Stock Markets Fall sharply on . . . Bankster’s Manipulation of the News

The media is in the hands of the Banksters, obviously. There’s a financial crises, car plants are closing right and left, employment is way down, home prices are at a nadir, and what causes a downturn in the stock market, according to Wall Street Journal and Reuters..?

Obama. Right.  How can they getting away with this completely unproven assertion?  Simple: Americans are sheep.

Shares fall on Obama bank plans

Stock markets have fallen sharply in response to far-reaching plans by Barack Obama to curb the activities of the biggest US banks.

The Dow Jones closed down 2%, its worst fall since October, while Japan’s Nikkei was down early on Friday.

Shares in major US banks Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Bank of America all fell.

Mr Obama – who said he was “ready for a fight” with banks – plans to limit the size of banks and impose restrictions on risky trading.

“Never again will the American taxpayer be held hostage by banks that are too big to fail,” Mr Obama said.

Of course when it is the auto industry that is hurting it is ascribed to the “current business environment” as if that business environment had just materialized right out of thin air, and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933 by the business elites in 1999 had nothing whatsoever to do with the current business environment, right?

GM confirms Opel factory closure in Antwerp

General Motors (GM) has confirmed it will close a Belgian plant at its European arm Opel, cutting 2,300 jobs.

The CSC metalworkers’ union said the carmaker had told staff it would shut down its factory in Antwerp.

“It is the tough reality of the current business environment,” Opel president Nick Reilly said.

So, let’s get this straight: if an autoworker is out of a job, it is a tough business environment.*   If, though, a Bankster has his bonus threatened, he should destroy the economy. After all that is what the economy is for: generating bonuses for banksters.  Too bad if you thought the economy should provide jobs for autoworkers or universal healthcare. You see those things are evil.

* And that is probably the autoworker’s fault anyway, as he had the chutzpah to join a union.  It is an unwritten rule of journalism to always mention the word ‘union’ in the first 30 words of a story about an auto plant closing.  It is forbidden, of course, to use phrases like ‘poor management,’ ‘bad design,’ ‘poor fuel economy,’  anywhere at all in a story of a plant closing, as that might lead someone to the erroneous (and forbidden) conclusion that those failings could ever lead to a plant closing.

Stock Markets Fall sharply on . . . Bankster’s Manipulation of the News

The Libertarian Twilight Zone

Tim Lee falls into the libertarian twilight zone, when he starts commenting on the death of the newspapers and then inserts a sideways adjective re: regulatory agencies, calling them ‘cathedral-style:’

The Regulatory Cathedral and the Bazaar

Yochai Benkler ponders the death of the newspaper:

Critics of online media raise concerns about the ease with which gossip and unsubstantiated claims can be propagated on the Net. However, on the Net we have all learned to read with a grain of salt between our teeth, like Russians drinking tea through a sugar cube. The traditional media, to the contrary, commanded respect and imposed authority. It was precisely this respect and authority that made The New York Times’ reporting on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq so instrumental in legitimating the lies that the Bush administration used to lead this country to war.

This is a fantastic insight, and indeed, it’s precisely the insight that we libertarians apply to the regulatory state. That is, just as a decentralized media and a skeptical public is better than the cathedral style of news gathering, so too are decentralized certification schemes and a skeptical public better than a single, cathedral-style regulatory agency “guaranteeing” that businesses are serving consumers well. Most of the time the regulators will protect the public, just as most of the time newspapers get their stories right. The problem is that no institution is perfect, and the consequences of failure are much more serious if you’ve got a population that’s gotten used to blindly trusting the authority figure rather than exercising healthy skepticism. Regulatory agencies are single points of failure, and in a complex economy single points of failure are a recipe for disaster.

Tim wishes regulatory schemes were ‘cathedral-like,’ as that is his attempt to co-opt open source methodologies into his libertarian “government is bad” agenda. But it won’t wash because, in fact, most regulatory agencies are not cathedral-like at all. They arise because of the actions of the free press, discussing an issue of importance which then creates the impetus for legislation which is debated, modified, debated, modified again and again. That sounds pretty bazaar-like to me.  Lots of communication, trial and error and networking with information kept in public view, not top-down, directed and secret at all.  If it doesn’t work it gets changed.  Rarely, good legislation gets thrown out, and not surprisingly, bad things happen. *

So I respond to Tim:

This is revisionism.

