Links 9/17/17

The new economy of excrement Nature

The Equifax fiasco is a classic case of ‘weapon of math destruction’ WaPo

How badly did Equifax breach damage the Social Security system? McClatchy

Equifax Holds Contract to Verify Data of Obamacare Customers Bloomberg

Internet Tax Ruling Worth Billions Poised for Supreme Court Review Bloomberg

EU efforts to impose heavier taxes on tech giants gather momentum FT

California Legislature Sells Out Our Data to ISPs EFF

Here’s how much social media stars get paid to post ads Recode

Researchers find summer heat’s lasting longer in the Gulf of Maine Portland Press-Herald (study). “Since 2004, the Gulf of Maine – which extends from Massachusetts to the head of the Bay of Fundy and includes all of coastal Maine – has warmed faster than anyplace else on the planet, except for an area northeast of Japan.”

You’re probably drinking little bits of plastic in your tap water Quartz

Real estate industry blocks sea-level warnings that could crimp profits on coastal properties McClatchy

Where modern macroeconomics went wrong Real World Economics Review (MT).


Crime and Punishment Harpers (DG)

Afghanistan – U.S. Resolved To Repeat Failures Moon of Alabama

OUTRAGEOUS: Whiny Sen. Rand Paul tries ending the war in Afghanistan after only 16 years Duffel Blog

Digging In for Next Decade, U.S. Expands Kabul Security Zone NYT

‘I Want to Finish This’: US Special Ops Leaders Urge Washington to Stick by the Syrian Kurds Defense One

Saudi Arabia Cracks Down on Dissenting Clerics Amid Rumors of Crown Prince’s Rise to Throne The Intercept

Venezuela to End Dollar-Denominated Oil Deals, Currency Exchanges Venezuelanalysis

Venezuela’s Maduro upbeat on talks, opposition fear ‘show’ Reuters

Brazil’s Elite Have Fallen To Pieces Forbes


Frustrated EU fears Britain is ‘heading for the Brexit rocks’ Guardian

Boris Johnson resurrects the Leave campaign’s £350m for NHS fantasy The New Statesman

Boris Johnson outburst challenges Theresa May’s Brexit leadership FT

Spain tightens grip over Catalan spending as tensions soar France24

What Spain has to lose from Catalan independence Politico

Commentary: Labor reform in France’s Macron economy Reuters


The China Puzzle NYT

The live stream industry in China should reach $5 billion this year Quartz

The New Cold War

The Russian Hacking Story Continues to Unravel Counterpunch (original).

The (Thus Far) Flimsy Case for Republican Cooperation on Russian Targeting emptywheel

Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know? Gillian Tett, FT

* * *

Envoy welcomes Russian idea for UN troops in eastern Ukraine Guardian

Ukraine requests new weapons from US as Russia kicks off huge military exercise Independent

Harvard Fellowships Have Always Been a Joke Foreign Policy (MR).

Trump Transition

Trump Administration Seeks to Avoid Withdrawal From Paris Climate Accord, International Climate Officials Say WSJ. The administration is now saying nothing has changed, but the article is reasonably sourced.

Teflon Don confounds Democrats Politico. “Pollsters are shocked by how many voters describe themselves as ‘exhausted’ by the constant chaos surrounding Trump, and they find that there’s strong support for a Congress that provides a check on him rather than voting for his agenda most of the time. But he is still viewed as an outsider shaking up the system, which people in the various surveys say they like, and which Democrats don’t stack up well against.”

Health Care

I watched my patients die of poverty for 40 years. It’s time for single-payer. WaPo. This:

In my 27 years at these two safety-net hospitals, not one of my patients received an organ or bone marrow transplant. Yet the organs that fed the transplant centers across the region came from the dying patients in these hospitals. Our patients — the poorest of the poor — gave, but they never received.

The loss of morality in America’s health-care debate WaPo

Single-Payer Movement Shows: Life After Trump May Not Suck Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

CBO Sees Slow Growth For Exchanges; Administration Promotes Agents And Brokers In Marketplaces Health Affairs

Congress Enters Legal Fight to Block Release of Obamacare Repeal Emails American Oversight. A bipartisan effort.

