By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“Trump’s Passion for Tariffs Faces Stiff Headwinds from GOP” [Industry Week]. “Twice this week Trump has raised the idea of trade penalties he calls a ‘reciprocal tax,’ only to have White House officials insist there’s no plan in the works for such an action…. But his talk has been bolder than his actions so far. He promised during the campaign to declare China a currency manipulator on “Day One,” but never has. He threatened to impose tariffs on companies that send jobs overseas and then ship their products back into country, but has not done so. He flirted last April with announcing a U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA, and then backed down.”
“The Trump administration wants Congress to appropriate $15 million for a “one-time trade enforcement surge,” according to a White House budget office document” [Politico]. “The request would allow ‘for the first-time use of USTR’s Trade Enforcement Trust Fund (newly authorized in 2015, but never used yet),’ the document says. ‘This increase supports the president’s signature trade agenda, with a focus on aggressive trade enforcement. It would bring total USTR resources available in FY2018 to $73 million” from $58 million.'”
“The Belt and Road Initiative Didn’t Quite Live up to its Hype in 2017” [Council on Foreign Relations].
“People are defecting from the GOP. But not to the Democrats” [CNN]. “For the last decade and a half, people have been moving away from being solidly one party or the other. But they’ve often instead moved to being Republican-leaning or Democrat-leaning independents. Since 2004, independents rose from 29% to 44% of voters but mostly because of the increase in leaners. The rise of pure independents — independents who aren’t just closet Democrats or Republicans — has been much more modest. From 2004 to 2016, the percentage of Americans identifying as pure independents has risen and declined a point or two per year, especially in the year after a presidential election. This year, the number of pure independents rose a little more, a 3 to 4% increase over 2017…. The rise in pure independents also likely signals that the primaries of 2016 were not an outlier, and voters will continue to self-identify more like free agents, even as their partisanship is increasingly predictable. It’s one of the paradoxes of recent years: As partisan polarization increases, so does distrust in institutions. But in the end, a party can no longer decide if voters don’t really want to be a part of it.” Important!
“Researchers at LendEDU* sponsored an online poll of 1,000 adult (age 18 or over) American consumers who reported that their take-home paychecks have risen as a result of the tax plan. The poll was conducted on February 12 and 13. The new tax tables took effect on January 11, and U.S. employers were asked to begin using the new tax tables no later than February 15” [247 Wall Street]. “Overall, 70% of respondents to the survey were either ‘very happy’ (44%) or ‘somewhat happy’ (26%) with the tax cuts. Just over half (50.3%) said the tax cut has favorably changed their ‘sentiment about President Trump’ while about 43% said it made no difference and about 6% said the cuts increased their unfavorable sentiment toward the president…. The tax cut is supposed to encourage Americans to spend their windfall, stimulating the economy by creating more jobs and more growth. But more than a third of Americans who reported getting a raise (35.7%) plan to use the money to pay down debt. Just under 10% say they plan to spend the money on ‘life’s day-to-day luxuries’ such as dining out, buying new clothes and purchasing products such as smartphones.” * A student loan consolidation company.
“Battle for the House: Are Crowded Democratic Primaries a Blessing or a Curse?” [Cook Political Report]. “As primary season begins, don’t be tempted to buy the narrative that jam-packed Democratic primaries are bound to result in mutually-assured destruction or nominees too far left to win in November. In 2010, both moderates and true Tea Party believers powered Republicans to the majority. For most voters, ideology isn’t destiny and 2018 isn’t about Hillary vs. Bernie. The bigger risk for Democrats is candidates who are bad cultural fits for their districts.” Bad cultural fits? What does that mean? Is #MedicareForAll a cultural thing?
“Obama’s Final Arms-Export Tally More than Doubles Bush’s” [Defense One] (from 2016, still relevant). “How does the Obama administration compare to its predecessors? Earlier this year, Hartung did the math: Obama has brokered more arms deals than any administration since World War II. For immediate comparison, the George W. Bush administration approved $128.6 billion in arms export between 2001 and 2008.” I guess gun control is only a thing domestically.
New Cold War
“Trump Can Fire Mueller, But Not a Grand Jury” [Politico]. “For months, Mueller and his team have been presenting evidence to a federal grand jury – that grand jury has already indicted two people, and two other former Trump aides have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. (And those are the indictments we know of – others may still be sealed.) We ordinarily think of a grand jury as a “decider of fact,” similar to a trial jury. But a grand jury is actually an investigatory body independent of the prosecutor. The grand jury here could continue its work even past the potential dismissal of Mueller and his entire staff, and indeed could draft indictments of senior White House officials or key staff of the 2016 Trump campaign.”
UPDATE “But there’s also a middle way. It would unite Clintonites and Sanderistas as well as peel off the right number of white working-class voters. This middle way, however, will offend anti-war liberals skeptical of America’s imperialist tendencies, because it recalls our anti-communist past” [John Stoehr, US News and World Report]. “But anti-communism is a good model for what’s needed. It was the glue that held the Republican Party together for decades. It can do the same for the Democrats. The party’s long-term goal should be crafting a patriotic story about a new Cold War, a dangerous cyberconflict happening as we speak, one that demands the best America has to offer…. A successful candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2020, therefore, should tell a patriotic story of the United States and its place in the world. ” [vomits].
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Liberal democracy is also being undermined by a tendency to emphasize ‘liberal’ at the expense of ‘democracy.’ In this kind of politics, rulers are insulated from democratic accountability by a panoply of restraints that limit the range of policies they can deliver. Bureaucratic bodies, autonomous regulators, and independent courts set policies, or they are imposed from outside by the rules of the global economy” [Dani Rodrik, Project Syndicate]. I’d argue the keyword in our discourse summarizing this “panoply of restraints” is “norms” (as in “this is not normal,” when, so often, it is, just for other players).
“In the end, [Chicago Mayor Rahm] Emanuel and a surprising number of other Democratic leaders with whom I’ve spoken in recent months maintain that their party’s divisions are more stylistic than ideological: Sanders pledges free college for all; Chicago’s mayor experiments with a limited version—free community college for some” [Susan Glasser, The New Yorker]. It’s quite telling that The Voice of Liberal Manhattan thinks the differences between universal programs and programs with gatekeepers determining eligibility (especially means-testing) are purely “stylistic.”
“When Deplorability Is No Longer a Dealbreaker” [Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic].”If you were an American of Hispanic origin, would you trust this president or the people who enthusiastically support him to protect your constitutional rights?” Articles like this remind me of one of those age-old unanswerable questions: “Must the good orator also be a good person?” (Think about what ethos means before you answer). Obama, of course, deported record numbers, and the machinery Trump uses was put in place under his administration (“Obama built the car, and now Trump’s driving it.”) So, must the good President also be a good person? It’s not clear what the answer is (and in the atomic age under a doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction, one answer is “By definition, no”). Friedersdorf seems to think that trust should be placed in a President, because of his personal characteristics, as opposed to a system (Madison, Federalist 51: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary”). If I am the one being deported, does it matter to me if the administration doing the deporting is run by a classy guy, or a boor?
“After Annie Rice’s Victory, Democrats Weigh Punishing Her Supporters” [Riverfront Times]. “Last night, Annie Rice won a resounding victory, with nearly 60 percent of 8th ward voters choosing her to represent them on the city’s Board of Aldermen. But later this month, the Democratic Central Committee will weigh a bylaw change directly aimed at punishing Rice’s supporters. If members approve the proposed amendments, anyone who ‘supports or endorses’ candidates like Rice ‘shall be subject to censure.’ .The ugly situation says a lot about the mutinous mood — and old guard pushback — roiling the St. Louis Democratic Party these days.” Of course, the tone for this was set at the top, initially by the Clinton campaign and then by Obama’s creature at the DNC, Tom Perez, who defenestrated all the Sanders supporters from the Rules and Bylaws Committee.
“As Americans prepare to celebrate Presidents’ Day, they rate John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan the best of recent chief executives, according to a new poll conducted by Ipsos in conjunction with the University of Virginia Center for Politics” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “Few would dispute that JFK and Reagan have worn well over the decades, more so than any of their modern colleagues, and the data in this survey confirm that.” “ would dispute” indeed; of course the Democrats rehabilitated Reagan, as they are rehabilitating Bush. Here are the rankings:
Averages really do conceal, don’t they?
