford from sales within the country, and the nation’s single wholly-owned bank bailed out the struggling textile manufacturer as it moved relentlessly forward in the development of an automobile.

That company, originally known as The Toyoda Automatic Loom Company, is today known as Toyota, and manufactures the infamous Lexus that Tom Friedman mistakenly thought was successful because the world is “flat” and trade is “free.” In fact, the success of the Lexus (and the Prius and every other Toyota) is entirely traceable to massive government intervention in the markets by Japan over a fifty-year period that continues to this very day.

Like so many other words heard in everyday political speech, free trade has been a code word for some time. My neighbors think of it as this nice little system that means they can buy ham slightly cheaper at store X than at store Y. In reality it becomes the nice sounding grand old American tradition morphed into the right to ship jobs to Asia and hobble organized labor – though who object are Marxist radicals who do not want everyone to live up to their potential to be the next billionaire. Free markets is code for not allowing labor to have too much power because it takes away the freedom of rent-seekers to squeeze as much money as they can out of labor without paying them a living wage or simply taking the lion’s share of the profits created by someone else work, ideas, research or invention.

What’s That Smell?

Using advanced statistical techniques, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Bates College have developed an approach to systematically describing smells.

This work may help guide future studies pertaining to how smells are represented in the brain. The research suggests that there are 10 basic categories of odor including fruity, minty, lemony—and sickening.

Senses such as hearing and vision can be discussed in terms that most people understand and that are tied to measurable physical phenomena. But the sense of smell, or olfaction, has thus far not lent itself to such a systematic understanding of what smells we perceive and how those perceptions relate to physical phenomena.

I’m amazed at how the brain, to an extraordinary degree, links smells with memory. Suede, which is probably partly a smell from the chemical tanning process, brings back very distinct sharp memories of someone I knew as a teenager. While some perfumes/colognes bring back other memories.

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space bike, wealth gives rise to a sense of entitlement and narcissistic behaviors

Spacelander Bicycle

Spacelander Bicycle. Designed by Benjamin Bowden for a 1946 exhibition of British industrial design. While this great postwar example of streamline futuristic design was a critical success at the exhibition, Bowden had a difficult time finding a manufacturer who would put it into production. By the time it found a manufacturer in the U.S. in 1960, much of the public’s taste in this kind of style had changed. Only around 500 were sold. Though now it is was of the most highly valued old bicycles on the market.

Study finds wealth gives rise to a sense of entitlement and narcissistic behaviors

According to a new study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin this month, wealth tends to increase a person’s sense of entitlement, which in turn can lead to narcissistic behaviors.

Paul Piff of the University of California at Berkeley told PsyPost “there is something about wealth that gives rise to a sense of entitlement, a sense that one deserves more good things in life than others, which in turn gives rise to an increased or inflated sense of self-importance, vanity, grandiosity, and omnipotence (narcissism).”

“Narcissism is a multi-faceted and complex construct, but that wealth is specifically associated with it suggests that as a person’s level of privilege rises, that person becomes increasingly self-focused – in a sense, becoming the center of their own world and worldview,” he explained.

“The studies in the paper measure narcissism in a whole host of ways, including measuring how likely someone is to stare at their reflection in a mirror (wealthier people do that more often). Even students who come from wealth, but have done little to create their own wealth (yet), report more entitlement. This suggests that wealth shapes an ideology of self-interest and entitlement that’s transferred culturally from one generation to the next.”

This is obviously not always the case, some people with wealth turn out to be great humanitarians. For those people the Spiderman message about great powers  being coupled with great responsibility does sink in with some people. I’ve experienced this quite a bit. There is an attitude of entitlement over the phone or in person – do you know who I am – I want what I want, I want it now and I deserve it because I am a executive VP or a wealthy lawyer or banker. Very strange behavior, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.

beach walkway

beach walkway. I noticed this morning that the 6 am sunrises are gone and then along came the big yellow school buses. Summer will soon be gone.

This recent editorial is a good example of the culture of entitlement and narcissistic behavior that guides our economy, The Leveraged Buyout of America

According to legal scholar Saule Omarova, over the past five years, there has been a “quiet transformation of U.S. financial holding companies.” These financial services companies have become global merchants that seek to extract rent from any commercial or financial business activity within their reach.  They have used legal authority in Graham-Leach-Bliley to subvert the “foundational principle of separation of banking from commerce”. . . .

