03/25 Open Thread: Free Market Capitalism Leads to Oligarchy

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Income Inequality Thomas Nast Style

Before I get started I will admit that I am not relying upon the work of noted economists. I consider that to be a good thing. Academic/theoretical economics is a grand farce, in which theory is largely made up out of whole cloth and then exalted over reality, facts, and empirical evidence. In theory, it should be an attempt to model reality, and, hence, I am relying upon the work of those skilled at so doing, mathematicians and physicists. This is not meant to belittle industrial economists, whose projections and predictions must have some semblance of accuracy lest they lose their job, unlike their academic brethren who can be consistently wrong for decades while steadfastly maintaining that this is indicative only of some failing of the real world.

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I take for my text today a Scientific American article by Bruce M. Boghosian, a math professor with research interests in applied dynamical systems and applied probability theory. The Article,Is Inequality Inevitable?, subtitled Wealth naturally trickles up in free-market economies, model suggests appeared in the November, 2019 issue of Scientific American and may be found online here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-inequality-inevitable/ .The article notes the massive (and growing) wealth economy and suggests that the origins thereof may be understood by using "agent based" modeling which begins with two party transactions in which both parties try to optimize their own financial outcome. This model is intended to mimic so-called "Free-market" capitalist systems. Specifically, he asserts:

In particular, the affine wealth model (called thus because of its mathematical properties) can describe wealth distribution among households in diverse developed countries with exquisite precision while revealing a subtle asymmetry that tends to concentrate wealth. We believe that this purely analytical approach, which resembles an x-ray in that it is used not so much to represent the messiness of the real world as to strip it away and reveal the underlying skeleton, provides deep insight into the forces acting to increase poverty and inequality today.

After further discussion of some of the who, when and where of some of these models he states (my bold):

As it turns out, many such models find wealth moving inexorably from one agent to another—even if they are based on fair exchanges between equal actors.

It should be noted that in a perfectly even, perfectly fair exchange, there will be no net transfer of wealth, but this almost never happens, In the real world, one party almost always gets a "better" deal, and receives more wealth in exchange than they tender.)

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AS an example, he states that the "yard sale" model not only inexorably concentrates wealth, but invariably leads to oligarchy ( To illustrate what drives this result, he proposes a casino game, wherein players initially ante $100 and the casino begins to flip a fair coin. If the player wins, they are paid 20% of their stake, and if they lose their stake is reduced by 17%. Superficially this seems like a win for the player with probable winnings of 0.5 x ($20) + 0.5 x (-$17) = $1.50, but this only applies, if at all, to the first flip. Over a continued series of flips the player is guaranteed to lose. If this is extended to a huge number of transactions by a huge number of pairs of individuals, each risking, per transaction, only a modest percentage of their wealth, it ends, after enough iterations, with a single oligarch holding all of the wealth. And, as in the real world, the lower a persons wealth at any time, the faster that wealth is transferred away from that individual. A critical point, to which I shall return later is that;

This outcome is especially surprising because it holds even if all the agents started off with identical wealth and were treated symmetrically. Physicists describe phenomena of this kind as “symmetry breaking” [see The Physics of Inequality below]. The very first coin flip transfers money from one agent to another, setting up an imbalance between the two. And once we have some variance in wealth, however minute, succeeding transactions will systematically move a “trickle” of wealth upward from poorer agents to richer ones, amplifying inequality until the system reaches a state of oligarchy.

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A Mitigating Factor in the real world is wealth redistribution mechanisms. A modified model incorporated a variable factor to represent the combined new effect of a flat rate wealth tax for the wealthy and a compensatory subsidy for the poor. Adjusting the value of this factor allowed the refined models to track US and European wealth data between 1989 and 2016 to better than 2%. Yet another refinement was introduced to account for the fact that not everybody starts off with equal wealth and those with more wealth enjoy assorted economic advantages. This corrects for the built in initial error noted in the block-quote above where agents in the model all started off on an equal footing, which hasn't been the case since the flood if not before. The additional fudge factor allows for non-oligarchic, partially oligarchic and full on oligarchic outcomes and generates models which track empirical data yet closer than without it. It also explains the almost overnight descent into oligarchy of the prior SSRs after the 1991 breakup of the USSR.

Yet More Reality So far, we have massive numbers of "fair" transactions which plunge toward oligarchy at a rate that may be slowed or even stabilized by a wealth redistribution fudge factor and exacerbated by an initial inequality plus wealth privilege factor. Only the briefest look at the number of medical bankruptcies per annum in the US, or the great real-estate bubble scam of the recent past will make it clear that "negative wealth" is a very real thing in this sorry world of ours. That doesn't even address things like those fined into ever increasing debt by predatory courts and parole systems, etc. So, yet another fudge factor was introduced to allow for the existence of said negative wealth. The final triple factor model generally matched 2010 European wealth distribution to better than one-half of a percent, and matched the US to within one-sixth of a percent over three decades.