“The State and Local Election Cybersecurity Playbook” [Belfer Center]. “There are two groups on the frontlines of defending democracy: (1) political campaigns, which enable citizens to pursue elected office; and (2) election officials, who ensure the election process is free and fair….” And on voting machines: “Every machine should have an individual voter-verified paper trail.” No no no no no (because — follow me closely, here — the paper trail is computer-generated, and the computer can be hacked). The paper ballot must be the vote not a receipt for a secretly counted vote. And read the rest of the suggestions. This has nothing to do with securing the vote, for which hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public are the best solution; it’s a jobs guarantee for IT consultants, probably politically wired ones. As the programming proverb goes: “The cheapest, fastest, and most reliable components of a computer system are those that aren’t there.”
“These States Are Projected to Gain House Seats After 2020 Census” [Bloomberg]. “In all, 16 states may be affected by the once-a-decade congressional reapportionment, according to the estimates, which are based on data from 2016 to 2017 and projected forward to 2020. Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon are each expected to gain a single seat while Texas and Florida would gain two seats. Single-seat losses may occur in Alabama — the lone southern state among the losers — Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia.”
Fifteen years ago today millions of people marched against the Iraq War in more than 600 cities across the world. The biggest protest in history. pic.twitter.com/9tpAxRwQyi
— Jacobin (@jacobinmag) February 15, 2018
Industrial Production, January 2018: “Weakness in industrial production underscores what has been the Federal Reserve’s very modest assessment of the factory sector” [Econoday]. “But manufacturing production makes up the great bulk of this report and is up only 1.8 percent on the year in what is s. This report, again in contrast to the anecdotal data, is not consistent with building inflation pressures, evident in capacity utilization which is down 2 tenths to 77.5 percent and a 1/2 point under expectations. For the FOMC, today’s results do not turn up pressure for more hawkish policy.” So, yet again, the data contradicts the surveys (see below). This reminds me of the small business optimism index where (as readers know) professions of optimism do not equate to small business owners reaching into their pockets and (say) actually investing capital. The most optimistic explanations for this continuing — indeed scandalous — variance is animal spirits (shown in surveys) are the driver (with outcomes shown in the data.) From there we pass to wishful thinking and group think by survey participants. Perhaps readers can suggest other explanations. And but a more optimistic but long-term view: “There was insignificant revision to the existing data over the last 6 months. The best way to view this is the 3 month rolling averages which improved. Industrial production is in a long term upward trend” [Econintersect]. “The reason for the headwinds in industrial production was due to mining” [agreed at Econoday]. “Manufacturing employment rate of growth is accelerating year-over-year.”
Empire State Manufacturing Survey, February 2018: “Much like the Philly Fed, the sample for the Empire State report continues to report strong conditions” [Econoday]. “Regional reports have been so strong that capacity stress, such as slowing delivery times and lack of available labor, continue to come into question. But these reports have consistently overshot actual government data.” And: “I am not a fan of surveys – and this survey jumps around erratically – but has been relatively steady for the last year. Key internals in the report marginally improved so I would consider this a better report than last month” [Econintersect].
Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, February 2018: “The song remains the same for the Philly Fed where the general business conditions index beat high-end expectations” [Econoday]. “For more than a year, the Philly Fed sample has been reporting the hottest conditions of any regional manufacturing survey in results that did signal, though perhaps too far in advance, what is now an uplift underway in actual government data.” And: “Consider this a significantly stronger report than last month as key elements strongly improved” [Econintersect].
Producer Price Index (Final Demand), January 2018: “Visible but still limited signs of pressure headline January’s producer price report where total prices hit the high end of expectations at a 0.4 percent monthly gain” [Econoday]. “Despite the monthly pressure, however, year-on-year rates are still flat, at 2.7 percent overall and at only 2.2 percent excluding food and energy. Yet this report does fit in with recent indications, especially in yesterday’s consumer price report, that inflation pressures may finally be simmering.” And: “Although the monthly growth numbers appear high, the year-over-year numbers changed little from last month” [Econintersect].
Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of February 11, 2018: “The stock market’s gyrations aren’t apparently hurting spirits, at least not the consumer comfort index which jumped an unusually sharp 2.6 points in the February 11 week to 57.0 and a new high for the expansion” [Ecoonday]. “The assessment of the economy is the highest in 17 years and the buying climate is the best in 18 years. This report along with monthly consumer confidence data have been holding at long-term highs, unlike the consumer sentiment report which is flat nor retail sales which yesterday proved unexpectedly weak.” So consumers are comfortable (survey) but not buying (data)? How does that work?
Retail Sales (yesterday): “Worse than expected with prior month revised lower as well, ties in with previous discussion about low personal income growth, with this report now indicating personal savings wasn’t quite so low because spending was that much lower than first reported” [Mosler Economics].
Housing Market Index, February 2018: “Extremely upbeat is the continuing description of home-builder confidence” [Econoday]. “Assessments of current and future sales remain unusually strong…. Capacity is the welcome challenge for builders and the new home market as the supply of homes continues to lag demand.” And: “This was at the consensus forecast, and another strong reading” [Calculated Risk].
Jobless Claims, February 10, 2018: “Claims remain near historic lows consistent with strong demand for labor” [Econoday]. (As readers know, claims are much harder to get these days than they have been historically, so it’s not clear how “consistent” “consistent with” really is.)
Retail: “One key measure of retail supply chain efficiency, the inventory-to-sales ratio, ticked up in December after hearing down for the previous three months. Still, department store sales rose 0.8% from December to January even as sales remained flat at nonstore retailers—mostly online business. The household spending that is the main engine of the U.S. economy may still be humming, even if it’s taking a pause after the holidays” [Wall Street Journal].
Commodities: “The true costs of artisanal mining” (infographic) [Mining.com]. “The activity is emerging as an significant socio-economic sector in a number of developing nations, to the point it has become a major of revenue for millions of people in about 80 countries worldwide — mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Oceania, Central and South America — with more than 100 million people currently depending on ASM for their livelihoods.” I love that phrase, “artisanal mining” (which is a flavor of “System D,” the “informal economy”).
Supply Chain: “Kenya’s big flower exporters haven’t been getting the love they need from airfreight carriers, even in the period leading up to Valentine’s Day. An accelerating global economy has been pushing cargo aircraft away from the fertile East African nation in search of more profitable business” [Wall Street Journal]. “[T]ough shipping economics take a toll on trade out of Africa. Kenya has become a global powerhouse in perishables production—its No. 3 in the world in rose exports—but weak demand in the region means aircraft have little cargo to bring in. The economics are heartbreaking: they need to keep the flowers fresh, but that leaves profits wilting.”
Supply Chain: “Maersk hits out at severe levels of corruption across maritime” [Splash 247]. “In its just published sustainability report, Maersk noted: ‘[W]e operate in an environment where facilitation payments and extortion are common occurrences.'”
Infrastructure: “The Trump administration’s infrastructure plan has states and local governments looking at whether they can raise funds through recycling. The idea isn’t for traditional recycling but , a system known as asset recycling that… raises important questions for policy makers and companies anxious to see upgrades in transportation infrastructure” [Wall Street Journal]. “Under the White House plan, the federal government would set up a pot of money to pay state and local governments when they privatize or lease existing assets to investors. That could create a pipeline of new deals for firms like infrastructure fund manager Macquarie, but it also could raise tensions with road users including truckers who oppose adding tolls to existing highways. Macquarie estimates , but the plan’s backers first must sell lawmakers and their constituents on the idea.” There it is. (MMT really breaks the conceptual logjam on how to oppose this, and happily MMT-inflected policy ideas are breakthing through to the mainstream, but the central insight, at least in political terms — which the Pentagon understands fully! — that Federal taxes do not fund Federal spending, has not.)
Infrastructure: “Trump’s Hardest Construction Job” [The Editors, Bloomberg]. “Of course, with deficits rising [sigh] and elections looming, the odds of success are long. But credit where it’s due: On a problem that Congress has avoided for too long, this plan offers a decent start.”
