- Larry Summers' inflation scare-talk incinerated climate action: Now can we please stop listening to this ghoul?
- Hey look at this: Delights to delectate.
- This day in history: 2008, 2013, 2018, 2022
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Larry Summers' inflation scare-talk incinerated climate action (permalink)
Economists tell us that the market can remain irrational longer than we can remain solvent, but how long can economists remain irrational? Judging from the inflation scare we just lived through, the answer appears to be "longer than you can remain solvent."
Experts of all description are prone to enduring folly in which the failure of some cherished intervention triggers more of that intervention. This is the famed "doing the same thing but expecting different results" and it's a grand American tradition.
Take bloodletting, a therapy that does not work and that only makes things worse, but which nevertheless served as the first recourse for "doctors" for centuries. Patients who worsened after a bloodletting were presumed to be undertreated, so their doctors would bleed them again, and again. Every turn for the worse was evidence of the need for more bleeding.
If you grew up in America, you doubtless learned a lot about George Washington – even apocryphal stories about his boyhood, like the cherry-tree incident:
You know all about Washington, from his wooden teeth to his military victories. Lin-Manuel Miranda's ballad made Washington's dream of a life spent "under his own vine and fig-tree" famous:
But it's very unlikely that you heard about how George Washington died. After eating dinner in cold, wet clothes, he developed a vicious cold. A succession of doctors attended Washington, each one bleeding him, until more than half of Washington's blood had been extracted, whereupon the country's father died:
Today, a different kind of quack is given free rein to bleed another Washington: central bankers like Jerome Powell sit in DC, bleeding the economy with interest rate hikes, in the name of preventing inflation:
The theory goes: the government gave the poors too much money in the form of covid relief. That made working people lazy and feckless. The proles' fat cash cushions let them demand unrealistically high wages, and this is driving up the price of goods. To solve this, we need to destroy lots of jobs, so workers will bid against each other for the remaining, scarce gigs, until wages go down.
Even a cursory examination of the facts revealed this theory's hollowness. Even as the Fed was cranking up interest rates in October 2022, real wages were 2.3% lower than they'd been a year before:
Prices did rise, of course, but there was no evidence that they rose because of greedy workers. Some of that price-rise was due to covid shocks – a drop in the ability to make things because of lockdowns. Some was due to war-shocks – disruptions to energy and food supplies following from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Some was due to changes in what we wanted to buy (high demand for work-from-home equipment, changes to the rental market as people moved out of cities).
But one undeniable factor was price-gouging. The CEOs of large companies have spent the past two years boasting to shareholders on their earnings calls about how all the scare-talk about inflation let them hike prices and blame the Biden administration:
It takes a deliberate act of will to see energy companies hiking prices and raising prices and decide that the real problem is workers have too much money, and that the solution cannot under any circumstances involve a tax of those "windfall" profits:
Or breaking up monopolies:
But some people want to see workers suffer. Well, at least one person wants workers to suffer. Larry Summers, the Clintonite ghoul who led the charge on punishing workers to fight inflation:
Summers is a man who is wrong about a lot of things. Like, when he was president of Harvard, he was wrong about women's natural incapacity to do science:
That had a lot of consequences, as did Summers' economic guidance when he served as Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton. But the fully operational battle station version of Larry Summers emerged when he became a talking head, helping to sabotage the Biden Administration's ability to continue providing relief during the pandemic.
Summers' pitch went like this: inflation is caused by workers having too much money, and anyone who disagrees with me is a sentimental lackwit who doesn't understand the Science of Economics:
Summers' confident pronouncements about the enduring, structural nature of inflation were used as ammo for all kinds of cuts in the Biden agenda, and were used to argue against student debt cancellation. According to Summers, we just can't have nice things, and if we do, we risk hyperinflation and the collapse of the US dollar:
Not only was Summers wrong, but his prescriptions also scuttled wildly popular moves that could turn out voters for larger Dem majorities in the Senate and retaking the House, enabling even more muscular action.
