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Gthaberlach's Public Library

20 Apr 14

Piketty's meritocratic extremism has more to do with second-generation meritocracy, which has been accelerating since the 1980s. In this version, multiple-choice tests matter less than market tests. The idea is that money follows quality, so those who attract money must be the best: they must deserve it. Any other test looks spurious: if you're smart, why aren't you rich?

Second-generation meritocracy appeals to rewarding what's useful, measured by whether other people will pay for it. It sees test scores as effete and irrelevant, like the older privileges of birth. The signal win for second-generation meritocracy is libertarian Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel's VC-style offer to bankroll bright kids who agree not to go to college-giving the figurative finger to first-generation meritocracy.

Again, our meritocracy is a hybrid. People still get funneled into investment banks, hedge funds, and rich law firms by testing into top schools. But unlike in the older world, where rites of passage like the SAT were decisive, the testing never stops. Entrepreneurship is the model for everything.
. . . .
An economy that could help us be better than that is possible, not utopian. It would mean reclaiming the New Deal and the Great Society, the mixed economies of the twentieth century that put human beings first, capital returns second. Meritocracy, like markets, was a useful tool in those economies, and, like markets, it has outgrown its right role and taken its competitive logic too far, becoming a prop for inequality and insecurity. To save its better potential, we need to betray what it has become.

20 Apr 14

The United Nations has yet to raise the $5 million necessary to vaccinate 600,000 vulnerable people right away — as the rainy season approaches and the threat of waterborne illnesses like cholera looms — let alone the $2 billion that it promised to raise from rich countries to build Haiti’s water and sanitation infrastructure, which public health experts say is vital to ridding the country of cholera.

Pedro Medrano Rojas, the United Nations secretary general’s newly appointed envoy for the cholera outbreak, attributed the shortfall to global “donor fatigue” in the face of other humanitarian crises.

“Had we had the resources it would have been different,” Mr. Medrano said. “It’s not expensive. No one should be dying from cholera.”

20 Apr 14

SEE HUGE IMPURITY EFFECTS:

T.F. Ciszek, T.H. Wang, W.A. Doolittle, and A. Rohatgi, "Minority-Carrier Lifetime Degradation in Silicon Co-Doped with Iron and Gallium," in: 26th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialist Conf. Record, Anaheim, CA, Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 1997 (IEEE, New Jersey, 1997) pp. 59-62.

20 Apr 14

Floyd Norris

Of all the major industrialized countries, only Germany and Japan have managed to return to their 2007 employment levels.

20 Apr 14

In effect, Mr. Obama is retrofitting for a new age the approach to Moscow that was first set out by the diplomat George F. Kennan in 1947 and that dominated American strategy through the fall of the Soviet Union. The administration’s priority is to hold together an international consensus against Russia, including even China, its longtime supporter on the United Nations Security Council.

19 Apr 14

To anyone who has actually been around the lawmaking process or the political process more generally, this is mind-boggling. It makes legal what has for generations been illegal or at least immoral. It returns lawmaking to the kind of favor-trading bazaar that was common in the Gilded Age.

With intense competition between parties over election outcomes, with the stakes incredibly high over who will capture majorities in a polarized era, and with money everywhere and intense competition for dollars, the trade of favors for money—and the threat of damage for the failure to produce money—will be everywhere. Access to lawmakers, presidents, their aides, and subordinates is precious, including when they are actually marking up legislation. In the aftermath of Roberts's decisions, this precious access will be sold to the highest bidders.

19 Apr 14

But Mr. Piketty, who writes in the book that the collapse of Communism in 1989 left him “vaccinated for life” against the “lazy rhetoric of anticapitalism,” is no Marxian revolutionary. “I believe in private property,” he said in the interview. “But capitalism and markets should be the slave of democracy and not the opposite.”