The Bezzle: “Tesla Inc., the biggest-selling electric carmaker in the U.S., is in danger of being relegated to an expensive niche in China because Elon Musk can’t clinch a deal to open a factory there” [Industry Week]. “More than seven months after Tesla said it was working with Shanghai’s government to explore assembling cars, an agreement hasn’t been finalized because the two sides disagree on the ownership structure for a proposed factory, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation. China’s central government says the plant must be a joint venture with local partners, while Tesla wants to own the factory completely, the people said, asking not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. Currently, all foreign automakers must partner with Chinese companies in order to manufacture locally. Tesla’s sluggishness in starting local manufacturing means it’s fumbling a chance to capitalize on China’s hard sell for new-energy vehicles, including EVs, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles.”
Mr. Market: “Dow retakes 25,000 for the first time in 2 weeks, as stock market set for fifth gain in a row” [MarketWatch]. Wheeee!
Five Horsemen: “Seattle sluggers Amazon and Microsoft leave Silicon Valley stalwarts Facebook, Alphabet and Apple eating their dust” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 11 Extreme Fear (previous close: 13, Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 16 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Feb 13 at 7:00pmStill lagged by two days, WTF!!! Extreme Fear for a week now….
“The Disappointing Recovery in U.S. Output after 2009” [Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco]. “Some commentators have viewed the generally sluggish recovery from the deep U.S. recession of 2007–09 as a lingering consequence of financial and economic disruptions, perhaps reinforced by post-2008 regulatory changes. In this Letter, we find that neither of these are the main story of a slowing trend that, to an important extent, predated the recession. The seeds of the disappointing growth in output were sown before the recession in the form of slow productivity growth and a declining labor force participation rate.” Interesting article. I’m left with the impression that elites — assuming arguendo that elites think of working people as cattle — elites, I say, put the MBAs in charge of the feed lot, and are now complaining about the quality of the hamburger. Of course, I’m only speculating.
“Just Released: Great Recession’s Impact Lingers in Hardest-Hit Regions” [Liberty Street Economics]. “Mortgages are the largest form of household debt and have historically dominated the liability side of the household balance sheet. The map below depicts the percent change in aggregate mortgage balances by state since their peak in the third quarter of 2008. Although for the country as a whole mortgage balances remain slightly below their 2008:Q3 peak, on the state level the change in mortgage balances has been very mixed. In the following map, we disaggregate down to the county level, which reveals some surprising within-state patterns….” The map:
More: “With the exception of Manhattan and Brooklyn, the counties that have seen some growth since 2008:Q3 are the ones that did not experience large housing booms before the Great Recession. The slow overall recovery of mortgage balances reflects a combination of the steep decline and slow recovery of the housing market (including both sales volumes and prices), tight underwriting, mortgage defaults and charge-offs, and more aggressive debt paydown with reduced home equity extraction. The latter changes in behavior are in part attributable to a housing crisis hangover effect felt by many Americans who observed or personally experienced home and personal wealth losses.”
On food stamps, this from reader LS:
I am constantly amazed at the articles decrying the changes to food stamps, which I agree are horrendous. I was talking to a friend who is definitely eligible for food stamps, and WIC, and I was asking her about her experiences applying. I was wondering if the difficulties in getting these benefits still exist, and they are even worse now, thanks to technology. NONE of the articles I have read address this. Do these people not talk to actual poor people?
The cycle for SNAP and WIC seems to go like this:
1) Apply online (you have to get access to the internet to do this, and if you are poor, that is probably not a bill you are paying).
2) Wait for case officer to contact you.
3) After a week, contact the case officer. They will insist they never saw your application, and refuse to schedule an appointment. Apply online again.
3) Repeat quarterly to maintain the benefits.
In order to break this cycle, you will have to apply online, go down to the office that day or the next day, and wait hours to see your case officer for an appointment, with the confirmation page in hand. These offices are only open from 8-5 with a break for the lunch hour, so you will have to take unpaid time off work to do this. You will be treated like garbage while you are there.
My friend has 3 kids, and her husband was injured on the job and his been out of work for a year. She works in retail. She definitely qualifies for these benefits, but they are too difficult to access if you are working fulltime.
“Why do white people like what I write?” [London Review of Books]. “A political culture where progress in the air was measured by the president’s elegant bearing and penchant for diversity was ripe for demagoguery. The rising disaffection with a narcissistic and callous ruling class was signalled in different ways by the Tea Party, Occupy, Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders’s insurgent candidacy. The final blow to the Washington (and New York) consensus was delivered by Trump, who correctly read the growing resentment of elites – black or white, meritocratic or dynastic – who presumed to think the White House was theirs. Writing in Wired magazine a month before Trump’s election, Obama hailed the ‘quintessentially American compulsion to race for new frontiers and push the boundaries of what’s possible’. Over lunch at the White House, he assured Coates that Trump’s victory was impossible. Coates felt ‘the same’. He now says that ‘adherents and beneficiaries’ of white supremacy loathed and feared the black man in the White House – enough to make Trump ‘president, and thus put him in position to injure the world’. ‘Every white Trump voter is most certainly not a white supremacist,’ Coates writes in a bitter epilogue to We Were Eight Years in Power. ‘But every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one.’ This, again, is true in a banal way, but inadequate as an explanation: Trump also benefited from the disappointment of white voters who had voted, often twice, for Obama, and of black voters who failed to turn out for Hillary Clinton. Moreover, to blame a racist ‘whitelash’ for Trump is to exculpate the political, business and media luminaries Coates has lately found himself with, especially the journalists disgraced, if not dislodged, by their collaboration in a calamitous racist-imperialist venture to make America great again.” Well worth a read!
“The Listening Con” [The Baffler]. “As the real political power of the American public declined—whether we consider Americans as citizens, workers, people who breathe air and drink water—they were, paradoxically, listened to more than ever. They could give their opinion freely in a focus group, and feel the frisson of having influence. But increasingly, the average Americans could not join a union, or expect to be paid decently and fairly for their labor with some measure of job security—all things that give people real power.”
News of the Wired
“Why is community radio in Guatemala important?” [Al Jazeera]. “There are more than 100 community radio stations operating in Guatemala, according to local media. The indigenous communities don’t have explicit rights to use radio frequencies, though their right to exist is guaranteed by the country’s Peace Accords.”
“The Math of Tinder” [The Outline]. “Let’s say you swipe through a thousand people, and swipe right on a hundred of them. Fifty match you back, optimistically. Twenty actually send you a message and you message 10 additional people, but only hear back from two of them. That leaves 22….” That’s a lot of swiping!
Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (KH):
KH writes: “So another winter bloom here in Hawaii, coffee! Called Kona snow by locals. This plant is in North Kohala though.”
But does Hawaii have mud season?
Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the NC fundraiser. So do feel free to use the dropdown and click the hat to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click the hat!
how are there still post-mortems on Trump? what’s not to get—Trump is the symptom of 25 years, arguably 40 years, of an economic system that has out-sourced the old post-1945 middle class, and sent the riches to the top 1%.
And just as the middle class thought that a half-black guy with a funny name would be the one who turns the status quo around, the next 8 years solidified the pro-Wall Street economic regime.
What Louis Fyne said, and this chart proves it
That’s the chart. Of ten post-World War II recoveries, in only one did the bottom 90% end up worse off than before the recession. That’s the Obama “recovery.” When some guy, no matter what his provenance, says “the guys in charge are crooks,” after such a “recovery,” he gets a lot of credibility, and is cut a lot of slack.
Just wanted to drop a thank you to you for doing outstanding work (as does the staff at NC. In truth, it is the only place I go directly for news anymore. Just not very interested in the rest – it is full of lies, deceptions, and outright fabrications.)
The other thing, the really strange thing to me, is that if the Democrats (who claim to be liberals) would just concentrate on issues that are good for people who have to punch a clock or whose income depends on how much and how hard they work, it would all be so easy.
But somehow the idea of sponsoring or even acquiescing to legislation that would serve to give notice to the rentiers and those whose income is not derived (primarily) from their salaries is somehow abhorrent to them.
Which leads you to the conclusion that things will never change.
