Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 23, 2019

U.S. Media Bias Creates False Pictures Of Russia

The latest Putin bashing piece in the New York Times is headlined:

It’s Putin’s World. We Just Live in It.
Its economy is sputtering and its young are frustrated, but with America and Europe in tumult, Russia and its leader of two decades are on a roll.

Its first sentence already includes two falsehoods:

Its economy, already smaller than Italy’s, may be sputtering but, two decades after a virtually unknown former K.G.B. spy took power in the Kremlin on Dec. 31, 1999, Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin, have just had what could be their best year yet.


The NYT can claim that Russia's GDP is smaller than Italy's because it only looked at the nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of those countries. But nominal GDP like nominal wages are not meaningful comparisons. The question is how much can be bought for each nominal unit.

Andrei Martyanov has recently looked at two quite comparable houses, one near Moscow and one near Washington DC. The Russian house costs some $93,000 while the U.S. one is offered for $440,000:

So, let us calculate GDP created by building these two houses in Russia and in US. Right! As you may have guessed it already, the United States created 4.5 times more GDP than Russia by building comparable house in a place which, let's be frank, is not exactly Moscow. Mind you, that Russia builds all kinds of real estate, from apartments to houses, like there is no tomorrow.
Here is how PPP (Purchase Power Parity) GDP works, or, rather confuses most Western think-tank free-loaders who do not understand that most of what they know about the world outside is a baloney or a caricature. Like the fact that China's real middle class which has incomes comparable to that of the average US income is larger than the whole population of the United States. That is a good hint.
Now, can you scale down, or scale up, Russia's and American economies? Difficult still but it shows you, at least, what all those proverbial $22 Trillion of the US GDP are worth. Not as much as you may have thought before. Nor is the argument that Russians do not earn as much entirely valid. Yes, many Russians do not earn as much and that is ongoing problem, but, say, R60,000 which roughly converts into $965, gets you pretty comfortable living practically everywhere in Russia bar some places like Moscow or Sochi, especially if you own you apartment--very many Russians do and by own I mean OWN, not paying mortgage. There is a lot of what is going into those economic considerations. But it has to be understood today that nominal numbers in USD are absolutely meaningless and, in fact, dangerous because they create a false sense of confidence.

The GDP of Russia, by purchase power parity, is 4,349,423 m$.
The GDP of Italy, by purchase power parity, is 2,442,768 m$.

So it surely does not look as if Russia's economy is "already smaller than Italy’s". Corrected by purchase power Russia's official GDP (PPP) is about as big as Germany's. But even that comparison is skewed. Russia's official GDP is chronically underestimated as the country has a large unofficial economy. It is estimated that 20-30% of all work in Russia is done in exchange for cash and is never officially registered or taxed.

When one considers that Russia currently has no noticeable population growth its economy growth is still fine. It slowed down this year but it is certainly not sputtering:

Economic growth in Russia will be higher than expected in 2019 and is likely to pick up in the next few years thanks partly to higher state spending and looser monetary policy, the World Bank said on Wednesday.
The World Bank, in a regular report on the Russian economy, said it expected gross domestic product to expand by 1.2% this year, up from the 1.0% it projected in October. In 2018, Russian GDP grew by 2.3%.

In 2020 Russian GDP is seen at 1.6% and in 2021 1.8%, versus 1.7% and 1.8% respectively projected in October, the World Bank said.

Unlike the Fed and European central banks, which have pushed interest rates to zero to create artificial growth in unproductive financial markets, the Russian central bank held back and still has lots of ammunition left. And the Russian Federation has a very sound budget and little debt. Should a growth spurt be needed Russia still has, unlike others, the economic ammunition to provide it:

"A less restrictive monetary policy and increased spending on the national projects is expected to help foster growth," Renaud Seligmann, World Bank Country Director in the Russian Federation, said in the report.

The central bank will next meet on interest rates on Dec. 13, where it may consider cutting the key rate, now at 6.5%, for the fifth time so far in 2019.

The rest of the NYT piece is not any better than its very first paragraph. It simply repeats false stereotypes about Putin as an "autocratic leader" or about the non-existing Russian influence on U.S. elections.

Nearly thirty years ago when the Soviet Union broke apart Russia had a deep fall. The liberalization of its economy had catastrophic consequences. But it has since reformed itself. It is now back to its traditional position in the world. A large Eurasian power which is in nearly all aspects independent from the rest of the world and able to protect itself. It must therefore be taken into account when one thinks of global polices. That is simply a fact and not the effect of a "mindgame" that Russia allegedly plays with the "west".

That the U.S. still has problems to understand that is not Russia's fault but the result of the skewed descriptions of it.

Posted by b on December 23, 2019 at 14:32 UTC | Permalink

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Looks like it's Europe's turn in smearing Russia:

Putin slams European Parliament resolution on WWII outbreak as 'complete nonsense'

Posted by: vk | Dec 24 2019 14:40 utc | 101

More on Putin's response to the EP resolution:

Poland wanted to ‘erect magnificent monument’ to honor Hitler’s plan to send Jews to Africa – Putin cites WWII archives

We don't need to guess which member is behind the resolution.

Posted by: vk | Dec 24 2019 14:53 utc | 102

Voltairenet has a very interesting article about this subject (also discussed in the last open thread) by prof. Michael Jabara Carley of the University of Montreal: “Justin Trudeau Needs A History Lesson”, in which he describes the unsuccessful efforts of Soviet diplomats to create an alliance of European countries against the nazis.

I am afraid to mess up the thread, so no link.

Posted by: Headache | Dec 24 2019 15:30 utc | 103

@Kevin #18
I would suggest looking at articles in the Exile:
Unfortunately, these are no longer free.
The short story: the most successful "privatizations" involved getting control of a bank, then using the bank's deposits to buy up companies.
The most successful scheme was getting control of a bank which was partly used by the Russian government for payments; I recall one example where one bank was used to clear funds paid for state enterprises - so the "privatizers" were literally pushing money out for assets and getting them back.
Further down the scale - there was all manner of chicanery including kidnapping, extortion, murder and what not.
The problem with books published in English is that you're almost guaranteed to run into thinly disguised agitprop ranging from the usual American and British academics taking the national security dime, to Khodorkovsky and the other O.G. Jewish oligarchs attempting to whitewash history: Gusinski, Berezofsky, etc.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 24 2019 15:50 utc | 104

vk | Dec 24 2019 1:36 utc | 73
I have often wondered if Karl was related to the MARX Brothers. I thought I detected a family likeness in Groucho and Harpo and their parents came from Alsace.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Dec 24 2019 16:38 utc | 105

Lavrov on the 22nd appeared on what looks to be an interesting program on Russia's Channel One--"The Great Game Show" with a transcript at the link. Most of the questions deal with Lavrov's recent trip to the Outlaw US Empire and his meetings with Trump and Pompeo. I found Lavrov's remarks about Congress most revealing as they're very similar to what he says about the tiny Russophobic nations other NATO nations seem to feel they can't break with the overall consensus despite its being idiotic. His response is related to the illegal sanctions laid against the construction of Nord Stream 2:

"They are threatening it. I said it will be built, no matter what, despite all these threats. First, I am convinced that the Europeans understand their commercial interest. Second, this implies an interest in the context of maintaining long-term energy security. Third, they were, of course, humiliated. The statements were, nevertheless, made, including those from Berlin which shows that our European partners still retain a sense of dignity.

"I am confident that, just like the TurkStream project, Nord Stream 2 will be implemented, and TurkStream will start operating some two or three weeks from now.

"US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo want to expand trade, but the US Congress continues to bombard our relations with sanctions. A situation that has now shaped up in the United States shows that, in their striving to revise election results and the will of the American people, these Congressmen are ready to do anything, including absolutely reckless things that, I would say, are not worthy of serious politicians."

As you read the transcript, you'll realize that this is a very serious program where the truth of the overall situation is being revealed and remarked upon in a manner that would be unimaginable here within the Outlaw US Empire, and I presume the program is viewed by a majority of Russians. It should certainly be read in relation to what Putin said at his presser on the topics covered and at the Informal CIS Summit.

Many are busy with their plans for the holidays, and the combined transcripts will take 4-6 hours to read, so perhaps bookmark them to read before New Year when more time's available.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 24 2019 18:12 utc | 106

Kevin @ 18

Try this: Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia – May 15, 2017

by Thane Gustafson

A review @ Amazon:

Thane masterfully succeeded in uncovering the fundamental drivers of the Russian oil industry and its interdependency with the political complex through a comprehensive and convincing historical analysis, with plenty of meaningful insights and endearing anecdotes. Rooted in Soviet legacy and having gone through the 90s bust-boom roller coaster and 2000s state reconsolidation the industry is a unique globally isolated eco system, and, with Russia as a whole, is at a crossroads. A must read for any decision maker in the O&G business.

I've read it and this review is a good summary.

Posted by: pogohere | Dec 24 2019 18:17 utc | 107

William Gruff @ 97

"...The only problems with hierarchy in society is if the process of rising in it is corrupt (being born into wealth, for instance) or if the span between the bottom and the top of that hierarchy is larger than what the population considers fair."

