2:00PM Water Cooler 1/22/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


The Voters

On Trump voters: “[A]ll these issues are symbols of a white America that no longer exists — at least to the white people who feel threatened by the fact that their culture is changing” [Heather Digby Parton, Salon]. Or maybe it’s the “stunning rise in death rate, pain levels”? Just to clarify how “literal” “disappearing” really is, in this context. It’s not like everything has to be cultural, or about symbol manipulation.

“How an obscure adviser to Pat Buchanan predicted the wild Trump campaign in 1996” [The Week]. About columnist Samuel Francis. Much touted, but very good:

What so frightens the conservative movement about Trump’s success is that he reveals just how thin the support for their ideas really is. His campaign is a rebuke to their institutions. It says the Republican Party doesn’t need all these think tanks, all this supposed policy expertise. It says look at these people calling themselves libertarians and conservatives, the ones in tassel-loafers and bow ties. Have they made you more free? Have their endless policy papers and studies and books conserved anything for you? These people are worthless. They are defunct. You don’t need them, and you’re better off without them.

And the most frightening thing of all — as Francis’ advice shows — is that the underlying trend has been around for at least 20 years, just waiting for the right man to come along and take advantage.


“Hillary Clinton: The cure for Citizens United is more democracy” [Hillary Clinton, CNN]. Yes, and there’s a candidate running on exactly that platform.

“Hillary Clinton says she doesn’t regret taking speaking fees from national financial firms” (video) [Des Moines Register].

“[B]y trampling Wall Street’s favorite candidates in national polls, Trump and Cruz have made vast cash contributions and super-PAC donations look silly. Bankers boast about spending political money just as astutely as they invest at work, but their favorites have struggled” [Bloomberg]. I dunno. Buying up an entire class of people in tassel-loafers has to be good for something.



“Ash Carter: It’s Time to Accelerate the ISIL Fight” [Politico]. Time to get those gaslights flickering?

“Clinton E-Mail Hits Obama on Iran” [New York Times]. Oh, wait. That’s from 2007, not 2016. Sorry.

“The ‘Anti-Manning’ Positions of Hillary Clinton on National Security and Surveillance” [Marcy Wheeler, The Real News Network]. If I understand this correctly, the national security establishment, including Clinton, would like to make social media a part of security theatre.

“Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is escalating her criticism of rival Sen. Bernie Sanders over the issue of foreign policy, attempting to depict him as a novice on the issue” [NBC]. Yeah, if only Sanders had the experience the Governor of Arkansas did, he too might have voted us into the Iraq war… To be fair, good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. But does it always?

Ben Carson set up a “secret mission to the Middle East”? [Politico]. Not The Onion!

The Trail

“[A] new survey of Iowa voters released late Thursday afternoon shows Sanders with a “solid” 8-point lead over his rival in the early caucus state” [Juan Cole]. “According to the CNN/ORC poll, Bernie Sanders’ success in Iowa is because his economic message resonates with Iowa residents.” Cautionary note: “Of Democrats who caucused in 2008, Clinton leads Sanders, 55% to 38%” [CNN].

UPDATE “Sanders is up with this remarkable new ad in Iowa whose tagline — “a future you can believe in” — conspicuously echoes Obama’s 2008 “change you can believe in” formulation” [WaPo]. “Paul Simon’s song “(All Come To Look For) America” plays over scenes of rural and suburban America.” Includes a good discussion of Sanders’ “theory of change.” So far as I can tell, Clinton doesn’t have a theory of change, or see that one is necessary. So far as I can tell, Clinton’s unique selling proposition, at least on domestic policy, is that she’ll be the best Democratic strategist EVAH. But being pragmatic and experienced isn’t the same as being a President.

“How Bernie Sanders’s sharp words for Obama led to his own presidential bid” [WaPo]. Note how the editor framed the headline: “Sharp Words,” but the reporter’s original choice is in the URL: “Critique.”

UPDATE Warren on the Senate floor today:

Setting up her O’Malley endorsement?

Clinton’s Lovato event in Iowa City: “Several students said afterward that the event was fun, but surprisingly short” [Des Moines Register]. “The event drew one of Clinton’s biggest crowds of the campaign, in a town where many young people favor her liberal rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Lovato concert provided an opportunity for Clinton’s campaign to encourage volunteers and collect contact information for potential supporters as they entered the hall.” If they collected a lot of names, I don’t envy the staffers who have to follow up after that five-minute speech.

“National Review Slams GOP Front-Runner in New Issue Titled ‘Against Trump'” [NBC].

“The conservative magazine came out swinging at Donald Trump last night, glittering a royal blue and gold like the robe of a heavyweight champ” [The New Republic]. The RNC then disinvited them from co-hosting the next Republican debate (February 25). Since Cruz is as nasty a weasel as you could ever hope to meet, it seems that a lot of the Repubilcan nomenklatura is making their peace with the Donald.

“National Review, conservative thinkers stand against Trump” [CNN]. “Conservative thinkers.” Burke? Plato? de Maistre? Schmitt?

“Conservative intellectuals have become convinced that Mr. Trump, with his message of nationalist-infused populism, poses a dire threat to conservatism, and released a manifesto online Thursday night to try to stop him” [New York TImes]. Time for these clowns to find a new grift?

“To get Glenn Beck to denounce Donald Trump as an unsound thinker makes about as much sense as hiring Larry Flynt to write about how Hugh Hefner demeans women” [The New Republic].

Trump releases first TV ad, attacking Cruz on immigration [The Hill]. Cruz counters by attacking Trump on eminent domain.

Stats Watch

Leading Indicators, December 2015: “The index of leading economic indicators fell 0.2 percent” [Econoday]. “A drop in housing permits and weakness in manufacturing orders weighed on December though trends in the index, boosted in large part by favorable interest rates [*** cough *** financial manipulation *** cough ***], are still pointing to moderate growth ahead.” And a useful reminder: “The index does not adjust for inflation or population growth, is not final for several months after being published, and is subject to annual revision” [Econoday].

Chicago Fed National Activity Index: “The economy’s growth again declined marginally based on the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) 3 month moving (3MA) average – and remains below the historical trend rate of growth (but still well above levels associated with recessions)” [Econoday].

PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, January 16, 2016: “The manufacturing PMI is improving this month” [Econoday]. “This report underscores the strengths of yesterday’s Philly Fed report where rates of contraction are noticeably slowing, and it contrasts with the Empire State report where January’s contraction deepened sharply.”

Existing Home Sales, December 2015: “Existing home sales bounced back sharply in December, up an outsized 14.7 percent to a 5.46 million annualized rate that just tops Econoday’s top-end forecast” [Econoday]. “But November was an unusual month skewed lower by new documentation rules that pushed sales into December. Averaging the two months together shows a 5.11 million rate that is well below the 5.43 average of the prior six months.” But: “[E]ven with this improvement the rolling averages declined” [Econoday].

“Many of the world’s prominent economists have declared that the market swoon looks out of step with fundamentals” [The Economist]. So we’re doomed, then?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 12, Extreme Fear (previous close: 13) [CNN]. One week ago: 10 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).


“This Is a Great Story (by an MTV VJ) About Conmen So Lazy It’s Actually Kind of Insulting” [New York Magazine]. So why isn’t this guy working for Goldman or Citi?


“EPA official resigns over Flint water crisis” [The Hill].


“Greene and colleagues found 404 feral alfalfa populations on roadsides. Testing revealed that over one-quarter (27 percent) of them contained transgenic alfalfa—that is, plants that tested positive for the Roundup Ready gene” [Ecowatch]. And if that transgenic alfalfa had grown in a farmer’s field, not on the roadside, Monsanto could have sued that farmer. (Gee, it’s almost like seeds are designed to propagate, or something.)

“Lancashire Farmer Prosecuted Over Anti-Fracking Signs” [Scisco Media].

“One of the least recognized factors is how social and cultural norms in various communities and even households will shape food distribution and preferences during shortages, [Ed Car of Clark University] said.” [Inside Climate News]. Carr: “If there is inadequate food available to households––who gets to eat?”


“‘Preliminary accounts indicate that an intoxicated suspect entered one of the theaters and was fumbling with a handgun he had in his possession when it went off, striking another patron seated in front of him,’ Renton police said in a statement” [Seattle Post-Intelligencer (RS)].

“You Take Away Guns, And Someone’s Just Gonna Invent, Manufacture, And Use A High-Powered Knife Launcher” [The Onion].

Class Warfare

“A National Labor Relations Board judge has ruled that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. unlawfully disciplined workers who staged protests in May and June of 2013 and ordered the retailer to reinstate 16 former employees, as well as give them back pay” [AP]. “The judge also ordered Wal-Mart to hold a meeting in 29 stores throughout the country to inform employees of their right to strike, and to promise not to threaten or discipline employees for doing so. The complaint was filed on behalf of the labor-backed group ‘Our Walmart,’ which called it a huge victory.”

