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Considering sending spam? Read this first.

Yes, this is where we will wind up going to get away from the stupid...

 
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2019-05-26 10:30 by Karl Denninger
in States , 525 references
[Comments enabled]  

When in the course of human events.....

There are only a few ways to lawfully amend the Constitution -- they're enumerated in the process that it provides within its boundaries for doing so.

There are myriad ways to break the contract the Constitution provides.  Once broken no other party allegedly bound by the terms of a deal have any obligation -- not ethically, morally or legally -- to uphold the bargain themselves.

The State "popular vote compact" is one such attempt.

There are many who claim that those who disagree with the concept should be afraid of further states signing on.

I'm not afraid at all.

The Electoral College was constructed by the Founders to guarantee that less-populous states and regions had a reasonable voice in the selection of the President and Vice-President.  The reason for it is identical to the purpose of The Senate; to prevent tyranny of the majority, especially a concentrated majority in major population centers..

Those protections are an inherent and inviolate component of the Constitution.

Proponents argue that the Constitution directly stipulates that the legislature of a given state may select how electors are chosen.  This is true, however there is a problem: Congress must consent to any Interstate Compact, which makes any such agreement without an explicit enabling federal law void.

So says Article 1 Section 10, prohibited powers:

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

So while the state legislatures may set forth the elector process they may not collude with other States without the explicit consent of Congress.  There is some case law on this at the USSC, and the boundary is clearly set there -- state compacts that impact, lessen or abrogate federal power always require Congressional approval.  This compact would effectively remove the US House of Representative's ability to break ties because there would never be a tie; it therefore has the effect of writing out an entire section of the Constitution and thus diminishes federal power.

It's facially unconstitutional for this reason and the legislatures know it.

Never mind that I can find another means by which it's unconstitutional -- specifically, it is effectively "selling" the electors of a state to voters who are not residents of said state.  That the "price" is votes instead of dollars is not material; something of value (a popular vote) is exchanged for something of value (an electoral vote.)  The state legislature is not empowered to effectively sell its electoral process, especially to persons outside of the state in question, and yet that is exactly what the compact envisions.

Now perhaps that's a bit of interpretation and who knows how the Supremes would rule on it.

But the compact issue isn't a matter of interpretation; that's a black letter prohibition on state governments in Article 1 Section 10.

A State that declares and acts in furtherance of putting up the middle finger by engaging in an explicit prohibited act in the Constitution has declared said Constitution including its benefits to said state and the residents thereof VOID.

Wanna go there?  Go right ahead.  By declaring the benefits and protections of the Constitution VOID said state has made itself ineligible to submit electors at all.  It is no longer within the State's right demand any of the benefits and privileges of Statehood nor any of the protections of the Constitution.

Should it thereafter attempt to demand same every other state and citizen of any other said state can quite-legitimately tell said government agents (including law enforcement, tax collectors and similar) to pound sand as they are no longer entitled to the full faith and credit of their laws beyond their state boundaries (one of the privileges and benefits of being a State) and should they try to enforce same the people have every right to declare such an act of civil war against them and respond accordingly.

This does not just apply to government agencies either.  Want gas through that pipe or electrical power through that overhead line as it crosses a state boundary?  Tough crap.  Try to force it to happen?  How?  You've declared you're not part of the Constitution any more; therefore you're not entitled to the protections that lie in the Interstate Commerce Clause.  Try to enforce that and again the other states have the right to treat that as an act of civil war.

Still wanna go there folks?

Down this road lies madness -- a literal shooting war between state agencies (e.g. state cops, etc) and the citizens of all the other states they try to demand respect from.  This is not only a numerical loser it's a strategic loser on an instant basis; California, for example, would be rendered unable to provide power to homes and businesses as fully one third of their electrical power comes from outside the state and they are thus utterly dependent on that outside supply.  Never mind the water issue; Southern California is utterly dependent on neighboring states for its fresh water supply as well and on the very day this goes into effect none of those states have any obligation to allow one drop of said water to flow.

Go ahead and do it; there are hills worth dying on and this is one of them.

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2019-05-26 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Personal Health , 166 references
[Comments enabled]  

Look at what we have here...

CrossFit is a contrarian physiological and nutrition prescription for improving fitness and health. It is contrarian because prevailing views of fitness, health, and nutrition are wrong and have unleashed a tsunami of chronic disease upon our friends, family, and communities. The voluntary CrossFit community of 15,000 affiliates and millions of individual adherents stands steadfastly and often alone against an unholy alliance of academia, government, and multinational food, beverage, and pharmaceutical companies.