So, with all these refinements and astounding accuracy in matching empirical data, what, pray tell is the conclusion?

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TRICKLE UP!

We find it noteworthy that the best-fitting model for empirical wealth distribution discovered so far is one that would be completely unstable without redistribution rather than one based on a supposed equilibrium of market forces. In fact, these mathematical models demonstrate that far from wealth trickling down to the poor, the natural inclination of wealth is to flow upward, so that the “natural” wealth distribution in a free-market economy is one of complete oligarchy. It is only redistribution that sets limits on inequality.

I'm not going to belabor the point; the last four paragraphs of the article are quite telling, significant and, frankly, scary. Even the author says that the results of their studies constitute a Call to Action.

DO READ this article. Yes, there is math, and Greek letters, but it is relatively simple and direct and you don't really have to fully grok the math to comprehend what is being said and presented, how it works and all that it implies.

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Piled Higher and Deeper: as is not uncommon for these articles, there is appended some suggested further reading;

A Nonstandard Description of Wealth Concentration in Large-Scale Economies. Adrian Devitt-Lee et al. in SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, Vol. 78, No. 2, pages 996–1008; March 2018., and

The Affine Wealth Model: An Agent-Based Model of Asset Exchange That Allows for Negative-Wealth Agents and Its Empirical Validation. Jie Li et al. in Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and Its Applications, Vol. 516, pages 423–442; February 2019.

Also, without going that far afield, suggested reading from the Scientific American archives is: A Rigged Economy. Joseph E. Stiglitz; November 2018.

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have a good one

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Title Image is Income)Inequality

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It's an open thread, so have at it. The floor is yours
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Comments

thanatokephaloides's picture

Unregulated free markets can't exist, you know. Either elected governments regulate for maximum freedom of enterprise, or the biggest players in the market use "the law of the jungle" to regulate the market (and the elected government along with it) to their best advantage,

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enhydra lutris's picture

@thanatokephaloides
gases. Nonetheless, things can be learned from studying them. In this case we are faced with decades and generations of propaganda intended to inculcate a worldview wherein IF they did, they would be perfect and perfectly glorious and result in the best of all possible worlds and where only they, or the closest possible simulacra thereof can properly allocate resources and goods to best serve everyone's needs. All of our few, minor, problems are due to the restrictions and limitations placed upon those markets. This article addresses that propaganda more or less ab initio without referring back to or building upon what we have been incessantly told are "discredited prior theories" PLUS "quants".

Have a good one.

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@enhydra lutris
Like a runaway machine.

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We are so screwed.

thanatokephaloides's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

free = uncontrolled

Like a runaway machine.

Or cancer. Capitaloma.

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

Cassiodorus's picture

But I'm still not sure why I should read the article, when it seems to me that your synopsis of the article appears good enough as is. Let's start with the conclusion:

We find it noteworthy that the best-fitting model for empirical wealth distribution discovered so far is one that would be completely unstable without redistribution rather than one based on a supposed equilibrium of market forces. In fact, these mathematical models demonstrate that far from wealth trickling down to the poor, the natural inclination of wealth is to flow upward, so that the “natural” wealth distribution in a free-market economy is one of complete oligarchy. It is only redistribution that sets limits on inequality.

Of course. Does nobody read Karl Marx's Capital anymore? The point of Capital was to demonstrate such a thing, well, in fact to display a model wherein such a phenomenon ("far from wealth trickling down to the poor, the natural inclination of wealth is to flow upward") would happen.

Thus a lot of readers of this diary are going to remain unpersuaded as to why they should read an article in last year's Scientific American that claims to have reinvented Marx's wheel. We've known the article's conclusion since 1867, when Capital first came out. What did we say in elementary school back in the day? "Well, duh."

'Course, Marx's model makes a distinction between transactions based on paid labor and transactions based on "simple exchange" (discussed in detail in the first sections of Capital). Inequality is built into the system throughout, simply because, under capitalism, paid labor has to be exploited labor, labor meant to extract a surplus which accrues to the capitalist. The "simple exchanges," under capitalism, are merely the realization of the surplus created by the paid labor. (Unpaid labor is also exploited labor, but this phenomenon is not part of Marx's model.) This is the distinction between the two parts of capital as explained in Marx's model, announced in Chapter 4: capital is M-C-M', where M is capital, C is paid labor, and M' is capital plus profit. The two parts are M-C, which is paid labor, and C-M', which is capital as it realizes profit.

But, hey, if you don't believe me, you can read Capital for yourself.

I suppose that, while I'm at it, I should take a poke at history-free representations of what the article calls "agent-based" modeling. You say:

The article notes the massive (and growing) wealth economy and suggests that the origins thereof may be understood by using "agent based" modeling which begins with two party transactions in which both parties try to optimize their own financial outcome.

