…a good start [DOT 10/6/21]

or indeed stop...

…well…I kinda screwed up today so this is either going to be late or short enough that myo might start thinking I finally listened to them about going easy on the links…but there are some good signs out there?

The firm behind the Keystone XL pipeline officially scrapped the project on Wednesday, months after President Biden revoked a cross-border permit for the controversial pipeline and more than a decade after political wrangling over its fate began.

The pipeline, which would have stretched from Alberta’s boreal forests to the refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast, became the center of a broader controversy over climate change, pipeline safety, eminent domain and jobs. Those same concerns have spawned similar battles to stop pipelines in states including Montana, Minnesota and Virginia, part of an effort to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Activists who have spent more than a decade hoping to bury the project for good reacted with joy at the news Wednesday.
Republicans and oil and gas industry officials decried the news, hammering Biden for putting the nail in the pipeline’s coffin. They argue that the project would have provided thousands of construction jobs. However, with most of the pipeline construction complete, including the fully operating southern leg, relatively few jobs are still at stake.
“The rushed approval of the Keystone Pipeline by the previous administration was a terrible idea,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the tireless efforts of Native American communities, environmental justice groups and advocates that fought this dangerous pipeline for years. This is their victory.”
Despite the long battle over the Keystone XL pipeline, TC Energy (formerly known as TransCanada) earned a record $4.5 billion last year, operating about 3,000 miles of oil pipelines and about 57,900 miles of natural gas pipelines. To capture some of the tar sands business, the company plans to expand a previously existing Keystone pipeline by 50,000 barrels a day this year and perhaps 80,000 barrels a day in 2023, according to S&P Global.


…which is maybe a better metaphor than I’d like for something that you can’t really say isn’t better than the alternative…but happened so late in the game that it’s hard to avoid thinking it might be flirting with the too-little-too-late thing


Democratic primary voters have been turning away this year from the anti-elite furies that continue to roil Republican politics, repeatedly choosing more moderate candidates promising steady leadership over disrupters from the party’s left wing.

Democratic establishment tightens its hold on the party as far-left candidates fall short [WaPo]

…there are at least some steps it’s hard to be mad about

First, wealthy people and corporations are doing much better than those at the bottom of the economic ladder. Low-wage workers and parents are forced to choose between their health and the safety of their children, on the one hand, and their livelihoods, on the other. As a result, they have disproportionately borne the brunt of the pandemic’s economic harms. Small businesses are suffering after shuttering to protect their communities. Meanwhile, corporate revenue has soared, and high-income workers and shareholders have emerged from the crisis relatively unscathed.

The second problem is a consequence of the first. Governments desperately need revenue to rebuild their economies and make investments to support small businesses, workers and families in need. And they’ll need more, as the pandemic recedes, to address climate change and longer-run structural issues. Revenue must come from somewhere, though. For too long, revenue has been drawn too heavily from workers, whose incomes are easy to report and calculate. Capital income is more difficult to tax because capital is mobile and income more susceptible to sophisticated accounting games.

Using these tricks, corporations’ capital income too often finds its way to low-tax jurisdictions as the world’s most profitable companies adroitly reduce their tax burdens. Beyond revenue loss, governments live in fear of overtaxing corporations, lest those companies move their operations — and jobs — offshore. The dynamic that has arisen in the past half-century is, in the classic economic sense, a race to the bottom with respect to corporate tax rates.
This year, nations have a historic opportunity to end the race to the bottom in corporate taxation, restoring government resources at a time when they are most needed. Through the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Group of 20 Inclusive Framework, 139 countries are working toward fairer distribution when it comes to which countries receive corporate tax revenue and the establishment of a globally agreed-upon minimum tax. This minimum tax would put a floor on tax competition and ensure corporations pay their fair share of tax.

Five finance ministers: Why we need a global corporate minimum tax [WaPo]


We Ran the Treasury Department. This Is How to Fix Tax Evasion. [NYT]

…although…predictably you don’t have to go far to find someone arguing otherwise


…though apparently some of how that whole tax thing works might have had too much attention turned to it lately to be something that can be ignored the way it seems like it always has been?

A jaw-dropping report by ProPublica detailing how America’s richest men avoided paying taxes has intensified interest in Congress, even among some Republicans, in changing the tax code to ensure that people like Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett pay their fair share.