( ; Ditto ; )
Ditto.. does NC have a patreon? I really should subscribe
You can set up recurring payments for 2:00PM Water Cooler specifically (see the top hat at the end of today’s post for the link), or for NC in general via the “Subscribe” link beneath the cloud leopard kittens picture up top.
Thanks for asking! I gather Paetron is popular but it is a terrible deal for artists and it distresses me to see readers asks about it. First. Paetron’s IP license is outrageous:
You’ve given your stuff to Paetron to use forever in any way they see fit, their pious claims otherwise not withstanding.
Second, they take 5%, which is more than PayPal or credit card merchant accounts take. And you don’t have audit rights, so they could steal. With IP language like that, I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them.
Yves, thank you so much for this important information about Patreon. I had no idea!
I know you probably still want to support people who are on it but if you know anyone who is considering it, warn them and urge them to explore other options! They’ve succeeded in cultivating a friendly image that they do not deserve.
Thanks for the kind words. However, you write:
> Which leads you to the conclusion that things will never change.
I really do disagree; I am more optimistic than I have ever been (though readers who parse that carefully will note the qualification :-)
I wish I were.
At this point people really do not want to talk about the issues of great importance to me (present company excepted)
In my lifetime, I have been a grunt in a foundry (UAW Region 1D, Local 8 Ret) and a teacher (MEA, MHEA, Ret) and when I talk to my liberal friends about the issues that seem important to me: reining in the excesses of Wall Street (documented daily here) and the scourge of financialization and the general denigration of working people; I am cast as a person who needs to exert both my white privilege my and male entitlement and basically told to be still.
In not talking about the issues that all working people face and instead opting for endless Russia Blaming and how terrible Trump is, well, he is but pointing this out, without offering legitimate alternatives is just not very effective.
So “They” settle for winning for a cycle or even two cycles before losing again – spectacularly.
I want to win.
I want the people to win every single race in every single election.
I am not satisfied with the occasional foray into lip-service to working folks while continuing their subjugation that is offered when they do win.
We need to end these ridiculous wars of choice.
We need to address the severe limiting of opportunity for those who do not live in the big cities or on the coasts.
We need to move into modern times with fast, reliable, and inexpensive telecommunications. (My household actually exceeded $500 last month for phone, cell phones, cable, and internet access – and we don’t even have premium channels.)
We need a workers’ bill of rights that guarantees sick pay, hours, and a redress of termination. A process that has to be followed and respected by all parties.
Easier voting for all.
Medicare for all
An elimination of K-12 schools for profit
Support for education at all levels.
And on and on: there is no shortage of issues that people would vote for if given a chance: our political parties seem to be there to prevent this.
My disillusionment is well-earned.
But on the other hand, I do hope you are right.
“My household actually exceeded $500 last month for phone, cell phones, cable, and internet access – and we don’t even have premium channels.”
It does add up quickly.
Remember when everyone in the household used the same line? Maybe one or two more added depending on household size and real necessity.
Things still got done in the world.
Lambert wrote: I really do disagree; I am more optimistic than I have ever been
That’s nice, but TPTB will fight all the way with maximum disregard for who and what they destroy to maintain their favored status quo. This, forex, is just the beginning as they see Corbyn’s Labour — or Sanders — coming closer to power: –
‘…a disturbing new report in The Sun reveals that Corbyn was much more than just a left-wing activist in the 1980s—he was spying on his own country for the Warsaw Pact … this report is based on the files of Communist Czechoslovakia’s State Security, known as the StB. To its credit, after the Soviet empire fell, the Czech Republic made StB files accessible to researchers. The Corbyn report is one of many bombshells to emerge from the musty files of Prague’s former version of the KGB….’
Blah blah blah.
Jim Crow fell, Galtieri fell, Marcos fell, Apartheid South Africa fell, the Berlin Wall fell, the Soviet Union fell. TPTB are never invincible. There are so many signs that the current kleptocracy is crumbling, the only question that remains is are we capable of seizing the opportunity before us?
And yet the rule of Pharaohs lasted for thousands of years, and the feudal system for centuries.
Methinks we are entering a final Dark age.
I actually look to Russia for some semblance of reason. They have endured much in their long history and have much to teach.
Certainly Putin appears to be both smarter and more reasonable than the “leaders of the free world” in Washington. Which, of course, is why TPTB has been pressing hot war ever since Hillary became Secretary of State.
I would like to say I’m shocked to find this type behavior from corp. owned demodogs but I just can’t.
Thanks for the link
This is why power needs to be taken away from “central committees” and given to the people. It is more Democratic to let people vote in primaries. Which is why they are against it, probably.
Personally, I find the Annie Rice story encouraging. She ran and won as an independent. The party apparatus’s response makes perfect sense – why should people who run against them get to be on the committee? But it weakens the party’s grip, and that’s a good thing.
This should lead to a stronger Green Party in Missouri, as well as more independents. Compare and contrast with: “People are defecting from the GOP. But not to the Democrats”.
I also agree with LS above comment.
Emirates boss warns airlines of a looming seismic shift in technology [Business Insider]
A good way to change the subject when you’ve bought too many A380s and you’re based
in an unstable medieval theocracy.
(The article is from last week, so apologies if this has already been linked to.)
Fifteen years ago today, Jacobin reminds us, millions around the world marched against war on Iraq, in vain. Fifteen years later we are still in the sceptic tank that ‘Bush, Cheney and Blair’s’ sadistic war created…with no end in sight. A rare demonstrator against drone war is barely to be seen. Hurrah Mr B. Obama. And as Ms. N. Pelosi said, accountability is off the table. (By the way, she never had much of substance to say, anyway, did she?). As Lambert reacts to another topic here: ‘vomit’.
— ‘Bush, Cheney and Blair’s’ sadistic war created…–
with the approval of HR Clinton’s Senate vote, among other big name Dems, .
For those of us who hit the streets 15 years ago to protest Bush’s folly, last week’s two-year budget deal that cranks defense [sic] spending to north of $700 billion a year is a giant F U.
I will rail against this fresh outrage till the spit flies from my mouth — don’t stand too close.
I will never forget that war protest! My elderly mother (75-year old now 90) and I walked in disgust of our government. I continue to be filled with the same outrage, Jim.
My 14-year-old son (now 29) got to see NYPD officers snarling at the peaceniks as Bloomberg’s snipers pointed rifles at us from the rooftops.
It was a bracing introduction to the reality of the hardball, unaccountable police state we live under.
Jim Haygood: Yes. I was out there for more than one demonstration and about all I ended up with is being photographed a couple thousand times by people who shouldn’t have photographic devices.
And don’t even get me going on FISA reauthorization.
I was on the streets of San Francisco (not a Quinn-Martin production) 15 years ago today…
You would have thought there was strength in numbers judging by how many of us there were, but the march to war would not be denied by those that ignored our plea.
and now some of them, many of them, seem to want a war with russia.
As juggernaut Amazon clanks uphill toward another record high, here’s a hokey-oldey chart we haven’t run since last summer. Breaking down the Five Horsemen regionally, it compares NoCal (Apple, Alphabet, Facebook) to Seattle (Amazon, Microsoft):
Since Amazon Friday (Oct 27, 2017) when AMZN launched on strong earnings, Seattle has steadily gained ground against NoCal, which almost sank to equaling the performance of the S&P 500 index in last Friday’s volmageddon.
Speaking of volmageddon, surviving inverse VIX fund SVXY has already rallied 18 percent since last Friday, as avid dip buyers dart in front of the market’s high-speed steamrollers to gleefully pick up nickels. Not for widows and orphans, and not a reco by any means!
Interesting that despite Trump’s low rating in that poll he still bests LBJ despite the efforts of recent Lyndon hagiographers. Perhaps Vietnam isn’t entirely forgotten after all. Take note warmongering Dems.
That said, it’s discouraging that Reagan’s reputation is showing “legs” as the H’wood types say. The Gipper was every bit as goofy as Trump and played a big role in launching the country on its current backwards direction.
I”m old enough to remember despair when Nixon was elected, and then even greater fear when Reagan showed up [having endured his reign as California’s governor]. And then we thought W. Bush was as bad as it could get. Now Trump. The gods really do like to toy with us.