“Donald Trump and the Politics of Resentment” [The Archdruid Report (hunkerdown)]. On the question of method:

It so happens that you can determine a huge amount about the economic and social prospects of people in America today by asking one remarkably simple question: how do they get most of their income?

What the Archdruid is calling the “waged class” I’ve been calling (following Occupy) the 80%. And what he calls the “salaried class” I’ve called the 20% (some of whom are only wannabes, others of whom have real power). The reason I hesitate(d) to make the wage/salary distinction is that I question putting a (salaried) Walmart or McDonalds supervisor into the same bucket as, say, a (salaried) university Dean, a (salaried) network anchor, or a (salaried) Human Resources manager at a large corporation. (I grant that they both might go in adjacent buckets, since from a 30,000-foot view, their roles in the workplace are the same.) And I also think that the Archdruid credits the salaried class with too much power, and the 1% (really,the 0.01%) with w-a-a-y too little; it’s as if he described how planets move through the curvature of space, without mentioning the immense mass and size of the sun that creates the curvature. That said, it’s a wonderful piece, and I hope readers will weigh in with critiques in comments.

“Older Drivers Hit the Road for Uber and Lyft” [New York Times (DG)]. Yeah, who needs Social Security when you can sharecrop for the company store? Here’s the beauty part:

Drivers are in such demand that last July Uber and Life Reimagined, a subsidiary of AARP, the organization for people over 50, formed a partnership to recruit more people as drivers.

I’ve heard that the AARP is basically in the insurance business now, and isn’t really an advocacy group (except, of course, on behalf of top management). Am I being too cynical?

“Why the poor do better on these simple tests of financial common sense” [WaPo]. “If you spend all your time thinking about money, chances are, you’re going to get pretty good at thinking about money.” Of course, the 1% don’t think about money; they have people for that. They think about capital. Not the same.

“When Will the Candidates Start Talking About the Economy?” [Mohamed A. El-Erian, New York Times]. Whenever you hear “the economy,” ask “Whose economy?”

“In 1990, the top three automakers in Detroit had among them nominal revenues of $250 billion, a market capitalization of $36 billion, and 1.2 million employees. The top three companies in Silicon Valley in 2014 had nominal revenues of $247 billion, a market capitalization of over $1 trillion, and only 137,000 employees” [Business Insider]. Data point at Davos.

News of the Wired

“On average, averages are stupid” [Seth Godin].

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (pq):

Doug firs on ice

Douglas Firs reflected on ice.

* * *

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter has come, I need to buy fuel, keep the boiler guy and a very unhappy and importunate obstreperous plumber happy, and keep my server up, too.


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Carla

    “I’ve heard that the AARP is basically in the insurance business now, and isn’t really an advocacy group (except, of course, for top management). Am I being too cynical?”


    1. AARP has ALWAYS been in the insurance business.*

    2. It is impossible to be too cynical.

    * from Wikipedia: “AARP, Inc., formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, is a United States-based membership and interest group, founded in 1958 by Ethel Percy Andrus, Ph.D., a retired educator from California, and Leonard Davis, founder of Colonial Penn Group of insurance companies.”

  2. jsn

    Another interesting challenge for the political class, they can’t talk about the economy without lending aid and comfort to Bernie while the entire country (minus the beltway contingent paid to promote it) is sick and tired of stupid, irresponsible, unending wars which the same elite has used for the last 12 years to avoid talking about the economy…

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Or foreign policy, or social issues beyond Hillary’s appeals to bucket lists. Of course, I’ve voted for Jill Stein.

  3. DJG

    Lambert: What do you have have against weasels?

    Wikipedia sez:
    In the collection of depictions, the Gazu Hyakki Yagyō by Sekien Toriyama, they were depicted under the title 鼬, but they were read not as “itachi”, but rather as “ten”,[11] and “ten” were considered to be weasels that have reached one hundred years of age and became yōkai that possessed supernatural powers.[12] Another theory is that when weasels reach several hundred years of age, they become mujina.[13]

    Somehow, I think that Ted Cruz is not in this league. (And evidently a mujina is a badger, and he truly isn’t in the league of badgers.)

      1. DJG

        Aha! We are getting closer to a descriptor for Ted Cruz, Ivy League authoritarian and reincarnation of the hungry ghost Joe McCarthy.

        And don’t tell D. Trump, but mujina are immigrating:
        Wikipedia sez:
        On May 19, 1959, Honolulu Advertiser reporter Bob Krauss reported a sighting of a mujina at the Waialae Drive-In Theatre in Kahala. Krauss reported that the witness watched a woman combing her hair in the women’s restroom, and when the witness came close enough, the mujina turned, revealing her featureless face.

  4. Propertius

    In my experience, “salaried” = “no union” + “no paid overtime”. Hardly makes one feel like a “Master of the Universe”.

    1. jrs

      But that is not EVEN the legal definition of salaried. The paid for overtime/not paid for overtime is not equivalent to salaried/not salaried. Ask any HR person.

      The paid for overtime versus not paid for overtime classification is called “exempt” and “non-exempt”. Exempt from overtime laws that is. Whereas salaried by the employment definition purely has to do with whether your paychecks are averaged over time (so that you get paid the same regardless of whether there are 31 or 28 days in the month). It is possible to be salaried (paychecks averaged out) AND non-exempt from overtime laws (ie you get paid for overtime and pay deducted for leaving early – dock time).

      Yes, ok, this is not the most relevant distinction if trying to create a new class categorization. So it’s a bit of hair splitting. But it tends to point out one way the salaried classification is too broad. Is a non-exempt salaried person salaried or not?

      1. Ed

        This distinction intersects in how the federal US government treats its own civilian workforce (excluding soldiers and contractors).

        Essentially General Service employees are paid by the hour, with wages docked for hours they are not in their workplace, and overtime provided. Hours worked are kept tracked of strictly. Paperwork has to be submitted if they work any hours outside of their normal time (compensated by a reduction of the hours expected in their normal time).

        The implication is that there is no professional civil service. The federal government treats its employees like blue collar journeyman. Many of them are even unionized.

        1. jrs

          Yea even the exempt/non-exempt distinction splits odd as it’s all about who had power in making sure they got overtime historically. For instance technical writers fought hard to keep overtime protections and continue getting paid overtime (to be non-exempt) while software developers didn’t and so don’t have them. The pay differential isn’t necessarily that much depending and they could work right next to each other in the same office.

          Salaried *can* be sitting pretty with the ability to go to the doctor or leave early and make it up another day (whereas making up the time another day puts you into overtime in a wage job, which the employer doesn’t like). So it *can* feel like being treated more like a responsible adult. But often it isn’t sitting pretty at all, if a company actually wants to exploit that free overtime labor – and free labor can be hard to resist. Hence a reason why many people are now working more than a 40 hour week (and probably not getting paid for it).

    2. cwaltz

      There are not many things I can praise about this administration, however, I do remember reading somewhere that they were aware that some companies were taking advantage of the rules to get around overtime and were paying some of the “salaried” $25,000 and expecting them to put in 60 hours(under what they’d make as hourly associates if they were making minimum wage) so they were creating rules that stated if you were salaried you needed to make $50,400 or overtime laws would apply.

      1. grayslady

        Good catch, but we’re not there yet. The Final Rule is expected to be issued by July, 2016 and to take effect in 2017. If Obama and the Dems were really to push for this, whoever is the Dem candidate in 2016 would actually have something concrete to run on. However, Repubs are still intent on derailing the concept.

    3. albrt

      The Archdruid’s model is at least good for provoking discussion.

      What struck me about the wage/salary distinction is the extent to which salaried jobs (and some high wage jobs) come with certain trappings of ownership, thus creating the illusion among the salaried class that they are part of the petit bourgeouisie.

      1. Victoria

        I agree-it’s bothered me about me and my social circle for a long time. Living with our debt and proudly displaying our work ethic, we are left with nothing but a type of self-esteem based on our ability to participate in a rigged system with some degree of expertise. If we ever wake up and realize we’re just part of the general working class (as–in my case–our parents were–union members all), change is gonna come. I do wonder if Bernie Sanders can shake some sense into at least the part of the salaried class that considers itself liberal.

  5. Carolinian

    Thanks for debunking Archdruid’s “I just made this up” version of economics. Not that I’m any more of a financial expert than he is, but as a reader of the esteemed NC I found his analysis rather dubious.

    However he is right that Trump could win. Dems better bear that in mind before voting for Hillary. And despite the polls it’s hardly certain that Sanders would win either.