Do I really need to read the whole Scientific American article to verify what I suspect, which is that the article contains no historical examination of the "utility maximization" model of the human being?

Anyway, the point of this "utility maximization" model, as displayed full well in Chapter 2 of Kees van der Pijl's A Survey of Global Political Economy (and, yes, this is a basic college-level text) was that, in 19th century invocations of "economics," there had to be a move away from "political economy" because Karl Marx's "critique of political economy" had already revealed how the real-life "political economy" was based on exploitation. So, in the context of the growing colleges and universities of the Anglo-American world of the late 19th century (based, before World War I, on the Prussian model), an artificial model of the human being as "both parties try to optimize their own financial outcome" had to be invented.

Real human beings don't behave that way, of course. But we can't have clean-cut academic types, nearly all of them upper-class men until the cultural revolution of the Sixties, out there pursuing the class struggle, after all. And so marginalism was invented, a "Marginal Revolution" was proclaimed, "rational choice" theory was invented to make it all look nice and neat, and economics became a form of brainwashing. And it has remained that way all the way up to, at least, the publication of a specific wheel-reinventing November 2019 Scientific American article.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Cassiodorus @Cassiodorus
you say. But I wrote this, relying upon this article anyway. I touched on why in my reply to Thanatokephaloides, above. The fact is that nobody does read Marx any more, or, if they do, they do not take it seriously but only as one of those discredited ancient theories from which our current understanding of the world evolved.

We have been swimming in a sea of propaganda since WWII, and of sophistry and suppression since 1917 or so. A major component of this is that Marx was wrong, all forms of Marxism are a crock, and all forms of socialism or communism or any similar attempt at leveling and/or controlling business and businesses invariably leads to totalitarianism. A huge tower of fabricated narratives has been built up and is reinforced daily in support of the mythos of Free market capitalism, its workings and its glories, formalized for much of the populace in High School Civics or US History classes and reinforced daily thereafter.

Yes, the article contains no examination of "utility maximization" nor of much of anything one would find addressed in College level Poli Sci or Econ. It starts with a vague equivalent of tabla rasa and using methodologies quite similar and akin to those of the revered and definitive masters of the practical side of economics, the legendary quants of recent history. From this foundation, with almost no baggage, they derive a very simple model that is also simple to vary to fit real world conditions, and show that, contrary to decades and generations worth of propaganda to the contrary, it is CApitalism and not socialism or communism that invariably results in oligarchy, and, if left undisturbed, devolves further into nothing less than totalitarianism. They do not directly counter the propaganda against Marx, or anything else, but simply show that, stripped of bullshit, the allegedly perfect free market system is a disaster and that the model demonstrating this has a very high correspondence to the reality in which we live. IIrc, and am not conflating multiple recent readings and re-readings, they also address that this is leading to global unrest and resistance which they project to be coming to a head.

The exploitation of labor, though not addressed is readily subsumed within the model, and may well be in some more thorough expositions, by treating labor as a commodity (which it in fact pretty much is today) which is then "exchanged" similarly to all other "goods". The fact of exploitation is then subsumed into the final fudge factor reflecting the inherent advantage and privilege of the wealthy and powerful.

You probably do not need to read it at all, but it is good ammunition to have in a world in which Marx as simply dismissed outright and all sorts of preposterous ideologies are taen for granted as the logical and/or "scientific" underpinnings of our system which is not, in fact, broken, but which is instead functioning exactly as designed for the intended purpose of stripping the hoi polloi of the value of their services as well as any tangible wealth they might temporarily accumulate.

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Cassiodorus's picture

@enhydra lutris Indeed what you say is true:

The fact is that nobody does read Marx any more, or, if they do, they do not take it seriously but only as one of those discredited ancient theories from which our current understanding of the world evolved.

We have been swimming in a sea of propaganda since WWII, and of sophistry and suppression since 1917 or so. A major component of this is that Marx was wrong, all forms of Marxism are a crock, and all forms of socialism or communism or any similar attempt at leveling and/or controlling business and businesses invariably leads to totalitarianism. A huge tower of fabricated narratives has been built up and is reinforced daily in support of the mythos of Free market capitalism, its workings and its glories, formalized for much of the populace in High School Civics or US History classes and reinforced daily thereafter.

Here I'm going to postpone discussion of all of the chaff that has been generated on behalf of "Marxism" -- the various pretenses that Marx created a complete system when in fact he didn't, thus sanctifying the Soviet Union and all that -- to get at the core of the matter, which you've in fact done: that of market-worship.