Democrats in Disarray

Why Democrats Should Dump ‘Free College’ Washington Monthly

The ‘Hillary safe space’ that divided the American left BBC. The Beeb late to the party on Verrit.

Harvard Business School’s Latest Case Study Looks at American Politics and Finds a Rigged System WSJ

What’s happening to rural mental health center is sickening Des Moines Register

Our Famously Free Press

With scripted comedy videos, The Washington Post wants to provide “new entry points to the news” Nieman Labs

Did The Washington Post Break A Law When It Disciplined A Reporter Over A Jeff Bezos Op-Ed? HuffPo

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Heated protests follow Stockley acquittal St Louis Post-Dispatch and READ: Entire judgment in Jason Stockley case KSDK

Fired/Rehired WaPo

Guillotine Watch

‘Those were no warning shots’ : Security guard describes the moment Porsche-driving lawyer shot homeless man Daily Mail

Class Warfare

The day that destroyed the working class and sowed the seeds of Trump NY Post

6 Things Juggalo Culture Teaches Us About Trump Cracked (January 2017 but still useful). So far as I can tell, the Juggalos are the Burning Man of the working class. That’s why the FBI classifies them as a gang, but not the CEOs attending Burning Man, despite the wage-fixing cartel that they ran.

Democratic Socialists group endorses ‘Juggalo March’ in DC The Hill. What a time to be alive!

Psychologists studied 5,000 genius kids for 45 years — here are their 6 key takeaways Business Insider

How Reading Rewires Your Brain for More Intelligence and Empathy Big Think

Antidote du jour (via the Snow Leopard Trust):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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

    Really had a problem using my bookmarked link to get to NC.
    Finally I tried googleing NC and trying a number of provided links, and obviously the one I chose got me here. Maybe the problem with servers and such got resolved this as I tried another link…

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Port 80 is the TCP/IP port for HTTP. That is, the port your web browser tries to connect to when it first accesses a web site. Apache, the open-source web server apparently running on CentOS (the open-source version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux), was sending an error response to the connection request. Hence, the port mention.

  2. ChiGal in Carolina

    Got a 500 error 40 min ago going in through bookmark in Opera. Was just able to open from a Google search

  3. fresno dan

    There is plenty to concur with and even applaud in Coates’ prolonged reflection, which bears the provocative title “The First White President.” The author is, I think, quite correct to note that that Donald Trump is a vicious white supremacist dedicated to denigrating and even erasing the legacy of the nation’s first technically Black president Barack Obama.
    The venerable white professor called it. A nominal Democrat was elected president along with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress in 2008. What followed under Obama (as under his Democratic presidential predecessors Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton) was the standard “elite” neoliberal manipulation of campaign populism and identity politics in service to the reigning big money bankrollers and their global empire….. New Gilded Age class and race inequality soared to new levels of abject obscenity under Obama’s “progressive” presidency, when nearly all of nation’s income gains went to the top 5 percent.

    As the left labor historian Chad Pearson recently wrote me:

    “I don’t think the role of Coates is to inform us about race and racism; instead, I think his chief goal is to question the relevance of class and class analysis. Is it even true that ‘leftists’ fixate on class struggle over other matters’? The leftists I know are active in Black Lives Matter, BDS, the Confederate statue removal movement, etc…What Coates is doing here, I think, reflects the role that liberal academics and writers have been doing since at least the 1980s: suggesting that those interested in class routinely dismiss other divisions in society.
    Reading Coates’ essay I found myself wondering how a writer as obviously brilliant and eloquent as its author would commit so much nonsense to paper with the knowledge that his reflections would be widely read by people fully capable of calling him out. Perhaps part of it is in fact the horizon-narrowing and power-serving hold that specifically bourgeois Identity Politics has on the minds of the intelligentsia, including even some of its sharpest thinkers in the neoliberal era. Or perhaps Coates is not so much a super-smart fool as a super-smart cynic who knows which side his bread is amply buttered on. You don’t get to hold a privileged perch at the neoliberal-capitalist Atlantic and get “Genius Grants” from the corporate-globalist MacArthur Foundation by being a Marxist who takes seriously the problem of class rule and its dialectically inseparable relationship with racial oppression. Going down that seriously radical path costs you money and prestige.
    Well, just like giraffes don’t have tall necks because they tried to have tall necks, but only the ones with tall necks survive, I don’t think writers like Coates tailor their views ONLY or mostly because of money – but you can bet that the Neoliberal 0.1% is ONLY going to advance those that disparage any discussion of CLASS – that is, being racist is so, so bad that there can NEVER, EVER be any time given to even mentioning income inequality in the problems of POOR people….