I’m old enough to remember the hope turn to despair right after Obama was elected, when he nominated Geithner as the “change” appointment to Treasury. Then, and even greater fear as Hillary stole the nomination rightfully Bernie’s because of Obama’s horrific reign of error.
Admittedly LBJ suffers from the Vietnam war, but he did pass significant civil rights legislation. While Ford and Carter were mostly unremarkable. Personally I’m not sure Trump has done much besides undo Obama’s rulings which will just get redone when a Democrat gets back in.
Reagan helped birth the modern jihadists by backing Zia in Pakistan. He also fostered the cocaine trade to help the Nicaraguan Contras. To name a few things now airbrushed our of history.
“Personally I’m not sure Trump has done much besides undo Obama’s rulings which will just get redone when a Democrat gets back in.”
Trump has installed ultra-conservative federal judges who will be with us for many decades. A “redo” will not be so easy.
His new corporate tax rate won’t get undone either. The Dems have basically said that.
I thing that was more the doing of Republicans in general than anything Trump did.
I can’t decide which is more convoluted; the D’s high ranking of Clinton and Obama, or the R’s low rating of both.
Clinton’s major “accomplishments” in office:
’94 crime bill
banking and telecom deregulation
Welfare reform (ending AFDC)
All five are Republican achievements.
A list equally or more extensive could be created for Obama.
China in the WTO, kicking off R2P wars (Serbia) and expanding Nato eastward against the previous arrangement with Russia are some others.
Regarding rankings – look to the “I” column for better evaluations of presidents. JMVHO
Its a mix of nostaliga and historical ignorance.
Take JFK. The dude died in 1963. We’ve really reached the point where listing JFK as a favorite President is akin to listing Teddy Roosevelt or some other safe choice. If you say Jack, there won’t be any follow up questions because any critique can be deflected with “he died so young.”
On food assistance:
I have been out-of-work for quite some time while fighting my foreclosure (due to work loss, go figure). I have been accessing the food bank now for the last 3 years. What I find at the food bank: organic produce, sometimes grass-fed beef (believe it or not), staples like beans, rice, oatmeal, of course. But also pet food! It has saved me and my pets from hunger many a week. I have referred many people to food banks, but one thing that I hear most often, “I could never stand in line at a food bank because….embarrassment.” Umm, what?!?
I’m glad you live in a community that cares. In ultra-noeliberal Boston the hurdles necessary to use the limited number of food banks seemed aimed at discouraging all but the most desperate. Here are the rules for wealthy Brookline’s Food Bank:
There is a whole second page of rules about bags, how often you can visit, etc., etc. This is a slight improvement over previous rules that required two years of tax returns. Is it any wonder that people are embarrassed and discouraged? http://www.brooklinefoodpantry.org/shop.html
WOW. The food bank I go to told me “No one is turned away.”
I’ve been to Boston and have plenty of money, and how many people have the required documentation? Poor hungry people often don’t have anything.
Around where I live they don’t ask for anything really. They do often only want people to go just to the particular food bank that serves a particularl town. If one does show up from out of town, they’ll let you go through once because they not heartless, but having to show ID just to get some food is disturbing. By the time one is forced to visit it’s often obvious that they need help. Anyways, thinking someone is pulling a con by trying to get canned yams one week and freezer burned rib eye the next is freaking pathetic; the pantries are often very under supported of course. Nice to see the uber liberal San Francisco Bay Area not live up to its reputation.
Seriously. Showing up at a food bank should be proof enough that you need food from the food bank. At least take some advantage of this status-obsessed society, people don’t want to look poor so they won’t unless they absolutely have to.
Your statement is a truism to us here. However, there are those in the world who are not of the same mind… this from UK House of Lords, where DWP minister, and architect of our current welfare system, Lord Freud was speaking in 2013:
“”It is difficult to know,” averred Lord Freud, “which came first, the supply or the demand … Food from a food bank – the supply – is a free good, and by definition there is an almost infinite demand for a free good.”
David Freud, before dismantling the welfare system and introducing new rules, had NO previous experience of working with poverty, illness, disability or unemployment. He was brought into government by New Labour’s James Purnell (now busy buggering up the BBC), David Freud became a lord when he was retained in government by the LibDem/Conservative coalition government in 2010. Says all you need to know about UK politics.
We donate food to our local food bank, and sometimes help hand it out, and to be able to get food, you need to be a local and show proof, and have a family, nothing for single folks usually.
A funny food bank story:
About 10 days before Thanksgiving 5 years ago, the food bank gets robbed of every last morsel including 30x frozen turkeys, and a plea goes out to the community to pitch in to replace pilfered goods, and the bank receives a deposit of 3x as much food as was stolen in the robbery.
I suggested somebody rob it every other year @ the same time, so as to not make it look suspicious, with results like that!
From one of the WSJ articles located on the page you linked to under Supply Chain above [re roses in Kenya], this re Trump’s “infrastructure plan:”
Despite the utter chaos in the White House, Trump and his minions accelerate their destruction of our country.
Re: John Stoehr,
As someone remarked on Twitter, “Congratulations, you’ve just invented fascism.”
That op ed looked remarkably like what Sanders is doing right now, with his newfound fear of Russians under the bed. Somehow I doubt that that is a coincidence. Stoehr is absolutely right about one thing, the Dems going full on Bircher is going to have very real depressive effect on turnout of anti-war voters. Maybe the second time is the charm (with slight alterations) for Chuck Schumer’s turnout strategy: “For every lefty we lose in the cities and suburbs there will be ten workers from the sticks to replace them.” We shall see, but it seems like it would be easier to reverse their political fortunes by going with the people who brought them to the dance last in the last “blue wave.”
I was truly hoping that article was satire. In fact, after reading, I scanned it at least twice for some sort of wink toward sarcasm. Unfortunately, I think the author is serious.
I think they totally don’t understand “Sandernistas” — or working class voters — if they think the strategy would appeal to either — at all. But oh my god it’s insane anyone could even begin to think this.
Aside from Hillary’s own arrogance, lets consider the kind of people who thought Hillary was a good candidate in 2016. I’m not trying to re-litigate the primary, but given the PREDICTABLE disaster that her campaign was, its fair to say money does make a person intelligent. They might be crooks, but many are still simply stupid. Brown nosing the right people at the right time has often served as a boon to careers (see Rahm Emmanuel thank Bill Clinton for his political career), but without patronage, where would Rahm be? Losing another finger at Arby’s? He has been the White House point man for Congressional elections in 1994 and 2010. Patronage and legacy are the only keeping him afloat.
Going back to the HRC candidacy, why would she be a good candidate? Wrong on Iraq. She’s held one elected an office, a safe blue seat where she under performed Al BORE. She has no legislative accomplishments. She bungled health care reform. The Democratic Party was wiped out under her husband. And finally, her campaign team was basically a who’s who list of people who ran the Kerry and Gore campaigns (lets not forget losing to Obama).
These people didn’t take the 2016 election seriously in the first place. There is no reason expect better out of these people.
I told a lifelong liberal-Democrat (regular human, not neoliberal) acquaintance about the Stoehr article this evening. He assumed at first that I was talking about something from Fox News. Then I told him no, it was actually being suggested as a means for the Democratic party to acquire votes. He was dumbfounded. He usually does not lack for words, but he did for a moment. Then he simply said that he hoped they would find something else; that he really could not imagine it working at all.
“Let’s gaslight the nation for the good of the nation” – [John Stoehr, US News and World Report]
Stoehr’s a bit flaky if he sees the cold war hysteria as just the glue that held the gop together as opposed to the consensus campaign it was. From Truman’s consciius effort to scare hell out of the American people to get the marshall plan and military Keynesianism jump started, to Kennedy’s election on the back of a fictional missile gap, to lbj’s willingness to destabilize his own country over vietnam, to guys like Scoop Jackson attacking the Nixonian detente, team donkey took a back seat to nobody.