You've said the paper you're reviewing has models based on "fair exchange between equal actors." The most obvious problem with such a concept, of course, is that the rates of exchange are set by the market as a whole, and only superficially by the exchanging parties. If I were to sell you a hammer for a dollar, that would imply a market in which there were plenty of hammers and competing entities keeping the price of hammers down. A different market would yield a different price. Thus usually when one buys a hammer one buys the market situation in which the hammer is being sold -- a hammer sold used at a yard sale being cheaper than a hammer sold at a small mom-and-pop hardware store, which will be more expensive than a hammer sold at Home Depot because the Home Depot is a mere franchise of an enormous corporation and thus can do business on a smaller overhead than the mom-and-pop store. The owner of the mom-and-pop store is charging the highest price for the hammer, and, paradoxically, getting the worst deal (among the hammer salespeople) for her sale of hammers.

Thus all actors are already equal, and all exchange is "fair exchange," and it does the ethical critic of the "free market" no good to complain that some exchanges are "unfair" simply because the parties being exploited are being offered next to nothing for what they're giving up. (This, btw, is also why the "fair trade" movement is nonsense.) Yet exploitation continues! The problem, of course, is that ultimately the market exploits us all, and that the market-worshipers deliver daily endorsements of that exploitation.

The Marx utopia, the hoped-for alternative to the market exploitation of individual human beings that we see everywhere today, is one of a "union of free producers." This is a far better name for "socialism" or "communism" than "socialism" or "communism." It's a concept explored briefly in Capital, envisioning a world in which the human race is organized into a collective which decides, democratically, without malice, and with prompt attention to the wishes of each individual worker, who gets what and who does what. Any exploitation occurring under a properly-organized global collective will, we can guess, be small potatoes when compared to the present-day exploitation of farmworkers in the San Joaquin Valley for instance. The Marx utopia remains poorly-fleshed-out to this day, the problem having been made worse by the insistence in Friedrich Engels' (1880) tract Socialism Utopian and Scientific that there exists an imaginary "scientific socialism," proclaimed by Marx, superior to any utopia dreamed in the past. At any rate, this is what I mean when I say that the Marx project is incomplete, and that deep and lasting damage was done to said project by those who proclaimed that it was complete.

More pertinently to the topic under consideration here, the renunciation of Marx means that economists get to spend whole lifetimes going over concepts Marx debunked more than a century and a half ago. The article you're highlighting here is perhaps a really good exemplar of this phenomenon?

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Cassiodorus

though the example you picked, "a hammer", is a particularly crzy one, which you'd understand if you ever saw my hammer collection. Wink

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

thanatokephaloides's picture

@Cassiodorus

Here I'm going to postpone discussion of all of the chaff that has been generated on behalf of "Marxism" -- the various pretenses that Marx created a complete system when in fact he didn't, thus sanctifying the Soviet Union and all that -- to get at the core of the matter, which you've in fact done: that of market-worship.

A slight mis-spelling there. It's market-whorship! Wink

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

Lookout's picture

in his book "Capital in the 21st Century".

He's got a new book out now

'Capital and Ideology' is an even more ambitious book than Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Where the latter focused on inequality trends in western capitalism over the past 200 years, the new book offers a history of almost everything. The chronology begins with a sweeping overview of feudal and other pre-modern economies, and ends with the dilemmas posed by the gilets jaunes. The geographic range is global, adding Brazil, Russia, India and China (the “Brics”) to his previous analyses of Europe and the US. Slavery and colonialism are covered at length.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/feb/19/capital-and-ideology-by-th...

It is a 1000 pages so I doubt I'll tackle it. The theme of the book is:

As societies distribute income, wealth and education more widely, so they become more prosperous. The overturning of regressive ideologies is therefore the main condition of economic progress.

Let's hope for more equality after the current system collapses.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

enhydra lutris's picture

@Lookout

As societies distribute income, wealth and education more widely, so they become more prosperous. The overturning of regressive ideologies is therefore the main condition of economic progress.

is a who different kettle of fish, no doubt true, but not likely to be seen in our time except through minor tweaks to spread enough of the wealth to the hoi polloi in order to keep the system functioning.

Piketty, to my understanding, studies and analyzes history and its outcomes whereas this article simply says "do the math; this is what you get, oligarchy".

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris Attempted the article, but your writing covers it better for me. I was never able to get Pikkety through inter library loan, but one observation stuck with me. Piketty stated that the the post ww2 boom we look back on favorably was an anomaly and most of society's wealth distribution throughout history ended up as you describe. I wish there were a comparison of graphs for post ww2 and today.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Snode

stay well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@Lookout
look at this stimulus bill that both parties have signed off on. Chump change for workers, hundreds of billions to corporations.

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We are so screwed.

enhydra lutris's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness
a worse upheaval than this.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

magiamma's picture

Et al

Heh. Raining here over night. Coldish. Beginning to wonder how all our crops are doing here on the Central Coast.

And there is this...

There is a Saint Corona, And she is the Patron Saint against plague and epidemics.