    1. JohnnyGL

      If you want some evidence that Coates ‘knows better’ with regard to his die-hard defense of Obama….here you go…

      Commentators like Yvette Carnell have argued that having one parent from Africa, and one white parent from a wealthy family which allowed him to inherit a fortune means he’s so distant from the experience of black Americans in this country who are still coping with the legacy of Jim Crow, slavery, etc. that Obama shouldn’t even be considered black. She’s got a point.

      1. Basil Pesto

        I always found it a bit puzzling that he was exclusively considered America’s first black president, and not also its latest white president. Strictly speaking he is black of course, but African-American/’black’ seems to me to have a very specific connotation in the American public consciousness, namely, descendent from those who were brought to America to be slaves. It’s not especially relevant I suppose, but as I understand it, Kenya was remote from the American slave trade anyway. Again, African-American isn’t technically incorrect, but consider other perspectives – would a second-generation American with one parent or even two from Egypt be labelled ‘African American’? Or Morocco? Or South Africa (and would the answer differ if they were black south African or white)? Does it really all come down to a question of skin pigmentation? His ethnic background was irrelevant to his actual merits or demerits as a candidate, and his backstory undoubtedly captured the public’s imagination, carefully crafted and disseminated as it was. But a distinction was there to be made and it seems like nobody really cared to make it, and then there followed giddy talk of a ‘post-racial America’. That was nice while it lasted.

        I think it all speaks to how hopelessly facile the whole white/PoC dichotomy is. It discounts human heterogeneity. Every social, popular conception and classification of race through history seems to be deeply flawed in one way or another (these definitions are ever-evolving – I’m wryly amused by the generally accepted labelling of Jews as ‘white’ now. Maybe someone could pass on the memo to the neo-Nazis.)

        1. JohnnyGL

          Further channeling my inner Yvette Carnell…she argues, and again, I think she’s onto something: Broad brush terms like ‘people of color’ and ‘diversity’ are used to obscure and water-down the history and relevance of what was done to black Americans over the course of our history.

          Her definition of what it means to be “African American” clearly has more to do with history and oppression of a specific group of people and their descendants over many generations rather than being related to skin-tone or race.

    2. Plenue

      “Reading Coates’ essay I found myself wondering how a writer as obviously brilliant and eloquent as its author”

      Coates isn’t brilliant. He has a certain talent for writing like (a caricature of) Baldwin, but absolutely none of the substance. His entire role is to defang black opposition. Whether he’s aware of this or not, I can’t say, though given that a central thesis of his stupid best selling book is that going to parties and losing yourself in some sort of gestalt of black bodies is preferable to any civil rights movement, he very well may just be staggeringly delusional.

    3. JBird4049

      I’ve wondered how anyone could not see how the growing poverty is at least as important as racism. Perhaps that since the economy is going great for them, and their path to money “appears” to be open to others, and they don’t know anyone who would want to do anything for a living besides writing, it’s not class.

    4. JTFaraday

      “I think, reflects the role that liberal academics and writers have been doing since at least the 1980s: suggesting that those interested in class routinely dismiss other divisions in society.”

      Yes, except we did see a lot of people explicitly saying this during the election. This made the Bernie Bro charge stick, although not all of the people doing this were proper Bros. Even Nancy Fraser more or less dropped her previous careful intersectional analysis in favor of scapegoating white women– ostensibly of her own class– which is not to suggest that the guilt by association ends with her and hers, and which is why she should know better.

      Dish it out, get it back. Frankly, all of this is more and more strikes me as manifestation of collective mental illness.

  4. John

    Please explain to me why organizations such as Equifax even exist? Do they actually perform a necessary function?

    Maybe we should all go back to snail mail and checks.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Credit reporting and scoring agencies serve a similar function to Ratings Agencies (Moody’s, S&P).

      1) They allow banks to outsource and standardize credit analysis.

