With the emergence of Silk Road, Chuck Schumer has found a new target for incoherent screaming. Helpfully, dL uses his tech expertise to immediately slice up Chuck’s nonsense into a zillion pieces. Read the whole thing.
Looking at the economic news lately, I keep having one recurring thought pop into my head: where are the pitchforks? Really, where? Have we sold them all? Are people here really such complacent, unquestioning sheep that a fundamentally unjust system can express its total lack of logic right in our faces and we just shrug?
The zero-sum game continues at its usual pace, as employment remains in a crater while the profits of the well-connected go like nothing is happening. Meanwhile, what’s the topic of discussion here? Some congressman’s dick (again), and Obama bragging about the auto bailout as if it actually solves anything. Yeah, if they’d shut down there would’ve been a bunch of job losses, so they get propped up, resulting in… a bunch of job losses. I would love nothing more than for someone to, next time he makes like it’s some grand accomplishment to hold up the zombie that is Detroit, ask him point blank “why did we ever think it made sense to concentrate such a huge economic chunk in a single area dominated by a couple ultra-behemoths in the first place?”. Like I’ve explained before, central planning is central planning, whether you call it GM or some Sovietesque name like PeoplesCar is irrelevant, all you are doing in either case is making systemic collapse more likely. Shit, lock your average corporate capitalist in a room with a Stalinist and a hidden camera & watch how much they agree on.
Speaking of systemic collapse…forget QE3, at this rate they might as well start talking about QE12. What isn’t being acknowledged is that the point is not to “stimulate” anything other than the nether regions of bank executives, as no one can possibly keep injecting “liquidity” this long without saying to themselves “hey, wait a minute…it gets to the BofA level and just stops! WTF?” The flow of money is not for your benefit, it never has, and never will be as long as these institutions breathe.
While I’m not sure the full details of their preferences, I can’t help but sympathize to an extent with the Greeks that stormed that finance building. I mean, fuck, if you’re not going to allow an actual market order to exist, you have no other choice but to bribe your subjects in the long run. Their government officials are probably thinking “why couldn’t these folks be more like the yanks? Why, those people just roll over for their culture war crack and forget all about having a real say in their lives”.
Then again, if Americans did something similar we’d probably be shot on sight. Unless, of course, the ones doing it were a bunch of homophobes trying to pry a gay pride flag off the building…
At BJ again, Freddie de Boer responds to Conor Friedersdorf criticizing the USPS. As is seen by Conor’s argument on this being such a typical political cliche while civil liberties and questioning war are still largely considered Librul Hippie Crap, in the U.S. the operational definition of a “conservative” is one who thinks tax-funded mail delivery is more troubling than the military-industrial complex. That said, check out what the absolute first comment on Freddie’s post puts forth:
Well, the entire point of creating a national postal system, and establishing by congressional fiat that it cannot have a competitor, was recognition that a free-market postal system cannot work. The founders had this figured out 200 years ago. They knew that there would always be Americans too far-flung to be profitable customers, and that the inability to deliver to every American was a hazard to the nation – both economically and democratically.
1) Note how “free-market” is automatically assumed to equal corporate capitalist structure. Thanks a lot, right-wingers. Yet…
2) Lysander Spooner called. He said to tell you “After that whole wisdom-of-the-founders thing, I undercut the gov’t so hard they sicced the lawyers on my epically-bearded ass”.
Among those caught up in the early “War on Terror” dragnet was a U.S. born Muslim named Abdullah al-Kidd. Arrested in 2003 on his way to a flight to Saudi Arabia, he was claimed to be a material witness in a trial involving someone accused of helping al-qaeda recruit fresh meat.
Because, y’know, anyone with “Al” in their name other than Al Bundy is automatically a suspected violent jihadi.
Despite the material witness label, he was never actually called to testify. Later, he legally called bullshit on the reason for his arrest, suing John Ashcroft (since at the time he had approved the dragnet). Today, the Supreme Court did what it usually does in these cases and deferred to the holy, unquestionable, infallible judgment of the Executive branch and its minions, throwing out the suit. Merely ripping out this seed of questioning wasn’t enough though, the earth it grew from had to be salted:
The court held there was no constitutional violation, and even if there was, Ashcroft would be protected by the immunity public officials enjoy from lawsuits over their official acts. [emphasis mine]
We know for a fact now that there was pretty much no concern for credibility, just a petty ongoing indiscriminate sweep. Many of the ones caught up actually received worse treatment than al-Kidd, which is pretty shameful considering being held like a convicted serial killer over a year on the basis of jack squat is bad enough. But never mind all that: Mr. Ashcroft was Just Doing His Job, and as such can not be held responsible for anything he did in the course of…his job. Why, if government officials were liable for what they did, there would be utter chaos!