....

Recently, Facebook deleted without warning or explanation the Banting7DayMealPlan user group. The group has 1.65 million users who post testimonials and other information regarding the efficacy of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. 

Facesucker makes a very material percentage of their money selling ad space to high-carb garbage companies that ought to be put out of business by the FDA for selling slow poisons.  Of course they won't be, and the government not only doesn't care it loves these firms making you sick and nearly dead as that feeds the medical monster as well.

Never mind debilitating you to the point that you can't manage to get off the ****ing couch any more -- which means you won't shoot them because you can't no matter how much tyranny and abuse they heap on you.

As I wrote several years ago in the article Demolishing Lies on Low Carb Eating the facts are clear.

But don't just take my word for it -- take Sherri Shepherds'.  As I pointed out in The Low-Hanging Fruit if you cut this crap out and are Type II diabetic your diabetes will disappear.  Not "experience better control", not "be helped", disappear as in no longer diabetic at all.  Her A1c went from 6.6 (diabetic) to 5.4 (Normal).  In less than one year at age 52 she went from Type II diabetic to not-diabetic.  She had previously had three separate annual checks in which her A1c was 6.6 despite taking Metformin, the front-line Type II diabetes drug.

All she did was remove sugars from her diet.

I'll bet $50 her pants fell off too.

Carbohydrates cause strokes, diabetes and heart disease.  They're more deadly than smoking tobacco, on balance, in terms of the number of people debilitated and killed every year.  Yet tobacco is regulated and cannot be sold to people who are under age while sugary drinks, fast food and fast carbs of all sort are advertised, marketed and sold to children as young as toddlers every single ****ing hour of every day.

63% of teenage girls are overweight by the time they're 11.  Two thirds of American adults are overweight. 40% of American adults are obese totaling nearly 100 million people.  Being black genetically disposes you to obesity and Type II diabetes, likely due to the lack of seasonal variation (read: near-starvation) for a good part of the year on a historical basis (e.g. in Africa.)  It takes tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or more years for adaptation to take place and in the modern world it probably never will occur among humans because we have turned what used to be lethal genetic disadvantages (thus your odds of reproduction were lower) into survivable, life-time chronic conditions (which don't stop you from screwing and making babies but do bankrupt you.) 

We spend hundreds of billions every year on Type II diabetes drugs and other treatment and the progression of this disease leads to blindness, amputations, kidney dialysis and a nasty, slow, painful death.  It also radically raises the risk of both heart attacks and strokes, both of which kill outright a good part of the time and when they don't they result in serious disability and a huge amount of monetary expense.  The food, medical and pharmaceutical industries collectively and intentionally lie and our governments refuse to clamp down on these liars, frauds and sellers of poison, including selling same to children in vending machines and stores all over the world.  We banned cigarette vending machines that used to be in every bar and store across the nation; I haven't seen one in decades, yet on every ****ing street corner, in the vestibule of every WalMart, in every hotel corridor across the country and in every single convenience store and gas station there are entire rows, racks and fountains selling liquid and solid slow poisons on an unrestricted basis to anyone and everyone who has money.

Even worse you can use a government EBT card -- that is, welfare money, to buy this crap which will trash your health and force you to then go to the doctor on Medicare or Medicaid!  To top it off the government mandates that after poisoning you stores must then put in ramps and many even provide battery-powered "scooters" so once you're debilitated to the point of near-death and weigh 400+ lbs you can buy even more of that **** and further hasten your own demise, all on government mandate.

We could take FOUR HUNDRED BILLION off federal spending every single year between Medicare and Medicaid by simply refusing to pay for any medical treatment for any Type II diabetic who refuses to get the ******ned carbs out of their diet.  We would not only stop spending the money the people who were effectively forced to stop killing themselves would lose the weight and their blood sugar levels would normalize without taking a single drug.  In short they would not die from said condition and their debilitation, if already present, would greatly decrease and in many cases disappear entirely.

**** these people in the government, the "food" industry and the medical and pharmaceutical businesses.  All of them.  They should all be in prison, or give 'em a trial and then hang them, allowing the buzzards to recycle their corrupt, putrid carcasses.  That is what they all deserve.

