Subway

So I know this guy who actually owns a modestly large network of stores (I also know his IT guy who, in the context I’m about to discuss, is a much bigger deal but not relevant). He was my boss one year in this rather large but temporary project I was involved with annually for about a decade.

He was one of the best bosses I ever had.

In my role then I had advanced from line grunt to team leader and had introduced a super simplified system that handled 1000% of the output in a quarter of the time by decentralizing a useless and redundant piece of record keeping. Hey, I don’t need to know this stuff, I just need to know how to find it and the question arises rarely if ever.

Some of course were skeptical.

So my Subway boss comes in and says, “There are people with questions.” I say, “Here’s how you do it.” He’s like, “Oh, that could work. Are you sure?” “Trust me.”

Now I’m sitting there without much to do except amuse my excess staff and he comes to me and says, “You know, we’re having a little problem over here.” “Well, it’s not really my area but I’ll take a look.”

The problem was that the clients were continually waiting in line. I applied my vast Retail knowlege (among my duties as Manager of Shipping and Receiving was Inventory Control) and said, “Just give them the stuff.” “But what if they’re cheating?” “Doesn’t matter. You have records, you’ll catch them. And most won’t cheat.”

Sure enough.

He gave me the best recommendation I ever got. The next person who came in told me, “Well, I have this action plan the last guy gave me- Get ek hornbeck. Stop worrying.”

Andrew Cuomo on the other hand…

New York Subway Failures Begin to Cost Cuomo Politically
By Henry Goldman, Bloomberg News
July 25, 2017

Months of mass-transit breakdowns have done more than deepen the misery of New York City commuters. They’ve also begun to cost Governor Andrew Cuomo political capital.

Recent polls show Cuomo, a potential 2020 presidential candidate, with approval ratings near lows. A majority of New York voters disapprove of his leadership of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city’s subways. Over the last five years, delays have more than doubled, to about 70,000 a month from 28,000, according to City Hall data.

Cuomo has tried to deflect the criticism by saying that the city, which owns the subway system, should be paying more to fix it. As he and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio blame each other, the worsening crisis highlights a national need for investment in crumbling infrastructure after years of neglect, as commuters question where their fares are being spent.

“It’s not as if the governor just got elected. He’s had seven years to deal with these problems,” said Richard Barone, vice president for transportation at the Regional Plan Association, a non-profit group that advises governments on infrastructure policy. “The agency has been treading water for years without improving its subways and adapting with new technology.”

As the transit crisis worsened, Cuomo declared a state of emergency in the city’s subway system, and warned of a “Summer of Hell,” including reduced Long Island Rail Road service into Penn Station for Amtrak’s track repairs. He directed Joseph Lhota, his newly appointed MTA chairman, to prepare an overhaul plan by the end of this month.

Lhota said Thursday he will call on the city to contribute more to the MTA’s five-year, $32.5 billion capital plan. He and Cuomo both cited a 1981 state law that says the city leases the subway to the MTA, while the agency has the power to borrow money for upkeep and growth.

“The state has put in more money than ever before in the history of the state and it’s the city’s legal obligation to be funding it, even though we stepped in on a moral level,” Cuomo, who faces re-election next year, said during a July 20 news conference. “New York City is solely responsible for funding the capital plan for the New York City subway system.”

De Blasio, meanwhile, says it’s Cuomo’s job. He took their feud underground Sunday morning, attracting a gaggle of reporters and cameras by traveling to a Brooklyn event on the subway.

“The state of New York is responsible for making sure our subways run,” he said. “It has been decades and decades that the governor of the state, whoever the governor is, has named the head of the MTA and has effective control over the MTA.”

Lhota, a Republican who was defeated by de Blasio in the 2013 mayoral election, described the mayor’s comments as “disingenuous,” and his subway ride as a “photo op.”

In the past, Cuomo has touted his role as the subway system’s ultimate boss. He began this year with a party opening a segment of a new subway line extending about 1.5 miles along Manhattan’s Second Avenue, without the mayor’s participation. Cuomo decided to shut down the entire system without consulting the mayor in advance of a January 2015 blizzard.

De Blasio’s fiscal 2018 budget already includes a five-year, $2.5 billion commitment to the agency’s capital plan, its largest contribution ever. The city’s $85 billion spending plan also gives the agency about $1 billion to subsidize its operating expenses.

