From Pine View Farm

Political Economy category archive

Taking Stock 0

Writing at the Idaho State Journal, Mike Jones wonders when the stock market became such a big deal that certain politicians have become willing to ask old folks to sacrifice their lives for the Dow-Jones Average. A snippet; more at the link:

Now, if 70-year-old Dan Patrick wants to sacrifice his life to help the economy, I say go for it. But as far as 70-year-old Mike Murphy following Patrick’s advice, I’m not putting my neck on the chopping block so Warren Buffett can make another billion dollars!

I still don’t know much about how the stock market works. Based on the little bit I have studied it, I surmise investing in stocks is a lot like betting on horse races — both are fixed, you just have to be lucky and guess the fix correctly.

And, in more news of taking stock . . . .


Masked Marauding 0

Farhad Manjoo investigates why an item so simple as a medical face mask is suddenly unobtainable, and the answer is all about the next quarterly report. It’s what Harry Shearer’s guest on Le Show, Matt Stoller, referred to as the “financialization” of business.

Here’s a bit; follow the link for the rest.

What a small, shameful way for a strong nation to falter: For want of a 75-cent face mask, the kingdom was lost.

I am sorry to say that digging into the mask shortage does little to assuage one’s sense of outrage. The answer to why we’re running out of protective gear involves a very American set of capitalist pathologies — the rise and inevitable lure of low-cost overseas manufacturing, and a strategic failure, at the national level and in the health care industry, to consider seriously the cascading vulnerabilities that flowed from the incentives to reduce costs.


“Let Them Eat Cake” 0

What Atrios said.


The New Gilded Age 0

Did you know that cheerleading competitions are controlled by a monopoly?

Listen to Harry Shearer’s interview of Matt Stoller, author of Goliath.

(If you’re impatient, know that it opens with the cheerleading story.)


Ups and Downs 0

Man holding newspaper with headline about the falling Dow says to wife who is stacking rolls of toilet paper in the closet:  The toilet paper you've hoarded is not our 401K.

Click for the original image.


Anxiety Attack 0


The Hand of the Market Fees 0

The owner of an importing business explains how Donald Trump’s puerile trade wars are endangering his business. A snippet:

These tariffs, which stem from two separate disputes between the United States and the European Union related to military aerospace and digital services, do not hurt our trading partners as much as they hurt American companies. They simply pass their additional costs onto us. In less than four months since the first round of tariffs was imposed, my company has already paid in excess of $6 million as a result of these tariffs.


The Abandoned 0

Alternet reports on the growing incidence of deaths of working class American from suicide, alcoholism, and substance abuse and suggests that they are symptoms of a larger sense of despair from having been left behind abandoned by the economy, even as the rich get richer and richer. Here’s a bit; follow the link for the rest.

“Inequality has risen more in the United States — and middle-class incomes have stagnated more severely — than in France, Germany, Japan or elsewhere,” Leonhardt and Thompson observe. “Large corporations have increased their market share, and labor unions have shriveled — leaving workers with little bargaining power. Outsourcing has become the norm, which means that executives often see low-wage workers not as colleagues, but as expenses.”

To make matters worse, Leonhardt and Thompson assert, the U.S. suffers from “by far the world’s most expensive health care system”— which “acts as a tax on workers” and “fails to keep many people healthy” either physically or mentally.


How Stuff Works, Gypsy-Cabs-with-an-App Dept. 0

At, Edward Escobar explains the con behind the gagged “gig” economy. A nugget:

How does this play out for drivers? Here’s one example: A driver from San Francisco drives to the airport, and waits nearly an hour to pick up a ride from an arriving flight. He drives the passenger across the peninsula and through the city of San Francisco – drops him off and unloads his luggage near the last entrance of the Bay Bridge. The driver’s earnings for all that time and work? $12.08 and no tip. Six years ago, that driver would have made $55. That driver has to pay a car payment, gas, insurance, and constant car maintenance and upkeep, depreciation of vehicles value, meaning this ride actually cost him money. It’s what we call a “negative ride,” and it is increasingly common.


A Modest Proposal 0

At, Alabama Republican John Meredith has a suggestion for the Republican Party:

If Republicans want to stop socialism, perhaps we should stop attacking Bernie Sanders and enact policies that ease the burden on working families. Until that happens, socialism is the only way many Americans will ever be economically free to pursue happiness.

Follow the link for his reasoning.

Read more »


Meanwhile, in the Ready Room . . . 0

Caption:  Trump meets with a highly regarded specialist:  invisible-hand-of-the-free-marked man!  The Conversation:  Hand:  I'm not literally invisible, of course--it's really more of a metaphor.  Trump:  I don't know what you are talking about, and I don''t care.  Hand:  Yes, sir--sir, the coronavirus is a public emergency!  You must take immediate steps to prevent the contagious spread--of panic in the markets!  Trump:  If the economy crashes because millions of people are dying, that could hurt my chances for re-election.  Hand:  I'd suggest you hold a press conference and reassure the public, by which I mean investors.  Tell them everything is fine, nothing to see here.  Trump:  I'll blame the fake news media--and the Democrats.  And I'll put Pence in charge.  That way, I can blame him if things go south.  Hand:  Excellent thinking sir.  Also, if a vaccine becomes available, Big Pharma must be allowed to turn a huge profit.   Under no circumstances should you promise that it will be affordable!  Trump:  My guy Azar is already on it.  He's a former pharma executive, you know.  Hand:  The perfect man for the job, then. . . . Well, it sounds like you have the crisis under control, except for the part where millions of persons die.  Trump:  Do you know how many people die from the flu?  A lot!  Some doctor guy told me.  Hand:  Good point, sir.  Trump:  Anyway, we just have to wait for warm weather, and this will all go away.  Hand:  I'm no scientist, but anything's possible, I guess.  Trump:  Stupid virus.  No pandemic has ever treated a president more unfairly.  I'm going to give it a nickname.  I'll call it Crooked Coronavirus.

Click for the original image.


Spin Cycle, Tariffs Dept. 0

David explains how tariffs work. It’s not how Donald Trump claims they work, despite the Trumpettes’ spin.


Steal from the Poor, Give to the Rich 0

Gene Nichol offers a primer on Trumponomics.


“The Rich Are Different from You and Me” 0

Paul Krugman describes how.


Back to the Future 0

Werner Herzog’s Bear imagines George Bailey’s Bedford Falls three quarters of a century later.

It ain’t purty, folks.


Just Don’t Call It What It Is . . . . 0


Putting the Public Good Up for Sale 0

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on a controversy in a school district that led to an ouster of a majority of the school board.

Follow the link for details.


What Is “Too Far Left”? 0

Thom wants to know.


“Oligarchy on Parade” 0

Thom muses on the rise of the oligarchs.


The Entitlement Society, Redux 0

Monopoly Man as vampire labeled

Click for the original image.