    1. Synoia

      If Trump would adopt a few left position, he’d win.

      Such as: Single payer health care, or ending wars in the Middle East.

      Or taking on Bernie a VP.

      1. Steven D.

        I’m afraid any Democrat, even Bernie, will be too identified with Obama, who, amazingly is able to maintain about 40 percent support, but either disliked or despised by everyone else.

        Of course Hillary thinks it’s a smart move to run for Obama’s third term. Trump is guaranteed to trounce her.

        1. BobW

          I don’t know how the haters can say Obama is weak, he has bombed more hospitals and wedding processions than any Peace Prize winner in history!

        2. steelhead23

          Archdruid’s thesis is entirely based on the concept that Trump is the champion for the angry, dispossessed wage-earners, while Hillary “is in bed with billionaires” (E. Warren). I recall that way back in 08, most pundits wrote-off Obama as “unelectable.” Warren is right. Things do change, when we push for the change – and don’t when we won’t. So, stop worrying so much about the S-word and red-baiting – the arguments Sanders is making on the stump resonate with voters. I believe that if Hillary’s superdelegates don’t tip the scales, Sanders will be the Dems’ nominee and will easily trump Trump. If Hillary is the nominee… Let’s not go there.

      2. cwaltz

        I wouldn’t vote for Trump even if he took on Bernie as VP and I’m fairly certain Bernie would rather retire than be on a ticket with Sideshow Trump.

      3. ex-PFC Chuck

        If Hilary is nominated Dem turnout will be at 2010 levels, with results similar to that year’ election.

      4. Darthbobber

        Not one of the Archdruid’s better efforts. If his take were really correct, we might expect to see the Teamsters, Building Trades Unions, Machinists, etc. backing Trump. Will we? No. Also ignores his repeated claim that WAGES specifically are still to high.

        But more basically, the wage/salary distinction is so imprecise as to be meaningless. The “salaried” class encompasses a range from the CFO of a mid-sized corporation to the night manager of a CVS store.

        In the printing trades, where I initially came into “serious” work, the wage/salary divide hewed close to the old blue collar/white collar divide. And one interesting thing has always been that the production workers (waged) have always made more money, often a lot more. But the customer service reps (salaried) made and still make significantly less, but affect a higher social status.

        He also seems to join in the pretence that the Sanders campaign/phenomena doesn’t exist. Surely that could be seen as a response to these issues as much as the Trump whatever-it-is can.

    2. jrs

      I think the Archdruid’s analysis might be good in describing what happened to a large bucket of people (wage earners) and classifying it the way he does might be useful in understanding society (which is not to say “salary” types are doing great either, merely not as bad). Alternatively you could call it blue collar workers or something, I guess, but I think wage class really describes it better.

      But I think the rest is kind of “I made it up”. Such as this is the reason people are supporting Trump. But do we really know these are the reasons people are supporting Trump? Or are we projecting liberal ideology on to people? I suspect the latter. I suspect we are projecting liberal ideology about historical causes of f-ism on to present reality. I think part of why Trump gets as much support as he does is just because of how much media exposure he gets. That may not have been a major factor back then, though propaganda existed, but it’s a huge factor now. Trump gets probably 20 times at least the coverage on t.v. that Bernie does, or even the coverage someone like Bush or Cruz or Rubio does. And this is not all driven by his popularity, because it preceded it.

      We are also projecting liberal ideology of people voting purely economic frustrations because we want to believe it. While I don’t deny there are economic problems or that the economy is in an indirect way an absolutely huge influence on people’s lives, I do doubt people always vote economic frustration.

      And I disagree that the salaried class benefits from the destruction of the wage class. Sometimes there is direct competition for goods like beachfront property (as if either of those classes gets that) or any property in a property bubble. But also the salaried class loses a LOT by the destruction of the wage class. It causes them great economic insecurity and fear of losing their salaried perch, much more than a having solid wage class would. It causes them fear for thier children’s future in the same way. But if the salaried class is so above it all, how insecure can they be? Oh really, are we really supposed to believe some salaried code monkey getting older (and thus bound for age discrimination) is so secure they don’t worry at all about their or thier children’s economic future, ever?

      1. fresno dan

        I have salaried friends, and they are pretty nervous. Many of them haven’t gotten any raises, including no cost of living raises, in years. Layoffs happen, and the next job pays less.

        But they still can’t accept the fact that it is society’s fault and not their own. They watched too much John Wayne.
        Still, at some point, it starts dawning on some that the 0.1%s aren’t so rich because they’re smart or hard working – its cause they got the right connections…

      2. Darthbobber

        “Broadly speaking—there are exceptions, which I’ll get to in a moment—it’s from one of four sources: returns on investment, a monthly salary, an hourly wage, or a government welfare check.”

        Err, no. a salary and a wage are not two sources of income. They are two ways of doing the bookkeeping for income drawn from the same source.

        And, depending on the nature of investment (where does buying claims to ground-rent fit into his scheme) that single category isn’t really a single category either.

        And the “government welfare check” is almost invariably a source of income for someone who, when things are going better, falls into the wage/salary group.

    3. jgordon

      That didn’t look like a “debunking” to me. Well, to add some contrast to the “debunking” I’ll say that yes, not everyone on a salary is an elitist, and no, even those salaried elites with some power and influence are not the ringleaders of the destruction of the working class.

      However it can certainly be said that the largest class of beneficiaries of the destruction of the working class are the elite salaried people, and that they’ve at least passively (and for most–actively) adopted the ideologies and political leanings of the .01% to justify their (unjustifiable) privileges. This is why Trump is wildly popular with wage earners while evoking dismay and contempt from elites (salaried workers and up); Trump is at least implicitly promising to barge in and piss all over these people and their ideals. For a working class shlub who’s been been pissed on all his life be said elites, what could be more intoxicating?

      1. cnchal

        . . . what could be more intoxicating?

        Nothing. The hope is that your vote throws an anvil into the works.

        If Clinton and Trump end up being the nominees, come voting day, you know a vote for Clinton leads to the same old stupidity, because she owes so many favors to the greasers around her. There is no hope there, or it’s hopeless.

        Trump sells hope, and because he might just kick a bankster in the nuts for fun, and owes nothing to the greasers, there is a belief that he might call bullshit on the stupid stuff.

      2. JCC

        I like jrs’s comments on the fact that readers are over-reacting to his comments on the “salaried” class.

        As someone who is technically, now, in that class, but spent well over 90% of my work years in the wage class, I took a little offense to that categorization… particularly after pouring through most of the followup comments on his site. There were a few snarky followup comments, including one from JMG, to those who felt the same way I did, saying things along the lines of “notice how many salaried class people are commenting and trying to empathize with the wage class?”… i.e., the “salaried” class he describes is far too generalized.

        I would have to say, based on my own work history regarding wages, that the majority of the new salaried class is based on laws regarding exempt vs. non-exempt employment status and those that are now salaried would be hourly wage earners if the laws hadn’t changed 20 years ago. I’ve been bounced, as a contractor for many years, and as a permanent employee for a few years, in and out of the “salaried” class more than once. Of course, this was done in order to reduce my per hour cost and/or overtime capabilities.

        There is a big difference between the upper middle management and above salaried class vs the in-the-trenches now salaried class, a distinction Mr. Greer did not make in his description. Too bad, but it’s another potential facet of class warfare, which I believe he described well.

        As someone who is now officially in the salaried class I gain nothing from the on-going destruction of the wage class that I could find myself in once more at the whim of some upper management HR or Accountant person, if I’m lucky, and I know I’m not alone.

    4. Oregoncharles

      He’s talking about social class, not really economics. As several commenters have pointed out, it isn’t really a clear-cut distinction.

      In social science terms, the most obvious difference is prestige – salary workers typically have it compared to wage earners. And power, expressed in rank. The background to it is education: jobs that require a college degree, vs. not, Of course, that might be going away with the glut of college degrees, but you can see it in the implied horror about graduates driving cabs, etc. Incidentally, that’s a condition that historically leads to discontent and instability.

  6. craazyboy

    Wouldn’t It Be Nice – Beach Boys

    Wouldn’t it be nice to trade together
    Then we wouldn’t have to wait so long
    And wouldn’t it be nice to trade forever
    In a world where we all trade a long

    You know its gonna make it that much better
    When we can say goodnight and trade together

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could wake up
    In the morning when the day is new
    And after trading long the day together
    Hold each stock close the whole night through

    Happy times together we’ve been trading
    I wish that every trade was neverending
    Wouldn’t it be nice

    Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true
    Baby then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do
    10 bagger be carried
    And then we’d be happy

    Wouldn’t it be nice

    You know it seems the more we talk about it
    It only makes it worse to live without it
    But lets talk about it
    Wouldn’t it be nice

    Good night my trader
    Sleep tight my trader

  7. Torsten

    I agree with Lambert. The Archdruid gives the “salaried class” waaaay too much agency vis-a-vis the 0.01%, but I think the Archdruid also underestimates the agency (or non-agency) of the salaried class.

