2:00PM Water Cooler 7/18/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“More and more people know that this this is the real objective of free trade, to lower wages and crush organized labor in order to boost profits. And this is why the media has been unable to undermine public support from Brexit or Trump, because the issues impact working people and their standard of living DIRECTLY. The majority of voters now believe that these elite-backed policies are destructive to their interests and a threat to their survival. That’s why they remain indifferent to the media’s charges of racism” [Counterpunch]. 

UPDATE “Are Obama and Clinton Counting on Republican Majorities to Pass TPP?” [Counterpunch]. Throwing a flag on the Betteridge’s Law violation.

UDPATE “Headed into Tuesday, the big question on trade will be how far GOP Platform Committee delegates flip-flop on free trade. In 2012, the party formally called for enacting the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. On Monday, delegates in a subcommittee stripped from the party platform draft language opposing passage of the TPP in the congressional lame-duck session this winter” [Wall Street Journal]. “Though Republican National Committee delegates will hash out the party’s platform this morning, the most likely outcome now appears to be sticking with a specific language condemning trade deficits without offering a position on either the North American Free Trade Agreement or the TPP, both of which presumptive nominee Donald Trump has promised to upend.”



UPDATE “Bernie Sanders will launch organizations to spread progressive message” [USA Today].

“In an exclusive interview with USA TODAY, the Vermont senator detailed plans to launch educational and political organizations within the next few weeks to keep his progressive movement alive. The Sanders Institute will help raise awareness of “enormous crises” facing Americans. The Our Revolution political organization will help recruit, train and fund progressive candidates’ campaigns. And a third political organization may play a more direct role in campaign advertising.

Sanders plans to support at least 100 candidates running for a wide range of public offices — from local school boards to Congress — at least through the 2016 elections. And he’ll continue to raise funds for candidates while campaigning for them all over the country. He said he probably will campaign for Tim Canova, a progressive primary challenger to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who chairs the Democratic National Committee.

As readers know [sound of broken record], my operational definition for victory in the 2016 election is a standalone left (very much opposed to liberal and conservative) entity (and I say “entity” as opposed to party, since the time frame for both a hostile takeover of the Democrats and determining whether the Greens have the organizational capacity to be a party is beyond 2016.) In fact, I think this entity is more important than which candidate wins the Presidency (so I differ from Sanders on that point.)

This story makes me very happy. We’ll have to see exactly how the organizations are set up, and who the hires will be, but if you think the Democrat establishment is happy about this, then you should think again. And if the operational definition of Sanders “endorsing” Clinton is these entities and campaigning for Democrats like Canova, then I’m fine with Sanders doing what he promised he said he would do, which was endorsing her (though I’m not happy about the timing). My heart is not broken. (Subject, as I have said before, to Sanders retaining control of the list.)

The Voters

“In Mahoning County, [Ohio,] home to Youngstown, one of the great steel cities of the early 20th century, 6,171 Democrats [registered as Republicans]. Fewer than 200 Republicans wanted to become Democrats” [CNN]. “‘I looked at Republican turnout on election night and I saw 34,000 Republicans had voted,’ [Republican chair Mark] Monroe said. ‘I nearly fell off my chair because there were only 14- or 15,000 Republicans in Mahoning County.'” About 10% of Clinton’s 166K margin.

“How much do you know about what American voters think?” [WaPo]. Interactive quiz… 

UPDATE “How the WSJ Simulated Liberal Facebook and Conservative Facebook, Side by Side” [StoryBench]. “Blue Feed, Red Feed.”


Republican national convention live feed [Los Angeles Times]. 

“Guide to Republican National Convention” [NBC Chicago].

“Ohio Gov. John Kasich is ‘making a big mistake’ by skipping the Republican National Convention this week in Cleveland, Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said Monday morning” [Politico]. “‘You know what, he’s making a big mistake,’ Manafort said. “He’s hurting his state and embarrassing his state, frankly. But most of the Republicans who aren’t coming are people who have been part of the past. And people who are part of the future of the Republican Party are, frankly, going to be here participating in the program.'” In a way, I agree with Manafort, for good or ill. I’m a little amazed by how our famously free press treats the Parliamentary Republican Party as significant when (a) Trump stomped them and (b) they’d be snarking all over them if the candidate were anybody other than Trump. 

UPDATE “Many [delegates] are taking part in the Republican convention and helping to nominate Donald Trump only out of concern for their party or because they dislike presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton so intensely” [Jon Ward, Yahoo News]. “One person who helped Trump crush the [Never Trump] uprising admitted that he wasn’t even sure if he’d vote for Trump this fall. Many others in the pro-Trump faction of this week’s fight evinced no enthusiasm for the work, signaling with their body language or with facial expressions — a roll of the eyes here, a shaking of the head there — that they were not happy about their task.”

UPDATE “Overhead was the steady roar of jets coming into Cleveland’s airports, carrying convention delegates who won’t get any closer than those 3,000-or-so elevated feet to Tamir’s former playground — or the problems of western Cleveland — over the four days” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News].

“And many [journalists covering the Republican National convention] are packing protective gear—kevlar vests, helmets, gas masks—stuff that usually stays in the closet unless their assignment is a war zone” [Wired]. 

And then there’s this:

Cleveland is Mace world headquarters…

The Trail

“A crucial step in unifying a political party, akin to the laying down of arms after a long war, is the moment when losing candidates relinquish all the data they hoarded during their primary campaigns to the party organization. This moment is usually specified in contracts as the start of the convention, at which point the data can be redistributed the the presidential nominee and down-ballot candidates nationwide” [Bloomberg]. Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich have not given their data to Trump. Nor Sanders to Clinton.

“According to the most recent polls, as many as 6 in 10 Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Hillary Clinton and as many as two-thirds don’t like Donald Trump” [WaPo]. With charts. 43% see Clinton as exhibiting “poor judgement.” For Trump: 51%. Ouch.

UPDATE “If Trump loses, what Barack Obama used to call “the fever” of conservative extremism won’t “break,” for the simple reason that the keepers of the ideological flame loathe Trump as a heretic and won’t for a moment accept responsibility for anything about his campaign. The lesson many of them would “learn” from a Trump loss is the same they “learned” from McCain’s loss in 2008 and Romney’s in 2012: Only a rigidly orthodox conservative GOP can win national elections” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “If, somehow, Hillary Clinton loses, it’s unclear Democrats will ‘learn’ much of anything either….”

UPDATE “Fact check: Trump oversells Pence’s record” [Indianapolis Star]. No doubt!

Stats Watch

Housing Market Index, July 2016: “Growth in the new home market is solid but not accelerating, based on the housing market index which edged 1 point lower in the July report to a 59 level that is still well above breakeven 50” [Econoday]. “Today’s results, though not robust, shouldn’t upset expectations for solid gains in tomorrow’s building starts & permits data. Housing data have been volatile but continue to point to a positive contribution from the sector to overall economic growth.”

Currency Speculation: “[M]y narrative is that Europeans and other holders of euro, in an attempt to ‘flee to safety’ sold their euro and bought Swiss francs which are nothing more than Swiss tax credits. The SNB then sold more than half of those euro for $ for much the same reason. So the effect on fx markets has been that of large numbers of euro being sold for $, driving down the euro vs the $, which may or may not have run its course” [Mosler Economics]. “I also suspect that those sellers of euro have ongoing euro liabilities and at some point need to sell their francs to buy euro. That is, they are fundamentally ‘short’ euro. Meanwhile, the euro, driven down by fear, has worked to generate euro area trade surpluses which are ‘draining’ the euro sold by all the agents selling euro to buy other currencies. And this trade surplus will continue to drain euro from global markets until it reverses.”

Shipping: In Turkey, the Bosporous is open, and the FAA has banned commercial flights (but not other international carriers) [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “Companies such as Fetchr, what3words and OkHi are trying to solve one of the most vexing problems in e-commerce—the lack of conventional addresses for the delivery of online purchases” [Wall Street Journal]. “Some try to incorporate common language—“near the Pizza Hut”—into apps, while what3words effectively gives everyone an address by assigning a unique series of three words to every 10-foot by 10-foot square of the Earth’s surface.” I’m not so sure about that what3words technology, given my vivid imagination about what might be delivered.

Shipping: “It looks like two big fleets will control the container shipping competition in the trans-Pacific market”: “2M Alliance,”  and “THE Alliance” [Wall Street Journal].

The Bezzle: “[Germany’s Rocket] is in many respects a microcosm of today’s global web startup scene. At this point, Rocket and its portfolio of [startup] clones are the epitome of the global tech downturn, struggling to prove that they can be profitable” [Wall Street Journal].

Honey for the Bears: “According to the most recent [Michigan] state jobs data, wages for manufacturing production workers in May sunk to their lowest levels in the last 12 years as the average hours worked dipped to the lowest point since 2009. Meanwhile, the number of people working in manufacturing hit its highest level in almost a decade” [MBiz]. Best economy ever. What’s wrong with these people?

Honey for the Bears: “A “New Normal”? The Prospects for Long-Term Growth in the United States” [Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond]. This Maine Bear reads this piece as doubling down on #FAIL. Plucking a sentence at random: “In addition to a slowing rate of innovation, Gordon argues that the U.S. economy faces four big headwinds.” Not only do we get the bullshit tell “innovation,” we get the bullshit tell of an elite aircraft metaphor!