Summers' argument fails on its own terms, too. If inflation is "too many dollars chasing too few goods," then one way to solve inflation is to increase America's capacity to fulfill demand. You know, by educating people, investing in infrastructure, re-shoring critical manufacturing, and so on:
Some of the steepest inflation Americans experienced came from nondiscretionary spending: on healthcare, childcare, long-term care, rehab, etc. This is "care inflation," and you don't reduce demand for it by hurting workers:
The price of care labor has outpaced the CPI every year since 1978. As the price of goes up, working-age adults are taken out of the workforce so they can care for their kids, parents, spouses, and other family members:
This reduces America's capacity, removing skilled workers from the workforce. In other words, to increase its capacity, America needs to increase social spending, not reduce it.
Instead, we're allowing private equity funds to "roll up" (that is, monopolize) the care sector, raising prices and slashing wages. The quality of care goes down, and the price goes up. You know – inflation:
Larry Summers was wrong about inflation. Don't take it from me: just ask Larry Summers! He's now saying that inflation is over, it was "transitory" and it was caused by supply chain problems, not giving the poors too much money:
As David Dayen writes for The American Prospect, Larry Summers' latest pronouncements conspicuously fail to reckon with Larry Summers' greatest detractor: Larry Summers, who spent years calling covid relief "the least responsible economic policy in 40 years":
Summers' delusion was anything but harmless. He and his fellow interest-rate hawks provided cover for the Feds' brutal rate-hikes, which led to steep cuts to planned solar, geothermal, wind, and grid investments. Alternative energy companies went from profitable to unprofitable overnight:
Giant offshore wind projects were canceled. This is the cancel culture no one is talking about:
Heat-pump retrofitting is behind schedule:
As Dayen says, "The Inflation Reduction Act is effectively being offset by interest costs."
Hey look at this (permalink)
- Chief Justice John Roberts’s Guide to the New Supreme Court Ethics Code https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/chief-justice-john-robertss-guide-to-the-new-supreme-court-ethics-code (h/t Naked Capitalism)
The stones left unturned in the Sam Bankman-Fried trial https://newsletter.mollywhite.net/p/the-stones-left-unturned
NAKATOMI CORP. CHRISTMAS '88 SWEATSHIRT https://www.lastexittonowhere.com/catalogue/nakatomi-corp-christmas-88-green-white-ink_16430/ (h/t Super Punch)
This day in history (permalink)
#15yrsago Free to Be… You and Me: the 35 Anniversary Edition: the book every kid needs https://memex.craphound.com/2008/11/20/free-to-be-you-and-me-the-35-anniversary-edition-the-book-every-kid-needs/
#15yrsago Digital Youth Project: If you care about kids and want to understand how they use technology and why, this is a must-read https://web.archive.org/web/20081127101442/http://digitalyouth.ischool.berkeley.edu/files/report/digitalyouth-WhitePaper.pdf
#10yrsago Data visualization shows US isolation in pushing for brutal Trans-Pacific Partnership https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2013/11/18/the-united-states-is-isolated-in-the-trans-pacific-partnership-negotiations/
#5yrsago Copyright and the “male gaze”: a feminist critique of copyright law https://web.archive.org/web/20181106072516/http://harvardjlg.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/HLG204_2018.pdf
#5yrsago Leaks reveal the health care industry’s playbook for smearing and spinning Medicare for All out of existence by 2020 https://theintercept.com/2018/11/20/medicare-for-all-healthcare-industry/
#5yrsago “The End of Trust” – EFF/McSweeney’s collaboration on privacy and surveillance – is in stores and free to download now! https://www.eff.org/the-end-of-trust
#5yrsago On the role of truth and philosophy in fantastic fiction http://dreamcafe.com/2018/11/19/truth-as-a-vehicle-for-enhancing-fiction-fiction-as-a-vehicle-for-discovering-truth/
#5yrsago Trump spent $200,000,000 on the election stunt of sending 6,000 troops to the border, then withdrew them before the caravan arrived https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/11/trump-troops-border-caravan-stunt