      2) They eat risk and function as lightning rods for bad publicity. MERS did this, too.

      3) Because of 1 and 2, they are made to be politically powerful, with lots of friends in DC.

      If banks and the feds chose to dis-empower them and outlawed the use of credit scoring in lending decisions, their businesses would rapidly cease to exist.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They impersonalize lending – the opposite of neighborhood bankers who know at least something about you and your family.

        A rudimentary Artificial Intelligence and robotic lending.

        Without them, it’d be hard for the totalitarian financial masters of the universe to spread debt serfdom.

        1. Tooearly

          Curious as to whether or not a large enough group of people freezing their credit would seriously undermine the profits of these bloodsuckers…

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      It’s good to see that Equifax’s new role in providing “security” for Social Security and the Obamacare exchanges is being publicized. What’s par for the course is that taxpayers are paying Equifax $10 million–admittedly a paltry sum–so that Equifax can get access to even more of our data which they can then sell for a profit. They should be paying us.

      One problem: the Obamas were probably expecting an appointment to the Equifax board in return for hooking them up on this. Being on that board might be a little too likely to be publicized unfavorably now though.

      BTW, if you have not gone through the SS sign-up process yet, you’ll find it’s remarkably intrusive. Verifying questions along the order of “name of prom date” are included.

      1. Mel

        There is a real technical problem with those verifying questions. They’re trying to find out something that no impostor will ever know, and that you will never forget. So that ten years down the line when you call them having forgotten your password, they can feel reasonably sure that it really is you who has called in.
        The question used to be your mother’s maiden name, but so many millions of organizations have asked for that over the years, and stashed it in their databases, that you can’t assume it’s private knowledge anymore.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          When I can’t avoid those, I use a strong password generator and paste into those fields. Then save to password notes, of course.

        2. a different chris

          Right and heck it’s way harder for you to remember the exact answer than it is for the databases.

          I can never remember if I put my High School down as Bobby Metro, which it says on the football scoreboard, or if I gave the more proper “Metropolitan Robert School District” moniker which hardly anybody can get quite right, and the weird thing is that’s the one type of question where they never seem to give you three guesses.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            I suggest you use KeePass to manage your passwords. There are fields for each entry to maintain a list of questions and answers you give. Kinda handy. As it runs on multiple platforms, one can move an encrypted password file from linux to windows to mac to android and back again. It also generates strong passwords of whatever length and construction you need. Supposedly, there is a way to automatically link it with Firefox but I’ve never done that.

            1. tooearly

              isnt it likely that these password apps are built to fail? IMO if i were NSA I would make sure to force them to create some serious backdoors

              1. blennylips

                It is likely that some password apps are built to fail, but not all.

                Remember “Look for the Union Label”?
                Now look for the “Open Source” label!

                No guarantees either way of course & ya gotta research per your specific use case, but I too chose Keepass and recommend it, and trust it.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Equifax, several links over many days.

    California selling data to ISPs.

    Of course, corporations own our DNA.

    Putting them together, is the more basic question about Equifax, and others like it, this: How is it they can own our private credit information (and how can corporations sell it to them in the first place – if, for example, doctors can’t sell our similarly private medical information)?

    And a few other questions.

    1. In the former East Germany, and other countries, friends could ‘report’ you (or information about you) to a state agency. Here, corporations ‘report’ you to private agencies. How different are they?

    2. Those states can then intimate or punish those reported. Are people intimidated, financially (directly, or indirectly – through, say, job insecurity first, then negative impacts to credit later due to unemployment), when under such credit surveillance?

    1. Lil'D

      The systems are vulnerable
      This is just the Loma prieta quake… not the big one
      Things will get worse before they get better
      And there is no guarantee they will get better, just hope

    2. HotFlash

      A neighbour who is a social worker with the city here (Toronto ON) told me today that new intakes into Ontario Works (that is the name of our welfare programme, mandated provincially but administered locally) will *all* be verified by Equifax — great timing,, eh? Used to be they only did it sometimes, at random or if fraud suspected, but very recently decided to check every new applicant.

      As Lambert would say, what could go wrong?

  6. Henry Moon Pie

    Hard to believe that a NY Post article contains a nice bio of Staughton Lynd, who has been fighting the good fight alongside his spouse, Alice, for decades in the Mahoning Valley of Ohio.

