20 August 2018 – Will is off today due to a family emergency and our expected interview has been rescheduled so it’s just me and I thought I would try to get a jump start on our coming Puerto Rico interview show. In trying to understand what is going on with the economy and, therefore, the post-Maria recovery in Puerto Rico, I kept tripping over one thing again and again, a group of SCOTUS rulings collectively called the Insular Cases. I decided to get into it and, as it turns out, there’s a reason almost everything in PR funnels back to this one point. These Insular Cases are, in no small part, why PR is struggling so much today. Along the way I discovered a couple of interesting stories and one of them was wonderful. I’ll give you a little on Isabel Gonzáles now and hope to track someone down who can tell us more about her life. Isabel was the Rosa Parks of her time and she contributed greatly to the granting of full US citizenship to all Puerto Ricans. Obviously, it should be the right of PR to decide on becoming a state or becoming fully sovereign but in the meantime, the people should have all the benefits afforded all US citizens, which is still not the case. Anyway, that’s all for another day. Many Carrots! – Arliss
9 October 2017 – At the last minute we were incredibly lucky to get an interview with the oh-so-popular Monopoly Man! Amanda Werner, of Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen, joined us right at the top of the show to talk about her experience as the Monopoly Man at the recent Senate hearing on SJ Res 47. GOP members of the Senate want to rollback the new rule from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) which eliminates forced arbitration clauses. Due to careful tactical planning, the Monopoly Man was able to get a seat behind and just a bit to the left of the (now former) CEO of Equifax so that every time the CEO was on camera Amanda was right behind him making her point by clowning it up. Within a matter of minutes the meme blew-up on Twitter and generated a truly phenomenal amount of coverage. Obviously, this was a powerful and funny way to get the word out about a topic many would otherwise overlook. Amanda (cough!), I mean, Monopoly Man, take a bow! Now the rest of us need to do our jobs and call our Senators to let them know we oppose SJ Res 47. We cannot let this one slip through the cracks unnoticed.
Since we had already recorded the entire show and because it was an unusually formatted episode anyway, the only way to hear the complete show is on the website or through your favorite podcast app. The last ten minutes of Will’s block and all of my block are pushed back into Extra Mad.
Following the Monopoly Man interview, in the original top of show block, I talked about the work Big Pharma, and especially Indiana-based Eli Lilly, is doing to support their employees in Puerto Rico, to mitigate supply-chain disruption for critical medications for the US and to supply medication into the region. Pharmaceuticals comprise 72% of Puerto Rico’s exports and the 80 pharma and medical device facilities there employee nearly 100,000 people. It is an enormous job made no easier by the failure of the Trump administration and their disaster response. Will followed-up by talking about the response of private individuals and companies to the problem of entirely rebuilding the electrical grid and cell service system in Puerto Rico. Again, a massive task which should be the responsibility of the US federal government but which is being totally mishandled by unqualified Trump appointees and understaffed, under-resourced agencies.
Will did an extended block on self-determination. This was especially timely because of the recent vote in Kurdistan and the attempted vote in Catalonia. Will underpinned his later discussion of specifics with a thoughtful backgrounder on who it is who determines who will be “allowed” to determine themselves. He moves from there seamlessly to use the nationalist movements of the Kurds and the Catalonians to illustrate his points.
In my block I talk about why cash is still king. Unlike electronic transactions, cash is resilient enough to accommodate disasters like that in present-day Puerto Rico. But that is just a small thing in comparison to the fact that we are rapidly being trained to believe that a so-called cashless society is upon us and if we don’t give up (literally) dirty and ecologically harmful cash then we are falling behind the trend. This is a corporatist agenda being pushed by the companies who are skimming a bit off every single digital transaction. …and then there’s the digital trail. A cashless society is one where we forfeit the power of a transaction to the middlemen and we leave behind us a record of the “micro texture of our electronic life,” to quote economist/anthropologist Brett Scott. Preventing the subversion of cash to a cashless society not only preserves choice, it preserves our option to be anonymous. Cash equals privacy for all of us equally.
