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Links and Notes for October 8th, 2021

Published by marco on

Below are links to articles, highlighted passages[1], and occasional annotations[2] for the week ending on the date in the title, enriching the raw data from Instapaper Likes and Twitter. They are intentionally succinct, else they’d be articles and probably end up in the gigantic backlog of unpublished drafts. YMMV.

[1] Emphases are added, unless otherwise noted.
[2] Annotations are only lightly edited.

Table of Contents

Economy & Finance

The Board Can’t Fire You If It Quits by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

“Here’s the pitch: Investors can buy bitcoin, ether and other cryptocurrencies through their broker. If cryptocurrencies fall by a certain amount, the accounts are set to automatically sell the digital coins, generating a taxable loss that can be used to offset other investment gains. The accounts then buy the coins back in a short time for around the same price or even less.

Doing this is a no-no with stocks, bonds, options and many other securities, thanks to the “wash sale” rules that restrict capital-loss deductions when investors purchase an asset within 30 days of selling it for a loss. Cryptocurrencies evade the rules because they are considered property by the Internal Revenue Service. But that is likely to change soon.”

“If your concerns with payment for order flow are about conflicts of interest (retail brokers route orders to market makers who pay), or about gamification (payment for order flow enables free trading and probably too much of it, and higher payment for options orders gives brokers incentives to push options on customers), or about execution quality (higher payment for order flow means less price improvement), then I suppose banning payment for order flow would make sense. If your concerns are about opacity (so you want all orders to go to lit exchanges), or the market dominance of a handful of market makers (so you don’t want them to get all the retail orders), or about spreads on lit markets (so you don’t want retail orders to all be siphoned off to retail market makers, leaving only toxic orders on the lit exchanges), then I suppose you would need to ban internalization more broadly. Just banning payment for order flow would leave everything as it is right now except that, instead of paying Robinhood Markets Inc. for retail orders, the market makers would get them for free.
“I think the way to read that is “banning payment for order flow is good for Citadel Securities, but please don’t ban internalization.” If the rule is that brokers have to send retail orders to the market maker who offers the most price improvement, then Citadel Securities is in the same place it is now: It just has to shift the money that it pays for order flow into price improvement. If the rule is that brokers have to send orders to exchanges and aren’t allowed to seek price improvement from market makers, then that will be a big shift in the market makers’ business. But that seems less likely.


Looking for Tether’s Money by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

“Much of what happens in finance is some form of this move. And the reason for that is basically that some people want to own safe things, because they have money that they don’t want to lose, and other people want to own risky things, because they have money that they want to turn into more money. If you have something that is moderately risky, someone will buy it, but if you slice it into things that are super-safe and things that are super-risky, more people might buy them. Financial theory suggests that this is impossible but virtually all of financial practice disagrees.”
“Other people, though, just want to keep their money somewhere safe; they put their deposits in the First Bank of X because they are confident that a dollar deposited in an account there will always be worth a dollar. The fundamental reason for this confidence is that bank deposits are senior claims (deposits) on a pool of senior claims (loans) on a diversified set of good assets (businesses, houses). (In modern banking there are other reasons — deposit insurance, etc. — but this is the fundamental reason.) But notice that this is magic: At one end of the process you have risky businesses, at the other end of the process you have perfectly safe dollars. Again, this is due in part to deposit insurance and regulation and lenders of last resort, but it is due mainly to the magic of composing senior claims on senior claims. You use seniority to turn risky things into safe things.
“There is no nexus between this stablecoin and the traditional financial system; regulators can’t shut down its access to banks because it doesn’t rely on banks. It just takes volatile Bitcoins, does some magic to them, and spits out stablecoins worth a dollar. It also has a huge disadvantage over the traditional approach, which is that Bitcoin is quite young and very volatile.”

Also, this sounds very much like the no-fail scams of the mid-2000s.