That is true, the only problem being (for the lower classes) that by the time the gap becomes evident to all, mechanisms of 'law' and power (plus bread and circuses) have been set in place to prevent or repress the necessary changes from happening from below. This is evident to the US populace as the few who saw it coming and protested could not rouse enough support when it could have mattered. We looked and still look for helpers among the children of the hierarchs because those are the only ones who can work within the current system. So far, such are few, if they exist at all. But we saw with FDR it only takes one or two. (I don't know if you saw my previous post that finance was not the governmental powerhouse it has become in FDR's time. First they came for the legislators!!)

I still have hope that the system in the US will of its own weight become unweildly. There are already signs of that happening in the increasing inability of US powermongers to have their way on the world stage, and in their search for ephemeral 'boltholes'. And while they are still able to inflict harm on others and do so with reckless abandon, I do not believe they are ready to risk their own skins or those of their near and dear - or the fortunes they have staked everything to gain. My hope is that even that damaging ability will peter out as climate change necessities force a refocus on what actually threatens said skins and fortunes.

Posted by: juliania | Dec 24 2019 18:35 utc | 108

To clarify my remarks about living within the Outlaw US Empire on 30K/yr, I said it comes down to how you budget in relation to where you live. I've related my experiences here before over the years, but the current group of barflies weren't present back then; so, I'll retell a portion.

I was very fortunate to be living in Hawaii on Oahu in the first half of the 1990s when that location was still one of the most expensive places to reside in the nation. But, I didn't need to own a car and thus incur all the related expenses thanks to the island's excellent bus system, where I could go anywhere on the system for $25/mo. I lived on what was considered the "bad side" of the island--Waianae--in the locale known as Makaha in a furnished one-bedroom apartment building built right on the beach that cost me $600/mo plus @$100 more for utilities. I worked at Marriot Food Services as a chef at the University of Hawaii, Manoa; so, I ate well for free most of the time. The upshot being my career choice paid much more than what I made via my paycheck. I was single, wasn't dating or otherwise chasing women since my focus was on work and the program of self-directed study I designed for myself at UofH--my goal was to reestablish my residency so I could afford to pay in-state tuition in my return to college. I did that from 1992-1996 when it became clear that my working hours would never allow me the time to attend classes and I returned to California. Those were good years. But I also had other advantages. I knew pidgin very well from my first experience living in Hawaii during the 1980s. I knew how to get along with The Others that supposedly made Waianae the bad side--Samoans, Filipinos, Hawaiians, Chinese, Tongans, and a host of other non-white "minorities"--and I tanned well, which masked my Haoleness. In other words, I picked a location where I knew I'd do well despite not earning big bucks. Oh, and I moved there after living in Castle Rock, Colorado for two years in a somewhat similar situation but lacking key infrastructure and benefits. And yes, I must note that in Hawaii at the time if you worked over 26 hours/wk your employer had to offer you health insurance, which was rather inexpensive and provided vision and dental.

Yes, I was fortunate, but I also made my own fortune by choosing a career field that was portable and I excelled at. I lived in locations I had prior knowledge of and contacts within. I knew how to properly budget, remained healthy and avoided most addictions, tobacco being the only one but now free from for 17 years. I avoided the need for a car. I only needed to support myself. And the only "debt" I needed to pay was for Child Support of $200/mo. The 2K/mo I netted more than covered my expenses, and I was even able to create a small nest egg. My circumstances today are different, yes, but I'm still prudent. Myself and my partner both know we're fortunate in many respects, so we contribute heavily to our local homeless shelter and its affiliates. My daughter is the one living in a poor and depressed region at the edge of Virginia and West Virginia in what was coal country. Houses there are available for 30K and less--it's hard to find ones over 100K--and rents are @400-500/mo. She's employed at her local hospital which pays her enough where it's possible for her to own a home. She made good choices; but to make good choices, you must be informed!

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 24 2019 19:24 utc | 109

RE my recent posts 737MAX about Mark Forkner Boeing technical pilot on flight simulator development and transcript of his email...

Therein Forkner stated concern over MCAS, particularly when learning MCAS active down to Mach 0.2,[abt 140 mph],, which includes the low level approach during landings; the sim. crew had not been told MCAS was active at low level.
His email was November 2016, or barely 2 years before first crash {Ethiopian Air].
I had wrongly stated was November 2017, or 1 year before first crash.

Posted by: chu teh | Dec 24 2019 20:12 utc | 110

People may have read that Putin has said a few more things about the documents he reviewed with his CIS peers; and in doing so, Putin revealed an aspect about himself few have seen previously. Putin made his statement at the annual year-end Defense Ministry Board Meeting. IMO, Putin has had more than enough of the extreme Russophobia now in circulation and he sees it as being very similar to that of prior historical periods where Russia was then subjected to attack from the West. I won't post Putin's diatribe here; you'll need to read it for yourself--I've never seen him so angry or speak undiplomatically. What I will post is what he said after, which IMO is even more important, although removed from the overall context:

"I just want to note that this kind of people, people like the ones who were negotiating with Hitler back then, they now deface monuments to the liberator soldiers, Red Army soldiers who liberated the countries of Europe and the European peoples from Nazism. These are their followers. In this sense, unfortunately, little has changed. And we must keep this in mind, also with regard to the development of our Armed Forces. [My Emphasis]

"Here is what I would like to say in this regard, which I think is critically important. Please note: neither the Soviet Union, nor Russia have ever tried to create a threat to other countries. We were always catching up in this regard. The United States created the atomic bomb, and the Soviet Union caught up with it. We did not have nuclear weapon delivery vehicles or carriers. There was no such thing as strategic aviation, and the Soviet Union was catching up in this area, as well. The first intercontinental missiles actually were not built here, and the Soviet Union was trying to catch up.

"Today, we have a unique situation in our new and recent history. They try to catch up with us."

Also note the word Putin chose to describe the Outlaw US Empire's withdraw from the INF Treaty. Clearly, Putin desires to impress upon those charged with Russia's defense that the times are indeed perilous, that the old lies are being spread without any resistance. As with the other three transcripts I linked, this one also demands to be read in full and also in close association with the other three. The Poles will scream along with their sycophants, but Putin is correct about both the past and the present and the danger present within the future.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 24 2019 20:16 utc | 111

@ 111 karlof1.. i appreciate all the work you do reading what is going on with putin.. the article you left the other day on the cis meeting from dec 20th was really worth the read... merry christmas to you karlof1.. thanks for all you do here at moa..

Posted by: james | Dec 24 2019 21:47 utc | 112

james @112--

Thanks james! Too bad 111's at the end of a dying thread as is Lavrov's game show.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 24 2019 22:35 utc | 113

karlof1.. thanks! i think you will have to motivate others to read the CIS article from the other link where it sums it up especially well by posting it again in a new open thread after the new moon tomorrow.. this one is not as good, but still good for giving insight into putin.. thanks again..

Posted by: james | Dec 24 2019 22:59 utc | 114

When doing GDP-PPP comparisons there is one very important thing your guys do not take into account at all and that's a given country's infrastructure.
I mean what each and every citizen "own" just because he lives in that country : roads, highways, schools, hospitals etc etc.

If you take that into account then the US is in a worse shape then many many third world countries....

I don't have the exact numbers in head right now but for example, having a kid in the US costs 10s of thousands of USD (like 40 or 50.000 USD) that you have to pay from your own pocket.
The same thing in Russia costs more like 3-5.000 USD.

In most of the European countries (guess it's the same thing in Russia), if you want to go to school, you'll have to pay a few hundred USD a year to enroll and that's it (of course you have to pay for housing and food just like anybody else). Schools are free and payed by the state, so every citizen "own" them.

If you add up all the things that are private (i.e. that you have to pay for) in the States, compared to what is just "given" to you, I guess, just with school & healthcare, you'll end up easily with 1/2 million dollars per citizen (think about old age healthcare... mamamia, I'm glad I'm not american).

Which means that every Russian is 500.000$ richer that every american at birth...

Then you can start bitching about the few thousand dollars more or less that someone makes in this or that country...

Posted by: SysATI | Dec 24 2019 23:17 utc | 115

karlof1 | Dec 24 2019 20:16 utc | 111

I read your link; Defense Ministry Board Meeting. Thanks.
All I can say is wow! Putin, rightfully angry as hell, with what we in the west are doing to the present and the foul corruption of history.
My greatest fear is the complacency of western citizens; both U.S. (especially) and European.
Usians are the absolute worst in their total lack of knowing and understanding history...

Posted by: V | Dec 25 2019 2:22 utc | 116

SysATI | Dec 24 2019 23:17 utc | 115

Excellent points, all...

Posted by: V | Dec 25 2019 2:35 utc | 117

"They bought it because they had to consider the possibility that the USA is run by a bunch of duplicitous shits. "

Is this the ship that is going to take two months to get to the site in the Baltic?