For Republicans, the idea that the tax code should give preferential treatment to investment has been sacrosanct, ostensibly to promote economic growth and innovation that could benefit everyone. But the news this week showed how the treatment of stocks, bonds, real estate and huge loans taken off those assets has sent the tax bills of the richest Americans plummeting.
Democrats, especially in the Senate, have been hard at work on a tax package to finance President Biden’s costly domestic agenda, including a major infrastructure plan, climate change measures and the expansion of education and health care benefits. Much of that work — vehemently opposed by Republicans — has been focused on clawing back tax cuts lavished on corporations by the 2017 tax law, President Donald J. Trump’s signature legislative achievement, and to prevent multinational corporations from shifting taxable profits offshore.

The ProPublica report, analyzing a trove of documents detailing the tax bills of household names such as Mr. Bezos, Mr. Buffett, Elon Musk and Michael Bloomberg, showed that the nation’s richest executives paid just a fraction of their wealth in taxes — $13.6 billion in federal income taxes during a time period when their collective net worth increased by $401 billion, according to a tabulation by Forbes.

The United States taxes people based on their income and investment gains, not according to their net worth. But ProPublica calculated that after all the fancy accounting work, the 25 richest Americans paid what it called a “true tax rate” — the proportion of their total wealth paid in taxes — of only 3.4 percent. That is a tiny fraction of the amount that affluent Americans are supposed to pay in income taxes — 37 percent — or the 20 percent most pay on proceeds from asset sales.
The ProPublica revelations got to a widely understood issue: that the superrich earn virtually all their wealth from the constantly rising value of their assets, particularly in the stock market, and that the sales of those assets are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income from a paycheck, a point that Mr. Buffett often makes.

But the analysis also revealed a less recognized strategy employed by the superrich: taking huge loans, using their assets as collateral. It allows them to avoid selling their assets and facing taxation, and even to write off some lending costs. In that way, Mr. Bezos and Mr. Buffett were able to show yearly income losses even as their wealth grew by billions of dollars.

An Exposé Has Congress Rethinking How to Tax the Superrich [NYT]

The Real Tax Scandal Is What’s Legal

Richest 25 Americans reportedly paid ‘true tax rate’ of 3.4% as wealth rocketed


…or if you want to go straight to the proverbial horse’s mouth


…either way…it probably shouldn’t be surprising that once you get to a federal level weird shit goes on with big chunks of money…that’s not exactly news

The billionaires, former government officials and academics gathered in a Manhattan conference room to brainstorm solutions to a problem they had all been working on from various angles: how best to update the laws governing philanthropy, most of which were half a century old.
That was January 2020.

On Wednesday, the effort will make its way to Congress, where Senators Angus King of Maine and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa are introducing legislation to attempt a version of what the group outlined in that first brainstorming session: a way of ensuring that money promised to charity more quickly gets to the people who need it.

The promise of philanthropy was that the wealthy could enjoy generous tax breaks for their charitable contributions in return for helping society in the ways they saw fit. The pandemic laid bare how, with a few exceptions, accumulation trumped distribution.

More and more of the money given to charity has been delayed, sometimes for decades, if not marooned indefinitely in the endowments of private foundations and in the donor-advised funds, which are akin to 401(k)s for philanthropy but have few regulations or requirements. Over $140 billion sits in these accounts. Another $1 trillion resides in endowments of private foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which are required to pay out only 5 percent of their assets each year.

“There’s an awful lot of charitable money sitting in warehouses that people have taken deductions for but the money has never reached working charities,” said Mr. King. “That’s the fundamental problem that we’re trying to remedy.”

How Long Should It Take to Give Away Millions?

…well…except when it sort of is?

Federal prison inmates are keeping large sums of money — in some cases more than $100,000 each — in government-run deposit accounts effectively shielded from court orders for things like child support, alimony or other debts, and not subject to the same scrutiny as accounts owned by non-incarcerated citizens, according to court documents and interviews.

Within the Federal Bureau of Prisons system, which houses roughly 129,000 inmates in facilities throughout the United States, there are more than 20 inmate accounts holding more than $100,000 each for a total exceeding $3 million, a person familiar with the program told The Washington Post. In all, the combined value of such inmate accounts recently topped $100 million, this person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the program that have remained out of public view.

The program run by the Bureau of Prisons has long frustrated and angered law enforcement officials from other agencies, who say it poses significant risks for abuse, money laundering and corruption, yet the agency, already plagued with staffing and management problems, has for years resisted efforts to change it because its leaders maintain they are already diligent about making inmates pay what they owe.