Thanks for the math. Have a good one...

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enhydra lutris's picture

@magiamma
off and on for days now, sometimes even heavy. More is predicted for today, though the streets are dry at the moment. Thanks for the music. So, a saint, a virus and a beer walk into a tavern ...

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

mimi's picture

Found this helpful:


DIY Face Mask – 8 Steps in Making Protective Gear

It's from 1.5 weeks ago, but better a DIY face mask than none at all.

Trickle up and down issues ... what trickles up will trickle down some day somehow.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@mimi
those who sew out there, some of which are even CDC approved. My wife made some practice nes for each of us, and is now making a batch for distribution which she will take to a place that distributes them.

I have something akin to the products on this page https://www.sportsmans.com/fishing-gear-supplies/ice-fishing/ice-fishing...

It is simply a somewhat elastic tube that one car wear as a neck covering, pull up to cover the mouth and nose, and even then pull the back up over the top of one's head so that nothing is exposed but one's eyes. Mine was made for cold weather bicycling, but I'd bet that one could make several "quick and dirty" ones with a pair of pinking shears or scissors and a pair of cheap tights.

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Azazello's picture

I'll read the article later, after another cup of coffee, but the thesis, that Free Market Capitalism Leads to Oligarchy, seems like common sense to me and I've thought that since the 80s when St. Ronnie started instituting neoliberal "reforms".
I'm a little worried about Mexico. This map is on the front page of the NYT:

Look at the border states, AZ - 300, NM - 100, Texas only 800.
Mexico is not well prepared, Mexico’s coronavirus fight has just begun. Doctors say they’re already running out of masks . What happens when the virus really takes off down there ?
Maybe it already has.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello
Hawaii has replaced Chihuahua and Alaska id down around Guerrero Negro, WTF?

Seriously, I understand your concern, but at least Mexico is certain to request aid from Cuba and China and equally certain to receive it, which is something. (That is, of course, assuming that we don't intercept the airlifts, or shoot them down.) Meanwhile, Az seems to be holding out ok, at least relative to here. We've got 0ver 135 cases in Alameda County and damn near 400 in Santa Clara alone.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

ovals49's picture

@Azazello
to that taken by Italy. If I lived south of the border I’d be concerned about the lax response of government on both sides of the border.

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"An oligarchy of private capital cannot be effectively checked .....because under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information."
Albert Einstein

enhydra lutris's picture

@ovals49

least Mexico can request aid from the right quarters, the US is pretty much self-isolated in that regard.

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

All transactions are competitive, therefore no two people take the first coin flip with an equal chance of winning. (A is smarter, or inherits wealth, or is less afraid of being caught cheating) And since each win increases the chance of winning later flips, the ultimate result must be one inevitable winner - most likely the one who started with the advantage, no matter how small.

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A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

magiamma's picture

@doh1304
This I can explain to my grandson. And will. Tyvm. Lol

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TheOtherMaven's picture

@magiamma

Start all the players off "equal", but inevitably one person gets all the money and real estate?

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

enhydra lutris's picture

@TheOtherMaven
so appropriate too.

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

TheOtherMaven's picture

@enhydra lutris

that the original inventor (Elizabeth J. Phillips (née Magie)) intended it to teach people that capitalism was bad. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lizzie_Magie

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

@doh1304
shows up and insists that every single physical resource in the world must (and the imperative is a moral one having nothing to do with social wellbeing) to be sold to the highest bidder.

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The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

enhydra lutris's picture

@UntimelyRippd

capitalist who sees the world divided into utilized resources and unutilized resources, with no room for anything else. Any old efficiency expert type will do.

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

@doh1304

be wall and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

I seem to have heard this before by Democratic elites; many times.

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snoopydawg's picture

@Marie

of the earth. He didn't visit the states he won nor did he campaign in them or spend much money in them, but we're supposed to believe that he just made a miraculous comeback? Puleeese!

Democrats need little from the front-runner beyond his corporeal presence.

The handwringing over fundraising and campaign events may be beside the point. After all, if you were on the campaign trail for the past three months, what struck you was not Biden’s organization (there was little), or his resources (there were few), or even the campaign messaging (Joe Biden has been—and forever will be—Joe Biden). What was striking was the sense of anguish and urgency articulated by everyone, everywhere, all the time. And that was before the pandemic.

Through it all—the fairly awful campaign events and confusing statements and garbled debate performances—the idea of the former vice president has somehow remained consistent, and apparently convincing, as both Trump’s inverse and co-equal. Senator Bernie Sanders may still be in the race, but this is a detail. Democrats have chosen Biden as their vessel for Trump’s defeat, and that choice is the entire point: The vanquishing matters more than anything else.

