Get your Sunday morning started off right with these 10 interesting reads:

WTF is the “Platinum Coin Cliff” ? (Bloomberg) see also How American CEOs’ push for a fiscal deal paid off: It’s not about NASCAR or Hollywood (Quartz)
• Gold Heads for Longest Run of Weekly Losses Since 2004 (Bloomberg)
Zweig: Huge Returns Mess With Investor’s Mind (WSJ)
Taibbi: Secret and Lies of the Bailout (Rolling Stone) see also Surprise, Surprise: The Banks Win (NYT)
• There’s No Avoiding Google+ (WSJ)
• Cerebral circuitry (
• Why You Won’t Be the Person You Expect to Be (NYT)
Bartlett: When the Deficit Will Be Fixed (Economix)
• Controversial Dark Money Groups Told IRS They Would Stay Out of Politics, Then Didn’t (ProPublica)
• From NASCAR to rum, the 10 weirdest parts of the ‘fiscal cliff’ bill (Washington Post) see also GOP anti-tax policy goes over the cliff (Politico)

Whats for Brunch?


Have We Lost the War on Drugs?

Source: WSJ

Category: Financial Press

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

32 Responses to “10 Sunday Reads”

  1. BR,

    you should have left that ‘longer list’, under the current title..

    thought it ‘funny’, ‘quite droll’..~

  2. ilsm says:


    The debt fiasco is by the deficit hawks who are Birchers out to kill the New Deal and want more than that; inflation, interest rates do not matter to them. They rather not have a functional central government.

    Debt and deficits are a flanking maneuver the center of their attack is the US government which is a hindrance to their running the world.

  3. wcvarones says:

    Bartlett’s column points to the Dirty Fed as the root of all obstruction on the deficit. By monetizing the debt and enabling monstrous deficits with no near-term consequences, they remove all incentives for Congressional cooperation on a long-term deal.

  4. TLH says:

    We have lost the war on drugs by locking up too many as we have lost the war on our financial health by not locking up enough bankers.

  5. jnkowens says:

    The Taibbi article picks the scab off an unhealed wound – namely the psychopathic bank bailout.
    What should have happened was a nationalization of the banks in question, a wipe out of shareholders, a haircut for bondholders, the firing of the managements of all the banks involved, the formulation of a bad bank to house the toxic assets, the bailout funds being used to write down the toxic assets, restoration of glass-steagall, followed by the re-emergence of the banks from nationalization with clean balance sheets and new management.
    What did happen is chronicled by Taibbi, and is a f@&?#*g disgrace!
    Everytime i read about this shit i turn into Rick Santilli…

  6. CB says:

    RE: have we lost the war on drugs?
    Privatized prisons are a growth industry largely supplied by the convenient “war on drugs” which targets poor people, minorities or other “undesirables.” Of course the private prison industry has a powerful lobbying force too. Land of the free? US has the highest incarceration rate per capita in the world (even after exempting all banksters) This is a huge waste of human potential. Drugs won – maybe withdraw punitive forces and try education, treatment, incentives and support?

  7. ToNYC says:

    The WOSD is the corporate’s crusaders religious marching banner perfected by Nixon-Mitchell to control free access to natural products via the CSA and EPA of 1970. Wood dust is the latest potential carcinogen about which we are currently being advised. A kerf tax on saws is in the birth canal of our funky monopoly rulers. Work for Surgeon General and Attorney General equality and let doctors be doctors and get our good police out of the medicine business and save a bundle!

  8. osheth says:

    I’m really enjoying these:

    What’s the difference between a fine and a fee?

    Why you should subscribe to more than one newspaper

    Robert Greene talks about what separates amateurs and masters:

    Dan Pink says we’re all sales people

  9. @ToNYC

    WOSD ? what is that, to which you are referring?