“Inmates are using this banking system to shelter this money” because it is not subject to U.S. Treasury regulations or federal laws designed to prevent financial institutions from being exploited by criminals, said Jason Wojdylo, who recently retired from the U.S. Marshals Service after spending years trying unsuccessfully to persuade the Bureau of Prisons to change its practices. “We have actually discovered the source of deposits in some cases to be from ongoing criminal conduct, and we’ve opened up criminal investigations in some of these instances.”
Federal inmate accounts run by the Bureau of Prisons are not subject to the criminal and regulatory scrutiny that those of non-incarcerated Americans face. Under the Bank Secrecy Act, everyday account holders who move more than $10,000 in cash can be flagged with a suspicious activity report, potentially prompting an investigation, but that law does not apply to the Bureau of Prisons, because even with $100 million in accounts, the agency is not considered a financial institution. The agency also does not run its bank transactions through a Treasury Department screening program meant to flag outstanding debts, officials said.

“That’s a huge problem if you think about the possibilities — if a white-collar offender gets money while he’s in an institution, that’s better than having it in a bank account in some ways,” said Dan Eckhart, a lawyer in private practice who previously worked as a federal prosecutor and a Bureau of Prisons attorney. “From a taxpayer point of view, and for law enforcement, that’s a big vulnerability.”

Federal prisoners hold $100 million in government-run accounts, shielded from some criminal scrutiny and debt collection [WaPo]

…which reminds me…this was interesting

When Bitcoin burst onto the scene in 2009, fans heralded the cryptocurrency as a secure, decentralized and anonymous way to conduct transactions outside the traditional financial system.
But this week’s revelation that federal officials had recovered most of the Bitcoin ransom paid in the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack exposed a fundamental misconception about cryptocurrencies: They are not as hard to track as cybercriminals think.

On Monday, the Justice Department announced it had traced 63.7 of the 75 Bitcoins — some $2.3 million of the $4.3 million — that Colonial Pipeline had paid to the hackers as the ransomware attack shut down the company’s computer systems, prompting fuel shortages and a spike in gasoline prices. Officials have since declined to provide more details about how exactly they recouped the Bitcoin, which has fluctuated in value.


…not least in light of this?

The world’s largest meat processor said on Wednesday that it paid an $11 million ransom in Bitcoin to the hackers behind an attack that forced the shutdown last week of all the company’s U.S. beef plants and disrupted operations at poultry and pork plants.



…always worth remembering there’s a lot of money in food…& that it can be surprising who makes it…the money that is…not so much the food

They own the soil where the potatoes in McDonald’s french fries grow, the carrots from the world’s largest producer and the onions that Americans sauté every night for dinner. But they’re far better known for their work in tech and in trying to save the climate.

Bill and Melinda Gates, who recently announced they’re getting divorced and are dividing their assets, are deeply invested in American agriculture. The billionaire couple, in less than a decade, have accumulated more than 269,000 acres of farmland across 18 states, more than the entire acreage of New York City. The farmland was purchased through a constellation of companies that all link back to the couple’s investment group, Cascade Investments, based in Kirkland, Washington.

McDonald’s french fries, carrots, onions: all of the foods that come from Bill Gates farmland [NBC]

…still…before I get to the tunes for today…there are at least a few things I’ve read of late that weren’t basically all about money & taxes?

The Texas bar association is investigating state Attorney General Ken Paxton to determine whether he committed professional misconduct in his failed effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.


When historians review the U.S. Capitol Police’s embarrassing performance in the days and weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection, they will surely retell the story of the locked bus. It’s a tale sadly reminiscent of the Keystone Kops.

Knowing violence was possible, U.S. Capitol Police activated seven special civil-disturbance platoons in advance of the joint session of Congress that would formalize Joe Biden’s victory. But only four platoons were outfitted with protective equipment, and those officers were ordered not to don riot gear as they started their shifts.

Instead, the helmets and shields were staged on buses — to be retrieved if necessary.

As a mob incited by President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, officers scrambled to get the body armor. But the bus was locked, and no one could find the key. They were forced to defend the complex, and themselves, in their regular uniforms. All told, about 140 officers reported suffering injuries during the most significant breach of the Capitol since the War of 1812.

The locked bus is only one detail in a 128-page report released Tuesday by two Senate committees, but the episode epitomizes the failures of the Capitol Police to prepare and respond to the cascade of warnings during the weeks leading up to the deadly siege.