    In past elections, it was the salaried class who would volunteer for the likes of Hillary or Jeb. They haven’t shown up. Hillary and Jeb have gobs of money, but they’ve been saving it for TV ads, thinking salaried class volunteers would turn out and man the phones and knock on doors.

    But this time around, the salaried class has seen itself screwed over by the 0.01%, just like the lower classes have been screwed over since time immemorial, and the suits are not showing up to work for Jeb or Hillary. Can Jeb or HIllary do it with TV alone? That was always their plan, but it seems not to be working. . .

    1. Fgh

      And the humbug about how “without sweatshop slavery there’d be no cheap iPhones”…that was never a real 20%er position, it was just smoke the 0.01%ers blew at the 20%ers. Without sweatshop slavery there’d have been more automation sooner and thus there’d be cheap “iPhones” anyway.

      Outsourcing was a way for the American 0.01%ers to end-run the East Asian 0.01%ers, everyone else got shafted in the deal.

    2. jsn

      If you have the misfortune of having been a more or less apolitical R or D voter off of one of the coasts, since the 80s any real choice except to work harder either for less or just to break even has vanished. And I’m not just talking about voting or economic choices. It has become increasingly difficult to opt out of a bat shit crazy, puking drunk unsustainable political economy. Where would you go? What would you do? And how scalable are any options that come to mind?

      The Druid, as “opposed” as he is in his comments section, is a little unfair to trusting people who’ve been systematically lied to their entire lives. These lies have particularly confused that portion of the 20% that are only marginally politically engaged, that, per your comment have opted out of the politics this time around.

      That 20% is the historical locus of real change, whether progressive, radical or revolutionary and as such it bears a burden of responsibility the druid is calling it out for. A burden disproportionate to its input in the Oligarchy’s depredation: the 20% does have the power to change things fundamentally. That it has been too preoccupied with trying to hold itself together/float up higher into the devastating “free market” utopia it has been so assiduously sold since the mid 70s is a real failing.

      The 20% hasn’t created this situation, but through dereliction now faces an increasingly threatening situation itself. These are not the Trump voters, but turns out they’re not as likely as once to be Jeb or Hillary voters either. The Druid is fairly pessimistic about the US electorates ability to get itself out of this bind. But the legitimacy issues of the status quo are so severe it can’t stand much longer and Americans aren’t “sheeple” so much as they are trusting, which when abused hasn’t historically tended authoritarian, though the possibility has always been there.

      I expect we will see more centralized authority, but if it takes the form of “Functional Finance” under the hand of a Stephanie Kelton in a Sanders administration or some Volkerite under a Trump administration remains to be seen. If we do get a Clinton or Bush again, there will be an upheaval or collapse almost certainly!

      1. fresno dan

        I mostly agree – but really, who of the last 4 presidents would have gotten you a choice of a treasury secretary not of Goldman Sachs?
        Just like professional wrestling, a lot of chairs go flying, but they really are working to the same end and get paid by the same corporation

        1. Yves Smith


          The only recent Treasury secretary out of Goldman was Hank Paulson.

          1. Geithner never worked for Goldman Sachs, or even the private sector before he was Treasury Secretary, although he was a Rubin protege

          2. Lew never worked for Goldman either. He did work for Citi and was also a Rubin follower.

          3. The Treasury secretary before Geithner was John Snow who had spent a lot of time in public service and was a railroad industry exec. He’d never worked in finance.

      2. Darthbobber

        1) You can’t equate “salaried workers” with whatever you call “the 20%”. According to the BLS, the wage and salary workforce breakdown for 2014 was 58.7% wage workers, 41.3% salary workers. And that portion that’s salary workers includes a huge number of people who make significantly less than a machinist, truck driver, bricklayer, carpenter, plumber, etc. All those rows of drones in their little identical cubical prisons at Blue Cross, Merck, etc? The salaried class. Most of them find their lot now just as precarious as the wage workers. Unsurprisingly.

        And I disagree about their alleged agency. Mills made a very persuasive argument a half-century ago that the one thing this group pretty much never did effectively was to intervene decisively in politics as a group, and he offered several lines of explanation for why that was. And the trend in the last half-century has been towards the further atomization of the “upper middle class.”

    3. Watt4Bob

      I think the issues people are pointing out concerning The Archdruid’s analysis are based on the fact that the composition of the ‘salaried class’ is such that their experiences cover a much wider spectrum than wage-earners.

      Wage earners are much more uniformly angry, whereas the ‘salaried class’ contains people who are smug, and comfortable, on one end of a spectrum, and nervous, potential members of the precariat on the other.

      I’m saying the ‘salaried class’ may, probably will, find themselves being driven out of their comfort zone economically, by the results of the rapacious behavior of the 0.01%, but most are only just now becoming aware of that danger.

      I think the wage-earners are clearly convinced they’ve been screwed, and will continue to be screwed, whereas the ‘salaried class’ is only now starting to notice the Hell-Hound on their own tail.

      The question becomes, what are the ‘salaried class’ going to do when their lives are disrupted; join the angry right-wing mobs, (the ones who don’t realize they’re doing the bidding of the 0.01%), or roll up their sleeves and try to figure out how to work for a humane solution.

      The coming elections will make some of this more clear.

      BTW, the screening of ’13 Hours’ in a Texas football stadium looks a lot like a fascist night rally if you ask me.

      1. fresno dan

        I think your mostly right.
        I think the salaried class is in the position of just not being able to admit, even to themselves, that they can’t make it independently anymore – that they are frogs in the pots slowly being heated to boiling. But that if they fail, they don’t have the “merit” – they bought the argument of “meritocracy” and that the market works, and if they don’t succeed, it is because they have failed, or some other group has hindered them.
        It never occurs to them that they are failing because their CEO’s spend all day, every day working very hard at screwing them.

        1. hidflect

          Happened to me in Japan working mostly for corporations (CG, DB). Over 15 years I slowly went backwards in terms of income forever striving harder and harder believing I wasn’t doing enough to make it. One day I looked around realising the office was full of 20-somethings and no 50+-somethings and I acknowledged it was a Ponzi scheme. Where were all the 50+-somethings? Laid off and sitting at home watching soaps, I figured.

          Japan had “reformed” in 2001 allowing a more “flexible” work environment and the corporations ran with it. So I had to bail with almost no savings and start again in Oz where it’s still the 1990’s in terms of worker standing but that door is starting to close too. Now I make more than my annual income just sitting on my backside trading stocks. If I can make the same money far more easily just doing almost nothing then what does that say about the pay I got for years of grind and uncompensated overtime (as a salaried worker)?

    4. Adrian H

      Arch druid’s take is pleasingly simple, but I can’t believe it would align with polling. Within “classes” there are many diverse segments of voter and non-voter, with differing motivations. All 7 (!) Trump supporters I know have college degrees (or more) and make $100K+. Three are Chinese ex-pats and 2 are women. Though they wouldn’t acknowledge it, the primary appeal seems to be Trump’s willingness to channel hatred of muslims.

      Meanwhile, of my ~dozen wage-class cousins (seen at holiday gatherings) half have never voted, and won’t be voting this time. The other half appear ready to vote democrat (TBD – they live in a late primary state) on the basis of identity politics, except for the Cruz supporter who thinks Cruz is god’s anointed choice.

      You could argue that all of them are making bad decisions, in general, and that none of them are voting in accord with any coherent theory of achieving preferred economic policies.

      A significant class-based revolt against RW economic policies, manifesting as a wave of support for the anti-elite-establishment Trump, would be intellectually satisfying, but this narrative strikes me as just the wish casting of a different elite (e.g., refugees of the “more-marxist-than-thou” crowd that undermined any effective organizing in the 80s and 90s against the Reagan-Gingrich onslaught that put us on this trajectory).

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        “refugees of the “more-marxist-than-thou” crowd that undermined any effective organizing in the 80s and 90s against the Reagan-Gingrich onslaught”

        Whatever the Archdruid might be, I don’t think he’s from that crowd. And who is that crowd? In my recollection, the Democrats of the 80s were pretty flaccid, in no way capable of resisting Reagan. Link and details, please.

        (Incidentally, polling on social relations is just awful. The questions aren’t asked.)

        1. jrs

          If anyone is of the “more-marxist-than-thou” crowd it might be those doing local grassroot organizing for social justice etc.. Then maybe the term might apply. Only those doing such things are about as effective as anyone can be in politics. There may be some college students it might apply to, but their political impact is nil unless they join the former group. But to apply it to the Dem party is pretty silly.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    Re: The Archdruid.