  10. RW says:

    A Little Table Showing Why We’re Neither Greece Nor in Need of Default

    …the next time some wild-eyed hyper-ventilator explains why they need to threaten default on our national debt to have their way on spending cuts, or claims that unless we scrap the entitlements, we’ll sink into the sea, please show them these little calculations. It may not work, but at least it might quiet them down for a moment.

    NB: Anyone tired of (or worried about) Google tracking can use secure, clean searching at DuckDuckGo for awhile and relax a bit. Does a pretty good job, w/ no ads and no bubble. Also has a neat little plugin facility to create your own custom search envelope or easily acquire and use a plugin that somebody else made.

    Just read a little piece that analyzed the platinum coin ploy and basically concluded that it was absolutely wacky, not going to happen, and completely legal; i.e., if the Treasury created it, no federal court would reverse.

    @ToNYC, jeez, are you dealing from the Poe’s Law deck now too? I’m so confused: Do I need to start fretting about draconian efforts to curb wood dust now?

  11. mathman says:


    American actress Lily Tomlin is credited with the expression, “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.” With respect to climate science, my own efforts to stay abreast are blown away every week by new data, models, and assessments. It seems no matter how dire the situation becomes, it only gets worse when I check the latest reports.

    The response of politicians, heads of non-governmental organizations, and corporate leaders remains the same. They’re mired in the dank Swamp of Nothingness. These are the people who know about, and presumably could do something about, our ongoing race to disaster (if only to sound the alarm). Tomlin’s line is never more germane than when thinking about their pursuit of a buck at the expense of life on Earth.

    (read the rest)

  12. Mike in Nola says:

    The article on Google illustrates once again that Google is the modern-day octopus. The recent FTC wrist slapping for actions which were pretty obviously wrong to anyone with half a brain, accompanied by some vague promises, showed the effectiveness of it’s lobbying.

    It’s amazing what people will put up with to get some “free” services from a company who buys and sells them like property.

    A recent example of Google’s hubris and feeling of legal invulnerability is the declaration of war on Microsoft. The was a much touted article about how Google was going to take over the office market. This hasn’t been confirmed by any of the recent announcements showing MSFT getting contracts with Chicago and DOD ($617M)

    Google then announced that it would not be making a google maps app for Windows Phone similar to what it has made for iPhones. This was allegedly because Windows Phone didn’t have sufficient market share. Yeah, right.

    Despite the lack of a youtube app or google maps app, Windows Phone users could still use google maps through Internet Explorer on the phone. That is, until a few days ago. Suddenly, Windows Phone users were being redirected to another page when they tried to go to Despite the many complaints, Google was silent until a couple of days ago when it said that the problem was that Internet Explorer on Windows Phone was not base on Webkit (a piece of software that renders web pages) like Safari and Google Chrome browsers. Not being based on Webkit, so the story went, Internet Explorer wouldn’t work correctly. BS. Yesterday, a Windows Phone users changed his browser string (the bits your browser sends to websites to let them know what browser and operating system you are using) to pretend that he was using an the Chrome browser on an Android phone. Guess what? It worked fine.
    There’s a blog post and video illustrating it here:

    The subsequent outcry was enough for Google to say it was backing down. Whether it has done it yet, or whether it will pull similar stunts in the future remains an open question. One big reason for the Apple maps debacle is that Apple could see the handwriting on the wall with respect to its reliance on a Google Maps app and rushed its attempt to escape from Google.

    It seems like the only thing in Google’s ways are those damned EU socialist antitrust watchdogs.

  13. Molesworth says:

    RE: ToNYC’s comment on wood dust
    I googled WOSD:
    World Organization of Self Defence
    World Organisation of Scuba Diving
    War on Some Drugs
    Perhaps ToNYC has discovered that sniffing up wood dust is as good as some drug as, say, cocaine. If not, I don’t know where he is going with that. OSHA’s been on wood dust for some time as a health hazard.
    That said, I would not want to be around someone high on wood dust.