…context…it’s important


…but it doesn’t always make things look better, does it?

Congressional Democrats reintroduced legislation on Tuesday that would protect abortion access around the country, even if Roe v. Wade were weakened or overturned.

The Women’s Health Protection Act, if passed, would guarantee the right for health care professionals to provide abortion care and their patients to receive care, without restrictions and bans that impede access.

Specifically, it would prohibit state and federal lawmakers from imposing several limits on abortion care, including mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods, admitting privileges requirements, and limits on medication abortion.

The bill was first introduced in 2013 and has been reintroduced in every congressional session since. However, it has never received a vote in either chamber.


A Russian court on Wednesday designated Aleksei A. Navalny’s political movement as an extremist network, a remarkable move that sent a message to President Biden ahead of his meeting next week with President Vladimir V. Putin: Russian domestic affairs are not up for discussion.

The court decision — taken almost certainly with Mr. Putin’s blessing — is bound to push the movement further underground after several months in which the Kremlin’s yearslong effort to suppress dissent had entered a more aggressive phase. Under the law, Mr. Navalny’s organizers, donors, or even social-media supporters could now be prosecuted and face prison time.

With a Ban on Navalny’s Group, Putin Sends Clear Message to Biden [NYT]

…well…I say that

Across the US, restaurant owners reporting problems in finding employees have fueled pushes among Republican-led states and business industry groups to end federal extended unemployment benefits.
And amid the scramble for workers as businesses increasingly reopen, is another approach to circumventing these hiring hurdles: what if restaurants paid better wages and provided stronger benefits? Some employers in the restaurant and food service industry are managing to do exactly that.

Some employers are upending the industry standards by paying their employees better and offering stronger benefits [Guardian]

…but in the end maybe everything is about money & taxes?

Last Thursday, President Biden vowed to make global financial systems more transparent so that individuals and organizations engaged in corruption would find it harder to “shield their activities.”

On the same day, a federal judge imposed prison time on Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a former Treasury Department official who, by providing secret government documents to an investigative reporter, did more to bring transparency to the global financial system than almost anyone else in recent memory.

She Exposed the Truth About ‘Dirty Money.’ Why Was She Sentenced to Prison? [NYT]

There has never been anything delicate or elegant about voter suppression. It is a club. But those doing the suppressing have learned ways to disguise their tactics, to no longer explicitly identify race in the language of legislation. Instead, they use poverty as a proxy for race. They examine culture for patterns, like Black churches’ helping members to the polls on Sundays, and they restrict the conditions that make the patterns possible.
One of the mechanisms used during Jim Crow to suppress the Black vote was the imposition of a poll tax. Some white voters were suppressed by this, but the greatest effect was on Black voters.

We now have a poll tax once again, only it’s paid not in currency but in inconvenience. When people have to wait hours in line to vote, that, too, is a tax. The poll tax is a skin color tax, as Black people are more likely to have to wait.
We can’t look at what is happening now with voter suppression as just one more horrible thing that the Republican Party is doing. And we can’t look at it as just a maneuver to alter presidential outcomes.

When you can’t vote, you can’t vote for anything from the president all the way down to the local school board. Voter suppression is about silencing, it is about weakening, it is about controlling though constriction.


Determined to enforce white political dominance in pivotal states like Georgia, Arizona, Texas and North Carolina, Republicans are enacting or trying to enact laws restricting the right to vote, empowering legislatures to reject election outcomes and adopting election rules and procedures designed to block the emergence of multiracial political majorities.

Republicans “see the wave of demography coming and they are just trying to hold up a wall and keep it from smashing them in,” William Frey, a senior fellow at Brookings, told CNN’s Ron Brownstein. “It’s the last bastion of their dominance, and they are doing everything they can.”
Among those I consulted for this column, there was wide agreement that democratic backsliding is a process difficult for the average voter to detect — and that one of the crucial factors enabling the current procedural undermining of democracy in the states is that voters have little interest in or understanding of election rules and regulations.
The low visibility and lack of public understanding of arcane shifts in election law — for example, the shift of responsibility for determining winners and losers from election officials to state legislatures — greatly empowers partisan elites.

How Far Are Republicans Willing to Go? They’re Already Gone. [NYT]

…there is…inevitably…more where most of that came from…but I’m out of time for today…so here are the tunes…& quite possibly the “blessed relief” portion of today’s effort?