    While I agree his ‘wage class’, ‘salary class’ distinction may be dubious, he has hit the nail on the head about Trump. As a primary example, this article today in the Guardian shows everything about what is wrong with modern ‘liberal’ thought and why Trump is so successful. Its full of dripping condescension and downright hate towards people (in this case, women) who dare to like Trump. I read the Guardian all the time, being a good centre lefty, but it encapsulates all the reasons why the left has failed – the fact that it employs a number of writers who seem to be solely motivated by a deep hatred of working class males (all wrapped up of course in a sort of pseudo feminism and equality agenda), and seems entirely uncomprehending as to why it is that the subject of their hatred then goes and votes for a Trump or a Farage.

    The left has failed miserably for decades now because it has sold its soul to educated middle classes who redefine progressivism and social action in a way which suits them. Its easy to be ‘tolerant’ about ‘others’ when they are far away, or caring about them doesn’t hit you in the pocket. It is much harder to emphasise with the struggles of people who are seeing their lives disappear down the plughole due to the gradual weakening of the urban working and middle classes when doing something about them means that it will be more expensive to hire an au pair or (as the Archdruid says), buy an iPhone.

    1. jrs

      “Its full of dripping condescension and downright hate towards people (in this case, women) who dare to like Trump. ”

      But Trump himself seems full of condescension for women, though I suppose doubling down doesn’t really help anything. I don’t think anyone should vote based on their private parts (remember it’s Her Turn!), but the guy is hateful.

      Anyway, I don’t like Trump, but how do we know this is why people support Trump? Again we project. They support Trump because they hate these annoying aloof condescending liberals, well maybe some of us here do, but most of us are not Trump supporters … not really. Or in my case not at all.

      Compare our projections to actual research:

      Am I sure that’s the whole and one true answer of why people support Trump? That wouldn’t be scientific. And personally I suspect media also plays a role, I’d love for it to be researched Trump’s time on t.v. versus others, but at least it tries to be empirical and do social science.

    2. tommy strange

      In my opinion, you’re talking about the ‘liberal’ class, not the left. The liberal class has failed us since the early 90’s etc….Remember, us on the ‘left’ have actually been doing something everywhere and all the time whether it was Seattle, books to prisoners, homeless advocacy in cities, eviction defense, shutting down San Francisco lead up to Iraq etc. Just because we’re not big enough to ‘change’ the world for everyone, doesn’t mean we should be lumped in with liberals and their identity politics.

  9. montanamaven

    I need help. Can someone break down everything that is wrong with Paul Krugman’s latest piece “How Change Happens”.? I’m working. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/22/opinion/how-change-happens.html?ref=opinion&_r=0
    I was sent it by a friend and they assumed I would love it. I never read him anymore because I don’t like my eyeballs exploding and the headaches I get. I read it early this morning and already in the first sentence steam started seeping out of my ears. “…America’s two great parties….” Great???

    Then there is this

    the persistent delusion that a hidden majority of American voters either supports or can be persuaded to support radical policies, if only the right person were to make the case with sufficient fervor.

    “Radical”?? He repeats the word later on.
    Then he uses the word “purist” for Senator Sanders when Sanders correctly states that Planned Parenthood is part of the Washington establishment. He not saying your local Planned Parenthood office is, he’s saying the National Office is. They are Washington insider lobbyists. Like Robin wright’s character on “House of Cards” who has an environmental lobbying group.
    Every 4 years now, I lose friends if I don’t like the status quo Democrats. I am called a “purist”. I am called “unrealistic”. And here we go again.
    I think it was from a David Dayen column that he quoted somebody about first isolating the radicals and then turning the idealists into realists. and the co-opting the realists into becoming incrementalists and pushing them into compromise.
    I also remember in Joan Didion’s “Political Fictions” that people start out as issues candidates and then are forced to put those ideals behind and concentrate rather on the process.

    As I said I haven’t read Krugman in years, but I found this column very distasteful.

      1. Steven D.

        Somebody got to Krugman in about 2011 and explained how things were going to be. “Nice academic perch you got there. Be a shame if something happened to it.”

        1. RMO

          As a political analyst he’s a fine economist. I’ve read his stuff for years and over time I can see how very, very slowly the fact that other factors than straight economics motivate and direct people organizations and societies has begun to penetrate into his brain but it’s not got far yet. He’s very good on macroeconomics in my view but the fact that he believes Hillary is the more electable of the Democratic front runners shows how out of his depth he is politically. I’ve already said it here earlier but I’ll make the prediction again: if Hillary gets the nomination odds are the GOP gets the Presidency and probably both houses as well no matter who they run. The GOP base will be angry if they get anyone but Trump but the visceral hatred so many on the right have for Clinton will bring the voters out even if they don’t get the candidate they want. On the Democratic side there are a lot of voters just hanging on by a thread, alienated by the party that deserted them. If they are offered Hillary I suspect vast amounts will either vote third party or stay home. Oh well, at least I don’t live in the U.S. – not that that will insulate me from the possible fallout from the next election. Anyone got a starship for sale?

      2. fresno dan

        yeah, I saw that – hosted on one’s (Krugman) own petard.
        So what is ‘radical’????
        Was social security radical?
        Was the FDIC radical?
        Was the minimum wage radical?
        Was the civil rights movement radical?
        Was medicare radical?

        The fact of the matter is that there is more free choice and competition with regard to health care in Europe than there is here. But call socialism for the rich free enterprise and it is amazing how you can gauge people

        1. aka

          “Was the FDIC radical?” fresno dan

          Surely you jest.

          The FDIC (government provided deposit insurance) was meant to save banking not depositors or did FDR make good those who lost their deposits when banks failed prior to the FDIC?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Mao used to send economists to reform camps.

      Cleaning the latrine was one of the assigned tasks.

      Now, that was radical.

      Perhaps even revolutionary (culturally).

    2. jrs

      The problem is with the term radical. Am I particularly convinced everyone in this country is a hard-core anarchist or socialist or even libertarian or far right winger? Nope, regardless of whether it would be good or not. But what can’t be done in the current political system is a much bigger tent that what is properly classified as radical (like single payer). And what can be done politically in this country, is mostly what the plutes want.

      1. Steven D.

        Radical derives from root. Someone with strongly held beliefs, like Bernie, is radical. A charlatan like Sideshow Don (h/t CWaltz) is an extremist, i.e., on the extreme.

    3. grayslady

      My comment just disappeared down the rabbit hole, so I’ll try again. This article from The American Prospect should provide you with hard data.

    4. curlydan

      I liked this comment (strangely an NYT Pick) to express what is wrong with Kruggles:
      “Oh oh, Mr. Krugman, it appears that your idealism has veered into destructive self-indulgence, but please don’t paint the rest of us believers with the same brush. You sound exhausted, we’re not. We absolutely must continue to fight for the ideals, promises and potential of this nation, even if it means backing an irascible old social democrat, a Don Quixote, because he is not tilting at windmills, he is tilting at real danger to our existence as a free and enlightened nation.”

    5. JaaaaayCeeeee

      David Dayen wrote the most readable article, in the Fiscal Times today, explaining the problems with liberals’ attacks on Bernie Sanders, primarily the holes in their arguments against Warren/Sanders financial reforms:

      I haven’t seen better than Dean Baker on the problems with liberals’ attacks on Sanders’ Medicare For All, which includes link to how these attacks even reduce Frakt’s documented effect of constraining health care prices:

      As a Sandersista, it looks like Clinton, the DNC, and news media have forced themselves into being MGM hiring actors and screening newsreels across America, to reverse Upton Sinclair’s lead, often with smears that could backfire. With Upton Sinclair representing progress, not just Bernie Sanders.

      The middle class that can’t pay more taxes as $250,000 when the median income is under $30,000, a dollar more taxes a burden yet paying many dollars less is bad, the ACA as affordable, and Rubinite financial reforms as enough – these are Clinton arguments which aren’t going to get easier to make over time.

  10. Jane

    “If there is inadequate food available to households––who gets to eat?”

    My grandmother was the 17th of 20 children. One of her earliest memories was getting ‘the small end of the egg’ for breakfast; the ones who worked got the ‘big end’. That was before WWI but I imagine things are much the same today when food is short.

    1. Jagger

      “If there is inadequate food available to households––who gets to eat?”

      In the great Russian famine of the 1920s, the cannibals ate fairly well. PS: I am not kidding.

    2. LeitrimNYC

      In food insecure countries/areas, typically women reduce their calorie intake to give more food to infirm relatives and children, and men will use force, intimidation, social position, etc to take more food. Basically, men will eat first and then everyone else needs to figure it out.