    One of the most moving things I’ve ever heard was Staughton’s telling about the day that the Mississippi Freedom School trainers at Oberlin heard that Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney had gone missing. Staughton and Alice make wonderful examples for all of us about “accompaniment,” living among and as the people you’re trying to organize.

    1. RickM

      Agreed! I met Staughton Lynd in a previous life, which required me to recheck the source of the article twice before I would believe my eyes.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The day that destroyed the working class and sowed the seeds of Trump NY Post

    On the night of Black Monday, Lynd remembers an emergency meeting was called by the Central Labor Union and a plan was endorsed to send petitions to President Jimmy Carter encouraging him to stop steel imports and put an ease on regulations that were hurting the industry. At the time, newer plants in China and Japan, which had better technological capabilities, were outstripping American production.

    Some regulations are good; and some are bad. He seems to be saying that imposing more regulations is not always good, but rather that it’s case by case and there is no need to immediately and always panic when we hear ‘the government is eliminating some regulations.’

    A question. What sowed the seeds of Carter?

    Carter never even bothered to send out an aide to receive the petitions when they arrived. Amazingly, the president who was a well-known supporter of the working class never even acknowledged them.

    1. Richard

      Didn’t Watergate sow the seeds of Carter? We do ourselves no favors when we overlook the obvious to shoehorn in a (to me) dubious hypothesis: “Carter was an enemy of unions or workers”.
      1) Jimmy Carter was a business man and highly educated to an elite standard. He himself was not of the working class.
      2) He was generally blocked by members of his own party during his administration, and wasn’t able to advance much policy. The direction he was headed (again, to me, a closer study would reveal what I’m leaving out) seemed to be along he lines of many other early 70’s Dem. party reformers: heightened environmental and workplace protection, strengthening the so called safety net, to bring in some of the old newdealers, and some talk about energy policy to bring in the wonks (mostly use less gas and electricity).
      3) I would never describe him as anti-worker, or anti-union, alhough it is true that his relationship with organized labor was never smooth. I seem to remember a few major unions working with Scoop Jackson to scotch Carter’s nomination at the end. I believe he got all their endorsements (pretty much) in the fall, but the knives came out, among labor leaders as well as party regulars and elected officals, after he began his term. Walter Karp’s Liberty Under Siege covers all this pretty well.
      4) I see Carter as no great friend to the worker, but neither as an out and out enemy, as has been every president since, as evidenced by their actions. I’m think himself possibly in the role of a mediator, in the sense of Roosevelt or Kennedy.
      5) Above all things, not a neo-liberal.

    1. Livius Drusus

      I disagree with many of Carter’s policies but he was right about many things regarding the United States. I still think his “crisis of confidence” speech is spot on, especially as it pinpointed the problem of materialism and the worship of “things” over people and relationships, something that has only gotten worse since Carter’s time in office. The 1970s might have been our last chance to stop our descent into madness but the American people eventually chose Ronald Reagan instead and then we had the “decade of greed” and have not looked back since.

  8. will_f

    “Harvard Business School’s Latest Case Study Looks at American Politics and Finds a Rigged System”

    Sounds good, until you read their recommendations:

    Among the solutions offered by the authors is nonpartisan redistricting and nonpartisan primaries. The top-four candidates would move to the general election, where voters would rank the candidates in order of preference.


    They also call for opening up competition while waiting for structural reform, including electing three to five centrist, independent U.S. senators “to act as a swing coalition.”

    Yes, more “centrists”, that’ll fix everything.

    1. UserFriendly

      It gets worse if you read the whole report….
      As an example of how bad partisanship is they point to the non passage of Simpson Bowles. Then:

      On trade, for example, Democrats
      have tended to describe it as negative—a job killer—
      despite a large body of evidence that on balance open
      trade improves the standard of living for all levels of
      income, and also creates economic growth and jobs

      I went after them on twitter but I doubt they will be paying any attention.

  9. Lil'D

    Does Anne Kim intentionally misunderstand the purpose of tuition free college? She frames it as an insistence that everyone must go to college vs. other paths, rather than any comprehension of the costs / benefits , acknowledgement of student debt serfdom or belief that educated non indebted citizenry might be beneficial…

  10. Edward E

    Kim Jong Un might very well be the Rocket Man on the other side of the big pond. But Donald Trump is the madman standing over the streaming waterfall.