But no!  Instead we not only allow firms that promote and wreak this havoc upon the land to exist we laud them as "social" and "good", as if somehow advocating and promoting slow poisons and death through deceit and outright scam (e.g. the "food pyramid") is a public good.

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2019-05-25 11:25 by Karl Denninger
in Corruption , 189 references
[Comments enabled]  

We're there folks.

U.S. regulators have approved the most expensive medicine ever, for a rare disorder that destroys a baby’s muscle control and kills nearly all of those with the most common type of the disease within a couple of years.

The treatment is priced at $2.125 million. Out-of-pocket costs for patients will vary based on insurance coverage.

The medicine, sold by the Swiss drugmaker Novartis, is a gene therapy that treats an inherited condition called spinal muscular atrophy. The treatment targets a defective gene that weakens a child’s muscles so dramatically that they become unable to move, and eventually unable to swallow or breathe. It strikes about 400 babies born in the U.S. each year.

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the treatment, called Zolgensma, for all children under age 2 who are confirmed by a genetic test to have any of the three types of the disease. The therapy is a one-time infusion that takes about an hour.

There is exactly no possibility that this drug could exist at that price in any sort of market economy.  In fact without felony level abuses of the law it's flatly impossible for such a price to be charged for this -- or any other -- treatment.

It does not matter if this treatment works or not.  It does not matter if it is an actual cure for a disease.

None of that matters because the laws of economics prohibit this sort of price schedule without multiple felonies, specifically theft at gunpoint via law, being shoved down everyone's throat.

It simply can't happen, and it shouldn't take more than seconds for you to figure it out -- if you haven't been dumbed down to the point of flat-out idiocy.

Simply put unless you can force someone other than the patient and their family to pay for this treatment there are an insufficient number of people who have or can finance a $2.125 million treatment for there to be any market for it.  The odds of you both having a child afflicted with this condition and having $2.125 million you can either pay or finance is statistically indistinguishable from zero.  With a statistically-zero base of potential customers such a price cannot exist since you would sell zero vials of said medication.

The only way such a price can be presented is if a person who suffers from such an affliction can force other people to pay for it.  Since nobody will willingly fork up $2.125 million for someone else's kid if "politely asked" it therefore follows that the only way that sort of price can exist is for the extraction of that money from others to be enforced by law at gunpoint.

The mere presentation of this sort of price schedule is proof of felony violation of the law in the form of grand theft against millions of Americans, a criminal offense sufficient to charge and imprison -- or hang, if you prefer, and I really don't give a damn which any more when it comes to punishment -- every single person involved in designing and enforcing said criminal system.

Period.

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2019-05-25 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 127 references
[Comments enabled]  

Want a short-to-zero?  Zillow.

Want the next one in the same space?  Sorry, it's not publicly-traded -- but would be Realtor.Com were it to be.

It utterly astounds when long-established areas of business have to turn to shady crap on the Internet -- but both of these sites do.

I'll start with Zillow.

First, be very careful with believing the tax history on that site.  I know for a fact that my mother's home has two semi-annual property tax payments due but Zillow only shows one of them.  This means you could be led to believe -- quite easily -- that the tax costs are half what they really are.  This isn't limited to one house; it's true for every house they show in that area and worse, it's not just "halves" either; the two payments are not equal in size and the one they show appears to be the smaller one.  SURPRISE!

Second, Zillow has been long-known to sell the space next to listings as "Premier Agents."  In other words, someone, or multiple someones, bought the space.  But there is only one listing agent.  Now they do, at least now, show the listing agent.  But the "premier agent" thing is dirty, and here's why: If you want to look at a specific property you can potentially negotiate commission on an indirect (e.g. price) basis since only half of it is payable .vs. all of it if you have a buyer's agent.

This is basic business logic and applies to all transactions: The more hands in the pie the more money it costs.

As a buyer you do not know what the listing contract says as it's between the seller and their listing brokerage and thus as a buyer you cannot negotiate the commission rate directly.  But many such agreements permit a "transaction broker" discount in that if there is no second brokerage involved there's less money taken out and that, of course, impacts the offer the seller will accept since all the seller cares about is how much they have left at the end of the deal.

Now if you're shopping generally in a given area then it's a different story, as a buyer's agent can provide you a fair bit of information and might be worth the (usually quite substantial) cost.  Further, some sellers don't have transaction-broker clauses in their agreements.  (IMHO as a seller you're nuts not to insist on and negotiate it -- I always have -- but that's me.)

