Month: March 2021

Once Again Stating the Obvious

Is anyone surprised to find that philanthropy by the very rich is largely self-serving?

I am not surprised one bit.  This has been the way of the hyper rich since before Crassus had his last drink of molten gold.*

Relying on private philanthropy serves only to increase their power, because the goal of the hyper-rich is not to help, but to reinforce their own position of power:

Philanthropy among the elite class in the United States and the United Kingdom does more to create goodwill for the super-wealthy than to alleviate social ills for the poor, according to a new meta-analysis. 

A group of U.K. researchers reviewed 263 journal articles, books and studies on elite philanthropy to better understand the role it plays in this new age of inequality. In the United States, the wealth gap between richest and poorer families has more than doubled since the 1980s, and in the United Kingdom, the incomes of the richest fifth are 12 times as much as the incomes of the poorest fifth. 

The researchers’ paper, published in a special issue of the International Journal of Management Reviews, lays out how on the whole, the elite class mainly donates to causes that provide themselves with some type of benefit. The researchers defined “elite philanthropy” as “the preserve of wealthy individuals and close family members” who became rich through entrepreneurship, either by starting a new business or expanding an inherited one. These individuals generally have extensive local, national and international business networks, the researchers said, and occupy positions with the “field of power,” a social space at the top of society that allows them to impact policy and practice.


Many people mistakenly view elite philanthropy as a benign force for good rather than an avenue for the super-wealthy to translate economic capital into social and cultural capital, according to the researchers. Elite philanthropy, the study argues, is transactional, as there are also material benefits in addition to the cultural capital. In 2017, the United States increased the proportion of income that can be deducted from 50% to 60%, which directly benefits the elite; and in the United Kingdom, efforts to reduce philanthropic tax relief fell through in 2012 after pushback from wealthy philanthropists.

In study after study, the rich are shown to be relatively less generous, and more inclined to engage in antisocial and immoral behavior.  Why should their so-called “charity” be any different?

*Yes, I know, Marcus Licinius Crassus actually died in battle, and not as a result of having molten gold poured down his throat. It’s a metaphor.

Not Enough Bullets

Did you know that if the minimum rose as fast as Wall Street bonuses, it would be $44 an hour now?

I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to find a way claw to it all back, because, to quote Billie Ray Valentine, “Billy Ray Valentine principle, “The best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people.” 

The chaos that the coronavirus pandemic unleashed on America’s economy turned out to be a major boon for Wall Street traders, according to new data from the New York state comptroller’s office.

Wall Street firms paid their New York City-based traders an average bonus of $184,000 last year, a 10% increase from 2019, New York’s comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, said in a press release Friday.

But those paydays have been skyrocketing for decades. Since 1985, Wall Street traders’ bonuses have grown 1,217% — and that’s just part of their overall pay, which was more than $406,000 on average in 2019, according to data from DiNapoli’s office.

By comparison, the federal minimum wage has flatlined at $7.25 an hour — or $15,080 annually — for 12 consecutive years. When adjusted for inflation, it has actually decreased by 11% since 1985.

If the minimum wage had instead grown at the same rate as Wall Street bonuses, it would be $44.12 an hour today.

We really need to levy a tax on financial transactions, and place a limit on fees for tax advantaged accounts (IRAs, 401(K)s, etc) of less than 10 basis points.  (.1%)

These parasites have been doing nothing but extracting wealth from the rest of us for decades.

Going Down the Wikipedia Rabbit Hole

I am sure that most of you have experienced this, you look up something, and you go to the Wikipedia page, and there is an interesting link, and you go there, and before you know it, you have clicked on 20+ different links, and you are looking at something completely unrelated to where you started.

Well, I did this today, I was looking up the comedy team of John Clarke and Bryan Dawe, after posting their classic sketch, The Front Fell Off, and I ended up on the sport of ferret-legging.