Political Risk: “Wealthy U.S. investors are holding record cash balances out of fear that the U.S. presidential election will wreak havoc on their retirement accounts, a senior UBS Group AG (UBSG.S) executive said” [Reuters]. 

The Fed: “The Atlanta Fed’s model sees the US tracking 2.4% annualized growth in Q2.  The NY Fed’s model puts Q2 growth at 2.2% and Q3 growth at 2.6%.  If the data retains this vigor, it would be consistent with the Fed removing more accommodation.  The global risk environment may again be the swing consideration” [Brown Brothers Harriman, Across the Curve]. But: “You’d think that by now they’d realize that all that rate cutting and so called ‘money printing’ has nothing to do with the price level or ‘accommodation’…:” [Mosler Economics].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 90, Extreme Greed (previous close: 89, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 81 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 18 at 12:06pm. 90 at last!


“[A]cidifying seawater prevents the tasty mollusks from attaching to rocks and other surfaces, scientists from the University of Washington found in a new study. And while mussels are famously good at sticking to things, it turns out they’re pretty useless at everything else” [Grist]. “If they can’t cling to rocky surfaces near the surf line, they sink, and become easy targets for predators.

“The golden age of antibiotics appears to be coming to an end, its demise hastened by a combination of medical, social and economic factors. For decades, these drugs made it easy for doctors to treat infections and injuries. Now, common ailments are regaining the power to kill” [Los Angeles Times]. 

“Here’s what Florida’s massive toxic algae bloom looks like from space” [WaPo]. 


“In the wake of the Flint water crisis, amid profound concerns over an aging oil pipeline under the Great Lakes, with an ongoing, urgent need to decrease pollution and improve air quality and public health in southwest Detroit, Gov. Rick Snyder has appointed … wait for it … a former oil-industry lobbyist, Heidi Grether, to head the state’s Department of Environmental Quality” [Detroit Free Press]. Seems legit.

“‘I continue to be concerned by what seems to be a lack of understanding on the part of the justices that a little bit of money can breed corruption,” Mr. Abramoff said when I asked him about the McDonnell case'” [New York Times]. “‘When somebody petitioning a public servant for action provides any kind of extra resources — money or a gift or anything — that affects the process,’ Mr. Abramoff said.” Boy howdy, I remember when Bush was in power, Abramoff’s quote would have been all over Democrat blogs. For weeks. Plus ça change 

More on McDonnell: “In the court’s careful reading of the federal bribery statutes, the legal definition of corruption comes down to what counts as an “official act.” This, we’re informed, has to involve “a formal exercise of government power” in which a public official decides or agrees to decide on a matter that may, by law, be brought before him. Ergo, as the court reasons, “Setting up a meeting, talking to another official, or organizing an event—without more—does not fit that definition of ‘official act.’” So all the other things that public officials may do that don’t technically count as “official acts”—including everything that McDonnell did for Williams and Anatobloc—don’t fall under the statutes” [The Baffler]. “So just to be clear, justices: As far as federal law is concerned, it’s permissible to buy your very conscientious governor a Rolex, his wife a high-end ball gown, and their daughter a wedding feast to get a promotional (but most definitely not official) launch party in the governor’s mansion? Yes, Roberts regrettably writes for the Court.”

Class Warfare

“Cosmopolitanism is not a tribal trait; it is a virtue, as much as courage or honesty or compassion” [Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker]. I’ve never understood why Filipina “helpers” in Hong Kong, or Bangla Deshis building soccer stadiums for the slave states of the Gulf, or Burmese working in Thai fields and factories aren’t regarded as “cosmpolitan.” Surely their experiences of — and contributions to — globalization are just as important as those of the author of Paris to the Moon? (Which I quite like, but then I grew up with The New Yorker….)

UPDATE “One of the more bizarre features of modern liberal discourse is the degree to which it depends on interpersonal social engineering. The basic premise is that through all kinds of influence tactics (example-setting, call-outs, signal-boosting, legitimizing / delegitimizing, enabling, and so on) you can get the people around you to behave certain ways… Liberals call this “normalizing”, [Pick-Up Artist (!!)] call this ‘patterning’ or ‘programming,’ but it’s operationally identical” [Carl Beijer]. “It assumes that people basically just mimick each other, and has its conceptual roots not in a scientific understanding of human behavior, but in pre-scientific theories of sympathetic magic. This kind of pseudo-science characterizes most of these theories of social engineering; they rarely have much basis in hard science, if any at all.” From May, but I bet it caused some heads to explode….

“The slow collapse of the social contract is the backdrop for a modern mania for clean eating, healthy living, personal productivity, and ‘radical self-love’—the insistence that, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, we can achieve a meaningful existence by maintaining a positive outlook, following our bliss, and doing a few hamstring stretches as the planet burns” [The Baffler]. “The more frightening the economic outlook and the more floodwaters rise, the more the public conversation is turning toward individual fulfillment as if in a desperate attempt to make us feel like we still have some control over our lives.”

“Why private equity is backing the world’s most violent sport” [Quartz]. “Despite the brutality—or more likely, because of it—WME-IMG’s purchase of [Ultimate Fighting Championship®] gives it a product that attracts millions of young, mostly male viewers that, unlike other forms of televised entertainment, is best consumed live. Live programming means commercials can’t be skipped—it’s why there’s been a proliferation of live musicals on US TV, and partly why the rights to soccer, football, basketball and other sports command billion-dollar rights packages.” And then watching those working class crabs in a bucket beat each other bloody is a bonus… 

“A reward system based on ego satisfaction and reputation optimizes for interesting, novel work. Everyone wants to be the master architect of the groundbreaking new framework in the hip new language. No one wants to dig through dozens of Java files for a years-old parsing bug” [Stuart Sierra]. “But sometimes that’s the work that needs to be done.”

“An improving economy has left Americans feeling more confident about their finances, burdened with less debt and better equipped to confront a crisis. But that hasn’t translated into more savings for the long run, with participation in retirement-savings programs remaining largely flat” [Wall Street Journal]. First, maybe Americans have recongized the 401(k) for the fee-extracting scam that it is. Second, perhaps “rational expectations” have led Americans to believe that Social Security will be increased… 

“The United States is producing more research scientists than academia can handle” [New York Times]. Academia as gutted by neoliberalism, yes.

“For the first time in its history, Denver is so desirable that its vast neighbourhoods of bungalows are proving finite. The cost of this growth is the displacement of the city’s remaining working class” [Guardian].

“Boyle Heights Activists Take Aim At Art Galleries In Fight Against Gentrification” [LAist]. 

News of the Wired

“Tor’s annus horribilus continues, with one of its earliest contributors, Lucky Green, quitting and closing down the node and bridge authority he operates” [The Register]. “Green’s announcement is here, and in full below. He specifically declines to describe why it is ‘no longer appropriate’ to take part in Tor, nor why he believes he has ‘no reasonable choice left within the bounds of ethics.'” Well, that’s interesting.

“How To Grow Your Own Antibacterial Bandages” [The Prepper Project].  Wooly Lamb’s Ear!

“The Psychological Benefits of Writing Regularly” [LifeHacker]. Tell me about it!

“The Anti-Cellphone Tech Used by Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K., and Guns N’ Roses” [Bloomberg]. How soon before the cops use this?

“The Empirical Economics of Online Attention” [SSRN]. From the conclusion:

[G]iven our discovery of remarkable stability in how households allocate their scarce attention, we hypothesize that such stability in behavior may also exist as changes occur in other markets for attention, such as in television and radio. For example, increases in the supply of television content and devices through which to consume that content will likely cause households to switch to that new content (a change in “where?”), may cause a modest decline in the amount of attention allocated to the original device used for consumption (a change in “how 34 much?” ), but may not change how households fundamentally choose to disperse attention across content and how households choose their intensity of attention to content.

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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 (JB):

Our weeds

Titled “Our Weeds.” Impressive!

Readers, if you want to send me some videos of plants in whole systems (bees and blossoms, for example, or running streams) — I can use them to practice with FFmpeg and hopefully post them. Because of download times, they’ll have to be measured in seconds, rather than minutes. Thank you! Adding, I got another one today! Please keep sending them; they will ultimately appear!

I have finally finished sending thank you notes to the people who helped out during the quick and successful Water Cooler Mini-Fundraiser by sending in checks. Thank you, readers! So, to my knowledge, all should have been thanked, and for those of you who used PayPal, if you have not been, and you have checked your spam folder, don’t hesitate to complain using my contact form.

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Readers, if you enjoyed what you read today, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your regular support.


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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. fresno dan

      Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy


      “While Gretchen Carlson’s sexual-harassment lawsuit against Ailes sparked the investigation, sources say it has expanded into a wide-ranging inquiry into Ailes’s controversial management style. The interviews are now being conducted at Paul, Weiss’s midtown offices because of concerns that the Fox offices could be bugged, sources say. The lawyers are seeking to interview former female employees of Fox News in addition to current staff. They are also looking into the appropriateness of Ailes’s pressuring employees to speak out on his behalf, against his accusers. For instance, they are focusing on an op-ed written by Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto in which Cavuto called the allegations against Ailes “sick.” As Cavuto is a manager at Fox News (his title is senior VP and managing editor), his comments could be seen as part of a corporate attempt to silence women who would speak out.”

      Really Cavuto – your a manager, and highly unlikely to really know anything about Ailes and Carlson’s interaction, and you go around saying Carlson is “sick” – just a brown nosing sycophant.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Call centers? Retail stores? How many Teccch innovation disruption brainstormspaces?