“I think if you told that story five years ago people would think you were nuts. “No no no,” they would say, “you can’t manufacture safe dollar assets out of Bitcoin, Bitcoin is too volatile, there is no floor, it could go to zero, this is nonsense.” I think there is a good chance that if you tell that story five years from now it will be unremarkable. “Yes right of course the Bank of Tether issues deposits worth one Tether and uses those deposits to fund margin loans to levered Bitcoin investors, that’s just how banking works,” people will say. It is just a function of how confident people are in Bitcoin’s permanence and its function as a store of value. Right now we are in between; the story is plausible but still weird. It’s not the story that Tether wants to tell, and it’s not the main story of Tether. But it’s the interesting part.”
“Traditional financial regulators seem very worried about the implications of stablecoins for financial stability. (Faux: “If enough traders asked for their dollars back at once, the company could have to liquidate its assets at a loss, setting off a run on the not-bank. The losses could cascade into the regulated financial system by crashing credit markets.”) If you found out that, instead of being backed by U.S. Treasury bills and highly-rated commercial paper of large multinational companies, Tether is mostly backed by loans collateralized by Bitcoins, how would that make you feel about the threat that Tether does or does not pose to the traditional financial system?
“You can’t buy the stock in part because generally only “accredited investors” (roughly, rich people and institutions) have access to private-company stock, but much more important because there is just not much stock for sale; the company occasionally sells slugs of stock to institutions in primary sales, and it gives stock to employees as compensation, but all that stock gets locked up by transfer restrictions and isn’t available for anyone, accredited or not, to buy in the stock market.
“Another approach is “what if we sold you a derivative on the stock, but on the blockchain.” This has the advantage of, like, you can pretend that it’s less illegal than it is, because people sometimes think that securities laws don’t apply on the blockchain. People don’t believe this as much as they used to, but a few years ago “derivatives on private company stock but on the blockchain” was briefly sort of a thing.”
“The meme-ification of ownership and the wild acceleration of private startup valuations have led us to this moment where a former VC firm associate has built a crypto marketplace designed for “fantasy startup investing,” where users spend real money buying fake shares — in NFT form, of course — of real startups.
The credit spread might not be entirely fixed: The loan contract might say that your rate goes up if you are downgraded by credit rating agencies, for instance. Or it might say that the rate goes down by a tiny bit if you meet certain environmental goals. But let’s say it’s fixed.”


Why Not Trade All Night? by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

“But if you are a hobbyist day trader, 4 p.m. is not a particularly convenient time to trade stocks, so you want to be able to trade all night. And you probably do not need to have a giant index fund on the other side of your trades because (1) you aren’t trading in huge size and (2) you kind of want the market to be volatile? Like, you are trading for fun. If the stock goes up 10% every time someone buys 100 shares, and then down 10% every time someone sells, that is more fun than if it just sits there.
“Also if you are a company looking to announce a merger or earnings or other big news, it is convenient to be able to do it outside of trading hours; if all hours are trading hours then everything gets a bit more difficult.
“Cryptocurrencies are transferable in tiny fractions and so people expect to be able to do the same with stocks; right now brokerages let them do that in some approximate way, but it makes sense that it would become more standard until eventually it is seamless and companies think nothing of paying someone a bonus of 102.739 shares of stock.
“Big financial institutions get in trouble all the time for scandals of the form “we saw a chance to make money at the expense of our customers, and we took it,” but each of Robinhood’s scandals feels like they are just confused about what they’re doing.
“If Gensler is going to ban confetti and gamification and payment for order flow and make new rules about climate disclosure and limit private-equity conflicts of interest and crack down on crypto exchanges and do 9,000 other things to reshape the financial landscape, he’s going to be busy. His SEC will need to move faster than the SEC usually does; the changes will be both more drastic and faster than the typical new SEC rules. There is I think some nervous expectation that it will be a “move fast and break things” sort of SEC. Part of the reason the SEC usually moves slowly and deliberately is because of all those APA procedures; if it wants to make radical changes quickly then it might cut corners on those procedures.”
“The fusion of stock trading with game-like features has gained attention as a new generation of investors flocked to the market during the pandemic. While gambling carries a cultural stigma, new investors on brokerage apps are vulnerable because they “don’t see themselves as gambling”, Whyte said.”
“Basically everyone knows that if you work at a financial institution, and your employer gets sued or investigated by authorities for something you did, your emails and electronic chats will be turned over in the course of litigation, and the person suing you will get all the records of you saying “hahaha lets rip these muppets’s faces off” or whatever, and that will be read back to you in court and you’ll be like “it was a joke?” and the jury will all glare at you.”
“Man. Five years ago if you had asked me “is there any investable financial instrument that serves as a proxy for the online popularity of Shiba Inus” I would have said “what? What? What?” But now, yes, it has a market capitalization of $10 billion, okay.”
“One SEC commissioner complained that “nobody seems to have contemplated that this rule would affect the fixed-income markets in a way different from the pre-amendment version of the rule, much less that its requirements potentially would render unviable certain recent technological innovations in trading,” and that “the failure of the Commission to highlight this issue for active consideration by the public, and the failure of the relevant market participants to identify the issue during the rulemaking process, is not a reason for us now to move forward robotically and apply the rule to fixed income markets without proper deliberation.” But that’s what’s happening!”