Ferret legging is a sport in which men (and it is almost always men) stuff ferrets down their trousers, and the one who can do this for the longest time wins:

Ferret-legging was an endurance test or stunt in which ferrets were trapped in trousers worn by a participant. Also known as put ’em down and ferret-down-trousers, it seems to have been popular among coal miners in Yorkshire, England. Contestants put live ferrets inside their trousers; the winner is the one who is the last to release the animals.

Ferret-legging may have originated during the time when only the relatively wealthy in England were allowed to keep animals used for hunting, forcing poachers to hide their illicit ferrets in their trousers. Following a brief resurgence in popularity during the 1970s, it has been described as a “dying sport”, although a national ferret-legging event was held in Richmond, Virginia from 2003 to 2009.

Description and rules

In the sport of ferret-legging, competitors tie their trousers at the ankles before placing two ferrets inside and securely fastening their belts to prevent the ferrets from escaping. Each competitor then stands in front of the judges for as long as he can. Competitors cannot be drunk or drugged, nor can the ferrets be sedated. In addition, competitors are not allowed to wear underwear beneath their trousers, which must allow the ferrets free access from one leg to the other, and the ferrets must have a full set of teeth that must not have been filed or otherwise blunted. The winner is the person who lasts the longest.

The sport is said to involve very little “native skill”, simply an ability to “have your tool bitten and not care”. The former world champion, Reg Mellor, is credited with instituting the practice of wearing white trousers in ferret-legging matches, to better display the blood from the wounds caused by the animals. Competitors can attempt, from outside their trousers, to dislodge the ferrets, but as the animals can maintain a strong hold for long periods, their removal can be difficult. The ferrets are occasionally put inside the contestants’ shirts in addition to their trousers. An attempt to introduce a female version of the sport—ferret busting, in which female contestants introduced ferrets down their blouses—proved unsuccessful.

This is profoundly weird, and having been exposed to the story Sredni Vashtar by Saki at a young age, it is certainly not a sport that I have any interest in participating in, though right now I am craving a piece of buttered toast. (It’s Passover, so I am REALLY craving a piece of buttered toast)

Quote of the Day

This is an important distinction, because it means we’re not up against some intrinsic aspect of our being here. We’re up against a small minority of manipulative sociopaths and psychopaths and a system which rewards a lack of empathy.

Caitlin’s Johnstone explaining how she sees the current state of affairs as a function of a relatively small minority of assholes, and not the while human race.

This is actually one of the more optimistic statements that Ms. Johnstone has made, and I hope that she’s right.

Certainly, human survival has for most of our existence depended on empathy and cooperation, hunter gatherer societies, upwards of 95% of our history could not function without this.

The current state of affairs, we can call it Neoliberalism, certainly does seem to cater to the absolute worst in us and of us.

This Can’t Be Good

With all the signs pointing to explosive economic growth in 2020, economists are generally predicting a growth rate greater than 5%, the news that personal income fell by $1,516.6 billion (7.1%) from January to February is a pretty dire data point. 

Obviously, there were some freak conditions in February, the massive Texas blackouts come to mind, but this is pretty grim news:

Hence, when the opening line of the press release for this report tell us “Personal income decreased $1,516.6 billion (7.1 percent) in February“, that means that the annualized figure for US personal income in February, $19,945.6 billion, was $1,516.6 billion, or roughly 7.1% less than the annualized personal income figure of $21,462.2 billion for January; the actual change in personal income from January to February is not provided…similarly, annualized disposable personal income, which is income after taxes, fell by nearly 8.0%, from an annual rate of an annual rate of $19,210.5 billion in January to an annual rate of $17,678.2 billion in February…the components of the monthly decrease in personal income, which can be seen in the Full Release & Tables (PDF) for this release, are also annualized figures…in February, the reason for the $1,516.6 billion annualized decrease in personal income was a $1,584.1 billion annualized decrease in government social benefits to individuals, which was only slightly offset by a $37.7 billion annualized increase in business & farm proprietors’ income and a $15.6 billion annualized increase in interest and dividend income…wages and salaries, which fell by an annualized $0.2 billion, were barely a factor in February’s personal income change . . .