If Biden actually gets to be president then he will continue doing all the things that people are bitching about Trump doing, but he will make it seem more compassionate like Obama did. Hey did you hear that the justice department wants to arrest and then hold people indefinitely? Yup. How can they do that? Won't it take an act of congress? Yep. But that act has already been written and they just need for congress to say now is the time to implement it. Yay and Yippee. Thanks Obama.

But what are the odds that Biden actually makes it to the convention? My bet is less than 1%.

Democrats need little from the front-runner beyond his corporeal presence.

Great news folks. I won't be getting a bailout from congress. The rest will get up to $1,200 one time check. However unemployment benefits will be increased by $600 for 4 months while the corporations get a no strings attached bailout.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

snoopydawg's picture

@snoopydawg

many people will not receive any $$$$ from the government. Nor will those who do get enough to actually help for more than a tiny bit. But of course the corporations will make out like the robber barons they are.

Rising is airing videos of people who have no income and will receive none as of now. The first one I saw broke my heart. I am sure there are many more just like her that are in her shoes.

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10 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

@snoopydawg
I got $7,500 last year on a W-2 as settlement on an old union grievance. It's so old that no one in the plant remembers what it was about. the new plant manager signed off to clear the decks and maybe a peace offering. Since that was on a W-2 I entered it as wages on my tax return. Does that qualify me for $1200??

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4 users have voted.

We are so screwed.

@The Voice In the Wilderness

corona calculator works very well

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

enhydra lutris's picture

@QMS
dysfunctional the whole operation is.

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness
provisions key to the tax return and not substance, so maybe so.

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@snoopydawg
It's a mystery. For me as mysterious as 1976, 1988 and 1992. The sausage making in 2004 was easier to see. 2008 was the first time a Clinton had both an AA opponent and a southern opponent to upset Clinton's assumed primary voter base that would catapult her to a commanding lead after NV.

Once the MSM begins falling all over themselves for a candidate that propels that candidate to many primary wins that ordinarily would be out of reach for the candidate. Hence, Tsongas (weaker than Dukakis) was still racking up wins through 8 Mar even as the MSM had its new darling, but his super Tuesday wins were limited to his region - DE, MA, RI.

I suppose IA then NH, then NV, followed by SC is preferable to what existed in 1976 when Uncommitted won two of the first three caucuses and George Wallace won the other one. Still, DP whips can and often do manage to get their desired outcome in IA, NV, and SC.

"Favored son" in primaries expands to neighboring states. That didn't hold as well in 2020 for Amy in IA and Warren in NH. SC was made for DP "big guns" and they weren't about to go all in for Bernie, Pete, Liz, or Amy.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Marie
ecidence of rigging, fixing and cheating in and of itself, not unlike the classic trout in the milk pail.

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

@snoopydawg
is not actually intended to help anybody but corporations and the wealthy.

have a good one.

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3 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

@Marie
a live body. Really low expectations are sadly totally appropriate. How he is supposed to wind with more and more demexit and never Biden types popping up every moment is beyond me though.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris @enhydra lutris The goal is to preserve the Clinton/Obama Democratic brand for 2024.

That didn't appear to be the DP expectation for 2020. They're still shell-shocked that HRC lost in 2016 and have been stumbling since then. Yet, seemed to indicate that they very much expected to win in 2020. If they had a game plan, something went wrong with it; so, they did the impeachment hail Mary and fumbled.

It's not like 1984 and 2004 when the DP didn't expect to win (in part because they had done poorly in the 1982 and 2002 midterms), and therefore, handed the nomination to "it's his turn." Much as Republicans did in 1996 and 2012. So unlike Republicans in 1980 that had a couple of viable candidates as Carter began flopping around.

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Perhaps we are at a singularity point in the Western developed countries, and especially the US. It's time to rethink our society's use of private capital and to design a system where social justice is built-in. Free Market Capitalism makes no sense whatsoever. Yes, the free market provides for setting prices for goods and services. However it makes no sense whatsoever for ownership of capital or for setting wages. Capitalism today is derived from a strongly classed society where your value to the owners is dependent on your perceived utility in making them richer, and capital is, of course, almost all owned by the oligarchs, in most cases their birthright, in other cases their success at greed. The basic question - is society about the people or is it about the owners? If it's about the people then human beings have a birthright that is based on their right to survive and better themselves. To me that means a basic guaranteed income, a guaranteed job, and a wage scale based on both need and merit. Why would our society not be run for the good of the people? Why would it not be based on fairness that passes the test of the majority of people. Capital is one of society's most important resources. Why would we allow ownership of it to the worst, most greedy of our citizens? What makes us think that the need to allocate capital where it is most advantageous for society is somehow connected to allowing private ownership? The fall of the Soviet Union was a graphic illustration of what happens when the capital infrastructure of a country, held for the good of the people, is suddenly given to the most greedy, corrupt few oligarchs. The economy completely fell apart and immense amount of capital, accumulated by and for the people of the Soviet Union was suddenly privatized and off-shored. But this is what happens on a continuous basis in the Western countries, and especially the US. Why would we ever build a society based on Capitalism? By the way, we are in the process of proving that private capital is not at all needed to run an economy. The government can create trillions of dollars of investment if it perceives that it is in its interest.