          It’s not how big it is, it’s what “they” do with all those waveforms and 1s and 0s the bugging produces. All Hail AI and Quantum Computing! And all that other really cool Teccch we all hail, or so many of us do… All the monitored mopes can hope is that the mopes who monitor and the parasites that direct and manage and micromanage all of them are a bunch of incompetent dumbsh#ts. And entropy, and Murphy, and corrosion, and so forth.

  1. JM

    Re: Trump and the RNC platform

    Did anyone else see Chait’s brief on whether or not Trump is working for Putin? (Seriously, hold laughter)


    Someone should ask Chait if he is working for Clinton?

    As it turns out, Trump intervened in the party platform section on Ukraine and Russia by deleting “providing lethal weapons defense” and replacing it with “appropriate assistance.”

    So Chait in his partisan duplicity smears Trump instead of perhaps praising the presumptive nominee for taking out of the platform provocative language that essentially declares war on Russia. I know platforms mean nothing, and it is NY Mag, but is it any wonder why the media establishment gets the political pulse of the nation so wrong and why most people no longer trust it? How much more preposterous can it get?

    1. HBE

      How did he manage to write something so nonsensical. A less “let’s poke Russia in the eye” approach is exactly what is needed. I find it truly scary that so many elites think directly confronting Russia will in anyway turn out well for either side.

      The elite denial the world will and is becoming multi-polar is astounding. And do they think China would react well to any such attempts to stop that progression.

      Get over it and adapt before it’s to late.

  2. Knifecatcher

    A view from the ground on Denver confirms the Guardian article’s premise, but they neglect a major factor – property taxes. A family I know has seen the value of their house go from 100k in the early 2000s to somewhere north of a half million. They’ve finally put it on the market, as they’re on a fixed income and can’t handle the increased property taxes.

    1. Ranger Rick

      And this despite the Gallagher Amendment. Commercial rents must be approaching insanity.

    2. Jess

      Remember this example the next time somebody starts whining about how Prop 13 has “wrecked” California.

      1. jrs

        Yea housing is so affordable in California now. It’s really helped! And so are rents! There’s no homeless problem at all. And the middle class isn’t leaving because they can’t afford it. And the schools are all top notch, all that talk about middle class parents buying real estate just for the school district is just a myth. And the state doesn’t go into near backruptcy in nearly every recession because sales and income taxes are highly economy dependent. No problems at all /sarcasm

        Although it’s not all bad in the state of California of course, is California state financing really a model ANYONE would emulate? Even states that adopt a “Prop 13 lite” don’t go whole hog like California, they know how badly that story ends.

        I think the problem needs to be addressed a lot closer to the source which is runaway housing costs, which remain a problem even when you solve the tax part (in fact probably become more of a problem then as taxes may act as a bit of a break on rampant speculation).

        1. Jess

          The thing about Prop 13 is that it keeps housing affordable for buyers after they buy. My house? Purchased for $82,500 in 1978. Current value? $850K. Other, newer houses on my block, over a million. But I’m supposed to pay equivalent taxes to these yuppies because the value of my house has gone up even though, in retirement, my income is far less that it was at the height of my earning power?

          All Prop 13 did was apply a means test to property taxes. You buy a house today, the financing is based on a calculation that you can afford the mortgage plus upkeep and taxes. And that you will be continue to be able to afford your total housing cost because your taxes will only increase predictably.

          So how do you address soaring housing costs? Create some giant bureaucracy that determines what a house can be built for, sell for? Put a limit on how much someone can resell their home for? Make all housing public — government built?

          Housing costs go up because people prefer to live in the most desirable area they can afford. (Desirable encompasses many factors, including school district, work commute, air quality, crime — or lack thereof — proximity to medical care and/or relatives, esp. grandchildren.)

          As for how badly California’s story ends: how bad can it be if all these housing prices are going up? Somebody must want to live here, and be able to afford it. And, oh, BTW, adjusted for inflation and population growth, CA schools have had, for decades, more money than they did on a per-student basis before Prop 13. The problem is, all the funding gets siphoned off to cover previously underfunded pension liabilities. (Which is hardly the fault of long time homeowners who bought a house to live in and eventually retire in.)

            1. Jess

              So, after a lifetime of hard work, I’m supposed to sacrifice mine so someone else can have it? I always thought the idea was, you worked hard, paid off your home, helped your kids get their lives started, and then were rewarded by being able to spend your declining years comfortably in the home which holds so many memories.

              Silly me.

              1. Ed S.

                So, after a lifetime of hard work, I’m supposed to sacrifice mine so someone else can have it?

                Jess, Prop 13 is the ultimate FUIGM law. Rationalize all you want – you’re free riding off of your neighbors who didn’t buy 40 years ago. You’re getting public services – schools, libraries, fire protection, county government – in the same quality and quantity as your neighbor who is paying 5x or more what you pay in real estate taxes.

                And those public services – which you’re marginally supporting with your 1978 +2% per year valuation taxes – are a HUGE part of what makes your property as valuable as it is.

                1. Milton

                  Here’s a map I made showing all the parcels in LA Jolla (very wealthy area) that have property assessments under 300k. I believe the total number is over 35% of the housing stock. Median home values in the 92037 zip code is over 2.7 million.
                  La Jollans Loving Prop 13

                2. Jess

                  So what’s your solution? Older people with lower or fixed incomes just have to move to make way for younger, higher-paid people? How is that substantially different from the neo-liberal markets idea that if a person gets sick they should die fast? Or not become one of Kissinger’s “useless eaters”.

                  Remember, the objection to higher property taxes, as evidenced by the Colorado example in today’s WC, is that people can’t afford to pay them. Sure, you see some retirees who could handle the higher bills (albeit with some reduction in their lifestyle) but for many they just don’t have the money. In CA the property tax bill has two parts, above and below the line. Below is your Prop 12 basic assessment; above is additional charges collected via the tax bill. These range from my local, council-imposed (and constantly rising) sewer fee to payments for school, road, flood control, and other special district bonds that are voter-approved. The annual property tax total ends up being about 1.25% of your assessed valuation.

                  So, on a home that sold for $1 mil (as some on my block have), the annual hit comes to about $12,500, or a little over $1,000 a month. Try making that from you and your spouse’s monthly Soc Sec check. (Which, on average, is about $1,200 per person.)

                  As for using public services in the same quantity as my neighbors: Not so quick, my friend. One neighbor has three kids, who go to three different schools and are each in several athletic clubs. (Primarily swimming.) There are days when their cars make a half-dozen trips and mine never leaves the driveway. I help pay for the public schools, including through voter-approved bonds, even though I have no kids of my own. Living alone I put far less demand on water and sewage services than families doing umpteen loads of laundry. But I still pay the same single-family household rate on the city’s sewer bonds.

                  1. low integer

                    The solution would seem to lie in something along the lines of responsible management of the housing market at a macro scale, with a view to housing being a necessity for each generation rather than an rent or interest extraction tool for the already wealthy. In other words, while the Prop 13 scheme may or may not be unjust, I would not feel that I needed to justify myself if I were you*, as it is a symptom of a dysfunctional system over which any non-elite individual has approximately zero influence. This is not to say one should not have compassion for, and try to resolve inequities for, those who have been less fortunately placed within the system.

                    *unless of course you were an integral part of undermining the greater housing market for your own financial gain, which I highly doubt.

                    1. Jess

                      And who conducts this “responsible management of the housing market” on a micro scale, as in each local community? My neighbors and I have been fighting over-development in our community for 15 years. It’s been the public against the developers and their hired minions on the city council. There comes a time when quality of life measurements require that further development in any given area halt. Otherwise you have smothering traffic, no open space, over-crowded schools, etc. Bottom line: not everybody can live where they want, but rather where they can afford.

                    2. low integer

                      In general developers aren’t trying to solve any problems so I don’t have much sympathy for their plight. Quality of life is a relative concept; I won’t be able to afford a home for the forseeable future, if ever, and I am fairly young. In any case, the point I was trying to make was that dysfunction at the large scale, in this case an incentive structure (for banks, investors etc.) that conflicts with the ability of the general population to satisfy the basic human need of shelter, is where the issue begins. At the micro scale one finds various permutations of the symptoms of the overarching faulty assumptions.

                  2. aab

                    The biggest problem with Prop. 13 is what no one in this thread is addressing: it covers corporate property. Disneyland is covered by Prop 13. So is that big ugly Budweiser factory in the San Fernando Valley. Every piece of prime commercial property in San Francisco? The same.

                    That should NEVER have been allowed, but it was the Reaganite 70s. (Remember political waves often start in California before they spread east.)

                    We could raise a lot of revenue, fix a lot of tax inequality and address many urgent needs in the state, if we simply changed Prop. 13 to only cover single family residences. And yet, oddly, even the weakest changes keep failing, with campaigns that cite Gandma’s house, but never mention Mickey’s.

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I think it’s good for some (those who bought a long time ago) and not so good for others (those who just bought – and will eventually enjoy the same low property tax benefit long term – or those whose jobs depend on property taxes).

              Those whose jobs depend on property taxes – like public workers. If Jess is correct, money went to cover pension liabilities for public workers.

              One response is ‘don’t be jealous’ or ‘let’s improve pensions for workers in both the private and public sectors,’ when some say to public workers ‘you got yours (public pensions).’