The governor dominates and appoints the 17-member board, to which the mayor may recommend four. Lhota says the city has ultimate control because it has the power to veto the board’s capital plan. That action is unlikely to be taken because it would precipitate an even worse crisis, withholding funds needed to keep the system in a state of good repair.

Given New York’s transit issues, it’s no wonder Cuomo’s approval is suffering, said William Cunningham, who advised former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former U.S. Senator Daniel Moynihan, and former Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo.

“The MTA is a huge entity in the most populous part of the state,” Cunningham said. “The governor of late has taken so many bows for the Second Avenue subway, reinforcing the idea that he and not the mayor is in charge, that it is an object lesson in the adage, ‘Be careful what you take credit for.”’

Trump Bans Transgenders From Military Service

Update 15:37 ET: A report in Poltico claims that this ban is all about money in the budget for the border wall. When anti-trans Republicans from the House told Trump they would hold up funding for the border wall unless he banned Transgender people from the Military, Trump, obviously, didn’t hesitate.

In the middle of the battle to repeal, replace or just flat out destroy the Affordable Care Act, Trump took to twitter this morning announcing that he was banning Transgender people from military service. Citing out of date data, he reasoned that the “medical costs and disruption” would be too great.

Trump claims he made the move after consulting with military experts, despite the Pentagon lifting the ban on transgender service members in 2016 after an exhaustive review of its military readiness policies.

“Our mission is to defend this country, and we don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who can best accomplish the mission,” then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said. “We have to have access to 100% of America’s population for our all-volunteer force to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified — and to retain them.”

The biggest question is what the news means for the thousands of transgender men and women currently serving in the military. There are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender people in active military service, a Rand Corp. study estimates. Another group, the Palm Center, put the number as high as 15,500 a few years ago.

The Pentagon referred all questions about the change to the White House.

The news took everyone off guard but the reaction was swift and angry, and not from just Democrats.

As expected, many Democrats swiftly condemned Trump’s announcement Wednesday morning. Yet several Republican lawmakers, including those with military experience, quickly expressed their opposition as well, demonstrating bipartisan interest in the issue.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, was one of the last to support overturning “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” which previously banned openly LGBTQ people from serving in the military. But in a statement Wednesday, he argued against Trump’s ban, saying that anyone who is qualified to serve should be allowed to do so. [..]

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), an Iraq War veteran, expressed similar opposition.

“Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity,” she said in a statement. [..]

“I’m all about training standards. High, high standards for whoever joins the military,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who served in the Marines, told HuffPost. “But my initial reaction is, if you can can meet those standards, we shouldn’t care who you are. So, meet the standards, and you should be able to join the military.”

Upon hearing of Trump’s tweets Wednesday morning, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said that current policy allows for “a big tent for people who want to serve,” adding that military service is voluntary.

“You ought to treat everybody fairly, and you ought to give everybody a chance to serve,” he told CNN.

In a statement, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said: “I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them.”

Army PVT Chelsea Manning, transgender activist and U.S. military whistleblower, shot back at Trump in a series of tweets. As did Star Trek‘s George Takei who called out those members of the LGBTQ community who supported Trump.

This ban comes on the anniversary of the desegregation of the military by President Harry Truman.

The Breakfast Club (Anarchy)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

President Harry Truman orders desegregation of U.S. Military; Cuba’s Fidel Castro attacks Moncada barracks; Argentina’s Eva Peron dies; Playwright George Bernard Shaw and rock star Mick Jagger born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Anarchy is the only slight glimmer of hope.

Mick Jagger

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Now They Debate But Debate What?

The the vice president casting the tie breaking vote, the Senate voted 51- 50 to debate the repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act. But just what are they debating?

The plan emerging in the hours before the successful vote was for the Senate to vote in the days to come on competing repeal-and-replace plans which lack the votes for passage, before ultimately landing on what is unfortunately being termed “skinny repeal.” The idea is to pass the barest of repeal bills through the Senate in hopes of sending the repeal effort to a conference committee with the House-passed replacement bill, where a final deal can be hashed.

The fact that Senate Republicans sought to move forward with the Obamacare repeal effort without a robust replacement plan, or even a comprehensive repeal bill, ready to pass comes after months of frenzied negotiations that fell short this week. For seven years Republicans ran on repealing and-replacing the Affordable Care Act during which they never settled on a consensus replacement. The disagreements on health care reform that divide the GOP conference had not been solved when Senate Republicans voted Tuesday to move forward anyway.