One simple example proves this to me. In the 1950s people talked about the future and how technology would allow for a more creative, less stressful life for our people through increased productivity by technology. There were projections that we would only have to work a 32 hour week and have a life without need, and rich in modern goods and services. Well fast forward to today. We have two wage earners working 40 hrs and barely making it. Why is that? This is because the original assumption was that the increase in technological productivity would be shared by the people. That was naive and a poor understanding of capitalism. By the way the actual number required today is 22 hours of work for a single wage earner in a family for the same quality of life as a family in 1960. Our society today is based on the premise that the owners, oligarchs, own it all and any increase in productivity belongs to them, and that includes a broad class of the elites. The cost of labor is market driven and it's the job of government to keep that as low as possible or to encourage offshoring of production. That one change took the US labor market, which was maintaining a living wage, and made the US labor market a virtual part of the Asian labor market. Why should the Oligarchs pay more for labor? What do market labor wages have to do with social justice and the concept that US society is about the people not the ruling class? Why should we ever produce goods and services that cannot produce a comfortable living wage for the workers?
I think that if we don't move forward we will produce a lifestyle that no one will want to emulate and it will be the end of Western hegemony. Regardless the future belongs to Asia and Eurasia, but can we keep up or do we fall way behind? I think it depends on whether the people wake up and realize that we need change and demand it, or does the establishment continue to successfully stifle change, as we have seen vividly recently, preying on people's insecurity?

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9 users have voted.

Capitalism has always been the rule of the people by the oligarchs. You only have two choices, eliminate them or restrict their power.

enhydra lutris's picture

@The Wizard

have a good one.

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3 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

snoopydawg's picture

Yay we finally have the results from the March 3 primary while we already had the results of the states where Biden won on the same night. Gee I'd think there was something screwy with that if I was into conspiracy theories....

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won Utah’s March 3 Democratic presidential primary with just over 36% of the vote, according to the final results released by the state elections office Tuesday.

The front-runner nationally, former Vice President Joe Biden, earned 18.4%.

It was an open primary, which means anyone could request a democrat ballot at the polling location regardless of party affiliation. I'm a registered republican, and I asked for a democrat ballot and voted for Sanders. Many republicans did the same.

Sigh...

Exactly. Its a sad day when Utahns would put socialism over freedom and liberty. A very sad day indeed.

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9 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

"Live, love, rescue"
Works for me!

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5 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@on the cusp

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Lily O Lady's picture

screwed by how well the stock is doing.

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6 users have voted.

"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

@Lily O Lady If only we had some gladiators to entertain and distract us...

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Lily O Lady's picture

@on the cusp

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5 users have voted.

"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

@on the cusp
Trump v. X (changes on a weekly basis). This week Trump v. Cuomo.

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smiley7's picture

Well, i got lost surfing through economic inequality and the time just slipped by; thanks for suggesting the journey.

Got an email from The Appalachian Trail:

Friend of ATC, we value your health and safety.

In these unprecedented times, I am making an unprecedented request: please stay away from the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). Whether your hike is for a couple of hours or a couple of days, staying away from the Trail minimizes the spread or contraction of COVID-19.

Apparently, a young hiker on the trail in North GA called for help, but wasn't found for a few days having passed away from the virus.

Even in normal times, rescues on the trail are challenging. Wondering if my favorite Spring trails on Grandfather will remain open? A stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway south of here is closed to prevent folks from gathering at popular spots. Most area camp sites in national forests are also closed.

Thursday and Friday are forecast to be good days to get out into the wilderness, hope to get out a little, escape the cabin fever.

Thanks again for getting the old cells between the ears going and be safe out there.

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5 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@smiley7

do anything but short day hikes, even feeling well, this thing an worsen quite quickly.

STay well and take extra care of yourself. Have a good one, too.

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4 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