Not great economic news.

Diplomatic Nostalgia

To be honest, I have not heard the term, “Running Dog,” as used by elements of the Chinese foreign policy apparatus ever. I’ve merely heard about this, because its use pretty much ended when Nixon went to China, and I wasn’t even 10 years old then.

So I find it rather amusing that a Chinese diplomat has just used the sobriquet to describe Justin Trudeau.

I thought that the term had died when Mao Zedong did:

A Chinese diplomat has dismissed Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau as a “boy” in a social media attack marking a new low in the fractured relationship between the two countries.

China and Canada have clashed repeatedly in recent months, and last week the two countries imposed sanctions on each other in a growing row over Beijing’s treatment of its Uighur minority.

But on Sunday, Trudeau was singled out for insult by China’s consul general to Rio de Janeiro, Li Yang in a tweet blaming him for the diplomatic crisis.

“Boy, your greatest achievement is to have ruined the friendly relations between China and Canada, and have turned Canada into a running dog of the U.S,” he tweeted.

The demeaning term “running dog” , a relic of Maoist China, is often used to describe nations that are subservient to countries like the United States.

Honestly, I am stunned at the PR ineptitude of the elements of the Chinese state on this one.

Maybe they should hire some professionals who could do a better job, because even the Marketing Department of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation would be an improvement.

Quote of the Day

Look, is the seller a vampire?

No, not that I’m aware of.

If he was, would you be allowed to say, or is there some kind of realtor privilege?

Well, in real estate we talk about the property, not the people, because of housing discrimination.

Oh, that’s a good point. I don’t know if vampires are a protected class.

I’ve learned in fair housing seminar after fair housing seminar, you do not talk about people. You want me to tell you how many square feet or how long the driveway or what it looks like inside, no problem.

Slate, interviewing a realtor trying to sell a vampire-goth themed house in Baltimore.

The listing is linked to in the article, and it’s a trip.

The Front Fell Off

The Front Fell Off?

It now appears that the Ever Given, the massive container ship which had completely blocked the Suez Canal, has been freed and traffic has resumed through the waterway.

There is still a major backlog of ships in both directions, but after a week, we should expect a return to normal shipping conditions.

The bigger issue is how this event has demonstrated the fragility of international shipping.

What’s more, it has increasingly been juxtaposed with economic fragility driven by the increasingly oligopolistic nature of shipping, which means that if one shipper fails, the entire system can seize up.

The classic Clarke and Dawe sketch, “The Front Fell Off,” (shown) is a perfect metaphor for this:

In this newsletter, I do a lot of explaining about complicated problems caused by big dumb corporate institutions. I don’t have to do that this time, because the story of the mess in the Suez is so simple. “After years of bitcoin and reddit short selling and credit default swaps and a million other things I don’t understand,” one random person put in a tweet that went viral, “it’s so refreshing to hear that global commerce is in peril because a big boat got stuck in a canal.”

That’s basically the story right there, it’s a big boat and it got stuck in a canal. The ship blocking the Suez, called the Ever Given, weights 220,000 tons, and is as long as the Empire State Building is high. Despite the hilarious nature of the problem, the disruption to world trade is large and serious, costing tens of billions of dollars. And if the ship can’t be dislodged soon, some consumers will once again experience shortages of basic staples like toilet paper.

That said, the reason this disruption to global commerce seems so dumb is because it is. It starts with the ship size itself. Over the last few decades, ships have gotten really really big, four times the size of what they were 25 years ago, what the FT calls “too big to sail.’ The argument behind making such massive boats was efficiency, since you can carry more at a lower cost. The downside of such mega-ships should have been obvious. Ships like this, which are in effect floating islands, are really hard to steer in tight spaces like ports and canals, and if they get stuck, they are difficult to unstick. In other words, the super smart wizard financiers who run global trade made ships that don’t fit in the canals they need to fit into.