Posted by: Really?? | Dec 25 2019 3:25 utc | 118

vk 73

Per Wiki, Marx's aunt, Sophie Pressburg, married Lion Philips. The Pressburgs were a jewish family in Nijmegen. The Philipses were a Jewish family from Zaltbommel who joined the Dutch Reformed Church. Rea

Posted by: Really?? | Dec 25 2019 3:40 utc | 119

Even if the Potemkin Village was a myth it has become Western. Beaver=puke press-board houses with limited lifetimes just past Retirement ( please lord bring a state of emergency, but not disaster...). Empty nutrition, so farmers are going thru motions, now remotely. Disposable everything else. Whose government serves public interests best? No GMOs in Russia, which will save on healthcare which isn't extortionate or predatory. GDP of financialized FIRE sector that can't afford lower prices or housing everyone. Who's leaders Lie even when it's small? New ideas just behind the obstructionists. Canada never used to be a free country.

Posted by: failure of imaginati | Dec 25 2019 4:21 utc | 120

karlof1 | Dec 24 2019 20:16 utc | 111

Glad I catch your #111 for the link and I will start my read now.

And thanks to all good faith contributors + b for 2019's MOA oasis.

Posted by: chu teh | Dec 25 2019 4:37 utc | 121

Agree Tiger Lily. Open anti-Semitism (or any...covert/implied, for that matter)should have no place here; this site has too much to offer. I appreciate the site's Admin/writer's difficulty in dealing with this. David Graeber's recent video regarding the UK election campaign and the slurs against Corbyn outline who will be the pursuers of Jewish people; actual neo-fascists, not anti-Zionists.
It's why I tread warily in recommending this site, which is a shame.
On other matters economics; it's important for all here, (much smarter than the average bears I see on socmed), to remember some basics on macroeconomics and currency operations by governments.
The Gold Standard has gone, long ago. Debt held by sovereign governments in foreign currencies *can matter when talking of Deficits. But assuming not significant foreign debt holdings, and assuming free-floating currency, Deficits run in these economies are entirely normal. Fiat currencies start their life in FedGov issuances. Flows and sectoral balances follow, but this is just a fact of sovereign monetary and fiscal operation in such countries.
Also, monetary policy is weak, especially now with near zero IRs. But it's *inherently weak. Fiscal is (or should be, but mostly isn't, due to unfounded 'Deficit Fear') the government weapon-of-choice. Australia pretty much missed the worst of the GFC because fiscal action was taken in time. This is the elephant in the room that will not be spoken of now that the Right neoliberals have been in for 6 years. All this has relevance when talking about Russia's economic status.
And thank you for this wonderful site.

Posted by: PaulH | Dec 25 2019 12:41 utc | 122

Just finished Martyanov,s second book. Have started previous book.
Read them
Eye opening and grim

Posted by: Jus’Thinkin | Dec 25 2019 12:50 utc | 123

Well, California and the USA lead the world in one aspect of life- the sheer quantity of human excrement on the streets and sidewalks of the big cities. In fact, we are now having folks defecating in public in the middle of a supermarket aisles, for example.

This breakdown in public order and decorum will lead to disaster for some. Diseases that were common in the middle ages are now making a comeback, rats are everywhere in startling numbers- yet no one seems to care. The government talks a good game but folks, believe me on this, the "crap" trajectory is heading up, not down.

It is getting to the point that good intention normal folk just might have to start enforcing the norms expected in a civilized society themselves. Being a man who grew up in the south I know there are ways that ordinary people can enforce societal norms, miscreants be damned.

A painful lesson taught once sometimes works wonders.

Posted by: Morongobill | Dec 25 2019 14:55 utc | 124

Putin calls increasing personal incomes number one goal

"Of particular positive note is creation of the good macroeconomic development base," Putin commented. "This is a unique result; nothing of the kind took place in our current history"

I won't pretend to know the degree of control the oligarchs have over Putin, but I certainly don't understand his economic rationale. The numbers are not good, and the fundamentals certainly aren't pointing to a new boom in the forseeable future. 30 years later, we can already attest that the Russian Federation is a worse experiment than the USSR. Sure, it's still in a better position than the other third world countries (Brazil, Turkey, India) - but the situation is not only far from being stable, it's actually very unstable.

I don't care what Martyanov says about Russia's alleged "real economy". The fundamentals are not there.

My guess is Putin has an ace under his sleeve. I want to believe he's waiting for the next big capitalist financial crisis (which the serious economists who predicted 2008 say will happen again most probably around 2020-2022) to hit and then use the neoliberal good fundamentals Russia enjoys right now (stable currency, stable fiscus, its own essential infrastructure) to take this hit and prepare the terrain for another paradigm after 2023-2024 - hopefully, a system very similar to Chinese socialism, with its five-year plans (which it, ironically, copied from the USSR). That's the only way I can see some sense in his words: either that, or Putin is an economic illiterate and/or a neoliberal ideologue.

Posted by: vk | Dec 25 2019 15:36 utc | 125

Votre article est intéressant, mais comporte une grosse erreur de comparaison :

En Russie les maisons sont construites, en général, en dure donc plus résistante.

En Amerlokie les maisons sont 50% à 80% de leur masse en bois ou matières moins récitantes aux intempéries (vent violent) et plus énergivore.

Ce qui n’est tout simplement pas comparable.

Posted by: hubert gachoud | Dec 25 2019 18:51 utc | 126

the south used to enforce public norms by siccing dogs on protestors, i would take that as a lesson in what norms should be enforced and how. maybe more public restrooms might help? that used to be a public norm, too. there used to be jobs available, and housing that wasn't priced beyond what people could pay. i wish those norms were enforced.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Dec 25 2019 19:19 utc | 127

"wouldn't take that"

Posted by: pretzelattack | Dec 25 2019 19:19 utc | 128

>I worked for a local school district not long ago,
>and one telling stat was 20-25% of all high school
>students would be homeless at one point or another..
>Every park or pull-out has people living in their cars.
>Posted by: Jason | Dec 24 2019 3:28 utc | 75

This is true? It is a staggering number. And somehow mostly kept under wraps. I lived in Philadelphia 15 years ago. Even then there were homeless folks living in the bus shelter next to the Amtrak station, and folks sleeping in doorways, and people breaking into boarded-up abandoned buildings. Sometimes they even ran extension cords and a garden hose from one squat to the next.

But a quarter of students living in cars and whatever... that is a different scale entirely. Hiding the problem will not make it go away; this is a time bomb that will go off. Considering the pressures that US peons live under, it is amazing there are not a hundred mass shootings a day.

I am able to live OK on under $1200 per month because of my unique situation with a very large dose of unknowingly making the correct decision at a critical time. Dumb luck, in other words. I have no road vehicle and I'm ten miles from town, but I'm mostly too sick to go anywhere, so I don't need a vehicle anyway.

The secret of survival seems to be, live where no one else with money wants to live. When people with more money than the locals decide to move in to an area, local people always suffer, until they are driven out. There is no place left for poor people to go to anymore, except next to the railroad tracks.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Dec 25 2019 19:26 utc | 129

vk@125 overestimates Putin. It seems to me very clear Putin really believes in capitalism, especially in the version that swears hard money, low wage, high real estate, tight budgets will lead to the promised land of export-led "growth," meaning in practice the significant owners aren't losing money. So far from expecting a crisis, he's thinking there can't be a crisis that can lower oil prices even more, nor financial crises that can wreck the Russian currency regardless of the so-called fundamentals, nor even a general war breaking out because of economic disruptions in world economy. Putin imagines I think he is more than a sober Yeltsin and Russia under his wise leadership will not be like every other weaker economy, more susceptible to world economic crisis, not less. Further, I think the Chinese capitalist road is coming to where the government must break the Party, as it becomes an ever greater obstacle to restricting production to what's profitable, breaking mass resistance. Capitalist roading is hitching your wagon to a falling star. This is harder to understand, admittedly, when you agree that profit, not the provision of human needs, is the goal.

Agron and Robinson may have ideologized the USSR as an "extractive" economy (which if I remember correctly they never even defined clearly!) But it is Yeltin/Putin's Russia that is extractive, insofar as that means anything.

My opinion of course.

Posted by: steven t johnson | Dec 25 2019 19:48 utc | 130

Posted by: hubert gachoud | Dec 25 2019 18:51 utc | 126

I agree. We make buildings that are profitable for the builders, not durable and cheap to maintain and operate for the subsequent owners. Everything is profit-driven. This is supposed to be good.

Posted by: | Dec 25 2019 20:49 utc | 131

Posted by: vk | Dec 25 2019 15:36 utc | 125

With Putin, the best is tp ay attention to what he does, not what he says...
There are people here always taking us to pay attention ONLY to what he says...but they never research on what he does...

My guess is Putin has an ace under his sleeve. I want to believe he's waiting for the next big capitalist financial crisis (which the serious economists who predicted 2008 say will happen again most probably around 2020-2022) to hit and then use the neoliberal good fundamentals Russia enjoys right now (stable currency, stable fiscus, its own essential infrastructure) to take this hit and prepare the terrain for another paradigm after 2023-2024....

What ace that could be? And how it fits into using its neoliberal good fundamentals when what he plans is this:

Russia approves a privatization plan of 293 entities for the 2020-2022 triennium">

Amongst the entities to be privatized, VTB Bank...and Novorossíisk Port...

Posted by: Sasha | Dec 25 2019 20:57 utc | 132

From Wikipedia:

71 percent say the police should move homeless people if they are keeping customers away from a shopping area and 51 percent say homeless people should be moved if they are driving other people away from a public park

This is hierarchy and democracy in action. A majority say to ban the bums when they are inconvenient, and that's what the police do. Banned because they are low status in the hierarchy. Somebody has to be at the bottom. Otherwise, why be rich? In some places it is illegal to give out free food in a public park, in order to drive out homeless people.