              “You got yours” – everyone’s saying that, it seems.

              1. Jess

                Re: Pension funds. Two years ago our neoliberal scumbag Governor Brown pushed a sales tax increase which — according to the ads and even the sample ballot language — would go to K-12 instruction and forestall tuition increases at UC. It passed.

                Guess what? Every single dime went to back-filling the CalSTERS pension fund. Not a single penny went to the classrooms. (And it wasn’t even enough to completely fill the shortfall. Statewide, school districts still had to pony up another $6 bil). But the icing on the cake was that six months later the UC Regents approved a 5% per year (compounded) tuition increase for four years.

          1. Milton

            I’m paying for your damn roads and other vital city services! Oh yea, some of those taxes pay for elderly services in the city as well. If you are going to crow about prop 13 at least acknowledge how fortunate you are to have lived when you did and don’t act like your lot in life was the result of your own magnificance.

            1. Jess

              First of all, I paid for — and still pay for — roads and other public services for years through gas taxes, income taxes, etc. And this may have been long before you were even here.

              Second, yes, I’m lucky to have bought when I did. So are the families on either side who bought when prices were in the $200-$300K range. And the families up and down the street who purchased their homes for a paltry $550-$650K.

              Third, back to roads: Wanna know why a lot of our roads are crappy? We pay the highest gas tax in the nation. The money is supposed to go for roads but that’s been twisted into “transportation”, meaning it gets diverted for boondoggles like Metro Rail. (Which, to the best of my knowledge, still doesn’t turn a profit.) Some of that money doesn’t even go to transportation but has been siphoned off by the state government to pay for other things. In many cases, they use this money to replace money spent on pension liabilities. In addition, at least twice voters have approved road improvement bonds, only to see that money also used for other purposes. So now road bonds don’t fly.

                1. Jess

                  By turn a profit I mean meet its operating costs and bond payments from ridership. This project was sold to us on that basis: no need for on-going subsidies, it’ll pay for itself and get people off the road. Well, no, it hasn’t seemed to work out that way (AFAIK). Same way major road projects and maintenance are supposed to be paid for out of gas tax and freeway bond measures.

                  1. James Kroeger

                    It is not unusual for many wealthy folks to view mass transit projects as mere gifts to poorer folks at their expense.

                    What they commonly fail to realize is that if poorer folks do not have affordable mass transit available, they still need to get to work, to shop, etc. So they buy the cheapest of old cars and put them on the highway, greatly exacerbating traffic congestion.

                    All too often, it is these junk cars that frequently break down, causing tremendous traffics jams at the wrong time of the day, all in all creating a big headache for those who are affluent, but still have to use the same roads.

                    The idea of subsidized mass transit is not to gift the poor and disadvantaged, but to improve the daily commute and the overall standard of living of those who can afford to do it in style.

                    And yes, the more cars you put on the roads, the more costly it is to maintain them.

                    The only way you can reduce traffic congestion when you force all the poor people to put old cars on the road is to build more parallel highways. Is that really the option you prefer?

                    So if you’ve come to believe that it is an extravagant act of generosity to provide mass transit options for poor people, you have been sadly misinformed.

                    1. Jess

                      You are partially, but not entirely, correct about the use of mass transit by low income people. For one thing, public subsidized mass transit for low income workers enables employers to continue paying a less than living wage. That’s one reason employers are so keen on mass transit and rent control; keeps their labor pool conveniently accessible.

                      Second, you discount the upper income people who ride mass transit. Metro north from Westchester county into NYC during rush hour is predominately mid-to-upper six figure income white collar types. Same for the train from Connecticut, except there the ridership is seven-figure types.

              1. Kurt Sperry

                One little thing if you don’t mind, this, “… meaning it gets diverted for boondoggles like Metro Rail. (Which, to the best of my knowledge, still doesn’t turn a profit.)

                I find the idea that a publicly funded service like transportation would even think about whether it “turned a profit” or not, frankly bizarre. If a public service makes a profit it’s not really much of a service at all is it? It’s a revenue stream instead, like a gun store or a Ferrari dealership. Transportation infrastructure, if well planned obviously, creates values that can’t be anything like neatly quantified into a crude per period, profit /loss calculation. Expecting user fees to entirely finance public works and if the fees taken in are less than the calculated costs, that is loadedly described as a “loss” and overcharges against the public described as “profits” and then to make policy decisions based on the garbage out will inevitably lead to misguided/wasteful decisions being made.

                edit- jrs beat me to it, and was more succinct too.

        2. Ivy

          At least we Californians have our cool train to nowhere under construction! What better use for all those tax dollars? /s

      2. Kim Kaufman

        There were three parts to Prop 13: residential real estate, commercial real estate and needing 2/3s of the legislature to pass any tax increases. At that time, 40% of the property taxes was coming from residential and 60% from commercial. It’s now 60% from residential and 40% from commercial. Commercial property doesn’t turn over the way residential does. When commercial property turns over, it’s often through complicated stock maneuvers. As for raising taxes in general, it’s basically non-functional. That’s why often taxes get raised through ballot measures and other poor substitutes and other revenue gets raised through fees and licenses on everything. Let’s raise commercial property taxes before screwing around with residential.

    3. Rocky Education

      Houses in my neighborhood north of Denver have gone up in value 100k in the last year alone. What’s going on here?

      1. Knifecatcher

        Mine’s gone up over $100k as well since I bought in 2014. Maybe closer to $150k. People get all excited, of course, but the reality is that the only ones who benefit from the higher prices are the Realtors.

        1. steelhead23

          Actually, the primary beneficiaries are banks. Let us not forget the run-up to 08. Banks were begging for mortgages they could securitize. Appraisers got the message and routinely inflated values to meet published housing inflation rates. People in existing houses, with existing mortgages based on the past value felt rich. They’d take out a second or re-fi to get that cool car, iphone, and vacation. We were all getting rich. Then came the defaults, triggering CDSs, margin calls, and the whole financial crisis.

          Pay attention Denver. When property values climb much faster than salaries and wages you are living in a bubble. Denver is one of the best boom-bust examples around and has been since the town was established. Times are booming. The bust is right around the corner.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            Far be it from me to give financial advice but I don’t think the bust for Denver is just around the corner. Or, maybe more accurately, the only way Denver busts is when everyone else already has. There is really a lot of money floating around this country, and the big sort in which the people who have it decide where they should live (among each other, it should go without saying) is now occurring. Guess what, they like Denver. They like Madison, too. And Des Moines. Go figure.

            This is not the 1%. This is the high-earning single or couple whose identity is tied up in their taste for quality, not least the quality of the environment they live in. Good coffee. Restaurants with outdoor seating. Good beer. Front porches. Light rail. Ideally, ability to get around on (nice) bike (that can be ridden in neighborhood without getting stolen), etc.

            Which is not to say property values can move upward at a rate of $100K per year indefinitely. But property values in these neighborhoods won’t crash. Unless the whole system goes down.

            1. crittermom

              My son & his wife still live in Denver & he said that the influx of a lot of tech companies has certainly contributed to the influx of people with higher salaries who can afford those homes. He & his wife continue to rent (they’ve been in the same place–private residence–for years & with current prices, refuse to buy a house).

              It sucks for those who had planned to remain there. Those of us who lost our homes only a few short years ago to the banksters see little hope of ever moving ‘home’ to Colorado again. I’m heartsick.

    4. crittermom

      Knifecatcher, I understand what you’re saying.
      I’d lived in Colorado from early 1978 (until the banksters stole my home 5 years ago), & I remember when gambling was legalized in towns such as Central City, Blackhawk & Cripple Creek.
      The increased taxes in those towns were an issue then, as well, forcing lifelong residents on fixed incomes to leave.

  3. Steve H.

    – “The Empirical Economics of Online Attention”

    “Our dataset contains information for more than forty thousand primary home computers,
    or “home devices,” at US households in 2008 and more than thirty thousand in 2013.”

    Noting that non-home device access to the internet (such as having a smartphone) has expanded rapidly and this is unaccounted for in the study. It doesn’t invalidate the results of the study, but it sure limits the scope.

  4. Unorthodoxmarxist

    The NY Times article about the plight of research scientists can be applied to all of academia. I received my PhD in Political Science half a decade ago and haven’t been able to land a tenure-track job at a 4 year school (they are basically unicorns) nor has a friend of mine that has had his degree for more than a decade – he has bounced from one-year to one-year. Grad school is essentially a scam unless you go to the very top-tier institutions, and even then it is a crap shoot.

    More and more it seems like grad school is essentially there to create nearly-free labor for universities and departments that would prefer to hire what are basically temp workers (grad students) for 3-5 years versus salaried, tenured profs. The endless churn only benefits the universities, and to a lesser extent the harried professoriate (endless supply of cheap labor with which to buttress their niche positions). Universities make a mint and cherry-pick the best grads for the minuscule number of tenure lines that open every year. Grad students get spit into the labor market and compete until they win (rare), drop out (find another job), or spend decades as low-wage adjunct permatemps.

    The solution (barring a socialist revolution) would be to either shut down 2/3 of the grad programs in every discipline across the nation or to hire thousands of new profs as part of a universal free higher ed program. Otherwise grad school will continue to be the worst deal on the planet for the scholarly-inclined.