    1. neo-realist

      Exactly—I recall myself and my ex buying a car from a used car salesman who wore those items.

  11. Steven D.

    +1. Andrew Cuomo tried to redefine progressive so that Jamie Dimon and other Wall Street grandees could claim the title because they supported gay marriage. The Democrats and much of the left have abandoned working and poor people in favor of condescension and patronizing.

  12. flora

    re: The Week – “How an obscure adviser to Pat Buchanan predicted the wild Trump campaign in 1996”

    This is a must read. (applies equally well to “the other party.”) Thanks for the link.

    1. Carolinian

      Agreed….a very interesting article. Maybe the political parties themselves are what is doing us in and a “meeting of the minds” is in order–not in the High Broderism sense of surrendering to the right but rather by abandoning ideology altogether and instead focusing on what works.

  13. allan

    Re: the NLRB ruling on Walmart. Just a reminder of the report from a few months ago about how Walmart

    had enlisted the help of arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force to monitor [in both physical and online space] workers who were organizing for higher wages and the right to unionize.

    Save money. Live bitter.

    1. cwaltz

      My favorite part was hearing they used them striking as an “unexcused absence” canard. I’m trying to picture someone calling into work to tell their management team that they were striking for better working conditions and the management team going, “okey dokey, you’re excused.” Really Walmart?

    2. jrs

      The FBI under Obama. How do you like dem Dems? A working man’s best friend or what? As with Occupy.

  14. Cynthia

    Lambert, yesterday you responded to one of my comments with this:

    “Maybe governments are better at controlling some sorts of fraud, and private industry is better at others? I seem to remember a ginormous case of fraud by a Florida governor….”

    Well, the only reason I said that private insurers are “probably better” than the government at controlling insurance fraud is simply because unlike the government, private insurers have a financial incentive to detect and root out fraud. The more money they save rooting out insurance fraud, the more money they’ll have to fatten their bottom line. (“Probably better” is perhaps too strong of a phrase here. “Maybe better” would be a more accurate phrase to describe my take on this.)

    It seems to me that the smaller you are as a healthcare provider, the more likely you’ll be prosecuted for insurance fraud. I don’t think it’s the case that smaller providers are committing more fraud than larger providers are. Larger providers, namely large hospital systems, are committing just as much fraud; they are just better at manipulating all the complexities involved in being reimbursed by insurers. Whenever hospitals talk about “maximizing reimbursement” what they are really doing is maximizing their ability to manipulate insurance reimbursement in their favor. Actually, this is just a form of controlled fraud, and evidently, it’s rather difficult to prosecute.

    The most that can be done to penalize hospitals for controlled fraud is to slap them with hefty fines. But even then, hospital oftentimes appeal these fines to the state insurance board of appeals, or to Medicare’s board of appeals. The appeals process becomes so costly and time consuming for insurers/Medicare that they give in to the hospitals and drop their fines. Also, it help that hospitals are well positioned in the so-called “revolving door between government and corporations,” thus reducing their chances of ever being investigated and prosecuted for outright fraud, much less be given a simple slap on the wrist for committing controlled fraud.

    As far as controlling healthcare costs are concerned, which is perhaps an even more important issue, I still contend, and I’m sure you’ll agree, that private insurers are much worse than the government at controlling healthcare costs without compromising care. Too much overhead costs in the system is largely why healthcare costs are way out-of-control. The other reason for this is due to insurers skimming off the top in order to make huge profits for themselves.

    This problem can be easily remedied by taking the profit motive out of healthcare. But as I mentioned before, insurers won’t stand for this. They’d rather completely exit the market than exist as an industry whose profits are strictly limited to only paying the light bill and providing modest salaries for their employees, CEOs included.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “private insurers have a financial incentive to detect and root out fraud”

      Some kinds of fraud, probably. As you point out, the sorts of fraud that benefit executives are less incentivized for rooting out. Ditto the kind of frauds that deny people care.

      Then again, the entire industry is a fraud, a parasite with no reason to exist (see Canada). So if they exit the market, good riddance.

    2. HotFlash

      Larger providers, namely large hospital systems, are committing just as much fraud; they are just better at manipulating all the complexities involved in being reimbursed by insurers.

      My dear Cynthia, I live in a very nice country where we have socialized medicine/Medicare for all. I live in Ontario, Canada. And yes, there is fraud, but really, the system and the billings are so simple that fraud is really easy to detect. See, simple means less fraud, since fewer ‘complexities’ to hide in. Not that they don’t try, they just get caught.

      I think this is a better use of resources than the US system, where hundreds of hours are spent disputing whether a given item is covered or not. Much more efficient to just cover most everything. Remember the old days, when the phone company (usu Bell) itemized and charge for long distance calls?

  15. Jim

    The recent Archdruid analysis and the comment by Lambert deal with the critically important issue of the nature of the actual structure of power in the U.S. and by implication the types of strategic vision necessary to change that actual structure.

    “What the Archdruid is calling the “wage class” I’ve been calling (following Occupy) the 80% and what he calls the “salaried class” I’ve called the 20%(some of whom are only wannabes, others of whom have real power…I also think that the Archdruid credits the salaried class with too much power and the 1%(really the 0.01% with w-a-a-y too little.”

    From my perspective, the Archduid makes a profound point (but rarely discussed on the more traditional Left or Right sides of the political spectrum) when he says “…the destruction of the wage class has disproportionately benefited one of the four classes I sketched above: the salary

    Such a comment is often considered blasphemy especially by the higher ranking intellectual portions of the traditional Left and Right.

    I would add to his observation–that the higher reaches of this same salaried class are also sophisticated participants in the political nomecultura of both the Democratic and Republican parties and are presently beginning to worry about the emerging politics of 2016 (for now an authoritarian populism) slipping out of their supposedly more “rational” control.

    Many traditional left intellectuals of the salaried class have had no problem, historically, calling out the 0.01% of plutocratic Big Capital while the tradition right intellectuals of the salaried class have had no problem calling out the public bureaucratic intellectuals of Big Government.

    But neither of these groupings has been anxious to seriously analyze their own respective and often more hidden network roles linked to plutocracy.

    1. Watt4Bob

      Many of the “salaried class” make a living controlling the expectations of the “wage class” on behalf of the 0.01%, apparently unaware of the fact that after the 0.01% have bled the “wage class” dry, they’ll get really serious about bleeding the “salaried class”.

    2. Victoria

      I agree with what you’ve said. The point (to me) is that we are all responsible to some degree for how we participate in the power structure, and that includes what we buy and how we treat those of “lower” or “higher” economic status than ourselves. I notice that nobody is picking up on the Archdruid’s comments about the scorn heaped on working class people by those who delusionally believe they are better just because they participate in the economy at a more privileged level. How is that really different from the racism and resentment of white working class people toward the “welfare” class? It’s all about people climbing a greased pole and stepping on those beneath them in a vain attempt to reach the top.

      1. different clue

        Whatever color the collar, it’s still just a shirt. It would be good for more people to make the spiritual advancement involved in seeing that.

  16. nihil obstet

    Re: The Archdruid

    The Archdruid needs to get out more and meet a wider range of people. He writes as though members of the monolithic “wage class” are reacting with legitimate anger, while members of the monolithic (but liberal, of course) “salary class” are smug hypocrites. As much as anything is natural, we all tend to seek our own interests. I think this is basically healthy, since otherwise we are entirely too subject to manipulation. I say “tend” because there is also a strong community drive in most of us. Unfortunately, culture and propaganda have a major effect. The last forty years have subjected us to relentless neoliberal dogma about economic man, and have therefore increased self-seeking actions way beyond what I view as healthy or moral. But that applies to both the “wage class” and the “salaried class”.

    Our culture also promotes sneering mockery as a means of argumentation. Any hack partisan website on either side will give lots of examples of this. However, The Archdruid writes as though it’s a particular failing of upper middle class liberals. As one of the commenters on his post said, “You almost make [Trump] sound like a Christ-like figure, suffering the attacks of the liberal intelligentsia on behalf of His People.”

    This is rather like those silly generational fights about whether Baby Boomers have greedily impoverished the youth or whether there’s just something wrong with kids today. Neither group is monolithic and setting one against the other doesn’t serve either’s interests. I can go on at length about who supports unions, who shops at Walmart, who supports increases in the minimum wage, et al. Really? the resentment in question is richly justified by the behavior of many of those against whom it’s directed? Well, gee whiz, let’s not blame the oligarchs, when it’s those salaried teachers, nurses, secretaries who justify resentment.

  17. fresno dan


    “Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.”