Or maybe they don’t like that technological innovation…

Public Policy & Politics

Roaming Charges: When the Inevitable Becomes the Criminal by Jeffrey St. Clair (CounterPunch)

“Only the Democrats could control the Congress and the Executive branch and have everything they pretend to believe in held hostage by two members of their own party.”


Andrew Yang’s New Political Party Exposes the Farce of Radical Centrism by Luke Savage (Jacobin)

“Insofar as it does convey anything, “going forward” is a kind of lazy appeal to an unspecified but vaguely positive direction of travel, an empty signifier for broadly good intentions that generally illuminates very little. An arrow, by definition, is supposed to point somewhere, and it inevitably falls on us to ask what it is, exactly, we’re all moving toward. In the mid-twentieth century, when mainstream culture and politics maintained at least some capacity for accommodating competing narratives of progress, the rhetoric of “forwardness” might have occasionally meant something. In an era where most everything, including and especially politics, has been colonized by markets and brands, it’s now basically on par with slogans like “The Choice of a New Generation” and “Think Outside the Bun”: an ersatz appeal to the transgressive and avant-garde that’s more about packaging than use value and entirely concerned with present appearances rather than future destinations.


With Ports Clogged, Some Retailers Are Looking for Alternative Supply Chains by Eric Boehm (Reason)

“Worker shortages and COVID-19 protocols have slowed trans-Pacific shipping considerably—it now takes about 80 days to transport items from Asia to the U.S., about twice as long as it did before the pandemic, the Journal reports.”


The Anonymous Executioners of the Corporate State by Chris Hedges (Mint Press News)

“In addition, and this is little known, Judge [Lewis A.] Kaplan has imposed millions and millions of dollars of fines and courts costs on me. [Kaplan is the judge for Chevron’s lawsuit against Donziger; Preska is his handpicked judge for the contempt charges.] He has ordered me to pay millions to Chevron to cover their legal fees in attacking me, and then he let Chevron go into my bank accounts and take all my life’s savings because I did not have the funds to cover these costs. Chevron still has a pending motion to order me to pay them an additional $32 [million] in legal fees. That’s where things stand today. I ask you humbly: might that be enough punishment already for a Class B misdemeanor?””
“The six-month sentence was the maximum the judge was allowed to impose; she ruled that his house arrest cannot be counted as part of his detention. From start to finish, this has been a burlesque. It is emblematic of a court system that has been turned over to lackies of corporate power, who use the veneer of jurisprudence, decorum, and civility to make a mockery of the rule of law.
“Chevron promptly sold its assets and left Ecuador. It refused to pay the fees to clean up its environmental damage. It invested an estimated $2 million to destroy Danziger. Chevron sued him, using a civil courts portion of the federal law famous for breaking the New York Mafia in the 1970s, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO Act. Chevron, which has more than $260 billion in assets, hired an estimated 2,000 lawyers from 60 law firms to carry out its campaign, according to court documents.
“None of this would surprise those targeted by the tyrannies of the past. What would be surprising, perhaps, to many Americans is how advanced our own corporate tyranny has become. Donziger never stood a chance. Neither does Julian Assange. These judges are not, in the end, focused on Donziger or Assange, but on us. The show trials they preside over are meant to be transparently biased. They are designed to send a message. All who defy corporate power and the national security state will be lynched. There will be no reprieve because there is no justice.”