  11. Ned

    “Psychologists studied 5,000 genius kids for 45 years…”

    In my teaching career I noted, along with other teachers in our public schools, that the brightest students got short shrift. A disproportionate number of hours were spent on special education kids and ESL students who were “mainstreamed” into normal classrooms at the expense of other students and especially the brightest and most able kids who were never given advanced work as part of the curriculum.

    i.e. Giving secondary instructions to the aide of one special needs child took about 10% of my time in a class of 28 children.

    You cannot expect this nation to prosper, to create jobs, patents, inventions and solve social problems when our public education system is thus burdened. Charter schools are, I believe, part of the solution to that.

    1. Geoph

      I’m not an educator (though my mother was) so my opinion on this is a bit uninformed. Also, I am not a genius nor a person with special needs. I was a very mediocre student. That said, in my adult life I have been a guest lecturer for masters programs at prestigious schools in my chosen field of filmmaking. My last film is being used in film studies programs at universities and even by psychologists and psychiatrists in public speaking events and in their treatment of patients with PTSD. I also get asked to speak at film festivals fairly often. I say all this to express that I’m not a total dunce and that my education was about more than mere academics.

      Being in classes with kids that were special needs, and many (most) who were just average, as well as some who were exceptional was instrumental in my development as a human being. One of my best friends was in Special Ed and had serious behavioral problems (he’d hit, spit, curse like a sailor, etc) while another was a nationally recognized scholar who was clearly a genius (and introduced me to Rush Limbaugh at the age of 11 – nobody is perfect).

      Did we hold back my genius friend? Did my special needs friend hold me back? Or, did we all aid in broadening each other’s understanding of the varied spectrum of humanity and appreciation for the unique qualities that we all possess?

      Granted, not all career fields benefit from this like my career as a storyteller where a deep understanding of human diversity is key to crafting a believable narrative, but wouldn’t it be nice if the “geniuses” on Wall Street knew the realities of non-prep school life? Or, if the average Joe Jr. got to study and play with the genius kids and picked up some of their tricks?

      Call me simple but I prefer a society that doesn’t separate our citizens by metrics but encouraged bonds across those divides.

      1. petal

        What I saw happen is the smart kids didn’t get the attention and support they needed, they were not challenged. Some of them ended up tuning out due to boredom and things went downhill from there. Some of them start feeling hopeless due to this grind/daily boredom. You sit there feeling like you don’t exist or you don’t mean as much as the other kids since you don’t get any attention. You’re singled out and/or picked on by the other kids. The teachers assume you’ll be fine left on your own while they always tend to the kids that need help. You’re not the ones they need to worry about passing the state tests. It’s an easy slide. Depression was common. I was lucky enough to find out about a special program for G&T high school seniors that allowed them to start college early. It was so amazing to be around other kids of the same ability and drive plus having the special support and opportunities-something definitely lacking prior. What a difference it made for all of us. We still talk about that 20+ years later. Yeah, we were held back before. Sorry. I used to cry out of sheer frustration. It was awful. This group of kids also has special needs-they need special support, attention, challenging, and options to help them engage, channel and bloom. Being held back is not healthy for them, and in some cases ends up costing our society. I wouldn’t wish on it any kid. Why do this to them? There are so many issues at play-budgets, state and federal policies, support from district administrations, the need for qualified teachers or those with special training, etc.

        1. Geoph

          I get what you’re saying. Much of my own lack of academic success came from my total disinterest and boredom with the curriculum. Heck, I even flunked art class twice despite the fact I had a drawing in an art museum exhibition and two films in a film festival during that same time. And, being the “fruity art kid” in a predominately rural cowboy town lead to even more social isolation (thus, why most of my friends were a patchwork of other outcasts like the genius kid and the special needs kid). I dealt with depression issues (still do). And, I remember the joy of going off to art college and being around like-minded people where I thought I would flourish. In some ways I did socially, but I also dropped out after one year. I felt completely unchallenged and uninspired being in a homogenized environment. Maybe I’m just odd that way?

