Pollution’s Annual Cost? $4.6 Trillion and 9 Million Dead

❝ And that was just in 2015, according to a new global report on the consequences of humanity’s actions.


DelhiUdit Kulshrestha/Bloomberg

❝ Pollution in all its forms killed 9 million people in 2015 and, by one measure, led to economic damage of $4.6 trillion, according to a new estimate by researchers who hope to put the health costs of toxic air, water and soil higher on the global agenda.

In less-developed nations, pollution-linked illness and death drag down productivity, reducing economic output by 1 percent to 2 percent annually, according to the tally by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, published Thursday by the U.K. medical journal. The report is intended to illuminate the hidden health and economic consequences of harmful substances introduced into the environment by human activity…

❝ The report represents an “extremely comprehensive and rigorous quantification” of pollution costs, said Francesca Dominici, a professor of biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“In the scientific community, I don’t think there is any disagreement about the cost-benefit analysis of controlling pollution,” Dominici said. Reducing air pollution from vehicles and power plants, for example, would simultaneously improve human health and reduce planet-warming carbon emissions, she said. “The major barrier has been political, but not scientific.”

❝ As large as that figure is, it may even underestimate the full cost of pollution. Because the amount is derived from death rates, it doesn’t include the price of medical expenditures or lost productivity from those sickened but not killed by pollution-related disease. And it doesn’t measure some forms of pollution that are likely to have health effects, such as soil tainted with heavy metals or industrial toxins, because data to calculate its influence on health are insufficient.

No surprise when Bloomberg offers articles like this one. Folks selling services to investors realize that folks in all walks of life can develop a conscience about principled profit-making versus scumbags who don’t care how their profits are acquired.

The drug industry’s triumph over the DEA – with the help of Congress

❝ In the midst of the worst drug epidemic in American history, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to keep addictive opioids off U.S. streets was derailed — that according to Joe Rannazzisi, one of the most important whistleblowers ever interviewed by 60 Minutes. Rannazzisi ran the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, the division that regulates and investigates the pharmaceutical industry. Now in a joint investigation by 60 Minutes and The Washington Post, Rannazzisi tells the inside story of how, he says, the opioid crisis was allowed to spread — aided by Congress, lobbyists, and a drug distribution industry that shipped, almost unchecked, hundreds of millions of pills to rogue pharmacies and pain clinics providing the rocket fuel for a crisis that, over the last two decades, has claimed 200,000 lives…

❝ JOE RANNAZZISI: This is an industry that allowed millions and millions of drugs to go into bad pharmacies and doctors’ offices, that distributed them out to people who had no legitimate need for those drugs.

BILL WHITAKER: Who are these distributors?

JOE RANNAZZISI: The three largest distributors are Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen. They control probably 85 or 90 percent of the drugs going downstream.

RTFA. All of it. If you’re cynical as I am about our Congress-critters and how most of them are bought-and-sold, none of this will be a surprise.

Still, read the article. You will be better equipped to lambaste your friendly neighborhood politicians about their incompetence in the face of this epidemic.

Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies

❝ Modern conservatives have been lying about taxes pretty much from the beginning of their movement. Made-up sob stories about family farms broken up to pay inheritance taxes, magical claims about self-financing tax cuts, and so on go all the way back to the 1970s. But the selling of tax cuts under Trump has taken things to a whole new level, both in terms of the brazenness of the lies and their sheer number. Both the depth and the breadth of the dishonesty make it hard even for those of us who do this for a living to keep track.

In fact, when I set out to make a list of the bigger lies, I thought there would be six or seven, and was surprised to come up with ten…

Lie #1: America is the most highly-taxed country in the world

This is a Trump special: he’s said it many, many times, most recently just this past week. Each time, fact-checkers have piled on to point out that it’s false. Here’s taxes as a percentage of GDP, from the OECD:

❝ The blue bar is the US; the red bar the average for advanced countries.

