From the Nov. 11 New Yorker (paywall) on a company called Climate Corporation that uses big data to project crop sizes for every field in the country and insures crops on the basis of that data:
(CEO David) Friedberg is convinced that climate change has the potential to alter land values dramatically, and soon. “We had this economic bubble because of a major housing crisis,” he said. [Strictly speaking, that’s backward — we had an economic crisis because of a (burst) housing bubble — but forget it; he’s rolling. — Lex] “Residential real-estate values dropped, and the debt-equity ratio was so high that there were massive economic consequences for the nation. There is almost certainly a much more significant devaluation that needs to occur with land affected by climate change.” In Kansas, he noted, real estate trades at prices that make sense only if a farmer gets the kind of yield on an acre of corn that is now rare. “In parts of Kansas, farmers should simply not be growing corn,” Friedberg said. “Historically, you would have a heat wave every 20 years there. Now it happens every three years or so, and in those years the crops die.”
The Climate Corporation charges roughly forty dollars an acre to insure crops, and its customers farm more than ten million acres. Many of them give little credence to terms like “climate change” and “global warming.” That doesn’t bother Friedberg. “You don’t need to talk about climate change per se,” he told me. “Statistically, you are looking at a series of numbers. If it were a roulette wheel, you could say, ‘It’s coming up black more and more frequently.’ Can I attribute that to black being overweighted by the croupier? Or to the pit boss, or to the machine being broken? It doesn’t matter. Some people will argue that ice ages have waxed and waned for tens of millennia and that this is part of a natural cycle. That doesn’t change the fact that black is coming up more frequently and you will get less out of an acre of corn than you used to. The price for that land simply cannot be justified by the income it can generate.”
He went on, “It’s going to take a few climatic events in a row, I guess, and then everyone will say, ‘I’m not going to keep buying Kansas real estate at this price,’ or, ‘I’m not going to keep developing in this harbor zone in Florida.’ If you mark down all the stuff to what the discounted value should be — holy shit.” He practically shouted, “It is bad. I am convinced it is going to happen because, the math says it has to happen in at least one or two or three parts of the world. And if it happens at any of them at any point in the next ten years, it will make the housing crisis look small.”
And Pierce wrote, saying:
But this is the argument in season over these holidays. That the poor must suffer in order to be redeemed. That hunger is a moral test to be endured. That only through pain can we hope. What doesn’t destroy you, etc. Santa Nietzsche is coming to town. The idea that we should — hell, that we must — act out of charity for each other through the institutions of self-government is lost in the din of a frontal system of moral thunderation aimed at everyone except the person who is out there thunderatin’ on behalf of personal-trainer Jesus, who wants us to work, work, work on that core. That was the way that government operated once before; the specific institutions that Scrooge mentions, and with which the Spirit eventually reproaches him in his own words – the prisons, the union workhouses, the treadmill, and the Poor Laws – were all government institutions based on the same basic philosophy that drives the debate over the food stamp program today.(We even seem to be going back to debtor’s prisons.) We have speeches on self-reliance given by government employees to people who increasingly have only themselves on whom to rely, day after grinding day. It is a way to keep the poor from having a voice in their own self-government. It is a way to keep the wrath of the boy at bay. There will be a reckoning, one way or another. But it can be staved off by platitudes, and by verses from Scripture wrenched from the obvious context of the Gospels. The sepulchers brighten whitely while the bones inside grow increasingly corrupt. This is what this Congress believes, as it goes home proud of itself and its members dress themselves to sing the midnight carols with no conscience sounding in counterpoint, and this is Christmas in America, and it is the year of our Lord, 2013.
Merry Christmas to all, and tonight, God bless us, every one. But forgive me, Lord, in advance, for hoping and praying that the year of our Lord 2014 brings plague and pestilence upon those who would force the suffering to suffer further, those who would insist upon morality tests for the poor that they themselves could not pass, those who would require that many of our fellow Americans be denied a voice with which to insist anything. Bring on the plagues for them, turn their fruit into locust husks, their wine and water into blood, and their foie gras to feces, and let their corrupt bones and those of their first born be cast out from the whitely brightened sepulchers to be feasted upon by jackals and vultures.
Except for those who repent and atone. Always except for those.
Amen. And Amen.
On what other issues besides this has the Iranian government been telling the truth while the U.S. government has been lying?
Mistermix at Balloon Juice:
My dad is a lifelong Democrat because his family felt that Roosevelt and the Democrats gave a [bleep] about their kids during the Depresssion. I’m a Democrat because it’s clear who gives a [bleep] about my kid, and none of them have an R after their name.