          I totally agree that there should be special programs for kid’s special needs – whether it be behavior issues, genius level intellect, and so many others “special needs”. For me, it was the need to create – when learning was attached to a story I wanted to tell or painting I wanted to make I would go all out. If it was just learning for the sake of learning I couldn’t be bothered.

          But, I also had a year in remedial classes (due to an undiagnosed illness that set me back academically) which is where I made friends with many of the outcasts and special needs kids. That class was where they stuck the bothersome students to languish. The teacher was more a disciplinarian than an educator (for good reason). Yet, some of the friendships I made in that class were transformative and still impact me to this day. In fact, some of those friendships saved me from much of the bullying I may have experienced later on because even though most thought I was weird and gay, even the bullies knew I was cool with the really scary kids that hung out in the alley and had been in juvie. Thanks to those friendships I was exposed to a social class I’d never have understood otherwise, I helped many of them both in school and out, and my nerdy smart friends even became friendly with the outcast kids.

          Maybe this was an idealized situation that doesn’t pan out in most cases. I’ve been told I have a knack for getting along with anyone and bringing people together. I personally feel more people are capable of this though and that ability is neglected in our segmented society where we constantly seek ways to divide rather than harmonize. I was forced to be that way due to bouncing between remedial and accelerated programs throughout those early years with that illness.

          A well developed individual is one who is connected to their world, not only among like-minded people. That is where so many of our troubles as a society stem from. This need to have our society curated to our own needs instead of us finding ways to find ways for our skills to better the lives around us is a detriment to our sense of purpose and community. It’s why we value metrics like wealth and titles over abstractions like social betterment and community involvement.

          Why not merge these groups more so they can all better each other? The smart kids liked having me around to make their reports look awesome, they helped me find the info I needed for mine and worked with me to remember stuff for tests, and the troubled kids would add some comic relief or just freeload off our work. But, sometimes they’d add a unique perspective or even put in some work once they realized their voice and ideas had worth. Something they normally wouldn’t do without this arrangement.

          So, yes, teach the individual so they can flourish, but don’t isolate them from those who challenge them to see outside their own life (for better or worse) otherwise they lose the most important part of human development. And, some of those troubled kids I knew were able to escape their institutionally determined fate thanks to the self realization they achieved through acceptance by those they had once believed were “above” them. Not every “special needs” or troubled kid is a hopeless case. Some can go on to a better life but that will be so much harder if they don’t have positive influences around them. If I had only been in that remedial class and not around the G&T, and in my art classes I’d probably have slipped through the cracks myself.

    2. petal

      I was labeled G&T very early on, was in a rural public school ’83-’92 before moving. Our wonderful program was cut so the money could be used for special ed kids. The budget couldn’t do both, so one had to go in order to feed the other. We got left behind while everyone else got all sorts of support and attention to bring them up to level. It definitely was a sore spot. Even after moving to a school in a suburb that had honours level classes, the smarter kids in these classes were left to their own while the other kids were focused on because they couldn’t hack it. Even this district didn’t have a G&T program, just the option to take honours classes which weren’t all that great to begin with. You sat there bored as heck counting the minutes. It was all about bringing up the others. And so much money went toward special ed students/support. it seemed to become a bigger issue and amount every year. It makes me sad to think about the lost time and wasted potential, what could have been.

      It also makes a difference how much someone’s parents push the district administration and what their community standing is(MDs, etc). Can really matter when it comes to being allowed to skip a grade and having access to other opportunities.

      As far as charter schools, how would that work for rural districts? You’re going to have these kids sit on a bus for how long every day? Or their parents that work for a living have to drive them there and pick them up every day? What about access to sport and other extracurriculars that public schools offer or even traditional private schools? Also, the quality of charter schools seems wide ranging and there isn’t much oversight. Maybe they should be sent off to a traditional private school instead using the funds from the state given to the district? Nah-we were almost like bonuses-some of the money meant for us could be instead used for others. Not buying the charter school option. It definitely wouldn’t have worked. In a city, maybe, but even then the whole charter school thing is suspect to begin with(thanks, NC). A lot of friends, as soon as they were old enough, got shipped off to private school because their parents could afford it. The level of teaching and quality of the school and opportunities was so much better than what they had been getting.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      You cannot expect this nation to prosper, to create jobs, patents, inventions and solve social problems when our public education system is thus burdened. Charter schools are, I believe, part of the solution to that.