It seems like there is a significant macro-economic risk in having a massive entity like, say JP Morgan, both issuing credit cards and mortgages, managing municipal bond offerings, selling gasoline and electric power, running large oil tankers, trading derivatives, and owning and operating airports, in multiple countries.

A “macro” risk indeed – not just to our economy but to our democracy and our individual and national sovereignty. Giant banks are buying up our country’s infrastructure – the power and supply chains that are vital to the economy.

These assets – airports, toll roads, and ports; control power plants; and store and hoard vast quantities of commodities of all sorts – are being packaged as investment instruments, a bet on their future value, much like the collateralized debt obligations that contributed so much to the Great Recession of 2007. And their are doing it with your money, your deposits – the excess of deposits over loans – as collateral for borrowing. Once again making bets that they cannot pay, if like the housing market, values should go down.

first licensed woman pilot, highly uneven justice

Harriet Quimby in cockpit of plane

Harriet Quimby in cockpit of plane, circa 1912.

Harriet Quimby

Harriet Quimby (May 11, 1875 – July 1, 1912), this picture also around 1912. I especially like this one. Sometimes a photo will catch someone in a moment when there is just joy, no arrogance, no pretense. One of those times when they are at having one of the best moments of their life. here Qiumby is waving back to a crowd cheering here on for doing what she loved to do, fly. In 1911, she was awarded a U.S. pilot’s certificate by the Aero Club of America, becoming the first woman to gain a pilot’s license in the United States.

Measuring the cost of austerity

Let me end by quoting the conclusion of their New York Times article. “One need not be an economic ideologue — we certainly aren’t — to recognize that the price of austerity can be calculated in human lives. We are not exonerating poor policy decisions of the past or calling for universal debt forgiveness. It’s up to policy makers in America and Europe to figure out the right mix of fiscal and monetary policy. What we have found is that austerity — severe, immediate, indiscriminate cuts to social and health spending — is not only self-defeating, but fatal.”

Some might think that knowing that austerity economics is actually fatal to people, it causes illness, misery and early death would make its proponents feel some sense of shame. That would only be the case if you were dealing with people who were not at their core social-Darwinists. They see the fatalities of austerity as a feature, not a failing.

Día de Fiesta

Día de Fiesta, Mexico, 1933, by Paul Strand. Platinum print.

 

Bradley Manning Headed To Prison, While Those Who Authorized Torture Go Free. Good point. One of videos that Manning leaked showed two children wounded in van by the military. Manning is punished for letting the public see a war crime, but those who commuted the crime were never prosecuted.

Interesting, Brilliant Red Sprite Lightning Caught on Film

publishing pioneer, rent seekers sucking life out of the economy

The Dun Emer press-room

The Dun Emer press-room, ca. 1903. Elizabeth Corbet Yeats is at the iron hand-press; Beatrice Cassidy, standing, is rolling out ink, and Esther Ryan is correcting proofs at the table. The rear wall of the press-room displays a mural in pastel by the poet and artist AE (George Russell).

The first press founded by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats (1868-1940) was named for the Lady Emer, renowned in the Irish epics for her beauty and artistic skills. The intent was to provide training for young women in a number of occupations by which they might earn their living, including bookbinding, weaving, embroidery, and printing. Among the works Elizabeth published were those of her brother, William Butler Yeats.

Humanity achieves another milestone, Environmental Toxins Enter the Brain Tissue of Polar Bears

“If PFOS and PFCAs can cross the blood-brain barrier in polar bears, it will also be the case in humans. The brain is one of the most essential parts of the body, where anthropogenic chemicals can have a severe impact. However, we are beginning to see the effect of the efforts to minimize the dispersal of this group of contaminants.”

Select environmentally labeled products

The eight carbon chain PFOS and perfluorooctane carboxylate (PFOA) are PFASs have been phased out and are no longer produced in the western world. However, production in China, today the only known production source of PFOS and PFOA, has increased by roughly a factor of 10, since it was phased out in the USA.

China is the wonderland of economic freedom that so many conservatives and libertarians dream of – few regulations, those regs they do have are not rigorously enforced, and no unions.

Larkin Company Administration Building, Buffalo, New York Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Larkin Company Administration Building, Buffalo, New York, 1906.
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The five story dark red brick building used pink tinted mortar and utilized steel frame construction. It was noted for many innovations, including air conditioning, stained glass windows, built-in desk furniture, and suspended toilet bowls. Though this was an office building, it still caught the essence of Frank Lloyd Wright’s type of architecture. Sculptor Richard Bock provided ornamentation for the building.