  1. Before I start reading, I am reminded of an old adage I once came across. It went something like, “We don’t need to be first, we need to be right.” This was in reference to “breaking news,” and must have come from some kind of news media, a major newspaper or a TV network. Attribution is impossible to find; too many of these words were said by a million different people a million different times, but not in combination like this and not with this meaning. 
    Myo may disagree but I feel that a SplinterRIP news digest is always worth waiting for and patience is rewarded. Plus, how many in the readership are freaks like me who start their day at 4 AM Eastern Time and are more than ready to tackle something like this by 6?

    • …aw, shucks…that’s real kind of you to say…I still don’t know if I think the early morning is “the best part of the day” the way my folks swore it was when I was inclined to sleep through it…but the small hours used to be my favorite time of day before the whole insomnia thing got out of hand…& at the moment I seem to mostly trying to cobble these together when they’re due up after telling myself that trying to do them the night before is a recipe for staying awake all night…& having arguably too much time to find “that other thing I saw that was sort of about more-or-less this”

      …either way, it’s nice to know there’s some folks who might pop up early enough to catch me when I’m late getting it posted…makes me feel less of a crazy person to be juggling links at the time?

      • ‘the locked bus’ is going to be my new code for disparity. next time some ass picks a fight with me about what the founding fathers meant by ‘all men’. the founding fathers. A guy screamed at me once, ‘you think the founding fathers are assholes’. i laughed, he flounced.

        • The key wasn’t lost, someone knew exactly where it was and didn’t use it. I’ve said it before, but those officers were intended to be sacrificed to generate enough outrage to declare martial law. And a lot of them now know it. 

    • That always drives me crazy!  Like the whole investigation of Trump, the Rethugs were able to turn the conversation into who leaked the info, who started the investigation, and who paid for the Steele dossier but didn’t seem interested in acknowledging he commited treason.  

  2. I guess I’m a bit bemused by the billionaire tax thing, but not for the obvious reason. I thought everyone knew billionaires don’t pay taxes. I mean, Captain Combover admitted it, and he’s a pretty shitty “billionaire” (and apparently committed various crimes to avoid those taxes but I digress). 
    I used to write financial newsletters and some of my clients dealt with what is euphemistically called “high-net-worth” customers (’cause filthy rich would not fly in marketing copy). Rich people loathe taxes. They will do anything to avoid them, even spending more than they saved on dodging the taxes to dodge the taxes. That’s the origin of the whole Republican myth about “small government” — rich people don’t want to pay their fair share. It’s just that simple. 
    I just assume billionaires aren’t paying anything. I don’t know whether that makes me incredibly naive or incredibly cynical, but clearly I’m out of the “what the fuck, why aren’t they paying” loop. 

    • I think part of the problem is that there’s that myth they’ve created about how the top 1% pay something like 40% of taxes (or whatever the bullshit stat is) and the knuckledraggers swallow that shit hook, line and sinker.

    • …I can’t say for sure but I feel like most people kind of assume that the richer people are the better they are at avoiding taxes…but I think a lot underestimate how much can be avoided when you’re worth enough to hire lawyers & accountants to make that their full-time job

      …so when it turns out that rather than “sort of evening out” it actually results in people who wouldn’t notice any dip in their quality of life if they paid a rate that actively fucks with people on the other end of the income scale paying a percentage that the latter sort of folks could only dream of getting away with…it’s still enough to shock a lot of people?

      • Solid point. With the super rich, “how much I can avoid” = “almost all.” I suppose you almost have to experience how all this works to understand that equation. 

    • I find it amusing in a dark way that these fucks always make a big fucking stink about paying the salaries of “lessors”  like government bureaucrats, cops, and even politicians yet they don’t.

  3. Yesterday,  I found out my cancer stricken friend died.  Part of me wanted to type that out in the usual stream of consciousness way that I would usually do, but I needed to process and grieve some.  It wasn’t shocking or heart breaking because I saw first hand what the disease had done to him so my heart was already broken and I have dealing with that for the last 5 months.
    I was conflicted a bit because part of me (the selfish part) wanted him to live longer, but the rest of me wanted his suffering to end.  All I hope is that he found some of the peace he was looking for.
    I had a feeling something was not going well when he cancelled my last planned visit, but could not put my finger on it.  Now sadly I know.