Jesus was born homeless (sorry wrong thread) but today instead of a manger he would get a dumpster.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Dec 25 2019 21:34 utc | 133

@129 Trailer Trash
To clarify those statistics, 20-25% aren't homeless at the same time, just at some time during their high school careers. Many don't live in cars or under bridges but with family or friends other than their parents, while their parents live in cars or shelters.

Good friends of mine lived in a van for half a year while their three children shared a room with their aunt in a studio apartment.

This is a rural school district, a coastal town of about 2,500. Most coastal towns here have similar issues. The valedictorian of the city to the north of us spent her senior year living in a car with her mom...quite the accomplishment all things considered!

Homelessness is often unseen, only the rowdy drug users/drunks are the ones you'll see, but they make up a tiny percentage.

On a positive note, these are the cracks in the foundation of the Outlaw Empire everybody wants to see fall, and for the better of the world, this will probably be necessary. However, their are many of us without the means to protect ourselves, and the suffering is only beginning.

Posted by: Jason | Dec 25 2019 21:36 utc | 134

FSD (1):

GE has not owned any part of NBC (which is MSNBC) for serveral years now.

Comcast, which is a big cable TV company, sort of like Spectrum but now with TV-movie production interests, owns NBC-Universal.

Posted by: Jay | Dec 25 2019 22:35 utc | 135

Oh look screen name Deathevokation (post 2 at least) is blathering ignorant antisemitism. And it's been up for more than 24 hours. So cool. /s

Posted by: Jay | Dec 25 2019 22:56 utc | 136

>Good friends of mine lived in a van for half a year while
>their three children shared a room with their aunt in a
>studio apartment.
>Posted by: Jason | Dec 25 2019 21:36 utc | 134

Three kids and an adult living in one room. This is shocking. I've lived in studio apartments. It was no problem for one person. But four?

US residents are forced to practice "voluntary" family separation while refugees at the southern border experience forced family separation. It seems like no matter how bad one imagines conditions to be, they are actually worse. Much worse.

When will the UN setup tent camps for internally displaced persons in Uncle Sam Land? Maybe they will setup a few tent camps in Canada at the same time. Conditions there don't sound too good, either.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Dec 25 2019 23:09 utc | 137

Consider the source. Beyond the NY Times, it's the infamous 2014 coup NYT liar Andrew Higgins.

In early 2015, he, and Andrew Kramer also of the NYT, "reported" that there hadn't been an early 2014 coup in Ukraine.

Higgins is not a credible person. But of course, the NY Times chose to publish this garbage, and continues to employ both Higgins and Kramer.

Reading Higgins on anything Russia is akin to reading Judith Miller or Michael Gordon on the Iraq War. And Gorden remained at the NYT until the fall of 2017. Nor was Judith Miller fired by the NYT for her Iraq war selling. She was fired for lying to senior NYT's editors about the identity of the W administration source who'd told Miller that Valerie Plame was undercover CIA. (Novak publicly disclosed that Plame was CIA, not Miller, but Miller also had the information.)

Posted by: Jay | Dec 25 2019 23:13 utc | 138

Fellow Barflies, In Russia, December 25 is just another work day as Orthodox Christmas--7 January 2020--is the day for observance there. Many things have taken place there today. The first thing I'd like to note in the completion of the Defense Ministry Board Meeting transcript, the very long detailed listing of the State of Russia's Armed Forces by Defense Minister Shoigu being the main addition--it's very long and reflects a level of competence I know doesn't exist within the Outlaw US Empire's armed forces.

On 24 December, Vesti broadcast a program discussing the state of the Armed Forces and a bit about the contemporary situation with Putin, Shoigu, Nikolai Patrushev (Secretary of the Security Council of Russia), and Vyacheslav Volodin (Speaker of the Duma), taking part. A video and translated transcript are located here.

Prior to his Meeting of Council for Strategic Development and National Projects, Putin and Medvedev held the traditional New Year meeting with Government members, then Putin held the annual year end meeting with representatives of Russian business circles and associations--please note there's no separate meeting devoted to pleasing those known as oligarchs; those days are long past. Yes, just another day of work at the Kremlin.

I saw the AP ran a story published on the front page of our local rag attempting to spin Putin's noting that Russia is no longer playing "catch up" with strategic weapons and also provided some details of Shoigu's report but neglected to provide the why behind the need for it all, thus leaving readers clueless about the most important aspect of what Putin had to say. The Kaiser's racism denigrating Slavs still lives and thrives via Russophobia being promoted by the bastardized offspring of Teutons who think they're the only ones entitled to rule the Earth who believe they can goad those who allied with Hitler in the past to do their dirty work for them.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 26 2019 0:05 utc | 139

@karlof1 #109
I'm sure you are a very thrifty person, but surely you recognize that life is very difference for a young person today than in the 1990s?
Among other things: $600/month was a pretty high rent in the 1990s. In central California at that time, you could get a 2-bedroom apartment for under $500 without living in "the bad side of town".
The average rent in Hawaii today is $2400. Even paying $1000 for a room - $30K doesn't go very far. And this discounts the relative cost of education (both ongoing and the resulting debt), utilities, food (expensive on an island), taxes, etc.
I'd also note that $30K in the 1990s is very different than $30K today. Even according to the BLS, $30K in November 1995 is the equivalent of $50K today (November 2019).
So sure, you can find jobs in areas which overpay relative to the local economy - health care is one example as noted - but is that any different than choosing to be a bankster in Manhattan?

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 26 2019 0:08 utc | 140

I wrote the following as a frustrated Boomer in honor of our fellow barfly Jason. I hope it adequately reflects their sentiments.

Ok Boomer

Ok Boomer, you got yours, but what is your legacy for the future of our species and world?

The Western world living under the dictatorship of those that own global private finance.
The Western world where freedom and democracy are dog whistles you have been trained to use to glorify your slavery to the dictatorship of global private finance.
The Western world saddled by generations of debt owed to the monied/inherited elite.
The Western world with a legal pecking order that has the financial derivative winners walking away with all the chairs when the music stops.

Ok Boomer, you got yours, but what is your legacy for the future of our species and world?

The Western world where monotheism reigns supreme in talk but not walk while logic and reason play 2nd fiddle.
The Western world where we know somethings about 5% of our Cosmos but have faith that religions are the answer to all life's questions if you have enough faith.
The Western world where you let yourself and your children be continually brainwashed by Plato's Cave Displays owned by the moneyed elite.
The Western world where social reality is Top/Bottom but you accept the brainwashing of and mouth Left/Right social polarizations.

Ok Boomer, you got yours, but what is your legacy for the future of our species and world?

The Western world where personal and societal bullying and aggression are the norm, not the exception.
The Western world where its ok to lie cheat and steal as long as you get away with it.
The Western world where socialism is bad and capitalism is good but reality is both and continually deprecated toward the latter.
The Western world where you are willing to send your children to die in wars of finance based empire to keep the monied/inherited elite in power/control.

Ok Boomer, you got yours, but what is your legacy for the future of our species and world?

The Western world where the inhumane top 1% are glorified and the bottom 1% are vilified.
The Western world where a serial adulterer and abuser of bankruptcy is selected to inculcate their values on government
The Western world where the supposed good leadership bails out private banking and kills global leadership trying to stand up to the dictatorship of global private finance.
The Western world where nuclear oblivion of our species/world is threatened against those that push for a multi-polar (public finance at the center of the social contract) world.

Ok Boomer, you got yours, but what is your legacy for the future of our species and world?

The Western world where poverty is rampant and obvious but you continue to believe those that say the social economy is great.
The Western world where risk management is measured in immediate financial profit instead of future conservation of the human and natural resources of our spaceship earth.
The Western world where it is too much trouble for you to demand a better social contract for the future of our species, one without global private, but public, finance at the core.
The Western world where the human traits of community, family and sharing of our forefathers are replaced by the cancerous human traits of individuality, autonomy and competition.

Ok Boomer, this is the legacy to society you are offering to those who come after with your self absorption and blind fealty to the God of Mammon dictatorship at the core of the Western social contract. Don't mind our lack of respect for you as we wait to piss on your graves.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 26 2019 2:12 utc | 141

Thanks Psychohistorian that is great! And all due respect to both you and Karoff1 (and probably other Boomers here too). I come here to read your comments almost as eagerly as I come here to read b's initial offering. I feel it is in a way a dialectical conversation where solutions can be found in the contrasts.

Your views on usury/private vs. public are right on point IMO! A big part of the problem here in Oregon is the privatizing of once good government jobs, contracting out to bottom of the barrel corporations who pay poverty wages. Here in Lincoln County the school systems subcontracted all their custodial/maintenance/food service jobs to an awful company called Sodexo. These were all once jobs folks could live on with benefits/health/retirement...not any longer.

To not sound bitter, I moved to Oregon in the early 90's, before the massive rental inflation and wage stagnation. I was able to work my way through college at the University of Oregon with a double major in Poly Sci and Economics...that avenue isn't available to those younger than me, and I try to remind myself how fortunate I was and not assume younger generations can "do it the way I did it."