Beware of Any War On Terror Fought by a Terrorist Nation by Nicky Reid (CounterPunch)

“From where I was sitting, the whole shit-show looked more like a glorified soccer riot for pissed-off diabetic boomers than any kind of coordinated assault on what passes for democracy in this shithole country. A weird grab bag of QAnon imbeciles, Proud Boy informants, and Archie Bunker armchair racists got all hopped up on the insane rhetoric of their one-term demagogue and stormed the Capitol without a game plan that amounted to much more than fuck-stuff-up-for-Donald!”
“America’s already bloated police state, and judging by this white supremacist institution’s track record, the real targets will never be the Blue Lives Matter Mafia that made up the mob on January 6. Like always, the true targets of government domestic warfare will be the groups that pose the greatest threat to its malignant power; pissed off people of color and their radical white allies. I know this because I’ve heard this story a few times before and it always has the same ending.”
“Cointelpro was the original war on terror, and it rapidly devolved into a bloodthirsty jihad against any American who dared to challenge the status quo in a country at war with the third world.”
“Of course all of these regimes just happened to be lead [sic] by charismatic if less than heroic men of color like Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad who attempted to offer their region alternatives to western dependence. In the most sickening of ironies, the US chose to destabilize these secular strongmen with the very jihadists we were supposed to be over there fighting. Our new scapegoat, radical Islam, ended up more powerful than it ever was before, giving us a perpetual excuse to fight these wars forever. J. Edgar would’ve been proud if he weren’t already burning in hell.”
“Don’t believe the hype, dearest motherfuckers. The new war on domestic terrorism has nothing to do with combatting white supremacy. If it did, it wouldn’t be fought by the American government, the greatest source of white supremacy the world has ever known.”


End the 1917 Espionage Act by John Kendall Hawkins (CounterPunch)

“It’s time we once again realize that the Bill of Rights, upon which so much of our rightful sense of exception rests, was an afterthought to the property-owning ofter-slaver White founders. The Constitution without the Amendments is a protection statement for the 1%.”


The Pandora Papers Have Exposed the Corrupt System that Lets the Rich Worldwide Avoid Paying Taxes by Chuck Collins (Jacobin)

“It is true that the Pandora leak does not include many of the US superrich. That’s because this trove of leaks originated from offshore wealth advisory firms in twelve countries including Samoa, Cyprus, Belize, and Singapore — not places where super-wealthy US citizens go for their “wealth defense” financial services. Unfortunately, no US wealth-advisory firms were part of the leaks.

What a surprise, considering the Washington Post’s involvement.

“And that’s big news for the rest of the world — that the United States has become a major tax haven and global destination for illicit wealth.

That is not news.


Russia Has a New Socialist Movement by Mikhail Lobanov (Jacobin)

“It was announced that United Russia was going to field Russian television talk show host Yevgeny Popov. He is a TV propagandist who broadcasts Kremlin stances about hostile Western countries and the terrible Ukraine, trying to shift people’s attention from internal problems to external confrontation and stirring up hatred between nations. His manner is arrogant, but a lot of people really like it […]”
“Navalny and I have big ideological differences, of course, as I stand on the radical left. Navalny used to stand on the Right, but in recent years he has shifted, which is to be welcomed, as he has a great media influence.
“But the important thing is that he’s been imprisoned for his political activities. I oppose this and believe that he should be released. I believe that an honest discussion with him and a clash of ideological positions is necessary.”
“There are guys on the team who would like to try themselves out in local elections. I am more cautious about it because it could be a dissipation of energy. We need to think, if we win the municipal elections in several districts, how we can consolidate ourselves. I am more interested in how we can channel our energy into developing the trade union movement and self-organization in universities.

Journalism & Media

The Cult of the Vaccine by Matt Taibbi (TK News)

“Since the start of the Trump years, we’ve been introduced to a new kind of news story, which assumes adults can’t handle multiple ideas at once, and has reporters frantically wrapping facts deemed dangerous, unorthodox, or even just insufficiently obvious in layers of disclaimers.
“Put another way, the Times didn’t want people reading about something Donald Trump said, grasping that it was a lie, and, say, chuckling about how ridiculous it was. If the New York Times sent the word “lie” up the flagpole, they now expected an appropriately solemn salute.
“As a student in the Soviet Union I noticed subscribers to what Russians called the sovok mindset talked in interminable strings of pogovorki, i.e goofball proverbs or aphorisms you’d heard a million times before (“He who takes no risk, drinks no champagne,” or “Work isn’t a wolf, it won’t run off into the woods,” etc). This was a learned defense mechanism, adopted by a people who’d found out the hard way that anyone caught not speaking nonstop nonsense could be suspected of harboring original thoughts. Voluble stupidity is a great disguise in a society where silence is suspect.”