Even if he doesn’t expect his policy proposals to find favor in Washington anytime soon, Mr. Piketty called his meetings there gratifying. Mr. Lew, he said, seemed to have read parts of the book carefully. A member of the Council on Economic Advisers corrected a small error concerning Balzac’s novel “Le Père Goriot,” which includes a discussion of getting ahead through advantageous marriage rather than hard work. “I was impressed,” Mr. Piketty said.

19 Apr 14

Irresistible Inequality

The concentration of income and wealth is deepening around the world, driven by more than rising paychecks for top American financiers and chief executives. Returns to invested capital are outstripping economic growth across advanced countries, directing a growing share of economic rewards into the hands of the wealthy.

VIVID CHARTS

19 Apr 14

He adds: “That is, of course, the irony of the patent system. Without patent protection, a competitor can simply replicate an invention and undercut the inventor’s price — which necessarily includes all the time and expense of research and development — so the incentive to experiment and create is severely inhibited. But if innovators such as Glenn Curtiss cannot build on the progress of others without paying exorbitantly for the privilege, the incentive to continue to experiment and create is similarly inhibited.”

17 Apr 14

IBy DANIEL SMITHAPRIL 17, 2014

. . . The “human machine,” as he sometimes puts it, has grown to such a size that breakdown is inevitable. What, then, do we do? . . . . When you ask Kingsnorth about Dark Mountain, he speaks of mourning, grief and despair. We are living, he says, through the “age of ecocide,” and like a long-dazed widower, we are finally becoming sensible to the magnitude of our loss, which it is our duty to face.

Kingsnorth himself arrived at this point about six years ago, after nearly two decades of devoted activism. . . . .he saw the forces of development, conglomeration and privatization flattening the country. By the time he published his findings, he was in little mood to celebrate.

At the same time, he felt his longstanding faith in environmental activism draining away. “I had a lot of friends who were writing about climate change and doing a lot of good work on it,” he told me during a break from his festival duties. “I was just listening and looking at the facts and thinking: Wow, we are really screwed here. We are not going to stop this from happening.”

The facts were indeed increasingly daunting. The first decade of the 21st century was shaping up to be the hottest in recorded history. In 2007, the Arctic sea ice shrank to a level not seen in centuries. That same year, the NASA climatologist James Hansen, who has been ringing the climate alarm since the 1980s, announced that in order to elude the most devastating consequences, we’d need to maintain carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at a level of 350 parts per million. But we’d already surpassed 380, and the figure was rising. (It has since reached 400 p.p.m.) Animal and plant species, meanwhile, were dying out at a spectacular rate. Scientists were beginning to warn that human activity — greenhouse-gas emissions, urbanization, the global spread of invasive species — was driving the planet toward a “mass extinction” event, something that has occurred only five times since life emerged, 3.5 billion years ago.

“Everything had gotten worse,” Kingsnorth said. “You look at every trend that environmentalists like me have been trying to stop for 50 years, and every single thing had gotten worse. And I thought: I can’t do this anymore. I can’t sit here saying: ‘Yes, comrades, we must act! We only need one more push, and we’ll save the world!’ I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it! So what do I do?”

. . . .. “Whenever I hear the word ‘hope’ these days, I reach for my whiskey bottle,” he told an interviewer in 2012. “It seems to me to be such a futile thing. What does it mean? What are we hoping for? And why are we reduced to something so desperate? Surely we only hope when we are powerless?”

Instead of trying to “save the earth,” Kingsnorth says, people should start talking about what is actually possible. . . . . Movements like Bill McKibben’s 350.org, for instance, might engage people, Kingsnorth told me, but they have no chance of stopping climate change. “I just wish there was a way to be more honest about that,” he went on, “because actually what McKibben’s doing, and what all these movements are doing, is selling people a false premise. They’re saying, ‘If we take these actions, we will be able to achieve this goal.’ And if you can’t, and you know that, then you’re lying to people. And those people . . . they’re going to feel despair.”