Sure…if by “utter chaos” you mean consideration of WTF they’re doing before they do it.
So, like liability limits in corporate law, there is apparently an entire liability block on political officials. And to think politicians still run for office with boilerplate tripe about running the state like a business…
TPM got a cease and desist letter from the New York Stock Exchange, claiming that pictures of the exchange floor are copyrighted. This means that, according to IP law, you would need their permission to use such a picture in the context of a blog post about Wall Street.
I’m not one for recognizing such absurdity, but it struck me that a particularly appropriate example image for Wall Street already exists:
I wonder how long of using that in Every. Single. Post. about Wall Street it would take before they gave up?
Finally finished one after tons of false starts:
Kind of a bouncy/jittery feel, yet with more filth than usual for that type of beat.
You’ll just have to hear me out on this one…
Lately, I was thinking of a very easy to relate to description of how modern political economy — that is, capitalism, as maintained by statism — works. After a few beers, during a video game break, I had a moment of clarity.
If you’ve ever played Black Ops, a game in the Call of Duty series, you know how the online multiplayer goes. The absolute first people to play it started off with the most basic weapons, right? Sure, they had a range between sniper rifles, sub machine guns, and whatnot, but for the most part all were even. As one gets a higher score, they get access to better weapons, and thus more opportunities to kill the other players. As they obtain longer kill streaks, they get more devastating power ups as rewards: a spy plane that exposes the location of their enemies (the default is that ones position is only exposed immediately upon firing your weapon, and even then faded into irrelevance within a couple seconds; the spy plane exposes people in each pass regardless of what they are doing), a jet assisting by way of napalm strike, an unmanned sentry gun that fires on anyone passing a certain point, all the way up to a manned attack chopper from which you can casually blast damn near anybody.
The point of these power ups is obvious: kill more people, get more toys…which help you kill more people. The game helps those who are already established so as to maintain their dominance, simultaneously stacking the odds for newer players. You may be joining a game as a level 3, still with your m16 and its 3 round burst, meanwhile you keep walking into the buzz saw that is multiple dork players of the game toting HKs and AKs with extended scopes & faster reload as a perk. You may valiantly lift that M16, but by the time you have aimed, the guy with the AK has turned your digitally rendered body into mincemeat. If Kalishnakov Guy gets a killstreak? Oh, you might as well run and hide, because he’s got coming for you spy choppers, attack dogs, a remote controlled explosive, maybe even a freakin chopper toting a fully-auto gun. And what else do you have besides the M16? A smoke bomb? Hah! Half the dudes playing have masks, and their own flash grenades; you throw that, they step back and then throw a flash grenade, next thing you know you are firing blindly in a fucking circle, until they get behind you and happily slit your n00b throat.
This is an “economy” structured, by Activision, to reward and perpetuate the strong, and give the weak as many opportunities as possible to fail (in this case, as a digital character, to “die”.) In the gamer world, such a system is no big deal. I have yet to even win a single deathmatch, yet I don’t plan on ceasing my playing anytime soon. Why? Because unlike real life, there is zero real consequence. This life of mine is what it is, if I made the wrong move in meatspeace that could be the difference between having a roof over my head and writing this blog from the gutter, meanwhile terrible moves in a video game are just learning experiences without the blood.
The current global economy functions in a manner similar to Black Ops. If you already have an advantage, regardless of root, you have control. You get in as a noob, you’re expected to earn your stripes against Level 43 guys who seemingly play it every waking moment. Now, though they were first into the “market” for digitally rendered killin’, that doesn’t mean they’re the best at it in terms of strategy. It could be that they got their high level by picking a sniper rifle & then “camping”: waiting for the other players playing it as a pursuit. Sure, there’s still advancement, but the deck is intentionally stacked against challengers. The game has helicopter guns and napalm strikes for people with long kill streaks. The state has extensive subsidies for the politically well connected. The game has it so if you pick up the gun of another player, you can’t use it as well because of differing perks, and you lose it if you get killed even once. The state has IP law.
In a video game, this formulation makes sense. You’re not there to trade goods or argue the propriety of X vs Y, you’re there to blow each others’ brains out! Who cares what comes below that, as long as the graphics are nice and lag-free. The challenge is the point.
In an economy? We see the results: the entrenchment and shielding of the largest players, the costs of their failures placed on everyone else’s backs.
Activision deliberately designed COD: Black Ops to function like it does, and I’m fine with that. Collusion between political power and connected business interests deliberately designed the economy to function like it does, and I emphatically am not. On both I have a lot of company…