I've been chipping away at another video project for weeks and weeks, and it's finally finished:
I enjoy the video stuff, but man is it a lot of work. The next one will probably be more off the cuff and less produced. On to some articles!
The dirty truth about the financial system is that the whole thing functions on the back of government systems and guarantees. The Treasury/FDIC rescue of SVB and Signature Bank has apparently inaugurated yet another guarantee in the form of unlimited deposit insurance even for huge accounts—just one more way that bankers privatize profits and socialize losses. It would be far better to extend that same kind of white-glove government service to ordinary Americans in the form of a simple checking account at the Fed.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has instructed state child protection agencies to investigate parents who seek such care for their children. Legislatures in Kansas, South Carolina, and Oklahoma are working on bans for people under 21, and Texas for people under 26. At time of writing, the Florida House was holding hearings on a bill that would ban all insurance coverage for gender-affirming care, even for adults. All this smacks somewhat of the post-Reconstruction assault on Black rights in the South. Yet from a political standpoint, the odd thing about this attack is that it is a proven electoral liability. Republicans have paid a heavy price going all in on transphobia for going on six years now, yet they continue to double down.
So when tech oligarchs run to Congress, sacks of cash in hand, to lobby for relaxed rules on capital requirements and lighter Federal Reserve oversight for their personal bank, in no sense does this really amount to a diminution of state control over the banking system. In reality, this is a private enclosure of state power—allowing capitalists to run wild making stupid decisions with the implicit guarantee that if they run into trouble, Uncle Sam will catch them, which indeed happened.
The real reason Trump hasn’t been indicted for his major crimes is that the people in charge of that decision—Attorney General Merrick Garland, above all—are all part of the culture of elite impunity that produced Trump in the first place. He hasn’t been prosecuted for the same reason George W. Bush didn’t get busted for his torture program and Barack Obama didn’t get prosecuted for assassinating American citizens without trial: Presidents are, for practical purposes, above the law. And this is true of titans of industry, or virtually any powerful person. The cancer of elite impunity was sooner or later going to produce someone like Trump, who is just taking that culture to its logical end point of dictatorship.
So it’s rather alarming aerosol emissions are falling fast. Coal power plants are in terminal decline in rich countries, and given the cheap and falling cost of renewable energy, they will be in poorer ones sooner or later. Electric vehicles will replace most carbon-fueled cars and trucks over the next few decades. And thanks to long-overdue international regulations, emissions from container ships — which hitherto used ultra-filthy “bunker fuel,” containing something like 3,300 times as much sulfur as modern diesel — are plummeting. All that is good in terms of air quality, because ground-level pollution causes all kinds of health problems, but it also raises the prospect of a sudden increase in warming of nearly a degree on top of what has already happened.
As Will Mathis and Akshat Rathi write at Bloomberg, the EU energy strategy has been threefold: buying up as much possible imported liquid natural gas (LNG), mainly from the United States, piling investment into renewable energy, and replacing gas boilers and furnaces with heat pumps. In 2022, solar investment increased 35 percent compared to 2021, wind investment increased 62 percent, and battery storage increased 78 percent. Meanwhile, heat pump installations increased by about a third, which (along with other efficiency measures) enabled a 13 percent drop in gas consumption.