. . . (“Look, I’m no Pollyanna,” McKibben says. “I wrote the original book about the climate for a general audience, and it carried the cheerful title ‘The End of Nature’ ”), it has proved influential. The author and activist Naomi Klein, who has known Kingsnorth for many years, says Dark Mountain has given people a forum in which to be honest about their sense of dread and loss. “Faced with ecological collapse, which is not a foregone result, but obviously a possible one, there has to be a space in which we can grieve,” Klein told me. “And then we can actually change.”

Kingsnorth would agree with the need for grief but not with the idea that it must lead to change —

17 Apr 14

The choices we are making either support or undermine the investments and gains we have made to reduce global poverty. They determine whether we enter a positive or a downward spiral. We are at a crossroads. The future we want is ours to win or lose.

But as the Anglo Saxons put it and as William Tell might appreciate – there are no second chances. “We do not get to take a second bite of the apple.” We ignore land and soil at our peril.

Monique Barbut is the executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

17 Apr 14

Despite the now well-known risks of rising greenhouse gas emissions, we note that around 55% of the money held by the world's banks, superannuation/pension funds and insurance companies is invested in carbon-intensive industries while only 2% is invested in low-carbon technologies. Whilst only short-term financial gain is considered, the former has been, and continues to be, seen as more profitable than the latter.

However, the capacity of the biosphere to absorb greenhouse gas emissions must now be taken into account.

16 Apr 14

EXCELLENT multi referenced periodic table

15 Apr 14

In December, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan declared “the worst rental affordability crisis that this country has ever known.”

The United States is experiencing a rent affordability crisis. Here are the 20 cities where rents are highest relative to median gross income: . . . .

Apartment vacancy rates have dropped so low that forecasters at Capital Economics, a research firm, said rents could rise, on average, as much as 4 percent this year, compared with 2.8 percent last year. But rents are rising faster than that in many cities even as overall inflation is running at little more than 1 percent annually.

15 Apr 14

The Titan Aerospace drones are unique because they are solar-powered and can fly for several years, according to the company's website.

Drones that can fly for long periods of time without having to land could be used to offer constant updates of images of the earth, allowing a company like Google to update the photos in its maps platform.

Altitudes of 60000 feet.

14 Apr 14

Samuelson

None of this describes an economy close to its productive capacity. We are not on the verge of an inflation breakout. At present, the Fed doesn't plan to raise short-term interest rates until 2015; for now, that's the right policy. Some exuberance in labor markets -- more hiring, wage gains -- would help almost everyone.
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<br />Long-term unemployment is a huge national and personal tragedy. It's an idleness trap. We don't know how to solve it; but we can at least not make it worse.

14 Apr 14

IMPRESSIVE FOLKS

Greg Meier, J.D., Co-founder

Greg is co-founder of 94labs.com, vetransfer.org, victoryspark.com, Alithias.com and Offermation.com. Greg currently serves on the Advisory Board for the UW-Whitewater Entrepreneurship Major, is an advisor to numerous early-stage companies and non-profit organizations, and is involved in several projects related to entrepreneurship. Greg is also an Assistant Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he teaches the Lean LaunchPad Class.

Greg was previously a partner with the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, where he was a founding member of the firm’s VentureBest Practice Group, which focuses on early- stage technology companies. . . .

Greg earned his undergraduate and law degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison (B.A., with distinction, 1989; J.D., cum laude, Order of the Coif, 1993).


Nick Wichert, MBA,


14 Apr 14

In short, we’re giving huge sums to the financial industry while receiving little or nothing — maybe less than nothing — in return. Mr. Philippon puts the waste at 2 percent of G.D.P. Yet even that figure, I’d argue, understates the true cost of our bloated financial industry. For there is a clear correlation between the rise of modern finance and America’s return to Gilded Age levels of inequality.

So never mind the debate about exactly how much damage high-frequency trading does. It’s the whole financial industry, not just that piece, that’s undermining our economy and our society.

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