They will now move onto a few days of floor debate on the effort that will also bring a series of votes on amendments related to the yet-to-be-determined health care bill.

That Republicans would subject themselves to this politically ugly process that may fail in the end reflects the immense pressure GOP senators were under from President Trump and conservative groups not to abandon what appeared to be a doomed effort just a few days ago. [..]

GOP leaders kept members in the dark of what bill they would be voting to proceed to in the hours before they voted Tuesday. The “skinny repeal” that emerged as a possible plan Tuesday morning would be a narrow set of repeal proposals that Republicans mostly agree on. If it became law, it would almost certainly torpedo the individual market in some places and make worse the health care problems Republicans complained about under Obamacare.

By the end of this week, Republicans will likely get to vote on whether they are willing to pass that option out of Senate to keep the repeal dreams alive for the next legislative step.

The “skinny repeal” would eliminate three of the ACA’s least popular provisions among Republicans: individual mandate, the employer mandate and a tax on medical devices. But as Margot Sanger-Katz at the New York Times points out, there’s an up side and a down side:

The upside of such a plan: Those provisions are unloved. The individual mandate forces Americans who go without health insurance to pay a tax penalty. The employer mandate subjects businesses to a lot of paperwork requirements. The medical device tax hits an industry that has lobbying pull with many Republicans and even many liberal Democrats. A plan that eliminated only these three parts might be plausibly sold as Obamacare repeal, and it would avoid many of the more controversial policy changes in other G.O.P. proposals. [..]

ages

But, of course, there is a downside.

The individual mandate is unloved because no one likes being told what to do. But many independent analysts have concluded that, without a mandate, health insurance would become more expensive and cover fewer people. With the nudge of a mandate, more healthy people tend to buy insurance, reducing the average cost of coverage. Without one, the theory goes, mostly sick people buy insurance, and premiums rise to cover that sicker pool.

Fewer people would probably be covered under Medicaid, too. Over the last few years, signups for Medicaid have increased substantially, even among people who could have been covered before Obamacare expanded eligibility. Many of those people presumably didn’t realize they qualified for Medicaid and first tried to buy private insurance because of the mandate, before learning that they could get Medicaid and not have to pay a premium. Without a mandate, fewer people are likely to find their way into the program. [..]

The Congressional Budget Office thinks that eliminating the individual mandate would have substantial negative effects on the insurance market, raising prices and reducing enrollment. It is hard to imagine that more insurers would wish to participate in this smaller, sicker market. The budget office still needs to evaluate a skinny repeal bill, but it seems likely that the reductions in coverage from a mandate repeal would save the federal government enough money for the bill to comply with budget instructions.

It is worth considering these effects in the context of Republicans’ criticisms of Obamacare itself. On the Senate floor Tuesday, Mr. McConnell assailed the health law as building unstable insurance markets and providing too little consumer choice. A skinny repeal would probably exacerbate those effects.

Sanger-Katz also notes that all but one of the Republican despised taxes would remain as would all of the regulations on insurance companies they are eager to repeal. The “skinny repeal” also leaves Medicaid as it is, including the ACA expansion. This may or may not meet the Byrd Rule test or satisfy the hard core right that wants the ACA repealed. If passed in the Senate, it may not get the votes in the House where the hard right minority rules the roost. This is going to be a long week.

Show the respect, will ya?

 

And Balding High Forehead Spice doesn’t even get the quality time at Kennebunkport.

The Legend Of El Campeador

Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was a Castilian nobleman and military leader in medieval Spain.

He rose to become the commander and royal standard-bearer (armiger regis) of Castile upon Sancho’s ascension in 1065. Rodrigo went on to lead the Castilian military campaigns against Sancho’s brothers, Alfonso VI of León and García II of Galicia, as well as in the Muslim kingdoms in Al-Andalus. He became renowned for his military prowess in these campaigns, which helped expand Castilian territory at the expense of the Muslims and Sancho’s brothers’ kingdoms. When conspirators murdered Sancho in 1072, Rodrigo found himself in a tight spot. Since Sancho was childless, the throne passed to his brother Alfonso, the same whom El Cid had helped remove from power. Although Rodrigo continued to serve the Castilian sovereign, he lost his ranking in the new court which treated him at arm’s length and suspiciously. Finally, in 1081, he was ordered into exile.