The rise of mega-ships is paralleled by the consolidation of the shipping industry itself. In 2000, the ten biggest shipping companies had a 12% market share, by 2019 that share had increased to 82%. This understates the consolidation, because there are alliances among these shippers. The stuck ship is being run by the Taiwanese shipping conglomerate Evergreen, which bought Italian shipping firm Italia Marittima in 1998 and London-based Hatsu in 2002, and is itself part of the OCEAN alliance, which has more than a third of global shipping.

Making ships massive, and combining such massive ships into massive shipping monopolies, is a bad way to run global commerce. We’ve already seen significant problems from big shipping lines helping to transmit financial shocks into trade shocks, such as when Korean shipper Hanjin went under and stranded $14 billion of cargo on the ocean while in bankruptcy. It’s also much harder for small producers and retailers to get shipping space, because large shippers want to deal with large clients. And fewer ports can handle these mega-ships, so such ships induce geographical inequality. Increasingly, we’re not moving ships between cities, we’re moving cities to where the small number of giant shipping lines find it efficient to ship.

Dumb big ships owned by monopolies are the result of dumb big ideas, the physical manifestation of what Thomas Friedman was pushing in the 1990s and 2000s with books such as The Lexus and the Olive Tree and The World is Flat, the idea that “taking fat out of the system at every joint” was leading towards a more prosperous, peaceful and competitive world. Friedman’s was a finance-friendly perspective, a belief that making us all interdependent with a very thin margin of error would force global cooperation.


What is new isn’t the vulnerability of the Suez Canal as a chokepoint, it’s that we’ve intentionally created lots of other artificial chokepoints. And since our production systems have little fat, these systems are tightly coupled, meaning a shortage in one area cascades throughout the global economy, costing us time, money, and lives.

It’s a dumb way to organize a global supply chain system, just as it was dumb to build ships that are too big to fit into canals. And that’s why the “big boat stuck in canal” is such a great illustration of the problem, it shows our policymakers and corporate leaders couldn’t even think through what would happen if Really Big Thing Got Stuck In Important Canal.


The answer to addressing the problem of thinned out supply chains is to recognize that hyper-efficient globalization inherently carries the downside of unpredictable shortages, geopolitical tension, and supply disruptions. And then redesign our global trading order to make it less efficient and more resilient. There are three basic changes we’ll need.

Matt Stoller calls for a rigorous enforcement of anti-monopoly measures, a reimpositition of border friction like tariffs, and a restructuring of business so that they are less indebted and less vulnerable.

Unfortunately, this will not happen, because this system was created to benefit financial institutions and to drive wages down through labor arbitrage, so his reforms are actually a repudiation of the entire system.

I support his ideas, but I don’t think that they are politically realistic at this time.



A specific example of how Amazon uses its monopoly position as a marketplace to crush competitors:

Banking and Booze

Louis Dejoy is trying to destroy the US Post Office, as are a majority of the board members.

They are doing so because they want the union destroyed, and because in privatization is an opportunity for looting.

The first step to fixing the USPS is to repeal the absurd requirements that it has to fund employee benefits 75 years into the future, a couple of good follow-up steps are to re-establish postal banking, and allowing the Post Office to deliver alcohol

There are way too many unbanked in the US, and the delivery of things like stimulus checks would be facilitated by a Post Office that has an account for every citizen, and delivering booze is lucrative:

When U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy laid out plans Tuesday for the future of the post office, he pointed to higher postage rates and slower first class mail as a means of stemming postal service losses he says could reach $160 billion.

But missing from his new 10-year plan were two ideas economists, members of Congress and consumer advocates say could generate billions of dollars for the beleaguered service and bring the post office into the 21st century: a return to postal banking and the post office’s entry into the lucrative alcohol delivery business.