  14. Molesworth,

    go w/ “War on Some Drugs”..thanks for the hint~

  15. Tim says:

    Whats for Brunch?

    With our messy economy, bazillion dollar debt, dysfunctional and corrupt congress, markets uncertainty, and everything else, I think we’ll go at risk for arrest and have an elaborate crug cocktail.

  16. Jojo says:

    December 30, 2012
    Let’s Give Up on the Constitution


    AS the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.

    Consider, for example, the assertion by the Senate minority leader last week that the House could not take up a plan by Senate Democrats to extend tax cuts on households making $250,000 or less because the Constitution requires that revenue measures originate in the lower chamber. Why should anyone care? Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?

    Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.

    As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is.

  17. Jojo says:

    January 4, 2013
    New Rules for the New Year

    2012: I call it the year in “meh.” Not the worst we’ve ever experienced, but nothing particularly great to say about it either. Like being a socialite, but in Tampa.

    I am looking forward to 2013, however, because I love the odd-numbered years — they’re the ones without congressional elections, Olympics, World Cups or weird extra days tacked onto the calendar by so-called scientists. Odd-numbered years are chill. They’re the 3 p.m. of years — that small sliver of time when lunch is digested and it’s too early to think about dinner and you stand at least a fighting chance of getting something done.

    In that spirit, here are the New Rules for the new year:

    NEW RULE Now that their end-of-the-world prophecy has proved to be complete baloney, the Mayans must be given a job predicting election results for Fox News.

    NEW RULE Sometime during the 2013 awards show season, “Gangnam Style” must be given an award for the shortest amount of time between my finding out what something is to my being completely sick of it. Besting the time of 7 hours, 12 minutes, set by “The Macarena” in 1996.

    NEW RULE Congress must make it a tradition to drive off the fiscal cliff every year. And I mean really off the cliff, like Toonces the cat drove that car. This way Republicans can learn that lower military spending won’t lead to China invading. And Democrats can learn that no one cares what the Commerce Department does anyway.


  18. DeDude says:

    Although I do like the platinum coin approach I would prefer that Obama would grow a pair and send out a letter to all social security recipients in the districts of those refusing to increase the debt limits, saying the following:

    Dear social security recipient;

    Your representative in congress [Nutcase GOP Teahadist] is refusing to allow me to raise sufficient funds to pay the bills covering spending congress has passed into law. As a result I cannot pay all the bills, and your social security is one of those bills that there is no money to cover. So please be aware that unless [Nutcase GOP Teahadist] and the other GOP house members blocking the authorization to pay governments bills change their mind, you WILL NOT RECEIVE YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK next month.

    Sincerely your President

    Barack Obama

  19. “…and your social security is one of those bills that there is no money to cover…”


    be careful, or you’ll be attracting the likes of ‘JimRino’, bleating “The SocSec Trust Fund is Fully Funded..”

    some ‘People’, afterall, Fear the Truth, more than the Darkness of (willful) Ignorance..

  20. ToNYC says:

    Perhaps ToNYC has discovered that sniffing up wood dust is as good as some drug as, say, cocaine. If not, I don’t know where he is going with that. OSHA’s been on wood dust for some time as a health hazard.

    Size matters. The 99% get regulated while the 1% control in the government protection racket launched by 2 corporate ny lawyers who knew nothing about science or medicine. We are protected from grams while the monopolists fudge tons this way and that. The War_On_Some_Drugs is what it is: a political device of control, born out-of-control. As for sniffing, nothing beats ocean air.

  21. DeDude says:


    Technically it is fully funded (for as long as it is reasonable to predict anything). However, if lawmakers refuse to pay the bills then they will not be paid. It is an acute liquidity issue not a solvency issue.

  22. SecondLook says:

    DeDude & Mark E Hoffer,

    While it may sound like a great stick to brandish – threatening to stop SS payments – the President neither has the authority to do so, nor does it have any bearing on the National debt limit.