      1. Binky

        Master’s degree is referred to as a union card for archaeologists. If you want to be a bureaucrat or hire out as a consultant or field chief you have to hit that bar. quite a few other bureaucracy jobs are the same.

      2. NeqNeq

        I’m curious:

        Does saying that “grad school stopped being a good thing”, or calling it “a scam” (Unorthodoxmarxist comment), because those getting a PhD can no longer get the job they want imply that you agree with the following proposition?

        The value of education is measured by the job it results in.

        1. jrs

          Maybe it is merely equivalent to:

          there should be truth in advertising, if students want to take out thousands in debt to study things that interest them only to find the job market for their qualifications barely exists then that is their prerogative, but schools should be completely upfront about what the job market really is for their graduates

          There is a basic dishonesty in students going to school thinking it will lead to jobs, no matter how worthy studying might be for it’s own sake, when it doesn’t. Are students means to be used up for the ends of academia, because it serves some social good to deceive them this way?

        2. different clue

          For people who have no inherited wealth now or in future, and who have to make a living, then yes . . . given the huge price of all-things-graduate-school; its value will have to be measured in whether it lets you get a survival job or not. If it doesn’t let you get that, then it was a destructive waste of your time to have ever gone into.

          The inherited rich can afford to value it for its “education-for-pure-learning” value. No one else can.

          1. NeqNeq

            Cheers. It seemed like something of that sort has to be foundational to those claims. Well, unless you take the path jrs does (which was hard to patch back into the original comment, but I am a poor interpretor).

            I think it would be very interesting to see actual data to back up the claim that grad school is particularly expensive (effective rates not list prices) and that students are told the job market is good. I see these tossed around a lot, but anecdote implies otherwise!

      3. redleg

        I dropped out of a PhD research program for an engineering Master’s. Best decision I’ve ever made, and the engineering degree got me into what amounts to applied research in my original field without having to search out tenure or grant money.

    1. That Which Sees

      When the number of US Students (and therefore University teaching slots) was increasing there were enough “new” seats that PhD’s who wanted positions could get them. Now, obtaining any PhD is frequently a bad deal from an economic standpoint as the number of seats is fixed to diminishing. With Physical Science or Mathematics driven degrees, one can go into industry rather than academia so students have a better chance with those (albeit diminished by H-1B visa fraud). Obtaining a Liberal Arts PhD with little to no external commercial value is even worse.

      Some have said that there opportunities overseas for PhD’s stuck in the Post Doc shuffle. I concede that that is the beginning and end of my knowledge on the subject.

      –> Have you or any of your peers attempted to obtain non-US positions?

      1. Arizona Slim

        I thought about that advice while I was a restaurant dishwasher during the early 1980s. So much for that bachelor’s degree!

      2. low integer

        “The starting point for first home buyers is to get a good job that pays good money”*

        Joe Hockey – Australian treasurer 2013-2015 (the Abbott years)

        *This was his reply to a question about the unaffordability of Australian real estate for younger Australians.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > More and more it seems like grad school is essentially there to create nearly-free labor for universities and departments

      It’s almost as if we as a society don’t really want to “innovate,” except in just a few carefully selected areas (that have to do with rent-seeking).

  5. cocomaan

    Lifestyle bloggers insist to hundreds of thousands of followers that freedom looks like a white woman practicing yoga alone on a beach.

    I really took to this article in The Baffler about self-improvement. It’s interesting to me that, in the modern era, a sort of pseudo Buddhism, AKA PseudoBuddho? has really taken off as a capital-friendly mode of living. Among people who have rightfully eschewed damaging brands of Christianity in favor of some kind of new spiritual life, pseudo Buddhism is seen as the go-to ideology.

    There is no structural imbalance, according to this view—there is only individual maladaption, requiring an individual response.

    PseudoBuddho says that existence is suffering and individual reactions are all that matters. Therefore, life just becomes an endurance race. What an inoffensive lifestyle! You don’t bother anyone. Nobody bothers you. We all live in harmony on a sinking ship. There’s no political action required. Nobody can proselytize any political action out of you. In fact, you’re better off not talking to anyone at all.

    Perfect for a time of urbanization, when neighbors are strangers and the internet brings us all together while alienating us at the same time.

    What PseudoBuddho fails to grasp is community. Christianity, and all the Abrahamic faiths, despite their faults, have an amazing ability to bring people together. In early Christianity, and then throughout the history of Christendom, it was used as a revolutionary force to change an entire empire from the ground up. Islam acted the same way, overthrowing slavery and the summary execution of female babies due to inferiority.

    Say what we will about them, at least they required some kind of Action out of people, in the Hannah Arendt “Human Condition” sense of the word Action.

    1. Uahsenaa

      I met a very wealthy man once who was a Buddhist, and we had an interesting chat about the introduction of Tendai to Japan in the Heian era. He really knew his stuff! At no point did it occur to him that his obscene wealth or the suffer he inflicted on others to build and maintain his wealth conflicted directly with the tenets of compassion and wisdom that are meant to sustain the sangha. It was all a philosophy of self-fulfillment to him.

      Then again, Zen was super popular among the warrior castes, so what do I know…

      1. Larry Y

        Warrior caste did more esoteric Buddhism – Shingon, Tendai. Only later in modern periods was Zen heavily associated with them. The Zen and archery instructor is on record hating Zen…

    2. hunkerdown

      It’s easy enough to consider PseudoBuddho as neoliberal social priming applied to the already shallow New Age movement. Any universalism can be corrupted into Thatcherism by force of inertia and disposable income.

      What if forced togetherness in ever larger groups with ever more complex single-rooted power relations and ever more hair-splitting, homogenizing codes of conduct, far more so than the mere pursuit of self-interest as a peer and comrade, is nearer the root cause of the trouble we face today? I don’t think this shallow “bringing together” of moar numbers for some purpose, any purpose at all, dear god don’t let me die without someone to validate my group narcissism, is something that ought to be encouraged. (cf. Tegan & Sara’s “Everything Is Awesome” treacle from the LEGO movie)

      Surely, there are better strategies toward building a healthy, sane society of strong individuals with good boundaries and a strong yet focused public interest. Intergenerational debts to harem-keeping alpha males both real and imaginary just don’t have much credibility anymore.

    3. Larry Y

      In some Buddish communities it’s called McMindfulness. Not sure I prefer that or PseudoBuddho.

  6. Jim A

    “The United States is producing more research scientists than academia can handle” Really universities produce more people in just about any field than they themselves provide jobs for. Pretty obvious that. Unless professors net only one successful student in their careers that’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that they are creating more graduates that the replacement rate. The idea has always been that most students would end up outside the ivory towers. The only time this hasn’t been true has been when academia itself has been expanding, say with the GI Bill after WWII. It is the lack of jobs outside academia for science grads that is making this as obvious in the sciences as it has been in the humanities.

    1. cocomaan

      Unfortunately, with industry in this very innovation-unfriendly mode of cutting costs in order to boost the bottom line, thereby removing the risk of financial insolvency but also removing the benefit of actually creating something interesting by giving smart people unfettered access to money, jobs being taken by H1Bs are very common in some fields, particularly anything in computer science, but it also extends to other fields as well. I hear about this All.The.Time. from friends. Brookings says the same thing and I’m inclined to believe them.

      1. That Which Sees

        The Center for Immigration Studies does a good job exposing the fraud an influence peddling that goes on in the immigration system:
        —> http://cis.org/ImmigrationBlog

        H-1B and L-1 fraud is rampant. EB-5 is also being badly abused.

        Every US citizen hurt by these awful programs is a likely Trump voter. And that includes a large # of young Sanders voters that have recently graduated and cannot find a job.

        1. cocomaan

          Good site with some good numbers!

          Some days I feel like we can either embrace freedom of movement for labor – as defined by old political economists – wholeheartedly, declaring an end to the nation state and figuring out a new order of things, or we can embrace nationalism and fix immigration as it exists now to protect workers where they reside instead of asking them to deal with selective immigration for the sake of saving big businesses.

          The piecemeal crap American workers are enduring is a hardship. Yves wrote recently that talking about immigration is not racist and I couldn’t agree more. Also agree with your assessment of who they are voting for.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            If you’re for the free movement of labor then you’re really saying that you are for a level standard of living across the globe.
            I can’t for the life of me figure out why a country with a very high standard of living would possibly wish to be dragged down to the global mean.
            Could it be that this is only good for the owners of the means of production, and is really bad for everyone else?
            /sarc off

  7. Unorthodoxmarxist

    The litmus test for Sanders’ organization will be whether it will fund third-party candidates against Democrats (and Republicans). If a Green, or socialist, or independent left candidate is supported then it may be a real left organization. If it is simply set up to be another version of the Working Families Party, endorsing “Pwog” Dems, then it’s a sham.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s apparently organizations, plural. (And man, do I hate that “pwog” term. It’s infantilizing.)

      We’ll see how it plays out. In my book, the “entity” should be a custodian of the platform and the list. To qualify a candidate: (1) endorses even a portion of the platform and (b) can run a not dys-functional campaign. I’d have to think about how to test for the latter, but there wouldn’t have been any reason not to give Howie Hawkins money, because he can run a campaign. For the Maine Greens, I’d think twice and then three times. (Gets away, at least, from Steve Israel selecting Republican squillionaires.

      But again, we’ll have to see how it plays out. And I would bet contributors would have something to say.