El Cid found work fighting for the Muslim rulers of Zaragoza, whom he defended from their traditional enemies, Aragon and Barcelona. While in exile, he regained his reputation as a strategist and formidable military leader. He repeatedly turned out victorious in battle against the Muslim rulers of Lérida and their Christian allies, as well as against a large Christian army under King Sancho Ramírez of Aragon. In 1086, an expeditionary army of North African Almoravids inflicted a severe defeat to Castile, compelling Alfonso to overcome the resentments he harbored against El Cid. The terms for the return to the Christian service must have been attractive enough since Rodrigo soon found himself fighting for his former Lord. Over the next several years, however, El Cid set his sights on the kingdom-city of Valencia, operating more or less independently of Alfonso while politically supporting the Banu Hud and other Muslim dynasties opposed to the Almoravids. He gradually increased his control over Valencia; the Islamic ruler, al-Qadir, became his tributary in 1092. When the Almoravids instigated an uprising that resulted in the death of al-Qadir, El Cid responded by laying siege to the city. Valencia finally fell in 1094, and El Cid established an independent principality on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. He ruled over a pluralistic society with the popular support of Christians and Muslims alike.

El Cid’s final years were spent fighting the Almoravid Berbers. He inflicted upon them their first major defeat in 1094, on the plains of Caurte, outside Valencia, and continued resisting them until his death. Although Rodrigo remained undefeated in Valencia, his only son, and heir, Diego Rodríguez died fighting against the Almoravids in the service of Alfonso in 1097. After El Cid’s death in 1099, his wife, Jimena Díaz, succeeded him as ruler of Valencia, but she was eventually forced to surrender the principality to the Almoravids in 1102.

Hmm… not the El Cid, Champion of Christian Spain, you were expecting? Well, early post Roman Empire politics is complicated and includes the fact that the Spanish Catholics were in fact the very same Goths who sacked Rome in 410, and their Moorish oppressors Vandals who had pushed them out of what is now Poland and into Roman servitude around 225 C.E. more or less (oh, they also sacked Rome in 455, disappointed at being second they did it harder).

Both the Goths and the Vandals adopted Arianist Christianity (about which I’d explain more but it’s not really relevant) and were valued mercenaries of the Roman Empire.

In 400 or so the Huns (who may have had Vandal allies) moved into Central Europe displacing both Vandals (by Huns) and Goths (by Vandals) deep into Italy, Gaul (France), Galicia (Spain), and North Africa (which was much more fertile than it currently is). The Goths, favored by the Western Empire, ended up with most of Gaul and Galicia as well as (eventually) Italy. The Vandals, favored by the Eastern Empire, ended up with North Africa, parts of the Balkans, outposts in Southern and Northern Galacia, and Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily.

And then the Western Roman Empire collapsed. Isn’t Game of Thrones fun?

About 650 a new religion, Mormonism Islam, started sweeping in. It soon eroded most of the Eastern Roman Empire and in a wave of expansion incorporated the bulk of Central Asia, India, and parts of Africa, including Northern. Hey, when the King goes Lutheran Church in America all you Missouri Synod types better catch up, and Vandal territory was no exception. Early adopters were Berbers, fierce warriors who’d been pesky antagonists of the Vandals (and the Romans before them) for centuries and they and the Vandals soon allied in a policy of expansion in Spain. Gaul had basically been taken over by the Franks (French, duh) so the Goths were isolated in parts of Galacia and Italy (which hated and resented them). And in that situation cut throat mercenary Rodrigo Díaz rode on the stage.

But what I want to talk about is the metaphor.

In the movie valiant Christian warrior El Cid emerges as a defender of Castile and Western Civilization itself. His skill as a soldier and commander leads his troops to victory after victory and demoralizes his enemies even though they end up decimating his army and mortally wounding him. His corpse has a stick shoved up its ass and is strapped to his horse which is sent out the gates to terrify his opponents. The Muslims flee and El Cid is victorious one last time.

Fin

And so Republicans are sending their dead man walking back on the floor. They’re only doing it because they think it ensures a tactical victory.

I’m sorry John.

You might have deserved better but this is all you’ve got. You die a slave to “Crazy Base Land”.

The Breakfast Club (Evil Ways)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Andrea Doria begins to sink after a collision in the North Atlantic; An Air France Concorde crashes outside Paris; First ‘test-tube’ baby born; Golfer Ben Hogan dies; ‘A Chorus Line’ opens on Broadway.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

Albert Einstein

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Trading Ground For Time

The problem is that people see patterns in randomness. What we commonly call “intelligence” mostly registers pattern recognition and indeed the very way our brains process their primary source of information, vision, is based on it.