#5yrsago Electrification 2.0: Rural broadband co-ops are filling the void left by indifferent monopolists https://www.wired.com/story/rural-america-diy-internet-spirit-reboot/
#5yrsago Dystopia watch: a roundup of the DOD’s new less-lethal weapons https://www.wired.com/story/ingredients-powering-defense-department-new-nonlethal-weapons/
#5yrsago Portrait of a fake news troll and the racist retiree who believes everything he writes https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/nothing-on-this-page-is-real-how-lies-become-truth-in-online-america/2018/11/17/edd44cc8-e85a-11e8-bbdb-72fdbf9d4fed_story.html
#5yrsago This month, the climate-denyingist red state AGs lost their jobs to Dems: time to sue the US government https://web.archive.org/web/20181120113921/https://www.climateliabilitynews.org/2018/11/19/democratic-ag-midterm-climate-change/
#1yrago Anything That Can’t Go On Forever Will Eventually Stop https://pluralistic.net/2022/11/20/anything-that-cant-go-on-forever-will-eventually-stop/
Today's top sources: Naked Capitalism (https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/)
- A Little Brother short story about DIY insulin PLANNING
Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. FORTHCOMING TOR BOOKS JAN 2025
The Bezzle, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. FORTHCOMING TOR BOOKS FEB 2024
Vigilant, Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. FORTHCOMING ON TOR.COM
Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. FORTHCOMING ON TOR.COM
Latest podcast: Moral Hazard (from Communications Breakdown) https://craphound.com/stories/2023/11/12/moral-hazard-from-communications-breakdown/
- Lost Cause at Simsbury Public Library, Nov 20 (Simsbury, CT)
Generation of Lost Causes, Nov 22 (Toronto)
Who Is Watching Big Tech? Nov 27 (Toronto)`
The Lost Cause at The Strand (NYC), Nov 29
The Lost Cause at Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill), Dec 5
- Digital Markets Act; Interoperability; Entrenchment; Copyright; "What-About-Ism" (Digital Markets Research Hub)
Science fiction for a dystopian present (Institute of Art and Ideas)
Pushing back on unconstrained capitalism (Changelog)
- "The Lost Cause:" a solarpunk novel of hope in the climate emergency, Tor Books (US), Head of Zeus (UK), November 2023 (http://lost-cause.org). Signed, personalized copies at Dark Delicacies (https://www.darkdel.com/store/p3007/Pre-Order_Signed_Copies%3A_The_Lost_Cause_HB.html#/)
"The Internet Con": A nonfiction book about interoperability and Big Tech (Verso) September 2023 (http://seizethemeansofcomputation.org). Signed copies at Book Soup (https://www.booksoup.com/book/9781804291245).
"Red Team Blues": "A grabby, compulsive thriller that will leave you knowing more about how the world works than you did before." Tor Books http://redteamblues.com. Signed copies at Dark Delicacies (US): and Forbidden Planet (UK): https://forbiddenplanet.com/385004-red-team-blues-signed-edition-hardcover/.
"Chokepoint Capitalism: How to Beat Big Tech, Tame Big Content, and Get Artists Paid, with Rebecca Giblin", on how to unrig the markets for creative labor, Beacon Press/Scribe 2022 https://chokepointcapitalism.com
"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone technothriller for adults. The Washington Post called it "a political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1840/Available_Now%3A_Attack_Surface.html
"How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a solution. https://onezero.medium.com/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism-8135e6744d59?sk=f6cd10e54e20a07d4c6d0f3ac011af6b) (signed copies: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2024/Available_Now%3A__How_to_Destroy_Surveillance_Capitalism.html)
"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1750/July%3A__Little_Brother_%26_Homeland.html
"Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed copy here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2682/Corey_Doctorow%3A_Poesy_the_Monster_Slayer_HB.html#/.
- The Bezzle: a sequel to "Red Team Blues," about prison-tech and other grifts, Tor Books, February 2024
Picks and Shovels: a sequel to "Red Team Blues," about the heroic era of the PC, Tor Books, February 2025
Unauthorized Bread: a graphic novel adapted from my novella about refugees, toasters and DRM, FirstSecond, 2025
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