“Sigh”. Debunked as fake news:
“The party’s long-term goal should be crafting a patriotic story about a new Cold War, a dangerous cyberconflict happening as we speak, one that demands the best America has to offer….” Good thinking. I have another suggestion along these lines: We should
Democrats should also reacquaint everyone with that wonderful Depression era Disney production, the one about the grasshopper and the ants.
I’ve always been amazed that the Noble Lie isn’t something structurally embedded in the reproduction of the polis but takes the form – at the end of the educational stage that all citizens share – of the surely extraordinary claim that “all your memories are false – and this is what really happened to you…” Its like the least likely to work propaganda legitimation device one can imagine. Now Plato was no fool, so why?
I don’t know. I can’t read much of the Greek, and I’ve not really studied Plato. But the Noble Lie is also sometimes called the Myth of Metals, right? It’s a myth, one of many related or created by Plato. Perhaps questions about evidence, criticisms in view of well-known facts, and other moves in the game reasoned discourse have no place in the telling and appreciation of such tales. Many such tales of different cultures are equally fantastic, it seems to me. Yet, I think it makes sense to say that they’re believed regardless. For example: there was a man long ago who was born to a virgin, and this man was God; this man who was God made a sacrifice of Himself so as to pay the debts of humankind; we, the community of the faithful, enter into communion with Him through drinking His blood and eating His body. Strangely, I have yet to hear anyone raise objections to any of this during a Catholic Church service.
Also, is Plato even in earnest? It’s hard to say. After all, we’re talking about a society that Socrates was compelled to construct in order to placate another character, Glaucon, who’d complained that the first very simple ideal society lacked luxuries and was thus unfit for human beings. As I read the text, Socrates never agrees that we simply have to have luxuries such as rich foods, lingerie, and prostitutes. He just more or less says “Fine, you want luxuries, let’s include luxuries, and now see what follows.” What follows includes disease (from eating those rich foods), a much larger population (so as to churn out lingerie, etc.), and more professions, including doctors (because of disease) but most importantly soldiers, because we’re now competing for scarce resources, especially land, against others. Socrates calls this second best society “feverish” (at least in my translation), and it’s this feverish, warlike society that he goes on to describe in great detail. Definitely not a democracy, it’s rulers are, in a sense, technocrats who, aside from warring with neighboring powers, mainly work to perpetuate a perfect meritocracy wherein there’s a place for everyone, everyone is in their place, and inferiors obey their betters. That’s the society for which a creation myth is needed. These are the people to whom patriotic lies must be told.
What did Plato think of all this? Given the human weakness for things we merely want but do not need, things which make little or no contribution to human flourishing in any case, I suspect it was something along the lines of “To hell with politics.” But, as I said, I don’t know. Not a Plato scholar.
I think that pretty much right – though I would temper the “inferiors obey their betters” claim – for one thing Plato wanted was rulers (Philosopher Kings) who didn’t want to rule, so had no attraction to the power granted by the capacity to makes rules, and who were, in fact, totally dependent on and transparent to those they ruled over. I think Plato more than any other political thinker really understood the workings of political power, its necessity beyond a certain rudimentary social order, and who did more than any other theorist to civilise this power for the good of all. That what he ends up with is, perhaps, impossible, is the tragedy of the polis and politics. But that still doesn’t make the noble lie idea clear to me – except perhaps a way of subtly flagging the tragic impossibility of his solution – for I see no reason in The Republic to think the mass of citizens (the people, literally “the farmers”) would be in any way psychologically and sociologically inclined to swallow it.
I once tried to bring it out what we could learn from Plato if we managed to get away from all the anachronistic mis-readings of him which made him some kind of totalitarian.
Thanks. I’ll have a look. And thanks too for that article on Wittgenstein. Excellent.
I agree that Popper’s reading is way off the mark. That said, the Republic strikes me as deeply anti-democratic. I’m not just talking about what he has to say about democracy (supposedly a precursor to tyranny). There’s something anti-democratic about the way in which he conceives of politics from the very beginning. It’s ruling, and that’s a skilled activity for which special education is required, training that some “gifted” people can make better use of than others. It is, furthermore, like any techne, an operation that an agent performs on a patient who/which is at least conceptually distinct from the agent (trainer-horse; navigator-crewmen; farmer-crop, etc.). The skill is exercised in view of fixed, pre-established standards of excellence. Politics, so conceived, is human resource management exercised for the sake of efficient need satisfaction. If that’s how we conceive of politics, then democracy is ruled out from the beginning. It’s plainly irrational.
Also, while it is true that the philosophers don’t want to rule, it is also true that they ordinarily shouldn’t have to rule. They shouldn’t have to do this because it’s not good for them. I think that’s an implication of the allegory of the cave. If memory serves, Socrates claims that philosophers are only obliged to rule on the condition that the polis has taken the trouble to educate them so that they may one day rule. The upshot, it seems to me, is that if you’re a philosopher in anything other than a society which has educated you for ruling, you owe it nothing where leadership is concerned. You should instead devote yourself to your good, which is a matter of turning away from the changing things of this visible world and toward the eternal, invisible things, thereby making your soul like them. Math, not politics.
I take Plato to hold that in any reasonably complex social order, like the polis, you will get a division between intellectual labour and physical labour – between plann(ers) and those who carry out the plan. This has ethical implications, because those who plane see those who obey as means to the end of the plan, so not ends-in-themselves, How then canthere be here a political order in which that temptation is neutered? That is the question that dominates The Republic.
Plato was a terrible philosopher. His writings are full of blatantly fake logic. But he was a pretty good writer (Aristotle is much harder to get through). The allegory of the cave is pure BS. I think he was a propagandist, not a philosopher at all. The real philosophers of the time didn’t have such wealthy patrons, and their works are now largely lost. I’m trying to remember the name of the competing tradition…
I never quite recovered from reading The Republic in college. I was horrified and my tender sensibilities deeply shocked. Plato was the original fascist (technically, it’s just monarchist propaganda and may have been very familiar at the time). This is the founder of philosophy? No wonder we’re so messed up.
Well, no. Have a look at Robin Waterfield’s great newish translation of The Republic.
Plato was related to the Thirty Tyrants, a puppet regime imposed by the Spartans on Athens after the Peloponnesian War. It’s no surprise that he has Socrates say in The Republic that Sparta, arguably the first apartheid state, has the best government in the world.
Silicon Valley’s Singularity University Has Some Serious Reality Problems [Bloomberg]
Trump University West for aspirational cuddle puddlers:
I doubt SNAP opponents would consider LS’s friend’s experience as that much of an inconvenience. Most libraries have computers available free of charge, with access to a printer. Moreover, dealing with any bureaucracy, whether state or federal, involves wait times, long lines, repeated phone calls and hours on hold. Unless you’re rich enough to send someone to do the dirty work in your place, you face these frustrations regularly. Heck, it can take hours just to get through to customer service for problems with a product you bought and paid for.
The bigger problem, which would infuriate the anti-big-government, freedom-lovin’ Republicans if it happened to them, is the total lack of right to privacy. For starters, applicants must provide government-approved ID, usually a driver’s license, and often more than one form. My state required a copy of my Social Security card or birth certificate. For proof of income, they want three months’ worth of pay stubs or bank statements, often both, so that they can look for discrepancies. If you’re a freelancer like me, they might demand your most-recent tax return.
Then there’s proof of address, either a lease or recent electric or phone bill (land line only), and who else lives with you. Fortunately, my lease lists me as the sole authorized occupant; otherwise, they wanted a signed statement from a friend or neighbor who isn’t a family member. If you live with someone, you have to provide proof of their income. You have to give them proof of who pays the rent, how much, and to whom, typically a lease or a canceled check.
Even though some documents can serve more than one purpose, it takes an enormous amount of time and effort to submit all of that, in the required format (and I’m sure I’m forgetting something). How often you have to resubmit depends on your circumstances.
Then there’s the phone interview. Again, how many times a year you have to do that depends on your circumstances. I never went to the office, because it was more than an hour away. However, considering the amount of time you have to spend on hold, it might be faster to go in person, especially if you can get there first thing in the morning. I have to say that I was never treated rudely. To the contrary, some of the caseworkers I spoke with were very sympathetic.