The Larkin building was demolished in 1950.

How Wall Street sucks all the life out of the economy,

Here’s the point that is critical to understand: the rentier performs no useful function, and the economic rent can be eliminated without reducing the supply of the resources needed for production.

[  ]…Never content with its piece of the pie, Wall Street got into the storage business. In a terrific (and all too rare) piece of reporting, the NYTimes has exposed the scam created by Goldman Sachs to corner the aluminum market. You’ve got to read this for yourself, but I’ll summarize the main point. Goldman bought Metro, a storage company in Detroit that handles a quarter of the market’s supply of aluminum. Before the Squid took control, Metro had 50,000 tons of aluminum in storage; under Goldman’s management that has increased to 1.5 million tons.

Based on that growth you might think the aluminum business is booming, right? Well, no. Producers who need aluminum cannot get it—it is all bottled up in Goldman’s warehouses. The typical wait to get an order filled by Goldman’s facilities has grown from six weeks to 16 months.

And here’s the kicker. Goldman doesn’t own an ounce of the aluminum—it merely stores it for the owners. When the owners demand their own aluminum, Goldman claims it cannot be found. This is like depositing your family jewels at the local bank, but when you go to retrieve them, the bank claims it has misplaced your safety deposit box. And so you wait for 16 months.

At the bottom of this rent-seeking are the little worker bees – in another era they were called serfs. In the U.S. No one who does an honest day’s work likes to think of themselves as a serf who is just spinning their wheels to create the capital the rent seekers play with. So change at the top requires some realizations by the average American.

 

wrought iron

wrought iron blue wallpaper

wrought iron blue wallpaper

 

The late Bruce Chatwin, author of  what has become the itinerant travelers classic In Patagonia, once noted that it has been a relatively recent development for humans to seize being nomads. Sometimes we traveled hundreds of miles, sometimes a few dozen between our winter and summer camping grounds. In THE beginning as it were, we traveled and inevitably mixed. Then we started staking out territory and building cites and castles. If we are innately creatures of war, maybe the territorial annexing and invasions were inevitable. Or maybe they  where the result of a series of sociopaths who mislead large enough swaths of mankind to screw things up for the next couple dozen centuries. I tend to think it was the invasions and the growth of greed that lead much of humanity into being nativists of one kind or another. Those people over there, the for’ners, became the dirt. It does not really serve us well to think of it that way or cultivate cultures that demonizes the outsiders. The virtues of impurity in early modern England

If dirt is matter out of place, then according to Wolfram Schmidgen, impurity is matter just where it needs to be. His adventurous new book celebrates “mixture’s elusive otherness, in its out-of-placeness”. The famous phrase that Mary Douglas claims to have taken from Lord Chesterfield (though nobody seems to have traced it in the Earl’s letters) enshrined dirt as a “residual category”, but for Schmidgen mixture is at the heart of everything, a constitutive part of meaning in all cultural activity. Far from polluting, impurity creates a healthier state of being. Centrally here, its traces can be found “in the joint scientific and political struggles of the seventeenth century to displace ideas of order that privileged strong boundaries, clear forms and sovereign essences”.

Portrait of a Lady

Portrait of a Lady. c1460. Oil on panel.  Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400 – 1464).

With 71 New ‘Tort Reform’ Conservative Legislators and Courts Are Making Criminal Conduct Legal For Corporations

For decades, ALEC has been a conduit for the oil, tobacco, and pharmaceutical industries to push legislation that changes the rules to limit accountability when a corporation’s products or actions cause injury or death — such as when a Koch Industries pipeline explodes and kills teenagers , or when the tobacco or pharmaceutical industries withhold evidence that their products are dangerous. In just the first six months of 2013, seventy-one ALEC bills that advance these “tort reform” goals have been introduced in thirty states…

Conservatives and libertarians like to speak in code. One of their code words or phrases is free enterprise. Translation: the freedom to behave without much moral responsibility. They also like to use the word regulation. Translation: Any legislation that keeps them from making more money, like limiting the amount of poison they can put into our lands and water supply, is communism or at least anti-capitalism. They generally do not entertain the complex consequences of the unregulated pursuit of money beyond any moral constraints or respect for democratic republican principles. Anyone who tries to introduce humanitarian considerations into the equation is the enemy. Billionaire Charles Koch on helping the poor: Eliminate minimum wages.

whitman’s i crossed the nevadas, big govmint can be a good thing, workplace mobbing

I cross'd the Nevadas

Walt Whitman’s hand written poem I cross’d the Nevadas…

I cross’d the Nevadas, I cross’d the
plateaus,
I ascended the towering rocks along the
Pacific, I sail’d out to sea,
I sail’d through the storm, I was re-
fresh’d by the storm,
I watch’d with joy the threatening maws
of the waves,
I mark’d the white combs where they
career’d so high curling over,
I heard the wind piping, I saw the
black clouds

This essay manages to weave together some well deserved ridicule and some clear headed observation, Where would you rather live: small-government Somalia or big-government Sweden?