    The Social Security Administration currently pays out all of the revenues collected. That outflow doesn’t depend on the ability of the Federal Government to issue new debt. Well, it did briefly during the now terminated “SS tax holiday”, when the SSA had to cash in some of it’s special Treasury bonds, and the government issued new, general, bonds to cover the redemptions.

    So, technically speaking, the present distribution is fully funded, by the inflow of money via SS contributions.

    Now, going forward, there will be a shortfall between funds received and outlay, and as the SSA starts to regularly redeem their T-bonds, the Federal government is going to have to issue new debt to cover that. What we have been doing ever since we started having an enduring National debt – borrowing to pay back what we borrowed. (Except for one year in the 1830′s, the US has had held a debt since 1789).

    This won’t increase the debt, the inter-governmental obligation is counted as part of the National debt.
    The real debate is what will we do when the SS Trust fund is exhausted, 2033 at the current best estimate. At that time contributions will only cover about 75% of expected distributions. Not an end to payments, but a significant slash.
    At that point in time, assuming there isn’t greater than expected income growth (the contributions increase), or a slow down in how much is being paid out (the chained-CPI proposal), or increasing the cap in income levels to about $200,000 from the present $113,000, the Federal government by 2033 will have three choices:
    Let the payments be seriously reduced, lend SS enough to cover the shortfall (it would be lending, not often mentioned is that if current rates are kept, the SS Trust fund will go back into the black around 2060 or so), or increase the contribution rate.
    I suspect, if and when that situation is reached, we’re likely to do some of all three.
    I suspect, baring any changes made earlier

  23. SecondLook,

    maybe, you’re due for a Third?

    how can you take these points..

    “…That outflow doesn’t depend on the ability of the Federal Government to issue new debt. Well, it did briefly during the now terminated “SS tax holiday”, when the SSA had to cash in some of it’s special Treasury bonds, and the government issued new, general, bonds to cover the redemptions…”
    “…So, technically speaking, the present distribution is fully funded, by the inflow of money via SS contributions.
    Now, going forward, there will be a shortfall between funds received and outlay, and as the SSA starts to regularly redeem their T-bonds, the Federal government is going to have to issue new debt to cover that…”


    ‘We’ have ‘Trust Fund’ filled with illiquid IOUs of a broke Counterparty (the U.S. Treasury)–whose primary funding font is its, Duopolistic, Partner– the “Federal Reserve”..

    leaving aside, more mundane, considerations, as..

    “…Every year, a vitally important issue gets lost in the din: disability insurance payments, which account for almost $1 out of every $5 spent by Social Security, are growing out of control.

    Disability insurance takes too many workers out of the job market prematurely. It reduces their lifetime income and, to top it off, slows economic growth. Yet in contrast to the heated arguments about Social Security and Medicare, fixing the disability problem inspires hardly any discussion.

    The trustees reported Monday that the government made $128.9 billion in insurance payments to 10.6 million disabled workers and their family members last year, 25 percent more than it received from payroll taxes.

    On top of that, five million adults received $33 billion worth of disability benefits from the Supplemental Security Income program for poor Americans. Medicare spent more than $90 billion on benefits for disabled workers, who are eligible for the government health insurance after two years on disability, regardless of their age. And Medicaid spent $110 billion more on the poor disabled…”

  24. SecondLook says:


    Yes, seriously.

    I’ll make it more clear, so that when other people try to sell you on the silliness of how SS is a Ponzi scheme, etc, you can straighten them out.

    1. The Social Security Administration collects more in contributions than it pays out in distribution.
    2. With the surplus funds it buys special Treasury bonds; special in that they are both non-negotiable and can be redeemed at any time.
    3. Those bonds pay interest back to SSA, the current yield is about 4.4% (because, of course they are very, very, laddered).
    4. These bonds are already included as part of the National debt.
    5. When the time comes to sell the SS bonds, the Federal government will issue general public bonds to cover them. To repeat, this by itself has no effect on the level of the National debt.
    6. In 2011, to quote the SSA: “The amount bought in 2011 [Treasury bonds] was $1,015 billion, while the amount sold was $946 billion.
    7. The above is what the Feds have been doing, replacing redeemed bonds with new bonds, since 1789.