      1. inode_buddha

        Seeing this made my day. They already have my name and details and I volunteered in any capacity, or to run for something in the future (undecided what I’ll do, but available)

        I’ve a good background in motivational speaking/writing, among other things

      2. edmondo

        To qualify a candidate: (1) endorses even a portion of the platform and (b) can run a not dys-functional campaign.

        Under those criteria, Hillary qualifies. No wonder he endorsed her.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Endorse as written, and not as however Clinton would crap it up. I can’t imagine Clinton signing anything she didn’t control. Moreover, I said “the platform,” and not the Sanders 2016 platform; nothing prevents raising the bar, and in fact that’s the goal: Dragging the Overton Window left. Finally, suppose Clinton signed on to, say, a Post Office bank plank as written. Is that so very bad, suddenly?

          1. edmondo

            She could write it in blood and tattoo it on her butt and I still wouldn’t believe her. The Clintons lie to FBI agents under oath. Why would I believe anything she says? If she said “the sky is blue” I would run outside to check for myself.

    2. Knifecatcher

      I have a slightly different litmus test – if the new organization is focused on identifying, funding, or even creating primary challengers to the mainstream neolib Dems I’m all in.

      THAT’S a hostile takeover of the Democratic party.

    3. different clue

      I think if such a Sanders project kept funding kamikaze primary challenges against Clintonite Obamacrats till they were all purged and burned out of the office-seeking part of the party, that would be some positive value right there.

      Whether it supports other parties at the same time or not.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Ousting even just a couple of high profile DNC Dems via primary challenges would I think have an effect waaaay beyond the changes in the electoral math that would represent. It would put fear into the lot of them. Very, very worthwhile thing to attempt. The Democrats haven’t feared their base since I can remember.

      2. Kokuanani

        Too bad the timing of this was off [too early] and we missed the chance to have Donna Edwards take out Chris Van Hollen in the Dem primary for the MD Senate race.

        OTOH, with a little planning, maybe we can target the dreadful Steney Hoyer.

  8. Tvc15

    Wooly lambs ear, hardy plant and okay for zone 4. Perfect.

    Anecdotal, but I was speaking with a colleague in Cleveland today. She has a Canadian journalist staying with them and was told many journalists are wearing bullet proof vests to cover the RNC. America F yeah!

  9. Kevin Malone


    In regards to class warfare and why they are not regarded as Cosmopolitian for the helpers and the Filipinos or Thais I suggest reading the book “The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia” (Yale Press, 2009). I just read it and it shed some light on a number of topics that still persist in the region in regards to part of your comment that you posted on why they are not regarded as cosmopolitan. Reading chapter one, two, three and four should suffice and it’s quite an easy enough read to skim it.

    Kevin Malone

  10. Elizabeth Burton

    If Bernie’s list is in the DNC database, does anyone really, given what happened at least twice before, that he has to “hand it over”? Because I unsubbed from DCCC more than a year ago (and had to label them spam in Gmail for it to take), yet I was getting “Oh, look, Bernie’s joined us” emails from them a day after the pitiful excuse for an endorsement.

    Unless, of course, everyone believes that alleged “viewing” of Clinton’s list was all one-sided.

    1. ChiGal

      I am on Bernie’s list, unsubbed from all D lists around 2012, and have gotten nothing from them since he “endorsed”. I did not unsubscribe from his list and clicked yes to continuing to participate in the process going forward. I await and will share the next email he sends me, likely announcing these organizations.

      I am so impressed at the way he has negotiated these difficult straits.

  11. Clive

    Re: Antibiotics

    My dad just got out of a three-week hospital admission as a result of a bladder infection. This should have been a routine diagnosis and treatment but because of legacy protocols, primarily care just threw the usual antibiotics at the problem but these didn’t work. So my dad needed a different drug regime. But of course by the time this was obvious his infection had become worse. This meant he needed the hospitalization.

    Then, though, the less frequently used antibiotics were tricky to get the dosages right for and were less well understood for my dad’s hard-to-treat infection. This is what caused the very lengthy time in hospital. At least with our (still, despite all the undermining it has been subjected to) wonderful NHS was all free at the point of delivery and my dad had the luxury and blessings of not needing to worry about costs, insurance claims, co-pays, networks and so on.

    If this sort of situation is to be more common in the future, healthcare is going to be under severe strain. Of course, the artificial scarcity caused by lack of developing new antibiotics by big pharmaceutical companies was totally avoidable. Except it wasn’t, because markets.

    1. different clue

      I wonder how much of the antibiotics-failure problem is due to extreme overuse of the antibiotics we had/have.

      I wonder how much of that overuse is due to modern petrocorporate agribussiness and its massive-confinement animal concentration camps.

      As long as those two areas of overuse are permitted to remain, discovering new antibiotics is only running in place because those new antibiotics will be destroyed soon after discovery just like the ones we have/had were/are destroyed by overuse now.

      1. nowhere

        It is my understanding, as well, that the large animal farms are both a large consumer of antibiotics, and they are also a major greenhouse gas emitter. With right policies that would be a relatively simple fix – that’s why it’s not going to happen.

      2. Foppe

        80% of the AB used in the US are used by animal agriculture. CAFOs exist because everyone feels it is their right to eat other animals (and animal products), just like the aristocracy of old, plus, by now, habit. Until people start realizing that the belief that it is desirable to eat other animals is perverse (never mind suicidal), nothing will change; Animal ag is one of the largest business sectors planet-wide, and even far smaller industries (e.g. Tobacco) are barely hampered at all by regulations (even though their fill their products to overflowing with carcinogens, in order to increase addictiveness). This will change only after the aforementioned mentality change occurs, not before.

  12. petal

    About the NYT article (not enough academia jobs for PhD’s)-I was actually speaking to my boss about the topic this morning. He’s a famous guy in his field, long time as a prof, etc. At least here at our institution, the once-strong department has been shrinking steadily for several years now. Either people can’t get grants(the pay line is almost impossible to make these days) or the universities have been cutting PI jobs(and thus labs). PI’s are flat out being told to leave. It’s a hostile environment. There’s no recruitment going on, and jobs aren’t being filled as people retire. He also said there are too many grad students (they have been accepting too many here) and there aren’t enough lab openings for all of these students due to labs closing or PI’s not being able to land grants to afford to take on students. You have a lot more 4th rotations going on(meaning you don’t choose a lab, you get stuck in the lab of some sucker who may not have ever wanted you), and there’s little funding so things get tight. There are also kids who never should have been accepted. The bottom of the barrel is being scraped for whatever reason and then once they get here nobody wants them-they are the ones left over after the last rotation has ended. As for the NIH funding situation-even the established, high profile PI’s are having difficulty landing grants and are at risk of closing. It’s a serious gut job going on nationally.
    I haven’t had any friends that wanted to go that route have difficulty getting post doc positions, but have had friends leave the bench and go into business, law, journals, etc. I don’t think anyone even aims for an academic professorship anymore, now that I think about it. It doesn’t even come up in conversation. Everyone knows it’s not really an option, and we see what our bosses go through just to get a single grant to keep the lights on and people think it’s just not worth it. You cut your losses and don’t even bother trying to write/get one and head out elsewhere.

    1. Jen

      I worked at an (other) Ivy League institution almost 2 decades ago. The medical school had up or out tenure, and if you didn’t have 2 good sized grants when you went up, out you went. NIH funding was terrible then, too. Very hard to get funded, and when you did, the annual amount was reduced each year, and subsequent years recalculated based on the reduced funding. Fun times. I remember one woman on our faculty in particular who was hugely popular with the grad students. She was, and is, very successful in funding her lab, but she was going up for tenure while I was there, which was incredibly stressful. Pretty much student I talked to said they loved her, had huge respect for her, and did not want her life. Most of the students I knew ended up outside of academia.

      1. Arizona Slim

        My dad earned his chemical engineering PhD during the mid-1950s.

        He saw academia as a route to genteel poverty, and he didn’t want that kind of life. Nor did my mother. She grew up poor and didn’t want to repeat the experience as an adult.

        So Dad got a job in industry and stayed there.

          1. nowhere

            Some of my engineering professors made well over $200,000 per year. Not banker bucks, but nothing to sneeze at.

  13. gonzomarx

    Mace (yes that mace) is in Cleveland and welcomes RNC….. would Raoul Duke please pick up the white phone…

    1. jrs

      If they are just going to take the tack that Trump is stupid, which he probably is about many things, but it’s “the boy who cried wolf”. Arguing he has no record would be safer, that kind of does make him very risky. (Fake) liberal publications ALWAYS argue Republican politicians are stupid. But this leaves them utterly unable to explain why we keep getting bad policy that hurts the 99s even when we elect so called smart savy Democrats. Wasn’t Obama supposed to have been so smart? So sooner or later that dog isn’t going to hunt and people become increasingly indifferent to such criteria even if it should matter, because they just see themselves getting screwed either way, even if it’s by the class nerd.

    2. jrs

      The ghostwriter seems to believe he sold his soul for the money, but hey his wife was pregnant with the second kid and so on and so forth (is this the kind of professionals we mean? better example than the database programmer anyway – in those jobs you often don’t know the big picture) ….

      we need an alternative to selling our souls to survive like yesterday.

      1. sd

        Takes two to dance. You take the money, you do the dance. You don’t want to dance, don’t take the money.

