Category: Uncategorized

The Monopolization of America

New York Times:

Of course, monopolies and other corporate giants have fought back against these assaults on their power, and sometimes succeeded for years or decades at a time. It happened during the age of Rockefeller and Morgan. Over the past 40 years, it has happened again.

The federal government, under presidents of both parties, has largely surrendered to monopoly power. “The ‘anti’ in ‘antitrust’ has been discarded,” as the legal scholar Tim Wu puts it in his new book, “The Curse of Bigness.” Washington allows most megamergers to proceed either straight up or with only fig-leaf changes. The government has also done nothing to prevent the emergence of dominant new technology companies that mimic the old AT&T monopoly.

This meekness has made possible the consolidation of one industry after another. For a long time, though, it’s been hard to figure out precisely how much consolidation. The available statistics just aren’t very good, which isn’t an accident. In 1981 — around the time that the Reagan administration was launching the modern pro-monopoly era — the Federal Trade Commission suspended a program that collected data on industry concentration.

Fortunately, researchers in the private sector have recently begun filling in the gaps. On Monday, the Open Markets Institute — an anti-monopoly think tank — is releasing the first part of a data set showing the market share that the largest companies have in each industry. You can see the main theme in the charts here: Big companies are much more dominant than they were even 15 years ago.

NYT industry concentration by sector

Andrew Neil

This (now deleted) tweet was sent by Andrew Neil presumably in response to the news that Carole Cadwalladr had just won the Stieg Larsson Prize 2018 for “her courageous and unremitting efforts to reveal operators trying to undermine democratic processes in Britain and the United States. All in the spirit of Stieg Larsson”:

Nothing compared with having to deal with mad cat woman from Simpson’s, Karol Kodswallop.

I’m sure the BBC is aware of Neil’s views.

Later:  Ah, yes.  Aware of his views enough to send this tweet:

Hello Carole. Andrew has deleted what he recognises was an inappropriate tweet.

and this (which Neil generously retweeted):

There has been some discussion on here regarding a tweet from Andrew Neil about Carole Cadwalladr. He has deleted the tweet and recognises it was inappropriate.

afneil‘s above an apology, of course.

This is a good question:

Not quite sure why the BBC is running interference on neil’s private twitter feed where he regularly publishes Spectator stuff – do they work for him now?

And so is this:

So Andrew Neil joins the Russian Embassy, Arron Banks, Guido Fawkes and Julian Assange in smearing – for her prize winning scoops this year. By doing so he openly aligns himself with the forces trying to repress one of the scandals of the century. But why?

For anyone who needs reminding, this is the Simpsons cat lady.  Not perhaps the first image an award winning investigative journalist brings to mind.  Unless you’re concerned about what she’s investigating, of course.




The fences

Maybe instead of calling them money launderers we should just call them FENCES, as thats what they do.

If you can’t clean stolen assets, what can you do with them?

Oh well, it’s us in the middle who will bear the cost.

Oddly using an army view it was always the foot soldier who suffered most, but actually rather like society the ones with highest casualty rates were the NCOs and junior officers (the middle).  The generals were out of the firing line deciding strategy, the privates had to be encouraged and the people who did that by leading from the front were the “middle ” who ended up paying the price.

It’s a bit like the hollowed out middle class.  In the US I assume its on the basis that if you like, the Generals give direct instructions to the privates, whilst here, the privates or the ones at the bottom do have safety nets, the generals don’t need those nets, and its the middle that supports both?

No doubt the analogy breaks down but the more I think of it, it’s the middle thats at risk.  The countries that seem to do best in all metrics are the ones with the biggest middle class.

Where are they most at risk at the moment, US and UK?

What we have is the generals using the privates to wage war against their own NCOs and junior officers, the Middle ?



“Eliminationism” is a term you need not just to become familiar with, especially in today’s American rush toward authoritarianism. This will be a long, illustrated thread explaining what it means, how it works, and why Donald Trump is now our Eliminationist in Chief


Fox News, NBC and Facebook pull Trump ad widely condemned as racist

The Guardian:

Fox News, NBC and Facebook have pulled a Donald Trump campaign advert that has been widely condemned as racist.

The 30 second anti-immigration advert, paid for by the Donald Trump for President campaign, was tweeted out by the president last week and aired during an NFL game on NBC on Sunday night and on Fox News.

“Upon further review, Fox News pulled the ad yesterday and it will not appear on either Fox News Channel or Fox Business Network,” Marianne Gambelli, Fox News’s president of advertisement sales, told CNN on Monday.

The advert features ominous-sounding music as a voice warns urgently about “the 7,000-migrant caravan” that it said was “marching toward our border”.