Posted by: Jason | Dec 26 2019 2:30 utc | 142

@142 jason... i really appreciated your comments from earlier and admire you for articulating all that.. in fact i think your story sums up just how much has changed for the worse in the usa and canada to a lesser extent and the situation that younger people find themselves in.. actually there are a lot of older people finding themselves in this same situation.. homelessness, and being a couple of paychecks away from a much harsher reality is not something to be happy about and i know there are many more people in this situation as the years go by... i hope change happens soon for the better, but i continue to believe it is going to get worse before it gets better... it is all many can do just to stay floating, let alone move ahead.. all the best to you in these struggles that i see many of my younger friends living with today that i don't remember ever seeing when i was living in my 20's or 30's... maybe things started falling apart into the late 80's... the tempo has been picking up since with no end in sight... i am about the same age as psychohistorian..

Posted by: james | Dec 26 2019 6:18 utc | 143

I lived in Oregon (born in NY in '45) from 1957 until 2003, when I left the states.
My sister still lives there and basically confirms much of what's been said here.
Anti-fa has taken over Portland; at least it sounds like it from the news.
I'm saddened by much that has happened since I left; but zero regrets. All in, I made the correct decision...
Best to those remaining...

Posted by: V | Dec 26 2019 7:09 utc | 144

@ Posted by: Jason | Dec 25 2019 21:36 utc | 134

This is a very similar case with Japan.

Japan has an almost zero homelessness rate because they have a lot of cybercafés where you can de facto rent a cubicle with an internet-connected computer at a risible cost. Most jobless and poor workers spend all their free time there, and sleep there.

But those are distortions caused by First World modernization. It will get worse.

Posted by: vk | Dec 26 2019 12:02 utc | 145

Trailer Trash @133

Not to offend someone with a pen name such a "Trailer Trash", but there are degrees of homelessness, some of which involve trailers.

When I last returned from being an expat in Asia I had resolved to "do good deeds" and "try to make a difference" in the lives of poor American students who are falling behind in the world by helping them with some of the pedagogic skills and techniques that I had used to great success in the Far East. I won't go into the soul-crushing futility of that effort other than to point out that what Jason @75 stated sounds entirely believable.

To be fair, I did choose one of the hardest of luck schools in one of the most underprivileged school districts in one of the most backwards regions of the country to try out my superhero teacher delusion, but subsequent research has convinced me that many, if not most, school districts in the country are trending towards what I worked with there rather than improving.

In any case, while in Asia I had gotten into the habit of doing home visits to enlist parents as allies in their children's educations. I figured that was what one of the things that was needed in the US to help give students a boost. My first shock in that regard was how many of my students did not live at the addresses that were on record at the school. My second was in realizing that many of my students' addresses were not real postal addresses at all but were just local names for jeep trails that you cannot find on Google Maps. The "residences" on these jeep trails were usually astonishingly dilapidated trailers surrounded by midden heaps, with the trailers themselves looking like they had been abandoned at a wide spot in the jeep trail where everyone else had already been dumping garbage. These trailers looked totally uninhabitable, missing doors and windows and with tattered blue poly tarps tied over the roofs and old pallets and such covering the holes in the floors.

Could anyone call those decaying carcasses of trailers out on nameless dirt roads "homes"? A tent under an Interstate overpass in the Frisco Bay area is positively luxurious by comparison.

Posted by: William Gruff | Dec 26 2019 12:08 utc | 146

@ Posted by: William Gruff | Dec 26 2019 12:08 utc | 146

But that wasn't the promise made by the US at the time of the Cold War. The American Dream was very clear: big house in the suburbs, high-paying white collar jobs, two kids with full conditions of also achieve the American Dream (i.e. sociometabolical reproduction of the middle class), vacations, money to spare for at least one hobby and money to spare for at least one big vacation to some paradisiac place in US soil or abroad.

That was the life promised to the American people in in the 1950s-1960s. All of that in exchange for full commitment to fight against communism and unquestionable faith and obedience to the capitalist system. The American people, so far, has fullfilled its part of the social deal; the USG, not so much.

Posted by: vk | Dec 26 2019 12:41 utc | 147

@ William Gruff | Dec 26 2019 12:08 utc | 146

From time immemorial it is to the victors that the spoils belong. Great description of those spoils. That victory tends to appear Pyrrhic doesn't it. Actually it looks like the opposition won by quitting the competition first with less real damage to themselves.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 26 2019 13:47 utc | 148

When will the UN setup tent camps for internally displaced persons in Uncle Sam Land? Maybe they will setup a few tent camps in Canada at the same time. Conditions there don't sound too good, either.
Posted by: Trailer Trash | Dec 25 2019 23:09 utc | 137

Brilliant suggestion!!

My main gripe with the so-called good intentions of the so-called UN is that it's a top-down organisation which takes orders from its 'donors' and other Anti-Christ Western pressure groups.

If the UN was a real Humanitarian organisation and not just another fake NGO then it would have a budget, and a mandate, to do exactly what you're suggesting - with lots and lots of publicity.
Until the UN starts following your sweet and simple suggestion it should be dismissed as nothing more than a Cheap Trick and a propaganda tool of the Anti-Christian West.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 26 2019 14:14 utc | 149

correction re #149.

...and a propaganda tool of the Great Satan and the Anti-Christian West.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 26 2019 14:25 utc | 150

@ Jason | Dec 26 2019 2:30 utc | 142

Once upon a time my cohort was considered the beginning of the Boomer Generation but sometime since have been rejected, nonetheless a word of caution might be of use. Take great care about following beaters of tin drums in these pages. Not all is as it seems. Once, when first arriving the nemesis was banks and bankers until …historian discovered, likely on youtube another nemesis which suited their fancy even better - finance, but not any banker or financier would do but only private bankers and private financiers would qualify for distain. As Goebbels noted, repetition makes for validity, without fail and …historian is superbly qualified and well practiced to constantly repeat, it's their forte no less.

Consider, should you find a quiet corner away from …historian's calliope's cacophony and consider what your life would be without banks, or what you would be able to do without credit to enable you to earn your crust; without banks safekeeping of your wages and honouring your checks or paying your plastic and keeping accurate accounts, how much of your life be taken up providing yourself of those services; or providing credit to obtain a vehicle to get yourself to work without relying on public transportation or any of the myriad other things credit can obtain for you when you're between paydays. Where do you think either credit of banking services are best provided? If these were public, are you of the preferred political persuasion that a public official will easily give those things to? Or might a private banker, using either their own funds or access to credit be the best place where due diligence would be practiced. It is due diligence that enables financing contracts to be issues with the expectation of being serviced and fulfilled. Tammany Hall was such a public entity that served these functions, fine and dandy if you subscribe to those political conditions, but what if you don't? Do you then do without? Be very careful of easy answers, like scorpions, there are stingers in their tails. To disrupt and destroy millennia of development of sophisticated and complex relationships just because …historian has a hard-on about banks, bankers, finance or financiers isn't a very wise move at all. Just be careful of the Pied Piper, their tune, and the price they will exact from your wallet. Just say'n.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 26 2019 15:04 utc | 151

@ Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 26 2019 15:04 utc | 151

So, you live in a world where 2008 never happened.

Public-owned banks do exist (they are not utopia) and do prosper (e.g. China's entire banking system, the biggest banks of the Third World etc.).

Private banker do commit fraud and wipe out funds of small people. They do that all the time. They know that, if the ponzi scheme collapses, the State will bail them out. It is pure ideology to posit the private investor as the incarnation of honesty.

It's not because something is State-owned that it is political-partidary. Institutions are publicly-owned and they function as they should. The only difference is that their profits will go to the public fiscus, and not the capitalist class purse.

Posted by: vk | Dec 26 2019 15:47 utc | 152

@ vk | Dec 26 2019 15:47 utc | 152

Are you Jason to whom the comment was addressed? Bugger off.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 26 2019 16:01 utc | 153

@ 18 Kevin. Persecuted?

Posted by: Richard Ong | Dec 26 2019 16:26 utc | 154

La Russie vue autrement

Au stade actuel et alors que les sanctions et aussi les décisions économico-politique occidentales visant à anéantir l'économie russe restent plus que jamais d'actualité, il peut être utile de faire un bilan de la situation économique de la Russie en liens avec les médias russes et suivant ce qu'on peut y lire.

Je ne désire pas l'opposer aux analyses des médias mainstream occidentaux étant donné que ceux-ci considèrent rarement les données officielles russes comme pertinentes et qu'ils ont la déplorable tendance de monter en épingle tous les petits dysfonctionnements qu'ils peuvent déceler dans le système russe qu'ils ont d'ailleurs la malencontreuse tradition d'appeler « le système Poutine ».

Je vais donc considérer ces médias comme non fiables et les ignorer pour cet article.

Soyez donc prêt à prendre une onde de choc de face si votre opinion sur la Russie est uniquement basée sur les reportages des principaux médias occidentaux et sur les avis des experts de plateaux de télévision qui ont la fâcheuse habitude de toujours se tromper.

La récente décision de boycotter la route maritime arctique pour des raisons écologiques fait partie de ces décisions absurdes.