    Uh, YEAH!!! Why the hell do you think I hope he succeeds?????
    National Review, let me break it to you – I know your bought off, even if you think your not, just like the Heritage Foundation, by Wall Street. But “conservatism”, believe it or not, does not put first priority in making a buck by working hard at figuring out tax loopholes like how Mittens made his fortune.
    There was a time, when even very wealthy, old people when off in WWII for the good of the country.
    If ISIS is an existential threat, where are all the rich wall street volunteers????

    It is not liberalizing visas so that the wages of tech workers can be reduced by Silicon Valley squillionaires. It is not to have only treasury secretaries from Goldman Sachs.

    The republican base is beginning to understand that those who most squeal most about the market believe in it the least when they lose money, and believe most in government help when they get the money.
    We are in the situation we are in because those running the country have run it only for themselves – by manipulating the laws and rules for their own benefit. It is ending.


  18. Eric Patton

    There is a fair amount of classism in this comments section. Greer is correct when he talks about the salary class as a class distinct between what he calls the investor class and the wage class. He’s also not the first person to discuss the class. That would be Barbara and John Ehrenreich, in their 1977 essay The Professional-Managerial Class.

    It’s what Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel call the coordinator class in their work on Participatory Economics. Regardless of what you call it, in my experience, the class is loath to see itself as a separate class in the economy — as several commenters here prove with their pooh-pooing of the concept. That tells me they are in the coordinator/salary/professional-managerial class, but they don’t want to see it.


    There’s a further barrier, though, and that’s the response of the salary class across the board—left, right, middle, you name it—to any attempt by the wage class to bring up the issues that matter to it. On the rare occasions when this happens in the public sphere, the spokespeople of the wage class get shouted down with a double helping of the sneering mockery I discussed toward the beginning of this post. The same thing happens on a different scale on those occasions when the same thing happens in private. If you doubt this—and you probably do, if you belong to the salary class—try this experiment: get a bunch of your salary class friends together in some casual context and get them talking about ordinary American working guys. What you’ll hear will range from crude caricatures and one-dimensional stereotypes right on up to bona fide hate speech. People in the wage class are aware of this; they’ve heard it all; they’ve been called stupid, ignorant, etc., ad nauseam for failing to agree with whatever bit of self-serving dogma some representative of the salary class tried to push on them.

    See that part about “hate speech?” That’s completely correct and accurate. It’s exactly how coordinators feel about workers. Coordinators try to hide it, but working people can smell it a mile away.

    Coordinators invariably think working people are stupid. It’s a defining characteristic of the working class as far as coordinators are concerned.

    The coordinator class hates — truly hates, loathes, detests, and despises the working class. Maybe not all of them, but most of them.

    The anti-slavery movement 200 years ago wasn’t opposed to slavery because they thought blacks were entitled to the same human rights as whites. They did not see blacks as fully human. But they thought that, just as one shouldn’t kick dogs, so too one shouldn’t treat blacks grotesquely. They did not see blacks as equal to whites, however, in large part.

    The same is true today with regard to class. Coordinators don’t see workers as being as good as coordinators — they just think workers shouldn’t be treated grotesquely. But they do not in any way view workers as being remotely their equals.

    It is absolutely true that class is as poorly understood in 2016 as race was in 1816. As racist as whites (on the LEFT) were then, so too are most people on the left that classist today. And people have no idea, just like they didn’t then either.

    By the way, spell checkers know the words “racism” and “sexism.” They STILL don’t know the word “classism.” Think about that.

    1. Darthbobber

      But the Ehrenreichs’ attempt to define their “professional-managerial class” much more precisely and functionally than references to a “salaried class” permit. Most of the salaried employees in this country (and they are more than 40% of employed workers) do not fall into either the coordination role or the “reproduction of capitalist culture” role.

      There are whole branches of the economy that employ almost exclusively salaried workers, from peon to pooh-bah level.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s my issue with “salaried class” — not granular enough. He’s also not clear on exactly what the benefits for the “salaried class” are, or how they are distributed, including geographically. I tend to think of “people who ride the Acela” as a proxy for that portion of the salaried class that’s really playing the role comprador for the squillionaires, but that’s way up on the power curve relevent to the class of all salaried people.

      2. jrs

        The people who fall into the salaried class aren’t even those who fell into it in 1977. I mean even if they in some way *could* be argued to play the same broader social role (an argument that would need to be made – I think many of those classified as salaried now may have managerial beliefs HOWEVER they have no actual power in their workplaces!), there is nontheless the FACT that the law was changed as has been mentioned and what is now referred to as the salaried class does not reference what people meant by it in 1977. Salaried 1977 != Salaried 2016.

        Salaried often means more respect and sometimes more education, sometimes there is a wage cutoff that you have to make to be salaried but not always I guess. What it often does not mean is any more control over one’s day to day labor. It could but it doesn’t necessarily. Alienation meet labor = salaried slave, which is a perfectly accurate term for salaried workers that have very little say in their work.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      “Coordinators invariably think working people are stupid. It’s a defining characteristic of the working class as far as coordinators are concerned.”

      That word “conversation” Democrats use all the time is a coordinator word, exactly because it erases power imabalances.

      Good catch!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I like “coordinator.” And [lambert blushes modestly] I like “coordinator word.”

          I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in, filled with the equivalent of “Let’s all sit in a circle!” mush, when it was perfectly evident who was running the meeting and what the agenda was.

          My favorite one was the listening session (or whatever it was called) at the town Planning Board with the usual notes taken on big pads, where (a) my statement was omitted from the summary of the notes at end of the meeting, (b) the notes were never, in any case, published, and (c) there was never a discussion of how the so-called feedback would be incorporated into the town plan.

          And of course, the “coordinators” of the session collected a check from the town (i.e., from me) for their professional expertise.

      1. Pavel

        Well to be honest, given all the problems with Obamacare (which you, Lambert, have documented so well) starting with the web site screw up at colossal cost, it has all the signs of being a Hillary production. Why anyone would want to take credit for it is beyond me. In the debate she pretty much said she wouldn’t fight for anything better. Of course those $300K speeches pay for a lot of deductibles, right?

        Don’t forget Bill when asked about the speeches: “Gotta pay those bills!”


  19. edmondo

    From Thomas Freidman’s NYT column of 1/20/16:

    What if our 2016 election ends up being between a socialist and a borderline fascist — ideas that died in 1989 and 1945 respectively?

    Socialism is now communism according to the Gray Lady? Why does anyone even read this rag any more?


    1. jrs

      Well according to Tom Friedman and it’s probably unfair to even smear the whole of the Gray Lady’s news department, with the sins of their awful editorial columnists (not saying that there aren’t other critiques of their news department). Tom Friedman is an absurdity of his own as anyone unfortunate enough to have ever read his columns knows. So is David Brooks and probably even worse. Social democracy is communism according to Tom Friedman who got his money the old fashioned way (by marrying into it) if we are being accurate about it.

    2. Darthbobber

      Replace “Stalin” with “Roosevelt” in all this sort of thing, and you get a better idea of what this particular bit of pseudointellectual policing is directed against.

      1. Pavel

        He should have won simply for having invented the infamous “Friedman Unit” of Iraq war fame — or even more so for his legendary “Suck on this, Iraq” line justifying the invasion. He sums up everything that is wrong with the NYT punditocracy.

          1. Pavel

            Ah, Lambert, thanks for the correction — I should have said he inspired the six-month “Friedman Unit”. And indeed it was Atrios, who had a great blog at the time.

  20. RWood

    Re: “The ‘Anti-Manning’ Positions of Hillary Clinton on National Security and Surveillance” [Marcy Wheeler, The Real News Network]. If I understand this correctly, the national security establishment, including Clinton, would like to make social media a part of security theatre.

    Anyone else part of “Nextdoor (name your location)” ?

  21. Oregoncharles

    ““Donald Trump and the Politics of Resentment” [The Archdruid Report ”

    Yes, excellent piece. I’ve already sent it off to the local Green chapter, because I smell a big opportunity there, one we might be neglecting. Of course, there are plenty of salaried people in the party, to say nothing of self-employed like myself; but populism is part of our basic values.

    Already saw one positive response – from a guy who works for the university.

  22. dk

    “Older Drivers Hit the Road for Uber and Lyft”

    Great, because we need more drivers with macular degeneration and neuralgia and onset Alzheimer’s on the road, to help make those driverless cars seem somehow attractive.

    1. McKillop

      My, oh my; what an half-arsed comment. You forgot to mention many other ailments and problems faced by “Older drivers hitting the road”. Chief among them, I’d think, degenerate that I am, poverty.

      1. dk

        Yes, crummy. I just had a flash of my mom driving for Uber… but she’s a 1%er. A lot of these older folks got screwed out of pensions and investments recently, Uber wouldn’t get as much traction with younger people either, absent the general economic wage malaise.