  14. Stephen Tynan

    I am a big fan and rely on NC for news as an alternative to MSM.
    I hope that, instead of narrowing your focus, you expand your spectrum (and even consider posting 3x a day!)
    Keep up the good work.
    Stephen Tynan

      1. Alex

        What resources would you need in order to expand in this way? I think given a reasonable goal, the readership could rise to the challenge!

  15. Anne

    Was driving home in a rainstorm, traffic was slow, so punched up CSPAN on the radio, just in time to hear RNC coverage, in the midst of calling for approval of the platform and rules via voice vote. There was absolutely no question that the “nays” were twice as loud as the “yeas,” but “in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.” Chaos ensued. Some state delegations walked off the floor. Raucous calls for a roll call vote – which never materialized, because not enough delegations signed off for one.

    Here’s the least bad source (I hate linking to Politico and CNN – and forget about Fox and Red State!).

    Somehow, I managed to keep listening, through Barasso, and Mary Fallin and Virginia Fox, but when it became clear there wasn’t going to be a successful coup on the part of the Never Trump-ers, I changed the station.

    One thing to note: “Making America Great Again” is going to involve a heavy dose of St. Ronnie talk…36 years later, and these people still think Reagan walked on water.

      1. aab

        Similar goal: They wanted to unbind the delegates, presumably to dump Trump, but also in the future close the primaries. But they were also demanded a new rule that allows leadership to control all information about future rules committees.

        So basically, they were trying to undo the hostile takeover, as far as I can tell. Since I was rooting for a hostile takeover in the other party, I’m both sympathetic to the Trump side, in that they did win fair and square, and closed primaries are ridiculous — particularly paid for by tax revenues — but that voice vote thing is, um, a steaming pile of compost in a situation like this. So, very similar to Nevada, except that the anti-democratic behavior at the podium was reinforcing prior anti-democratic behavior in Nevada.

        Personally, I plan to get through the next two weeks with a lot of adult beverage consumption, and NO TV coverage viewing — for the first time since I was a very little girl.

        1. Yves Smith

          I’m not sympathetic. The delegates agreed to be delegates knowing they would be bound on the first ballot and knowing who the candidates were. This is like asking to change the rules in a professional games after the fact because you lost.

          1. aab

            I completely agree with you about that. But pretending the voice vote supported the podium when it didn’t is troubling. Either they had the right under the existing rules to make these kinds of rule changes, or they didn’t.

            I watched the Nevada, Iowa, and some of the other state convention debacles on the Democratic side pretty closely, live as they happened. I can’t cheer on overruling majority will by using voice votes illegitimately. The whole point is that the process should be just, regardless of whether or not it results in my preferred outcome. That concept is completely alien to Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party.

    1. Anne

      I work just blocks from the courthouse, so it’s been an ongoing topic of conversation, with most of us reaching the conclusion that the prosecution has done a terrible job, seemingly unable to put a believable case together. I would not be surprised to see the charges dropped for the 2 who have yet to go on trial and Porter, whose trial ended in a mistrial. And I don’t see how Marilyn Mosby doesn’t end up resigning over this – and the “team” going as well.

      The tactical decision on the part of defense lawyers to go with bench trials for these last two trials was nothing short of brilliant. Instead of one guilty verdict building to the next, we’ve had one mistrial and two outright acquittals: the prosecution that arrested and charged these cops in less than a month then spent almost a year not being able to build any kind of a strong case. I’ve yet to hear the prosecution go after these defendants on why they had go in a direction away from Central Booking, and spend 40+ minutes doing it, when Central Booking is a short ride from where Gray was placed in the van. It’s not like it was a tour bus taking the scenic route, but they sure made no effort to get to CB in a timely, efficient manner.

      So, Freddie just died by some kind of weird accident, I guess. No one did anything wrong. At least not the kind of wrong that carries an actual intent to harm him. I think they just treated him like the lowlife they thought he was and never gave it a thought, until – oops – Freddie wasn’t breathing.

      No one killed him – he just died. Right? Isn’t that how this works? So far, while there have been protests and demonstrations, things have not yet erupted the way we have worried they would, but this isn’t over. It’s hot, and people are on the edge.

      1. James Levy

        Ah, intent–the same crap they’ve used to get Clinton off the hook (yes, I know, they didn’t need to prove intent viz. Clinton, but when someone dies in your custody, does one have to prove intent to kill, or just depraved indifference? isn’t a person’s life and limb your responsibility if you take them into your custody?). Anyway, a majority of voters don’t care and won’t throw out anyone who doesn’t pledge to break the power of the police and make them our servants and not our overlords, so it doesn’t really matter because nothing will be done until blacks really start striking back, and then we won’t get justice, we’ll get the black resistance crushed like a bug. Anyone who has delusions about “fighting the Feds” or the glories of the 2nd Amendment are going to be disabused pretty quick if blacks rise up against the cops, because they won’t stand a chance and won’t be given one.

        Yes, I’m very angry.

    2. James Levy

      As people say around here, a feature, not a bug.

      The evidence to my eyes is that this is the outcome voters want. They elect politicians and District Attorneys who give cover to the cops, and they man the juries that always acquit.

      As I said yesterday: white Americans can live without black people, but they can’t live without the protection of life and property they feel the cops provide vis-a-vis those very black people. If a few black men have to die to “keep us safe”, well, we kill innocent people in the Greater Middle East every week for that same reason, so why be shocked if it’s true here, too.

      BTW, Trump turning down the invitation of the NAACP was a mistake. It would have been a hostile crowd, but if he wins it will be too late to bridge the gap that exists between him and black people, and that chasm has to be crossed. If Trump wants to be our Fearless Leader, it will be Trump who will have to cross it.

    3. dots

      This is exactly the problem. Our legal system doesn’t believe there is anything wrong with the killing of black people, or even with failing to value their lives at all.

      from May 2015 -Freddie Gray: Baltimore police officers ‘did nothing wrong’

      The prosecutor said the findings of an independent investigation, coupled with the medical examiner’s view that the death was a homicide, had “led us to believe that we have probable cause to file criminal charges”.

      Ms Mosby said Gray died as a result of injuries suffered while he was shackled inside a Baltimore police van, but not restrained by a seat belt – as he was legally required to be.

      She said the officers failed to provide medical aid to Gray after he repeatedly pleaded for help.


  16. Dark Matters

    This particular segment resonated with me:

    One of the more bizarre features of modern liberal discourse is the degree to which it depends on interpersonal social engineering. The basic premise is that through all kinds of influence tactics (example-setting, call-outs, signal-boosting, legitimizing / delegitimizing, enabling, and so on) you can get the people around you to behave certain ways… Liberals call this “normalizing”, [Pick-Up Artist (!!)] call this ‘patterning’ or ‘programming,’ but it’s operationally identical

    One, if not the main, weakness of democracy is the degree to which populations can be manipulated by its own psychology, through rhetoric or more subtle means. To anyone who doubts this, I refer you to Lippman’s book Public Opinion. This book, which you can find online in pdf, unabashedly and lucidly discusses propaganda as practiced by the government in the World War I era, using the “scientific” methods of Freud and Jung. I imagine the techniques by now are a bit dated, but I’ve not seen any newer revisions. .

    In this context, the phenomenon that Lambert identifies here is a thinly-disguised application of the Asch Conformity principle. I used to be a liberal (hell, maybe I still am), but my willingness to consider alternative, even disreputable, news sources and to examine MSM opinions critically has made me something of a pariah among some friends. Observing that some PC shibboleths are ill-conceived, or, for example, that maybe Russia’s foreign policy is misrepresented in the western press, has earned me scorn and derision. What I found especially surprising was how defensive people became even when I tried to lay out the discussion on the table and try to analyze unpopular opinions objectively. It becomes very obvious that something more than intellectual disagreement is operating. Counterarguments starting out rationally quickly developed into appeals to “authoritative” sources, whether NPR, the Atlantic, huffingtonpost, etc.. Even in the face of compelling counter-evidence, such sources are regarded as so sacred that folks squirm and dissemble mightily to avoid questioning their trustworthiness. (A second factor is probably operating, the unpleasantries of cognitive dissonance experienced when a firmly-held belief is in the process of being upset).

    So I now appear to be some kind of conservative socialist, who fits into no contemporary political category I can find, whose viewpoints are iconoclastically offensive to most. And a second change has developed: I’ve become just as interested in, and sensitive to, why people hold political opinions as I am in what those opinions are. I imagine a fair number of bloggers have had similar experiences.

    Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter with structures markedly different from blogs actually reintroduce social pressures that can bring independent opinions back into conformity. Now that I’ve acquired a taste for watching psyops in action, this now provides yet another source of morbid entertainment.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think that Beijer’s comparison of liberal social engineering techniques to the (wholly repellent) “Pick Up Artist” subculture must have caused a many heads to explode. And a good thing, too.

    2. Swamp Yankee

      Re: “So I now appear to be some kind of conservative socialist, who fits into no contemporary political category I can find, whose viewpoints are iconoclastically offensive to most. And a second change has developed: I’ve become just as interested in, and sensitive to, why people hold political opinions as I am in what those opinions are. I imagine a fair number of bloggers have had similar experiences.”

      This describes my life over the past few months. Thank you for putting it so well.

  17. Strategist

    NC regulars and assorted other Sandersinistas might be interested to know that here in dear old Blighty the 48 hour window in which people can hand over £25 to sign up as a registered Labour party supporter and get a vote in the Labour leadership election, opened at 1700 BST (1200 in New York?). The people who have to do this include the appx 100,000 people who have joined the Labour party as full fee members since 12 Jan 2016. The form includes a free text box for you to make a statement on why you want to register for a vote. I wonder what they will do with that data??!

