April 05, 2013


Greetings Wafers and Waferettes!

We have managed to fill up #174 pretty quickly, so we need to move on to #175. But please note, I've been doing all kinds of outrageous things in Vancouver, and will soon post the links for these activities as soon as my hosts provide them. Stay tuned to this station, all will be revealed.



Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Capo, Shane- fair enough that I'm coming off as a true believer, I get it. I don't think it's "so important" that anyone "believe" MMT, just trying to give a different perspective on some of the financial topics raised here. Frankly it's amazing to me that commenters here seem to share pretty much the same assumptions about "debt and deficit" as conservative talk radio hosts, or some of my conservative/libertarian family members here in Alabama. To me, that frame, the idea that there's a 16T debt hanging over us, oh no! is a giant piece of successful propaganda, promoted by both Dems and Repubs, and seemingly accepted by much of the public. It doesn't reflect the reality of sovereign debt, and is used to manipulate everyone. It's not just MMT that says this. I saw an interview with James K. Galbraith (or John, forget which one is the son), and a socialist academic on "The Real News Network" today, and they both say that frame is manipulative propaganda as well.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Shane w said...

Gary, Ind. is supposed to be the "armpit of America", who do we vote as the" colon of America" I.e. producing the most shit? California? Mississippi? Texas?

7:48 PM  
Blogger Boris the Spider said...

I've been away from here for a while, but I'm eager to catch up on what I missed. (And the easiest way to watch the conversation is to comment here and then I get all the other comments delivered to my email.)

Good to see Obama trying to do what Bush couldn't: cut Social Security. Michael Lind has a good series on Salon about the need to expand it, not cut it. This following his good series on rentier economics.

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB,

There's been several articles discussing the amazing finding that, gasp!, Washington, DC does what the wealthy ( top 1% of the wealth ) want them to do, not what the majority of Americans want.

Quoting from the article, " The study questioned people with wealth that placed them in the top 1 percent. They were asked what they felt were the "very important problems" facing the country. The most common response was the budget deficit, with 87 percent believing this to be the most important problem. This contrasts with the rest of the population, with only 7 percent saying this is the country's most pressing problem..... The 1 percenters want "entitlement programs" like Social Security and healthcare cut while the American Majority want (and need) them expanded.....The 1 percenters opposed raising the minimum wage, government help for the unemployed, government spending to ensure that all children have access to good-quality public schools, expanding government programs to ensure that everyone who wants to go to college can do so, and investing more in worker retraining and education. The American Majority supports all of these programs."

Why all the clout?

Quoting again, " Two-thirds of the respondents had contributed money (averaging $4,633) in the most recent presidential election, and fully one-fifth of them "bundled" contributions from others. About half recently initiated contact with a U.S. senator or representative, and nearly half (44%) of those contacts concerned matters of relatively narrow economic self-interest rather than broader national concerns. This kind of access to elected officials suggests an outsized influence in Washington.......Of those who contribute more than $200 to a campaign, 85 percent have annual household incomes of $100,000 or more. Just 0.07 percent of the U.S. population made campaign donations of $2,500 or more in 2012."

I guess the system is broken because the system is rigged.

It's all here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-johnson/surprising-studies-find-d_b_2973231.html?view=print&comm_ref=false

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Joe Hohos said...

Dr. Hack,

Even Krugman says debt could go way higher before there is a problem. Right now we are around 95% of GDP as debt. Krugman has said we could go around double that before there is a real problem. Of course they use this as a scare tactic. As long as rules are followed and safeguards are in place, fiat money will last and there will be no issues. But as Dr. Berman has pointed out in DAA, the repeal of Bretton Woods has turned currency into a giant roulette game. How long before our currency goes the way of Chile or Argentina? Because we DON'T have safeguards in place and damn the rules, says our gov't. This will come back to bite us, not because of MMT, but because of our lack of self regulation and feelings of superiority. We have just begun the downfall of our currency, as evidenced by the first ever downgrade of the U.S. credit rating by S&P in 2011. The whole point is we are screwed, no matter if MMT is right or not.

11:29 PM  
Blogger the pied cow blog said...

I hope that 'all will be revealed' soon because it's getting rather boring to read blog posts with nothing of substance to consider.

The Washington Post and NYT already serve that function.

Your books prove that your intellectual capabilities far surpass those of WaPo and NYT.

4:36 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...




Well, I wdn't call it nothing, altho most of my friends tell me I'm an exceptionally boring person. But lots has been happening here in Vancouver, and when I get the audio and video links, you'll be the first to know. Meanwhile, I'm impressed by the sheer level of Techno-Buffoonery here in B.C. You wd think our Canadian cousins wd know better, but no: 1/3 of the folks on the st. in Vanc. are BOPs (Buffoons On Phones), and 1/2 of those in trendy cafes are LHs (Laptop Hooligans). I gave a lecture at UBC yesterday and some douche bag's cell phone went off in the middle of it. These morons might as well be Americans, fer chrissakes. Douchebaggery is like a cancer: it respects no international boundaries.


6:50 AM  
Blogger jml said...

why is it easier for a democrat president to cut social security than a republican?


7:40 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

au contraire Dr B -

The colon winner is a tie between Ala., Miss., and S.C.

Sanctuary -

Tks for the Hugo pamphlet

Tim (our WAFer computer God) -

U have any idea why I cannot open a pdf on my Apple. I have downloaded the Acrobat thing several times. Any ideas? (If so, shepherd2121@teleclipse.net, if not, that’s okay.)