  4. I am a little bit unhealthily obsessed with obvious money laundering/tax evasion via real estate LLC. Today’s New York Post (I know, but they’re not behind a paywall and they have spies everywhere) bring news that a “mystery buyer” bought two condos in New York’s most expensive building and paid many millions more than the last time the apartments changed hands. Presumably the pervious owners were also “mystery buyers”. What is the Post’s takeaway? The building’s back entrance is one block away from a homeless shelter, heaven forbid:
    What’s laughable about this is that there is a very good chance that no one, especially not the “mystery buyer,” will ever set foot in this shangri-la; it’s just a convenient way to move lots of ill-gotten gains out of an autocratic country with an unstable currency and into a US asset. Every so often the sensible idea arises that NY State/City should pass a law requiring disclosure of membership in these secretive LLCs and levy a “pied-a-terre” tax on properties owned by people who do not declare themselves full-time residents, thereby avoiding local income taxes. These ideas go nowhere, of course.

    • …it’s not just NY, either…there’s a bunch of that sort of thing in places like london…& I imagine probably all sorts of places…pretty sure hong kong is another?

    • Last year the US actually passed a law to phase out anonymous shell corporations.
      We’ll see whether it lasts, gets enforced, or overturned by dirtball judges. In theory, at least, it’s a big deal…

      • I’m sure this was /s but no, just the opposite. The Post loves super-pricey real estate because it’s another indicator that NYC is the greatest and most desirable city in the world. Well, for now anyway, until the socialists ruin it for all of us, because they also love stories about the negligible numbers of New Yorkers who have left the city and the decreasing enrollment in the public school system. No, what this goes to show us is that Manhattan is so fabulous that people are willing to pay top dollar for apartments even in buildings where, if you use the rear entrance for some reason, there is a *homeless shelter* [whisper this] RIGHT ON THE NEXT BLOCK! [shout this.]

  5. While we’re on the real estate topic – this was trending yesterday on twitter. 
    I know here in Atlanta – a lot of houses are being bought up by big property management companies – maybe it’s all Blackrock – or a lot of it anyway.

  6. Maybe, but there are uncountable LLCs snapping up these apartments. If you walk down W. 57th Street, which is where the building in the article is, along with several similar brethren; it is now known as Billionaire’s Row, you might see one apartment in 100 illuminated or showing any signs of life. I would assume BlackRock (a NYC firm, by the way) doesn’t let these houses just sit idle do they, wouldn’t they rent them out or resell them at a profit? 
    I read a funny interview with the door people who work in these Billionaire’s Row buildings. During the day shift, the only traffic is generated by the people who swap out the lobby flower arrangements every day, and after sunset miscreants and the mentally ill like to stop by. Billionaire’s Row Doorperson would make for an excellent work-study job.

      • I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Interpol has a clandestine office in one of these apartments.
        My physical therapist visited me today and we went up on our building’s roof. The roof is not a simple tar version; it has stone tile flooring, and is furnished and landscaped. It’s where our herb garden is, along with lots of flowers and other plantings. From the roof you can see Billionaire’s Row and I pointed out the buildings I recognized. He told me that he has had clients in those buildings. “Really? People live in those apartments?” “No, they own the apartments and they fly into New York for medical care. Sometimes they stick around to recuperate but no, none of them actually lives in New York as far as I know. It’s really spooky in those buildings, almost like a ‘Shining’ vibe, especially in winter.”

  7. Am I the only one that things cryptocurrency is…. kinda stupid? I think a lot of it is my tendency to be an old man yelling at clouds.  I understand crypto as far as online trading. It’s no stupider than, say, hog futures. But there is an article in Wired about NFTs and a) it doesn’t do much to help me understand why these exist or why people are doing NFTs and b) makes the people into both NFTs and crypto seem… unhinged. LIKE, WHY. I am not even convinced bitcoin EXISTS, so you’re going to use questionably real money to buy the suggestion of art or a joke? 