Google translation:

Posted by: Mao | Dec 26 2019 17:05 utc | 155

@vk #145
I think you've never visited Japan.
There are definitely homeless in Tokyo and other major cities.
It isn't to the levels of the US, but they are very much visible.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 26 2019 17:06 utc | 156

@ Posted by: c1ue | Dec 26 2019 17:06 utc | 156

Yes, I know there are homeless people in Japan. What I'm saying is that this number should be even greater.


Speaking of rent in the USA, here's fresh from the NYT:

Where Rent Is $13,500, She Lives Off What’s Left at the Curb

Posted by: vk | Dec 26 2019 17:21 utc | 157

@8 steven t Johnson:

Your view of the unimportance of deficits omits any consideration of such problems of reckless and interminable deficits as: total debt, debt service, tax burdens to finance debt service, crowding out, malinvestment, creation of a bubble economy, punishment of savers, inadequate price discovery, hollowing out of pension assets, impoverishment of seniors, and skewing income to the top 1%. It is superficial. To say the least.

The toxic interrelationship of just the first four of these factors is right before your eyes in the US where the massive size of the total debt has the central bank over a barrel. It cannot raise rates to escape the deleterious effects of bubble finance and malinvestment lest the cost of debt service consume a yet-more-massive chunk of the annual budget. Economic growth remains anemic because of malinvestment (think "endless war," "stock buybacks," and "absurd executive compensation") and keeping marginal or decrepit enterprises afloat and thereby preventing reallocation of their resources.

The Syrian people "committed in the majority to a secular national government" were unable to hold their own against massive numbers of foreign jihadis who invaded the country and were financed, trained, supplied, and supported by the Saudis, Qataris, French, British, Germans, Danes, Israelis, and the US exceptionalists and the rest of their greasy "coalition." There are "18,000 Uighur jihadis in Syria alone. Other jihadis flooded in from all over Europe, North Africa, the ME, and Asia.

The Russian intervention came in the nick of time to change the correlation of forces. The US air force had sat on its hands and played "pretend to fight ISIS" but suddenly there were Russian planes in the air and the intelligence and will to use them. No more blind eye to the ISIS tanker traffic to Turkey. The US organized an air attack on a Syria position SW of Deir ez-Zor but it was too little and too late.

Posted by: Richard Ong | Dec 26 2019 17:34 utc | 158

‘I will SHOOT!’ Chilling account of Putin’s warning to East German protestors

President Vladimir Putin is famed for his steely persona, particularly in negotiations with his rivals from Western countries. But his political determination is also inspired by a KGB mission he embarked on in East Germany, in which he told restless crowds trying to swarm police offices that they would be met with gun fire.

Putin served as a KGB lieutenant colonel stationed in the East German city of Dresden during the unrest that culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall. A documentary made by Russian State TV claims Putin, then aged 37, watched on as angry crowds overran the offices of the East Germany secret police, before they then moved to target the headquarters of the KGB in the city.

Posted by: Mao | Dec 26 2019 17:45 utc | 159

@141 : psychohistorian |

** The Western world where personal and societal bullying and aggression are the norm, not the exception. **

You make a few good points, esp. if you are referring in your words above to the deplatforming, SJW street spasms, vindictive firings, media pile-ons, attempts to criminalize "hate speech" and "anti-Semitism," homosexual lawfare, and AntiFa street thuggery so beloved by the deranged left in the US. For the rest it seems like you had two too many flavored, half-caf, skim milk lattes down at Starbucks.

Posted by: Richard Ong | Dec 26 2019 18:02 utc | 160

@ Posted by: Richard Ong | Dec 26 2019 18:02 utc | 160 who wrote
For the rest it seems like you had two too many flavored, half-caf, skim milk lattes down at Starbucks.

Never go to Starbucks. Only drink water. You need to come up with some other cheeky derisive negative about what I wrote.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 26 2019 18:26 utc | 161

psychohistorian @141

Perhaps the most damaging thing done by the Boomer generation was the emotional and intellectual crippling of subsequent generations. Wrongly believing that childhood was some glorious stage of human development that should be prolonged, indefinitely if possible, rather than the disability that it actually is that should be overcome as expeditiously as is reasonable, Boomers deliberately worked to stunt the growth of their children. They promoted infantilization as some sort of positive trait rather than the horrible maiming of their children's minds that it actually has been. This has been a perfect parallel in the emotional and intellectual realm to the former ancient Chinese practice of foot binding, in which girls were crippled in order to help them maintain a characteristic of childhood that their culture believed to be desirable. Western culture is doing something much the same to their children, only to their minds rather than their feet.

"Isn't it cute how little Joey fantasizes about being a mountain panda?What an amazing imagination he has!"

Sure, it's cute... until Joey is halfway through his life and still imagines himself to be a mountain panda and has jelly-like skin that is not tough enough to withstand even the faintest of disapproving glances. Cute until you have an entire population of Joeys who live in childish delusion and think that changing the world is simply a matter of wishing it to be so. Cute until the nation is crowded with Joeys who have their mantles packed with trophies they received for just showing up but have no idea what real personal achievement even feels like. Cute until Joey begins to realize the emptiness of life in delusion and commits suicide, only Joey was never given the opportunity to develop the strength of character necessary to kill himself cleanly so he does it a little at a time with drugs and obesity instead.

Cute, and every generation since the Boomers has compounded this damage with their own children.

"Don't you DARE tell Joey he can't be a mountain panda if that's what he wants to be!"

This misguided kindness kills not only individuals but whole cultures. Ultimately, though, this is just a weird symptom of the death of empire. It is not unusual for organisms to descend into delusion as they near death (a kind of last ditch defense mechanism) and western culture as a whole has gone deeply delusional over the last few decades.

The corporate mass media workforce? Sadly, they are a bunch of Joeys with the mental development of small children, and most of them believe their own nonsense that they manufacture.

Posted by: William Gruff | Dec 26 2019 19:42 utc | 162

Jason @142--

Where in Lincoln County? I'm in Yachats. If you'd like to connect outside of this bar, add @ actionnet dot net to my moniker and drop the spaces. I'm in contact with several other barflies living in Oregon. We might accomplish something if we pooled our efforts.

psychohistorian @141--

Excellent! Did you work that out with your drums?

I see China's calling out the Outlaw US Empire in the clearest language possible as delivered yesterday by Chinese Defense Ministry Spokesman Wu Qian:

"As for the cyber security issue, the United States has tarnished its own image. The US still owes explanations to the global community about Snowden’s case and his revelations of extensive hacking of confidential data and cyber attacks against other states. At the same time, the US keeps pointing its finger at other countries that don’t fit the bill,...

"Over the past years, the US has waged wars around the whole world, violating the sovereignty of other countries, leaving them in ashes as they tore through these places. In addition, a huge number of innocent people have been killed and injured, with many of them losing their homes and turning into refugees.

"The Chinese have a saying that goes: ‘A thief cries, stop thief.’ American officials baselessly criticize China, but in my view, their every word and expression describe the US."

Looks like China and Russia are going to work as a tag team telling the truth about the Outlaw US Empire, as their Truth is backed by the visible reality all nations can see whereas the Empire's propaganda/lies are clear fantasy.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 26 2019 20:19 utc | 163

>Looks like China and Russia are going to work as a tag team
>telling the truth about the Outlaw US Empire
>Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 26 2019 20:19 utc | 163

Maybe it is just confirmation bias but I have noticed an increase in truth telling by various Dear Leaders not under Uncle Sam's thumb. Am I listening better or are the voices getting louder? Perhaps as Uncle Sam becomes more insane (I think he has rabies), it is easier for other leaders to speak up.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Dec 26 2019 20:29 utc | 164

vk @99
"With all of these, I made this mosaic of what my impression of American life must be in the 21st Century. To be sincere, I think it is a very accurate picture if you consider I had to reduce it in a small text that could fit into a blog comment."

"It's impossible to live in the USA with USD 30,000.00. You're literally a homeless person if you have that wage level."

Your comments on this subject are a mosaic of contradictions and confusion. Nothing obliges you to "reduce" anything to lecture to Americans and other commenters except your ego. You do not live in the USA, you are not an American, and you don't know what you are talking about. You sound sillier and sillier with each comment you make on this topic. Why don't you give it a rest mow.

Posted by: Really?? | Dec 26 2019 21:41 utc | 165

I found this site (MoA) researching military matters in Syria and the Ukraine. I found b's war analysis to be as sound as anything I had found...only later did I start reading the commentariat. When I did, I found like minded individuals, who saw things along the lines of how I saw things, which is extremely I read the commentary as eagerly as I read the article. My point being, I am not so much "following beaters of tin drums" as have found other fellow tin drum beaters.

I agree with much of what you go on to say, things are very complicated, the underlying problem is human nature itself, not this system of governance or that system of economics. Do I want the current so-called American Left running banks...or anything, really? Absolutely not! That said, at the end of the day, the system of economics currently practiced in the west is feudalistic/fascist. Like bacteria in a petri dish, humanity following crony capitalism, will consume the planet and itself. This way leads to extinction.

Human evolution requires something new, or we will perish. What that "new" way is, hard to say, it has yet to exist. Some blend of public/private I'd guess with a strong dose of resource conservation.