In the case of a specific property you're interested in as a buyer as opposed to an area-wide search there is little or no benefit to you as a buyer to have the second agent involved and if there is a transaction brokerage clause in the listing agreement using a buyer's agent is likely to cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

What's even worse is that all sales are recorded with the county at the "sale price" before commissions and deducted costs (not at the "net" to the seller) and as a result any and all commissions paid always goes into the property tax appraisal process and you pay taxes on that forever on a forward basis.  In other words as a buyer not only can this mistake cost you tens of thousands up front it can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars on a forward basis for as long as you own the property each and every year thereafter.

Back in the winter months I was selling my late mother's home.  We had a deal that blew up; it was a complex one but a good deal for everyone involved had it closed; I had thrown shade on what I considered to be game-playing by the other side a few times and it finally detonated.  The next morning while I'm making coffee in the house a pickup pulls into the driveway and out spills a family who proceed to start walking around the property on the outside.  The house was back on the market, of course, but I had no notice of a desire to see it for a showing and I'm in my ****ing underwear making coffee.

Hmmmm... what is this sorcery?

Donning a pair of jeans and my jacket I walked outside, introduced myself and was told who had referred the family to the property and that she had told them the property was vacant and they should feel free to take a look around the outside of the house as nobody was there.

Uh, bull****!

First, that's trespassing and second that agent knew damn well who the listing agent was, that I was there as she'd seen me personally at the property a day earlier and it was a trivial matter to notify the listing agent (who would contact me) that someone wanted to see it.  The family was astonished when I explained all of this to them.  Good thing this wasn't out in the country somewhere (and they had kids with them) as a couple of adults snooping around on someone's land unannounced is a damn good way to get shot.

This sort of crap all costs you money.

But it gets worse, at least when discussing Zillow.

Recently I stuck a "Make Me Move" number on my house on Zillow.  The wording of that is pretty transparent; it takes this much, in cash, to bribe me to get the hell out of my house now.  Such a number isn't a listing of any sort; it comes with both costs and benefits on all sides.  Specifically:

  • It's an all-cash, no-conditions (other than perhaps inspections to mitigate the risk of unknown, not-visible problems, which would be expected) price.

  • It carries zero commission to anyone (which, by the way, the buyer always pays in the form of a higher price.)  This is of huge advantage to the buyer because they do not get hammered paying property taxes on a commission forever into the future.  If you intend to own the place for only a few years this doesn't matter much; if you intend to own for a decade or more the difference is likely to be in the thousands -- if not tens of thousands -- of dollars.

  • Other than title work time it is also immediate; generally-speaking you ought to be prepared to show up at a title company office, wire funds and take possession in two to three weeks, which is the typical lead time for a title company to be able to deliver a marketable title policy.

  • As a seller my only obligation and cost would be to provide evidence of marketable title (you can't sell what you don't legally own, so that's not only reasonable it's expected.)

  • It envisions that I will incur costs getting out "right now" that I would otherwise not; specifically, somewhere to live "right now" and probably a storage unit for my "stuff" until I find a new place -- and the buyer is willing to fork them up in a liquidated (in other words, a "guess" on the seller's part) amount.

There is thus both a premium on the price (for my "move right now" expenses) and a discount in that I incur interim housing costs I otherwise would not but I do not incur a commission deduction or other costs of the transaction off the settlement, other than that paid to the title company to warrant that I can actually convey the deed.

quickly discovered that Zillow considers a Make Me Move an actual "FSBO" listing and sold my contact information to Realtors, who immediately started spamming me.  For a listing, of course.  Which comes with all of the usual conditions and costs.  They all got an earful and those who were less than honest about why they called me and what was going on (which numbered a few) got the rusty chainsaw variety instead of a polite earful and went on my permanent "add 5% to all offers you present or **** off" list when I do sell the house.  I quickly took the "Make Me Move" down; screw that nonsense.  Note that Zillow also has a "FSBO" listing option for owners so they can't claim "honest mistake"; they are knowingly selling contact information to Realtors claiming the people have "for sale by owner" listings who clearly do not, and any Realtor with more than 2 nickels to rub together for intelligence can trivially look and see what's there on the site before they call or email too.

So that makes two strikes for Zillow, never mind the Realtors who tried to run a line of crap on me.  I'm not stupid folks and when it comes to Real Estate this isn't my first rodeo either.