Until next week, many carrots! – Arliss
P.S. Giving Arliss the “Wild Haggises at Dawn” treatment, I closed out the show with a bit of a song called Subdisco by Niteworks, an Electronica band from the Isle of Skye who make a ton of great music, much of which modernizes Gaelic song traditions. –Will
2 October 2017 – Some days it’s hard to remember that despite all appearances, there is a world out there beyond Trump and all the many, many ways he is failing this week. The truly dazzling economist Dr. Pavlina Tcherneva (her excellent site is here) is with us for the interview. I was able to interview her in person at the First International Conference of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT Conference). We talked about how the, now famous, chart (see above) she developed was able to influence the conversation around inequality and how a job guarantee program can add more than just jobs to a society. It is inspiring to know the modern monetary theory rests in the hands of economists, like Pavlina, who have a clear connection to the ground truth of the programs and policies they imagine into existence.
I start out the show with just a quick overview of my experience at the MMT conference. It was genuinely compelling and I was overwhelmed by all the ideas and applications of MMT to which I was exposed. You will be hearing about many of these in depth in the future and I promise you will be intrigued too.
Will then updated everyone on the events in Catalonia related to the independence vote. Spain is refusing to acknowledge the vote and tension is ratcheting up. Will has covered Catalonia in the past and promises a deep dive next week.
We touched briefly on Puerto Rico. Now that it is (finally) being followed by major media we are leaving most of that to actual journalists but people are suffering and our President, while golfing, is too busy trying to shame the Mayor of San Juan with tweets to actually send an appropriate level of support. It’s not just frustrating or inhumane, it’s evil.
In Will’s main block he talked about Brexit. Many are saying that all the economic ills projected by those who wanted to remain in the European Union have not come to pass and were therefore simply election scare tactics. Will points out the obvious, the UK is still in the EU and the pain from Brexit will not be felt until Brexit actually occurs. It remains reasonable to expect cost-push inflation (also known as supply shock) as the UK strikes out on its own.
In my block I briefly lay out my reasons for supporting Bernie’s current “Medicare for All” bill. This may surprise some of you but I find this bill to be essential and extremely well-timed. Don’t get me wrong, this bill won’t move and, ultimately, the bill that does move will look different but here’s the thing – we can’t legislate until we get elected. Will disagrees but I think “Medicare for All” is a good bumper sticker way to sum up the shared Democratic party value that healthcare is a right. I think having this bill under active discussion now gives us an opportunity to build coalition and consensus in preparation for a non-Trump future. No matter what, this bill has already moved the Overton Window and that in and of itself is critical. Bernie has written a solid bill and he is gathering important voices. There is long, hard work ahead to build unstoppable grassroots momentum but this is how healthcare gets changed for real. It will take all of us…and it should. Carrots! – Arliss
Since recording this episode, the Spanish government has acted without restraint or dignity in Catalonia, attacking unarmed civilians with a wave of brutal repression. Many folks who oppose the referendum say that holding it is illegal. That may be true, but it isn’t an excuse for state violence. Spain had every ability to refuse to acknowledge the vote, which was itself an act of civil disobedience. But instead of responding to this act with restraint, and refusing to acknowledge the results, they chose to wage an unnecessary and unnecessarily brutal campaign of violence against the Catalan people. These actions bring the legitimacy of Rajoy’s governance of Catalonia into question. Things will likely only get worse in the coming days. I will report in depth on the situation next week, and talk about Kurdistan and its referendum as well. –Will
18 September 2017 – Every time Denise Oliver-Velez is on our show I learn so much! This week we asked Denise to join us to cover what is happening in the Caribbean following Hurricane Irma. I particularly loved the posts Denise put up at Daily Kos on Puerto Rico and the history of the word “hurricane” as well as her thoughts on the subject. We spend most of our time on Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, the places where Irma really did first make landfall in the US. (If you thought that was Florida you weren’t alone.)
In our Lying Liar Lie of the Week segment Will talks about an attack against a trans woman during a protest at Speaker’s Corner in the UK. Fortunately, it was caught on video and Will walks us through it as well as posting the video and some stills here.