The reality is: for the better part of 65 years, the Glass-Steagall Act protected the banking system from the collapse we now see. The act was abandoned, and the unregulated baking systemically failed because of massive instability.

Furthermore, it is wrong to say that regulatory efforts are all Cathedral-like. They are not.  Many are more bazaar like–arising after a specific failure, and becoming legislation only after a full and public debate.

My own experience is with building codes, seeing how any specific failure such as the Lakeview Elementary School Fire (see: or the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (see:…) each lead–incrementally–to specific changes in building codes.

This is why I have such an issue with libertarianism–by denying the validity of the regulatory process you condemn countless millions to unnecessary suffering. Of course, that can only happen if: someone in power drinks that libertarian kool-aid, as happened when the Glass-Steagall Act was gutted. Fortunately, it will be at least 65 more years before anyone in power dreams of thinking like a libertarian again.**

There exists no libertarian answer as to how public safety could be provided, through a “decentralized certification scheme” equivalent to what is provided by modern building codes.

Of course, doubtless you can point to an example that proves that building codes are not presently perfect. That, however, does not detract from their demonstrated utility, any more than pointing out that many people die in Emergency Rooms would be an argument for their closure.

Banking and Finance admittedly are not my area of expertise, but even Clinton noted recently that he regretted loosening the Glass-Steagall restrictions, and now there are millions who will experience what deregulation has brought them: destitution and hopelessness.

*I will admit, though, that in a country that doesn’t have free speech and multi-party politics, a cathedral-like regulatory scheme could come into existence. That’s one of the reason communism failed–their regulatory schemes were cathedral-like. But, since the context is regulatory schemes in a multi-party democracy, I am talking about regulatory schemes only in that context here.

** ‘thinking’ being used very loosely.

The Libertarian Twilight Zone

Greece, clues and lies

Many can’t seem to figure out what is going on in Greece.  For example, Chris Blattman finds Stathis N. Kalyvas’s analysis wanting:

Why is Athens Burning?

In essence, Stathis argues that social norms govern acceptable behavior, and a perverse set has been allowed to settle upon Greece. It’s an appealing theory, but one that has not been popular back home (judging, he says, by the angry hate mail).

To help anyone who doesn’t get it,  I’ve downloaded this visual guide below:


And just in case that wasn’t clear enough there is this, (see this excellent site for more):

Continue reading “Greece, clues and lies”

Greece, clues and lies

Peter Raven lecture

Heard Peter Raven lecture just last Friday, and it was excellent. Can’t find too much of his stuff online though, but here’s one link.

He was asked about ethanol by e_f to which he simply said “It is a terrible idea.” Finally, someone in Saint Louis, heart of the corn belt, saying the truth about ethanol.

But I was able to get the question in, and he answered at some length, referring to the food riots that are presently occurring all over the world.

Why don’t we have people like Peter Raven in positions where they can influence public policy more? It might have something to do with: the deliberately confused picture painted by the media, don’tcha think? A prime example can be found right over at Reason magazine’s website.

I find it interesting that ethanol was pushed like crazy by a few big corporations, but now that it is clear that ethanol is really, really bad for the environment there is a lot of revisionism going on. And that’s what the piece from Reason magazine “The Biofuel Brew ha-ha: How the greens are making it more expensive to get blotto” is: revisionism.

Apparently, now that ethanol has been outed and found to be just a little greener than open pit coal mining, the libertarian party line is: Let’s blame the greens!