Posted by: Jason | Dec 26 2019 21:57 utc | 166

Russia bad England good
Iran bad Saudia Arbia good
Yeah thats the ticket

Posted by: steve | Dec 26 2019 21:57 utc | 167

karlof1 @109

There are all kinds of ways to beat the "middle-class American dream" syndrome and its costs.

The USA is a very big country.

And doing so (checking out of the middle-class American dream and its associated costs) has a very long tradition in American socioeconomic life.

What is amazing to me is how few teens and preteens seem to work for their own pocket money and how expensive the "necessities" such as a smartphone are. I started earning my own $$ as soon as I was old enough to babysit---actually, before that I picked red currants for 5 cents a box at a neighborhood farm.

Posted by: Really?? | Dec 26 2019 21:58 utc | 168

@ Posted by: Really?? | Dec 26 2019 21:41 utc | 165

I never lived in the USA. But I have access to documentation, and I can compare the promises of lifestyle from the 1950s-60s with the promises of the post-2008 USA. I can study contemporary USA as a scientific object, the same way a British historian can study the Roman Empire.

And they show a change of the goalposts. People were much more relatively rich and optimistic about the USA in the 1960s than in the 2010s. And the numbers back this perception up: I'm actually agreeing with the general feeling of the "millenial generation", albeit I disagree the contradiction is generational. My opion is that the deterioration of the American working classes comes from class struggle, and not one particular generation sucking up all the wealth while leaving nothing to the succeding ones.

Of course, I won't make a full exposition of an argument in a blog comment (there's simply no space), but I try to be clear with the expression of my ideas.

Posted by: vk | Dec 26 2019 22:44 utc | 169

@ Jason | Dec 26 2019 21:57 utc | 166

Thank you for your considerate reply. This is the end of my functioning day and your comment deserves a well considered response. I shall try to do one tomorrow at first opportunity.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 26 2019 22:54 utc | 170

Business Insider: Here’s the income you need to live comfortably in every state in the US

* The cost of living is notoriously high in the US – but it can vary widely from state to state.

* GoBankingRates recently released a report determining the „living wage“ necessary to live comfortably in each US state.

* Some states, like New York, require an annual income of $95,724 to live comfortably. But the living wage for other states, like Mississippi, can be as low as $58,321.

Living paycheck to paycheck is an unfortunately common hallmark of American life.

Having it all — the ability to cover basic expenses, while still having „fun money“ and contributing to savings — can be a difficult feat.

That total amount — also known as an annual „living wage“ — varies significantly depending on what state you’re in.

GoBankingRates recently determined the necessary living wage in each state using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the 50/30/20 budgeting rule. This popular general budgeting rule allocates 50% of annual income to necessities like housing, 30% to discretionary expenses like travel, and the remaining 20% to savings.

The median necessary living wage across the entire US is $67,690. The state with the lowest annual living wage is Mississippi with $58,321. The state with the highest living wage is Hawaii with $136,437. Other expensive states (unsurprisingly) included New York and California, which have notoriously high costs of living and expensive housing markets.

Keep reading to see what the annual living wage necessary is to live comfortably in every US state, listed in alphabetical order by state name. Also included is the actual median household income in each state according to 2018 data from the US Census Bureau and the median price of homes listed for sale in each state from Zillow.

Here’s the income you need to live comfortably in every state in the US slides

Posted by: Mao | Dec 27 2019 0:24 utc | 171

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez Says U.S. 'Not an Advanced Society' at Bernie Sanders Rally: 'It is Fascism'

New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez railed against the idea of the United States is an "advanced society," saying that we've evolved into a fascist state that only benefits its richest members.

Ocasio-Cortez was speaking at a Venice, California, campaign rally for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders Monday as she expressed contempt for the frequent claim that the U.S. is the world's wealthiest, most advanced country. Several raucous crowd members chimed in and yelled that U.S.culture is actually reflective of right-wing "fascism" and that the wealthiest people are simply using the country's vast resources to enrich themselves.

Posted by: Mao | Dec 27 2019 0:40 utc | 172

Steve Johnson @8

"And so far as I know the situation overall has never improved so much that population growth has resumed."

Natural population growth in Russia was positive between 2012 and 2017.What is driving the present population decline is the catastrophic 1990s, when so few children were born that the present cohort of women of childbearing age has been schinking.

Posted by: rkka | Dec 27 2019 0:43 utc | 173

Posted by: Mao | Dec 27 2019 0:24 utc | 171

"But the living wage for other states, like Mississippi, can be as low as $58,321."

"As low as..", that's a good one. It's obscene that human beings should need "money" in order to live at all. Most societies didn't deploy money that way, and many didn't use it at all.

Yet no matter where you look, no matter what people's self-alleged "principles", almost all of them still want the Mammon indenture for the sake of nothing but worthless, Earth-killing, soul-killing material junk, and therefore that's their one and only real principle.

That's the one and only reason we can't live free.

Posted by: Russ | Dec 27 2019 1:11 utc | 174

Richard Ong@258 "Your view of the unimportance of deficits omits any consideration of such problems of reckless and interminable deficits as: total debt, debt service, tax burdens to finance debt service, crowding out, malinvestment, creation of a bubble economy, punishment of savers, inadequate price discovery, hollowing out of pension assets, impoverishment of seniors, and skewing income to the top 1%. It is superficial. To say the least."

This is gibberish. Government deficits do not create bubbles, and economies are not bubbles regardless of deficits. Malinvestment is not even clearly defined but would be caused by government taxation and government spending with balanced budgets if there were such a thing different from businessmen making bad investments that didn't pay off. Crowding out doesn't happen until the economy is at full capacity and full employment, except that't pretty much never. Punishment of savers is mad dog reactionary, inasmuch as it really means the value of money should never go down which can only happen when growth is artificially constricted. Skewing income to the top 1% is done by taxation, not deficits. Etc. Etc. Etc. This is all mainstream to Austrian economics, which is religious faith rather than science. The economics departments are temples of Satan and the Ongs are acolytes in the covens.

Thanks to rkka for clarifying cohort effects.

If it needs clarification, Putin's future economic performance looks to be worst. There is no denying that ending Yeltsin's drunken debauchery of the socialized economy has helped some of the ravages of capitalism. Massive attacks on the living standards of the workers were necessary to create capitalist property in the USSR. It will take massive attacks on the workers to keep the foreign capitalism imported into China profitable.

Posted by: steven t johnson | Dec 27 2019 2:11 utc | 175

@ Jason | Dec 26 2019 21:57 utc | 166

To clarify: your comment @ 142 that I replied to was addressed and my comment @ 151 was addressed to that subject's pseudo-economic pathology. What followed was only an observation of some fallacies being repeatedly regurgitated, thus the "beatings on a tin drum" (using reference to Gunther Glass's title The Tin Drum, the acceptance and incorporation of something contrived, a political party line, in this case 1930's German (National Socialist) - the tin drum, loud, raucous , tuneless).

Barely a thought passes this …historian's attention that does not trigger his "tin drum", sad really. What this "tin drum" does do is stop any further observation or considerations concerning banks or finance as economic subjects, instead what is produced is a hallowed, sanctified political subject, hardly a way to know anything about banking or finance as they were developed for advancing any economic process (only those economic processes that live in …historian's imagination). I had my say about that above and will not repeat it here. I appreciate your reply to my # 151 particularly in that address is made to what was given and not what might be happening inside some other's head - a rare occurrence these pages. Thanks again, a pleasure to reply your comment.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 27 2019 11:55 utc | 176

Jason @142

Beware the cheer squads for the Jamie Dimons of the world.

Note that the argument for private finance essentially boils down to the Jamie Dimons of the world being more trustworthy than you, and naturally that god-like trustworthiness is what justifies their skimming $billions of the cream from the economy. Only the profit incentive can be trusted to select the guardians to safeguard your interests from your own corruptibility and base "human nature".

Posters like psychohistorian don't agree with that. Such posters somehow maintain sufficient faith in humanity to believe that we can overcome what others claim is our "nature" to all be thieves and sociopathic scoundrels. Others, such as myself, maintain that the appearance that human nature is defined by sociopathy and selfish duplicitousness is manufactured and not human nature at all; that it takes the elites constantly stirring the pot to keep the population atomized and prevent those millions of individuals from clumping up into self-organizing, bottom-up societal power structures that can easily crush the top-down authoritarian corporate structures that are topped by private finance (the perspectives of posters like psychohistorian and myself are actually not so far apart in this regard).

Make up your own mind. Do we really need Goldman-Sachs and the Rothschilds and their ilk managing the flow of the lifeblood of the global economy or can we do better? Are you convinced that the public (you) taking control of that aspect of the economy would ruin it? Some are certain that you would ruin it, while others like psychohistorian are not. I think you would mess it up, at least for a little while until the damage from being programmed to be a self-centered and identity obsessed American heals and your consciousness expands (becomes class consciousness). Fortunately, the system has sufficient excess capacity to handle being run in such an incompetent manner for a while without causing too many famines and other disasters, so I think the potential benefits of trying outweigh the risks.

Posted by: William Gruff | Dec 27 2019 14:51 utc | 177

@vk #151
Why do you think the number should be greater?
Rents in Japan are highly varied, unlike in the US - and the advanced public transportation system makes accessibility - even from long distances - possible if not pleasant (1.5 hour commutes by train aren't extremely unusual).