I know a lot of people have gathered, from information oozing out of I'm not really sure where, a variety of unsubstantiated conclusions about the current pandemic. I know that most of those people will only be annoyed to have me contradict those conclusions. Nonetheless:
A. There is not one shred of evidence, nor even a scientific hint, that SARS-Cov-2 was engineered.
B. Everything that we know about SARS-Cov-2, combined with everything we know about other coronaviruses, is consistent with the model of this virus jumping from bats to an intermediary host and then to human.
C. All available epidemiological evidence indicates that the outbreak began in Wuhan.
D. No available epidemiological evidence supports the alternate suggestion that SARS-Cov-2 had/has entered the human population anywhere on else on earth, by any path other than direct transmission through a chain of human beings inadvertently carrying it from Wuhan.
E. The current scientific consensus does not confirm that there are any sufficiently distinct variants of the virus to warrant being considered alternate "strains". Thus far, observed variations are almost all on the order of just a few alterations in single RNA bases (literally, just 2 or 3 alterations from the nearest other sequenced genome).
F. Thus far, these observed minimal variations in different sequenced genomes from different places are unsurprising and are not evidence that the variants did not ALL originate from one place, or that Wuhan is not that place. As the virus was spreading through Wuhan it would have been mutating. Only a teensy fraction of all confirmed Wuhan cases have been sequenced; thus most of the genomic mutations already present in the Wuhan "community" have never been documented there. Conversely, it would be a surprising result if many or most of the samples sequenced elsewhere were perfect matches to the few Wuhan samples that have been sequenced. (Example: Imagine there are 100 variants, each infecting 100 people, in Wuhan, for at total of 10,000 infections. Imagine that only 5 samples from Wuhan have been sequenced. Imagine that 100 randomly selected people out of the 10,000 travel from Wuhan out into the rest of the world. Imagine that one of those people ends up starting an outbreak in City A, in State B, in Country C. What do you think are the odds that the variant found in City A will be a perfect genomic match to any of the 5 samples sequenced in Wuhan?)
G. The current scientific consensus is that the virus probably came into the human population through the live wildlife market in Wuhan -- the one that many people resolutely refer to as a "seafood market". No, the hypothesis is not that it had anything to do with people eating bats. Again, it is almost certain that the mutated virus first adapted to an intermediary host. One of the current prime suspects is the pangolin, an endangered animal whose sale or slaughter is subject to heavy punishment in China -- which doesn't stop Chinese black marketeers from selling the wee beasties, anymore than it stops them from selling rhino horn. Whether or not any pangolins were being illegally brought into the Wuhan market is beside the point, because it's just as possible that the virus came to the market in the body of a person who was exposed "in the workplace" -- ie., wherever they were keeping their collected wild animals for eventual sale.
H. Because the virus is asymptomatic in many cases, and in other cases could be misdiagnosed as flu or even a cold, and because it is VERY contagious, it is not surprising that no Patient Zero has ever been identified. SARS-Cov-2 was detected in the environment at that Wuhan market. Somebody carried it in there and spread it around without even knowing they were infected. Other people would have contracted it there, carried it out, never showed symptoms, and spread it around every damn place they went, coughing on mass transit, giving it to their kids, whatever. Furthermore, if someone were trading illegally in pangolins or some other possible intermediary host, that person would be unlikely to 'fess up to the authorities that they'd ever been anywhere near that market.
I. Since the SARS-Cov-1 outbreak in the early 2000s, coronaviruses have been the targets of millions and millions of dollars worth of research, because future outbreaks of related viruses were almost inevitable (and happened, in fact, with MERS-Cov, which jumped from bats to camels and then into the human population). 10s of thousands of research papers have been published. It's not surprising that various companies and academic researchers were well on the path to vaccines or other treatments -- to the contrary, it would have been surprising had that not been the case.
J. As an incidental aside, it is entirely possible that genetic recombination can happen between the genomes of two different variants that have infected the same individual. Such events, if they've happened, produce weird outliers in the "family tree" of mutated viruses.

Finally, for your edification, here is a link to a hypothesized tree. The tree is based on hundreds and hundreds of submitted genomic sequences that have not been published in peer-reviewed literature. I'm not going to explain the mathematics, but I'll tell you this: If you don't understand them, and don't understand their limitations, you probably shouldn't be forming, or subsequently offering, opinions about the phylogenetics and epidemiology of SARS-Cov-2, or any other organism really.

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5 users have voted.

The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

enhydra lutris's picture

@UntimelyRippd
where.

Have a good one.

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2 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris
published papers (among which was a review paper of published papers), one or two of them going all the way back to 2003.

Thus, you probably can't remember exactly where you read "it", because you likely picked up different bits of the info from different places.

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2 users have voted.

The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

but this seems misleading.

The very first coin flip transfers money from one agent to another, setting up an imbalance between the two. And once we have some variance in wealth, however minute, succeeding transactions will systematically move a “trickle” of wealth upward from poorer agents to richer ones, amplifying inequality until the system reaches a state of oligarchy.

The player loses because .83 is less than 5/6.

After many trials the number of wins and losses will be nearly the same. Let us say they are equal. Then player's stake will have been multiplied by a power of (1.2)(83) or .996.

For example, after 50 wins and 50 losses the stake has been multiplied by 50th power of .996 which is about .367.

If player only loses .16, then he wins in long run because (1.2)(.84) is greater than 1.

This result has nothing to do with who starts off winning, setting up an "imbalance".
In original example the player could win the first 1000 trials - he will still lose in the long run.

fwiw

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