Small-government supporters claim that countries with high levels of public spending grow more slowly. Yet, as the Columbia University economist Xavier X Sala-i-Martin concluded in his 1997 study I Just Ran Four Million Regressions, “no measure of government spending . . . appears to affect growth in a significant way”.

In his 2004 book Growing Public, the University of California economist Peter Lindert agrees – countries with high levels of government spending don’t perform any worse than countries with low levels of government spending.

But doesn’t big government crowd out the private sector? Stifle free enterprise and innovation? Not necessarily. Consider the arguments of Mariana Mazzucato, the Sussex University economist and author of The Entrepreneurial State. “Where would Google be today without the state-funded investments in the internet, and without the US National Science Foundation grant that funded the discovery of its own algorithm?” she wrote in the Guardian in April 2012. “Would the iPad be so successful without the state-funded innovations in communication technologies, GPS and touchscreen display?

“Where would GSK and Pfizer be without the $600bn the US National Institutes of Health has put into research that has led to 75 per cent of the most innovative new drugs in the last decade?”

Critics of big government say it crushes community spirit and civic engagement. Again, the empirical evidence suggests otherwise. “Among the advanced western democracies, social trust and group membership are, if anything, positively correlated with the size of government,” the Harvard academic Robert Putnam observed in his acclaimed book Bowling Alone (1995). “[S]ocial capital appears to be highest of all in the big-spending welfare states of Scandinavia,” he wrote.

Ah yes, Scandinavia. Despite having, I accept, much smaller and more cohesive societies than the US or the UK, the highspending, high-growth Nordic nations continue to baffle and frustrate Anglo-Saxon small-staters. Take the UN’s first ever World Happiness league table in 2012: Denmark, where government spending accounts for 58 per cent of national income, topped the list, followed by Finland (54 per cent) and Norway (44 per cent).

I don’t know that those who agree with this are lone wolves. It is just that the other side, while smaller in number, are very vocal and own a lot of the media. Certainly no one complains about the experimentally expanding military spending and surveillance state that treats everyone as a potential suspect in some wrong doing. Human nature being what it is, most of us probably do have something to hide, even if only some little embarrassing history or thoughts. Yet in some ways, in the U.S. at least, we need specific parts of government to be bigger, not smaller. We need to expand public health care so that everyone can enroll in a Medicare-like program. We need to expand health and safety inspection so we don’t have another fertilizer plant blow-up or a mine leavings slag heap overflow.

Sigmund Freud’s home and offices, Vienna 1939

Sigmund Freud’s home and offices, Vienna 1939. A scan from a book of the same name with photographs by Edmund Engelman.

Workplace mobbing: add Ann Curry to its slate of victims

Whatever your personal opinions of Curry and her work, she was clearly mobbed out of her Today show job. Workplace mobbing is a process of humiliation and degradation of a targeted worker with the purpose of removing that worker from the workplace or at least from a particular unit of it. It is a dark side of organizational life, involves co-workers ganging up on the target, and includes management’s involvement through active participation in the mobbing or through failure to stop it once it becomes known to them. Mobbing in the workplace includes a characteristic course of events that were first described by Heinz Leymann, the psychiatrist who conceptualized the problem in the 1980s.