They don’t give a [bleep] that hating gays leads to teen suicide.
They don’t give a [bleep] if kids go hungry because food stamps were cut.
They don’t give a [bleep] if teenagers can’t get birth control.
And they certainly don’t give a [bleep] that a kid who has epilepsy, or Crohn’s, will be saddled with a life of worry over whether she’ll be able to buy insurance.
After all the noise over the website dies down, after the Republicans try to shut down the government three more times and vote to repeal another dozen times, this is what’s going to be left for thousands of American families: a man and a party that gave enough of a [bleep] about them to endure a five year temper tantrum from a party that clearly has a broken give-a-[bleep]er when it comes to children.
It’s fine to talk in principle about limited government. (It must be — I do it, although I often mean something by “limited” that is different from what the RWNJs mean.) But when the real-life results of your actions carry an actual and nontrivial body count, you either change your positions or you mark yourself as a sociopath.
Moreover, the real reason why the GOP has carried on a five-year temper tantrum about Obamacare is that they know that if it works — and it is working, even if the website still has bugs — people will embrace it like Social Security and Medicare and the party will be screwed politically for at least a generation.
I can honestly say I’ve never been more proud of American Satanists than I am right now:
In their zeal to tout their faith in the public square, conservatives in Oklahoma may have unwittingly opened the door to a wide range of religious groups, including Satanists who are seeking to put their own statue next to a Ten Commandments monument outside the Statehouse.
The Republican-controlled Legislature in this state known as the buckle of the Bible Belt authorized the privately funded Ten Commandments monument in 2009, and it was placed on the Capitol grounds last year despite criticism from legal experts who questioned its constitutionality. The Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit seeking its removal.
But the New York-based Satanic Temple saw an opportunity. It notified the state’s Capitol Preservation Commission that it wants to donate a monument and plans to submit one of several possible designs this month, said Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the temple.
“We believe that all monuments should be in good taste and consistent with community standards,” Greaves wrote in letter to state officials. “Our proposed monument, as an homage to the historic/literary Satan, will certainly abide by these guidelines.”
I could have told the Oklahoma Lege that this would happen, had they but asked. But no.
Accused by faux-centrist right-wingers Third Way of proposing changes to Social Security that would give Citi CEO Jamie Dimon greater Social Security benefits, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., replied, “Oh please. I’m out there working for Jamie Dimon the same way Dick Cheney is out there trying to save the environment.”
UPDATE: Well, this is cute: a quick look at the names and occupations of the head honchos of Third Way. I’m sure we’re talking middle-of-the-road moderates here:
So Cardinal Timothy Dolan went on Press the Meat this past Sunday to argue that Catholic doctrine on gays and women has been “caricatured” by Hollywood and the media and that the Church has been “outmarketed” in spreading its message. No, he really said this. So Charlie Pierce responds:
And the Founder assured us that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church, and you’re arguing that you got “outmarketed” by the Sundance Festival?
(Dolan also argued that the Pope “can’t make doctrinal changes,” which would surprise the hell out of most Catholics, the Pope included. You can’t make this stuff up.)
… then you might want to pay attention to where insurance companies are putting their money, as insurance executive Richard Mayhew points out:
I was at physical therapy this morning. As I did my stretches and balancing exercises for my ankle, the local generic “alt” rock radio station was being piped through the speakers and Good Morning America was on the wall television.
On the rock station, I heard a Healthcare.gov “I got covered” ad, an ad from my company advertising its Exchange product. I heard two other competitors advertise their on and off-Exchange products. This radio station’s typical advertising rotation is a combination of bars, strip clubs, debt consolidation agencies, cash for gold and structured settlement companies. The normal advertising mix assumes a fairly young, male and broke listening audience. This is a prime demographic for the subsidized Exchanges.
On Good Morning America, I saw another Healthcare.gov ad, and three ads from two other insurance companies in the area. One was the same company on the radio, and the other was the fourth private plan advertising. The pitch for the last one was “You need to sign up by Dec. 23 for Jan.1 coverage and even if the government website is jacked up, we can help you at 1-800-555-5544″
[That] four insurance companies are putting their money behind the relaunch with the advertising campaign is a tell that entities with real money to lose if they guess wrong are guessing that things are working right.
But Obamacare will never work. It can’t work!
My friend Dan Conover made this 7-minute video some time back, but I only just found out about it. It’s genius.
BRUNCH OF THE LIVING DEAD from Dan Conover on Vimeo.