      Yes, definitely, charter schools run by hedge funds and corporations, having no accountability to the public whose taxes go to support them, are the answer to a nonexistent problem.

      There have been programs for gifted students and advanced placement classes in most if not all public schools for decades; three of my four children were enrolled in gifted programs. And those charter schools are notorious for both cherry-picking the students they’ll accept and dumping special needs and ESL students who fail to keep those test scores up.

  12. Bill Smith

    “The (Thus Far) Flimsy Case for Republican Cooperation on Russian Targeting”

    When did things move from Trump Campaign Russian collusion to the wider Republican Cooperation?

    1. Geoph

      IMHO: Same strategy as the 90’s GOP when going after Clinton and had to settle on lying about an affair instead of all the other hysteria. Just keep investigating until a real sin emerges. These investigations have become merely a campaign tool to motivate partisan ideologues than anything even resembling justice.

      They spend more time and money on them than investigations into reasons to invade sovereign nations, the financial collapse, and real life & death issues that matter to people. Not sure if there’s a bigger picture “conspiracy” like distraction of the masses from real issues or if that’s simply a happy byproduct but it’s clear that these scandals are used for purely partisan leverage.

  13. Geoph

    What happened to WaPo? During the primaries they notoriously published 15 anti-Bernie articles in one 24 hour period. Now, two pro-Bernie articles in one day?

    It’s a shame their editorial team wasn’t able to see the light a year ago. Just think of where our nation would be if the MSM had been able to see through their own bias before the status quo got rocked by Trump’s election.

    As the depressing oped by the doctor ends in quoting Churchill: America does the right thing after exhausting every other option. One day it would be lovely to try the right thing first.

    1. JTFaraday

      Businesses that employ Americans, like Amazon, are going to figure out that national healthcare is in their interests, as vs those who are upset that scores of little biotech firms might not constantly be running up the charts. The current D-Party has nothing for nobody outside a very dangerous financial sector and the Republicans are irredeemable.

      Anything can happen.

  14. Reify99

    The mental health center where I work has not received a COLA from the county in 15 of the last 17 years. We have a hospital diversion program such as the article described but the county did not contract with us this year. (They have their own. I’ve heard it’s a bit light weight in the patients they are willing to take.) School crossing guards make nearly as much per hour as our masters level therapists do. Consequently they work for us for a year or two (many have a second job), until they get the 1000 hrs supervision they need for full licensure, then they go for somewhere else (HMO) for a 50% raise. On the other hand, the nurses, myself included, are ancient. 5 years from now 80% will be retired. They can’t attract new ones. (It would be a 66% raise for me if I returned to the hospital to work.)

    Miraculously, we have a union now, though in this “Right to Work” state gaining members is a hard slog. It’s happening though.

    I don’t think the administration is the real adversary. They, like the other employees, are merely another constituency that is not yet swayed. The county, yes, and they are also AFSCME. But the real adversary is the current state government, Wisconsin’s “Banana Republicans”. (e.g.Foxconn). We need to repeal and replace them. And behind them are the Kochs and their ilk. The REAL target.

    It may be coming. Single payer would upset this apple cart nicely.

  15. Reify99

    Oh, and whereas it takes 60 days for my mental health center to get paid by the county,
    they used to give us a chunk up front to meet payroll, etc. They stopped doing that this year so we have to borrow, short term, to meet pay roll. And it’s a BIG chunk of change to keep the doors open every month, in the 7 figures. WTF?

  16. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Regarding the Juggalos:

    During my few months in Denver a few years back I became homeless and met a lot of Juggalos (male) and Juggalettes (female). They were all super nice and would share any weed, alcohol, or food they had with you. I was very, very impressed at the community spirit and togetherness life out on the street brought, and the followers of Insane Clown Posse were at the forefront.

    Some other random Juggalo/lette facts:

    This one male in his early 20s would paint his face like an ICP clown and walk around 16th street in downtown Denver all day saying hello to people.

    It was fn hilarious.

    All ICP followers have Juggalo/ette names that they pick out for themselves.

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