Did Political and Media Bias Stall the Release of Merck’s New Covid-19 Drug? by Matt Taibbi (TK News)

“Declines in stock market prices early in the week even appeared attributed to the drug’s arrival, as investors whispered fears that a pill making a return to normal life possible might lead to imminent lessening of emergency support from the Federal Reserve, which of course would be a catastrophe for Wall Street. Modern America in a nutshell: if you want to identify truly good news, check if it triggers panic-selling.
“Now, too, the federal government has already agreed to pay $1.2 billion for a supply of molnupiravir, another ostensibly simple oral cure for a devastating virus. Although a five-day course reportedly only costs $17.74 to make, the Biden administration will be spending $712 a pop for enough pills to treat 1.7 million Covid-19 patients.”


Will the Media Finally Learn Something From Its Fake “Havana Syndrome” Debacle? by Branko Marcetic (Jacobin)

“Here, as so often is the case, the misinformation came from mainstream outlets, where it reached, and was trusted by, far more people than a Substack post, YouTube video, or Facebook ad, all with the aim of stoking conflict with a foreign government. If the solution to potentially harmful online and social media misinformation is heavy-handed censorship, why wouldn’t we do the same thing for these mainstream outlets? And if we object to that because we quite correctly understand the dangers to press freedoms in going down that road, then how does it make sense to keep pushing for it when it comes to social media?”

Science & Nature

In Topology, When Are Two Shapes the Same? by Kevin Hartnett (Quanta)

“The most significant classification result there was Michael Freedman’s 1981 proof of the four-dimensional Poincaré conjecture, which established that any four-dimensional topological manifold that is homotopy equivalent to the four-dimensional sphere is also homeomorphic to the four-dimensional sphere. As Quanta explained in a recent article, that proof was so complicated, and so poorly communicated, that it was fading out of mathematics until a recent book brought it back.


How Science Conquered Diphtheria, the Plague Among Children by Perri Klass (Smithsonian)

“Michael Hust and Esther Wenzel, medical researchers at the Technische Universität in Braunschweig, Germany, are trying to change that. Their work involves developing a recombinant antibody molecule—building it genetically in the laboratory and amplifying it through cloning, rather than infecting animals and letting their immune systems do the work. The laboratory-made antibody is designed to attack the diphtheria toxin.”
“As with many vaccines, the initial infant series of diphtheria vaccinations is not enough to confer robust lifelong immunity, so children and even adults may become susceptible to the disease if physicians and health officials neglect to administer boosters.
“At a time when so many Americans are distrustful of vaccines, I often think about the talks I used to have with parents in the 1990s. We were still using the old DTP vaccine, which meant children sometimes experienced side effects, especially fevers and sore arms. The discomfort was not nearly as terrifying as the diseases it inoculated against, but parents had no firsthand experience with the diseases themselves, thanks to years of successful vaccinations. My challenge was to help them understand that when they got their babies vaccinated, they were doing their part in a great triumph of human ingenuity and public health. The whole point was to keep those babies safe.”

Philosophy & Sociology

Postscript on Denoting by Justin E.H. Smith

“Nor did Kant know about atomic numbers, which I think it is fair to say have rightly displaced superficial features of chemical elements such as colour (in a certain light, to a certain optical system) in getting at the true and proper definition of, for example, gold.”
“With this in mind, it can’t really be correct to say that a group of crows is a murder; the preponderance of occurrences of the term in sentences of the sort I just gave means that, in the other 5%, the ones where English-speakers say things like, “Look at that murder of crows,” what is in fact happening is that the speaker is drawing attention to the fact that he or she has mastered this precious bit of vocabulary. The focus of the proposition, in other words, is the speaker, and not the crows.”
“I never use these words anyway, but always talk around them, aware that they pose an objective and irresolvable problem to anyone who cares about language, and understands that real mastery of language is not just about getting things right, but calibrating one’s expression of what is right so as to allow its performative aspect to be evident only as much as one wishes.”
“It is not just that the analytic/synthetic distinction is untenable, as I think Quine decisively showed in the middle of the last century; it is not just that any sentence will potentially contain different information in the predicate than what was contained in the subject in a way that depends on what you already knew; but that before we even get to the predicate, the subjects of our propositions are all, inescapably, charged up with so much strange energy, so much power of implicit revelation about the speaker or writer, as to doom from the start the search for a neutral sample sentence that focuses our minds only upon the clearly and unambiguously denoted objects.”