This is just a guess, but LS’s experience might have been due to something about dealing directly with the public all day that makes the office workers surly. They didn’t write all those rules and regulations, but they are the “face” of the government and the punching bags for taking out anger and frustration with the system. It’s likely a rare one who can take the thick skin on and off, depending on who’s on the other side of the bullet-proof window.
The documentation you describe is pretty much standard for any Federal program, whether Food Stamps or LIHEAP. I have never found it onerous, since I have only had to verify sources of income and housing costs once a year. Illinois caseworkers have always gone out of their way to get me every dime I am entitled to, even two years ago when they were without a contract and working overtime without getting paid. The only time-consuming part has been pulling all my unreimbursed medical expenses for the past year and photocopying them, since, if you are over 65, unreimbursed medical lowers your income, giving you more money for food.
Unfortunately, as you say, programs that used to work perfectly are now being meddled with by people in D.C. who are totally clueless. Courtesy of Obama deciding that Food Stamps needed to be made more efficient at the state level, Illinois has now spent a fortune computerizing what used to be a perfectly efficient and compassionate system, and enriching Deloitte in the process (who also managed to screw up the Rhode Island system). This year I actually had to call my state senator to intervene on my behalf, since the computerized system didn’t allow a choice of meeting with a caseworker or doing a phone interview. The changeover to the more “efficient” system resulted in 40,000 people being erroneously thrown off of Food Stamps right before Christmas. Since Food Stamps operates on a calendar year basis, it would be safe to say that this was an epic f***-up of a system that used to work perfectly fine.
I’m fortunate to live in a county with extremely well run public services. The same can’t necessarily be said of other counties in the state nor of other states. Although the program is the same throughout the 50 states, the manner in which it is delivered varies substantially.
My point wasn’t so much that I thought the process was onerous, but that the people who complain about their hard-earned tax dollars being given away to the lazy poor don’t have a CLUE what’s involved, and they likely wouldn’t be any more sympathetic after hearing about LS’s friend. To hear them tell it, you can just walk into a social services office, be greeted by the friendly staff, and leave with a blank check for all the Coke and Cheetos you want. “So she had to stand in line and wait a few days, big deal,” might be their response.
This attitude is found primarily [note the qualifier] on the Republican side, and if there’s anything that gets them riled up, it’s the thought of big government poking its nose in their business. My point was that they might feel differently if they knew that LS’s friend had to turn over three months’ worth of bank records, get sworn statements from her neighbors, and essentially lay her personal life bare. But they don’t know, largely because they never hear this side of the story, and that was LS’s point, I believe.
I do think the process is more onerous in the state to which I recently moved. The state and county where I used to live did require bank statements but at least accepted a valid driver’s license as proof of ID. It sounds like your county is more in line with that system. The process in the state where I live now doesn’t seem at all “standard,” but is parallel to what Hana M describes in a comment above about her community food bank.
Requiring a Social Security number and a valid ID is standard. Demanding proof of income is standard. It’s not “standard” that a driver’s license issued by the state isn’t considered enough proof of ID, especially after I had just jumped through ridiculous hoops to transfer my out-of-state license, including presenting three forms of ID. Besides that, I’m in the Social Security system, which shares data with state and county social services and automatically gets income data from the IRS. I’m also a veteran and have had security background checks for the Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security, complete with a full set of finger prints. I couldn’t pretend I was someone else even if I wanted to.
All of the above notwithstanding, the case workers were extremely friendly and helpful, and they did make sure I got everything I was eligible for. There’s something to be said for living in a sparsely populated rural county.
You’re empathy for the intake workers might be valid were the surliness and condescension not universal. It has to be kept in mind that the basic premise of all government-provided support programs is that those who apply are doing so with intent to defraud. Hence, the demands for so much paperwork.
Why else make it necessary for people barely making ends meet, if that, take an entire day off to appear in person to prove they didn’t make ten bucks more last month than usual. Indeed, it was fairly recently in Pennsylvania that monetary gifts to children in families using assistance were no longer counted as “income.”
I just posted a story from Prospect.org with this information:
Since Slick Willy felt it incumbent on him to “reform” welfare, the goal of the “social safety net” has been to keep as many people off the rolls as possible.
“dealing with any bureaucracy, whether state or federal, involves wait times, long lines, repeated phone calls and hours on hold”
Really? Personally I’ve never had any of those problems dealing with Revenue Canada, Transport Canada, British Columbia Medical Services Plan, the unemployment office (once in 1990 and one more time in 2006), the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, driver’s license and car license offices here in British Columbia, local city zoning and inspection services and the local health authority. I’ve had an unpleasant experience with airport security and one interaction with Customs Canada that was frustrating but that’s it. It’s not an inherent property of government services that they must be exclusively painful. They can be helpful and pleasant to deal with, and if they aren’t you should ponder the question of why they aren’t and who benefits by making them torturous.
RMO, personally I’ve never had those problems with Revenue Canada, either, nor have I had a single unpleasant experience with the other agencies you name.
Sarcasm aside, you should be reasonably assured, as a reader of NC, that your southern neighbors do indeed ponder these questions. We do so every day in the comments section. Indeed, that’s the reason many of us are here. It’s adorable, though, that you have no context for our frustration.
Agreed, I’ve dealt regularly with the NYC Housing Court hotwire (a great service), drivers license renewals (NY and Alabama), the NY Insurance bureau (which is very well run). Never any trouble with any of them. And how about getting your passport renewed? That’s a snap too. It’s also easy to file an incident report with the police.
But they all deal with the mass public, not poor people.
I suspect “bad cultural fits” is a polite way of saying, carpetbaggers and those who might as well be foreign to their own districts. Get local people who know their district, not meritocracy stormtroopers air dropped in from The Places Where Important People Make Important Decisions, nor those who see the people in their district the way a colonial governor sees their “dependents.”
And self-funders. The DCCC/DSCC are extremely fond of those able to finance their campaigns with just maybe a touch of support. They are especially in demand this year as the rank-and-file the DNC shot in the knees in ’16 sends their donations to their local progressives.
Who are under attack from both parties, btw, in the form of challenges to their qualification to file. These challenges cost money, of course. Brand New Congress had a plea for support just this week for two such—a Democrat and a Republican (yes, Virginia, there IS a progressive Republican running).
For your consideration:
The entirely unnecessary demise of Barnes & Noble
Lays out the heartbreaking certainty of B&N going under, leaving Amazon as the only nationwide bookseller.
I was just in B and N the other day enjoying the smell of coffee and new books. Their inventory, on the other hand, seemed a bit sparse.
One could point out that Barnes and Noble was the thinly disguised villain a couple of decades ago in Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail. The victims in that case were the independent bookstores being driven out of business by big box Barnes and Noble. Now that the wheel has turned I’m not sure we should be too upset unless, like the author of your link, one works there.
But that’s just me. However if they do go under that wonderful smell will be missed.
You will just have to find an independent book seller located within aromatic proximity to a coffee shop/roaster. Your geographic location may impact the feasibility of this.
Our chief local bookseller IS, also, a coffee shop.
Our chief local bookseller won’t let you bring any drinks in the store.
My idea of a local bookseller is a place full of books with a bar attached. Have yet to see one though. Aw, shucks!
Also, the local craft beer ‘house’ usually doesn’t have anyone in it , or at the tables outside, sitting with a book in their hands.
B&N screwed up when they jumped on the ebook bandwagon without having a clue how to manage it. Amazon had literally spent years with “ringers” on various ebook forums and discussion groups, taking notes on what people who actually read them wanted. Hence, when the Kindle launched, the price was ten bucks or under, because that was as high as the bulk of those who read ebooks then were willing to go. Amazon, in addition, had purchased ebookseller Mobipocket at least two years prior.
Caught unawares, B&N tried to play catchup by buying Fictionwise, the first ebookstore, and coming up with an ereader. Had they skipped the latter and hired people with knowledge of the ebook industry, they might have been able to provide a decent challenge. Instead, they still don’t have a clue how to sell ebooks, and still are basically Amazon lite.
Powells.com in Oregon. Wonderful, inexpensive, slow delivery.
What’s more annoying: online applications or automated phone customer service?
Uh, how about electronic voting?