“We don’t expect the post office of the 21st century will be the same as the post office of the 20th century,” said Rakim Brooks, senior campaign strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “People are using the mail less, and we think that the institution has to provide new services.”

Postal banking, he said, is among the new services the post office of the 21st century could — and should — provide. It would include basic banking services, including check cashing, providing low- or no-fee checking accounts, installing low-fee ATM machines, and providing wire transfer and bill payment services.


Long said it makes sense for post offices to double as banks, especially given the growing number of “bank deserts” in the U.S., communities in which there are no commercial banks.


Congress is taking notice of postal banking. Last year, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced the Postal Banking Act, aimed at providing consumers with bank accounts and mobile banking services.

In a statement, Gillibrand noted, “Postal banking is an elegant solution that would provide the USPS upwards of $9 billion a year in revenue and would address the high cost of being poor in America by eliminating payday loans, check cashing, and other predatory financial products.


Just as [Porter, not Mitch] McConnell believes postal banking could provide additional revenue for the Postal Service, she notes that shipping alcohol could also generate money for it.

FedEx and UPS are currently allowed to ship wine, beer and spirits, but because of Prohibition-era legislation, the Postal Service is not.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Postal Service could make an additional $50 million a year if it were to be able to ship alcohol.


In 2019, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., introduced the bipartisan USPS Shipping Equity Act, a bill which would enable the Postal Service to ship alcohol.

There is not a lot of support for this, because it is likely to be successful, which would run afoul of the anti-government crowd, as well the banks and private parcel carriers, who would then have less money for campaign donations.

We Live in Bizarro World

Did not Expect This

I never thought that I would agree with Elmer Gantry wannabee Franklin Graham, but his support for vaccines is unequivocally correct.

Needless to say, his wacko, my parents are first cousins, X-Files wannabe, black helicopter, tinfoil hat wearing, stupid, dim-witted, thinks pro wrestling is real* fellow travelers, were not so sanguine about his statement. (By that I mean that they went nuts)

So, Franklin Graham was right about a matter of both public health and the overall public good.

I cannot believe that I just said that.

*Sorry, I think that I just channeled the comedian Denis Leary.

Nope, Nothing Dodgy Here

Have you heard about SPACs? (AKA, “Blank check companies.”

The short version is that they are shell companies created to raise capital to take other companies public.

The SPAC issues shares, raises money, and then buys a company, taking the target public.

If this sounds dodgy, as in, “Why don’t those companies go public on their own?” you are right.

The answer is, as far as I can tell, evading regulations and increasing the opacity of the investment, since there is no SEC due diligence and the like.

Their rates of returns to investors suck, as they are typically a number less than 0, a loss, though the managers make bank, and I suppose money launderers are OK with taking the hit.

As such, it is not surprising that the SEC has opened an investigation into the recent explosion of these arcane financial instruments:

The U.S. securities regulator has opened an inquiry into Wall Street’s blank check acquisition frenzy and is seeking information on how underwriters are managing the risks involved, said four people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in recent days sent letters to Wall Street banks seeking information on their special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, dealings, the four people said.


The SEC, which declined to comment for this story, has previously said it was monitoring the SPAC boom, but the letters are the strongest sign yet that it is stepping up scrutiny of such deals and the Wall Street banks that underwrite them.


Wall Street’s biggest gold rush of recent years, SPACs have surged globally to a record $170 billion this year, outstripping last year’s total of $157 billion, Refinitiv data showed.


Investors have sued eight companies that combined with SPACs in the first quarter of 2021, according to data compiled by Stanford University. Some of the lawsuits allege the SPACs and their sponsors, who reap huge pay-days once a SPAC combines with its target, hid weaknesses ahead of the transactions.

Hiding weakness ahead of the transactions is the PURPOSE of SPACS.

