The Wisdom of Peter Schiff:

what Schiff says very clearly is that according to his worldview, rolling the printing presses should cause inflation (by the normal definition) even in a depressed economy, and that high unemployment should in fact make inflation higher, not lower. He has that exactly right: the central dispute is between those who see depressions as the result of inadequate demand, implying that inflation will fall and that printing money does nothing unless it boosts employment, and those who see depressions as the result of maladapation of resources or something — anyway, something on the supply side — who predict that running the printing presses will lead to runaway inflation. How could you test those rival views? Why, how about having a huge slump, to which central banks respond with aggressive monetary expansion? And that is, of course, the test we’ve just run. And everywhere you look, inflation is low, verging on deflation. So we’ve just run the Schiff test — and his brand of economics, by his own criteria, loses with flying colors. And that goes for just about all anti-Keynesian doctrines: we ran as close to a clean experiment as you’re ever going to get, and the answer is no.

And it isn’t just the US economy. The same experiment was run across Europe and in Japan. Schiff’s theory is zero for twelve. In no economy did we get results they his theory would demand.

House Intelligence Committee’s Benghazi Report Torches Conspiracy Theories:

Among its findings, the report says CIA personnel responded not just well, but heroically; that there was no “stand down” order, as some critics have claimed; there was no intimidation of witnesses by superiors; there was no intelligence failure prior to the attack; and that a “mixed group” of individuals, including some linked to al Qaeda, participated in the attack.

But perhaps the most significant conclusion is its finding that Rice’s talking points — a key focus of the Benghazi Select Committee empaneled by House Speaker John Boehner — were not part of an attempt to conceal the severity of the incident.

In other words, Benghazi was much to do about nothing. But the GOP got to get angry and toss around conspiracy theories.

Rand doesn’t stand:

If Paul really wanted to help the cause of reining in the NSA, critics say he could have broken with his party and voted to let the bill move ahead — a headline-grabbing moment that would make him stand out from the rest of the Republican presidential field. Instead, the Kentucky senator — the GOP’s most famous libertarian — voted to block the bill from even being debated.

Rand Paul, not a friend of civil liberties.

Fox Host Calls On Fox To Drop 2016 Candidates From Payroll:

Fox dropped Dr. Ben Carson as a contributor, which Kurtz said was a good call.

“This was a smart move by Fox because a guy who’s more or less running for president shouldn’t be on a network payroll,” he said. “Which means Fox also faces a decision about former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is openly weighing a White House bid as well.”

It’s always nice to see actual journalism at FOX.

On the phenomenon of bullshit jobs:

It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is precisely what is not supposed to happen. Sure, in the old inefficient socialist states like the Soviet Union, where employment was considered both a right and a sacred duty, the system made up as many jobs as they had to (this is why in Soviet department stores it took three clerks to sell a piece of meat). But, of course, this is the sort of very problem market competition is supposed to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don’t really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens. While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their time is spent organizing or attending motivational seminars, updating their facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets.

Even more perverse, there seems to be a broad sense that this is the way things should be. This is one of the secret strengths of right-wing populism. You can see it when tabloids whip up resentment against tube workers for paralysing London during contract disputes: the very fact that tube workers can paralyse London shows that their work is actually necessary, but this seems to be precisely what annoys people. It’s even clearer in the US, where Republicans have had remarkable success mobilizing resentment against school teachers, or auto workers (and not, significantly, against the school administrators or auto industry managers who actually cause the problems) for their supposedly bloated wages and benefits. It’s as if they are being told “but you get to teach children! Or make cars! You get to have real jobs! And on top of that you have the nerve to also expect middle-class pensions and health care?”

Don’t always agree with Graeber, but this is worth a read.

The Art of Not Working at Work:

One Swedish bank clerk said he was only doing 15 minutes’ worth of work a day. Under these circumstances, feigned obedience and fake commitment become so central to working that a deviation from those acts can result in embarrassment for everyone. As she recalls: “One day, in the middle of a meeting on motivation, I dared to say that the only reason I came to work was to put food on the table. There were 15 seconds of absolute silence, and everyone seemed uncomfortable.

According to repeated surveys by Salary.com, not having “enough work to do” is the most common reason for slacking off at work. The service sector offers new types of work in which periods of downtime are long and tougher to eliminate than on the assembly line: A florist watching over an empty flower shop, a logistics manager who did all his work between 2 and 3 p.m., and a bank clerk responsible for a not-so-popular insurance program are some examples of employees I talked with who never actively strived to work less.

I swear this is half the people who work in IT. I remember hearing a manager talking about an employee that watched nearly 20 hours of youtube video a week for over a six month period. When you factor other net time, it might about 75% of any given week doing non-work.

Then there are whole chunks of organizations that don’t do anything useful. An 11 person group that tracked data that was rarely ever requested because the same data was availably on the web for free much easier.

Why are there so many workers who don’t actually useful work?

The Rise Of The Lumbersexual:

He looks like a man of the woods, but works at The Nerdery, programming for a healthy salary and benefits. His backpack carries a MacBook Air, but looks like it should carry a lumberjack’s axe. He is the Lumbersexual.

Last week they were called hipsters. Did we need a new word?

What’s so new about the Islamic State’s governance?:

of the insurgencies that provided education and health care, nearly 72 percent of insurgencies provided education to civilians, and just over 71 percent of rebel movements provided health care. In other words, if an insurgent group provides social services, they are more likely to offer these services to civilians. Once an insurgency acquired territory, nearly 49 percent would ensure that the civilian population received education or medical care, consistent with recent research on rebel governance.

ISIS thinks education and health care are roles of government.

The takeaway from six years of economic troubles? Keynes was right.:

Countries that took emergency measures to reduce public borrowing have mostly suffered weaker growth, as in the case of Britain from 2010 to 2012, Japan this year and the United States after the 2013 “sequester” and fiscal cliff deal. In more extreme cases, such as Italy and Spain, fiscal tightening has plunged them back into deep recession and aggravated financial crises. Meanwhile countries that ignored their deficit problems, as in the United States for most of the post-crisis period, or where governments decided to downplay their fiscal tightening plans, as in Britain this year or Japan in 2013, have generally done better, both in terms of economics and finance.

But this is the key quote:

Monetarism overturned the Keynesian fiscal consensus that prevailed from the 1930s to the 1970s, by introducing one simple assumption into the models that guided governments and central banks. The case for Keynesian fiscal stimulus in deep recessions was simply assumed away by asserting that interest rates could always be reduced sufficiently to stimulate private investment, discourage private savings and so restore growth. As a result, the private sector as a whole would never suffer for long from a shortfall in spending. Therefore government borrowing would never be needed to balance inadequate private demand.

As a result of these assumptions, interest rate decisions by central banks came to be seen as the only effective tool of macroeconomic management, while fiscal policy was relegated to a microeconomic supporting role. Tax structures and public spending levels were seen as supply-side issues influencing incentives and resource allocation, but the demand impact of government borrowing was largely ignored. Whether government borrowing expanded or contracted, interest rates would rise or fall to offset the Keynesian demand effects. Independent central bankers would manage macroeconomic demand with monetary policy, leaving governments to set taxes and spending plans to achieve political or supply-side objectives.

Worth a read.