It adds: “Dangerous illegal criminals like cop-killer Luis Bracamontes don’t care about our laws”, before urging people to “vote Republican”. It ends with Donald Trump saying: “I approve this message.”

A sitting US president has a racist ad banned by Fox.  I’ll just leave that to sink in.

Political correctness

Posts such as Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom enemy and The Right Finds the Perfect Weapon Against the Left got me thinking about the doubled edge sword of political correctness.  A well-intentioned campaign by, as it happened, a very precise segment of educated white people sought to use language to change behaviour.  It has been an interesting test case of Orwell’s thesis about language use – in 1984 removing words was meant to stop people thinking certain things – but why has it upset so many people?  My theory is that many, many people want to do the right thing.  They’re basically reasonable.  But political correctness is always evolving, not documented and certainly wasn’t taught in schools.  So it brings real stress – how do you avoid offending people?  That, I think, is the fear that many people feel and that’s why they lash out at the concept of political correctness.

Subsidised tenants are excluded from pool and gym in London block

I sometimes despair of the Guardian.  Have you seen this article about social housing tenants not being able to use private facilities?  The view that its apartheid is just ludicrous. With all that’s wrong with the world they latch onto that.

With the greatest respect why the hell should they be able to use the facilities if they don’t pay for them! I think the writer thought that he would get total support but I think its about 80% WTF are you on about on the comments section.  There is a discount of 40% on market levels.  95% of us don’t have access to those type of facilities, whether we are private or public housing users.

In itself its not important but what it does is give credibility to the view that the left just bang on about signifiers rather than actual policy.  Its exactly like the dems going on about bathrooms and transgender.

To then tie it into Grenfell is absurd .the problem with Grenfell wasn’t that they hadn’t spent anything on the block ,its that they spent it on totally the wrong things with terrible results.

If this carries on I will move to the Mail!

Talking Politics 122 | How Bad Could it Get?

The Talking Politics podcast can be very good but I think we will look back on episode #122 as one of the worst.  A token, plucky remainer on to explain that a no deal might be tricky, surrounded by almost disdainful academics.

First, I’d be interested in empirical evidence for Helen Thompson’s assertion that:

…in the terms of Leave voters, as opposed to a number of the conservative politicians in the Leave campaign, there’s zero evidence that imperial nostalgia is part of what’s going on here. I think that’s actually more the other way round, in the sense of the argument that Britain must have outsized influence in the world is actually more common on the Remain side of the arguments, actually than it is on the Leave side, as I said, exempting a few conservative politicians from that.

I got the definite impression that a significant number of Leave voters (the sort from the home counties, not the northern ex-industrial towns) were voting for an (imagined) 1950s where the UK (but probably England) wasn’t held back by the EU.  Where we were free to form alliances with other countries and make CANZUK real.  And implicit in those fantasies was the UK leading the grateful Canada, Australia, New Zealand.  In short, I think Thomson’s exactly wrong about imperial nostalgia not being part of Leave.

Second, I was surprised by Thompson’s view on Northern Ireland:

And the European Union has taken a very strident stand on the question of the Irish border and the response it wants via the backstop to the Irish border. If Theresa May cannot deliver something that can get through the House of Commons, I think it ultimately will be because the EU has taken that stand. And I’m not making a judgment about it one way or another, but that is not something that was in the negotiating. We go back to the way things looked in March 2017, when it was a different government in Dublin. This is not necessarily a path that could have been anticipated. Now some people would say, ‘Well that’s naive because you could see that the European Union would use the Irish question as a way of trying to either to humiliate Britain or to try to keep it in the European Union by default.’

My emphasis.  It was known well before the referendum that Northern Ireland would be an important complication in exactly how Brexit would er actually work.   The EU always was going to take a stand.  I’m not sure I understand how anyone can say “This is not necessarily a path that could have been anticipated”.

Runciman jokes about what many listeners must be thinking – what is the point of political academics given how awful their predictive ability is?  Northern Ireland was always going to be central to the negotiations.  I’ve listened to the podcast since well before the referendum and it hasn’t ever really engaged with this issue.  Not merely is their predictive power poor but on this occasion they missed a key topic.  Saying it is just “because the EU has taken that stand” doesn’t excuse it.

I will be listening next week, obvs.



MI5 to take over in fight against rise of UK rightwing extremism

The Guardian:

MI5 is to take the lead in combating extreme rightwing terrorism amid mounting fears that white supremacists are increasing their efforts to foment violent racial conflict on Britain’s streets, The Guardian has learned.

The switch from the police – which has always previously taken responsibility for monitoring far right extremism – to MI5 means that the ideology will now sit in the same portfolio as Islamist terrorism and Northern Ireland-related terrorism, which are both covered by the domestic security service.

Welcome news.