Garbage, Human Beings by Justin E.H. Smith (Hinternet)

“Thus in the present moment it is curious to see so many little sovereigns ‘issuing statements’ after every political event of note. Twenty years ago a prophetic Onion article reported that the Dinty Moore soup company took a firm stand against terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11. Today this is no longer satire; it is just business as usual, and not only for soupmakers and HVAC technicians, but for absolutely everybody.”
“Is this what true democracy looks like: not only where everyone owns property and selects their representatives, but where everyone is expected to have something to say about everything that ever happens? Where everyone is compelled to stay “on message” as if they were up for reelection? It seems to me this is false democracy, an untenable situation, and that we are witnessing the emergence of something like a “false representative class” analogous to the “false ownership class” that rushed to sign up for subprime mortgages.
“When in turn the expression of perfectly sound and laudable political views is multiplied by thousands, or hundreds of thousands, the nature of these views mutates into something else altogether. What was “true” when one person said it becomes something you are “vile” for not saying along with the hundreds of thousands of other people who are saying it: you are “trash”, a “garbage human being”.”
“Yet the new social mores are not going to last forever either, and sooner or later the young people who memory-holed so many of the things I once thought would last forever are going to have to begin again the work of mining the past for tried-and-true moral sensibilities with the suppleness and vigor to help them navigate through this objectively problematic world, and to thrive. We might be depressed, but we are not without purpose: our purpose is preservation. The bubble of “false representation” is going to burst sooner or later, and when it does the value of our investment in old-style commodities will become clear again.”
“[…] the legend of St. Hubertus, who saw a cross glowing between a hart’s antlers when he went out hunting, eventually transferring that pious Christian image to all those tiny green bottles of Jägermeister.
“It seems likely to me that this problem results directly from the fact that research on this topic is somewhat stigmatized, to be attracted to it is generally to court the risk of being seen as a weirdo, and so, not surprisingly, those who are not channeled away from this pursuit by the social obstacles it presents tend also to lack some of the epistemic virtues that, for better or worse, tend to attach to people who remain on the straight and narrow path of community-legitimated interests.
“You still can’t touch it, but in any case nowadays, as I happen to argue in my “book”, to buy and to manipulate the physical object is really only to commit to a somewhat more intense degree of engagement with what is by now essentially an internet-based event that we continue to describe as a “book” only by force of long tradition.

Technology

China’s solar power has reached price parity with coal by John Timmer (Ars Technica)

“this scenario also comes with significant challenges. Even assuming very high levels of material recycling, meeting this with current lithium-ion battery tech would require exploiting 36 percent of the world’s known cobalt reserves—and that’s just for China. (In contrast, it would only take 8 percent of the world’s known lithium reserves.) Obviously, alternative battery technologies would help out massively here, as would integrating the country’s growing collection of vehicle batteries with the grid.”

“Having solar supply nearly half of China’s power would be an immense accomplishment, but it would still fall well short of the country’s goal of carbon neutrality. Fortunately, China has additional options, including some large hydropower projects and a growing fleet of nuclear reactors. It also happens to have the largest installed wind capacity of any nation.

“The other thing that makes this report promising is that China is the world leader in the production of everything needed: solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries. So the transition can easily be justified in terms of supporting local industry.”

There’s just the niggling storage issue that the article mentions prominently, but kind of hand-waves away as not as significant a barrier as it sounds. As cited above, the article clearly says that current battery technology will not scale to accommodate our current energy requirements—to say nothing of likely even higher future requirements, We need a heretofore unknown technology to save us. That is not a plan. That is a plan with a giant hole in it. Maybe someone will fill the hole.

Or maybe we should reduce our requirements, use less energy, stop wasting it on frivolous bullshit, on market froth, on needless competition between companies in a race to maximize profitability, but which ends up at the lowest common denominator, the absolute minimum level of quality that will work in the short term.