Continue reading “Peter Raven lecture”

Peter Raven lecture

WARNING – Links to naughty pictures hosted by conservative pro-family groups…

Apparently, in a rather weird twist of events, a group of ultra-conservative Catholics and an organization known as the “American Family Association” (AFA) are both upset because one of the largest leather events, the Folsom Street Fair, isn’t getting enough publicity.  So, like the good conservatives they are, they go and spread the news of the Folsom Street Fair, so it will get as much publicity as possible.    They even post pictures of the event on their website (“for verification purposes only” of course!)  Truth is stranger than fiction–You can’t make this stuff up!

Just to prove that I am not, in fact, hallucinating here is the screen shot of the email letter from the American Family Association which contains links to those awful, filthy, perverted, twisted, disgusting, degenerate photos. Reminds me a little of Sir Galahad in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “I will face the peril…there’s only about 150 of them…”


[Note: The engima_foundry story below is safe for work, but the links are NSFW (NOT SAFE FOR WORK]

Continue reading “WARNING – Links to naughty pictures hosted by conservative pro-family groups…”

WARNING – Links to naughty pictures hosted by conservative pro-family groups…

The Green Lever of Trademarks

The United States Green Building Council‘s green building rating system (LEED-Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) has driven the development of many sustainable building products, increased awareness of what needs to be done to make buildings less damaging to the environment, and caused thousands of buildings to be built to better environmental standards than they would have otherwise been.

LEED (R) is a voluntary system, which leverages competition to increase it’s impact through the use of a multi-tiered rating system, which the USGBC has trademarked. Buildings which achieve the highest number of points are classified as ‘platinum,’ the next tier is ‘gold, then ‘silver’ and finally there is a category just called ‘certified.’ This system was introduced in 2000, and in just seven years there have been over 6,500 buildings registered on its website, and about 42,000 professionals have taken the accreditation exam. It’s a system that has a very definite brand identity, which the USGBC has built and extended, using the increasing brand awareness of LEED (R) to leverage market transformation. It’s the brand leader in green:

“There’s nothing else out there. LEED is what’s for dinner,” says Auden Schendler, the director of environmental affairs at Aspen Skiing Co. “Plus, it’s a good idea. Previously, nobody knew what a green building was.”

But those are the direct effects; also important has been the generation of market demand for ‘green’ materials and services, a market which has really taken off since 2000, when LEED was created. Thus, even buildings not LEED-registered have become somewhat greener, since they contain products developed to meet the demand created by LEED. The awareness of green strategies has trickled down into mainstream design thought, and changed other non-LEED buildings too. The extent of this can, of course, be debated.

The USGBC itself is an example of the expansion of the NFP (Not-for-profit) sector that I have noted previously:

Assessing LEED is further complicated by the business growth of the Green Building Council. Awarding gold–and silver and platinum–certification has been a gold mine for the nonprofit organization. Once a small operation with seven paid employees, it now fields a 116-member staff and earns 95% of its $50 million annual budget

Power-suited developers and hard hats have signed on. More than 6,500 projects have registered for LEED certification since 2000, and new categories such as commercial interiors and existing buildings have been added to the original LEED for new construction. Forty-two thousand people have paid $250 to $350 and passed exams to become “LEED-accredited professionals.” The council’s revenue has been growing at 30% or better a year, with close to 20% coming from certification.

Of course, any time that a market is transformed, as the market for buildings and building materials has been, there will be winners and losers, and enemies will be made. So therefore it is to be expected that there will be those who attempt to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the green building movement. The Wall Street Journal had one prime example last summer, but its securely locked up behind their pay-wall now, so I can’t link to it.

Another example is the article The Green Standard? in this month’s Fast Company; the text in one of the opening paragraphs might lead one to believe that there is some huge flaw in the USGBC LEED rating system:

Continue reading “The Green Lever of Trademarks”

The Green Lever of Trademarks

Does anyone in the world think Roger Parloff is a competent legal reporter?

Once in a while, I come across a post that is so wrong at such a basic level, that I am just scratching my head, wondering why someone inflicted the damage to their reputation by writing it. Over at Fortune magazine’s blog there is one such post.
Continue reading “Does anyone in the world think Roger Parloff is a competent legal reporter?”

Does anyone in the world think Roger Parloff is a competent legal reporter?