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Red on the Head said...

Dr. MB,

I have been one of the aforementioned lurkers for approximately 6 months. I’m young, and do not feel I’m ready to add much to the Wafer conversations. I only come out of the lurker-closet now to say how much I appreciate the constant flow of book ideas in this blog. “What is History” by Edward Hallett Carr was particularly illuminating.

I’ll try my hand at offering 2 cents. Would you consider Henry David Thoreau the first example of an American NMI? His essay entitled “Life Without Principle” is an especially damning critique of our ‘hustling’ culture. Thanks again!

10:44 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The 1st may have been Capt. John Smith, who scored the immigrants for coming over for the purpose of making personal fortunes. That was 1616. Then there were some of the Puritan divines as well. Thoreau was a latecomer, but certainly a gd one.


11:09 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Oh Canada! Douchebaggery is a virus, spread south to Monterrey, north to most of canada save Quebec and to much of Asia and the UK and the affluent parts of Russia.

As for smart phones here is food for thought....

From The New Yorker:

For a time, the Labor Department's productivity figures appeared to support the idea of an Internet-based productivity miracle. Between 1996 and 2000, output per hour in the non-farm business sector – the standard measure of labor productivity – grew at an annual rate of 2.75%, well above the 1.5% rate that was seen between 1973 and 1996.

The difference between 1.5% annual productivity growth and 2.75% growth is enormous. With 2.75% growth (assuming higher productivity leads to higher wages), it takes about 26 years for living standards to double. With 1.5% growth, it takes a lot longer – 48 years – for living standards to double...

Since the start of 2005, productivity growth has fallen all the way back to the levels seen before the Web was commercialized, and before smart phones were invented.

During the eight years from 2005-2012, output per hour expanded at an annual rate of just 1.5% – the same as it grew between 1973 and 1996. More recently, productivity growth has been lower still. In 2011, output per hour rose by a mere 0.6%, according to the latest update from the Labor Department, and last year there was more of the same: an increase of just 0.7%. In the last quarter of 2012, output per hour actually fell, at an annual rate of 1.9%. Americans got less productive – or so the figures said...

If the sluggish rates of productivity growth we've seen over the past two years were to persist into the indefinite future, it would take more than a hundred years for output-per-person and living standards to double.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Boris the Spider said...

Here's a blog with some great article links that will surely interest fellow Wafers, including an article on Vermont secession quoting Mr. Berman:


12:24 PM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

Mr. B,

Did you say anything to the cell phone offender? I can't imagine you letting something like that slide.


I think California and Texas vie equally for the position (national colon) given their monumental, larger-than-life scale of output.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In the interest of decorum I had to suppress the urge to urinate on her shoes (sad to say). But check it out on the next post.


1:27 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

MB: "Meanwhile, I'm impressed by the sheer level of Techno-Buffoonery here in B.C. You wd think our Canadian cousins wd know better, but no: 1/3 of the folks on the st. in Vanc. are BOPs (Buffoons On Phones), and 1/2 of those in trendy cafes are LHs (Laptop Hooligans)."

Ouch. It's nice to keep up an image of Canadians as loggers and mushers, but every once in a while someone from away visits Canada and discovers that we aren't any different than anyone else. Sorry.

I remember back in my younger days when BOPs meant "Blow Out Preventers," referring to their ability to prevent excess gas from escaping into the atmosphere. I call these buffoons "cell phone zombies." Cell phone zombies walk among us, staring at their palms, oblivious to their surroundings. When I encounter one of these troglodytes approaching me, I struggle to resist my hockey reflex, which is to drop my shoulder and drive it into his chest.

I'll be visiting Europe this summer, and so will be able to report on BOP/CFZ there, but from what I've seen from Europeans in the past (I've heard some dumb arguments there), BOP/CFZism is no better there than here.

11:13 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

I have a confession to make. It's an embarrassing secret I have kept to myself for too long...

I, fellow WAFers, am a BOP/cellphone zombie!! Pity me for I am weak!!!

Seriously, though. I do occasionally succumb to that urge to simply slip into the warm unconsciousness of a cellphone screen. What else am I going to do? Talk to my fellow Americans? Most of them are douche bags!! ;)

9:10 AM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

Noble Day,

Using a cellphone on occasion does not one a CP Zombie make; using it regularly as a crutch for boredom and/or anxiety does. Using it as a substitute sensory apparatus instead of your own body/mind or using it to surveil your fellow human in the name of creativity, of course,(thus relieving the corporate state of the cost and effort) is even worse. If you want an example of what I'm talking about watch tv long enough to catch a Droid (I think it is) commercial where they speak of "uploading the human experience", as if it were some kind of spiritual/artistic endeavor, rather than some crass marketing/data capture campaign. As for the alternative to the narcotic warmth of the Ocean Electronic you might consider the poppy fields in the Wizard of Oz and embrace the not unpleasant rigors of stoicism, using the time to meditate or read a book. Taken to extremes I suppose even those activities could be considered escapism but at least they don't involve checking in with the hive mind. If you're feeling especially brave you might pretend to be an alien from outer space and engage the CPZ in a conversation about his/her curious device. At any rate, alternating between meditation, book reading, and BOPping, with perhaps a little conversation thrown in now and then, should help mitigate your quandary.

3:43 PM  

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