My Therapist and psychologically aware friends call this “mind racing” and view it as a symptom since obsessive speculation and paranoia are typical of my anxiety disorder. I regard it as a harmless pastime- doesn’t everyone spend the first 10 minutes on a trip wondering if they’ve fed the cat and turned off the gas? I have in fact forgotten critical things I’ve had to replace at great inconvenience so I don’t regard myself as completely irrational.

Annoying? Sure.

Anyway I’m not claiming we didn’t land on the Moon or that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination or that Global Warming doesn’t exist but I do wonder…

There is a classic (at least for the Russians but we used it too in Korea) military strategy called “Trading Ground For Time” where you realize the current “correlation of forces” is not in your favor and you are unlikely to achieve victory. What do you do?

Well, you wait for things to change.

If you are clever that doesn’t just mean a Rocky “rope a dope” but actively using the resources you have to weaken your opponent while preserving advantage. In straight “Trading Ground For Time” you commit what is necessary to delay and disrupt while you use your time to build defenses or a counter move. After the enemy has suffered sufficient attrition and is logistically exposed enough, the “correlation of forces” has turned in your favor.

Another way to put it is “bright and shiny objects”, distractions.

In my more despondent moments I wonder if Trumpcare and Russiagate are not being used as a “Trading Ground For Time” strategy. Russiagate is all about Donald J. Trump and his co-conspirators personally and as far as I’m concerned they’re proven guilty of Obstruction of Justice and it’s only a matter of time before Money Laundering gets added. Impeached? Convicted? Jailed? Absolutely!

On the other hand Republicans, despite their protestations of being distracted, are pressing ahead with their core agenda of looting the Treasury both to benefit their Plutocratic masters and because they get a sadistic pleasure out of killing poor people. The Budget, Tax “Reform”, all are proceeding on schedule.

Even today we spent most of our time talking about Jared Kushner instead of about the Democratic economic initiative or tomorrow’s vote on Trumpcare which under any of the Bills likely to be considered (House 3.0, Senate 1.0 or 2.0 (Cruz Amendment), straight up Repeal (not Byrd compatible)) disenfranchises between 23 and 32 Million Citizens and cuts 1/2 a Trillion dollars from Medicaid to be delivered into the overflowing pockets of the .01%.

Are we being traded ground for time?

Yellen! Where Is My Inflation!

Ok, that may be a little obscure. At Teutoburgwald Varus, a Roman General of limited skill and immense gullibility, was wiped out in a surprise attack by Germans and lost 3 whole Legions as in- no survivors. For the rest of his reign Emperor Octavius was observed at random shouting to nobody in particular, “Varus! Where Are My Legions!”

So now you get the joke.

The metaphor is that as I and many Economists not subscribing to Neo Liberal fantasies have been saying for quite a while, without Inflation there is no proof whatever that your Economy is at or near its Productive Capacity. The logic is straightforward and irrefutable- if Demand exceeds Supply, Prices rise. If Prices are not rising Demand has not exceeded Supply and your Economy is in a state of Overcapacity or, looked at another way, Underutilization- QED (appropriately enough, Latin).

Now you can have other goals than Maximum Efficiency (and some of them are quite good) but it’s generally uncontroversial as are the Laws of Supply and Demand. The problem for Neo Liberal Economists is that without Inflation there’s really no reason to artificially reduce Demand. Of course another name for “Artificial Demand Reduction” is Austerity.

My model is very simple and it’s true that Prices can rise (for a limited time) due to monopolistic practices and other nefarious forms of economic chicanery and skullduggery that manipulate the Market from its natural perfect efficiency (hey, I know that Markets are hardly efficient for certain trades and far from “natural” require constant regulation, but Neo Liberals think so). There can also be localized scarcity of critical productive resources.

One of those resources is Labor. The Federal Reserve points at low unemployment, postulates that Prices are about to rise and therefore action to reduce Inflation in the form of increasing Interest Rates which encourages Capital Accumulation (it used to mean Savings and still says so in the textbooks, in fact it means Financial Instruments like T-Bills, Acquisitions, and Stock Buy-Backs) is required to artificially reduce Demand.

You know, Austerity.