BTW, if you are wondering just how dodgy this whole mess is, look no further than WeWork, whose IPO infamously collapsed on insider looting and misleading accounting.  They now intend to go public via merging with a SPAC

Even though WeWork has long lost billions of dollars, it always found ways to attract huge investments from deep-pocketed investors. Now, less than two years after it was rescued from a collapse, the co-working company has found yet another backer willing to overlook its losses.

The company announced on Friday that it had agreed to merge with a blank-check firm in a deal that would give it a listing on the stock market it was denied when it was forced to shelve an initial public offering as investors questioned its financial strength and dubious governance practices.

Instead of a traditional I.P.O., WeWork is merging with BowX Acquisition, a company listed on the stock exchange for the sole purpose of buying a business, in a type of deal that has become hugely popular in recent months. Investors, bankers, and even celebrities and athletes have rushed to float such special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, because they offer their creators a chance to mint huge profits relatively quickly. And merging with these vehicles is attractive to companies like WeWork because they provide an express lane onto the stock market without the obstacles that scuttled WeWork’s public offering in September 2019.

“Obstacles,” what a quaint way to describe flagrant fraud and misrepresentation.

This is yet another way for Wall Street to steal from you,

Jobless Claims Finally Fall Below Pre-Pandemic Record

There were 684,000 initial claims, less than the pre-pandemic peak of 695,000.

Yes, this is unmitigated good news:

Jobless claims fell to their lowest level of the pandemic last week as stronger hiring and consumer spending drive a U.S. economic revival.

Worker filings for unemployment benefits, a proxy for layoffs, fell to 684,000 last week from 781,000 a week earlier. Claims are now at the lowest point since mid-March of last year, before lockdowns triggered millions of layoffs. They are also below the pre-pandemic high of 695,000, a threshold not crossed for 52 weeks.

“The recovery is really hitting full steam again, and all of the conditions will be in place for a real, explosive liftoff in the summer when hopefully we’ve reached a higher vaccination threshold,” said Julia Pollak, labor economist at jobs site ZipRecruiter.


Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal this month raised their average forecast for 2021 economic growth to 5.95%, measured from the fourth quarter of last year to the same period this year, from a 4.87% projection in February’s survey. The higher figure would mark the fastest such pace in nearly four decades, following a steep downturn last year.

If these predictions are accurate, this is a blistering pace of economic growth.

What, Elon Broke the Law? Pshaw!

The NLRB has ruled that Tesla has openly and repeatedly broken labor law in its anti-union drives.

Seeing as how the car company has been killing and injuring its workers while offering them free frozen yogurt, they pretty much have to break the law to keep the unions out:

Tesla has been ordered to correct its unlawful labor practices, and its supremo Elon Musk must delete a related tweet from three years ago.

In a ruling issued on Thursday, the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) concluded that Tesla violated federal labor law in its efforts to discourage workers from unionizing. It directed the company to cease various anti-union actions and policies like claiming workers would lose benefits if they vote for union representation.

The NLRB found that Tesla violated labor law by coercively interrogating employees, threatening them with the loss of stock options if they supported unionization, and enacting unlawful policies like a confidentiality agreement that banned speaking to the press.

The ruling directs the vehicle maker to offer to rehire plaintiff and former employee Richard Ortiz and pay him lost wages, and to strike unlawful disciplinary information from the record of both Ortiz and another employee, Jose Moran.

It further requires Tesla to rescind portions of its 2016 confidentiality agreement that disallow lawful union-related activity under Sections 7 and 8 of the National Labor Relations Act, which the NLRB acknowledged “protects employees when they speak with the media about working conditions, labor disputes, or other terms and conditions of employment.”

The decision also directs self-styled “Technoking” Musk to delete a May 20, 2018, tweet because it implies workers must give up their stock options if they unionize.

I still think that the only to get the lawbreaking to stop is to frog-march Elon Musk out of his offices in handcuffs.