    This is basic, very easy to understand stuff.

    As for SSDI: It has it’s own Trust fund for accounting purposes, which has been drawing down since 2008. At projected rates, that sub-fund will be depleted in about 6-7 years. At which time, SSA will have to replenish it from general funds. It’s part of the projection of the total surplus running out in 2033.
    Like SS, DI recipents won’t be cut off, bu they will get a reduced amount, unless it gets additional funding.

    SS is easily taken care of, with fairly simple solutions. Medicare isn’t – but that a very separate topic.

  25. Mike in Nola says:

    So Harry Reid has put his foot in it with New Orleanians. He said Katrina was nothing compared to Sandy. Not true either in economic loss or lives lost, in addition to the magnitude of impact on a particular city. I don’t think NYC was in danger of total destruction, nor was it evacuated for a month, nor, because of it’s wealth, will it take so long to rebuild what was lost.

  26. jeffers5 says:

    Fascinating article re a pickpocket’s ability to manipulate his victims’ attention and related insights into human behavior.

  27. Jojo says:

    Robert Reich
    The Hoax of Entitlement Reform
    Sunday, January 6, 2013

    It has become accepted economic wisdom, uttered with deadpan certainty by policy pundits and budget scolds on both sides of the aisle, that the only way to get control over America’s looming deficits is to “reform entitlements.”

    But the accepted wisdom is wrong.

    Start with the statistics Republicans trot out at the slightest provocation — federal budget data showing a huge spike in direct payments to individuals since the start of 2009, shooting up by almost $600 billion, a 32 percent increase.

    And Census data showing 49 percent of Americans living in homes where at least one person is collecting a federal benefit – food stamps, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, or subsidized housing — up from 44 percent in 2008.

    But these expenditures aren’t driving the federal budget deficit in future years. They’re temporary. The reason for the spike is Americans got clobbered in 2008 with the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. They and their families have needed whatever helping hands they could get.

    If anything, America’s safety nets have been too small and shot through with holes. That’s why the number and percentage of Americans in poverty has increased dramatically, including 22 percent of our children.

    What about Social Security and Medicare (along with Medicare’s poor step-child, Medicaid)?


  28. DeDude says:


    Thanks for the information. I did not realize that he 75 year prediction has social security back in black by 2060, even with no reform at all. It makes sense that the baby-boom problem will solve itself when they die. With that in mind borrowing to cover the temporary shortfall would be the most sensible solution. Makes more sense than the minor adjustments currently discussed to keep social security in good shape for the future.

  29. Joe Friday says:


    The real debate is what will we do when the SS Trust fund is exhausted, 2033 at the current best estimate.

    By the trustees, which I’ve noted have a predetermined agenda, and have been wrong over and over again.

    The actuaries say it is solvent through 2085, and they only do 75-year forecasts.

  30. DeDude says:

    Maybe its time to turn social security into a non-profit, highly regulated, independent agency – sort of like Fannie and Freddie used to be. Then when they hit the baby-boomer slump they just issue bonds to cover it, and pay them back on the other side of the baby-boomer hump. One huge advantage would be that the federal governments size would be greatly reduced (at least for the morons who care about reducing it, rather than caring about what it does or does not deliver in terms of bang for the bucks).

  31. Joe Friday says:


    We’re already most of the way there.

    In 1994, President Clinton signed an executive order making the Social Security Administration a free-standing independent quasi-governmental agency under the auspices of the executive branch, not unlike the Federal Reserve.

    Now to configure a manner to depoliticize the appointment of the trustees.