    • …to the extent that either make sense to me I’m sympathetic to the idea that some aspects of them sound great in the abstract…a system of currency whose value is independent of any specific political state seems kinda cool…as does an inviolable form of assured provenance

      …it’s in practice that all of that seems like absolute horseshit…NFTs are fine if you just want to give an artist a bunch of money more or less directly in an old-school patronage sort of way…but as proof of ownership more meaningful than an itunes receipt…which is to say in any sense that term has the meaning you’d be forgiven for assuming it implies…they appear to be 100% bullshit

      …& cryptocurrency viewed “in the round” isn’t just a highly volatile investment vehicle that smells like an industrial ponzi scam rather than a functional currency…it’s founded on a massive layer of highly expensive & arguably fragile technology whose one constant has been that sooner or later someone finds a way to make every bit of it do something it shouldn’t be able to do in order to profit thereby…all leveraging vast amounts of wasted energy consumption & hardware that has itself become absurdly overpriced due to its related utility…the principal example of which being graphics cards

      …it’s not just a potentially terrible investment…it’s an actively harmful thing thanks more or less entirely to its implementation…& yet that stuff that sounds good in the abstract is apparently beguiling enough that it’s not just money that the most invested have put into the concept…there’s a kind of zeal more often associated with religions…& a broadly equivalent reliance on the power of faith to overcome any holes logic might appear to be able to put in the whole argument

      …which is a long way of saying no…you are very much not alone?

    • No.  Once you figure out the headaches involved in Bitcoin and other crypto, you wonder what the goddamn fuss was.
      It just seems to be a means to separate “bro” types from their money.

  8. On that “farmland as investment asset” thing, I’ve been trying to get folks to understand for YEARS, how scary & potentially dangerous it is…
    Yes, with the Gateses, you have *relatively* benign actors/owners…
    But if/when we end up with “farmland investors” (asset-seekers), rather than farmers owning most of the farmland, there WILL be some heavy & serious consequences–imo, for the whole country & honestly, the WORLD…
    “Investors” seek to maximize their profitability… extract as much “value” from a *product* as possible, to maximize your cash inflows.
    Farmland is seen as a “revenue source,” rather than as a set of interconnected *living organisms* which must be healthy and in balance, in order to grow crops…
    Folks looking to maximize profits inevitably look to “maximize growth” off any given acre of land.
    That means ripping out tree breaks/tree lines, ripping out fences, and using GPS planting/plotting systems to plant your crop “edge-to-edge”…
    Now, those farmers MAY well be using “no till” methods–which IS good!… but they just ripped OUT the tree and shrub breaks…. 
    The breaks which were planted during the Dust Bpwl, to prevent that precious topsoil from blowing all the way to DC and beyond😕
    Yeah, there isn’t quite as much tilling anymore. But there’s also still a HELLUVA LOT of topsoil which gets blown around–even/especially in the winter, when we don’t get the snow cover that we used to…
    We also don’t see nearly as much crop/field rotation, as used to happen when I was a child… we see a LOT of single-crop/dual-crop acres, spanning entire segments of *states,* nowadays… 
    Which means we’re literally begging for an “Irish Potato Famine 2.0+” for our corn & soybean crops… because you HAVE to use the Monsanto/ Cargill/ OtherBigNameHere seed stock (ALL of which is patented, BTW, so NO, you *can’t* save your seed from year to year, without risking a devastating lawsuit!), AND you also need to buy their chemicals to keep the pests away (didja KNOW that we’re now back to using the same toxic shit our grandparents & great-grandparents were using, just to “stay ahead” of pests & weeds.
    And we’re stripping our soils bare, too it, and THEN putting a shit ton of heavy & sometimes “forever” chemicals into our water tables under those fields–literally poisoning out any future good bugs & bacteria…
    All because of things like “investment maximization” combined with “get big or get out,” and the ever-increasing consolidation of processing plants for those crops…
    We’re *maximizing* our way into ever-increasing dead-zones offshore, poisoned drinking water sources (IF there’s water left!🙃), and increasingly dead soils…
    And pretty soon, I recon,the bill IS going to come due–thanks to things like climate change, switching the rain & heat patterns… 
    Not to mention, the fuckery that IS gonna happen *someday,* when the earth finally receives the next major electromagnetic blast from the sun, potentially frying all that “field management tech,” and making a bunch of that planting or harvesting pretty much impossible, because of how many computers & computer chips are now involved🙃

  9. Friends, I recommend you check your local unemployment rates if you live in a red state and people are pissypants that the extra benefits are the reasons that businesses can’t find workers.

    Missouri is cutting the extra benefits soon (if they haven’t already) because governor dumbass believes those are why places (mostly service industry) can’t find staff. 

    Totally not due to low wages and lack of benefits and the whole thing how the general public are horrible to anyone in the service industry.

    Nope, it’s them commie socialist democrats paying people to stay home. 

    Missouri’s current unemployment rate is 4.1%. The long term average is 5.77%. How’s that work with the scary socialism propaganda? 


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