“If you want to vote for candidate ‘A’, press one! Candidate ‘B’, press two! None of the above, let us make the choice for you! Did you know that now you can use an app! Sorry, only one vote allowed per telephone number!”
Online applications. It’s crazy frustrating if someone is out of work. At least you don’t do automated phone customer service all the time.
At least with an online application you don’t have to take off work to submit it; you can go to the library after you’re off. The problem isn’t with the application. It’s that the system that receives it is totally adversarial and run by people with comfortable incomes who are likely overextended because of department budget cuts.
The system sucks. It sucked before ’96, but after that it was awful.
Expensive ‘free’ vending machines for prisoners
“Selling “stamps,” even for emails
Inmates will be charged for every email they send or receive, and they’ll be charged additionally for attachments. It works like this:
One “stamp” costs $0.35 and permits inmates to write an email of up to 5,000 characters. Inmates can only send emails when they’ve hooked up to kiosks, also provided by JPay, that offer inmates limited Internet access.”
“Costs for banking with JPay
In addition to charging for downloads, the company also charges for transfers to inmates’ accounts from their relatives and other loved ones.
For example, a deposit of $20 over the phone will cost an additional $4.15, or more than 20 percent of the amount transferred.”
Banking? They’re calling it a tablet giveaway, not ‘banking’.
The ultimate walled garden
Thanks for the article. The grift bothers me, but if I were in prison, to be able to play free games like Plants vs Zombies would be an absolute godsend.
The pols who are upset about it are claiming just that-
“We’re coddling these cold blooded killers!”
No one seems to have ANY issue with mugging them.
Re: President’s Day…JFK & Reagan tops list…
They best “liked” both got shot.
I prefer the one that wasn’t on that list. W, the original !
One term only
One time to get it right
One who actually has vision
Did those researchers at LendEDU ask how many of the people they interviewed planned or expected to #juststoppaying on their educational debt servitude?
In light if our national unrest, I thought this 12 point synopsis of the 1968 Kerner Commission report might prove to be beneficial. What has changed in 50 years? 1) Police practices, 2) unemployment, underemployment, 3) inadequate housing ? I might add to the list unequaled income disparity, the 1971 Lewis Powell memo, the political 2 Santa Clause theory, and the rise of neoliberalism.
My examples where meant to highlight what has prevented change. Add to the list Citizens United & Antonin Scalia 4000 word Columbia v. Heller which erased well regulated militia.
Based on the quote, I decided to check out Belfer Center before reading the article. Turns out that it’s a think tank for former Obama neo-liberals. In other words, Belfer represents job creation for the wealthy. Obama was one of the prominent people pushing digitalization of everything, without having a clue whether computers improved government service (tip: they generally do not improve service or save money).
Some of that is a function of the lowest-bidder model that governments are forced/required to submit to. When government services are forced to outsource to private enterprises, with little to no oversight, you get crap code that everyone (minus the enterprise owners) hates. It’s not inherent in computerization.
A discussion on poverty in Europe. The ending is noteworthy:
Our modern elites seem as ignorant as the late 18th century French aristocracy.
Oh and it happened again. Another drug price hike:
So, I asked my father (retired psych prof) why he thought there are so many school shootings now. There have always been plenty of guns around to use, of one sort or another. He said that when he was growing up in small-city New England the 50s, males like Cruz would be considered freaks by other young males; freaks who would do something nasty. So they would be beaten up if they ever emerged from their mother’s house; so they would cower there for decades without being able to cause harm, having their horrid fantasies but unable to act. And so it was prevented. Now we are relying on social workers and the feds, and it isn’t working. He wasn’t pining for the old days; he was just giving his best guess. Denninger’s claim is that it is SSRIs; that they make young males psychotic; that the timing of their use and the timing of the increase in shootings correspond. These theories don’t account for the Vegas shooter, but it is school shootings that seem to be up drastically. In any case, something does seem to have changed.
Sorry but that makes no sense. If I was “beat up every time I left the house”, and I could mail-order an AK-47, do you have to guess what I would do to address the situation?
Being beaten affects one’s ability to do what you’re describing. It’s not just beaten wives (who technically could order a gun and blow away their tormentor but almost never do); beaten men’s brains are rewired too. Also bullies choose their victims carefully.
I don’t buy the SSRI theory. It’s being pushed by pretty dodgy sites and I see no real evidence behind it.
Mark Ames wrote the first book on mass shootings. None of the people in his book were medicated. He was looking for commonalities and they really didn’t exist….except that all were pretty badly bullied.
And when people have bad reactions to SSRIs, and it seems to be women way more than men, they become suicidal, not violent:
In other words, the causality is much more likely that these shooters were disturbed, and had a history of being medicated as a result, rather than the meds causing their behavior.
there is some evidence albeit not strong ,that ssri medications are associated with violent behavior including homocide as a quick medline search will show you from peer reviewed journals
In the UK, with 30 years of prescribing SSRIs, there have been all of 28 murders where the defendant tried saying SSRIs were responsible and all of another 32 reports of “murderous thoughts” This is such a low incidence that it’s hard to see the SSRIs as being causal.
The BBC documentary that reported those “findings” was roundly attacked.
Large scale studies suggest the polar opposite. From the National Institutes of Health, looking at the use of SSRIs in the Netherlands:
By contrast, I found a BMJ article that tried blaming SSRIs, and it argued a very weak thesis: “Antidepressants and murder: case not closed.” It was so histrionically written and weak in statistical/analytical foundations as not to be credible. And it didn’t even come close to saying that SSRIs were associated with violent behavior. All it was able to establish was “antidepressants double the occurrence of events that the FDA has defined as possible precursors to suicide and violence.” Possible precursors? Help me.
It’s a violation of site rules to make stuff up. The casualness of your remark, particularly since you acted as if you had searched and either hadn’t or overstated what you found (even with your effort to qualify it), is bad faith and means you are accumulating troll points.
I’m no fan of antidepressants, in fact I’ve recently put up posts that are pretty critical of them. But this “SSRIs are to blame” is somewhere between way far from proven to flat out false. By contrast, the ease of access to guns combined with unhappiness and anxiety among kids being at unheard-of high levels due to lack of control (too much pressure to perform, way too little control over their time, social media feeding insecurities) and good reason not to be optimistic about their adulthood are much more obvious culprits.
“Ms. Guarino said she believes Nikolas Cruz tried three times to kill her dog Max by feeding it a poisonous toad. The first time it happened, she said, the look on his face “was wild. He was excited and happy this was happening.” (https://www.wsj.com/articles/florida-shooting-suspect-charged-with-17-counts-of-premeditated-murder-1518704958)
I think this kid’s sickness long preceded any prescriptions he may have been put on.
Yes, what bothers me most about this depressing incident is that it is now pretty well recognized that killing or torturing animals is a strong predictor of serious violence against people. Why this isn’t taken more seriously as a warning sign escapes me.
…one of those age-old unanswerable questions: “Must the good orator also be a good person?”
Actually I think that I might have an answer there. Consider these questions first.
-Must the good book publisher be a good person?
-Must the good book publisher believe everything in all the books that he publishes?
Answering those two question will tell you all that you need to know about answering that first question.
I’ve long thought Google’s authentication system where you identify various things in a collection of pictures was a way to help train their neural networks or AI. I just hit a series where it said to “identify cars” yet I could not succeed until I identified a bus.
Well the autonomous cars will be required to ID us, rather than vise versa.
[John Stoehr, US News and World Report]. “But anti-communism is a good model for what’s needed. It was the glue that held the Republican Party together for decades. It can do the same for the Democrats. The party’s long-term goal should be crafting a patriotic story about a new Cold War…”
I suspect this plan for electoral domination will prove to be a harmful distraction as USA unipolar domination crumbles when China starts blasting 300 km/hour freight trains to Moscow and Berlin on a daily schedule.
What it means is Blue Dogs running as Democrats, with heavy financial support from the DNC/DCCC/DSCC under ther Red to Blue program. Yes, they really think #Medicareforall is a bad thing, but usually they’ll express it more like Hillary, it’s something that will never, ever happen and distracts us from improving ACA. Then, once in office, they enable the Republicans to invoke cloture and advance the conservative agenda.