  23. VietnamVet

    Re: The Archdruid

    Thanks for further discussion and comments on the article. It is important. The loss of jobs and wages is the reason for the anger, despair and addiction across middle America with a resulting lower life expectancy similar to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union.

    This is never discussed. Neither is the contempt the elite hold for the people. It is more than economics. It is the compounding of greed and pathology with no empathy or morality. Rulers are risking a nuclear war with Russia in Ukraine and Syria for just one more chance to pillage Eurasia. Meanwhile, Europe is flooded with refugees and austerity is imposed on all but bankers and investors.

    Having lived through the Cold War, when the western middle class was seen as the bulwark against a communist takeover; it is profoundly disturbing to see the American people cease to matter. In fact, as implied by Archdruid, Main Street is gone and American industry globalized or gone. Dow and DuPont are merging and will split into three monopolies.

    Hillary Clinton is a continuation. Berny Sanders may prevent a bourgeoisie revolt. Donald Trump will bring it on.

  24. Jay Gould

    “I hesitate(d) to make the wage/salary distinction is that I question putting a (salaried) Walmart or McDonalds supervisor into the same bucket as, say, a (salaried) university Dean, a (salaried) network anchor, or a (salaried) Human Resources manager at a large corporation. “

    Thanks to efficiency gains, I no longer need hire half the working working class to kill the other half, 10% or so will do just fine.

  25. cripes

    nihil obstet:

    “Our culture also promotes sneering mockery as a means of argumentation”

    “let’s not blame the oligarchs, when it’s those salaried teachers, nurses, secretaries who justify resentment.”

    Not exactly.
    Oppressed wage workers are not now primarily blue collar. Teachers and nurses tend to be unionized and increasingly under attack and subject to being reduced to wage workers.

    I think his point here is that oligarchs–who number few–must necessarily have a nomeklatura of “creative workers” (think silicon valley libertards and traditional diversity liberals and other so-called professionals) as well as shock troops of the “whats the matter with kansas” variety to impose discipline and fear into the captive wage laborers; blue, pink, white and sharing economy.

    No surprise there.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “oligarchs–who number few–must necessarily have a nomeklatura of “creative workers” (think silicon valley libertards and traditional diversity liberals and other so-called professionals) as well as shock troops of the “whats the matter with kansas” variety to impose discipline and fear into the captive wage laborers; blue, pink, white and sharing economy.”

      That’s true. But “salaried class” isn’t granular enough to express that.

      1. different clue

        “Salaried class” ranges all the way from cubicle serfs to bank vice presidents. Indeed, a way should be found to think about the various levels along the gradient.

  26. Lambert Strether Post author

    I’m a little bit surprised there’s not more commentary on Warren’s statement that “Anyone who shrugs and claims that change is just too hard, has crawled into bed with the billionaires.”

    Given the source (Warren) and the timing (right before the Iowa primary), that remark might almost come under the heading of an intervention. To put this another way, it most definitely was not an endorsement of the Democratic establishment.

  27. Lambert Strether Post author

    And once more on “salaried class.” Clive wrote this, which has stuck with me:

    Increasingly, if you want to get and hang on to a middle class job, that job will involve dishonesty or exploitation of others in some way. Industries such as finance have seized and held onto larger and larger proportions of the economy.

    One thinks of the “creative class” types riding the Acela. But also of Walmart supervisors faking time cards. The shiny, smiling corruption of the former; the horrid, grinding intimacy of the latter.

    (Of course, the argument could also be made that “coordination” is “exploitation of others” by definition.)

    1. jrs

      And then there is the “corruption class” that gets their money by corruption … ok that’s kinda joking, although it IS some people’s *actual* source of income, it’s not really a class. To be .01% you probably have to be somewhat corrupt or else win the powerball, but the converse is not really true, you can be of the corruption class and not make the .01%.

    2. nihil obstet

      My observation over some decades in the workplace was that management ceased to be a function and became instead a status. Under the doctrine of meritocracy, a promotion to manager became a reward rather than a fitting of skill to function. That setting was necessary for the corruption that has followed.

  28. Roland

    Wage or salary, employee or “contractor,” in fact those who must sell their labour to make a living are correctly called proletarians.

    What is difficult about this? We have capitalism. So we have bourgeois and proletarians.

    Communist Manifesto. RTFM.

  29. Victoria

    I am really tickled by the outraged reaction of so many commenters on the suggestion that what is obviously their class is a major part of the problem. Horrors! Could it be that our liberal ideals don’t absolve us of responsibility for our privilege and what it costs others? Picking on his particular choice of words and his rather simple generalizations doesn’t change the basic fact that we are what was so picturesquely described as “running dogs” by Chinese communists. I am, you are, we are. I know that many of you are trying to do something about poverty and economic displacement, and good for you. But it doesn’t change the fact that you have benefitted more from the system than others.

    1. Banana Breakfast

      Not everyone who posts here is a middle class, petit bourgeois or managerial type. Believe it or not, we proles read too.

    2. different clue

      I work for wages.

      Ideo-psycho-culturally, you may be somewhat correct. But study would be needed to determine that. I suspect near 100 % of wage-class thingmakers opposed NAFTA. How many salaried cubicle-serfs opposed NAFTA? Including cubicle serfs who made less than wage-paid autoworkers? I wonder if anyone ever studied that.

  30. crittermom

    Lambert, I personally loved the comment by Senator Warren.
    I’m currently frustrated as I try to encourage friends to vote for a change, only to have ’em tell me “their vote doesn’t count”, or their “candidate can’t win or get anything through Congress if they did get elected”, so they “don’t bother to vote”. Grrrrrr!

    As a divorced woman turning 65 who lost everything (illegally) to the banksters, I definitely will be at the polls (if I don’t die of a broken heart before then).
    I exist on a very meager SS (remember, we women make less than men so our retirement is smaller, too), & am facing the fact that on this upcoming birthday I’ll be turning 65 & receiving $121 less as Medicare is taken out of my already meager SS. I’ll be faced with trying to live on $700 mth. (I live in the middle of nowhere, which is all I can afford, so there are NO jobs).
    My life I’d so carefully planned, including buying my first home by the time I was 18, was stolen from me almost 5 yrs ago & I remain pissed at this current govt for allowing (& encouraging?) it to happen on behalf of the banks.

    I point out to folks that there’s strength in numbers & if 1% holds most of the wealth, that leaves 99% of us to vote for a change. Hello?!

    Yes, I WILL be at the polls & continue to piss off friends, if necessary, as I encourage them to vote, as well. I have little patience for such apathy any more, as that will bring no change & I remain completely disgusted with Wall St running the country so am demanding change.

    1. Dictatorship of Two

      Tell your friends to just vote in primaries if they are busy, for most races that’s much more impact. Better yet is to find the way to have a vote on who sits on each parties state and county committees, which differs for each state.

      Washington was right to worry about parties, because their function is to remove the selection of candidates from the public. Get a hold of how someone like Wasserman Schultz got to be the DP chair and you’ve got some real power.

  31. SumiDreamer

    Yes, I think the Archdruid is quite imprecise, but that’s because our conception of “the salaried class” is in flux.

    We really need to be aware of how the mandarin class operates in the globalisation racket. The Portuguese pointed out the mandarin class (gave it a name) as purveyors of the Emperor’s edicts. A brief stab at changing the meaning during the 1960’s; hence, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Power_and_the_New_Mandarins

    The elephant in the room during the elections is EMPIRE and the military. The candidates all agree to keep it going; it’s a matter of tactics. But to do this, they need to keep the subconscious, inherent class allegiances intact.

    The working class is Kissinger’s “useless eaters” who can be cannon fodder when the ptb so say. The average salaried class wanker absolutely must keep to the script or lose his prestige.

    I think truly and accurately demystifying America’s social classes as respect to the loyalty to The System is going to take more work. But the logic is “All salaried workers are not mandarins. All mandarins are salaried workers. But it COULD appear to be that way, if the Imperial Cardholders play their cards right.” Precariat be DAMNED.

  32. DCBillS

    Re: AARP. Amazing how many seniors think that it is an organization representing their interests when it is actually an insurance company. Dumb and dumber. We need a literacy test to qualify to vote.

    1. To Thine Own Self Be True

      AARP is more of a insurance/sales agency than an actual insurance company. Insurance isn’t their only product, they also offer travel, telecom and other products for which they receive a commission.

      Besides sheltering some income from taxes, another of the advantages of “acting” as a political interest group is that they act as an additional road block to any actual group taking on that function, which makes them doubly useful to other special interest groups. Thus many of AARP’s board members can secure profitable non-executive boards seats for very little effort.

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