More Lefty Economists will suggest that the metrics used to measure Demand for Labor (unemployment rates) are flawed and that there is a reserve of people who are working at less than Maximum Efficiency (underemployment) or who are not participating in the Labor Market (discouraged workers) and statistics support that contention. The ratio of conventionally employed people to those who are casual Laborers (part time or gig) or engage in other activities is trending downward and hasn’t changed a lick except to get worse. Until wages (Price for Labor) actually show some Inflation they would argue (and correctly so) that the Economy is not operating at Maximum Efficiency for the benefit of the average Worker. That would be you.

Binyamin Appelbaum of The New York Times as usual misses the entire point but provides some useful statistics.

The Federal Reserve thinks modest inflation has important economic benefits, and it has aimed since 2012 to keep prices rising at an annual pace of 2 percent. The problem is that the Fed is on track to fail for the sixth straight year. Inflation has been stubbornly sluggish.

A little inflation can brighten the economic mood, causing wages and corporate profits to rise more quickly. Economists like to point out that this is an illusion. If everyone is making more money, then no one can buy more stuff. Prices just go up. But the evidence suggests people enjoy the illusion and, importantly, they respond to the illusion by behaving in ways that increase actual economic growth, for example by working harder.

A little inflation helps the economy rebound from recessions. It gives the Fed more room to reduce borrowing costs, and it also eases necessary economic adjustments. Employers, for example, can cut costs by holding wage increases below the inflation rate.

Fed officials began the year expressing confidence that inflation was finally rebounding as the economy continued to expand. But the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation declined in the last three monthly reports, from an annualized pace of 2.1 percent in February to 1.4 percent in May. The inflation gauge is published by the Commerce Department.

Job growth remains strong, but recent reports on cautious consumer spending and business investment suggest that overall growth remains tepid. A turn toward stronger growth again has failed to materialize. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, which predicted the economy would expand at an annualized pace of 4 percent in the second quarter, now estimates second-quarter growth was 2.5 percent.

The persistent sluggishness has convinced some Fed officials to revise their thinking.

“Low inflation has been the major surprise of the era,” James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, declared last April. He said he did not support any increases in the Fed’s benchmark rate until 2018, to give inflation time to recover.

One theory, popular among conservative economists, is that the Fed causes inflation by increasing the supply of money faster than the pace of economic growth. Kevin A. Hassett, President Trump’s nominee to lead his Council of Economic Advisers, was among the signatories of a 2010 open letter warning that the Fed’s plans to pump money into the banking system “risk currency debasement and inflation.” Seven years later, there is no evidence they were correct, although some of them continue to issue similar warnings.

Another theory, more popular among liberal economists like Ms. Yellen, holds that prices rise as unemployment falls. Companies compete for workers by raising wages, workers want to spend the money and businesses respond to the demand for their products by raising prices.

Ms. Yellen has attributed the recent weakness to declines in the prices of particular goods, like cellphone-service plans and prescription drugs, that are not likely to continue. She and other officials also have noted that the weakness of the global economy allowed the United States to import foreign goods at low prices.

This theory, too, is increasingly difficult to reconcile with recent evidence.

The unemployment rate, at 4.4 percent in June, was below the level that Fed officials regard as inflationary for the fourth straight month. Meanwhile, inflation weakened.

“The public makes inferences regarding the inflation target based on our past performance, not just on our words,” Charles Evans, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said in a June speech in New York. “When they see inflation below 2 percent for eight-plus years, they might logically think 2 percent is a ceiling.”

Adam Posen, the president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, says the bottom line is that the last few years have raised doubts about all of the standard explanations. Policy makers are sailing without the guidance of a convincing model.

“It’s reached the point where the only decision is how freaked out you want to be by how much this contradicts previous knowledge or previous theory,” Mr. Posen said.

The most Radical Economists might say that until it becomes more profitable to invest in Labor and Productive Capacity (that is, actually make things and sell them) than Financial Instruments our economic dysfunction will not change. They advocate taxes to directly reduce the profitability of Financial Instruments and increased direct Government purchase of things and stuff (Fiscal Stimulus) to increase Demand and reduce Overcapacity.

You know, paying people to bury money jars and others to dig them up, like Keynes said.

Note that the 2 parts of this program are separate and while either one will work they work best together. Also implied is the notion that moderate Inflation is desirable, acting as a hidden tax on unproductive (in terms of producing things and stuff) wealth.

The Breakfast Club (DNA)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

A key ruling during the Watergate scandal; Nixon and Khrushchev hold a ‘kitchen debate’ during the Cold War; Brigham Young and Mormon followers arrive in present-day Utah; Apollo 11’s crew returns home.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes.

Bella Abzug

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