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The Morning Grumpy – 4/8/13

8 Apr

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy. But first, the Venn diagram of irrational nonsense.

venn_diagram_irrational nonsense


1. The economic story of the year: the stock market vs. the labor market.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 and the Dow closed at nominal all-time highs. Three days later, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added a shockingly low 88,000 jobs in March. How bad is 88K? Well, put it this way, we’re theoretically in the midst of an accelerating recovery, and 88K new jobs per month won’t get us back to full employment for another 20 years, or more.

I suspect that this will be one of the defining national stories of 2013, and beyond: The big, sustained, and accelerating gap between the working opportunities of most Americans and the profits produced at the top.

The rich get richer…


Corporate profits are spiraling wildly upward amidst “The Great Speedup“. An aging workforce, combined with sharp cuts in labor costs, combined with lower federal spending, massive cuts in state and municipal spending, along with continued tax cuts for the wealthy (and the aforementioned corporations) adds up to a shitty economy. But, it’s Obama’s fault, right?

2. An incredible speech about the necessity of high-speed universal Internet access from Susan Crawford who I wrote about in the Grumpy this past February.

100 years ago, electricity was a luxury. When FDR entered office, 90% of farmers didn’t have it. FDR took this on – took on special interests, drove towards affordable, world-class electricity for everyone. It wasn’t easy, it took leadership.

Today, in America, we treat high-speed Internet access like a luxury. We’ve deregulated it entirely. And we’re reaping what we have sown.

A third of Americans don’t subscribe – a hundred million of us – and we’re stuck there. If you’re poor, less-well-educated, or of color, it’s much more likely that you don’t have a wired connection at home. 19 million can’t get it at any cost.  So we’ve got an enormous digital divide inside our country.

We believed ten years ago that the magic of the market would bring us universal cheap connectivity. Instead, a few giant companies divided markets and consolidated – here’s the bottom line: Cable has won. When it comes to wired internet access, cable has a lock – .2% of new high-speed Internet access subscriptions in the last three quarters of 2012 went to the local cable monopoly.  Comcast by far the largest, 20M; TWC 11M. Verizon and AT&T, meanwhile, have backed off from wires, and are concentrating wholly on the separate wireless marketplace.

We are stagnating – no federal plan for the future. We have the worst of both worlds: both no competition and no oversight.

And Comcast and TWC and VZ and AT&T have the best of all monopoly profits, which is a quiet life.

We need to recapture the regulatory ideal. That ideal is that regulation of infrastructure, government intervention, makes free markets and free speech possible. We used to know this – we understood this with highways, electricity, and communications – Eisenhower and freeways. Our telephone network was the envy of the world when it was built.

This regulatory ideal unleashes human ingenuity; it’s pro competition, pro growth, pro innovation.

Or, we can continue to let corporate profiteers extract maximum profit with minimum benefit for the consumer.

3. A Spectacular, Colorful Chart of Who Works (and Who Doesn’t Work) in America Today. The share of American adults who are either working or actively looking for work (the labor force participation rate) — fell to its lowest point since 1979, according to Friday’s jobs report. So, if 37 percent of American adults aren’t in the labor force, what are they doing?


4. Any doubt that Henry Kissinger was a horrible man will now be removed due to Wikileaks releasing over 200,000 of his diplomatic cables.

The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.” — Henry A. Kissinger, US Secretary of State, March 10, 1975

Julian Assange today announced the launch of the Public Library of US Diplomacy, or PLUSD, the publication of more than 1.7 million US diplomatic and intelligence documents from the 1970s. PLUSD includes diplomatic cables, intel reports, congressional correspondence, and other formerly restricted material, now all online in searchable text form.

The Kissinger Cables comprise more than 1.7 million US diplomatic records for the period 1973 to 1976, including 205,901 records relating to former US Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. Dating from January 1, 1973 to December 31, 1976 they cover a variety of diplomatic traffic including cables, intelligence reports and congressional correspondence. They include more than 1.3 million full diplomatic cables and 320,000 originally classified records. These include more than 227,000 cables classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” and 61,000 cables classified as “SECRET”. Perhaps more importantly, there are more than 12,000 documents with the sensitive handling restriction “NODIS” or ‘no distribution’, and more than 9,000 labelled “Eyes Only”.

The documents also contain hourly diplomatic reporting on the 1973 war between Israel, Egypt and Syria (the “Yom Kippur war”). While several of these documents have been used by US academic researchers in the past, the Kissinger Cables provides unparalleled access to journalists and the general public.

Improving access and making these documents searchable is an incredible step forward for historians, journalists, and citizens.

5. NASA won’t be going back to the moon anytime soon, and that’s pretty sad.

6. The CIA’s secret deal that began “The Drone War”.

7. The “nuclear” option for total Facebook app privacy.

Fact Of The Day: There are 62 pieces of Lego for every person on Earth. Most of them happen to be in my basement, strategically placed to inflict maximum foot pain.

Quote Of The Day: “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”  – James A. Garfield

Video Of The Day: An awesome moment.

Song Of The Day: “Free Radicals” – The Flaming Lips

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