Why does Trump keep repeating what even he has to know by now is a flat lie? I suspect it’s a power thing: he enjoys showing that he can lie repeatedly through his teeth, be caught red-handed in his lie again and again, and his followers will still believe him rather than the “fake news” media.

Read ’em and weep, folks. Paul Krugman nails our fake president. The chumps who voted for the Trump simply do not care if he lies. They love his misogyny, racism, broadcast bigotry and unabashed ignorance. He doesn’t have to know more than they do. Little enough is good enough for hypocrites. And losers.

Fake President has nothing to do with the “Trump” Rally


Another Republican Golden Shower

❝ The other day, President Donald Trump shared a few thoughts about the stock market.

Like so many of the president’s statements, this one is objectively false. Our charge today is to set aside the political debate, and instead use his statement as an opportunity to explore ways to compare markets and rallies…

❝ No. 1. U.S. Presidential Rallies: As Bloomberg News reported the other day, “the ‘unprecedented’ stock market rally since his election right now isn’t big enough to crack the top five in presidential history.” As the accompanying chart shows, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has gained 19 percent since the 2016 election. That rates better than three other post-presidential elections: George W. Bush in 2004 (7 percent), Bill Clinton in 1992 (10 percent), and Barack Obama in 2012 (16 percent).

❝ …The Trump rally clocks in at No. 7. While that is pretty good — remember that markets fell after some presidents won election — it is hardly unprecedented.

Just as an aside — I am on record as reminding people that all presidents get too much credit when things go right and too much blame when they go wrong. Using market performance as a basis of presidential prestige or lack thereof is the refuge of partisan hacks and scoundrels.

❝ No. 2. Global Rallies: As we have discussed before, looking at a market rally in the U.S. while ignoring gains overseas is a foolish approach to performance analysis…

❝ The president seems to be naïvely making absolute performance claims while ignoring the data on relative performance. Imagine a mutual fund or hedge fund manager making similar claims. The disciplinary fines would be enormous.

Either way, the investing public deserves better.

RTFA for a bit more detail and illustration from Barry Ritholtz. No matter, market gains since Election Day simply have been nothing out of the ordinary.

Trump, as usual, lies like a rug. The fake news comes from a fake president.

Trump Wanted [almost] Tenfold Increase in Nuclear Arsenal

❝ President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest-ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room…

❝ Officials present said that Trump’s comments on a significantly increased arsenal came in response to a briefing slide that outlined America’s nuclear stockpile over the past 70 years. The president referenced the highest number on the chart — about 32,000 in the late 1960s — and told his team he wanted the U.S. to have that many now, officials said.

The U.S. currently has around 4,000 nuclear warheads in its military stockpile, according to the Federation of American Scientists…

❝ It’s unclear which portion of the Pentagon briefing prompted Tillerson to call the president a “moron” after the meeting broke up and some advisers were gathered around. Officials who attended the two-hour session said it included a number of tense exchanges.

The gathering included many of our highest-ranking national security leaders…and the account was confirmed by three officials who were in the room.

Mr. Robot returns

❝ “They’re having their way with us—they packaged our fight into product, turned our descent into intellectual property, televised a revolution with commercial breaks, refurbished the facts than upped the price, lobotomized us into their VR horror show,” Elliot opines in one of his signature monologue while images of Antifa and Nazis, climate change and Brexit montage-on by.

❝ What if instead of fighting back we cave, give away our privacy for security, exchange dignity for safety, trade in revolution for oppression? What if we choose weakness over strength?” he continues, his dialogue now spliced with audio of Donald Trump uttering “these are not the people that made our country great, these are people destroying our country” during some campaign event.

❝ This is what they wanted all along: for us to buy in on our worst selves, and I just made it easier for them. I didn’t start a revolution, I just made us docile enough for the slaughtering.”

Nice to have an old friend back. To share the darkness.

Most of the review is stable and printable and includes beaucoup spoilers if you waited like me for your streaming service to offer up the premiere On Demand. But, wander down to the end of the article for other interesting stuff.