In Lying Liar I talk for just a minute about Equifax who is making the obviously false statement that “they are doing everything they can.” This is clearly not the case and I’m quite sure we will be talking about them in the near future.
In Will’s big block he talked about climate change, weather, alternate energy and politics. It’s appalling to think that the states which most need to confront new kinds of energy generation are fighting it the hardest.
In my block I get into the profits being made by Facebook, Google and tech in general, to promulgate hate. The blood money tech companies are taking as they act as conduits for hate groups (and terrorism) is much more costly to society than it is profitable in annual reports. We simply must find an effective way to address this.
And one more thing…
In a special election, scheduled for 26 September, Florida State Senate candidate Annette Taddeo is facing an extreme get-out-the-vote (GOTV) challenge. She is running in District 40, which is Miami-Dade, and many of her prospective constituents are among those who had to evacuate. Flippable.org has identified this race as one which can be won but needs immediate help. Anything you can do would be appreciated. Carrots! – Arliss
A note on Lying Liar, the video we have is pretty shaky, and while it’s clear what happens in said video, it’s a chaotic scene. So to make things easier for our listeners, I’ve got stills from the video to walk folks through what happened, followed by the video in full.
Look for the red bus, as the scene we’re paying attention to starts just below it. A woman in a blue jacket and purple hat approaches a group of chanting protesters. She gets into an animated conversation with them and then pushes into the crowd, raising her camera above their heads. The crowd pushes back and blocks her camera with signs. Look for the bright spot to the right of the images below:
A pushing match breaks out, and we lose sight of the altercation, catching glimpses through the crowd as the Camera pans away. But when the camera re-focuses on the scuffle, the woman who started the altercation has grabbed one of the Trans protesters by the throat. You can see her just to the right of center, our view over the shoulders of two onlookers:
We lose sight of her again, but the camera returns to her, and she’s still got her hands on the protester she’s chosen to attack:
And at this stage, when she’s grabbed a protester by the throat, dragged them halfway across a footpath, and enthusiastically participating in a fight she started, another protester punches her to get her to release the person she’s grabbed:
Despite pretty clear evidence to the contrary, showing her starting this altercation and then enthusiastically engaging in the resulting fight, she is claiming martyrdom and… in a rather weird twist, saying she wants to spank people.
Which is just gross.
The full video is below:
22 February 2016 – This week Will and I ended up with so much to say that we did the whole show ourselves. I open with an update on the economic crisis in Puerto Rico and I follow that with a quick take on economic canaries, Maersk and CSX.
Will follows me with news about the terrific campaign of DeRay Mckesson in the mayoral race in Baltimore. DeRay has released spectacular position papers and proposals and is running the kind of campaign which deserves to draw support from progressives across the nation.
I’m up next with answers to listener questions relating to the article, “It’s Not About the Debt,” by Chad Stone. I get into some detail about why using debt-to-GDP ratio as a metric makes no logical sense. As part of my explanation I draw from the excellent Levy Economics Institute Working Paper (Number 603), “Does Excessive Sovereign Debt Really Hurt Growth? A Critique of This Time It’s Different, by Reinhart and Rogoff.”
We also mark the passing of the gifted author and thinker, Umberto Eco. Both Will and I have been deeply impressed by his works and given the bent of the current US elections many of Eco’s literary themes seem inordinately timely.
In Extra Mad I venture out into the weeds of GDP; what it is, what it isn’t, what’s wrong with it and the various options. If you listen to the podcast version of the show I’m betting you will be surprised by relevancy of this topic.
We do have new interstitial music this week from Bua, the great traditional Irish band. Check out their website and support their music. Traditional music artists have an especially challenging road and artists as fluent and musically astute as Bua are rare.
As always, Hopping Mad is available here as a download as well as on Stitcher and iTunes. We are on Twitter and Facebook as IMHoppingMad. We LOVE receiving your feedback, questions and corrections. Spring is coming! – Carrots! Arliss