Remarkably Toxic Individuals

It turns out that only 12 people are responsible for the overwhelming majority of anti-vaxx content online.

It really is amazing what a few horrible people can do:

They’ve been dubbed the “Disinformation Dozen”: 12 individuals or organizations are tied to up to 65 percent of anti-vaccine content circulating on major social media networking sites, according to an analysis of popular anti-vaccine content on Facebook and Twitter.


The report accuses Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — who was banned from Instagram last month — Joseph Mercola, Ty and Charlene Bollinger — whose Twitter accounts were briefly suspended at the beginning of the pandemic — Sherri Tenpenny, Rizza Islam, Rashid Buttar, Erin Elizabeth, Sayer Ji, Kelly Brogan, Christiane Northrup, Ben Tapper and Kevin Jenkins of spreading disinformation and claims that their social media accounts “have repeatedly violated Facebook and Twitter’s terms of service agreements.” And the CCDH has receipts — the report is full of screenshots of “example violations” that range from misleading to antisemitic.

It’s not a surprise.  The past few years have shown us the potential effects of a few toxic individuals in the right (wrong?) places.

It Just Gets Better and Better

People don’t fear Andrew Cuomo any more, and so more and more people are dropping a dime on his corrupt behavior. Case in point, people are now telling reporters that Cuomo arranged for family members and close associates to get special access to Covid-19 testing.

We are going to see more and more of this: 

As the coronavirus pandemic swept through New York early last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration arranged for his family members and other well-connected figures to have special access to state-administered coronavirus tests, dispatching a top state doctor and other state health officials to their homes, according to three people with direct knowledge of the effort.

As part of the program, a state lab immediately processed the results of those who were tested, the people said, even as average New Yorkers were struggling to get tested in the early days of the pandemic because of a scarcity of resources. Initially, the lab was capable of running only several hundred tests a day for a state with 19 million residents.

The use of state resources to benefit people close to the governor raises serious ethical questions, experts said. New York law prohibits state officials from using their positions to secure privileges for themselves or others.

Drip, drip, drip. 

Cuomo’s career is toast, and only bad thing about this is that it did not happen a decade ago.

Headline of the Day

Amazon Denies Workers Pee in Bottles. Here Are the Pee Bottles


What a surprise, the PR department of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Amazon lies through its teeth.

They claim that their workers are well treated, and are free to take pee breaks, which is belied by the pictures of pee bottles in Amazon trucks and warehouses.

Amazon claims its workers don’t pee in bottles; defenders say it’s an urban legend. But these photos sent to me by a former driver for a former @amazon contractor called Synctruck in a California facility suggest strongly otherwise.

— Ken Bensinger (@kenbensinger) March 25, 2021

A memo specifically telling workers to remove their urine bottles at the end of a shift

What’s more, Amazon actually has posted notices telling workers to clean up their urine bottles at the end of a shift. (See attached Tweet)

They demand a schedule that allows no time to pee, and it is impossible to make schedule unless you pee in a bottle, because it’s (at least) 15 minutes to find and use a bathroom and return to deliveries.

In a just world, Jeff Bezos would be sentenced to a life of working for ……… Jeff Bezos.

One of the responses to that tweet is telling:

And yes, I know, that Crassus did not actually die in this manner, though he was almost as contemptible as Bezos:

The first ever Roman fire brigade was created by Crassus. Fires were almost a daily occurrence in Rome, and Crassus took advantage of the fact that Rome had no fire department, by creating his own brigade—500 men strong—which rushed to burning buildings at the first cry of alarm. Upon arriving at the scene, however, the firefighters did nothing while Crassus offered to buy the burning building from the distressed property owner, at a miserable price. If the owner agreed to sell the property, his men would put out the fire; if the owner refused, then they would simply let the structure burn to the ground. After buying many properties this way, he rebuilt them, and often leased the properties to their original owners or new tenants.

This is an attitude toward public service that I am sure Jeff Bezos would admire.