All the morning news programs tend towards watered down infotainment. They have two to three hours where they could genuinely inform the public about government, the environment, education issues, the almost daily constitutional issues that arise, the sociology of crime, economic issues like the massive income inequality and the redistribution of income from working class Americans to the wealthy and plenty of other issues. It does appear to be true that Curry was still given her contradict salary in her role as special corespondent. So no need for crocodile tears for Curry on that aspect. Though we should all be concerned about how she was treated, and done so with management participation. If mobbing happens at that level it can happen at the level of sales clerk, brick layer, nurse or assistant engineer.

the fashions of the belle epoque, conservative pundit seems to think she invented keynesianism

Deauville, France c1911

Deauville, France. c1911. This late Belle Époque (1971-1914) photo and the next three are courtesy Bibliothèque nationale de France. Have you ever started out looking for something on the net, came across something else which ends up taking the time you were using to research that other thing. These photographs are one example for me. I was reading a blog post last week about the costs of women’s clothing and the labor involved in making them – during the Victorian Era (1837-1901). A dozen or more people who would have had a hand in making what the average  upper middle-class lady wore. For the most part the laborers were fairly skilled, yet low paid. Though someone was making some money since the final products – dress, hats, shoes, ornamental ribbons – cost quite a bit. This was the era of poor houses, and child labor in Great Britain and France.

France, white dresses 1911

France, white dresses 1911. The hats were required at social events. Also required were gloves, parasols and a small clutch bag.

Paris (France) -- Hippodrome de Longchamp, 1911

Paris (France) — Hippodrome de Longchamp, 1911. The lace on the dress in this picture shows some of the amazing workmanship required to dress a lady. His suit is pretty much the required uniform for men. They did not always wear tails to horse races. Some wear regular cut suits and a straw hat. Note the man across from the couple reading a racing form.

Since they overlapped I’m using some Victorian reports on labor,

The Wages Of The Sweat System Dress Trades
The Report of the Select Committee 1888-1890

The East End seamstress could expect to take home a pitifully low wage. In the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on the Sweating System 1888-1890, Miss Beatrice Potter (a most famous female Fabian socialist reformer) and others, gave evidence of the atrocious working conditions and meagre pay. Mrs. Lavinia Casey made shirts at 7 pence a dozen. She normally worked from seven in the morning to eleven p.m. at night. After deducting time devoted to her children she averaged twelve hours work a day.

Picture of a drawing of young women bent over sewing. Fashion history.In that time she normally made two dozen shirts. Her total daily wage amounted to one shilling and two pence.

 

Paris (France) -- Hippodrome d'Auteuil

Paris (France) — Hippodrome d’Auteuil, 1911. Wearing an outfit that cost thousands in today’s currency and standing on chairs to see the horse race makes for an interesting contrast. Traditionally in France and England,  after a race or two, they would have called on the ladies and gentlemen of the crowd to walk across the track and pack down the divets made by the horses. No problem, when they got home they would just have the help clean and repair shoes and dresses as needed.

Peggy Noonan, one of the most bizarre and incompetent conservative pundits ever decides to become a Keynesian, Noonan Goes All Krugman On Us

It’s not a debt and deficit crisis, it’s a jobs crisis.

Say what? The biggest argument in Washington is about which is more urgent, the unemployment problem or the deficit and debt problem. Democrats say it’s unemployment and therefore advocate stimulus, which causes an increase in the deficit (though not necessarily in the long-term debt). Republicans say it’s the deficit/debt and therefore advocate austerity, which causes an increase in unemployment. (To be fair, Republicans are willing to swallow a bit of stimulus as long as it takes the dubious form of lowering taxes on the rich.)

Noonan, despite a quick “to be sure” aside in which she avers that things like deficits, regulations, and “the federal tax code” are “part of” the problem, is clear about which side she’s on:

But it’s a jobs crisis that’s the central thing. And you see it everywhere you look.

Economist Paul Krugman might be the most widely read liberal in the U.S. here is what he wrote in December of 2012,

 Let’s get one thing straight: America is not facing a fiscal crisis. It is, however, still very much experiencing a job crisis.

It’s easy to get confused about the fiscal thing, since everyone’s talking about the “fiscal cliff.” Indeed, one recent poll suggests that a large plurality of the public believes that the budget deficit will go up if we go off that cliff.

In fact, of course, it’s just the opposite: The danger is that the deficit will come down too much, too fast. And the reasons that might happen are purely political; we may be about to slash spending and raise taxes not because markets demand it, but because Republicans have been using blackmail as a bargaining strategy, and the president seems ready to call their bluff.

The polls show that Peggy’s team is taking beating. The public wants job creation to be a priority, not giving tax cuts to the wealthy and paying down the debt/deficit ( they’re different things but Peggy and conservatives keep lumping them together). Peggy seems to live in a perennial bubble. Maybe she does not read Krugman, or Robert Reich or Jared Bernstein or even Ezra Klein. That means she thinks she invented Keynesian economics. Some days economics is high school meets The Twilight Zone.