The nasty, however, is that while Realtor.Com doesn't pull that crap what they do is materially more-sneaky yet only marginally less expensive for you as a buyer.  For starters you'd think the National Association of Realtors would be proud of who owns the site.  You'd be wrong.  The site's domain contact information in "whois" is privacy-protected via "domainsdiscreet.com."  Why the hell would a national association, which is what's claimed here given that the registered trademark of Realtors is prominent all over the page including attribution at the bottom of the "about" page, be interested in protecting who owns the domain?

This led me to ask what sort of hinky licensing deal did the National Association of Realtors get into here -- and at the bottom of the page, if you go all the way down and look, in nice small print it says it is operated by News Corp!

Yes, that News Corp which among other things owns the Wall Street Journal.

Now normally I wouldn't have dug into this at all except for what happened when I used their "contact" box while sitting in a hotel one recent evening. The site does have a disclaimer that I may be contacted by voice or text at the number I provide.  Duh; I want information on a property -- that someone will call me is not only expected it's the entire point of filling out the form.

However, what happened was something entirely different than what I expected.  Within literal seconds of clicking the "send" button a boiler-room operator called me from Realtor.Com.  Not the listing agent or the brokerage -- boiler room (I could clearly hear other people on other lines in the background) and they proceeded to walk through a script grilling me on financing requirements that I might have, whether I was prepared to buy RIGHT NOW, whether I needed to sell my existing home first or in concert with this acquisition, and made clear that they intended (if they considered me "qualified") to send me over to a buyer's agent which would instantly guarantee that now there are two agents involved in the transaction instead of one!  From the aggressive nature of their questions it's fair to assume they also had every intention of selling my contact information to possible sources of financing (e.g. banks) and that I should expect to be spam-called by them next.

After ascertaining that they were not intending to send my referral to the listing agency, which would be the appropriate thing for them to do given that I was looking for information on a specific property I proceeded to rip them a new ******* about 3' wide, adding fresh red bar lube to my old rusty chainsaw.  They hung up.

I will give them credit in that the actual contact information for the listing brokerage is available on the site.  I managed to reach out to that person and within a bit got a call back, and the information I wanted.

The specific property in question that I was looking for information on, incidentally, was showing "contingent"; my question was specific to the listing agent and/or broker -- that is, was the deal contingent on the usual conditions like appraisal, inspections and mortgage approval or was there a contingency on sale of the buyer's existing residence.  In the latter case, which is quite common, there is usually a 24 or 48-hour "kick out" clause in the purchase agreement; if someone else comes along and wants to buy the property, presenting an acceptable offer, you either drop the contingency in the given time or the offer is extinguished and the other person replaces your contract with theirs.  The listing agent knows which is the case and can answer the question in 15 seconds flat; you either have a reason to want more information or not at that point, never mind the fact that you can tell the listing agent that if anything goes wrong with the deal you'd like to hear from them.

Incidentally there's a difference between contingent and pending too, but it is often abused in the listing systems.  The ugly is that from a buyer's point of view if you're working with a buyer's agent they usually will not include either status in their searches unless you ask.  This is a serious mistake from the buyer's point of view since mis-classification of a property that is actually contingent on the sale of the other buyer's house as "pending" means you have a property you could go see, might like and be willing to buy and your offer might be equal or higher than the other one yet you'll never see that it's on the market unless you specifically include those in your search.  Usually if there's a contingency on sale of the buyer's property it'll have a note in the agent comment area (not visible publicly, but it is visible to other agents) saying "Continue to show" -- but not always.  The only way to know in such a situation is to call the listing agent.

Marketing something is perfectly fine and we all expect it.  Sales and Marketing are inherently a part of any sort of transaction, and I've no quarrel with any honest marketing effort.  But what these sites are doing IMHO crosses a line; if I want "buyers representation" then I can request it (and extolling the "virtues", provided you're honest about benefits and costs is perfectly ok) but if I want information on a specific property then the person with the most-accurate information is the listing agent and to direct me to anyone else is highly likely to contaminate the sale process and by doing so may directly cost me thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.

IMHO while that sort of thing doesn't cross a legal line it is dirty pool and wrong.

News Corp deserves an asteroid strike and so does the National Association of Realtors for negotiating and executing an agreement to operate a site bearing their trademarks and information that engages in this garbage.  As for Zillow, well, since they're not actual Realtors and appear to be relying on "referral" games to earn money instead of actually brokering transactions they'll get theirs in the stock market soon enough.

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