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 27 2019 15:37 utc | 178

@vk regarding above post - sorry, misremembered your post#. Should have been #145

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 27 2019 15:38 utc | 179

@Jason #166
I agree with what you said:

things are very complicated, the underlying problem is human nature itself, not this system of governance or that system of economics.

My view is that the problem is any system, period. All systems have their strengths, but all systems equally have weaknesses.
Over time, individuals will exploit these weaknesses to the point where the strengths (and thus benefits of said system) are subsumed by the negatives.
You can call this human nature - certainly it is an outcome of it vs. say, being ants.
But if this thesis is true - then there is no way to fix it except by somehow changing the system periodically (and peacefully) such that the exploiters have to start again.
In a significant sense, that's what happened in China. They had a communist system; they saw how it was not working in Russia and they decided to promulgate a controlled change.
This change isn't just "Communism with Chinese characteristics", it appears to be a lot more structural.
For example, a lot of talk has gone into "ghost cities" and other amazing examples of huge amounts of misdeployed capital in China.
What is much less talked about is how the central Chinese government/CCP has allowed free rein to the next layer of government - including the ability to print money via issuing loans - as a literal laboratory for innovation in economic development. It is also clear that successes are then reinforced by the central government/CCP.
This is a dramatically different dynamic than is seen in the US, for example. While there are some cases of state level innovations being drawn upon - Romney's Massachusetts health plan and Obamacare, for example - the direction is mostly top down.
How China proceeds forward with its externalization of its successful domestic operation - i.e. Belt and Road Initiative - time will tell.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 27 2019 15:54 utc | 180

"For example, a lot of talk has gone into "ghost cities" and other amazing examples of huge amounts of misdeployed capital in China. "

I read recently that talk is all it turns out it is. These "ghost cities" are now full and functioning. In fact it appears it was smart forward thinking and not the nonsense that we read over here proclaiming the end of China for years now.

Posted by: arby | Dec 27 2019 16:26 utc | 181

@ jason.. i am with psychohistorian and gruff... the elitist attitude of t bear is a real turn off.. look at his response @ 153 for a good example... people that are social and engaging don't respond to other people that way.. he would sooner leave you under a bridge on a cold winter night then anything, in spite of the bullshite he says to you directly...

Posted by: james | Dec 27 2019 18:23 utc | 182

@ Posted by: c1ue | Dec 27 2019 15:37 utc | 178

Because those people aren't living in cybercafés under their free will, but because they literally can't afford to own their own homes. That is not a lifestyle or a fad.

It is just a serendipity cybercafés are extremely widespread, popular and cheap in Japan. If they didn't exist, all of those dozens of thousands of salarymen and NEETs would be homeless, thus skyrocketing Japan's homeless population - both in relative and absolute terms (needless to say, since Japan's population growth has been well into negative territory for decades and will continue to be so for the forseeable future).

Posted by: vk | Dec 27 2019 18:49 utc | 183

ot - vk and c1ue... here is a video that is a great overview on what japan has gone thru thanks the central bank of japan in the 80's, 90's... Princes of the Yen: Central Banks and the Transformation of the Economy

Posted by: james | Dec 27 2019 20:03 utc | 184

Below is a link to a ZH article followed by a take away quote from Reuters linked to in the ZH piece

US Sanctions Backfire: Russia's Gazprom & Ukraine Make Landmark Deal

The Reuters quote
MOSCOW, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Russia’s Gazprom said on Friday it has paid Ukraine $2.9 billion to settle a legal row, part of a wider gas package deal reached last week.

Last week, Russia and Ukraine announced the terms of a new gas transit deal, under which Moscow will supply Europe for at least another five years via its former Soviet neighbour and pay a $2.9 billion settlement to Kiev to end a legal dispute.

In exchange, Kiev is set to drop another legal claim. Russia and Ukraine plan to sign the final deal before the end of this year.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 27 2019 21:27 utc | 185

Most are aware that the sanctions imposed on Russia were a boon to its economy as it forced a regime of import substitution. One sector that really benefitted was agriculture. Here we have Putin at a State Council meeting focused 100% on agriculture and Russia's rural regions. Note what Putin declares to be Russia's large competitive advantage in this sector but also on what still must be done to make it perform even better.

And occasionally, there's time off for enjoyment. Putin presents a gift, delivers praise and thanks at the end of the Year to all those who work for the people of Russia.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 27 2019 21:57 utc | 186

Re: Karlof1@106 - & previously posted links to Putin's 'presser'

Thanks for the link. I am a fair way through thus far, and it contains many fascinating insights into internal Russian affairs.

One quote that stood out:
VP: "...We have yet to see any willingness to move in this direction, instead of trying to create favourable conditions for resolving the problem by force using tanks, artillery and air power. I said: air power was used. And the current President of Ukraine replied: What air power? He did not even remember or did not know this. But they did use air power, you see?"

One has to wonder if this is a thinly-veiled jab about MH17, or solely regarding the aerial bombardment of civilian areas in the restive east?

Posted by: Jon_in_AU | Dec 28 2019 0:45 utc | 187

Mao # 171

That is what Business Insider says for an individual or a household/family of four?

Posted by: Really?? | Dec 28 2019 1:14 utc | 188

@Jon_in_AU #187: It's about the aerial attacks on civilian areas, the most famous of which was the June 2, 2014 attack on Lugansk Oblast Administration Building, killing 8 civilians, including the Health Minister of Lugansk People's Republic Natalya Arhipova. You can read about the attack on Russian Wikipedia: Авиаудар по зданию Луганской областной администрации 2 июня 2014 (use Google Translate).

Posted by: S | Dec 28 2019 6:14 utc | 189

@vk #183
The "cyber cafe residents" meme is of questionable provenance.
The numbers quoted in the articles I've seen: 5,400 nationwide - is extremely low for a nation of 120 million, much less cities of 10 million plus. In comparison, actual homeless people - sleeping on the streets and in parks - is at least 5000 in Tokyo alone.
It is also very unclear just why the cyber cafe's would tolerate long term residents.
Compare with the number of homeless in SF alone: 10,000 vs. a population of 850K - or Los Angeles: 50,000 to 60,000 vs. a population of 4 million or so.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 28 2019 17:41 utc | 190

@ Posted by: c1ue | Dec 28 2019 17:41 utc | 190

There's no doubt life quality in Japan is considerably better than that of the USA.

What I'm saying is that Japan is not that mixed capitalism economy paradise it is constantly propagandized as in the West.

The cyber café is just an illustrative example. They have long hour using fees very similar to the ones in the West's early "Lan Houses": the customer pays in advance and stays in the cubicle for days and days. Officially, they are not reting the cubicle: they are only using the internet.

I'm sure there are many other schemes like that in Japan that reduce its own homeless population further.

And that's while Japan is a fascist country, so it doesn't have any immigration at significant levels (and Japan also is one of the few countries in the world that doesn't have jus soli, that is, if an immigrant couple manages to have a child on Japanese soil, this child won't be Japanese unless the Japanese government actively decides to). The Japanese doesn't have the "hordes of refugees" excuse the Western European peoples have.

The act of using technicalities to mask negative statistics is common practice among Western Democracies. The USA, for example, changed its unemployment calculation methodology in the 1990s (U-6) in order to drive down the work-hours necessary to make someone eligible as "employed". The British government abuses, since Thatcher, the "disabled benefits" statistic loophole in order to make the UK's unemployment rates appear (much) lower than what it really is.

When Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil, one of the first things he declared he would do would be to change the methodologies of the IBGE (Brazil's official statistics agency). He surely fullfilled this promise, because this same IBGE registered a staggering 0.6% quarterly GDP growth for Brazil in the last three months - a number immediately contested by the Financial Times. The IBGE then backed down in a humiliating fashion and promised to "revise its numbers".

Posted by: vk | Dec 28 2019 18:24 utc | 191

@ 191 vk... fascinating details.. thanks for sharing! where do you learn of these details on japan and the homeless??

Posted by: james | Dec 28 2019 18:33 utc | 192

"The real question for Putin is not whether the intervention was effective, but, what did he get for it?

Just my opinion - sending a message that you can count on Russia, unlike the United States. That the Russian military is competent and will get the job done and as a showcase for Russian arms. The last one is something they do very well and sell a lot of.

Posted by: ian | Dec 30 2019 20:26 utc | 193

Corrected by purchase power Russia's official GDP (PPP) is about as big as Germany's


if economies are same, must be car sales same ++ Russian population is almost 2х as big

lets compare car sales:

germany :

Year-to-date sales increased 3.9% with 3,323,878 cars registered in the first eleven months of 2019.

so overall it will be 3.5 mln per year



The 1,580,297 new cars and LCVs sold in the first eleven months of 2019 r

so whole year will be 1.7*1.8 mln

SO IN Germany cars sales are twice as big, and having almost 2х less population

popualtion : 148 mln against 82 mln

so more or less avg Russian buys 4х times less per year


dont get me started that avg car in Germany is VW, and in Russia it is AVTOVAZ


italy 11 months car sales = 1,775,884 more than in russia

Posted by: alx west | Dec 31 2019 2:03 utc | 194

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