    As the man said, you literally couldn’t make it up. But amongst the farce, a crucial time which will decide the future of the Labour party and the wider English left. All done democratically and in the spirit of le fairplay.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Wow. Do the 100,000 people who already paid for a membership but got thrown off the roles by the NEC get a £3 rebate, for a total of £22? [snicker]

    2. windsock

      As I said in a previous thread – Labour has effectively introduced a Poll Tax. It deserves the reaction Maggie got when she introduced her’s.

    3. Strategist

      Hey Lambert
      From http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/19/eagle-and-smith-reach-a-deal-to-allow-single-corbyn-challenger-labour-leadership

      The NEC, which was to meet again on Tuesday, is facing two legal challenges to its decisions. A Labour donor, Michael Foster, is seeking to overturn the ruling that Corbyn can automatically stand. He is due to lodge the high court case on Thursday, with Corbyn seeking to apply to be a party to the case, meaning his lawyers can argue in court.

      Separately, a leading London law firm is understood to be mounting a class action on behalf of 2,000 Labour members who joined the party in the past six months and claim its stated conditions said they would be able to vote in any leadership poll.

  18. hunkerdown

    Japanese telecom Softbank (owners of Sprint) buys ARM Holdings for $32bn. Our favorite responsible speculator Bob Cringely and his commentariat speculate, responsibly, that the deal puts ARM in line for major course changes, possibly an in-house fab and/or a new challenger in server processors, or maybe just a bigger slice of the pie. (File under: economics, power, baby ducks)

  19. skippy

    ZOMG….. Lambert and NC Commentariat

    Congressman discourses on unique civilizational role of ‘white people’
    Scott Bixby

    Scott Bixby

    During a round-table discussion regarding the uniformly white leadership of the Republican party, six-term congressman Steve King of Iowa declared that white people have contributed more to the advancement of human civilization than any other “sub-group of people,” igniting a firestorm of crosstalk that almost resulted in one of the panelists walking off the set, writes Scott Bixby:

    “This whole ‘white people’ business does get a little tired,” said King, a six-term congressman, of critiques that the homogeneity of Republican leadership has lead to policies insensitive to racial and religious minorities. Fellow panelist Charlie Pierce, a writer for Esquire, had declared that demographic realities imply that the 2016 election “is the last time that old white people will command the Republican Party’s attention, its platform, and its public face.”

    “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where these contributions that have been made by these categories of people that you’re talking about,” King continued. “Where did any other sub-group of people contribute more to civilization?”

    “Than white people?” asked host Chris Hayes incredulously.

    “Than Western civilization itself,” King responded, “which is rooted in western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America, and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That’s all of Western civilization.”

    The set immediately broke into a torrent of nearly unintelligible denunciations from fellow panelists Pierce and April Ryan, Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks.

    “What about Africa? What about Asia?” asked Ryan. “No, no, no, no, no.”

    Hayes, attempting to moderate, told the panel that “we are not gonna argue the history of civilization,” and closed the segment by uneasily declaring that “on cable news, we are not going to resolve the relative strengths of various strands of civilizational prowess.”

    Hayes tweeted after the incident that he was “taken aback” by the congressman’s statements, and that he should have allowed Ryan to respond: – Guardian live feed to Rep convention….

    Disheveled Marsupial…. they’re out in the open now…. chosen people thingy…. the absurd have gone pro… wheeeeeeeeeeeeee~~~

    1. Vatch

      White people? Hmm. I might accept such a statement about tan people. Writing was probably invented by people in Sumer in what is now southern Iraq, although it may have been independently invented in Egypt. A phonetic alphabet was invented by the Phoenicians of modern day Lebanon. The concept of the numeral zero as a place holder was invented by people in India (the so called “Arabic numerals”):


      Heck, some Indian people are quite a bit darker than tan.

      Then there’s Gutenberg’s technique of printing with moveable type, dated about 1454. Several centuries earlier, the Chinese and Koreans had moveable type printing. They stopped using it because it was cumbersome with the Chinese character writing system. Too bad the Korean Hangul phonetic system hadn’t been invented yet. Anyhow, they were way ahead of Gutenberg.


  20. Elliot

    “The inherited rich can afford to value it for its “education-for-pure-learning” value. No one else can.”

    Especially if you think the point of education is only to produce (well paid) automatons.

    As a species, that’s not the point of education.

    And there are other equally valid places to get education beside Ivy League schools and their wannabes. Is our education financing system screwed? Decidedly yes. Are tuition and fees costs insane? Youbetcha. That doesn’t devalue learning, however.

    The poor and middle class may get less of that kind of education than they could afford when I worked my way through grad school, decades ago, but they do still get value from it.

    I have a young friend who is a learning specialist for special needs children, and she and her husband planned their schooling and jobs around paying off her loans first, having a modest wedding, and both working at whatever until they could find jobs that fit their degrees. Neither has inherited wealth, and they worked like fiends and carried crazy credit loads, and both got their degrees and are now working in their fields. It wasn’t instant or easy like it would be for the wealthy, but they made it happen.

    I assume that they are not the only bright young couple in the country who have figured out how to get the education they wanted, vs what looked easy to settle for.

    I do agree though that tuition costs are appalling, wicked, bad for the country, and think it would be grand if we could do as Sanders suggests.

    1. aab

      My objection to your heartwarming anecdote is not just that it is an anecdote — rather than data — but that you are framing it in the classic, false, American frame of “they made it happen,” as if their apparently happy outcome is primarily a function of will, hard work, intelligence — merit, in other words.

      But the problem with the current system is that merit alone is not going to reliably deliver such happy endings. There is tremendous luck involved. You’re leaving a lot out, too. What state are they in? Were they fortunate enough to be able to attend a high quality state school near their homes, in systems that still guarantee placement for high achieving in-state students? More and more states now accept lower achieving out of state students paying full freight over high achieving in-state students at their flagship schools. How long ago did they go to school? School costs and loans have gotten much worse in the past few years. Are they going without health insurance, or did they at any point in this process? One severe illness or injury could have permanently derailed their plan. Do they have children? Do they want children? Because unless they have relatives nearby, child care access and cost could destroy them, particularly if they still haven’t paid off their student loans.

      And finally there are lots of bright, hard-working, generally meritorious people skilled and talented in areas that are not as well-funded and supported by regulatory requirements and therefore as easy to enter as “learning specialist for special needs children.” Don’t get me wrong — I’m sure that field is getting more and more difficult to enter as privatizing education reform grinds and whirls on. But your young friend is already in. As with all the other factors in our unequal and unjust world, timing matters a lot.

      Yes, I’m sure even now it is possible for a non-rich person to figure out a path to a secure and satisfying career. But it isn’t merely a function of their merit, and lots of people of equal merit are not and will not be able to achieve this goal. And separate from the problem of individual outcomes, there’s also the problem of all the wasted ability, all the ways social could benefit from the talents and efforts of all those other people not so fortunate, who find themselves one way or another at the dead end of the maze.

      I realize you are on the side of Sanders’ policies, but you’re still reflecting some of the toxic underpinnings of our current belief system in the way you offered that anecdote. We are all so saturated in neoliberal dogma it’s hard to escape it or see past it.

  21. Roland

    The Gopnik piece is ridiculous. He insists on the stupidity of calling Trump a fascist, and tries to justify it by making specious distinctions between various fascist movements.

    Fascist movements, regardless of nationality, are always paramilitary in their organization. Trump’s movement is not paramilitary.

    But Gopnik is too obtuse to note this; instead he blathers unspecifically about Italian neoclassicism or German romanticism or whatever. Gopnik can’t think politics, because he’s more comfortable talking about couture. If the editor had allowed him more space, he would no doubt have indulged in sartorial comparisons as well.

    As for cosmopolitanism being some sort of cardinal human virtue, that’s not only elitist crap, it’s also logically absurd. It’s as much as to say that the majority of humanity cannot exhibit a cardinal virtue. It also ignores the fact the cosmopoles need supply of culture from elsewhere. If cosmopolis were everywhere, we would not have multiculture, we would have a globalized monoculture.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s good for the world to have a few big polyglot entrepots. But one should never consider cosmopolis to form any sort of standard for urban life anwhere else, still less a standard of overall human conduct.

    Gopnik does not even seem to take the least cognizance of his own ideological extremism, and of his megalopolitan megalomania. Perhaps he could start by reading Lewis Mumford’s Culture of Cities.

    Oddly, it is Gopnik resembles the fascists much more than does Trump. Because another main feature of fascism is its emphasis on the development and exhibition of human virtue.

    Now of course, with the fascists, the virtues emphasized are the martial qualities (e.g. courage, endurance, obedience, determination). For the fascist, war is considered the proper venue for the exhibition of human qualities. That’s wonderful for the fascist, but there’s no escape for anybody else.

    Now one thing for sure: none of us would ever accuse Trump of invoking a grand scheme of human virtue, whether in war or in anything else. Trump is simply not a fascist, period.

    But what about Gopnik, this globalist bourgeois? For him, cosmopolitanism is the principal human virtue, and its proper venue is the ubiquitous permanent integrated global marketplace. Great for the globalist neoliberal, but no escape for anyone else, and nowhere any escape from this “ideal.”

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