This fortnight, I have been mostly working, but when I did get to the pub, I read:
- The Fed’s Interest Rate Hike: Salt In The Wound? — John T. Harvey in Forbes:
Here’s the situation. We all know well that inflation is accelerating and that we are facing rates we haven’t seen since the OPEC oil embargo. Fair enough, the Fed has that right. And they are correct to worry that people are hurting from this. But Fed’s solution is nonsensical. They are raising interest rates in the hopes that this will reduce the overall level of economic activity and, once people don’t have as much money to spend, “They expect that to cool demand for goods and services, helping to ease price inflation.” Stop for a second and assume that those pushing this policy don’t have “PhD” after their names. Imagine instead that someone on a street corner is yelling to anyone passing by, “Listen to me, people! Prices are rising and we are all hurting! Demand that your government lower your incomes today!” You’d rush by as quickly as possible, avoiding eye contact and keeping one hand on your wallet. What an idiot: help people afford to put food on the table by depriving them of income? Insanity. […]
in our current scenario suggests that lowering the level of economic activity in the U.S. would be helpful. It is true in a very strict (and bizarre) sense that throwing the economy into recession would lower the prices of gas and food, and therefore overall inflation, since we wouldn’t be able to afford to buy as much. But unless a 10% decline in our incomes led to a >10% decline in their prices, it will actually make us worse off than we were when we started. And as the demand for gas and food is very price inelastic (i.e., we can’t do without them and so we won’t be able to cut back that much), any fall in our incomes will definitely not be matched by a like or better fall in prices. Absolutely, positively not.
- As the Forde report shows, Labour’s right wing is the source of its problems — Ryan Coogan:
After the release of the Forde report last week, you can probably see why other parties don’t tend to make a lot of room for people who are directly opposed to their stated goals. According to the report, Labour officials worked against the interests of their own party in order to undermine its then-leader Jeremy Corbyn and the party’s left wing as a whole, going so far as to divert campaign resources away from winnable seats and towards candidates who were anti-Corbyn. […] The report also confirms that claims of antisemitism against Corbyn were weaponised by his internal enemies in order to create an air of moral panic around the prospect of his leadership; a fact that few will find surprising considering that the right immediately stopped pretending to care about Jewish people five minutes after Corbyn was out the door. […] The fact that people within his own party were terrified of him begs the question: which part of supporting the working class did they disagree with? Which part of Corbyn being on the right side of virtually every social issue for the past seven decades had them lighting the warning beacons of Gondor? How is being terrified of social progress not only a socially acceptable political position to hold in this country but seemingly its default? The real horror of this entire affair is the fact that those factions – the ones that believed it absolutely crucial to attack their own leader in the midst of Brexit chaos and the gradual rise of fascism in the West – won decisively. They are the Labour Party now.
- Via Bruce Sterling:
- ‘Like a public shaming’: a night with the eco-activists deflating SUV tires — Oliver Milman in the Guardian profiles the Tyre Extinguishers:
On a searingly hot night in New York City, a group of mask-wearing activists grasping bags of lentils set out to stage the biggest blitzkrieg yet upon a new target for climate campaigners in the US – the tires of SUVs. The group – a mixture of ages and genders – split up as midnight approached, heading down the streets of the Upper East Side, lined by some of the most expensive apartments in the world and a gleaming parade of high-end, parked SUVs. This type of vehicle is the second largest cause of the global rise in carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade. The Tyre Extinguishers, as they call themselves, furtively hand around bags of lentils ahead of their raid (the legumes are jammed into a tire valve to release its air slowly overnight) and size up their quarry.
- The ‘sadmin’ after my mother’s death was hard enough – then I encountered Vodafone — George Monbiot in the Guardian:
Vodafone continued to charge my dad for a contract that should have ended the day my mum died. Eventually my sister told a call handler she intended to stop the direct debit. He replied: “Do what you like, but you’ll be in breach of contract.” She stopped it anyway, and posted a letter to Vodafone HQ (there was no other means of contacting the company) informing it. Without warning, Vodafone passed the matter to a debt collection agency, which started pursuing my dad for the £33 bill it deemed my mum to have incurred since she died. The agents rang my dad’s landline repeatedly, every time insisting on speaking to him. His carer refused. Had my dad not been shielded, these calls would have inflicted immense distress. […] A fortnight ago, more than four months after my mother’s death, I belatedly snapped, and described our experience in a Twitter thread. My intention was to shame Vodafone into action. I got more than I bargained for. Immediately, the responses started pouring in: first dozens, then hundreds of people sharing similar and sometimes even worse experiences when trying to cancel accounts with Vodafone, especially the accounts of people who had died or whose capacity had diminished. They reported, while in the depths of grief, the same nastiness and lack of sympathy. They reported an insistence on questioning vulnerable and confused elderly people. They described months, in some cases years, of failure to cancel such contracts.
- This Modern World — by Tom Tomorrow:
- The Dollar System in a Multi-Polar World — James K. Galbraith for INET brilliantly spells out what seems bleeding obvious only after it's been spelled out:
A tentative conclusion is that the dollar-based financial system, with the euro acting as a junior partner, is likely to survive for now. But there will be a significant non-dollar, non-eurozone carved out for those countries considered adversaries by the United States and the European Union, of which Russia is by far the present leading example – and for their trading partners. China will act as a bridge between the two systems – the fixed-point of multi-polarity. Should similar harsh decisions be taken with respect to China, then a true split of the world into mutually-isolated blocs, akin to the coldest years of the Cold War, would become a possibility. However the consequences for the Western economies in their current state of dependence on Eurasian resources and Chinese production capacity would be exceptionally dire, so it seems unlikely (though who knows?) that policy-makers in the West would push matters that far. In the present crisis, political leaders in the West have been under the most extreme pressure to wield powers that they do not have, in order to display a resolve that they may not feel. Their reactions must be judged through the prism of this pressure and the requirements of political survival. They have, so far, managed to refrain from taking fatal military risks, while deploying the full force of information-war assets, and concentrating on a sanctions regime that is part of a well-worn toolkit, demonstrably more costly in the Russian case to its designers than to its target. […] Can the United States survive the rise of a multi-polar world? The question is absurd: of course it can. But not without a political upheaval, spurred by inflation and recession and a falling stock market in the short term and eventually by demands for a realistic strategy consonant with the actual global balance of power. The ultimate threat is not to the living possibilities of the country so much as to its political elites, based as they are on global financial rents and domestic arms contracts.